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.

E-mail your questions or suggestions to Ben Welter.

Jan. 26, 1904: Bakes baby in an oven

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History, Crime Updated: January 29, 2014 - 4:26 PM
Very distressing to read this brief, even 110 years after it appeared on the front page – the front page! – of the Minneapolis Tribune. Still, you have to wonder about the accuracy of the story. What 6-year-old (I'm guessing the subheadline got the age wrong) is capable of committing such a horrifying act?



LA CROSSE, WIs., Jan. 26 – While Mrs. Edward Smith was chopping wood yesterday her daughter 6 years old placed a baby brother in a hot oven, closed the door and baked the baby to death before the mother returned. The oven had been heated for baking.

Jan. 26, 1904: Cold snap keeps plumbers busy

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History, Newspapers Updated: January 27, 2014 - 8:57 AM
This January's unrelenting cold is familiar to any baby boomer who grew up in Minnesota. My siblings and I walked the five blocks to Assumption grade school in Richfield in all weather in the 1960s. Heavy snow and subzero mornings were common. Yet I can't recall Assumption canceling a single school day because of snow, let alone cold, and no parents I knew of ever drove their children to school. Kids living in the surrounding neighborhoods bundled up for the 10- to 20-minute walk, overseen by mothers at one end and nuns at the other.

In second grade, during a week in which the mercury fell to 30 below zero, a walker arrived late and found he was unable to remove his frozen choppers. Sister Rosalie walked him over to a radiator to defrost the unbending leather shells and – I swear! – braced one hand against his chest and, using her other hand, had to pull mightily to free each hand. Bradley Shaw, can you confirm this memory?

A similar cold snap in January 1904 warranted a front page story in the Minneapolis Tribune, with the obligatory mention of a far colder January decades before.




Sunday, midnight -29
Monday, 3 a.m. -32
Monday, 6 a.m. -33
Monday, 9 a.m. -33
Monday, noon -24
Monday, 3 p.m. -20
Monday, 6 p.m. -20
Monday, 9 p.m. -20
Monday, midnight -22

The drug stores have been doing a thriving business during the last two days in all sorts of guaranteed remedies for frostbites, frozen ears, noses, fingers, toes and all other freezable portions of the human anatomy. Even the oldest inhabitant has been compelled to crawl out of his hiding place and tell about the cold first of January in 1863, “when it was real cold and the soldiers in the Union army were liberally [perhaps the reporter meant "literally"] frozen.” Relief is in sight at least for a short time, and the weather-wise say that the conjunction of the planets which caused this cold has gone by, and that another world is being troubled by similar conjunctions.

Other weather prophets say that the present cold snap is caused by a plumbers' trust; while others remark that a syndicate of rich men have bought up all the cola in the world, and have turned off the natural steam heat of the earth, and are holding out on the coal for large and juicy prices.

The government forecasters say that the crest of the wave has passed, and that the weather will moderate shortly. The busiest men in Minneapolis the past two days have undoubtedly been the plumbers. The quick decline in the temperatures Saturday caught many a householder unawares, and the pathetic calls for immediate assistance which greeted the plumbers' ears Sunday morning rendered the Sabbath anything but a day of rest for them.

Yesterday [Monday] there was not a plumber in Minneapolis who wanted work that was not busy doctoring some frost-bitten pipe, which had been unable to withstand the pressure exerted by jack frost.

For tales of hard luck it is but necessary to step into the first plumbing shop and listen to the troubles of this man whose cellar resembles a skating rink, and that man who has to wade in water up to his knees to get to the kitchen stove and start a fire to thaw things out.

