Staff Directory 10644511

Curt Brown

Reporter | Minnesota History
Recent content from Curt Brown
An 1818 portrait of Abigail Snelling Chaplin, whose first husband, Josiah Snelling, is the namesake of the fort at the confluence of the Minnesota and

Abigail Hunt Snelling Chaplin was more than a helpmate at the early years of the fort bearing her name

A look at the pioneer woman, who arrived at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers 200 years ago.
John Mrozinski was 21 when he and his father, Joseph Mrozinski, were stopped by game wardens on the river. His father was killed.

Game warden shot fisherman, walked in 1900 murder case

Two unemployed telegraph linemen looking for work on St. Paul’s East Side happened upon a deadly confrontation on the Mississippi River on Sept. 19, 1900.…
Sincere et Constanter: Saint Marys School of Nursing The St. Marys School of Nursing class of 1960 stood after its capping ceremony in Rochester. Duri

Japanese-American nurses traded WWII camps for Rochester

St. Marys School of Nursing won military approval to train nurses of Japanese heritage living in internment camps.
Robert and James Style: Buried together in Europe The four oldest of the 12 Style siblings: Rodney, James, Margaret Claire and Robert. James and Rober

Two Minnesota brothers, side by side, gave all in WWII

The bleeding heart plant, with its pink heart-shaped flowers, was first grown by Elizabeth Style Sullivan's grandmother. Liz's mother, Mary Style, subsequently transplanted some in…
Carolen Bailey in 1991.

Pioneering St. Paul police lieutenant took down crooks, gender walls

During a 36-year career, Carolen Bailey served as a homicide investigator and vice squad commander before working with the state.
As Chief Little Crow’s top soldier, Tawasuota followed orders and took the first fatal shot of the U.S.-Dakota War in 1862. Charles Eastman, an auth

Remembering the Dakota warrior who took the first shot

Almost immediately, Tawasuota regretted killing an unarmed man, according to an account published 45 years later.
This photo from August 1944 — titled “Still Pitching at 61 — captured Charles Bender as the Philadelphia Athletics’ batting-practice pitcher,

White Earth to World Series: Charles Bender's bittersweet baseball story

The swirl of world events threw a few knuckleballs into major league baseball in 1918 — namely a deadly flu pandemic and World War I.At…
Nettie Hayes Sherman ran a St. Paul speakeasy during the 1930s and sang with greats of American music. “I don’t accept anybody’s suggestions or

Nettie Hayes Sherman stood at intersection of booze, voting 100 years ago

She steals in the show in "A Brief History of Women in Bars: A Minnesota Story in Three Rounds," even being in it just in the final minutes.
Carrie Thorson, shown before turning 70 in 1948, left Norway at age 24 in 1903 and joined her husband in Minneapolis. Grandson Paul Arneson called her

Battling goats in Norway put Carrie Kirkeeide Thorson on path to come to U.S.

Nearly 50 years after she died in 1974 at 95, her life story has been captured in a book compiled and published by her grandson.
Dorance "Dip” Alquist and his friend Bob Coll, during Army training at Fort Bragg, N.C. Alquist served in the Pacific during World War II, and his l

Grandson's mission keeps World War II letters alive online

Finding Grandpa's letters home can be a moving experience, if not necessarily rare. But what the Burnsville man did with them embraces a new approach.
“Tornado over St. Paul” Julius Holm’s 1893 painting hangs at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. It was derived from a photo of a tornado taken by

1890 cyclone twists on in old photo, museum painting

Research connects the dots between the St. Paul photographer and the artist, who was a Minneapolis house painter with higher aspirations.
Molly Ivins, Minneapolis Tribune reporter, insisted in 1969 that her new, red maxicoat was no fashion statement: “I honest to God bought the thing b

Two voices spoke up during Minneapolis riots in 1969. They both carried

Molly Ivins' stint in Minneapolis was comparatively short, 1967 to 1970, but memorable.
‘Nine kids trapped upstairs’ This photo appeared on the cover of the Minneapolis Tribune on April 14, 1952, of rescuer Ed Steffen lifting 1-year-o

One kid's lesson of resiliency from hard times of 1952 flood

The radio crackled with an urgent message for the exhausted volunteer rescuers aboard a Red Cross amphibious duck boat."Go to 56 West Fairfield," the dispatcher…
memoir and memories Dr. Henry Buchwald, 86, recalls the “Wangensteen Era” in his new book. He and his wife, Emilie are shown at home in Edina.

