Part 1 out of 3
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REMINISCENCES OF PIONEER DAYS IN ST. PAUL
A Collection of Articles Written for and Published in the Daily
By FRANK MOORE
NEWSPAPER STRUGGLES OF PIONEER DAYS.
A BRIEF NARRATION OF INCIDENTS AND EVENTS CONNECTED WITH THE EARLY
DAYS OF ST. PAUL, DAILY NEWSPAPERS.
If James M. Goodhue could revisit the earth and make a tour among the
daily newspaper offices of St. Paul he would discover that wonderful
strides had been made in the method of producing a newspaper during
the latter half of the past century. Among the first things to attract
the attention of this old-timer would be the web-perfecting press,
capable of producing 25,000 impressions an hour, instead of the old
hand press of 240 impressions an hour; the linotype machine, capable
of setting 6,000 to 10,000 ems per hour, instead of the old hand
compositor producing only 800 to 1,000 ems per hour, and the mailing
machine, enabling one man to do the work of five or six under the
old method. Think of getting out the Sunday Pioneer Press with the
material in use fifty years ago. It would take 600 hand presses, 600
hand pressmen and 600 boys three hours to print the edition, and as
there were no means of stereotyping in those days the forms would have
to be set up 600 times, requiring the services of 5,000 compositors.
Papers printed under these conditions would have to be sold for one
dollar each, and there would not be much profit in it at that. The
first daily papers printed in St. Paul were not conducted or a very
gigantic scale, as the entire force of one office generally consisted
of one pressman, five or six compositors, two editors and a business
manager. A few reminiscences of the trials and tribulations of the
early newspaper manager, editor and compositor may not be wholly
devoid of interest.
* * * * *
In 1857 there occurred in Minnesota an election of delegates to the
constitutional convention to provide for the admission of Minnesota
into the galaxy of states. The election was so close, politically,
that when the delegates met there was a division, and the Republicans
and Democrats held separate conventions. At the conclusion of the work
of the two conventions the contract for printing was awarded to the
two leading papers of the state--the Pioneer and the Minnesotian--the
Pioneer to print the proceedings of the Democratic body and the
Minnesotian that of the Republican. This contract called for the
expenditure of considerable money for material with which to perform
the work. Mr. Moore, the business manager of the Minnesotian, went to
New York and purchased a Hoe press, the first one ever brought to the
state, and a large quantity of type; also a Hoe proof press, which is
still in use in the Pioneer Press composing room. When the book was
about completed the business manager of the Minnesotian was informed
that an injunction had been issued prohibiting him from drawing
any money from the state until the question of the right of the
Minnesotian to do any state printing had been determined by the
district court. Mr. Goodrich was state printer and claimed he had a
right to print the proceedings of both constitutional bodies. This
action on the part of the Pioneer produced great consternation in the
Minnesotian office, as most of the men had not received more than half
pay for some time, and now, when the balance of their pay was almost
in sight, they were suddenly compelled to await the slow and doubtful
action of the courts before receiving pay for their summer's work. The
district court, subsequently confirmed by the supreme court, decided
in favor of the Minnesotian, and the day following the decision Mr.
Moore, of the Minnesotian, brought down a bag of gold from the capitol
containing $4,000, and divided it up among his employes.
* * * * *
In 1858, when the first Atlantic cable was laid, the news was
anxiously looked for, and nearly every inhabitant of the city turned
out to greet the arrival of the Gray Eagle and Itasca, two of the
fastest boats on the river, which were expected to bring the news
of the successful laying of the cable. The Gray Eagle started from
Dubuque at 9 o'clock in the morning and the Itasca started from
Prairie du Chien, about 100 miles farther up the river, at noon of the
same day. When the boats reached the bend below the river they were
abreast of each other, and as they reached the levee it was hardly
possible to tell which was ahead. One of the passengers on the Gray
Eagle had a copy of the Dubuque Herald containing the Queen's message,
tied up with a small stone on the inside of it, and as he threw it to
the shore a messenger from the Minnesotian caught it and ran up Bench
street to the Minnesotian office, where the printers were waiting,
and the Minnesotian had the satisfaction of getting out an extra some
little time before their competitors.
* * * * *
In the summer season the newspapers had to rely, to a considerable
extent, on the steamboats for late Dubuque and Chicago papers for
telegraph news. There were three or four daily lines of steamers to
St. Paul, and every one of them could be distinguished by its whistle.
When it was time for the arrival of the boat bringing the newspapers
from which the different papers expected to get their telegraphic
news, messengers from the different offices would be at the levee, and
as the boat neared the shore they would leap for the gangplank, and
there was always a scramble to get to the clerk's office first.
James J. Hill and the late Gus Borup were almost always at the levee
awaiting the arrival of the steamers, but as they were after copies
of the boats' manifest they did not come in competition with the
adventurous kids from the newspaper offices.
* * * * *
The Minnesotian was probably the first daily paper in the West to
illustrate a local feature. During the summer of 1859 a man by the
name of Jackson was lynched by a mob in Wright county, and Gov. Sibley
called out the Pioneer Guards to proceed to the place where the
lynching occurred and arrest all persons connected with the tragedy.
The Pioneer Guards was the crack military company of the state, and
the only service any of its members ever expected to do was in the
ballroom or to participate in a Fourth of July parade. When they were
called out by the governor there was great consternation in the ranks.
One of the members, who is still a prominent politician in the city,
when told that his first duty was to serve his country, tremblingly
remarked that he thought his first duty was to provide for his wife
A number of them made their wills before departing, as they thought
the whole of Wright county was in open rebellion. After being absent
for about a week they proudly marched back to the city without ever
firing a gun or seeing an enemy. The late J. Fletcher Williams was
city editor of the Minnesotian, and he wrote an extended account of
the expedition, and It was profusely illustrated with patent medicine
cuts and inverted wood type and border, the only available material at
that time that could be procured.
* * * * *
The year 1859 was a memorable one in the political history of
Minnesota. Alexander Ramsey and George L. Becker, both now living in
this city, were the rival candidates for governor. The Republicans
made extraordinary efforts to elect their state and legislative
tickets, as both governor and United States senator were at stake.
Among the speakers imported by the Republicans were the Hon. Galusha
A. Grow of Pennsylvania and Hon. Schuyler Colfax of Indiana. Mr. Grow,
then as now, represented the congressional district in Pennsylvania in
which I formally resided, and I was very anxious to hear him, as the
first political speech I had ever heard was made by him in a small
village in Pennsylvania. The speakers were announced to speak at the
old People's theater, on the corner of Fourth and St. Peter streets,
and I was among the first to enter. The theater was packed to
overflowing. Mr. Grow had made a very interesting speech of about an
hour's duration, and Mr. Colfax was to follow for an equal length of
time. After Mr. Colfax had spoken about ten minutes an alarm of fire
was sounded and in less than fifteen minutes the entire structure was
burned to the ground. This happened about 9:30 o'clock in the
evening, and, strange to relate, not one of the morning papers had an
announcement of the fact the next day. The morning papers at that time
were something like an evening paper of to-day. They were set up and
made up in the afternoon and generally printed in the early part of
the evening. The result of that election was very gratifying to the
Republicans. I can see old Dr. Foster now writing a double column
political head for the Minnesotian, the first two lines of which were:
"Shout, Republicans, Shout! We've Cleaned the Breech Clouts Out!"
Dr. Foster was the editor of the Minnesotian and was quite a power in
the Republican party. He wielded a vigorous pen and possessed a very
irascible temper. I have often seen him perform some Horace Greeley
antics in the composing room of the old Minnesotian. At the time of
the execution of John Brown for his attempted raid into Virginia, I
remember bringing the Chicago Tribune to the doctor, containing the
announcement of the execution. I had arranged the paper so that the
doctor could take in the contents of the heading at the first glance.
The doctor looked at the headlines a second and then exclaimed, loud
enough to be heard a block, "Great God! In the nineteenth century, a
man hung for an idea!"
At another time the doctor became very much enraged over some news
that I had laid before him. In the early 50's Galusha A. Grow, of
Pennsylvania, introduced into the house of representatives the first
homestead law and the Republican party soon afterward incorporated
the idea into their platform as one of their pet measures. After
superhuman effort the bill passed the house of representatives, that
body being nearly tie politically, and was sent to the senate. The
Democratic majority in the senate was not very favorably impressed
with the measure, but with the assistance of the late President
Johnson, who was senator from Tennessee at that time, the bill passed
the senate by a small majority. There was great rejoicing over the
event and no one supposed for a moment that the president would veto
the measure. When I laid the Chicago Tribune before the excitable
doctor containing the announcement of Buchanan's veto the very air was
blue with oaths. The doctor took the paper and rushed out into the
street waving the paper frantically in the air, cursing the president
at every step.
* * * * *
From 1854, the date of the starting of the three St. Paul daily
papers, until 1860, the time of the completion of the Winslow
telegraph line, there was great strife between the Pioneer,
Minnesotian and Times as to which would be the first to appear on the
street with the full text of the president's message. The messages of
Pierce and Buchanan were very lengthy, and for several days preceding
their arrival the various offices had all the type of every
description distributed and all the printers who could possibly be
procured engaged to help out on the extra containing the forthcoming
message. It was customary to pay every one employed, from the devil to
the foreman, $2.50 in gold, and every printer in the city was notified
to be in readiness for the approaching typographical struggle. One
year one of the proprietors of the Minnesotian thought he would
surprise the other offices, and he procured the fastest livery team In
the city and went down the river as far as Red Wing to intercept the
mail coach, and expected to return to St. Paul three or four hours in
advance of the regular mail, which would give him that much advantage
over his competitors. Owing to some miscalculation as to the time the
stage left Chicago the message was delivered in St. Paul twenty-four
hours earlier than was expected, and the proprietor of the Minnesotian
had the pleasure of receiving a copy of his own paper, containing the
complete message, long before he returned to St. Paul. The management
always provided an oyster supper for the employes of the paper first
out with the message, and it generally required a week for the typos
to fully recover from its effect.
* * * * *
As an evidence of what was uppermost in the minds of most people at
this time, and is probably still true to-day, it may be related that
in the spring of 1860, when the great prize fight between Heenan and
Sayers was to occur in England, and the meeting of the Democratic
national convention in Charleston, in which the Minnesota Democrats
were in hopes that their idol, Stephen A. Douglas, would be nominated
for president, the first question asked by the people I would meet on
the way from the boat landing to the office would be: "Anything from
the prize fight? What is the news from the Charleston convention?"
* * * * *
"The good old times" printers often talk about were evidently not the
years between the great panic of 1857 and the breaking out of the
Civil war in 1861. Wages were low and there was absolutely no money to
speak of. When a man did occasionally get a dollar he was not sure it
would be worth its face value when the next boat would arrive with
a new Bank Note Reporter. Married men considered themselves very
fortunate when they could get, on Saturday night, an order on a
grocery or dry goods store for four or five dollars, and the single
men seldom received more than $2 or $3 cash. That was not more than
half enough to pay their board bill. This state of affairs continued
until the Press was started in 1861, when Gov. Marshall inaugurated
the custom, which still prevails, of paying his employes every
* * * * *
Another instance of the lack of enterprise on the part of the daily
paper of that day:
During the summer of 1860 a large party of Republican statesmen and
politicians visited St. Paul, consisting of State Senator W.H. Seward.
