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.
Remember Otis Campbell, the town drunk on "The Andy Griffith Show"? He frequently let himself into Sheriff Andy Taylor's jail to sleep off a bender. Meet George Kelley, a Minneapolis resident whose struggle with alcohol landed him in the workhouse more than 100 times. A Minneapolis Tribune reporter was in court when a judge invited Kelley to set his own sentence.
Man Who Has Been to Workhouse 102 Times Chooses Own Time.
Associates on Bridge Square Call Him “Workhouse” Kelley.
Judge Smith Gives Him Option of Time in City's Institution.
George Kelley, known to hundreds of bridge square men as “Workhouse Kelley,” went to the workhouse 102 times because judges of the municipal courts sentenced him there. Yesterday he made his record 103, but he sentenced himself after Judge C.L. Smith told him he could go up for as long as he liked.
“Well, give me about 30 days, judge,” said Kelley.
“Don't you think 90 days would be better for you,” said the judge. Kelley was stern as he faced the judge. “No, sir, I only want 30 days.”
“Thirty days it is,” said the judge. “You've been up there enough times so that you perhaps might think you have a right to say how long you'll go up for.”
18 Years in Workhouse.
Kelley gives his age as 82 years. He looks about 70 years old. He has lived in Minneapolis for the past 40 years. Of the 40 years, he has spent about 18 years in the workhouse. He has served more time than any other prisoner who has ever been in the workhouse.
Saturday was the first time Kelley has been in the workhouse in 1913. Last December he went to Oshkosh, Wis., to visit a brother, W.J. Kelley, who has given “Workhouse” Kelley an allowance of $20 a month for years. Before he got to his brother's house he was arrested and sent to jail. He got out of jail a week ago and returned to Minneapolis without having seen his brother. Friday night two police found him in lock-up alley, drunk.
He lives at the Grand Central hotel, 110 Second street south, when not in the workhouse.
|"Lockup Alley" is in Block 38 of this section of a 1903 Minneapolis map. The narrow passage behind the Central Police Station was familiar to many of the city's unsavory characters in the late 1800s and early 1900s. (Image courtesy of Hennepin County Library's Minneapolis Collection)|
|The Minneapolis workhouse at 50th and Lyndale Avenues N. in about 1902. (Image courtesy mnhs.org)|
A confused slice of city life from the Minneapolis Tribune:
Newsboys and Citizens Chase Will o' the Wisp in Broad Daylight.
A full fledged riot, indulged in by about 100 newsboys, 100 innocent bystanders, eager to be hurt, and downtown policemen, occurred late yesterday afternoon between the Tribune building and the courthouse. The feature of the episode was that although all of the rioters ran and shouted, but few of them knew exactly what was the cause of the excitement.
A man and a woman were sitting in a carriage in front of The Tribune building when the horse reared up, demolishing a bicycle belonging to Mauritz Pohlson, a bicycle messenger boy living at 2210 Seventeenth avenue south.
Some one shouted that the boy had been run over.
Another said an automobile had hit him.
A third rumor to the effect that the boy had been killed set the crowd wild.
The man and woman drove along Fourth street.
The boy dragged his bicycle down First avenue.
Somebody ran across the street and into the postoffice alley.
Instantly 100 followed.
Somebody shouted “catch him.”
The crowd split up, part of it racing south on Fourth street.
Two sneaky looking policemen with vague ideas of “heading off” some imaginary fugitive, joined in the chase.
Nearly everybody shouted. The rest asked questions, ran and shouted.
The entire mob, now grown double its original size, brought up at the city hall, where the police auto patrol was standing.
Then it was rumored that the patrol had run over a boy.
Soon the perspiring policemen arrived, empty handed and breathless.
Everybody looked at everybody else, but nobody was able to tell what the excitement was about.
Then everybody went home looking foolish.
|A far larger throng filled the streets near the Tribune building in the 1890s or 1900s. The photo was taken on the northwest corner of Nicollet Avenue looking east on 4th Street. The reason for the gathering is unclear. Perhaps you know? (Image courtesy of Hennepin County Library's Minneapolis Collection)|
A “Baby Ousley” was mentioned in one of the Tribune pieces on little Tribuna, the foundling left on the counter of a Minneapolis confectionery in 1909. The story noted that the newspaper had played a role in Baby Ousley's adoption as well, saying that he had been “left in the overcrowded Jean Martin Brown home,” an orphanage in St. Paul. Intrigued, I scoured the Tribune archives and found his remarkable story.
