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Jan. 23, 1915: 'Meanest boy' cuts off girl's hair

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History Updated: July 8, 2012 - 3:23 PM
 
Mean boys have been terrorizing schoolgirls since blackboards were invented. But rarely does a bully land in court – or in the pages of the local paper. In 1915, an angry father and his 11-year-old daughter stood in a Hennepin County courtroom and accused “the meanest boy” in school of lopping off the girl’s auburn curls. A Minneapolis Tribune reporter was there to capture the drama.

Within weeks, the alleged bully, Eddie Schmidt (or Smith), was cleared of the charge of assaulting Mary (or Katherine) Weinand on her way home from a one-room schoolhouse a few miles west of Corcoran. The Tribune played that development as a whodunit, asking: "Who cut Mary Weinand's hair?"

There are no further mentions of the case in the Tribune. And, despite my above-average Googling skills, I have not been able to solve the mystery. But I did find Allan Weinand, whose grandfather, Art Weinand, was in Mary’s class; Art and Mary were first cousins once removed.

Allan, a genealogy enthusiast from Mabel, Minn., confirmed that Mary attended the Corcoran school – officially, the Burschville School -- with her twin brother, Michael. Allan himself attended the one-room schoolhouse until it closed in 1967. He asked me to share this information:

The Burschville school’s annual open house is scheduled for noon-4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19. There will be food and music, and the school, school grounds and log cabin will all be open to visitors. The school is located west of Corcoran on County Road 10, a half-mile east of County Road 19. The “town” of Burschville is located at the intersection of County Roads 19 and 10. Signs still mark the town, but most of the old buildings are gone. For more information about the open house, contact Verneal Klersy, (763) 498-8677.

'Meanest Boy' Found;
Cuts Off Girl's Hair

Corcoran Man Demands Arrest of Youth Who Disfigured Child.

Once Luxuriant Curls Reduced to Shock of Jagged "Bobbed" Hair.

Case is Referred by the County Attorney to Juvenile Court.

A girl, 11 years old, with big brown tear-filled eyes and ragged remnants of what had been a mass of auburn ringlets, went to the Court House yesterday to tell of the "meanest boy at our school."

With the little girl came her father, Matt Weinand, Corcoran, Minn., the big angry man leading the frightened child. Arthur Conley, assistant county attorney, interrupted in his study of the career of a notorious forger, heard their story.

"There is a big boy that goes to school out there at Corcoran," began Weinand, "and he makes life miserable for all the smaller children. I didn't say anything before, but yesterday he began teasing my Katherine." And then to the little girl he said, "Katherine, show this man your curls."

Hesitatingly the little girl took off her cap. On each side cascades of auburn curls tumbled down over the child's ears, but in the back was a mass of ruins where the curls had been lopped off. Hurriedly the child pulled on her cap again.

"See what he did," raged Weinand. "Yesterday while my little girl was on her way home from school this Schmidt boy followed her and when they were off the school grounds he grabbed her and cut off her curls. I want to see him arrested. If the law won't punish him I will sue him and his father of damages."

Mr. Conley referred Mr. Weinand to the Juvenile Court authorities, as the accused boy is only 15 years old. Edward Davenport, Juvenile Court officer, told the father and child to return today with witnesses.

 

A month passed before the case appeared again in the pages of the Tribune. Without explanation, the Weinand girl is now referred to as Mary instead of Katherine. And the alleged bully is now Eddie Smith instead of Schmidt. And the case remains unresolved.

Who Cut Mary's Curls,
Still a School Mystery

Loss of Little Miss Weinand's Hair a Vexing Question in Corcoran Classrooms.

There is still mystery in the air in the Corcoran School. Small boys whisper about it behind their geographies. Little girls write furtive notes behind the teacher's back.

Who cut Mary Weinand's hair? For nearly a month the question has haunted the classrooms of the school and complicated the multiplication table. The matter has even been brought before the Hennepin County juvenile Court. Still there is mystery.

Mary Weinand is one of the prettiest girls in the Corcoran School. Ringlets of hair rolled down her neck in profusion. But one noon when she returned home the pretty ringlets were gone. Some vandal, she said, had hacked off the curls with a pair of scissors.

Suspicion pointed to Eddie Smith, one of the larger boys in school. He was haled before the Juvenile Court two weeks later, but against him there was no evidence to convict him. So Judge Waite dismissed him. Now the mystery grew, and gossips said that Mary had cut off her own curliest to escape tedious attendance in school. But in a letter to Mr. Weinand Judge Waite denies that solution of the mystery was arrived at.

"It did not transpire at Eddie Smith's trial," he wrote, "that Mary cut off her own hair. I did not so decide nor intimate, nor did I come to any such conclusion. All that I decided was that evidence was insufficient to show that Eddie Smith did what he was charged with doing. This being decided, there was no necessity for me to determine anything further, so I did not."

Eddie and Mary have both been absolved of guilt. Mary's curls are growing out again. But still there is mystery hanging over the Corcoran School.

 

This photo of the Burschville schoolhouse was taken in the summer of 1965, two years before it closed. Standing in front were Allan Weinand, center, Agnes Weinand, his great aunt, and Willard Weinand, his father. Allan entered the third grade at the school that fall; his great aunt and father also attended the little school -- as did his grandfather, brothers and other relatives over the years. (Photo provided by Allan Weinand)

 

Burschville school's class of 1911-12, three years before Mary Weinand's run-in with a bully. If you squint, you can make out the curls on one of the two girls behind the desk at the front and center of the room. The girl on the left: That's Mary. Alas, no sign of that Schmidt boy, no matter how hard you squint. I'm trying to locate a cleaner print of this image, which is marred by the benday printing process of yore. (From "100 Year History of Burschville School," published in 1994)

 

 

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