Surgeon storyteller's new book recalls golden era at 'U'

Dr. Henry Buchwald operated on more than 10,000 patients as the longest-serving University of Minnesota surgeon. Now the renowned Edina doctor, teacher and researcher, who…
Attorney William R. Morris, above, was hired by white Linden Hills residents to help prevent a black minister, the Rev. William Malone, from buying a

Lake Harriet neighbors rejected black minister in 1909

Keys in hand, the minister went to check out the bungalow he’d just purchased at 4441 Zenith Av. S., near Lake Harriet in the Linden…
Retired church secretary Millie McQuillan, shown holding her granddaughter Valerie, disappeared in 1975 on a visit to see friends near Park Rapids. He

What happened to Millie? Northern Minnesota woman vanished 45 years ago

No one has ever been arrested in what is still an open case. Her daughter and son assume she was murdered.
Russell B. Rathbun • 1889-1987 Russell Rathbun was a University of Minnesota track and field athlete who would later become a banker and investment

Letters from earlier pandemic echo with resonance today

Holly Hannah Lewis shaped the letters into a 125-page book for family members.
Pfc. William Regan from St. Paul was killed by Japanese small-arms fire in the Solomon Islands during World War II. He earned a Distinguished Service

Volunteer researchers chip in to remember World War II's fallen

An all-volunteer army of history buffs is trying to make sure the servicemen and women we lost aren't forgotten 75 years later.
Ramona Kitto Stately embraced Rita Davern, whose Irish great-grandfather William Davern owned part of an island sacred to Stately’s Dakota ancestors

New film explores St. Paul family's complex roots

The documentary debuts Sunday as part of the virtual Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival.
Pvt. Milburn Henke, a Hutchinson, Minn., native selected from among the first U.S. troops sent to the British Isles in World War II, stepped down the

Minnesotan was among the first wave of U.S. troops to join World War II in Europe

Milburn Henke, a 23-year-old cafe owner's kid from Hutchinson, was the first American combat GI to set foot on European soil in World War II.
The day before Ann Bilansky went to the gallows in St. Paul, the prosecutor in the case asked that her sentence be commuted, saying he had “grave an

Case of only woman executed in Minnesota is clouded with doubt

More than 160 years later, Ann Bilansky's execution remains punctuated with question marks.
Yousuf Karsh caught Sister Kenny’s expressive hands in a portrait. “They are full of healing,” another nurse once said.

Sister Elizabeth Kenny: A 'raging tiger, merciful angel' who challenged the doctors on polio

Her methods largely rebuked in Australia and fell on deaf ears around the U.S., until she got to Minnesota.
Olga Dahl King 1894-1974
A teacher at the Round Lake school in northern Itasca County, she was dragged into the woods at gunpoint, raped and shot in t

Itasca County teacher displayed amazing resiliency in 1916

The glass eye sat in a box on a high kitchen window sill. Olga Dahl King left it there because she found it uncomfortable, preferring…
George Oliver Riggs directed more than 20 youth bands from Crookston to St. Cloud in the early 1900s. His St. Cloud Municipal Boys’ Band grew to 300

Crookston's G. Oliver Riggs struck up a band like few others did

In a new book, a great-granddaughter reveals an instrumental character in the Minnesota music scene from 1898 to 1946.
During the 1946 polio outbreak, the University of Minnesota radio station KUOM aired more than 150 hours of children’s programs, including a show ca