Senator John P. Hale, Charles Francis Adams, Senator Nye, Gen. Stewart
L. Woodford and several others of lesser celebrity. The party came to
Minnesota in the interest of the Republican candidate for president.
Mr. Seward made a great speech from the front steps of the old
capitol, in which he predicted that at some distant day the capitol
of this great republic would be located not far from the Falls of St.
Anthony. There was a large gathering at the capitol to hear him, but
those who were not fortunate enough to get within sound of his voice
had to wait until the New York Herald, containing a full report of
his speech, reached St. Paul before they could read what the great
statesman had said.
* * * * *
In the fall of 1860 the first telegraph line was completed to St.
Paul. Newspaper proprietors thought they were then in the world, so
far as news is concerned, but it was not to be so. The charges for
telegraph news were so excessive that the three papers in St. Paul
could not afford the luxury of the "latest news by Associated Press."
The offices combined against the extortionate rates demanded by the
telegraph company and made an agreement not to take the dispatches
until the rates were lowered; but it was like an agreement of the
railroad presidents of the present day, it was not adhered to. The
Pioneer made a secret contract with the telegraph company and left the
Minnesotian and the Times out in the cold. Of course that was a very
unpleasant state of affairs and for some time the Minnesotian and
Times would wait until the Pioneer was out in the morning and would
then set up the telegraph and circulate their papers. One of the
editors connected with the Minnesotian had an old acquaintance in the
pressroom of the Pioneer, and through him secured one of the first
papers printed. This had been going on for some time when Earle S.
Goodrich, the editor of the Pioneer, heard of it, and he accordingly
made preparation to perpetrate a huge joke on the Minnesotian. Mr.
Goodrich was a very versatile writer and he prepared four or five
columns of bogus telegraph and had it set up and two or three copies
of the Pioneer printed for the especial use of the Minnesotian. The
scheme worked to a charm. Amongst the bogus news was a two-column
speech purporting to have been made by William H. Seward in the senate
just previous to the breaking out of the war. Mr. Seward's well-known
ideas were so closely imitated that their genuineness were not
questioned. The rest of the news was made up of dispatches purporting
to be from the then excited Southern States. The Minnesotian received
a Pioneer about 4 o'clock in the morning and by 8 the entire edition
was distributed throughout the city. I had distributed the Minnesotian
throughout the upper portion of the city, and just as I returned to
Bridge Square I met the carrier of the Pioneer, and laughed at him for
being so late. He smiled, but did not speak. As soon as I learned what
had happened I did not do either. The best of the joke was, the Times
could not obtain an early copy of the Pioneer and set up the bogus
news from the Minnesotian, and had their edition printed and ready to
circulate when they heard of the sell. They at once set up the genuine
news and circulated both the bogus and regular, and made fun of the
Minnesotian for being so easily taken in.
* * * * *
The Pioneer retained the monopoly of the news until the Press was
started, on the 1st of January, 1861. The Press made arrangements with
Mr. Winslow for full telegraphic dispatches, but there was another
hitch in the spring of 1861 and for some time the Press had to obtain
its telegraph from proof sheets of the St. Anthony Falls News, a paper
published in what is now East Minneapolis. Gov. Marshall was very much
exercised at being compelled to go to a neighboring town for telegraph
news, and one night when news of unusual importance was expected he
had a very stormy interview with Mr. Winslow. No one ever knew exactly
what he told him, but that night the Press had full telegraphic
reports, and has had ever since.
* * * * *
Gov. Marshall was a noble man. When the first battle of Bull Run
occurred the earlier reports announced a great Union victory. I
remember of going to Dan Rice's circus that night and felt as chipper
as a young kitten. After the circus was out I went back to the office
to see if any late news had been received. I met Gov. Marshall at the
door, and with tears rolling down his cheeks he informed me that the
Union force had met with a great reverse and he was afraid the
country would never recover from it. But it did, and the governor
was afterward one of the bravest of the brave in battling for his
* * * * *
Printers were very patriotic, and when Father Abraham called for
"three hundred thousand more" in July, 1862, so many enlisted that
it was with much difficulty that the paper was enabled to present a
respectable appearance. The Press advertised for anything that could
set type to come in and help it out. I remember one man applying
who said he never had set any type, but he had a good theoretical
knowledge of the business.
One evening an old gentleman by the name of Metcalf, father of the
late T.M. Metcalf, came wandering into the office about 9 o'clock and
told the foreman he thought he could help him out. He was given a
piece of copy and worked faithfully until the paper went to press.
He was over eighty years old and managed to set about 1,000 ems. Mr.
Metcalf got alarmed at his father's absence from home and searched the
city over, and finally found him in the composing room of the Press.
The old man would not go home with his son, but insisted on remaining
until the paper was up.
* * * * *
Although Minnesota sent to the war as many, if not more, men than any
other state in the Union in proportion to its population, yet it was
necessary to resort to a draft in a few counties where the population
was largely foreign. The feeling against the draft was very bitter,
and the inhabitants of the counties which were behind in the quota did
not take kindly to the idea of being drafted to fight for a cause they
did not espouse. A riot was feared, and troops were ordered down from
the fort to be in readiness for any disturbance that might occur.
Arrangements for the prosecution of the draft were made as rapidly as
possible, but the provost marshal was not in readiness to have it take
place on the day designated by the war department. This situation
of affairs was telegraphed to the president and the following
characteristic reply was received: "If the draft cannot take place, of
course it cannot take place. Necessity knows no law. A. Lincoln." The
bitterest feeling of the anti-drafters seemed to be against the
old St. Paul Press, a paper that earnestly advocated the vigorous
prosecution of the war. Threats were made to mob the office. A company
was organized for self-defense, and Capt. E.R. Otis, now of West
Superior, one of the Press compositors at that time, was made post
commander. Capt. Otis had seen service in the early part of the war
and the employes considered themselves fortunate in having a genuine
military man for a leader. The office was barricaded, fifteen old
Springfield muskets and 800 rounds of ammunition was brought down from
the capitol and every one instructed what to do in case of an attack.
I slept on a lounge in the top story of the old Press building
overlooking Bridge Square, and the guns and ammunition were under my
bed. I was supposed to give the alarm should the mob arrive after the
employes had gone home. As there was no possible avenue of escape in
case of an attack, it looks now as if the post commander displayed
poor judgment in placing a lone sentinel on guard. But there was no
riot. The excitement gradually died away and the draft took place
* * * * *
Before and some time after the war the daily newspapers took advantage
of all the holidays and seldom issued papers on the days following
Christmas, New Year's, Washington's birthday, Fourth of July
and Thanksgiving. On the Fourth of July, 1863, the Pioneer made
arrangements to move from their old quarters near the corner of Third
and Cedar streets to the corner of Third and Robert. It happened
that on that day two of the greatest events of the Civil war had
occurred--the battle of Gettysburg and the surrender of Vicksburg. The
Pioneer being engaged in moving their plant could not issue an extra
on that occasion, and the Press had the field exclusively to itself.
The news of these two great events had become pretty generally known
throughout the city and the anxiety to get fuller particulars was
simply intense. The Press, having a clear field for that day, did not
propose to issue its extra until the fullest possible details had
been received. A great crowd had assembled in front of the old Press
office, anxiously awaiting details of the great Union victories. I had
helped prepare the news for the press and followed the forms to the
press room. As soon as a sufficient number of papers had been printed
I attempted to carry them to the counting room and place them on sale.
As I opened the side door of the press room and undertook to reach the
counting room by a short circuit, I found the crowd on the outside had
become so large that it was impossible to gain an entrance in that
direction, and undertook to retreat and try another route. But quicker
than a flash I was raised to the shoulders of the awaiting crowd and
walked on their heads to the counting room window, where I sold what
few papers I had as rapidly as I could hand them out. As soon as the
magnitude of the news got circulated cheer after cheer rent the air,
and cannon, anvils, firecrackers and everything that would make a
noise was brought into requisition, and before sundown St. Paul had
celebrated the greatest Fourth of July in its history.
* * * * *
I arrived in St. Paul on the morning of the 17th of April, 1858, and
Immediately commenced work on the Daily Minnesotian, my brother, Geo.
W. Moore, being part owner and manager of the paper. I had not been at
work long before I learned what a "scoop" was. Congress had passed
a bill admitting Minnesota into the Union, but as there was no
telegraphic communication with Washington it required two or three
days for the news to reach the state. The Pioneer, Minnesotian and
Times were morning papers, and were generally printed the evening
before. It so happened that the news of the admission of Minnesota was
brought to St. Paul by a passenger on a late boat and the editors of
the Pioneer accidentally heard of the event and published the same
on the following morning, thus scooping the other two papers. The
Minnesotian got out an extra and sent it around to their subscribers
and they thought they had executed a great stroke of enterprise. It
was not long before I became familiar with the method of obtaining
news and I was at the levee on the arrival of every boat thereafter.
I could tell every boat by its whistle, and there was no more scoops
'till the telegraph line was completed in the summer of 1860.
* * * * *
During the latter part of the Civil war the daily newspapers began to
expand, and have ever since kept fully abreast of the requirements of
our rapidly increasing population. The various papers were printed on
single-cylinder presses until about 1872, when double-cylinders were
introduced. In 1876 the first turtle-back press was brought to the
city, printing four pages at one time. In 1880 the different offices
introduced stereotyping, and in 1892 linotype type-setting machines
were installed. The next great advance will probably be some system of
photography that will entirely dispense with the work of the printer
and proofreader. Who knows?
THE FIVE MILLION LOAN ELECTION.
EARLY STEAMBOATING--CELEBRATION OF THE SUCCESSFUL LAYING OF THE FIRST
ATLANTIC CABLE--A FIGHT BETWEEN THE CHIPPEWAS AND SIOUXS.
"Right this way for the Fuller house!" "Right this way for the Winslow
house!" "Right this way for the American house!" "Merchants hotel
on the levee!" "Stage for St. Anthony Falls!" These were the
announcements that would greet the arrival of travelers as they would
alight from one of the splendid steamers of the Galena, Dunleith,
Dubuque and Minnesota Packet company during the days when traveling
by steamboat was the only way of reaching points on the upper
Mississippi. Besides the above hotels, there was the Central house,
the Temperance house, the City hotel, Minnesota house, the Western
house, the Hotel to the Wild Hunter, whose curious sign for many years
attracted the attention of the visitor, and many others. The Merchants
is the only one left, and that only in name. Messengers from newspaper
offices, representatives of storage and commission houses, merchants
looking for consignments of goods, residents looking for friends, and
the ever alert dealers in town lots on the scent of fresh victims,
were among the crowds that daily congregated at the levee whenever the
arrival of one of the packet company's regular steamers was expected.
