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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Posts about Minnesota History

March 17, 1962: Meet the Roosevelt Rockettes

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: April 11, 2014 - 7:23 PM
 
This photo by Jack Gillis of the Minneapolis Star sat in a steel cabinet in the Star Tribune library for more than 50 years, along with thousands of other images rarely used a second time. I ran across it in a search of our new digital photo archive. The photo appeared on the Teen Topper page, accompanied by the caption below. As was typical of the era, the caption provided readers with the name, age and home address of each of the young women. You’d think that would make it easy to track down Gail Wittels, the Rockette with the broken leg. But all I can find is a document suggesting that she went to college and earned a graduate degree in economics at the University of California. After that the thin trail evaporates. If you know her, or any of these fine-looking young ladies, post a comment or drop me a line. I’d also love to hear more about the Roosevelt Rockettes. The group was established in 1951 and led “a lively existence through succeeding student generations,” according to a 1967 photo caption. They made their own costumes and did most of their own choreography. Impressive!
 

Rockette Puts Her Game Leg Forward

When Gail Wittels, 16, 5537 Woodlawn Blvd., shows up for rehearsal of Roosevelt High School Rockettes, she doesn't put her best foot forward -- she puts her game leg forward (right). Out skiing on the season's multistratous snow, Gail suffered a spiral fracture of her right leg. Consequently, she will be on the sidelines when the dance troupe appears at the school's talent show next Friday in the school auditorium. She also will miss the spring fashion show April 5, also at the school. The fashion show will be a salute to spring, with students, parents and members of the school staff serving as models. A quartet, the "Teddy Tones," will present song fashions. Rockettes (above, from left) are Dawn Peterson, 15, 4213 18th Av. S.; Pam Filmore, 16, 3940 17th Av. S.; Kathy Nelson, 17, 3120 Wenonah Place; Mary Keohane, 17, 5156 30th Av. S.; Lynn Scheele, 16, 4252 Nokomis Av.; Joan Johnson, 17, 5429 31st Av. S.; Kay Kwakenat, 16, 5337 Nokomis Av.; Nora Monahan, 17, 4916 Aldrich Av. S.; Diane Franzen, 17, 4104 20th Av. S.; Lani Greenfield, 17, 3916 29th Av. S.; Jacquie Spence, 15, 4933 Nokomis Av.; Mary Jo Kunz, 16, 5256 45th Av. S., and Gail cheerfully resting her weight on her good leg. [Pictured separately were Pam Anderson, 18, 3900 18th Av. S.; Karin Wakefield, 17, 4151 24th Av. S.; Frances Malmsten, 17, 4740 17th Av. S., and Jerilyn Johnson, 18, 3504 43rd Av. S.] 

Sept. 3, 1911: Canoeing with the Ojibwe

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: April 1, 2014 - 4:43 PM
 
Have you read "Canoeing With the Cree," Eric Sevareid's engaging account of his 1930 canoe trip from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay? Sevareid, 17, and a 19-year-old friend paddled more than 2,200 miles that summer. They caught fish, shot rapids, ate pemmican. They mingled with Indians and slept under the stars.

A few decades earlier, another 17-year-old boy from Minneapolis set out on a canoe adventure that was nearly as ambitious and just as likely to inspire others to pack up a canoe and head north. Bruce Steelman submitted this account to the Minneapolis Tribune:
 
Bruce Steelman intended to take photos, but his camera got soaked early in the trip. Thank goodness the Minnesota Historical Society has scores of images from that time and place. Here, an Ojibwe family paddled Lake Vermilion, the starting point of  Steelman's 1,100-mile journey. (Image courtesy mnhs.org)
 

Minneapolis Canoeists
Tour Upper Minnesota

 

Three Boys Cover 1,100 Miles on Lakes and Rivers in Five-Week Trip.

Range Waters and Rainy River Country Explored – Rare Experiences.

They Come Down Mississippi From Bemidji – Outing to Be Repeated.

Bruce C. Steelman, 119 Thirty-third street west, his brother, Clyde, and Loyd Sherman have returned to Minneapolis after a canoe trip of 1,100 miles on the lakes and rivers of northern Minnesota. Some of the places visited have seldom been visited by white men. The boys plan to repeat the trip some time.