Echoes from an earlier Minnesota outbreak: Polio in 1946

More than 70% of Minnesota's cases and half the state's deaths hit those under 15.
The Battle of Trafalgar was painted around 1900 by Scottish artist James Kay. It was donated to the University of Minnesota in 1996 by businessman Rod

The old painting and the U and the owner of the Thunderbird Hotel

A painting in Burton Hall of the British battleship HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar was donated by the late Rodney Wallace. But where did he get it?
Morris Rudensky spent his early years as a criminal and inmate. He knew the likes of Al Capone and other gangsters, but after a stint in prison, he fo

Safecracking gangster turned things around in St. Paul

After spending the first half of his life in crime, including with Al Capone, Morris "Red" Rudensky redefined prison reform during his later years.
In this photo from the spring of 1957, John Teresi, left, in his role as umpire, oversaw a YMCA youth program softball game in Golden Valley. Teresi w

St. Patrick's Day plane crash killed group from Minnesota in 1960

Tom Teresi and Mark Kaplan had to be grinning as the sun rose over Minneapolis on March 17, 1960. By nightfall, sorrow would shadow the…
“I think I can proudly say that I played my part in awakening that region to the appreciation of good music, and in making Minneapolis the center of

Music lover is unsung hero of Minneapolis

Between her time on the stages of Europe and as a voice instructor at Juilliard in New York, Anna Schoen-René spent 16 years in Minneapolis.
Little is known about the life of St. Paul barber Maurice Jernigan, save for his bold effort to demand equal treatment for himself and his fellow blac

Obscure St. Paul barber took a stand for racial equality

Maurice Jernigan asked early Minnesota legislators to remove just one word from the state Constitution: white.
Al Sieber’s life as an Army scout inspired film characters based on his life: Charlton Heston’s Ed Bannon in “Arrowhead” (1953); John McIntire

From Gettysburg to Geronimo, Minnesotan Albert Sieber led a Wild West movie-worthy life

His story arced from his days as an early Minneapolis cop, lumberman, teamster and wounded Civil War soldier to an Army scout in the Arizona Territory of the late 1800s.
The St. Olaf Band traveled the western coast of Norway aboard the 800-ton luxury boat the Andenaes in 1906.

St. Olaf College band sailed into history on notable 1906 Norway tour

In the summer of 1906, 48 members of the St. Olaf College band sailed into history. Playing 26 concerts in Norway that July, the all-male…
A.J. Rockne shares the record for the longest tenure in the Minnesota Legislature at 44 years, which included a record 36 years in the state Senate. H

At Capitol, at home, A.J. Rockne was a Depression-era budget hawk

During a Depression-era summer, a state highway patrolman drove Gov. Floyd B. Olson 55 miles south to Zumbrota, Minn. The socialist-leaning governor wanted to talk…
Adelphi Club, circa 1950, with Eva Neal and her husband at center.

Dressmaker Eva Bell Neal recounts growing up black in 1890s St. Paul

Minnesota's entire black population stood at one-third of 1 percent in 1890, when Eva was a toddler. Today, St. Paul is home to nearly 50,000.
Jay C. Hormel, seen here in 1952, blended groundbreaking innovation with a talent for promotion to build his company.

Jay Hormel's amazing (piggy) backstory

Jay Hormel became one of the first Minnesotans to enlist when the U.S. entered the Great War in 1917.
Swede Hollow, seen here in a 1910 photo, began as a Swedish enclave along Phalen Creek, but soon drew other groups.

St. Paul's Swede Hollow evolved as an ethnic patchwork

Razed in 1956 and now a public park, Swede Hollow became home to a revolving cast of poor immigrants on St. Paul's lower East Side.
The Rochester High School class of 1894, with Roy Allis and his shock of dark hair, left, standing above Anna Barnard, reading and wearing the wire-ri

Love letters reveal Minnesota family's old secret

Those letters surfaced in 1975. But the breakthrough that put a face with those words didn't come until 2017.
Hosiah “Hosey” P. Lyght with his wife, Stella, and their children in front of the family’s home in Lutsen, Minn., in about 1940. Lyght grew up i

Hosiah Posey Lyght left racial violence behind for the North Shore

The government was offering a 160-acre parcel near Lutsen, about 100 miles northeast up the shore from Duluth.
Joseph Elsinger, Golden Rule department store founder, was dismissive and worried that $50 million might “harden the heart of man.”