At one time there was a daily line of steamers to La Crosse, a daily
line to Prairie du Chien, a daily line to Dubuque and a line to St.
Louis, and three daily lines for points on the Minnesota river.
Does any one remember the deep bass whistle of the Gray Eagle, the
combination whistle on the Key City, the ear-piercing shriek of the
little Antelope, and the discordant notes of the calliope on the
Denmark? The officers of these packets were the king's of the day, and
when any one of them strayed up town he attracted as much attention as
a major general of the regulars. It was no uncommon sight to see six
or eight steamers at the levee at one time, and their appearance
presented a decided contrast to the levee of the present time. The
first boat through the lake in the spring was granted free wharfage,
and as that meant about a thousand dollars, there was always an
effort made to force a passage through the lake as soon as possible.
Traveling by steamboat during the summer months was very pleasant,
but it was like taking a trip to the Klondike to go East during the
winter. Merchants were compelled to supply themselves with enough
goods to last from November till April, as it was too expensive
to ship goods by express during the winter. Occasionally some
enterprising merchant would startle the community by announcing
through the newspapers that he had just received by Burbank's express
a new pattern in dress goods, or a few cans of fresh oysters. The
stages on most of the routes left St. Paul at 4 o'clock in the
morning, and subscribers to daily newspapers within a radius of forty
miles of the city could read the news as early as they can during
these wonderful days of steam and electricity.
* * * * *
Probably no election ever occurred in Minnesota that excited so much
interest as the one known as the "Five Million Loan Election." It was
not a party measure, as the leading men of both parties favored it;
although the Republicans endeavored to make a little capital out of it
at a later period. The only paper of any prominence that opposed the
passage of the amendment was the Minnesotian, edited by Dr. Thomas
Foster. That paper was very violent in its abuse of every one who
favored the passage of the law, and its opposition probably had an
opposite effect from what was intended by the redoubtable doctor. The
great panic of 1857 had had a very depressing effect on business
of every description and it was contended that the passage of this
measure would give employment to thousands of people; that the
rumbling of the locomotive would soon be heard in every corner of the
state, and that the dealer in town lots and broad acres would again be
able to complacently inform the newcomer the exact locality where a
few dollars would soon bring to the investor returns unheard of by
any ordinary methods of speculation. The campaign was short and the
amendment carried by an immense majority. So nearly unanimous was
the sentiment of the community in favor of the measure that it was
extremely hazardous for any one to express sentiments In opposition to
it. The city of St. Paul, with a population of about 10,000, gave a
majority of over 4,000 for the law. There was no Australian law
at that time, and one could vote early and often without fear of
molestation. One of the amusing features of the campaign, and in
opposition to the measure, was a cartoon drawn by R.O. Sweeney, now
a resident of Duluth. It was lithographed and widely circulated. The
newspapers had no facilities for printing cartoons at that time. They
had to be printed on a hand press and folded into the papers. It was
proposed, by the terms of this amendment to the constitution, to
donate to four different railroad companies $10,000 per mile for every
mile of road graded and ready to iron. Work Was commenced soon after
the passage of the law, and in a short time a demand was made by the
railroad companies upon Gov. Sibley for the issuance of the bonds, in
accordance with their idea of the terms of the contract made by the
state. Gov. Sibley declined to issue the bonds until the rights of
the state had been fully protected. The railroad companies would not
accept the restrictions placed upon them by the governor, and they
obtained a peremptory writ from the supreme court directing that they
be issued. The governor held that the supreme court had no authority
to coerce the executive branch of the state government, but on the
advice of the attorney general, and rather than have any friction
between the two branches of the government, he, in accordance with the
mandate of the court, reluctantly signed the bonds. Judge Flandrau
dissented from the opinion of his colleagues, and had his ideas
prevailed the state's financial reputation would have been vastly
improved. Dr. Foster did not believe Gov. Sibley was sincere in his
efforts to protect the interests of the state, and denounced him with
the same persistence he had during the campaign of the previous fall.
The doctor would never acknowledge that Gov. Sibley was the legal
governor of Minnesota, and Tie contended that he had no right to sign
the bonds: that their issuance was illegal, and that neither the
principal nor the interest would ever be paid. The Minnesotian carried
at the head of its columns the words "Official Paper of the City," and
it was feared that its malignant attacks upon the state officials,
denouncing the issuance of the bonds as fraudulent and illegal, would
be construed abroad as reflecting the sentiment of the majority of the
people in the the community in which it was printed, and would have a
bad effect in the East when the time came to negotiate the bonds. An
effort was made to induce the city council to deprive that paper of
its official patronage, but that body could not see its way clear to
abrogate its contract. Threats were made to throw the office into the
river, but they did not materialize. When Gov. Sibley endeavored
to place these bonds on the New York market he was confronted
with conditions not anticipated, and suffered disappointment and
humiliation in consequence of the failure of the attempt. The bonds
could not be negotiated. The whole railway construction scheme
suddenly collapsed, the railroad companies defaulted, the credit of
the state was compromised, "and enterprise of great pith and
moment had turned their currents awry." The evil forbodings of the
Minnesotian became literally true, and for more than twenty years
the repudiated bonds of Minnesota were a blot on the pages of her
otherwise spotless record. Nearly 250 miles of road were graded, on
which the state foreclosed and a few years later donated the same to
new organizations. During the administration of Gov. Pillsbury the
state compromised with the holders of these securities and paid 50 per
cent of their nominal value. Will she ever pay the rest?
* * * * *
In the latter part of May, 1858, a battle was fought near Shakopee
between the Sioux and the Chippewas. A party of Chippewa warriors,
under the command of the famous Chief Hole-in-the-day, surprised a
body of Sioux on the river bottoms near Shakopee and mercilessly
opened fire on them, killing and wounding fifteen or twenty. Eight or
ten Chippewas were killed during the engagement. The daily papers
sent reporters to the scene of the conflict and they remained in that
vicinity several days on the lookout for further engagements. Among
the reporters was John W. Sickels, a fresh young man from one of the
Eastern cities. He was attached to the Times' editorial staff and
furnished that paper with a very graphic description of the events of
the preceding days, and closed his report by saying that he was unable
to find out the "origin of the difficulty." As the Sioux and
Chippewas were hereditary enemies, his closing announcement afforded
considerable amusement to the old inhabitants.
* * * * *
The celebration in St. Paul in honor of the successful laying of the
Atlantic cable, which took place on the first day of September, 1858,
was one of the first as well as one of the most elaborate celebrations
that ever occurred in the city. The announcement of the completion of
the enterprise, which occurred on the 5th of the previous month, did
not reach St. Paul until two or three days later, as there was no
telegraphic communication to the city at that time. As soon as
messages had been exchanged between Queen Victoria and President
Buchanan it was considered safe to make preparations for a grand
celebration. Most of the cities throughout the United States were
making preparations to celebrate on that day, and St. Paul did not
propose to be outdone. The city council appropriated several hundred
dollars to assist in the grand jubilation and illumination. An
elaborate program was prepared and a procession that would do credit
to the city at the present time marched through the principal streets,
to the edification of thousands of spectators from the city and
surrounding country. To show that a procession in the olden time was
very similar to one of the up-to-date affairs, the following order of
procession is appended:
Escort of Light Cavalry.
Floral procession with escort of Mounted Cadets,
representing Queen Victoria, President Buchanan,
the different States of the Union, and
The Governor and State Officers in carriages.
The Judges of the State in carriages.
Officers of the Army.
Officers of the Navy.
The Municipal Authorities of Neighboring Cities.
The Board of Education in Carriages.
The Mayor and City Council.
Knights Templars on Horseback.
Officers and Crews of Vessels in Port.
German Reading Society.
German Singing Society.
Attaches of Postoffice Department.
Citizens in Carriages.
Citizens on Horseback.
Brewers on Horseback.
Butchers on Horseback.
Col. AC Jones, adjutant general of the state, was marshal-in-chief,
and he was assisted by a large number of aides. The Pioneer Guards,
the oldest military company in the state, had the right of line. They
had just received their Minie rifles and bayonets, and, with the
drum-major headgear worn by military companies in those days,
presented a very imposing appearance. The Pioneer Guards were followed
by the City Guards, under Capt. John O'Gorman. A detachment of cavalry
and the City Battery completed the military part of the affair. The
fire department, under the superintendence of the late Charles H.
Williams, consisting of the Pioneer Hook and Ladder company, Minnehaha
Engine company, Hope Engine company and the Rotary Mill company was
the next in order. One of the most attractive features of the occasion
was the contribution of the Pioneer Printing company. In a large car
drawn by six black horses an attempt was made to give an idea of
printers and printing in the days of Franklin, and also several
epochs in the life of the great philosopher. In the car with the
representatives of the art preservative was Miss Azelene Allen, a
beautiful and popular young actress connected with the People's
theater, bearing in her hand a cap of liberty on a spear. She
represented the Goddess of Liberty. The car was ornamented with
flowers and the horses were decorated with the inscriptions
"Franklin," "Morse," "Field." The Pioneer book bindery was also
represented in one of the floats, and workmen, both male and female,
were employed in different branches of the business. These beautiful
floats were artistically designed by George H. Colgrave, who is
still in the service of the Pioneer Press company. One of the unique
features of the parade, and one that attracted great attention, was a
light brigade, consisting of a number of school children mounted, and
they acted as a guard of honor to the president and queen. In an open
barouche drawn by four horses were seated two juvenile representatives
of President Buchanan and Queen Victoria. The representative of
British royalty was Miss Rosa Larpenteur, daughter of A.L. Larpenteur,
and the first child born of white parents in St. Paul. James Buchanan
was represented by George Folsom, also a product of the city. Col.
R.E.J. Miles and Miss Emily Dow, the stars at the People's theater,
were in the line of march on two handsomely caparisoned horses,
dressed in Continental costume, representing George and Martha
Washington. The colonel looked like the veritable Father of His
Country. There were a number of other floats, and nearly all the
secret societies of the city were in line. The procession was nearly
two miles in length and they marched three and one-half hours before
reaching their destination. To show the difference between a line of
march at that time and one at the present day, the following is given:
THE LINE OF MARCH.
Up St. Anthony street to Fort street, up Fort street to Ramsey street,
then countermarch down Fort to Fourth street, down Fourth street to
Minnesota street, up Minnesota street to Seventh street, down Seventh
street to Jackson street, up Jackson street to Eighth street, down
Eighth street to Broadway, down Broadway to Seventh street, up Seventh
street to Jackson street, down Jackson street to Third street, up
Third street to Market street.
Ex-Gov. W.A. Gorman and ex-Gov. Alex. Ramsey were the orators of the
occasion, and they delivered very lengthy addresses. It had been
arranged to have extensive fireworks in the evening, but on account of
the storm they had to be postponed until the following night.