Bruce Steelman tells the story of the voyage as follows:

“Loyd Sherman, my brother, Clyde, and myself had long planned to take a canoe trip. We shipped out two canoes and supplies to Tower, Minn., on July 16. We stocked up with bacon, salt pork, navy beans, flour, corn meal, rice and everything that generally goes with a camping outfit. We started from Minneapolis, where we all live.

“We arrived at Tower at 11 a.m. the next day. Early in the afternoon we launched our canoes and pushed out from shore in Vermillion [correct spelling: Vermilion] lake. Crossing the lake we entered the river of the same name and passed through Crane lake, Sand Point lake, Namekan lake and some smaller bodies.

Tepee Pitched.

“At the outlet of the Vermillion river we pitched our tepee. The owner of Hunters’ lodge there advised us to ship one of our canoes back, because there were many portages to make, but we went on with the two canoes.

“The first day out from there we made five portages. One of the canoes got away from us and was swept down the rapids. It turned partly over and filled with water. We lost all our ammunition, part of our clothing and some of our grub. Loyd rand down stream and headed off the canoe, jumped into the stream and towed it to shore. Our camera was soaked and this prevented us from taking many pictures along our trip as we had intended doing.

“At this point we decided that one canoe was plenty and were sorry we had not followed the advice of the man at Hunters’ lodge. The next morning Loyd and I started back with the smaller canoe to the foot of Vermillion lake and shipped it back home.

“My brother was to go down stream a little farther with the large canoe and the supplies to a small creek. Though we had never been there we thought we could easily find him. After getting the canoe off our hands we started back overland to join Clyde. We found the  creek, but Clyde was not there. As we had spoken of no other meeting place we did not know what to do. We made a search of the surroundings and found an old boat, which we got into and went back to our camping place of the night before. He was not there. Night was coming on and we had nothing to eat with us and no gun. In the meantime a strong wind came up and a heavy shower, which drenched us to the skin in a few moments.

Had No Dry Matches.

“We had no matches that were dry and we could not start a fire. It was now dark. We groped around and found a windfall, pulled off some boughs, made a bed and remained there all night. At the break of day we got out and started back in the boat. The morning was bright and the warm sun felt good to us. We had not gone far when we saw three moose only a few yards away. They trotted off briskly.

“After a search of a couple of hours we found Clyde and the supplies. We were more anxious to find the latter than the former, for our appetites were pretty keen. The waves had driven Clyde ashore and we had passed him.

“In a few days we had reached the Rainy Lake river, after making about 18 portages, two of which were over a mile long.

“Up to this time we had caught wall-eyed pike weighing up to seven pounds and plenty of northern pike. We had also seen a number of deer.

“At our first camping place on the Rainy Lake river we were besieged with timber wolves. We kept up a pretty high camp fire and they kept their distance, but hung around most of the night. When daylight came they had disappeared and we saw nothing more of them.

“We saw many Indians along our trip, but as they could not talk English they could not benefit us much. They have some fine birch bark canoes which we could have bought for from $3 to $10.

“We started up the Rainy lakes and could not make over about seven miles a day, as it was showery for about three weeks. We had to use our compasses, for we could not tell the islands from the mainland. Part of the time we camped on the Canadian side. Some nights we camped on islands when we thought we were on the mainland. Moose seemed plentiful on the international boundary. Fishing was most excellent.

The Mississippi River below Lake Bemidji in about 1910. (Image courtesy mnhs.org)

“The trip through the lakes was very interesting as the shores are very rocky and covered with timber. There are scarcely any white men up there, but Indians are everywhere to be found. We traveled by moonlight a great deal, for the nights were calm while the waves rolled nearly every day. We lost our way many times on these lakes and were several days reaching International Falls, where we camped for a few days.

“We shipped our canoe and luggage to Bemidji, Minn. Here we launched our canoe in Bemidji lake, the outlet of which flows into Cass lake, and after passing this lake we went down the river to Lake Winnibigoshish. The Mississippi is so shallow up there that we were aground every little while and we had to work like galley slaves to get along.

“From Bemidji to Minneapolis by the river it is over 500 miles. We found but few whites along the river clear down to Aitkin.

"We were almost out of supplies and could get but little from the Indians. When we were almost ready to land at home we came very near losing our whole outfit in a log jam. We landed Friday evening at the Union station, Minneapolis, at 7 o'clock. All we had left of our provisions was salt and pepper and a little rice.

"The trip cost us about $40 apiece, not counting our experience."