St. Paul residents get asked $50 million question in 1899

The more things change, the more the issues stay the same 120 years later.
Before advances in modern medicine brought dramatic improvement to the care of premature babies, many were relegated to carnival sideshows, like the o

At Wonderland in Minneapolis, preemies were the main attraction

Part freak show, part pioneering neonatal hospital, the brick structure at 31st Avenue S. and 31st Street is all that's left of the amusement park.
Guy Flanagan: Despite the fact that he could not swim, the ensign was instrumental in getting fellow sailors to jump into the burning waters as the US

Mankato ensign's reported death at Pearl Harbor turned out to be wrong

Guy Flanagan was among the last sailors off the USS Arizona, making him luckier than more than 1,100 entombed on the bombed battleship.
Adelbert Goheen was hanged for the murder of Rosetta Bray, whose body was found along some train tracks in Otter Tail County. Goheen maintained his in

Did Otter Tail County hang the right man in 1891?

Two hours before he was hanged, Adelbert Goheen penned a statement, still insisting his brother killed Rosetta Bray.
John “Tooze” Rogers climbed from cash-strapped hotel bellhop in 1880 to own a series of saloons, theaters and an elegant Nicollet Avenue hotel tha

Minneapolis hotel-saloon owner had a big heart, especially around Thanksgiving

John "Tooze" Rogers climbed from cash-strapped hotel bellhop in 1880 to own a series of saloons, theaters and an elegant Nicollet Avenue hotel.
Hy Berman, who died four years ago at age 90, with a portrait of Hubert Humphrey.

Historian Hy Berman was in the thick of Minnesota politics

The new book, "Professor Berman: The Last Lecture of Minnesota's Greatest Public Historian," is full of his delicious insight.
Dr. Martha Ripley established Maternity Hospital for unwed and destitute pregnant women, offering them social support, and also helped care for their

Suffragist, pioneering obstetrician was never silent to injustice

Martha Rogers Ripley didn't arrive in Minnesota until she was 40, but her 28 frenetic years here were frenetic ones.
Mark and Lorraine Hertz honeymooned in Florida in 1944 before he shipped out to serve as a bombardier in World War II. The pair had met as students at

Hope helped Jewish POW endure ordeal in WWII

Despite the squalid conditions, Marcus Hertz knew sticking it out as a prisoner of war was his best chance to get home.
Nick Cullop, left, of the Minneapolis Millers shoot hands with local legend Elmer Ellsworth Foster in 1930.

Minneapolis-born baseball star was a most colorful character

Elmer Ellsworth Foster, who played in the 19th century, is maybe the best Minnesota baseball player you never heard of,
Henry Carlson, above, quit his accounting job in Duluth 100 years ago and rode an early Harley-Davidson motorcycle 1,400 miles to Spokane, Wash., in 1

Pair of Duluth men dropped everything in 1919, hopped a Harley and headed west

At age 21, bookkeeper Henry Carlson got a crazy idea 100 years ago.
Busy St. Paul streets are named for Harwood Iglehart, above,and cousin Charles Mackubin, both from slaveholding families.

New book traces slavery's reach into early Minnesota

It is a complex legacy for a state that prided itself as an anti-slavery bastion and outlawed the practice in its territorial and state constitutions.
Volunteer researcher Carol Kissner helped solve the mystery of a broken headstone at Eden Prairie Cemetery. It turns out, it belonged to a soldier who

Tireless volunteer unravels graveyard mystery in Eden Prairie

Some people play pickleball when they retire. Others knit or play cribbage. Carol Kissner had a different idea. She became a volunteer cemetery sleuth, poking…
John Leslie and Jean Savage The couple were married in 1929, after exchanging dozens of ardent letters. Their granddaughter recently rediscovered a tr

Letters from 1927 an echo from lost era of communication

Handwritten during a couple's courtship, the 100-plus letters were laced with their beliefs, passions and dreams.
Nurses Elizabeth Gearson, left, and Beda Danielson prepared food trays in the Swedish Hospital’s diet kitchen, 1902.

