Oct. 21, 1903: Wolf attack in downtown Minneapolis

  • Blog Post by: Ben Welter
  • August 31, 2013 - 4:15 PM
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.



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.


In an encounter with one of the wolves which had escaped from his cage, Miss Charlotte Severson of the Queen of the Highway company, was badly bitten last night, and it was only by a great deal of pluck that she finished the play out.
  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.
During the third act, when Bob comes charging down an incline on his pony, the pony bucked and raised such a clatter that the wolves became frenzied, and Moko, the largest and fiercest of the lot, escaped and went charging around the rear of the stage in a mad career of fright.
The audience heard the barking and howling, but took it for part of the play and did not know that the brute had attacked Miss Severson in her dressing room, where she was making a genuine fight for her life. Moko had run all over the rear of the stage seeking a dark corner, when he spied the door of Miss Severson’s dressing room slightly ajar and rushed in. The sudden entry into the glare from the incandescents threw him into a panic rage, and he jumped at her throat. She fought him off as best she could, but was unable to prevent his sinking his teeth into her left arm. She was afraid to make any outcry for fear of disturbing the show, and battled silently with the ravenous beast.
In the meantime, Lee Hertenstein, the animal trainer, rushed in with Duke, the big Great Dane who takes an important part in the show. Duke attacked Moko, more as a result of a long standing feud between the two animals than anything else, and Hertenstein grabbed both by the necks to separate them. Both Hertenstein and Duke were bitten by Moko, and it took several minutes before Moko could be dragged back into his cage.
A physician was summoned hastily from the audience, who cauterized and bandaged the wounds of Miss Severson and Hertenstein. Miss Severson went on with her [act and] finished the show, which had [been interrupted] only a few moments, [although she] was almost in a fainting condition from pain.
The room in which the fight took place was almost a total wreck. Everything breakable was thrown down and broken during the struggle, and everything torn that could be torn.
Miss Severson stated last night that she believes that Duke saved her life, and that he is going to have the finest silver collar that any dog ever wore.
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.

© 2018 Star Tribune