 
Cooling off in Cass Lake in about 1910: Steelman didn't report seeing any bathing beauties like these while crossing the big lake. (Image courtesy mnhs.org)

June 8, 1941: Plane noise a nuisance in south Minneapolis

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: March 19, 2014 - 12:10 AM
 
Complaints about airport noise date back further than you might have guessed. Here a Minneapolis Tribune reader registered his displeasure with the “inconsiderate pilots” of low-flying planes.
 

Low-Flying Planes Again
a Nuisance in the City

To the Editor: Of all the candidates for political office, none has asserted himself as to the low-flying plane nuisance in south Minneapolis.

Again this summer inconsiderate pilots of sightseeing planes use the city airport at a very nominal expense to fly passengers. Many times we hear motors stalling and sputtering, while we notice the pilot attempting to glide his plane back to the airport. One plane had forced landings last summer so often that it finally landed in a cemetery.  

When I speak of this nuisance I do not mean in the immediate vicinity of the airport. I mean all the district north of Fiftieth street and beyond Franklin avenue.

Improper observance of the city ordinances in respect to low-flying planes has reduced property values in south Minneapolis by $500 to $3,000 during the summer months. If you question that statement, try selling your property in summer. This loss of real estate value is a loss of taxes as well.

JOHN REIHERZER, Minneapolis

 
This Grumman amphibious airplane, parked at the Naval Reserve Air Base at Wold-Chamberlain Field in October 1940, looks mighty noisy. Wold-Chamberlain, named after two local pilots killed in combat during World War I, was renamed Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in 1948. (Minneapolis Times photo)

June 11, 1941: ‘Health lecturer’ arrested in Minneapolis

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: March 18, 2014 - 7:53 PM
 
Russell James, described as a “health lecturer” in stories in the Minneapolis Star Journal, was arrested during one of his presentations in 1941. He was accused of claiming that Riddo, a health food product he sold, would cure a variety of ailments.  Riddo, a concoction of powdered bananas and whey, was marketed by California bodybuilder and health food advocate Paul Bragg in the early 1940s. Judging by these photos from the Star Tribune archives, James was probably a bodybuilder himself. His secretary, Ruth Cook, was no couch potato either. Hubba. Hubba.
 
Ruth Cook and her boss, Russell James, dressed appropriately for court. But photos like this don't sell papers -- or build Web traffic. It went unpublished. (Star Journal photo by Russell Bull)
 
 
This photo, also by Russell Bull, ran with the story below, with the caption: "RUSSELL JAMES AND BLOND SECRETARY, RUTH COOK: Will this 'picture of health' convince jury?"
 

Maybe Juror Can Throw
Pair of Crutches Away

One of the women in the jury of six women and six men to hear charges of practicing healing without a license against Russell James, 50, health lecturer and “Riddo” salesman, hobbled into the jury box on crutches.

According to Reginald M. Johnson, attorney for the state board of medical examiners, James claims his patients are able to throw away their crutches after using “Riddo” and practicing the form of exercises he prescribes in his health lectures.

Johnson will be the first witness called by the state when testimony in James’ trial starts before Judge Mathias Baldwin Monday.

Ernest Malmberg, attorney for James, said the health lecturer will take the stand in his own defense in an attempt to “sell” the jury on “Riddo.” He and his blond secretary, Ruth Cook, above, are shown as they appeared before their audiences in the Wesley Temple basement.

 
THEY BOUGHT IT: After three hours of deliberations, the Hennepin County District Court jury found James not guilty of practicing healing without a license.
 
 
Although it is somewhat less disturbing than the photo above, this one didn't make the paper. Say, what was going on between these two?

Feb. 3, 1917: ‘Klan’ parade kicks off Minneapolis auto show

Posted by: Ben Welter Updated: March 8, 2014 - 1:53 PM
 
The 2014 Twin Cities Auto Show, which opens this weekend, features food trucks, an off-road Jeep course, a complimentary child seat safety check, and appearances by Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio and Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. The 1917 Minneapolis Auto Show featured a large cafe; 10 huge, brightly lit showrooms; and a parade by hundreds of men, women, girls and boys dressed in … Ku Klux Klan outfits? In all its breathless coverage of the show, the Minneapolis Tribune never clearly explains the reason behind the “spectacular” parade garb, other than give a nod to its promotional value. Each costume featured the name and location of the show in big block letters. Because nothing sells cars like the hooded costumes worn by a group dedicated to maintaining white supremacy.
 

Record Breaker
1917 Auto Show
to Start Today

Has Twice as Many Exhibits as Any Previous Event.

