Sample Minnesota newspaper articles, photos and ads dating back more than 140 years. Fresh items are posted weekly. Go here for tips on how to track down old newspaper articles on your own. Follow the blog on Twitter. Or check out "Minnesota Mysteries," a new book based on the blog.
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This early example of a child-in-peril story, a staple of American newspapers in the middle decades of the 20th century, has a familiar ending: The wayward tot, reunited with "its" relieved parent, gets a “well directed and well meant” spanking. Note the pronoun used for the child. Perhaps the baby’s gender was unknown to the reporter, who most likely learned of the incident second-hand.
From the Minneapolis Tribune:
After more than 125 years, an “armchair detective” claims to have used DNA evidence to solve one of history’s most grisly killing sprees. The story below marked the first time that “Jack the Ripper” appeared on the front page of the Minneapolis Tribune.
Warning: The detailed descriptions of the murder scene are not for the squeamish. Or even the near-squeamish.
Jack the Ripper Startles London with Another Whitechapel Murder.
As Usual, the Victim Is from the Lowest Strata of Society, and the Body is Horribly Mutilated.
A front Room on the Ground Floor of a Dwelling the Scene of the Murder, the Ninth Recorded.
Sir Charles Warren’s Bloodhounds a Failure, as Predicted – No Clue to the Fiend of Fiends.
London, Nov. 9. – (United Press Cable.) – The murder fiend has added another to his list of victims. At 11 o'clock this morning the body of a woman, cut into pieces was discovered in a house on Dorset street, Spitalfields. The police are endeavoring to track the murderer with the aid of blood hounds. The remains were mutilated in the same horrible manner as were those of the women murdered in Whitechapel.
The appearance of the remains was frightful and the mutilation was even greater than in the previous cases. The head had been severed and placed beneath one of the arms. The ears and nose had been cut off. The body had been disemboweled and the flesh was torn from the thighs. The womb and other organs were missing. The skin had been torn off the forehead and cheeks. One hand had been pushed into the stomach.
The victim, like all the others, was a prostitute. She was married and her husband was a porter. They had lived together at spasmodic intervals. Her name is believed to have been Lizzie Fisher, but to most of the habitues of the haunts she visited she was known as Mary Jane. She had a room in the house where she was murdered. She carried a latch key and no one knew at what hour she entered the house last night. Therefore it is hardly likely that her assassin will ever be identified. He might easily have left the house at any time between 1 and 6 o'clock this morning without attracting attention. The doctors who have examined the remains refuse to make any statement until the inquest is held.
Three bloodhounds belonging to private citizens were taken to the place where the body lay and placed on a scent of the murder, but they were unable to keep it for any great distance, and all hope of running the assassin down with their assistance will have to be abandoned.
The murdered woman told a companion last evening that she was without money, and would commit suicide if she did not obtain a supply. It has been learned that a man, respectably dressed, accosted the victim and offered her money. They went to her lodging, on the second floor of the Dorset street house. No noise was heard during the night, and nothing was known of the murder until the landlady went to the room early this morning to ask for her rent. The first thing she saw on entering the room was the woman’s breasts and viscera lying on a table. Dorset street is short and narrow, and is situated close to Mitre square and Hanbury street.
The murder is undeniably a continuation of the series which was for a time interrupted for want of opportunity or inclination. In this case the murderer worked leisurely, as is made evident by the fact that the murder was done in a room fronting on the street, on the ground floor and within a few yards of a temporary police station, whence officers issued hourly to patrol the district. Although the metropolitan police system is not yet discredited, the bloodhound theory is entirely thrown out, since the murder was not discovered until 10 o'clock in the morning while the streets were teeming with people and traffic was going on uninterruptedly.
Gen. Sir Charles Warren [head of the London Metropolitan Police] was early on the scene and told a reporter that all the precaution in the world could not prevent the work of such murderers. The sole chance remaining to the police, he said, was to catch them red-handed, and their change of tactics increased the difficulty. In the open air, where the killing had been done hitherto, the chance of their apprehension was slight, but in the case of an indoor murder, such as the last, the hope of arresting the perpetrator was almost barren of fruition. This latest murder will undoubtedly cause a large number of arrests on suspicion. But the monster will be brought to bay is a matter of extreme doubt, since he has left no clues not worked over by the officers investigating the previous cases.