Low-profile HCMC museum holds medical gems

It’s a museum hiding in plain sight. Take the elevator down from the chaotic lobby to the basement of Hennepin County Medical Center in downtown…
Engla Schey devoted her life to reforming state hospitals as an attendant in the 1940s. Her father had entered Fergus Falls State Hospital, setting th

Minnesota state hospital worker used angel's touch to bring reforms

Engla Schey was determined to make life better for 10,000 Minnesotans locked in seven state institutions in the 1940s.
Dorothy Swenson, right, with Victors teammate Jan Norton Berkland in July 1952. The team enjoyed great success.

Softball, Sears filled Dorothy Swenson's active, lively life

Until her retirement in 1987, she spent nearly 45 years as a cog in that giant Sears retail machine, taking her frustration out on the field.
A Sonnen has worked at the pet store for the past 88 years. The business actually started in 1892, and its continuous operation makes it one of downto

Downtown St. Paul pet store is one for the ages

Sonnen's Pet Shop oozes history at 408 St. Peter St. in the Hamm Building.
Myrtle Cain 1894-1980
This is from 1923, just after her election, along with three other women, as the first of their gender to be seated in the Legis

Trailblazing legislator fought fiercely for equality

Not surprisingly, Myrtle Cain's dark brown hair had gone gray. After all, she'd been waiting 50 years for this moment.Now 78, she sat in the…
After becoming the first woman elected school superintendent in Mower County, Gertrude Ellis Skinner continued her trailblazing work to become co-edit

Gertrude Ellis Skinner, trailblazing educator and editor, honored by Austin

When her southern Minnesota hometown came calling in 1890, she faced a career quandary rare for women of the era.
Clarence Penaz was stationed aboard a “tin can” destroyer in World War II. “The job of the destroyers was to go in harm’s way,” he said, “

World War II Navy veteran survived a kamikaze attack

"I was one of the lucky ones," Clarence Penaz said of the day when 19 sailors died and more than a dozen were injured.
Kathy Krotz Finn still flies the vintage 1940s Piper Cub her family used to shuttle anglers to their resort.

Grand Marais' first fly-in resort is just part of this family's high-flying legacy Up North

Clarence Krotz's postwar dream was lofty. And then his family took off as well.
This 1890 image of Mary Colter, as displayed in the book “Mary Colter, Architect of the Southwest,” was painted by her art teacher, Arthur Mathews

St. Paul architect Mary Colter 'ahead of her time'

It's the 150th anniversary of the birth of "one of the world's best-known unknown architects."
George Engesser 1889-1962
George Engesser, right, stayed off the circus road one summer in the early 1900s to help his father make bricks for a new ho

Minnesota History: Recalling St. Peter's circus couple with elephant at grave

Something quirky caught William Pedersen's eye as he pedaled past Greenhill Cemetery during a bike ride along Sunrise Drive in his hometown of St. Peter,…
In August 1991, a march and rally was held at Minneapolis City Hall in response to attacks against gay, lesbian and bisexual people. Rick Simon, left,

Minneapolis murders in 1990s targeted gays

Six months of heightened fear and friction between cops and the gay community followed.
In 2003, Raspberry Princess Beth Williams and Raspberry Queen Renee Drinkwine of the Hopkins Raspberry Festival greeted their fans during the Torchlig

Passion for the past shines in Hopkins and Waverly

They lead the way with upcoming nostalgic celebrations.
Cass County Attorney Ed Rogers in the 1960s

The remarkable life of Ed Rogers, Ojibwe and Cass County leader

Growing up, Greg Larson knew little about his grandfather Ed Rogers’ vast accomplishments. How could he? “He hardly ever talked,” Larson, 72, recalled from his…
U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, second from left, in 1928 in Cuba. His wife, Grace, is at right, with Cuban President Gen. Gerardo Machado y Morales.

