Staff Directory 6370658

Curt Brown

Reporter | Minnesota History
Recent content from Curt Brown
Civil War Cpl. Hercules LaChapelle received a new headstone in July at the French Catholic cemetery near Lonsdale, Minn., in a graveside ceremony feat

New headstone marks grave of Native soldier from Minnesota who fought in the Civil War

People who drive by the rural Rice County cemetery are "very rarely aware heroes lay in their midst."
Loraine Plasman in 1995, at her home in Bloomington with some of the blueprints and drafting tools that she used as a Curtis-Wright “cadette” at t

Bloomington woman worked as aeronautical engineering 'cadette' during WWII

Loraine Teninga Plasman was one of dozens of young women who took a 10-month crash course at the University of Minnesota.
Robert Kodadek is in the front row, far left. Others in the front row: Jerry Flicek, Mike Zvanovec. Rear: John Nickolay, John Flicek, Joe Simon and C

One Minnesota WWII veteran's story amplifies what so many endured

A retired bond trader compiled letters sent to the New Prague Times for a book, published this spring.
Pamela Peterman displays a 1920s signature quilt she’s researched and traced back to Messiah Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. 

Century-old Minneapolis quilt stitched with names from days gone by

Rosemount woman has spent more than 100 hours on online genealogy research to find out more about the 318 signatures.
Connemara Patch descendants gathered around the sign in Swede Hollow Park at the August dedication. From left: Jean Flaherty, Sherry Munyon, Leslie Th

Irish descendants are embracing St. Paul's forgotten Connemara Patch

The former site of the four-block shantytown at the base of Dayton's Bluff on St. Paul's East Side is now part of the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary.
Donald and Doris Swanson of Prior Lake, both 98, have been married for 75 years.

She faced racism, he fled the Nazis: A Minnesota couple look back at a century of history

An afternoon of living history was something to relish.
Patti-Folstad Bouley, holding a photo of her great-grandparents in front of a stained-glass window honoring their parents.

Dayton, Minn., revives its French-Canadian past

Dayton's rich French-Canadian roots will be the focus of an upcoming presentation.
When Axel Hayford Reed died at 81 in 1917, his obituary in the Minneapolis Tribune heralded him as “one of the most vigorous, positive, energetic fi

Axel Hayford Reed: Glencoe's one-armed pioneer dynamo

The indefatigable businessman, politician and Civil War veteran was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The only known photo of Mary Weishar, photographed in the 1890s with her second husband, George Murch, and one of their daughters.

Excelsior man dives into 1880 family murder committed by his great-great-grandmother

"If she did kill him," the St. Peter Times reported, "she simply put out of existence a notorious thief, for doing which she is entitled to the thanks of all mankind."
The Kochendorfer family in St. Paul circa 1858–59: Margaret, Catherine, Johan Jr., daughter Catherine, Johan Sr. and Rosina. The youngest family me

Letters survive, though author did not, from 1862 U.S.-Dakota War

Four surviving kids from family wound up raising 26 children, and their family tree now includes more than 1,000 descendants.
Annie Wendell, circa 1905.

New book by family historian reveals Minnesota clan's 'messy' history

Unlike many family histories that simply string together events, Daryl Lawrence weaves in a second layer of research to place Effie Schwartz and her mother, Annie Wendell, in the context of their times.
The Jones family — Tom, Alexis, Spencer and Nancy — in front of their Queen Anne home in Albert Lea, built in 1887 by ancestor Albert Clark Wedge

1887 home built by Albert Lea's first doctor has sheltered his family for generations

The house built by Dr. Albert Clark Wedge went on the National Register of Historical Places in 1986.
Anna Underwood, fifth from right, with her crew at her fruit orchard in Lake City, about 1885. 

Lake City's Anna Underwood helped open State Fair gates to women

Fruit orchard manager was active in the women's suffrage movement.
Three women viewed the debris left by the tornado that struck Rochester on the evening of Aug. 21, 1883.

1883 tornado leveled Rochester, but opened the way for St. Marys Hospital and the Mayos

Injuries from the intense twister prompted Franciscan nuns to lobby for a hospital.
A newspaper engraving of murder victim Lena Olson.

Book breathes new life into 1894 Duluth murder mystery

A 7-year-old's ghastly discovery one chilly August morning prompted a long search for the truth.
Minneapolis pioneer and onetime ship captain James McMullen.