The most annoying feature of the case is that the arrest of a number of innocent persons on suspicion will have to be repeated. The opinion of Archibald Forbes and Mr. Winslow that the assassin is a homicidal maniac is confirmed by the latest murder, and the prediction had become general that another murder will soon follow. The brutality of the mutilation to which the last body was subjected surpassed all the others. In the room to which the corpse was taken chunks of flesh and portions of the viscera were strewed upon the floor, and the dissecting table and the stomach of one of the surgeons gave way at the spectacle.
Vice President Theodore Roosevelt delivered his “Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick” speech at the Minnesota State Fair on Sept. 2, 1901. He was 42 years old; in less than two weeks he would become the youngest U.S. president in history in the wake of President William McKinley’s assassination.
Undated Star Tribune file photoMinneapolis Tribune coverage of Roosevelt’s speech is an early example of unintentionally nonlinear storytelling. The disorganized arrangement of stories and photos spread across several pages makes it difficult to quickly figure out who he was, when he arrived, why he came and what he said. Of course, a contemporary reader keeping up with the events of the week probably would have been able to scan the paper more quickly than a 21st-century reader coming to it cold.
On the front page, there are just two references to Roosevelt’s visit: a photo of him and Gov. Van Sant reviewing National Guard troops, and an editorial cartoon showing Roosevelt tipping his hat to “Minneapolis labor” (in the form of a thinly smiling, oversize steel milk can). No mention is made of the exhaustive coverage inside. Inside, there’s a blow-by-blow account of his arrival in Minneapolis, where thousands of citizens lined Hennepin Avenue and other streets to greet him as he passed. There’s a blow-by-blow account of the vice-presidential procession to St. Paul. A transcript of Roosevelt’s lengthy speech at the grandstand takes up nearly a third of a page. You have to feel sorry for the poor sap who had to transcribe the opus without a recording device. Or perhaps Roosevelt's remarks were provided to the local newspapers in advance.
Helpfully, Tribune editors provided a highlights box — “Extracts from Vice-President’s Speech” — for readers too busy to plow through the sea of 8-point text. The highlights do not include the signature phrase for which the speech became known, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” This oversight is an example of why newspapers are known as the first draft of history.
Here are excerpts from Roosevelt’s 5,300-word speech, as reported in the Minneapolis Tribune dated Sept. 3, 1901. (Originally posted here in August 2005; reposting to clean up design, update links and allow fresh comments.)
|The caption on this front-page cartoon: “Teddy takes his hat off to Minneapolis labor.”|
|Four days after Roosevelt spoke at the fair, President McKinley was shot by an assassin in Buffalo, N.Y.|
|The vice president found time to saddle up near the grandstand during his visit to the fair. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)|
Prince Carol, great-grandson of Queen Victoria and heir to the Romanian throne, toured the United States in the summer of 1920. He was 26 years old and between marriages. During a stop in the Twin Cities, he took in a Saints doubleheader at St. Paul’s Lexington Park. At his side that day was 18-year-old Violet Oliver, “queen of California’s vineyard domain,” aka the raisin queen.
In a piece written exclusively for the Minneapolis Tribune, the sometime-actress described Carol as a “man’s man,” “a woman’s man,” a “bearcat” and, unlike the prince of Wales, whom she had met previously, “not a flirt.” “Prince Carol may flatter,” she wrote, “but he makes his eyes behave. That’s why I like him so.”
The future king and dictator had mixed luck with the ladies – and with governing his people. You can read about checkered career of the "royal rapscallion" here, here, here and here.
A Tribune reporter accompanied the prince to the ballpark and turned in a wonderful little piece that landed on page one. The raisin queen's personal account ran on the jump page.
The 1920 edition of the Great Minnesota Get-Together was a fair to remember. It featured 10 tons of butter, 80 acres of farm machinery, “9-foot-5″ Jan Van Albert, speeches by presidential candidates Warren G. Harding and James M. Cox, and Ruth Law’s Flying Circus. The main attraction on opening day was a “Gigantic Locomotive Collision” at the grandstand, with two 160,000-pound engines slamming into each other at 60 mph. The collision was the top story on A1 the next morning in the Sunday Tribune. The fair staged three more locomotive collisions, in 1921, 1933 and 1934.
(Originally posted in August 2007; reposted to clean up design, update links, allow fresh comments and add this gratuitous link to one of the many train crashes depicted on "The Addams Family.")
| A Minnesota Historical Society photo shows the 1933 collision —
or is it 1934? The caption on the back lists both years.
