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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July 17, 1904: San Quentin's war on 'mariguana'

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History, Crime Updated: June 20, 2014 - 3:33 PM
You won’t find the word “marijuana” in the Minneapolis Tribune in the paper’s first 55 years. An alternate spelling, “mariguana,” appeared just once: in this somewhat confusing story about the war on the “deadly” weed at California’s San Quentin prison.

You might be surprised how many times the word “opium” appeared in the Tribune in that span: 6,399.


SAN FRANCISCO, Cal., July 16. – The prison officials at San Quentin will war on the deadly mariguana weed. Warden Tompkins has instructed Captain Harrison to detail guards and trusty Indian prisoners, who are familiar with the weed, to go over the prison grounds, inside and out, and dig out every weed found.
San Quentin is used to surprises, but the story of the growth of the plant within the prison limits, and its enjoyment by the convicts, caused a stir in the official atmosphere of the institution that the convicts will have to surrender their canary birds, as it is feared that the wily convict is turning the Indian hemp seed diet of his pet into a powerful narcotic. Mariguana and Indian hemp seed must leave the prison. Both are rivals to opium.
Mariguana is worse than opium or its preparations. It is made into cigarettes and a few strong puffs are inhaled into the lungs. If its use stops here the smoker is mildly intoxicated. If he goes further with the smoking, he becomes really drunk, and a few additional puffs overthrows his mind and he becomes a lunatic. He will run backward, imagining that all sorts of beasts are pursuing him. His condition becomes similar to delirium tremens.

June 2, 1914: Distracted driver just couldn't put his pipe down

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History, Transportation Updated: June 2, 2014 - 11:56 PM
I've pored over thousands of feet of Minneapolis Tribune microfilm since 2005. I believe this might be the earliest example of distracted driving -- and of the dangers of smoking.

A Pipe Smoker Loses His Life

Auto Truck Driver Crushed to Death as He Lights His Tobacco.
Balthasar Tschida, driving an auto truck Saturday afternoon, found his pipe had gone out just as he approached the Como avenue bridge on Western avenue in St. Paul. He turned the steering wheel over to an assistant, and the truck hit a bridge pier. Tschida was crushed against the bridge as the truck slewed. He died yesterday from his injuries. Tschida was 40 years old. He leaves a wife and seven children.

June 2, 1914: Crush a can, save a cat

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History Updated: June 2, 2014 - 6:54 PM
Long before sea turtles were becoming entangled in six-pack rings, Twin Cities cats were getting their heads lodged in empty tin cans. From the Minneapolis Tribune:
  What cat could resist this 1915-era can, with its nautical theme and the inevitable association with seafood? Image courtesy of

Ordinance Demanded to
Keep Cats from Poking
Heads into Tin Cans

When the Minneapolis Humane society meet at 11 a.m. today, it may consider the request of Mrs. William Talmadge of St. Paul, who has asked W.W. Bradley, secretary, to lay before the members the need she sees for an ordinance providing that all tin cans, on being emptied, be flattened, in order to make it impossible for wandering and curious-minded cats to insert their heads.
Mrs. Talmadge’s compassion was aroused by the plight of her own pet cat, which got its head in a can and lost one of its nine lives.
It is possible that some inventor will come forward with a non-refillable tin can, and thus obviate the canning [of] the cats.
1905 Furness and cat
Another St. Paul woman of the period, Laura Furness, had a weakness for cats. The Minnesota Historical Society's online collection has more than 100 photos of Furness, granddaughter of Minnesota's second governor, Alexander Ramsey. Several of the photos, including this one taken at the Ramsey House in 1905, show her embracing a cat. (Image courtesy of

May 21, 1899: Young bicyclists top 10 mph -- and land in jail

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History, Crime, Transportation Updated: May 22, 2014 - 10:10 PM
Bicycling was booming in the 1890s, fueled by improved bike design and demand for cheap transportation. In the wrong hands, however, the new “safety bike” was anything but. Careless young “scorchers” pedaled furiously up and down urban streets, startling horses and pedestrians alike. Newspapers of the era regularly reported collisions that resulted in serious injuries and, on occasion, death. Across the country, bicycle speed limits were established to protect the population. In Minneapolis, the speed limit was 10 mph. And, as you’ll see in the Tribune story below, police were serious about enforcing the law.