Hennepin County museum exhibit tells colorful tale of Minneapolis pioneer family

An adventure-loving former sailor and his wife settled far from the sea in Minnesota Territory.
Wheelock Whitney talked with Branch Rickey on Jan. 6, 1960, during Rickey’s visit to the Twin Cities to whip up support for his Continental League.

How a Minneapolis businessman and a baseball icon made Minnesota major league

Wheelock Whitney's work with Branch Rickey helped set the stage for major league baseball to expand to Minnesota in 1961.
Mary McGowan at the grave of her brother Pvt. William Donnelley at an American cemetery in France.

World wars claimed Minnesota woman's brother and the son she named after him

Mary McGowan "was the real hero," her grandson says.
Andrew and Elsa Peterson and their nine children in front of their farmhouse near Waconia, likely in the 1890s.

Swedish pioneer's farmhouse near Waconia slated for restoration

Andrew Peterson was passionate about growing apple trees and keeping a diary.
Ralph Heimdahl during the homecoming celebration at St. Cloud State, 1967.

'Forgotten' artist sketched his way from Willmar to Disney and Bugs in California

Illustrator Ralph Heimdahl does live on at St. Cloud State University, where he studied, graduating in 1930.
The Wilson family, circa 1945. Back row: Howard, Robert Jr., and Lillian; seated: Donna, Loretta, Winston and Robert Sr. 

A Minnesota bootlegger's son delves into his father's lawless past

He was a "swashbuckling suspect" who didn't like to drink.
Emily Peake with nieces Suzie and Evon, in 1970.

Two Ojibwe women shaped Minneapolis' Indigenous history

Winnie Jourdain and Emily Peake are featured in a new anthology about urban Indians.
Fran Hall and his wife, Tallie, with the cameras they used to record the epic 1963-64 Airstream trailer caravan world tour.

Minnesota photographer chronicled 1960s Airstream caravan from Singapore to Portugal

Airstreams hired Fran Hall for a 14-month, 31-nation publicity campaign.
Alexander Granovsky, 1940. He was a poet, painter, U.S. Army private during World War I and a renowned insect expert at the University of Minnesota in

University of Minnesota bug expert advocated for a free Ukraine

Alexander Granovsky pioneered the use of chemicals to control cutworm, grubs and potato bugs.
Ralph Samuelson at Lake Pepin with his new invention, water skis, in 1925.

Lake City will honor man who created water skiing on Lake Pepin 100 years ago

Boosters will unveil a statue of Ralph Samuelson on July 2.
When a new German radio-controlled glide bomb sank the troop ship HMT Rohna in 1943, more than 1,000 Americans died — including nine Minnesotans.

'Hushed-up' WWII ship attack claimed the lives of nine Minnesotans

A German missile sank the British troop ship the HMT Rohna after it left Algeria bound for Egypt, killing 1,138.
Vast swarms of grasshoppers infested Minnesota in 1873 and continued their devouring with little or no letup each summer until 1877. Farmers and helpe

Grasshoppers swarmed in 1870s, leaving Minnesota farmers destitute

The grasshopper plague devastated the state for four years, gobbling up a half-million acres of wheat, corn, oats and barley.
Virginia Piper in 1972 after her release.

50 years later, the Virginia Piper kidnapping remains a Minnesota mystery

In some ways, her abduction was a story with a happy ending — but also one that left two nagging questions.
“Bud” Fowler, seen here at center, stood with his teammates in Keokuk, Iowa, where he played baseball in 1884 after leaving Stillwater.

Black baseball pioneer who once played in Stillwater will get Cooperstown honors

Bud Fowler played for more than a dozen minor league teams, ranging from Vermont to the New Mexico Territory.
Minnesota-born artist Wayne Brezinka’s exhibit “Facing War” is on display in the lobby of the Glover Park Hotel, which faces the Russian Embassy

Polish ancestors' immigration to Minnesota inspired D.C. art show near Russian Embassy

"My family history was always out there, but didn't feel alive" until a cousin in Minneapolis sent a wedding photo of their great-grandparents, said Wayne Brezinka, whose art show runs through May 15
Pvt. Victor Leerhoff and his fellow POWs were marched for at least 250 miles around Germany, starving and sleeping in ditches and barns.

