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Yesterday's News

Sample Minnesota's rich history, courtesy of a microfilm archive

Aug. 28, 1909: Foundling left on counter at confectionery shop

Stories about abandoned babies were once common in Minneapolis newspapers. The word “foundling” appeared in the Tribune more than 300 times between 1880 and 1910. The story of one infant left on the counter of a confectionery shop on Lyndale Avenue S. in 1909 resonated more than most. It had the usual element of mystery: Who was the mother? Why did she abandon the good-natured little girl? But there was so much more: The 19-day-old infant was left with a childless woman who had been longing for a baby. Her neighbors showered her with love and support. And the newspaper was so involved in the coverage – six stories in six days -- that the new parents decided to name the baby Tribuna.

Tiny Baby Deserted;
Now Neighbor’s Pet

Strange Woman Asked Storekeeper for Drink – Fled Leaving Infant.
Human Mite Cuddles and Cooes – New Mother Wants to Keep It.
Mystery Shrouds Abandonment – May Be Rich Parent’s Offspring.
“Isn’t she a cute little thing!”
“Such bright blue eyes!”
Practically every woman in the neighborhood went last night to get a look at the 19-day-old baby left yesterday afternoon at the confectionery store, 3401 Lyndale avenue. Each of the curious visitors had some complimentary remark to make over the infant so strangely deserted, and after every comment, Mrs. C.C. Sanford, with whom the baby was left, emphasized the decision that she was going to keep the little one for her very own.
Shortly after 2 p.m. yesterday a woman entered the store conducted by Mrs. Sanford and asked for a drink of water. She carried a large bundle. Mrs. Sanford went to a rear room to prepare an iced drink and upon returning found that the woman had gone. On the counter lay the bundle. Opening it, she discovered a tiny baby girl and a small piece of paper upon which was written, “Aug. 9, 1909,” evidently the date of the child’s birth, being the only mark of identity.
Had Wanted a Baby.
  Mrs. C.C. Sanford and the little foundling in a photo taken from Tribune microfilm.
Mrs. Sanford hastened to the street, but the strange woman had disappeared. Then she called up her husband, a real estate dealer, with offices at 518 Metropolitan Life building. She was so excited that she could hardly make herself understood. For just here is another feature in the case – Mrs. Sanford had longed for a baby. It was as if her fondest dream had come true.
When the baby was visited by a Tribune representative last night it lay cooing happily on a couch in a room just off the store, giving every sign of being contented with its new environment. Beside it sat Mrs. Sanford admiring its chubby hands, its tiny features and its soft brown hair.
Every moment some new neighbor would come in “to see the baby that was left.” It has even been suggested by women of the neighborhood that they be permitted to make the baby’s wardrobe. Mrs. Sanford has not been away from the infant’s side since she lifted it from its bundle.
Woman Was Refined.
“I have read of such things but I never dreamed it could happen with me,” said Mrs. Sanford. “The woman came in when there was no one in the store. We have been running the place only a week and I am not used to customers. I think she wore a black skirt and a gray waist. Besides the bundle, she carried a suit case. When I came back with the drink, the woman was gone, and opening the bundle, I found the baby. Then I went to the door and looked for the woman but she was gone.
“No, I am sure I never saw the woman before. She seemed to be refined and I noticed that she was tired and sad. She might have been 25 years of age. I think she had been crying. And the baby has been so good. I’m going to keep her, too. I love her more every moment. Just look at the precious little thing.”
“Maybe her own mother would like to see her right now,” suggested one of the visitors.
“They say a mother has never been known to come back when a baby is left this way,” added another.
“The trouble is, we don’t know the little one’s nationality,” [said a third visitor].
“Why she’s American born, ain’t she?” pouted the would-be parent, already offended at criticism.
Think Auto Mixed in Case.
The theory is advanced by some of the neighbors that an automobile played a part in the abandonment. They say that at the time the infant was left at the store, a machine occupied by two bareheaded men stopped in the street a block away. The fact that one of the occupants left the car, and later returned on the run, giving the signal to drive away, aroused attention at the time and is now believed to have some connection with the case.

Aug. 29, 1920: Insurance against spinsterhood

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."