It was a strange coincidence that on the very day of the celebration
the last message was exchanged between England and America. The cable
had been in successful operation about four weeks and 129 messages
were received from England and 271 sent from America. In 1866 a new
company succeeded in laying the cable which is in successful
operation to-day. Four attempts were made before the enterprise was
successful--the first in 1857, the second in 1858, the third in 1863
and the successful one in 1865. Cyrus W. Field, the projector of the
enterprise, received the unanimous thanks of congress, and would have
been knighted by Great Britain had Mr. Field thought it proper to
accept such honor.
* * * * *
Some time during the early '50s a secret order known as the Sons of
Malta was organized in one of the Eastern states, and its membership
increased throughout the West with as much rapidity as the Vandals and
Goths increased their numbers during the declining years of the Roman
Empire. Two or three members of the Pioneer editorial staff procured a
charter from Pittesburg in 1858 and instituted a lodge in St. Paul.
It was a grand success from the start. Merchants, lawyers, doctors,
printers, and in fact half of the male population, was soon enrolled
in the membership of the order. There was something so grand, gloomy
and peculiar about the initiation that made it certain that as soon
as one victim had run the gauntlet he would not be satisfied until
another one had been procured. When a candidate had been proposed for
membership the whole lodge acted as a committee of investigation,
and if it could be ascertained that he had ever been derelict in his
dealings with his fellow men he was sure to be charged with it when
being examined by the high priest in the secret chamber of the
order--that is, the candidate supposed he was in a secret chamber from
the manner in which he had to be questioned, but when the hood had
been removed from his face he found, much to his mortification, that
his confession had been made to the full membership of the order.
Occasionally the candidate would confess to having been more of a
transgresser than his questioners had anticipated.
The following is a sample of the questions asked a candidate for
admission: Grand Commander to candidate, "Are you in favor of
the acquisition of the Island of Cuba?" Candidate, "I am." Grand
Commander, "In case of an invasion of the island, would you lie awake
nights and steal into the enemy's camp?" Candidate, "I would." Grand
Commander, "Let it be recorded, he will lie and steal," and then an
immense gong at the far end of the hall would be sounded and the
candidate would imagine that the day of judgment had come. The scheme
of bouncing candidates into the air from a rubber blanket, so popular
during the days of the recent ice carnivals was said to have been
original with the Sons of Malta, and was one of the mildest of the
many atrocities perpetrated by this most noble order.
Some time during the summer a large excursion party of members of the
order from Cincinnati, Chicago and Milwaukee visited St. Paul.
Among the number was the celebrated elocutionist, Alf. Burnett of
Cincinnati, and Gov. Alexander Randall of Wisconsin. They arrived at
the lower levee about midnight and marched up Third street to the hall
of the order, where a grand banquet was awaiting them. The visitors
were arrayed in long, black robes, with a black hood over their heads,
and looked more like the prisoners in the play of "Lucretia Borgia"
than members of modern civilization.
On the following day there was an immense barbecue at Minnehaha
Falls, when the visitors were feasted with an ox roasted whole. This
organization kept on increasing in membership, until in an evil hour
one of the members had succeeded in inducing the Rev. John Penman
to consent to become one of its members. Mr. Penman was so highly
Indignant at the manner in which he had been handled during the
initiation that he immediately wrote an expose of the secret work,
with numerous illustrations, and had it published in Harper's Weekly.
The exposition acted like a bombshell in the camp of the Philistines,
and ever after Empire hall, the headquarters of the order, presented
a dark and gloomy appearance. The reverend gentleman was judge of
probate of Ramsey county at the time, but his popularity suddenly
diminished and when his term of office expired he found it to his
advantage to locate in a more congenial atmosphere.
* * * * *
The Minnesotian and Times, although both Republican papers, never
cherished much love for each other. The ravings of the Eatanswill
Gazette were mild in comparison to the epithets used by these little
papers in describing the shortcomings of their "vile and reptile
contemporary." After the election in 1859, as soon as it was known
that the Republicans had secured a majority in the legislature, the
managers of these rival Republican offices instituted a very lively
campaign for the office of state printer. Both papers had worked hard
for the success of the Republican ticket and they had equal claims
on the party for recognition. Both offices were badly in need of
financial assistance, and had the Republican party not been successful
one of them, and perhaps both, would have been compelled to suspend.
How to divide the patronage satisfactorily to both papers was the
problem that confronted the legislature about to assemble. The war of
words between Foster and Newson continued with unabated ferocity. The
editor of the Minnesotian would refer to the editor of the Times
as "Mr. Timothy Muggins Newson"--his right name being Thomas M.
Newson--and the Times would frequently mention Dr. Foster as the
"red-nosed, goggle-eyed editor of the Minnesotian." To effect a
reconciliation between these two editors required the best diplomatic
talent of the party leaders. After frequent consultations between the
leading men of the party and the managers of the two offices, it was
arranged that the papers should be consolidated and the name of the
paper should be the Minnesotian and Times. It can readily be seen
that a marriage contracted under these peculiar circumstances was
not likely to produce a prolonged state of connubial felicity. The
relations between Foster and Newson were no more cordial under one
management than had hitherto existed when the offices were separate.
This unhappy situation continued until about the time the legislature
adjourned, when the partnership was dissolved. Dr. Foster assumed
entire control of the Minnesotian and Maj. Newson was manager of
the Times. George W. Moore was associated with Dr. Foster in the
publication of the Minnesotian prior to the consolidation, but when
the offices separated it was stipulated that Mr. Moore should have the
printing of the Journals of the two houses of the legislature as part
payment of his share of the business of the late firm of Newson,
Moore, Foster & Co., thus entirely severing his relations with the
paper he helped to found. After the arrangement was made it was with
the greatest difficulty that it was carried into effect, as Orville
Brown of Faribault had entered the field as a candidate for state
printer and came within a few votes of taking the printing to that
village. The Times continued under the management of Mr. Newson until
the first of January, 1861, when he leased the office to W.R. Marshall
and Thomas F. Slaughter, who started the St. Paul Daily Press with
its material. The Press proved to be too much of a competitor for the
Minnesotian, and in a short time Dr. Foster was compelled to surrender
to its enterprising projectors, they having purchased the entire
plant. This ended the rivalry between the two Republican dailies. Dr.
Foster and Maj. Newson, some time afterward, received commissions in
the volunteer service of the army during the Civil war, and George W.
Moore was appointed collector of the port of St. Paul, a position he
held for more than twenty years.
* * * * *
Does any one remember that St. Paul had a paper called the Daily North
Star? The historians of St. Paul and Ramsey county do not seem to ever
have chronicled the existence of this sprightly little sheet. During
the presidential campaign of 1860 we had two kinds of Democrats--the
Douglas and the Breckinridge or administration Democrats. There
were only two papers in the state that espoused the cause of
Mr. Breckinridge--the Chatfield Democrat and the Henderson
Independent--and as they had been designated by the president to
publish such portion of the acts of congress as it was customary
to print at that time, it was quite natural that they carried the
administration colors at the head of their columns. They were called
"bread and butter papers." The supporters of Mr. Breckinridge thought
their cause would present a more respectable appearance if they had an
organ at the capital of the state. Accordingly the late H.H. Young,
the editor of the Henderson Independent, was brought down from that
village and the Daily North Star soon made its appearance. It was not
necessary at that time to procure the Associated Press dispatches, a
perfecting press and linotype machines before embarking in a daily
newspaper enterprise, as a Washington hand press and five or six
cases of type were all that were necessary. This paper was published
regularly until after election, and as the returns indicated that the
officeholders would not much longer contribute toward its support it
St. Paul had another paper that is very seldom mentioned in newspaper
history. It was called the St. Paul Weekly Journal, and was edited by
Dr. Massey, formerly of the Ohio Statesman and private secretary to
Gov. Sam Medary. This paper was started in 1862, but on account of its
violent opposition to the prosecution of the war did not meet with
much favor, and only existed about eight months.
* * * * *
Some time during the year 1858 the Minnesotian office received about
half a dozen cases of very bad whisky in payment of a very bad debt.
They could not sell it--they could not even give it to any one.
Occasionally the thirst of an old-time compositor would get the
better of him and he would uncork a bottle. The experiment was never
repeated. Think of half a dozen cases of whisky remaining unmolested
in a printing office for more than two years. During the campaign
of 1860 the Wide Awakes and the Little Giants were the uniformed
political organizations intended to attract the attention of voters.
One dreary night one of the attaches of the Minnesotian office, and an
active member of the Wide Awakes, met the Little Giants near Bridge
Square as they were returning to their hall after a long march.
In order to establish a sort of entente cordiale between the two
organisations the Little Giants were invited over to the Minnesotian
office in hopes they would be able to reduce the supply of this
nauseating beverage. It was a golden opportunity. The invitation was
readily accepted, and in a short time fifty ardent followers of the
advocate of squatter sovereignty were lined up in front of a black
Republican office, thirsting for black Republican whisky. Bottle after
bottle, was passed down the line, and as it gurgled down the throats
of these enthusiastic marchers they smacked their lips with as much
gusto as did Rip Van Winkle when partaking of the soporific potation
that produced his twenty years' sleep. One of the cardinal principles
of the Democracy, at that time was to "love rum and hate niggers." As
the entire stock was disposed of before the club resumed its line of
march, the host of the occasion concluded that at least one plank of
their platform was rigidly adhered to.
THE GREAT SIOUX OUTBREAK IN 1862.
NARRATION OF SOME OF THE EXCITING EVENTS THAT OCCURRED DURING THE
GREAT SIOUX OUTBREAK IN 1862--FORT RIDGELY, NEW ULM AND BIRCH
COULIE--OTHER DAY AND WABASHA--GREAT EXCITEMENT IN ST. PAUL.
In July and August, 1862, President Lincoln issued proclamations
calling for the enlistment of 600,000 volunteers for the purpose of
reinforcing the army, then vainly endeavoring to suppress the Southern
rebellion. It was probably one of the most gloomy periods in the
history of the Civil war. McClellan had been compelled to make a
precipitous and disastrous retreat from the vicinity of Richmond;
the army of Northern Virginia under Pope had met with several severe
reverses; the armies in the West under Grant, Buell and Curtis had not
been able to make any progress toward the heart of the Confederacy;
rebel marauders under Morgan were spreading desolation and ruin in
Kentucky and Ohio; rebel privateers were daily eluding the vigilant
watch of the navy and escaping to Europe with loads of cotton, which
they readily disposed of and returned with arms and ammunition to aid
in the prosecution of their cause. France was preparing to invade
Mexico with a large army for the purpose of forcing the establishment
of a monarchical form of government upon the people of our sister
republic; the sympathies of all the great powers of Europe, save
Russia, were plainly manifested by outspoken utterances favorable to
the success of the Confederate cause; rumors of foreign intervention
in behalf of the South were daily circulated; the enemies of the
government in the North were especially active in their efforts
to prevent the enlistment of men under the call of the president;
conspiracies for burning Northern cities had been unearthed by
government detectives, and emissaries from the South were endeavoring
to spread disease and pestilence throughout the loyal North. It was
during this critical period in the great struggle for the suppression
of the Rebellion that one of the most fiendish atrocities in the
history of Indian warfare was enacted on the western boundaries of
* * * * *
It can readily be seen that the government was illy prepared to cope
with an outbreak of such magnitude as this soon proved to be. By the
terms of the treaty of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota in 1851 the
Sioux sold all their lands in Minnesota, except a strip ten miles wide
on each side of the Minnesota river from near Fort Ridgely to Big
Stone lake. In 1858 ten miles of the strip lying north of the river
was sold, mainly through the influence of Little Crow. The selling of
this strip caused great dissatisfaction among the Indians and Little
Crow was severely denounced for the part he took in the transaction.
