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Feb. 8, 1898: Buggy rage flares on Portland Avenue

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History, Crime Updated: February 9, 2011 - 5:43 PM
Four men – first one pair, then another – stepped out of their carriages one Sunday morning and, without a word, began whipping each other on Minneapolis,+Hennepin,+Minnesota+55404&gl=us&t=h&z=16">Portland Avenue near 15th Street. The Minneapolis Tribune gave readers a blow-by-blow account of what might be the first reported incident of road rage in Minnesota.

WAS FULL OF MYSTERY

Men and Dogs Fall Out and Chide and Fight, Creating a Diversion and Disturbing the Peace of the Sabbath on Portland Avenue.
 
The peace and quiet of Portland avenue was ruthlessly disturbed Sunday morning. Two whip fights and a dog fight occurred on that ordinarily well behaved thoroughfare. It all happened so suddenly that the residents did not have time to find out the cause of the principals, and they have nothing but the recollection of the affair. It will, however, serve as a topic for neighborly gossip, and much speculation will be indulged in.
 
Just about the time the churches were letting out, two men in carriages approached one another from opposite directions. They met near Fifteenth street. Without a word they stopped their swiftly speeding horses, jumped out, grabbed their buggy whips and fought a furious round for about two minutes. Blows fell with lightning rapidity. Not a word was spoken, but standing about six feet apart they roundly slashed and struck at one another.
 
The old saying “like master, like man” was never more true than in this case. Each of the men was accompanied by a dog. One was a small bull-terrier. The other was a large dark brown St. Bernard. When they saw their masters having it out, they took a turn at fighting and chewed and bit each other until the big fellow obtained a good grip on the terrier’s throat. Then it tried to sweep the streets with its adversary.
 
In the meantime the owner of the big dog had had his whip torn from his hand, and to save himself went into the fight at close quarters. He grabbed the other man by the shoulders, pushed him into the snow, and was showering bitter blows on the under man when bystanders took a hand.
 
As the fight was at its height, two more men drove up and went through the same operation. They took out their buggy whips and slashed each other across the face. However, their fight was tame compared to the first one.
 
Although the affair only lasted about two minutes, it gave a few bystanders a chance to congregate. When the four men had been separated, it was found that the dogs were still at it, and it required several good hard kicks to subdue the animals. Then without a word of explanation the men got into their buggies and drove away. What the cause of the feud was, or who the men were, is still a mystery to the few who witnessed it. The men had stylish turnouts and were well dressed and good looking.
 

Here's what a horse and carriage looked like in 1898. According to the Minnesota Historical Society's caption, this "stylish turnout" was parked at George Daggett's magnificent Eldor Court, 40 Groveland Terrace, Minneapolis. The horse barn and servants' quarters, perhaps? (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)

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