Thursday, December 22, 2016

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 22

December 22, 1912 – Today’s Minneapolis Morning Tribune’s issue told a heartwarming story about railroad magnate James J. Hill and a young man who had lost his legs.

James J. Hill1

Walter De Barrow, 17 years old, whose legs were recently amputated in a Great Northern Railroad accident, will soon leave Spokane, Wash., to be a Christmas guest of the Hill family in St. Paul.

Hill was interested in the case through the boy’s own initiative. While recuperating at the Spokane poor farm, young De Barrow wrote Hill, shouldering all the blame for the loss of his legs and asking if there was not some railroad work he could do for the Great Northern.

Great Northern Railway2

The St. Paul financier replied at once, offering the youth artificial limbs, an education if he desires it, and the promise of a life job on the railroad. In spite of his age, it is said that the boy has been a wanderer for years and lost his legs while “beating his way” through the West. He has no knowledge of his parents, and when injured, was without friends.


If you are interested in finding out more about your family history in Minnesota, I specialize in researching  genealogical and historical records in Minn. and western Wis., including:
census records,  birth records,  death certificates, obits, grave site photos, ship passenger lists, marriage records and declarations of intent/naturalization records.  I will visit locations to research local history and county records, as well as take photos. Quick turnaround on MNHS records. Both short searches and family history reports available.

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