The sale rendered it necessary for all the Indians to locate on the
south side of the Minnesota, where game was scarce and trapping poor.
There was nothing for them to live upon unless they adopted the habits
of civilization and worked like white men. This was very distasteful
to many of them, as they wanted to live the same as they did before
the treaty--go where they pleased, when they pleased, and hunt game
and sell fur to traders. The government built houses for those who
desired to occupy them, furnished tools, seed, etc., and taught them
how to farm. At two of the agencies during the summer of the outbreak
they had several hundred acres of land under cultivation. The
disinclination of many of the Indians to work gradually produced
dissension among themselves and they formed into two parties--the
white man's party, those that believed in cultivating the soil; and
the Indian party, a sort of young-man-afraid-of-work association, who
believed it beneath the dignity of the noble Dakotan to perform
manual labor. The white man's, or farmer's party, was favored by the
government, some of them having fine houses built for them. The other
Indians did not like this, and became envious of them because they
discontinued the customs of the tribe. There was even said to have
been a secret organization among the tepee Indians whose object it was
to declare war upon the whites. The Indians also claimed that they
were not fairly dealt with by the traders; that they had to rely
entirely upon their word for their indebtedness to them; that they
were ignorant of any method of keeping accounts, and that when the
paymaster came the traders generally took all that was coming, and
often leaving many of them in debt. They protested against permitting
the traders to sit at the pay table of the government paymaster and
deduct from their small annuities the amount due them. They had at
least one white man's idea--they wanted to pay their debts when they
* * * * *
For several weeks previous to the outbreak the Indians came to the
agencies to get their money. Day after day and week after week passed
and there was no sign of paymasters. The year 1862 was the the second
year of the great Rebellion, and as the government officers had been
taxed to their utmost to provide funds for the prosecution of the war,
it looked as though they had neglected their wards in Minnesota. Many
of the Indians who had gathered about the agencies were out of money
and their families were suffering. The Indians were told that on
account of the great war in which the government was engaged the
payment would never be made. Their annuities were payable in gold and
they were told that the great father had no gold to pay them with.
Maj. Galbraith, the agent of the Sioux, had organized a company to go
South, composed mostly of half-breeds, and this led the Indians to
believe that now would be the time to go to war with the whites and
get their land back. It was believed that the men who had enlisted
last had all left the state and that before, help could be sent they
could clear the country of the whites, and that the Winnebagos and
Chippewas would come to their assistance. It is known that the Sioux
had been in communication with Hole-in-the-Day, the Chippewa chief,
but the outbreak was probably precipitated before they came to an
understanding. It was even said at the time that the Confederate
government had emissaries among them, but the Indians deny this report
and no evidence has ever been collected proving its truthfulness.
* * * * *
Under the call of the president for 600,000 men Minnesota was called
upon to furnish five regiments--the Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth
and Tenth--and the requisition had been partially filled and the men
mustered in when the news reached St. Paul that open hostilities had
commenced at the upper agency, and an indiscriminate massacre of the
whites was taking place.
* * * * *
The people of Minnesota had been congratulating themselves that
they were far removed from the horrors of the Civil war, and their
indignation knew no bounds when compelled to realize that these
treacherous redskins, who had been nursed and petted by officers
of the government, and by missionaries and traders for years, had,
without a moment's warning, commenced an indiscriminate slaughter of
men, women and children. It was a singular fact that farmer Indians,
whom the government officers and missionaries had tried so hard
to civilize, were guilty of the most terrible butcheries after
hostilities had actually commenced.
* * * * *
A few days previous to the attack upon the whites at the upper agency
a portion of the band of Little Six appeared at Action, Meeker county.
There they murdered several people and then fled to Redwood. It was
the first step in the great massacre that soon followed. On the
morning of the 18th of August, without a word of warning, an
indiscriminate massacre was inaugurated. A detachment of Company B of
the Fifth regiment, under command of Capt. Marsh, went to the scene
of the revolt, but they were ambushed and about twenty-five of their
number, including the captain, killed. The horrible work of murder,
pillage and destruction was spread throughout the entire Sioux
reservation, and whole families, especially those in isolated portions
of the country, were an easy prey to these fiendish warriors.
* * * * *
The Wyoming massacre during the Revolution and the Black Hawk and
Seminole wars at a later period, pale into insignificance when
compared to the great outrages committed by these demons during this
terrible outbreak. In less than one week 1,000 people had been killed,
several million dollars' worth of property destroyed and 30,000 people
rendered homeless. The entire country from Fort Ripley to the southern
boundary of the state, reaching almost to the mouth of the Minnesota
river, had been in a twinkling depopulated. How to repel these
invaders and drive them back to their reservations and out of the
state as they had forfeited all rights to the land they had occupied,
was the problem that suddenly confronted both the state and national
* * * * *
Shortly after the news of the outbreak at Redwood had been received,
word was sent from Fort Ripley to the effect that the Chippewas were
assuming a warlike attitude, and it was feared that the Sioux and
Chippewas--hereditary enemies--had buried the hatchet, or had been
influenced by other causes, and were ready to co-operate in an
indiscriminate massacre of the whites. Indian Agent Walker undertook
to arrest the famous chief Hole-in-the-day, but that wily warrior had
scented danger and suddenly disappeared, with his entire band, which
caused grave apprehension among the settlers in that locality, and
they were in daily dread of an attack from these hitherto peaceable
* * * * *
The suddenness with which the outbreak had occurred and the
extraordinary rapidity with which it spread, driving the defenseless
settlers from their homes and causing desolation and ruin on every
side, rendered it necessary for the governor to call an extra session
of the legislature for the purpose of devising means to arm and equip
volunteers, and assist the homeless refugees in procuring places of
shelter where they would be safe from molestation by these dusky
warriors. Could anything be more terrible than Gov. Ramsey's picture
of the ravages of these outlaws in his message to the legislature?
"Nothing which the brutal lust and wanton cruelty of these savages
could wreak upon their helpless and innocent victims was omitted from
the category of their crimes," said the governor. "Helplessness and
innocence, indeed, which would inspire pity in any heart but theirs,
seemed to inspire them only with a more fiendish rage. Infants hewn
into bloody chips of flesh or torn untimely from the womb of the
murdered mother, and in cruel mockery cast in fragments on her
pulseless and bleeding breast; rape joined to murder in one awful
tragedy; young girls, even children of tender years, outraged by
these brutal ravishers till death ended their shame; women held into
captivity to undergo the horrors of a living death; whole families
burned alive; and, as if their devilish fancy could not glut itself
with outrages on the living, the last efforts exhausted in mutilating
the bodies of the dead. Such are the spectacles, and a thousand
nameless horrors besides which this first experience of Indian
warfare has burned into the minds and hearts of our frontier people;
and such the enemy with whom we have to deal."
* * * * *
The old saying that the only good Indians are dead ones had a noble
exception in the person of Other Day, who piloted sixty-two men,
women and children across the country from below Yellow Medicine to
Kandiyohi, and from there to Hutchinson, Glencoe and Carver. Other Day
was an educated Indian and had been rather wild in his younger days,
but experienced a change of heart about four years before the outbreak
and had adopted the habits of civilization. Other Day arrived in St.
Paul a few days after he had piloted his party in safety to Carver,
and in the course of a few remarks to a large audience at Ingersoll
hall, which had assembled for the purpose of organizing a company of
home guards, he said: "I am a Dakota Indian, born and reared in the
midst of evil. I grew up without the knowledge of any good thing. I
have been instructed by Americans and taught to read and write. This
I found to be good. I became acquainted with the Sacred Writings, and
thus learned my vileness. At the present time I have fallen into great
evil and affliction, but have escaped from it, and with sixty-two men,
women and children, without moccasins, without food and without a
blanket, I have arrived in the midst of a great people, and now my
heart is glad. I attribute it to the mercy of the Great Spirit." Other
Day had been a member of the church for several years and his religion
taught him that the Great Spirit approved his conduct.
* * * * *
It was apparent that the Indian war was on in earnest. Ex-Gov. Sibley,
on account of his long familiarity with Indian character, was placed
in command of the troops ordered to assemble at St. Peter, and in
a few days, with detachments of the regiments then forming,
half-uniformed, poorly armed and with a scant supply of ammunition,
commenced offensive operations against the murderous redskins. The
newspapers and the people were crying "On to Ridgely!" which was then
beleaguered, with the same persistency as did Horace Greeyley howl "On
to Richmond!" previous to the disaster at Bull Run.
* * * * *
Any one who has seen the thrilling realistic Indian play of "The Girl
I Left Behind Me" can form some idea of the terrible suspense of the
little garrison at Port Ridgely previous to being relieved by the
forces under command of Gen. Sibley. Fort Ridgely was a fort only
in name, and consisted of two or three stone and several wooden
buildings, surrounded by a fence, which did not afford much protection
when attacked by a large force. The garrison was under the command of
Lieut. T.J. Sheehan. His force consisted of about 150 men from the
Fifth regiment, fifty men of the Renville Rangers, and a number of
civilians. He was surrounded by 700 or 800 Sioux, fully armed and
equipped. Although there were only two attempts made to capture the
garrison by assault, yet the siege was kept up for several days. In
addition to about 300 refugees who had gathered there for support
and protection, the $72,000 of annuity money, which had been so long
expected, arrived there the day before the outbreak. After bravely
defending the fort for more than a week, the little garrison was
relieved by the arrival of about 200 mounted volunteers under command
of Col. McPhail, being the advance of Gen. Sibley's command. During
the siege many of the men became short of musketry ammunition, and
spherical case shot were opened in the barracks and women worked with
busy hands making cartridges, while men cut nail rods in short pieces
and used them as bullets, their dismal whistling producing terror
among the redskins.
Almost simultaneously with the attack on Fort Ridgely the Indians in
large numbers appeared in the vicinity of New Ulm, with the evident
intention of burning and pillaging the village. Judge Charles E.
Flandrau of this city, who was then residing at St. Peter, organized a
company of volunteers and marched across the country to the relief of
that place. The judge received several acquisitions to his force while
en route, and when he arrived at New Ulm found himself in command of
about 300 men, poorly armed and wholly without military experience.
They arrived at New Ulm just in time to assist the inhabitants in
driving the Indians from the upper part of the village, several
citizens having been killed and a number of houses burned. Two or
three days afterward the Indians appeared in large force, surrounded
the town and commenced burning the buildings on its outskirts. After
a desperate encounter, in which the force under command of Judge
Flandrau lost ten killed and about forty wounded, the Indians retired.