Freed Minnesota prisoner brought home well-baked German souvenir from WWII

His family saved the bread he brought home from Germany —his first meal after being released from his captors — almost 80 years ago.
Benjamin Franklin Upton’s 1862 photograph shows river mist shrouding Fort Snelling’s fenced yard of tepees where Dakota refugees were being held a

Photographer's images of 19th-century Minnesota going up for auction

Benjamin Franklin Upton developed thousands of negatives in his custom-equipped, horse-drawn wagon.
Clara Mairs, “Clara and Clem,” ca. 1930

Unconventional couple etched and painted their way into Minnesota's art scene

Clara Mairs and Clement Haupers lived and traveled together from the 1920s until her death in 1963.
On Sept. 16, 1928, Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg signed the Pact of Paris, a historic peace agreement, as the representative of the United State

Minnesota farmer-statesman Frank Billings Kellogg championed peace

Kellogg Boulevard namesake was a renowned trust-busting lawyer, U.S. senator, Nobel Peace Prize winner and World Court judge.
Volunteers Gerald Wilsnack, Marshall Sutton and Jasper Garner relaxed in the sun during their daily routine as participants in the Ansel Keys starvati

Pacifist volunteers starved themselves for science in Minnesota study during WWII

Conscientious objectors to World War II volunteered for yearlong University of Minnesota study.
Amelia Earhart posed for photos in Southampton, England, after her transatlantic flight on the “Friendship” from Burry Point, Wales, June 26, 1928

Amelia Earhart's helmet that sold for $825,000 spent decades in Minnesota closets

An Edina man's mother got the helmet from a boy who had a crush on her; they were among a crowd greeting the famous aviator in 1929.
Duluth Central High center Eugene Watts Jr. twisted his ankle at the 1918 Minnesota boys’ high school basketball tournament.

Duluth Central hoopster became state tourney pioneer in 1918

The story of basketball pioneer "Boots" Watts is sadly filled with questions.
Sam DeVito, center, and his twin 15-year-old daughters, Phyliss and Patricia, watched as authorities used a bulldozer to try to find Tony DeVito’s b

Tony DeVito was killed by cronies 70 years ago. His body is still missing.

"It was bootlegging and and breadlines in those days."
Abbott Northwestern Hospital staff delivered plants donated by Bachman’s in appreciation of health care workers in March 2020 in Minneapolis.

Remembering Abbott Northwestern Hospital's two founders

Amos Abbott and Harriet Walker started two hospitals, Abbott and Northwestern, that would merge decades after their deaths.
Ginny Allen with a radio mike on the “G.I. Jill” program, Agra, India.

Eighty years after WWII, Red Cross volunteer Ginny Allen recalls her service

Minnesotan was nicknamed "G.I. Jill" during WWII for her upbeat radio programs broadcast to Allied troops.
Hastings police officer Albert Jacobson wore his six-pointed silver badge for the last time on July 10, 1894. The Hastings Police Department promises

Forgotten badge resurfaces 127 years after Hastings officer's death

Albert Jacobson was the first law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty in Dakota County and still the only one slain in the history of the Hastings police.
Carl Rowan, then ambassador to Finland, spoke with President Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House on Jan. 21, 1964.

After Minnesota years, journalist Carl Rowan became diplomatic pioneer

His improbable rise from poverty to international diplomacy is the focus of a PBS documentary premiering Feb. 15.
Fed up with discrimination, Homer Smith Jr. moved to the Soviet Union in 1932.

Search for racial justice sent 1928 University of Minnesota grad across the globe

Globetrotting reporter Homer Smith Jr. lived in Moscow and Ethiopia before returning to the U.S.
Martha and Louis Nasch, circa 1913. Martha, who died in 1970 at age 80, divorced Louis after he put her in St. Peter State Hospital.

Minnesota woman committed by husband wrote harrowing 'Poems From the Asylum'

Martha Nasch's granddaughter and great-granddaughter say her breakdown might have stemmed from intubation during a mysterious surgery.
Betty White, center — whose “Golden Girls” character hailed from “St. Olaf, Minn.” — visited St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., in May

Back in 1992, Betty White visited Minnesota's real St. Olaf

Star charmed the namesake for her "Golden Girls" character's hometown.
Soldiers with the Minnesota Sixth Infantry Regiment at an idle moment in the tumultuous 1860s. Bruce Palmer, of suburban Chicago, inherited this photo

A Minnesota farmer, Civil War soldier and builder recounts his 'eventful life'

Great-grandson shares memoir by Thomas Charles Barnes.
For his role in the deadly 1876 Northfield bank robbery, Cole Younger was sentenced to life at Stillwater state prison, where he co-founded a jailhous