Two days later, the Tribune reported what happened when Mr. Ousley came home that Saturday night.
|The home built by the Ousleys in 1905 is now occupied by the Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis. Image courtesy of placeography.org|
EPILOGUE: What happened to little Richard? Research suggests that Richard Earl Ousley, born in Ramsey County on Feb. 18, 1909, led a full life. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, married a woman named Elsie, had a stepson and lived in Las Vegas for a time. He died in the Twin Cities on Aug. 29, 1978, and is buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. That leaves so many questions: Where did he go to school? What did he do for a living? Did he know about the circumstances of his birth and adoption? So far I have been unable to find a living blood relative who can fill in the details. "They're all gone," a step-granddaughter told me last month. Still, there must be someone alive who knew him well. I will keep looking.
A sleeping teenager was bitten by a wolf while camping near Lake Winnibigoshish earlier this week. Reports described it as the first documented wolf attack in Minnesota history. Not true. More than a century ago, the Minneapolis Tribune documented a wolf attack in, of all places, the Bijou Theater on Washington Avenue. Sounds like it was quite a show.
ACTORS IN QUEEN OF THE HIGHWAY ATTACKED BY WOLF.
Beast Escapes From His Cage While Performance Is in Progress. Dashes Into Young Woman’s Dressing Room and Only Timely Arrival of Animal Trainer and Great Dane Dog Saves Her from Serious Injury and Possibly Death.
|An ad touting the return engagement of "Queen of the Highway" appeared in the Minneapolis Tribune in October 1904. "Duke, the Famous Bandit Dog," earned a mention. But "10 Real Trained Wolves" and "4 Superb Acting Horses" got top billing.|
Two days later, the Tribune reported that Duke was indeed wearing “a fine new silver collar,” given to him by the company in recognition of his backstage heroics.
Part 7: Early this summer, I happened upon the tale of a little foundling left at a Minneapolis confectionery in 1909. The woman behind the counter, Mary Sanford, had been longing for a child, and she and her husband, a real estate man, welcomed the happy infant into their home. The feel-good story extended to the neighborhood and beyond, thanks to the Minneapolis Tribune, which published stories and photos about the foundling nearly every day for two weeks: Tribuna is wrapped in loving arms, Tribuna is a thriving tot; Tribuna is showered with gifts.
I posted the first few pieces without knowing how the story would unfold. I hoped Tribuna would continue to thrive and enjoy a happy childhood. I hoped she would grow up to be a fine woman with children of her own. I hoped to track down her descendants and talk with them about how their great-grandmother got her start in life. I hoped to give you a happy ending. Instead, then as now, the ending is abrupt and heart-breaking.
[read part 1] | [read part 2] | [read part 3] | [read part 4] | [read part 5] | [read part 6]
The next day, the Tribune published a funeral announcement accompanied by the most recent photo of the little girl.
|A day before Tribuna died, a minister from Gethsemane Episcopal Church in Minneapolis visited the Sanford home and baptized the girl "in extremis," according to church records. This postcard of the church at 905 4th Av. S. in downtown Minneapolis is from about 1905. (Image courtesy of mnhs.org)|
In this, the Tribune’s final story on the little founding, Tribuna’s true given name, Evelyn – the name listed at the church where she was baptized and at the cemetery in which she is buried -- is mentioned for the first time:
Tribuna is buried in an unmarked grave in Crystal Lake Cemetery in north Minneapolis. She was laid to rest next to the Sanfords’ other child, Albert, who died in infancy on Aug. 22, 1908, nearly a year to the day after Tribuna was left in their care. His grave is also unmarked, which was common for infants of that era.
It's unclear what happened to the Sanfords after Tribuna's death. I can find no Minnesota death record for Mary (or Leah, as she was listed in Tribuna's baptismal record), but it appears the couple parted ways at some point, whether through death or divorce. Carlton sold off his family property in Faribault and headed to California, where it appears he married a woman named Alice. Carlton C. and Alice I. Sanford are buried at San Gabriel Cemetery in Los Angeles County. I will try to locate Carlton Sanford's descendants to see if I can confirm his move to California and perhaps find out what happened to Mary Sanford. Please let me know if you can help in that search.