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 wire story – the source is unclear – appeared in several U.S. newspapers, including the Minneapolis Tribune:
What It Feels Like to be Guillotined -- a Rare Experience.
We know how it feels to be poisoned, to be hanged and to be drowned, but it has been reserved for M. Mondate, an Italian gentleman, to let the world know, through La Defense, what it feels like to be guillotined.
He was in 1873 condemned to death for a crime of which he was innocent, and it was not the fault of Italian justice that he escaped. The blade of the guillotine fell, but the wood in the grooves of which it ran had swollen slightly, and the knife stopped barely two centimeters from his neck. While they were repairing this defect a reprieve arrived – the true murderer had been found and confessed his crime.
"It was 8 o'clock A.M., August 17, 1873," says M. Mondate, "that my confessor, l'Abbe Fernia, entered my cell to announce to me that I must die. When at the touch of his hand upon my shoulder I awakened, I comprehended at once the nature of his errand, and despite my confidence, it seems that I turned horribly pale. I would have spoken, but my mouth contracted nervously and no saliva moistened it. A mortal chill suddenly invaded the lower part of my body. By a supreme effort I succeeded in gasping, ‘It is not true!’ The priest answered I know not what. I only heard a confused buzzing.
“Then a sudden thrill of pride shot through me. For some minutes I felt no fear; I stood erect; I said to myself that if I must die I should show them that an innocent man died with courage. I spoke with great rapidity; I was horribly afraid to be silent or to be interrupted; I thanked the governor of the prison, and asked for something to eat. They brought me a cup of chocolate, but I refused it. Again I had become fully possessed with the horrors of my situation; I had visions of what the scaffold would be like, and mechanically asked the attendants, ‘Does it hurt much?’ ‘Not a bit,’ answered somebody, and I saw before me a new person in a gown of black woolen – the executioner.
“I would have risen, defended myself, asserted my innocence, but I fainted, and when I returned to consciousness I was pinioned in the cart which was entering the death place. I cast a shuddering look at the horrible machine. I had no more connected and coherent thought, and the uprights through which the knife runs seemed as high as the masts of a ship. I was lifted to the platform. I had but one fixed idea – that of resistance. But how could I resist? I was seized and flung down upon the plank. I felt as if I was paralyzed and lay there for an immense time. Then there was a sharp blow on my neck, and I fainted again with the instinctive idea that the knife had struck me. It was not the knife, but the upper part of the lunette. When I came to myself was in the prison hospital.”
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?
FIVE-YEAR-OLD GIRL ROASTS LITTLE BROTHER WHILE MOTHER IS ABSENT.
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.
Some mighty fine police work by a Minneapolis detective, as reported in the Tribune:
For three days Detective Wilson of the East Side Police station lay on a church pew in the gallery of the church of St. Anthony of Padua, Eighth avenue and Main street southeast, peeking between two prayer books he had braced against a pew in front of him.
|St. Anthony of Padua Church in about 1900. The towers were removed during a renovation in the late 1940s. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)|
Yesterday afternoon, after a score or more of worshipers in the church had left, a woman entered and went to the middle of the church. She lighted a candle, took off her shoes and tiptoed to the back of the church. Wilson and the sexton, who was keeping watch with the detective, said they saw her take a key from her pocketbook, unlock the box for contributions to the poor, take out the money and start back to get her shoes.
Wilson and the sexton hurried downstairs and arrested her as she was putting on her shoes. She had $1.44, which, they said, she had taken from the box. She gave her name as Alice Eastman. She lived in the University apartments, Fifteenth avenue and Fourth street southeast.
She told the police matron that she was poor and thought she had a right to the money in the box. This is the third time she has been arrested. Three years ago she was convicted of having broken into a desk in the First Baptist church. She was sent to the House of the Good Shepherd.
According to the police she was employed in the office of the board of education, marking examination papers of teachers. The rector of St. Anthony church reported to Captain Quealey that money had been missing from the poor box for several weeks.
In a column given prominent play on the front page of the Minneapolis Tribune, Joe Soucheray captured the hooliganism that took hold after the Vikings' final game at Met Stadium on Dec. 20, 1981. What inspired the madness that afternoon? A few days before the game, Minneapolis Star columnist Jim Klobuchar interviewed the team's ticket manager, Harry Randolph, about crowd control for Sunday’s game. This quote attributed to Randolph suggested the Vikings were taking a hands-off approach to souvenir hunters:
“All we want to do is to hold down the self-inflicted injuries to minor concussions and treatable fractures. If they are going to carry off their seats, we prefer handsaws to the standard Black & Decker ripsaws in the commercials. If they are going after the goal posts, we suggest they come wearing helmets and hard-toe boots.”
Klobuchar’s column drew complaints from the team, which disputed the quote and said it had to hire extra security for the game. By Tuesday, the Star acknowledged the humorous quote was a fabrication and Klobuchar was suspended for two weeks without pay. But the damage, whatever the proximate cause, was done. Here was Soucheray’s take on Met Stadium's messy final act:
|The trouble begins: Fans in the center-field bleachers hauled down the American flag in the fourth quarter. (Star Tribune photo)|
|Minnesota nice: One Vikings fan brought a sign to show his displeasure with the stadium's demise. (Star Tribune photo)|
|The oh-so-frozen tundra: The sun set on Metropolitan Stadium and its snow-covered parking lot in 1981. (Star Tribune photo)|
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)|