They Could Not Resist the Temptation to Indulge in a Spin Along Park Avenue Last Evening.
It might have been a picnic party judging from the high spirits of the three lads who were enjoying an expensive ride in the patrol wagon last night.
“Scorching again, old man,” cried one of the prisoners, as the patrol wagon turned into lockup alley, and a curious crowd “rubbered” as if their necks would be stretched off.
“He certainly was good to me,” said another, and the crowd laughed.
But when the iron bars shut out their view, and the youthful trio had nothing but whitewashed walls to gaze at, they began to realize their doom, and the minutes of their imprisonment began to grow into hours, at least so it seemed to them.
It was an ideal evening for a spin. Of course it was a little chilly, but then a spurt of a block or two helped to warm the blood. And that asphalt on Park avenue was so tempting. Who  could help but ride fast just a short distance?
That is where the boys made a mistake. There was a mounted policeman – that is, he was mounted on a bicycle – watching them, and he could scorch a little himself. While the boys were tearing up the pavement he was after them, and as they slowed up a little for a breathing spell, he cut across them into the curb and they had to come to a stop.
“Well, boys, you are my prisoners, so just come along,” said Officer Fred Williamson, as he mopped the perspiration off his forehead and gave his wheel an admiring glance.
The policeman and his prisoner walked up Twenty-fourth street to the patrol box at Fifth avenue, and the patrol wagon was called. A crowd of wheelmen had gathered, and they joked both with the officer and the lads.
As the last of the trio of alleged scorchers was hustled into the wagon with his wheel, he issued the following challenge to the policeman:
 “I’ll bet, officer, I can beat you in a 100 yard dash,” but Williamson was busy by this time cleaning the mud off his machine.
On the way to the station the prisoners had a happy time, and they did not mind the “scorching” remarks made by passing bicyclists.
The boys gave their names as Frank Gardner, Guy Smith [and] Clarence Hanson, and they will plead to the charge of exceeding the ordinance speed limit of 10 miles an hour. The oldest of the trio is only 18, while the other two are less than 15 years. They belong to good families, but the police use no discrimination when they are after fast riders.
“Well, I don’t know how I’m going to get out tonight,” woefully said one of the younger boys. “My folks are all out of town.”
NIce rides: A man and a woman showed off their wheels in front of the Wallof house, 2200 Sheridan Ave. S., Minneapolis, in 1898. (Photo courtesy of Hennepin County Library's Minneapolis Collection)

Aug. 5, 1967: Monkee admits Beatles are better

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History Updated: May 13, 2014 - 9:34 AM
"We're more popular than Jesus now," John Lennon told an British journalist in 1966. A year later, the Monkees' Mike Nesmith, in town for a show at the St. Paul Auditorium, humbly explained his band's place in the cosmic pecking order.
Mike Nesmith of the Monkees spoke with a Tribune reporter at an undisclosed hotel in downtown St. Paul. (Minneapolis Tribune photo by Kent Kobersteen)

Monkee Mulls Music

Minneapolis Tribune Staff Writer
When Mike Nesmith of the rock group, the Monkees, wants to hear good music, he goes to a record store and buys Beatles’ records.
“Don’t buy us if you want good music,” he advised as he lounged in his suite in a downtown St. Paul hotel Friday. “our music is sort of inane, banal. The Beatles give the kids the good stuff.”
Dressed in blue jeans, cowboy boots and a green velvet shirt, Nesmith talked freely about the Monkees, their past and present.
“Do you remember our second album?” he asked, waving a pair of blue-tinted sunglasses. “That was all tripe.” It was until after that album that the group began accompanying themselves on guitar and drums, he recalled.
“WE’RE LIMITED in musical ability,” he said. “We have to over-dub, but those are really my fingers strummin’ on the records.
Nesmith credits the quartet’s weekly television show for their phenomenal success, but believes the Beatles “opened the door” for them.
Yet the 24-year-old former folk guitarist is quick to point out the difference between his group and the revered Beatles.
"The Monkees are just four long-haired fans -- super rich, yes [Nesmith owns seven cars and a Lear jet) -- but fans rather than stars," he explained.
"WE HAVE no cross to bear, no point to make," he continued. "Our only point is no point. These 13-year-old kids just want to use us for growing up, and that's fine with us. God willing, they will have forgotten about us by the time they're 20, and that's the way it should be."
Nesmith said the Monkees the kids see on TV are the same crazy guys in real life.
"The TV show makes no sense, and we're quite open about it," he said. "But what goes on on the TV show goes on 24 hours a day in real life. These guys will do anything for a gag."
NESMITH ADMITS that audiences at their concerts often hear only "a rumble" on stage ("With a $45,000 sound system, what do you expect?") But he noted that the group spices up the program with such extra musical diversion as movies, costume changes and anything else they feel like doing.
"The kids have been cheated so many times by groups who just play for 12 minutes, that we want to give them a real show," he explained.
What's in the future for the Monkees?
"We'll probably go for three years, but the kids we're playing for will grow up by then and we'll make way for a new group," he said.
"THE KIDS may not remember us," he continued. "But they'll there was something that brought them some fun back in their teens."
A knock on the door meant it was time for Nesmith to prepare for the concert, but first he had a "secret" to show.
"See these," he said, pointing to a pair of earplugs. "I wear them during every concert. I can't hear a thing with them, but then I wouldn't be able to hear anything without them either."
More than 10,000 "teeny-boppers" screamed for more than an hour when the Monkees performed at the St. Paul Auditorium in August 1967. "The group apparently played quite a few songs," the Tribune's Brian Anderson wrote in his review, "but because of the never-ending shriek, every song sounded the same." (Minneapolis Tribune photo by Pete Hohn)


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