A Minneapolis winter's day in 1900: Four small houses lined 4th Avenue S. at 4th Street, with the Guaranty Loan Building, later known as the Metropolitan Building, in the background. Can anyone identify the four-story building at right? (Photo courtesy Hennepin County Library's Minneapolis Collection)

Feb. 20, 1924: Gophers’ last outdoor hockey game

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History, Sports Updated: January 20, 2014 - 6:09 PM
The University of Minnesota added men’s hockey as a varsity sport in 1922. In the early years, the team played at three indoor rinks: the Lexington rink at Lexington and University Avenues in St. Paul, the original Hippodrome at the State Fairgrounds and the Minneapolis Arena at 29th and Dupont. Back then, the Gophers occasionally played home games at the “university rink,” an outdoor sheet of ice behind the Armory. Here is the Minneapolis Tribune’s account of what appears to have been the Gophers’ last outdoor home game of the 20th century.  

I’ll spare you the box score, except for these tidbits: The visiting Wolverines brought only one substitute; the Gophers had three “spares” on the bench. And the goalies made only nine saves each.

Gophers Beat
Michigan Six
Again, 2-0

Wally Youngbauer Scores Both Points for Minnesota Team.

The University of Minnesota hockey team continued its string of unbroken victories when it defeated the University of Michigan six in a conference hockey game at the university rink Tuesday night, 2 to 0.

Wally Youngbauer, Gopher center, was responsible for both of the Gophers’ scores. The Minnesota pivot man also played a brilliant checking and passing game.

Minnesota’s first counter came in the initial period after a Michigan rush up the ice was halted by the Minnesota center, who took the puck through the Wolverine defense and shot a fast one past the Wolverine goalie. Toward the close of the period Youngbauer, after Olson had taken a short shot from the side, took the rebound and pushed the disc into the net for the second and final tally of the game.


Light padding, a short stick and lots and lots of tape: A hockey player of the 1920s showed his form at the "university rink" behind the Armory at the University of Minnesota. Can you identify this young gentleman? (Photo courtesy
The University of Minnesota also had a "girls" hockey team in the mid-1920s. Far better dressed than their male counterparts, these young women looked ready to tear up the ice. Can you identify them? (Minneapolis Journal photo)

Aug. 29, 1920: Insurance against spinsterhood

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History Updated: January 13, 2014 - 10:33 AM
The young woman who hatched the insurance idea described in the Minneapolis Tribune story below appears to have been an intelligent person with a broad range of interests. She was an accomplished debater at North High and at the University of Minnesota. She took first place in oratory in her sophomore year at the U and worked as a reporter at the Minnesota Daily as a junior. She was a Big Sisters volunteer. She was active in her synagogue. She planned a career in life insurance in an era in which women’s workplace roles were severely limited. So how did she come up with this cockamamie idea?

Spinsterhood Specter Fades
Under New Insurance Plan

University Girl Evolves Idea For Consoling Unmated as Years Roll By.

College Women Regarded Poor Risks and Would Pay Higher Premiums.

Bachelors may now “bach” until Kingdom Come, and naught be the care of the aging maiden!

For now comes Miss Rose Feigelman, University of Minnesota co-ed and life insurance saleswoman, with a new idea to console the feminine heart and mind which finds itself living in single blessedness as the years pass onward.

It is “Matrimonial Risk Insurance.”

Rose Feigelman

Under this plan it would be possible for fond parents to insure their daughters at birth and be happy in the realization that when the daughter reaches the age of 35 and is still unmarried, she will be paid $10,000 by the insurance company. The plan is still in embryo, Miss Feigelman said, but “it’s nearing practicality.”

There is now life insurance, accident insurance, health insurance, insurance against business loss, almost every conceivable sort of insurance, and so, why not matrimonial risk insurance? That’s the query of this young co-ed and distributor of life insurance policies! It’s the plan which, she says, would make every woman’s outlook upon life one of high optimism as year after year passes and no man looms on the horizon.

“Well, now,” she was asked by one of her “prospects,” who was told the plan, “supposing an applicant were not so – er – good looking? Would you impose a higher premium? Or don’t looks make any difference?”

“That has not yet been worked out,” came the answer with a smile. “But I doubt it there would be any difference.”

“Risks would be regarded as nearly equal for any two women then?”

“University women will have to pay a higher premium, they’re a poor risk when it comes to matrimony, so small a percentage of them marry, they get too particular and independent,” she answered quickly.

“Are you a – oh, a poor risk?”

