Saturday, February 14, 2015

On This Date in Minnesota History: February 14

February 14, 1927 – Laura Johnson Naplin, Thief River Falls, took her seat in the Minnesota State Senate on this date, becoming Minnesota’s first woman state senator. Coincidently, it was also her thirty-fourth birthday. She represented Clearwater, Pennington and Red Lake Counties (District 65).

A young widow with one daughter, Johnson Naplin was elected to serve out the term of her husband, Sen. Oscar Naplin, who had suffered a stroke on Jan. 4, 1927, the day he was sworn in, and died on Jan. 15, 1927 at Miller Hospital in St. Paul, Minn. Naplin had previously been the state senator for District 65 during the 1919 and 1921 sessions.

Johnson Naplin was reelected to her own seat, and served as a state senator for the 1927 – 1934 sessions.

Omaha World Herald; “Woman State Senator. Takes Seat in Minnesota on Thirty-fourth Birthday.”; Feb. 15, 1927; p. 3.

Friday, February 13, 2015

On This Date in Minnesota History: February 13

February 13, 1857 – Established on this date, Isanti County, Minn., “bears the former name, now obsolete, of a larger division of the Dakotas or Sioux, anciently Izatys, now Santees, who lived two hundred years ago in the region of the Rum river and Mille Lacs, called by Hennepin respectively the river and lake of the Isantis.”

Upham, Warren; Minnesota Geographic Names, Their Origin and Historic Significance; Minnesota Historical Society (St. Paul, Minn., 1969); p. 249.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

On This Date in Minnesota History: February 12

February 12, 1916 – State Treasurer Walter J. Smith resigned his office today following his indictment by the Ramsey County grand jury charging irregularities in the handling of $28,000 of state funds. Smith, still at the Gatling Institute in Minneapolis, is in critical condition and too sick to be brought to the city hospital in St. Paul.

A strange explanation of Smith’s alleged act in tampering with state funds was made today when it was learned that he received offers of credit to an almost unlimited extent from banks in the state desirous of becoming depositories of state moneys.

It was suggested that this credit first induced the speculation in which he is said by his alleged partner Robert C. Pickit
to have participated.

Impaired physical condition and the realization that his credit was inflated by his official position are believed to have led to his indiscretions.

It is now known that, in several instances, Smith availed himself of credit for small amounts, notably with St. Paul, St. Cloud, Stillwater and Iron Range banks.

Smith was a liberal spender and had been drinking heavily for several years according to friends, but they claim he was not a roisterer. He lives in a modest, rented home; his family consisting of his wife and a 15-year-old daughter. His salary is $4,000 a year. He mingled much with politicians and is known on occasions to have spent $40 or $50 a day in entertaining political or personal friends. It is said, however, that while he was liberal with his money, he did not “splurge” to this extent often.

The family does not entertain much nor does Smith own automobiles or horses. His home life is said to have been quiet and happy, no members of his family indulging in extravagant luxuries.

Former Minn. State Treasurer Walter J. Smith
St. Paul Pioneer Press; Feb. 8, 1916; p. 1. 

This afternoon Gov. Burnquist appointed Arthur C. Gooding, a Rochester banker, to succeed Smith as state treasurer. He will begin his term on Monday, Feb. 14.

Arthur C. Gooding, new state treasurer
St. Paul Pioneer Dispatch; Feb. 12, 1916; p. 1.  

The Bemidji Daily Pioneer; “Walter J. Smith Resigns As State Treasurer; Is Indicted By Grand Jury. Gives Resignation to Clerk in Office Who Handed it to Governor Today. Appointment To Office To Be Made Immediately. Smith in Critical Condition at Gatlin Institute, Minneapolis; Unable to Be Moved.”; February 12, 1916; pp.1 & 4.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

On This Date in Minnesota History: February 11

February 11, 1876 – The village of Delano, Minn., was platted in 1868 and incorporated on this date. Originally called Crow River, the village was renamed in honor of Francis Roach Delano, the first warden of the Minnesota state prison.