There were in the village at the time of the attack about 1,200 or
1,500 noncombatants, and every one of them would have been killed had
the Indian attack been successful. Provisions and ammunition becoming
scarce, the judge decided to evacuate the town and march across the
country to Mankato. They made up a train of about 150 wagons, loaded
them with women and children and the men who had been wounded in the
fight, and arrived safely in Mankato without being molested. Nearly
two hundred houses were burned before the town was evacuated, leaving
nothing standing but a few houses inside the hastily constructed
barricade. The long procession of families leaving their desolated
homes, many of them never to return, formed one of the saddest scenes
in the history of the outbreak, and will ever be remembered by the
gallant force under the command of Judge Flandrau, who led them to a
place of safety.
* * * * *
As soon as Gen. Sibley arrived at Fort Ridgely a detail of Company A
of the Sixth regiment, under command of Capt. H.P. Grant of St. Paul,
and seventy members of the Cullen Guards, under the command of Capt.
Jo Anderson, also of St. Paul, and several citizen volunteers,
all under the command of Maj. Joseph R. Brown, was sent out with
instructions to bury the dead and rescue the wounded, if any could
be found, from their perilous surroundings. They were St. Paul
organizations and most all of their members were St. Paul boys. They
never had had an opportunity to drill and most of them were not
familiar with the use of firearms. After marching for two days, during
which time they interred a large number of victims of the savage
Sioux, they went into camp at Birch Coulie, about fifteen miles from
Fort Ridgely. The encampment was on the prairie near a fringe of
timber and the coulie on one side and an elevation of about ten feet
on the other. It was a beautiful but very unfortunate location for the
command to camp, and would probably not have been selected had it been
known that they were surrounded by 400 or 500 hostile warriors. Maj.
Brown had about one hundred and fifty men under his command. About 4
o'clock on the following morning the Indians, to the number of 500 or
600, well armed and most of them mounted, commenced an indiscriminate
fire upon the almost helpless little command. For two days they
bravely defended themselves, and when relief finally arrived it was
found that about half their number had been killed or wounded. When
the news of the disaster reached St. Paul there was great excitement.
Relatives and friends of the dead and wounded were outspoken in
their denunciation of the civil and military authorities who were
responsible for this great sacrifice of the lives of our citizens. It
was feared that the city itself was in danger of an attack from the
savages. Home guards were organized and the bluffs commanding a view
of the city were nightly patrolled by citizen volunteers. There was no
telegraph at that time and rumors of all sorts were flying thick
and fast. Every courier reaching the city would bring news of fresh
outrages, and our panic-stricken citizens had hardly time to recover
from the effect of one disaster before the news of another would be
received. Settlers fleeing from their homes for places of safety were
arriving by the score, leaving crops to perish in the field and their
houses to be destroyed. The situation was appalling, and many of our
citizens were predicting the most direful results should the army fail
to check the savage hordes in their work of devastation and ruin.
Every boat from the Minnesota river would be crowded with refugees,
and the people of St. Paul were often called upon to assist in
forwarding them to their place of destination.
Home guards were organized in almost every village of the threatened
portion of the state, but the authorities could not furnish arms
or ammunition and their services would have been of little account
against the well-armed savages in case they had been attacked.
Advertisements appeared in the St. Paul newspapers offering rewards of
$25 a piece for Sioux scalps.
* * * * *
Gov. Ramsey endeavored to allay the apprehensions of the people and
published in the papers a statement to the effect that the residents
of the Capital City need not be alarmed, as the nearest approach of
the Indians was at Acton, Meeker county, 80 miles away; Fort Ripley,
150 miles away, and the scenes of the tragedy in Yellow Medicine
county, 210 miles distant. This may have been gratifying to the
residents of the Capital City, but was far from reassuring to the
frontiersmen who were compelled to abandon their homes and were
seeking the protection of the slowly advancing militia.
* * * * *
About 12 o'clock one night during the latter part of August a report
was circulated over the northern and western portion of St. Paul that
the savages were near the city, and many women and children were
aroused from their slumber and hastily dressed and sought the
protection of the city authorities. It was an exciting but rather
amusing episode in the great tragedy then taking place on the
frontier. Rumors of this character were often circulated, and it was
not until after the battle of Wood Lake that the people of St. Paul
felt that they were perfectly safe from raids by the hostile Sioux.
* * * * *
As soon as Gen. Sibley had collected a sufficient force to enable
him to move with safety he decided upon offensive operations. He had
collected about 2,000 men from the regiments then forming, including
the Third regiment, recently paroled, and a battery under command of
Capt. Mark Hendricks. The expedition marched for two or three days
without encountering opposition, but on the morning of the 23d of
September several foraging parties belonging to the Third regiment
were fired upon in the vicinity of Wood Lake. About 800 of the command
were engaged in the encounter and were opposed by about an equal
number of Indians. After a spirited engagement Col. Marshall, with
about 400 men, made a double-quick charge upon the Sioux and succeeded
in utterly routing them. Our loss was four killed and forty or fifty
wounded. This was the only real battle of the war. Other Day was with
the whites and took a conspicuous part in the encounter. After
the battle Gen. Pope, who was in command of the department of the
Northwest, telegraphed the war department that the Indian war was
over and asked what disposition to make of the troops then under his
command. This request of Gen. Pope was met with a decided remonstrance
by the people of Minnesota, and they succeeded in preventing the
removal of any of the troops until they had made two long marches
through the Dakotas and to Montana. Gen. Sibley's command reached Camp
Release on the 26th of September, in the vicinity of which was
located a large camp of Indians, most of whom had been engaged in the
massacres. They had with them about two hundred and fifty mixed bloods
and white women and children, and the soldiers were very anxious to
precede at once to their rescue. Gen. Sibley was of the opinion that
any hostile demonstration would mean the annihilation of all the
prisoners, and therefore proceeded with the utmost caution. After a
few preliminary consultations the entire camp surrendered and the
captives were released. As soon as possible Gen. Sibley made inquiries
as to the participation of these Indians in the terrible crimes
recently perpetrated, and it soon developed that a large number of
them had been guilty of the grossest atrocities. The general decided
to form a military tribunal and try the offenders. After a series of
sittings, lasting from the 30th of September to the 5th of November,
321 of the fiends were found guilty of the offenses charged, 303 of
whom were sentenced to death and the rest condemned to various terms
of imprisonment according to their crimes. All of the condemned
prisoners were taken to Mankato and were confined in a large jail
constructed for the purpose. After the court-martial had completed
its work and the news of its action had reached the Eastern cities,
a great outcry was made that Minnesota was contemplating a wholesale
slaughter of the beloved red man. The Quakers of Philadelphia and the
good people of Massachusetts sent many remonstrances to the president
to put a stop to the proposed wholesale execution. The president,
after consulting his military advisers, decided to permit the
execution of only thirty-eight of the most flagrant cases, and
accordingly directed them to be hung on the 26th of December, 1862.
* * * * *
Previous to their execution the condemned prisoners were interviewed
by Rev. S.R. Riggs, to whom they made their dying confessions. Nearly
every one of them claimed to be innocent of the crimes charged to
them. Each one had some word to send to his parents or family, and
when speaking of their wives and children almost every one was
affected to tears. Most of them spoke confidently of their hope of
salvation, and expected to go at once to the abode of the Great
Spirit. Rattling Runner, who was a son-in-law of Wabasha, dictated the
following letter, which is a sample of the confessions made to Dr.
Riggs: "Wabasha, you have deceived me. You told me if we followed the
advice of Gen. Sibley and gave ourselves up, all would be well--no
innocent man would be injured. I have not killed or injured a white
man or any white person. I have not participated in the plunder of
their property; and yet to-day I am set apart for execution and must
die, while men who are guilty will remain in prison. My wife is your
daughter, my children are your grandchildren. I leave them all in your
care and under your protection. Do not let them suffer, and when they
are grown up let them know that their father died because he followed
the advice of his chief, and without having the blood of a white man
to answer for to the Holy Spirit. My wife and children are dear to me.
Let them not grieve for me; let them remember that the brave should be
prepared to meet death, and I will do as becomes a Dakotah."
Wabasha was a Sioux chief, and although he was not found guilty of
participating in any of the massacres of women and children, he was
probably in all the most important battles. Wabasha county, and
Wabasha street in St. Paul were named after his father.
After the execution the bodies were taken down, loaded into wagons and
carried down to a sandbar in front of the city, where they were all
dumped into the same hole. They did not remain there long, but were
spirited away by students and others familiar with the use of a
Little Crow, the chief instigator of the insurrection was not with the
number that surrendered, but escaped and was afterward killed by a
farmer named Lamson, in the vicinity of Hutchinson. His scalp is now
in the state historical society. Little Crow was born in Kaposia, a
few miles below St. Paul, and was always known as a bad Indian. Little
Crow's father was friendly to the whites, and it was his dying wish
that his son should assume the habits of civilized life and accustom
himself to the new order of things, but the dying admonitions of the
old man were of little avail and Little Crow soon became a dissolute,
quarrelsome and dangerous Indian. He was opposed to all change of
dress and habits of life, and was very unfriendly to missionaries and
teachers. He was seldom known to tell the truth and possessed very few
redeeming qualities. Although greatly disliked by many of the Indians,
he was the acknowledged head of the war party and by common consent
assumed the direction of all the hostile tribes in their fruitless
struggle against the whites.
* * * * *
Between the conviction and execution of the condemned Indians there
was great excitement throughout the Minnesota valley lest the
president should pardon the condemned. Meetings were held throughout
the valley and organizations were springing into existence for the
purpose of overpowering the strong guard at Mankato and wreaking
summary justice upon the Indians. The situation became so serious
pending the decision of the president that the governor was compelled
to issue a proclamation calling upon all good citizens not to tarnish
the fair name of the state by an act of lawlessness that the outside
world would never forget, however great was the provocation. When
the final order came to execute only thirty-eight there was great
disappointment. Petitions were circulated in St. Paul and generally
signed favoring the removal of the condemned Indians to Massachusetts
to place them under the refining influence of the constituents of
Senator Hoar, the same people who are now so terribly shocked because
a humane government is endeavoring to prevent, in the Philippines, a
repetition of the terrible atrocities committed in Minnesota.
* * * * *
The balance of the condemned were kept in close confinement till
spring, when they were taken to Davenport, and afterward to some point
on the Missouri river, where a beneficent government kindly permitted
them to sow the seed of discontent that finally culminated in the
Custer massacre. When it was known that the balance of the condemned
Indians were to be transported to Davenport by steamer. St. Paul
people made preparations to give them a warm reception as they passed
down the river, but their intentions were frustrated by the government
officers in charge of their removal, as they arranged to have the
steamer Favorite, on which they were to be transported, pass by the
city in the middle of the night. St. Paul people were highly indignant
when apprised of their escape.
Little Six and Medicine Bottle, two Sioux chiefs engaged in the
outbreak, were arrested at Fort Gary (Winnipeg), and delivered at
Pembina in January, 1864, and were afterward taken to Fort Snelling,
where they were tried, condemned and executed in the presence of
10,000 people, being the last of the Indians to receive capital
punishment for their great crimes. Little Six confessed to having
murdered fifty white men, women and children.