“Maybe,” and she smiled quizzically.

Miss Feigelman is a senior at the university. When the vacation periods come she sells life insurance.

“Some people think it’s strange that a girl should sell life insurance,” she continued. “They think I ought to be a stenographer or a clerk in a department store or something, but I differ with them.”

Miss Feigelman is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Feigelman, 1028 Newton avenue north.

FOLLOWUP: Scouring the Web, I've been unable to find much more about Miss Feigelman. It's no surprise that her matrimonial risk insurance idea appears to have come to naught. But what about the woman herself? Did she pursue a career in insurance sales? Did she marry, have children? All I can say with assurance is that her father was Louis B. Feigelman, owner of a jewelry shop at 522 Nicollet Avenue. The shop advertised regularly in the Minneapolis Tribune and was listed the Minneapolis city directories of that period. Her mother's name might have been Fanny. Rose had a younger sister, Miriam, whose charming letter to the Tribune's Happy Thought Club was published on Dec. 31, 1922:

"Dear Fairy Happy Thought: May I join your dear little club? Please let me. I have a sister but she is too big to write to the club. Her name is Rose. I have a talking doll two and one-half feet tall. I have many other dolls but she is the best. Her name is Margaret. She is very pretty. She has staring eyes. I like school very much. My teacher's name is Miss Williams. I guess I will close now. Your new friend. MIRIAM FEIGELMAN, 1028 Newton Ave. N., Mpls, Minn."

Feb. 9, 1899: Amphibious assault on a factory fire

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History Updated: January 6, 2014 - 10:09 AM
A fire broke out in the feather room of a Minneapolis bedding factory during one of the coldest weeks in the city's history. Firefighters raced to the scene, unrolled their hoses and turned on the water. The Minneapolis Tribune explained what happened next.

[This page one story had no headline]

This three-column photo "WAS TAKEN BY THE TRIBUNE STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER FROM FROGS WHICH MR. DUFFY FOUND," according to the original all-caps caption.

It is not every city the size of Minneapolis that can gather together its frog population in mid-winter at the alarm of fire and hustle them through its water mains to a fire in front of a water pressure of 80 pounds to the square inch. Of course it is not every day that a fire occurs in a bedding factory. The prospect of making a temporary winter home among several thousand dollars[’] worth of feathers might have been the inducement, but such is not believed to be the case.


At the fire of the Minneapolis Bedding company Tuesday a bushel of frogs passed though the mains, choked up the fire apparatus, necessitating the stopping of the engine until they were removed. In their hurried call to duty a number of these frogs were forced out of the automatic sprinklers, dropping upon the floor.


There is but a half-inch hole in the sprinklers, and the frogs in almost every instance were badly mangled after this tight squeeze. The picture above shows four of the frogs just as they were taken from the automatic sprinklers by J. B. Duffy, agent of the latter machines.


“I thought I would bring the documentary evidence,” said Mr. Duffy to The Tribune, “else people might be led to say that I had seen snakes, not frogs.”


Lying near the hydrant in front of the damaged bedding factory [at what is now 5th Avenue SE. and E. Hennepin] are at least two pecks of these frogs of all sizes and ages. On the floor is another lot of these little hoppers, and stuck in the sprinklers are many others.


The attention of the council committee on waterworks will be called to this matter, and a demand made for a speedy remedy of the existing evil. From the appearance of these little reptile in such numbers it would seem that there is very little effectiveness to the screen on the reservoir, placed there to catch sediment. A filtering process is badly needed.


During the excitement of fighting the fire these frogs were thought by the firemen and others to be nothing but a collection of green grass or seaweed. Closer investigation proved their identity. “It is nauseating to think about,” said Mr. Duffy, “but the public is invited to see for itself by a visit to the factory and the hydrant where the frogs now lie. The evidence is there, and the firemen will vouch for the truth of it.”


A committee of citizens will wait upon the waterworks committee at once and ask that the matter be looked into by the supervisor’s department.


The other day three frogs were removed from the water pipes at the public library.



Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters