Saturday, January 10, 2015

On This Date in Minnesota History: January 10

January 10, 1984 – Harmon Killebrew, the popular Minnesota Twins’ third baseman and left fielder, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on this date, the first Twin to receive that honor.

“A member of the Twins from their inaugural Minnesota season in 1961, Killebrew hit 573 career home runs, 475 of them in his 14 seasons with the Twins, to place him 5th on the all-time home run list and second only to Babe Ruth in American League history. He hit over 40 home runs on eight occasions and 30-or-more 10 times while driving in 100-plus runs nine times.”

Harmon Killebrew

Friday, January 9, 2015

On This Date in Minnesota History: January 9

January 9, 1934 – “Paul Manship, classical sculptor and summer resident of Bald Eagle Lake, Minn., dedicated [his] Prometheus Fountain at Rockefeller Center in New York City [on this date].”

Thursday, January 8, 2015

On This Date in Minnesota History: January 8

January 8, 1902 – According to an article in The Minneapolis Journal, Peter Klein, a laboring man employed by the Red Wing Manufacturing Company, has “discovered” he is one of approximately 300 American heirs of the Cronkhite estate in Holland, amounting to $80 million.

I say “discovered,” because being an heir to the Cronkhite fortune had become a national pastime by 1902. Cronkhite descendants began holding meetings across the country in in 1895 in anticipation of receiving their inheritance in April 1896.

The Cronkhite estate story begins with three brothers, Kasper, John and Jacob Cronkhite, who came to the U.S. from Haas, Holland, around 1754, and lived in Conn. and New York. The Revolutionary War with Great Britain was on the horizon, and Kasper, a bachelor, sympathized with the British. His brothers John and Jacob, on the other hand, sided with the United States and enlisted in the military to defend their new homeland.

This did not sit well with Kasper. He wanted his brothers to go back to Holland. When they refused, he swore that he would he would go back, make a fortune, and then make a will that would cut them off.

While living in the U.S., Kasper had learned that the U. S. was a good market for gin. He went back to Holland and started manufacturing the juniper berry spirits, having almost entire control of a big estate left by his forefathers. Jacob and John Cronkhite were both married and raised families. Their children and their children’s children gradually spread across the U.S.

True to his word, Kasper established a gin distillery and soon his investment began bringing him a fortune. Still a bachelor, he had no direct descendants. He knew of the children of his two brothers in America, and also remembered the threat he had made. He drew up a will, which included some very unusual provisions.

It stated that his fortune was to be held by the government of Holland and a rate of three percent interest to be paid. The will was to be opened after 100 years, and the proceeds, with interest, were to be distributed among descendants of his two brothers. The will became operative on April 6, 1896, 100 years after Kasper’s death. Heirs suddenly began to pop up all over the country.

The story seems to have been just that: a story. According to Larry Cronkhite, a Cronkhite family genealogist, no one ever received a dime from the supposed estate.

The Minneapolis Journal; “Klein’s Discovery. Red Wing Laborer One of the Heirs of a Vast Holland Estate.”; January 08, 1902; p. 2.

Press and Horticulturist; “May Be Heirs To Millions. Clarence Stewart One of the Claimants of $80,000,000 Awaiting Owners in Holland.”; Riverside, Ca.; Jan. 17, 1902; p. 3.

Cronkhite, Larry; “Some Branches of the Cronk, Cronkite, Cronkhite Family Tree”;

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

On This Date in Minnesota History: January 7

January 7, 1901 – The Hennepin Paper Mill in Little Falls, Minn., burned early this morning, and is a total loss. The pulp mill was damaged, but can easily be repaired.

The plant was not yet in operation last night, and the fire had a good start before discovered by the watchman, and the department brought to the scene. The insurance is $63,000, and the loss will probably run close to $75,000.The fire started in a small wood room, where a stove was used, between the paper and pulp mills.

Three hundred tons of paper were burned. The warehouse and boiler house were saved. The paper mill will be rebuilt at once and the entire plant rehabilitated as speedily as possible. All contracts will be cared for by the General Paper Company until the plant is able to resume business.

The mills shut down Saturday night and the first intimation of the fire was the blowing of whistles. Benjamin F. Nelson and Gilbert M. Walker are on the ground to take immediate steps for the restoration of the plant.

The Minneapolis Journal; “Morning Fire at Little Falls; Property of the Hennepin Paper Company in Ruins—The Pulp Mill Saved”; Jan. 07, 1901; pg. 1.

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain January 20, 2015,
as long as acknowledgement included.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

On This Date in Minnesota History: January 6

January 6, 1914 – Duluth Police Officer Neil “Mooney succumbed to a gunshot wound received the previous day after arresting two suspects for a minor charge of breaching the peace. He searched one of the suspects and found a concealed revolver. However, the suspect had a second concealed revolver which Officer Mooney did not find. The suspect waited until he had an opportunity to shoot Officer Mooney and then did so.”

Monday, January 5, 2015

On This Date in Minnesota History: January 5

January 5, 1892 – “Madison Lake town site was incorporated on this date, including the earlier platted Point Pleasant town site, and became known as the Village of Madison Lake.

Madison Lake remained a ‘village’ until the 1980's when the State of Minnesota classified it as a city of the fourth class.”1

The town was named for the adjoining lake, which had been named by the government surveyors in honor of James Madison, fourth president of the United States.2


2Upham, Warren; Minnesota Geographic Names, Their Origin and Historic Significance; Minnesota Historical Society (St. Paul, Minn., 1969); p. 61.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

On This Date in Minnesota History: January 4

January 4, 2002 – Ron Gardenhire was named the Minnesota Twins’ 12th manager on this date, replacing Tom Kelly, the Twins winningest manager, including two World Series Championships. Prior to being named manager, Gardenhire had been the Twins’ third base coach since 1991.

Ron Gardenhire