* * * * *
One of the most perplexing problems the military authorities had to
contend with was the transportation of supplies to the troops on the
frontier. There were, of course, no railroads, and the only way to
transport provisions was by wagon. An order was issued by the military
authorities requesting the tender of men and teams for this purpose,
but the owners of draft horses did not respond with sufficient
alacrity to supply the pressing necessities of the army, and it
was necessary for the authorities to issue another order forcibly
impressing into service of the government any and all teams that could
be found on the streets or in stables. A detachment of Company K of
the Eighth regiment was sent down from the fort and remained in the
city several days on that especial duty. As soon as the farmers heard
that the government was taking possession of everything that came over
the bridge they ceased hauling their produce to the city and carried
it to Hastings. There was one silver-haired farmer living near the
city limits by the name of Hilks, whose sympathies were entirely with
the South, and he had boasted that all of Uncle Sam's hirelings could
not locate his team. One of the members of Company K was a former
neighbor of the disloyal farmer, and he made it his particular duty
to see that this team, at least, should be loyal to the government. A
close watch was kept on him, and one morning he was seen to drive down
to the west side of the bridge and tie his team behind a house, where
he thought they would be safe until he returned. As soon as the old
man passed over the bridge the squad took possession of his horses,
and when he returned the team was on the way to Abercrombie laden
with supplies for the troops at the fort. Of course the government
subsequently reimbursed the owners of the teams for their use, but in
this particular case the soldiers did not think the owner deserved it.
Gov. Ramsey's carriage team was early taken possession of by the
military squad, and when the driver gravely informed the officer in
charge that the governor was the owner of that team and he thought it
exempt from military duty, he was suavely informed that a power
higher than the governor required that team and that it must go to
Abercrombie. And it did.
* * * * *
It was necessary to send out a large escort with these supply trains
and It was easier to procure men for that purpose than it was for the
regular term of enlistment. On one of the trains that left St. Paul
was a young man by the name of Hines. He was as brave as Julius
Caesar. He said so himself. He was so heavily loaded with various
weapons of destruction that his companions called him a walking
arsenal. If Little Crow had attacked this particular train the Indian
war would have ended. This young man had been so very demonstrative of
his ability to cope with the entire Sioux force that his companions
resolved to test his bravery. One night when the train was camped
about half way between St. Cloud and Sauk Center, several of the
guards attached to the train painted their faces, arrayed themselves
in Indian costume and charged through the camp, yelling the Indian war
hoop and firing guns in every direction. Young Hines was the first to
hear the alarm, and didn't stop running until he reached St. Cloud,
spreading the news in every direction that the entire tribe of
Little Crow was only a short distance behind. Of course there was
consternation along the line of this young man's masterly retreat,
and it was some time before the panic-stricken citizens knew what had
* * * * *
In response to the appeal of Gov. Sibley and other officers on the
frontier, the ladies of St. Paul early organized for the purpose of
furnishing sick and wounded soldiers with such supplies as were not
obtainable through the regular channels of the then crude condition of
the various hospitals. Notices like the following often appeared in
the daily papers at that time: "Ladies Aid Society--A meeting of the
ladies' aid society for the purpose of sewing for the relief of the
wounded soldiers at our forts, and also for the assistance of the
destitute refugees now thronging our city, is called to meet this
morning at Ingersoll hall. All ladies interested in this object are
earnestly invited to attend. All contributions of either money or
clothing will be thankfully received. By order of the president,
"Mrs. Stella Selby.
"Miss M.O. Holyoke, Secretary."
Mrs. Selby was the wife of John W. Selby, one of the first residents
of the city, Miss Holyoke was the Clara Barton of Minnesota, devoting
her whole time and energy to the work of collecting sanitary supplies
for the needy soldiers in the hospitals.
Scores of poor soldiers who were languishing in hospital tents on
the sunburnt and treeless prairies of the Dakotas, or suffering from
disease contracted in the miasmatic swamps of the rebellious South
have had their hearts gladdened and their bodies strengthened by being
supplied with the delicacies collected through the efforts of
the noble and patriotic ladies of this and kindred organizations
throughout the state.
Many instances are recorded of farmers leaving their harvesters in the
field and joining the grand army then forming for the defense of the
imperilled state and nation, while their courageous and energetic
wives have gone to the fields and finished harvesting the ripened
* * * * *
By reason of the outbreak the Sioux forfeited to the government, in
addition to an annual annuity of $68,000 for fifty years, all the
lands they held in Minnesota, amounting in the aggregate to about
750,000 acres, worth at the present time something like $15,000,000.
Had they behaved themselves and remained In possession of this immense
tract of land, they would have been worth twice as much per capita as
any community in the United States.
FIREMEN AND FIRES OF PIONEER DAYS.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ST. PAUL, FIRE DEPARTMENT--PIONEER HOOK AND
LADDER COMPANY--HOPE ENGINE COMPANY AND MINNEHAHA ENGINE COMPANY--A
LARGE NUMBER OF HOTEL FIRES.
WHEN WE RAN WITH THE OLD MACHINE.
* * * * *
Brave relics of the past are we,
Old firemen, staunch and true,
We're thinking now of days gone by
And all that we've gone through.
Thro' fire and flames we've made our way,
And danger we have seen;
We never can forget the time
When we ran with the old machine.
In numbers now we are but few,
A host have pased away,
But still we're happy, light and free,
Our spirits never decay
We often sigh for those old days
Whose memory we keep green,
Oh! there was joy for man and boy,
When we ran with the old machine.
* * * * *
Instruments for extinguishing fires were introduced in various parts
of Europe more than three hundred years ago. The fire laddies of that
period would probably look aghast if they could see the implements
in use at the present time. One of the old time machines is said to
consist of a huge tank of water placed upon wheels, drawn by a large
number of men, and to which was attached a small hose. When the water
in the tank became exhausted it was supplied by a bucket brigade,
something on the plan in use at the present time in villages not able
to support an engine.
The oldest record of a fire engine in Paris was one used in the king's
library in 1684, which, having but one cylinder, threw water to a
great height, a result obtained by the use of an air chamber. Leather
hose was introduced into Amsterdam in 1670, by two Dutchmen, and they
also invented the suction pipe at about the same period. About the
close of the seventeenth century an improved engine was patented in
England. It was a strong cistern of oak placed upon wheels, furnished
with a pump, an air chamber and a suction pipe of strong leather,
through which run a spiral piece of metal. This engine was little
improved until the early part of the last century.
In the United States bucket fire departments were organized in most of
the cities in the early part of the last century, and hand engines,
used by the old volunteer firemen, did not come into general use until
about fifty years later. The New York volunteer fire department was
for a long time one of the institutions of the country. When they had
their annual parade the people of the surrounding towns would flock
to the city and the streets would be as impassible as they are to-day
when a representative of one of the royal families of Europe is placed
on exhibition. At the New York state fairs during the early '50s the
tournaments of the volunteer fire department of the various cities
throughout the state formed one of the principal attractions. Many
a melee occurred between the different organizations because they
considered that they had not been properly recognized in the line of
march or had not been awarded a medal for throwing a stream of water
farther than other competitors.
A Berlin correspondent of the Pioneer Press many years ago, said that
when an alarm of fire was sounded in the city, the members of the fire
companies would put on their uniforms and report to their various
engine houses. When a sufficient number had assembled to make a
showing the foreman would call the roll, beer would be passed down the
line, the health of the kaiser properly remembered and then they would
start out in search of the fire. As a general thing the fire would
be out long before they arrived upon the scene, and they would then
return to their quarters, have another beer and be dismissed.
To Cincinnati belongs the credit of having introduced the first paid
steam fire department in the United States, but all the other large
cities rapidly followed.
* * * * *
In the fall of 1850 the town fathers of St. Paul passed an ordinance
requiring the owners of all buildings, public or private, to provide
and keep in good repair, substantial buckets, marked with paint the
word "Fire" on one side and the owner's name on the other, subject
to inspection by the fire warden and to be under his control when
occasion required. The first attempt at organizing a fire brigade, was
made by R.C. Knox in the fall of 1851. Mr. Knox raised a small sum of
money by subscription, with which he purchased several ladders, and
they were frequently brought into requisition by the little band of
men whom Mr. Knox had associated with him. Mr. Knox was a man of
enormous stature, and it was said he could tire out a dozen ordinary
men at a fire.
* * * * *
Two public-spirited citizens of St. Paul, John McCloud and Thompson
Ritchie, purchased in the East and brought to the city at their own
expense the first fire engine introduced in the Northwest. Although
it was a miniature affair, on numerous occasions it rendered valuable
assistance in protecting the property of our pioneer merchants. Mr.
Ritchie is still living, his home being in Philadelphia.
* * * * *
In November, 1854, Pioneer Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 was organized
under provisions of the city charter. A constitution and by-laws were
adopted and the members agreed to turn out promptly on all occasions
of fire alarms. As compensation for their services they were excused
from jury duty, poll tax, work on the roads, or state military
service, for the period of five years. The original constitution of
the Pioneer Hook and Ladder company contained the following membership
roll: Foreman, Isaac A. Banker; assistant foremen, H.B. Pearson and
George F. Blake; treasurer, Richard Galloway; secretary, Robert Mason;
members, Henry Buell, John W. Cathcart, Charles D. Elfelt, Edward
Heenan, Thompson Ritchie, Philip Ross, Wash. M. Stees, J.W. Stevenson,
Benjamin F. Irvine, R.I. Thomson, John McCloud, J.Q.A. Ward, Charles
J. Williams. Of the above John McCloud is the only one living in the
city at the present time. Mr. McCloud was a member of the firm of
McCloud & Bro., hardware dealers, and they occupied the building on
the southwest corner of Third and Cedar streets.
This was the first full-fledged fire organization in the city, and as
Mr. McCloud took the initiative in forming this company he may justly
be called the "Father of the Volunteer Fire Department of St. Paul."
The old hook and ladder company was one of the representative
institutions of the city. From the date of its organization up to the
time of the establishment of the paid fire department many of the most
prominent men of the city were enrolled among its members. All of the
property of the company was owned by the organization, but in 1856,
having become somewhat financially embarrassed, their accounts were
turned over to the city and they were thereafter under the control of
the city fathers. At that time they possessed one truck, hooks and
ladders, and one fire engine with hose. Washington M. Stees was
made chief engineer and Charles H. Williams assistant. This scanty
equipment did not prove adequate for extinguishing fires and petitions
were circulated requesting the council to purchase two fire engines of
the more approved pattern, and also to construct a number of cisterns
in the central part of the city, so that an adequate supply of water
could be readily obtained. The city fathers concluded to comply with
the request of the petitioners and they accordingly purchased two
double-deck hand fire engines and they arrived in the city in August,
1858. They were soon tested and pronounced satisfactory. Our citizens
then congratulated themselves upon the possession of a first-class
fire department and they predicted that thereafter a great fire would
be a thing of the past.