A great big good-natured crowd of 55,117 people, intent upon watching two engines meet at top speed for the first time in their experience, disregarded a steady drizzle descending unceasingly from an overcast sky yesterday, and gave emphatic impetus to hopes of State Fair officials to make this year’s attendance break the world record set by the Minnesota State Fair last year.
The first day crowd in 1919 was only 30,631, little more than half yesterday’s attendance, despite the unkind treatment of the weather man.
Crowd Out For Good Time.
The crowd was remarkably good-natured in the face of adversity. They were out for a good time, and were determined to have it, even if their best clothes did get soaked. For three hours in the afternoon, a solid mass of humanity sat in the sold-out grandstand, unprotected from the merciless drizzle.
Thrills a-plenty rewarded the afternoon crowd for its three hours’ wait in the dripping granstands, when Ruth Law’s flying circus, featuring Al Wilson, and the engine collision, occurred exactly on schedule time late in the afternoon.
Collision Missed by None.
Visitors who had preferred inspection of the exhibits in Fair buildings to the full program of circus features and races offered on the grandstand track could not resist the chance to see the rail collision. Without question this unique feature was the crowd-pulling event of the day.
Steaming slowly up and down the brief stretch of track, the engines, piloted by W.D. Carrington and Harry Tatum of Inver Grove, made several preliminary test trips.
Then, with a shill blast of their whistles, the engines concentrated the crowd’s attention on the last trip they were to make. Carrington opened wide the throttle of engine “573,” she started forward, almost immediately gaining her maximum speed. He jumped quickly, but not quite quickly enough. Landing heavily in the adjacent mudbank, he turned three complete somersaults, and struck his ankle against a boulder, spraining it.
Tatum Swings to Safety.
Meanwhile, Tatum had started No. 478 more slowly. But as he saw the other engine tearing down the track, he threw the throttle wide, and swung to safety. The two engines, rushing inevitably toward each other, met almost squarely in the center of the track. Ther was a terrific explosion and “478” crashed clean through the front of “573,” and halted dead.
Then the fun began. Determined to get a close view, grandstand, bleacher and Machinery Hill crowds decided at one and the same moment ot reach the scene of the collision. Wire fences, wooden barriers, policeman with wildly waving arms were no barriers whatever. Within two minutes the racetrack, the central oval, and the fields beyond the enginetrack, were black with people. Up and [d]own the track and over the adjoining fields the people ranged, hunting bits of wreckage for souvenirs. Soon there was little left that was not too heavy to carry away.
Al Wilson’s Feats Win Thrills.
The collision, although it was listed as the central attraction of the day, was not so successful in rousing thrills as the unparalleled feat of “Al” Wilson, the intrepid acrobat, with Ruth Law’s flying circus. This professional daredevil, half a mile in the air, stood on the top of a plane made slippery by the rain, poised part of the time on one leg, and when the second plane approached over his head, he seized it’s wing by one hand, and swung gracefully over.
The rain-soaked plane, however, very nearly ended Wilson’s two-year career. While the planes were jockeying for position the first time they flew over the stands, Wilson temporarily lost his balance on top of the slippery plane and fell flat.
Minneapolis Pilot Participates.
Added daring was given to Wilson’s act yesterday through the fact that the lower plane, from which he swung, was driven by Ray Miller, a Minneapolis pilot who had never practiced the feat. Ray Goldsworthy, who ordinarily pilots the lower plane, was caught in a heavy rainstorm near Mason City, Iowa, and got here too late for the show.
Style Show Deferred.
Parts of the program deferred until Monday through first-day accidents invariably disappointed large crowds gathered.
|Cream of the crop: An elaborate State Fair butter sculpture from about 1920. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)|
Governor Cox has signified his intention of visiting the Fine Arts galleries tomorrow when he speaks before the grandstand.
Two Lost Boys Sought.
Police and hospital officials had little to do the first day of the Fair. Two lost boys, Robert Owens, Cathay, N.D., 14 years old, and George Esert, Gladstone, Minn., 12 years old, were reported to the police, and had not been found late last night. Not even a severe fainting spell was reported to the emergency hospital.
At the last minute, the night show was called off on account of rain. The announcement was deferred, because the Fair management hoped that it would be possible to stage the fireworks spectacle for the benefit of those out-of-town people who could not stay over until Monday evening.
Today, “Music Day,” will be a quiet Sunday of the Fair. No entertainment program of any kind has been arranged, and the Midway shows will not be open. There will be band concerts a-plenty, and the exhibition buildings will all be thrown open. The program arranged will be entirely educational.