MAKES SPECIAL BID TO SIGHTSEER CLAN

Time Is All Week – Place, Mazda Building, Broadway Near Central.

The 1917 Auto show, the tenth, given annually under the auspices of the Minneapolis Automobile Trade association, will open this morning at the National Mazda Lamp building. Aside from probable delays in the arrival of some of the displays coming from the Chicago Auto show on account of extreme weather, 10 great show rooms, averaging each 12,000 square feet of floor space, will have their exhibits in place, classified so as to afford direct comparisons of models of more makes than will be shown at any other auto show this year.

Twice As Big This Year.

 
 
Emily Garfield and Winifred O'Malley modeled the Klan costumes for the Tribune a week before the big parade. Some of the lettering on the back -- "AUTO SHOW" -- is visible on the capes. The accompanying story reported that the $1.15 suits were being made "in all sizes and shapes so they will fit boys, girls, men and women of various proportions," and that 5,000 orders were expected.

The show will be double the size and have double the number of exhibits and floor space of any previous show, equalling the great auto shows held at New York and Chicago in all essentials and surpassing them in some.

As an advance spectacle 300 automobiles decorated in white and black, many with white plumes and flags and each bearing white robed and white hooded “night riders,” took part in a Ku Klux Klan auto parade which toured the downtown district yesterday afternoon and then paid a visit to the St. Paul outdoor sports carnival.

About 800 persons braved the below-zero weather to take part in the demonstration. As the autos progressed though the principal business streets, small guns, resembling in miniature those used in the European war to bring down aeroplanes, and mounted on the back seats of many of the cars, kept up a continual cannonading.

A Sea of Automobiles.

The Mazda building yesterday afternoon and last evening looked like an island entirely surrounded by automobiles. In addition to the many cars that were waiting in line to be hoisted by elevators to upper floors, there were trucks loaded with accessory displays and the exhibits of East Side manufacturers for the industrial section.

Manager Walter R. Wilmot had given positive orders, backed by the board of directors, that no exhibits are to be received this morning after 9 o’clock, in order that the final hour before the opening may be devoted to getting in readiness to receive the public.

Inside the building there were men at work on all four floors a good part of the night and by this morning the wonderful transformation of a great building, constructed for modern factory purposes, into a vast show house, ornately decorated and brilliantly lighted, will have been accomplished.

Atmospheric tings have been given to some of the rooms by colors, panel decorations and light effects. In others there are gay birds of plumage. There is a Domino room, a Red room, and a Mikado room with Japanese ornamentation and the entrance hallway has all the colors of the rainbow.

Concession to Sightseers.

A new feature is a large café with fully equipped restaurant service and space for dinner dancing, which is a concession to the sightseeing element that regards an automobile “show” as really a show, and not the display of new inventions, new designs, new conveniences and luxuries, which it really is.

People will see an auto show this year arranged not so much as a spectacle, as at the Armory shows, as for the purpose of giving dealers a chance to show goods to people who have come to make purchases or get information, instead of entertainment. …

Band Heads Klansmen.

Leading yesterday’s Ku Klux Klan parade was a decorated Willcox truck carrying a 20-piece band. Directing the band was a nine-foot-tall Klansmen.

The L.S. Donaldson company had an automobile massed with flowers. It was winner of the $75 prize offered for the best decorated car in the St. Paul carnival parade.

Harvey Mack, G. Roy Hill, V.J. Stromquist and John S. Johnson were parade marshals. Due to impeding traffic, sections of the parade became lost, and during part of the procession downtown, cars scurried from street to street seeking the main body.

Cars were parked in St. Paul after the parade and the Klansmen mingled with the carnival celebrators and many stayed over to attend the pageant at the Auditorium in the evening, their grotesque suits being conspicuous among the carnival costumes of many colors with the time and place of the holding of the 1917 Auto show conspicuously printed on their backs.

 
Built in 1914, the Mazda Lamp Building at Broadway and Jackson Streets NE. had the capacity to manufacture 25,000 Mazda light bulbs a day. But within a few years the technology was obsolete, and in 1917 the cavernous space was used for the 10th annual Minneapolis auto show. The Minneapolis School District bought the building in 1930, and it served as district headquarters for more than 60 years. A developer bought the property last year with plans to turn it into 170,000 square feet of "creative-use" office space. (Photo courtesy of Hennepin County Library's Minneapolis Collection)

 

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