How a girl named Horace befriended an outlaw named Younger

Horace Greeley Perry became one of Minnesota's first female journalists.
Leaving Germany in 1937, Gunter Theodore “Ted” Mitau, shown in 1968, became a Macalester College student and then a professor there, mentoring col

Holocaust prompted political scientist Ted Mitau to make a difference

Like other Jewish kids growing up in Germany in the 1930s, Gunter Theodore Mitau was forced to wear a Star of David and attend a…
Dr. Justus Ohage, St. Paul’s health commissioner in the 1900s, required lumberjacks from unsanitary camps aiming to visit St. Paul to show proof of

Before Fauci, there was Ohage: St. Paul's health czar

When 1,200 doctors gathered in the Twin Cities in 1930 for the Interstate Postgraduate Medical Association convention, they took a minute to honor an old…
Sitting Bull in a portrait circa 1883 by David F. Barry.

Looking back on Sitting Bull's two visits to St. Paul in 1884

The tours were punctuated with press briefings, demonstrations of cigar-rolling and a telephone, ballet and theater performance, even an aborted assassination attempt.
A nun caring for a patient at Our Lady of Good Counsel hospice (now called Our Lady of Peace Home) in St. Paul in the 1940s.

St. Paul hospice has helped the dying for 80 years

Our Lady of Peace will commemorate its anniversary with a candle-lighting ceremony Tuesday.
For years, a namesake debate has simmered in Hugo, a Washington County city of 15,000 people about 18 miles north of St. Paul.

Was Hugo named for a great French writer — or an otherwise forgotten Duluth mayor?

In the research process, a David vs. Goliath clash of Minnesota history buffs emerged — and the underdog won.
Stephen Taylor’s grave in Winona. He is believed to be the only Revolutionary War soldier buried in Minnesota.

A tale of two Minnesota graves that go way, way back

"It is an odd chain of events whereby the War of 1812 would have such a Minnesota connection," Curt Bradford writes.
Two devastating fires Minneapolis firefighter Charlie Birkeli carried an infant to safety from the burning Doctors Memorial Hospital in 1956. Nine yea

Remembering fallen Minneapolis firefighter Charlie Birkeli

The father of three was the first Minneapolis firefighter in 17 years killed in the line of duty when he died in 1965.
Harold Haywood Brown stayed in the Air Force for more than two decades, then earned a Ph.D. and worked in the community college system.

Minneapolis fighter pilot shattered barriers in WWII

At 97, Harold Haywood Brown is one of just a few surviving Tuskegee Airmen.
Edward Yamazaki at his sandwich shop on W. Broadway in Minneapolis in 1941.

Japanese-born vet Edward Yamazaki a rarity at Fort Snelling National Cemetery

Edward Yamazaki owned a north Minneapolis cafe and lived in Linden Hills.
chauncey leverich 1827-1856 The one known shot of the Austin founder,  a “brusque, two-fisted fighting man” who, it turns out, died in a fight.

One of Austin's founders was also its first murder victim

Some say George Hormel put Austin, Minn., on the map when he began processing pork along the Cedar River there in 1891.But more than 30…
To Finland, with love Minnesota Gov. Luther Youngdahl inspected a fawn about to be shipped to Finland in 1948 with Northwest Airlines flight attendant

Finnish white-tailed deer herd started as Minnesota gift

All those Finnish whitetails can trace their roots to that first Minnesota gift in 1934, as well as another six fawns flown over from the Iron Range in 1948.
Lynched in glencoe Dorman Musgrove, left, and Henry Cingmars were hanged by a mob from a Glencoe bridge in 1896 after the first trial in the shooting

Vigilante justice descended on dark night in Glencoe, 1896

The lynchings made the front page of the New York Times. But no one came forward to identify the vigilantes or push for their arrests.
Della Fahley 1922-2013  In her 20s, Della Fahley of Bloomington worked as a State Department clerk in Australia and Egypt. Her adventurous and tenacio

Bloomington woman's letters describe amazing WWII trek

A new book, "Love, Della," has 193 of the letters from Della Fahley.
From left, Gophers Gene Bierhaus, Joe Lauterbach  and Mike Welch.