Upham, Warren; Minnesota Geographic Names, Their Origin and Historic Significance; Minnesota Historical Society (St. Paul, Minn., 1969); p. 587.

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain Feb. 11, 2015,
as long as acknowledgement included.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

On This Date in Minnesota History: February 10

February 10, 1916 - Two indictments were returned by the Ramsey County grand jury this afternoon against R. C. Pickit, former clerk of the state investment board, charging forgery in the second degree in connection with the recently discovered irregularities in the handling of certain trust funds of the state.

Three secret indictments against Walter J. Smith, state treasurer, for first degree larceny, were also returned.

Pickit has been formally arrested. Bench warrants have been issued for Smith.

Pickit is charged with forgery in connection with two warrants on school districts that were cashed at the office of the State Treasurer Smith, after the endorsement of the school treasurers had been forged.

One was for $18,000, under date of May 29, 1915, and the other for $6,000, under date of Aug. 21.

From his bed in a Minneapolis sanatorium, Smith told a reporter late this afternoon that he was innocent and could explain everything satisfactorily. At this point, however, he was warned by his close friend and sanitarium manager G. C. Cardoff that his doctors did not want him to talk because of his illness, which ended the conversation.

This is the second time in Minnesota history that a state treasurer has been involved in a scandal relating to alleged misuse of state funds. In 1873 William Seeger, then state treasurer, resigned while the state legislature was preparing to impeach him for alleged defalcation of $180,000. It was later shown that Seeger was not at fault and the shortage was made good.

Friends say that Pickit’s downfall is due to his love of the “high life.” He is 32 years old. Joy rides, cafĂ© parties, automobile trips, extended tours, pool, etc., were said to be the causes of his undoing.

Bemidji Daily Pioneer; “Treasurer Smith and Pickit Are Indicted by Jury. Clerk is Formally Arrested; Bench Warrants for Smith Reported Issued. Smith Makes Public Statement of Case. High Life Blamed for Downfall of Investment Board Clerk by Friends.”;
Feb. 11, 1916; p. 1.

Walter J. Smith, Minn. state treasurer
St. Paul Pioneer Press; Feb. 8, 1916; p. 1.

Monday, February 9, 2015

On This Date in Minnesota History: February 9

February 9, 1916 – Minn. State Treasurer Walter J. Smith was placed under the surveillance of St. Paul detectives at a Minneapolis sanatorium this afternoon, pending a grand jury investigation of alleged irregularities in the handling of certain state funds.

Smith is said to be ill with pneumonia, and it is not likely that he will be able to leave the sanitarium for several days. Should he attempt to leave before the grand jury has taken action, Ramsey County Attorney R. D. O’Brien says Smith will be arrested and lodged in jail.

Bemidji Daily Pioneer; “Criminal Case Against State Treasurer Likely. Detective Watching Walter J. Smith Who is Confined in Minneapolis Sanatorium. Examining Board Begins Investigation. Matter is Presented to Ramsey County Grand Jury by County Attorney.”; Feb. 10, 1916; p. 1.

Minn. State Treasurer Walter J. Smith
St. Paul Pioneer Press; Feb. 8, 1916; p. 1.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

On This Date in Minnesota History: February 8

February 8, 1909 – The first fire engine on the Minnesota Iron Range arrived in Virginia, Minn., today, from the LaFrance Fire Engine Co. of Elmira, N.Y.  It materially increases the enviable lead held by Virginia in the matter of fire department equipment.

The new engine is named the “Elmquist” in honor of Chairman Elmquist of the committee on fire and fire department; a handsome nameplate embellishes the engine. Another plate on the other side of the engine contains the names of the mayor, Fire Chief Thayer and members of the council.

The new No. 1 steam engine was bought under a guarantee of 900 gallons per minute, and will be given an official test after the arrival of the Eastman deluge set ordered two weeks ago.

Virginia Enterprise; “The ‘Elmquist’ Arrives.”; February 9, 1909; p. 1.

1909 American-LaFrance Type 5 number 1. 
Photo courtesy Tim Kane, Lenox, Mass., Fire Department.