Rare-stamp auction recalls Calvin Coolidge event in Minnesota

Two 100-stamp sheets of Coolidge-signed 2-cent and 5-cent stamps will be auctioned off Tuesday.
From the left, Elsa Robinson, Lela El Fundi, and Evie Tanner, all of Duluth, reflected during the Clayton Jackson McGhie Lynching Memorial unveiling i

Vigilante injustice killed 3 in Duluth nearly 100 years ago

It was an appalling prelude of things to come 25 years later and 150 miles to the north. Early on June 2, 1895, a 15-year-old…
Vera Johansen 1911-2008
Vera Johansen popped popcorn in Northfield’s Bridge Square starting 40 years ago after husband died and, in the process, bec

Vera Johansen's popcorn wagon became a Northfield landmark

The rat-a-tat sound of popcorn popping punctuated the farm kitchen of Lewis and Vera Johansen near Coulter, Iowa."Dad loved his popcorn," said Jeanine Landswerk, 82,…
Thomas Montgomery emerges as one of the memorable characters in “The Children of Lincoln” by William Green (University of Minnesota Press, 2018),

Civil War's veteran's letters show paradox

More than 150 of Thomas Montgomery's dispatches have been digitized on the Minnesota Historical Society's website.
Minneapolis undertaker and furniture salesman Joseph Brown kept two World War I journals as a mortar man. Photos courtesy of Paul Brown, his son.

Minneapolis doughboy kept diary, poems during WWI

Joseph Brown juggled two jobs in the early-1900s: undertaker and furniture salesman. A licensed embalmer, Brown studied mortuary science at the University of Minnesota —…
Herb Schaper, creator of the Cootie game, got the idea for it while carving fishing lures. When he deployed plastic in the manufacturing process, his

Robbinsdale toy innovator Herb Schaper gave the world Cooties

"It's pretty simple," Schaper said in 1953. "Everybody who sees it asks 'Why didn't I think of that?' "
Rose Totino’s pizza persuaded bankers to give her a loan to open Totino’s Italian Kitchen. In 1975, she sold her frozen pizza business to Pillsbur

Rose Totino brought pizza to masses: 'Money never changed her'

A 4-foot-11 dynamo, Rose learned about pizza from her dad's relatives in Pennsylvania and started serving it to friends and at church meetings.
Justine Kerfoot, above left, and a friend showed off a huge catch of trout in a photo from the 1920s or ’30s. Far left, Kerfoot in a Star Tribune ph

'She lived her life like age and gender didn't matter': North Woods icon started out as just a 'city girl'

Justine Kerfoot spent 60-plus years fixing plumbing, snowshoeing, welcoming visitors, servicing vehicles, guiding fishermen, building furniture, hunting moose, trapping mink, mushing sled dogs and writing about the woods and lakes in newspaper columns and books.
Eloise Butler spent 37 years teaching history and botany, mostly at South and Central high schools.

Botanist Eloise Butler left a living legacy at Theodore Wirth Regional Park

Both of Butler's parents had been teachers in Maine, and teaching was about her only option in the late 1800s.
William Rose was shaved and photographed the day before he was hanged in Redwood County in 1891. He steadfastly professed his innocence in the shootin

Questions still shadow 1891 hanging in Redwood County

Nearly 130 years later, Patricia Lubeck won't let William Rose's case rest.
Marian Le Sueur addressed the Democratic-Farmer-Labor convention in 1948 with convention chairman Paul Tinge at her side. She was the vice chairwoman

Early DFL leader Marian Le Sueur was feminist, educator and socialist firebrand

Seventy-five years after the merger that formed the modern DFL, several men are credited as architects. But it wasn't an all-boys network.