Gophers reserves saw WWII duty

KARE-TV reporter Danny Spewak's new book "From the Gridiron to the Battlefield" chronicles the 1941 Gophers.
The Anti-Vaccination League rose after a state smallpox outbreak killed 28 people. The virus caused fever and blisters, and sometimes blindness and de

Minneapolis anti-vaxxer's death in 1903 resonates today

The Minneapolis Anti-Vaccination League was formed 120 years ago this month, opposing mandated inoculations for schoolchildren.
robert and esther Ostergren matrimonial mischief-makers Robert Ostergren was disenchanted with his dental studies at the U, but he was enchanted with

Burned-out University of Minnesota dental student filled hole in heart with secret elopement

University of Minnesota dental student Robert Ostergren was so miserable he couldn't sleep. So he wrote another of his countless letters to Esther Eldora Anderson,…
Minnesota Boat Club, circa 1884: The Raspberry Island club was the place to be for rowers and elite society guests as the sport became a national craz

Minnesota Boat Club still rowing after 151 years

The club is celebrating a COVID-delayed 150th anniversary as the state's oldest athletic organization on Sept. 11 with a day of races and events.
November 14, 1982 Former WPA sculptor Evelyn Raymond displayed some of her recent work. Tom Sweeney, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Sculptor climbed from Duluth farm to congressional hall

After her mother died in 1938, Leona Evelyn Raymond carved a remarkable career restart.
History lessons on the characters of the Prohibition era, such as the Twin Cities’ own Isadore “Kid Cann” Blumenfeld, adorn the walls of Nucky�

Two days in court, 25 years apart, frame Minneapolis mobster Kid Cann's career

As he rose from Prohibition-era bootlegger to Minneapolis crime boss, Isadore "Kid Cann" Blumenfeld regularly spun through the revolving doors of justice — and mostly…
Around 1917, Anna Lindquist Knock, front row center, posed with all 10 of her children. Top row, from left, David, Emma, Hannah, Arthur, Mabel and Edw

Émigré overcame heartache with prayer, song

She passed that love of music down to her 10 kids.
Mourners gathered at the grave of Laura Kruse, whose body was found March 20, 1937, in the snow behind a house on 14th Avenue S. in Minneapolis. The 1

Strangled Minneapolis woman's death remains unsolved 84 years later

Laura Kruse's body was found after she took a streetcar home from a party at her beauty school.
Dorsie Willis, center, 87, received a U.S. Army apology and honorable discharge in Minneapolis on Feb. 11, 1973. With him are his wife, Olive, and son

Minneapolis shoeshiner Dorsie Willis waited 66 years for Army apology

His tarnished service record had hurt his hopes for finding a better job.
same husband, years apart Identical twin sisters Lorraine and Florraine Hoffman, back row, left and right, with their family. Gerald Williams married

At 94, retired engineer 'blessed' to have wed identical twins

Gerald Williams recently completed a 10-year project, writing a 241-page memoir for his grandkids. How he ended up marrying twins emerges as the most intriguing subplot.
full of life: Brothers Harlan, left, and Grant Melinsky of Howard Lake, Minn., crossed paths in North Africa during World War II before both suffered

Dog tag found in Italy returned to Minnesota family 77 years after soldier vanished

The hope was that returning Harlan William Melinsky's dog tag to his Minnesota relatives would "give some consolation to the family."
An uninjured Richard Pellow crawled through a side window and waved cheerfully to the crowd after his car rolled, crashed into the inner fence and cau

Towing mogul's rare car collection hits auction block

The auction includes vintage hood ornaments, cash registers, a player piano, tin auto signs and old hubcaps.
In 1929, two Hibbing librarians and three schoolteachers researched and created a map of the Arrowhead region, which was printed off copper plates as

Female mapmakers detailed Minnesota's Arrowhead back in 1929

The colorful, meticulously detailed map is packed with stories of Native American lore, French Canadian explorers and some fun facts and sketches.
Orren ‘Pete’ Young 1868-1933  Above right, Young in 1927. He was the first keeper of the Split Rock Lighthouse, shown again in an undated photo. A

Dark day at Split Rock: Two keepers drowned in 1910

As Split Rock Lighthouse's first head keeper from 1910 to 1928, Orren "Pete" Young cautioned countless sailors from his cliff-top perch overlooking Lake Superior, 50…
Army Air Corps Sgts. Russel Stark, 21, left, and Harvey Stark, 19.

Let's remember the Stark brothers this Memorial Day

The brothers died the same day in 1944 when their B-17 crashed. They were among 9,765 Minnesotans killed in World War II.