One of the most irrepressible members of Pioneer Hook and Ladder
company in the early days was a little red-headed Irishman by the name
of A.D. Martin. He was foreman of the Daily Minnesotian office and he
usually went by the name of "Johnny Martin." Now Johnny always kept
his fire paraphernalia close at hand, and every time a fire bell
sounded he was "Johnny on the spot." After the fire was over Johnny
generally had to celebrate, and every time Johnny celebrated he would
make a solemn declaration that it was his duty to kill an Irishman
before he returned to work. He would accordingly provide himself with
an immense Derringer and start out in quest of a subject upon whom he
proposed to execute his sanguinary threat. Strange to relate he
never succeeded in finding one of his unfortunate countrymen, and it
generally required two or three days to restore him to his former
equilibrium. If Johnny was a member of the fire department to-day he
would probably discover that the task of finding one of his countrymen
would not be so difficult.
* * * * *
In 1857 Hope Engine Company No. 1 was organized, and they petitioned
the common council to purchase 500 feet of hose for their use. In
the fall of 1858 this company was given possession of one of the new
engines recently purchased and it was comfortably housed at their
headquarters in an old frame building on the southwest corner of
Franklin and Fourth streets, and in a short time removed to a new
brick building on Third street, fronting on Washington. Michael Leroy
was made the first foreman and R.C. Wiley and Joseph S. Herey were
his assistants. The membership contained the names of John H. Dodge,
Porteus Dodge, John E. Missen, Joseph Elfelt, Fred Whipperman, John T.
Toal, J.H. Barstow, J.C. Grand, Charles Riehl, John Raguet, E. Rhodes,
B. Bradley, Charles Hughes, Bird Boesch, T.F. Masterson, John J.
Williams and V. Metzger. During the fall of 1858 a large number of the
most prominent business men in the vicinity of Seven Corners joined
the organization and continued in active membership until the arrival
of the first steamer.
* * * * *
In the winter of 1857-1858 Minnehaha Engine. Company No. 2 was
organized, and it was provided with an engine house near the corner
of Third and Jackson streets. The first officers were H.P. Grant,
foreman; M.J. O'Connor and H.B. Terwilliger, assistants; members,
Harry M. Shaw, Nicholas Hendy, John B. Oliver, F.A. Cariveau, H.A.
Schlick. C.D. Hadway, N. Nicuhaus, L.R. Storing, William T. Donaldson,
Daniel Rohrer, J. Fletcher Williams, N. W. Kittson, Alfred Bayace,
John McCauley and a number of others. The Minnehahas were a prosperous
organization from the first, and their engine house was always kept
open and served as a general lounging and reading-room for such of its
members as had nothing particular to do.
* * * * *
Rotary Independent Company No. 1 was the third engine connected with
the St. Paul fire department, but that was a private institution and
was only used when there was a general alarm and on the days of the
annual parade of the department. This engine was purchased from the
government by John S. Prince when Fort Snelling was abandoned, and was
used for the protection of the property of the mill, which was located
on lower Third street.
* * * * *
By the formation of Minnehaha Engine company the city fathers thought
they were possessed of quite a respectable fire department, and from
that time on the annual parade of the St. Paul fire department was one
of the events of the year. The first parade occurred on the 12th
of September, 1859, and was participated in by the following
Pioneer Hook and Ladder Company No. 1.
Hope Engine Company No. 1.
Minnehaha Engine Company No. 2.
Rotary Independent Company No. 1.
These four companies numbered 175 men, and after completing their line
of march were reviewed by the mayor and common council in front of the
old city hall.
In 1858 the legislature passed an act requiring the sextons of the
different churches to ring the church bells fifteen minutes whenever
there was an alarm of fire. The uptown churches would ring their
bells, the downtown churches would ring their bells, and the churches
in the central part of the city would ring their bells. There was a
regular banging and clanging of the bells.
"In the startled air of night,
They would scream out their afright,
Too much horrified to speak,
They could only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune."
Every one turned out when the fire bells rang. Unless the fire was of
sufficient volume to be readily located, the uptown people would be
seen rushing downtown, and the downtown people would be seen rushing
uptown, in fact, general pandemonium prevailed until the exact
location of the fire could be determined.
Whenever there was a large fire the regular firemen would soon tire
of working on the brakes and they would appeal to the spectators to
relieve them for a short time. As a general thing the appeal would be
readily responded to, but occasionally it would be necessary for the
police to impress into service a force sufficient to keep the brakes
working. Any person refusing to work on the brakes was liable to
arrest and fine, and it was often amusing to see the crowds disperse
whenever the police were in search of a relief force.
* * * * *
Upon the breaking out of the war a large number of the firemen
enlisted in the defense of the country and the ranks of the department
were sadly decimated. It was during the early part of the war that the
mayor of St. Paul made a speech to the firemen at the close of their
annual parade in which he referred to them as being as brave if not
braver than the boys at the front. The friends of the boys in blue
took serious umbrage at this break of the mayor, and the press of the
city and throughout the state were very indignant to think that the
capital city possessed a mayor of doubtful loyalty. The excitement
soon died away and the mayor was re-elected by a large majority.
* * * * *
There was not much change in the condition of the department until
the arrival of the first steamer, Aug. 11, 1866. The new steamer was
lodged with Hope Engine company, and an engineer and fireman appointed
at a salary of $1,600 per year for the two. The boys of Hope Engine
company did not like the selection of the engineer of the new steamer
and took the matter so seriously that their organization was disbanded
and St. Paul Hose Company No. 1 was organized, and they took charge
of the new steamer. The rapid growth of the city necessitated the
frequent purchase of new fire apparatus, and at the present time the
St. Paul fire department has 211 paid men, 15 steamers, 4 chemicals, 8
hook and ladder companies and 122 horses.
* * * * *
The volunteer fire department had no better friend than the late Mrs.
Bartlett Presley. She was the guardian angel of the fire department.
No night so cold or storm so great that Mrs. Presley was not present
and with her own hands provide coffee and sandwiches for the tired and
hungry firemen who had been heroically battling with the flames. She
was an honored guest at all entertainments with which the firemen
were connected, and was always toasted and feasted by the boys at the
brakes. She will ever be remembered, not only by the firemen, but by
all old settlers, as one of the many noble women in St. Paul whose
unostentatious deeds of charity have caused a ray of sunshine in many
Mrs. Presley's death was deeply regretted, not only by the fire
department, but by every resident of the city.
* * * * *
Among the many brilliant members of the legal fraternity in St. Paul
in early times no one possessed a more enviable reputation than
the Hon. Michael E. Ames. He was the very personification of
punctiliousness and always displayed sublime imperturbability in
exigencies of great moment. One dreary winter night his sleeping
apartment in uppertown was discovered to be on fire, and in a short
time the fire laddies appeared in front of his quarters and commenced
operations. As soon as Mr. Ames discovered the nature of the
disturbance he arose from his bed, opened the window, and with
outstretched arms and in a supplicating manner, as if addressing a
jury in an important case, exclaimed: "Gentlemen, if you will be kind
enough to desist from operations until I arrange my toilet, I will be
down." The learned counsel escaped with his toilet properly adjusted,
but his apartments were soon incinerated.
* * * * *
* * * * *
LIST OF HOTELS DESTROYED BY FIRE DURING ST. PAUL'S EARLY HISTORY.
Daniels house, near Seven Corners.
Sintominie hotel, Sixth street.
Rice house, near Rice Park.
New England hotel, Third street
Hotel to the Wild Hunter, Jackson street.
Montreal house, Robert street.
Canada house, Robert street.
Winslow house, Seven Corners.
American house, Third street.
International hotel, Seventh and Jackson streets.
Franklin house, Marshall avenue.
Dakota house, Seven Corners.
Washington house, Seven Corners.
Cosmopolitan hotel, Third street.
Western house, Third street.
Garden City house, Fourth street.
City hotel, Fourth street.
Central house, Bench street.
Emmert house, Bench street.
St. Paul house, Bench street.
Luxemborg hotel, Franklin street.
Farmers' hotel, Fourth street.
Greenman house, Fifth street.
Mansion house, Wabasha street.
Haine's hotel, Lake Como.
Aldrich house, Lake Como.
Park Place hotel, Summit avenue.
Carpenter house, Summit avenue.
Paul Faber's hotel, Third street.
* * * * *
The first hotel fire of any importance was that of the Daniels house,
located on Eagle street near Seven Corners, which occurred in 1852.
The building had just been finished and furnished for occupancy. A
strong wind was raging and the little band of firemen were unable
to save the structure. The names of Rev. D.D. Neill, Isaac Markley,
Bartlett Presley and W.M. Stees were among the firemen who assisted in
saving the furniture.
* * * * *
The Sintominie hotel on the corner of Sixth and John streets, was the
second hotel to receive a visit from the fire king. This hotel was
constructed by the late C.W. Borup, and it was the pride of lower
town. Howard Ward and E.C. Rich were preparing to open it when the
fire occurred. Owing to the lack of fire protection the building was
* * * * *
Early in the winter of 1856 the Rice house, commonly supposed to
be the first brick building erected in St. Paul, was burned to the
ground. It was three stories high, and when in process of building was
considered a visionary enterprise. The building was constructed by
Henry M. Rice, and he spared no expense to make it as complete as the
times would allow. It was situated on Third street near Market, and
in the early days was considered St. Paul's principal hotel. In its
parlor and barroom the second session of the territorial legislature
was held, and the supreme court of the territory also used it for
* * * * *
The Canada house and the Galena house, two small frame structures on
Robert near Third, were the next hotels to be visited by the fiery
element. These hotels, though small, were well patronized at the time
of their destruction.
* * * * *
On the 16th of March, 1860, the most destructive fire that had ever
occurred in St. Paul broke out in a small wooden building on Third
street near Jackson, and though the entire fire department--three
engines and one truck, manned by one hundred men--were promptly on
hand, the flames rapidly got beyond their reach. Nearly all the
buildings on Third street at that time from Robert to Jackson were
two-story frame structures, and in their rear were small houses
occupied by the owners of the stores. When the fire was at its height
it was feared that the whole of lower town would be destroyed before
the flames could be subdued, but by dint of superhuman effort the
firemen managed to cut off the leap across Robert street and soon had
the immense smouldering mass under control. Thirty-four buildings, the
largest number ever destroyed in St. Paul, were in ashes. Of the two
blocks which lined the north and south sides of Third street above
Jackson, only three buildings were left standing, two being stone
structures occupied by Beaumont & Gordon and Bidwell & Co., and
the other a four-story brick building owned and occupied by A.L.
Larpenteur. The New England, a two-story log house, and one of the
first hotels built in St. Paul was among the ruins. The New England
was a feature in St. Paul, and it was pointed out to newcomers as the
first gubernatorial mansion, and in which Gov. and Mrs. Ramsey had
begun housekeeping in 1849. The Empire saloon was another historic
ruin, for in its main portion the first printing office of the
territory had long held forth, and from it was issued the first
Pioneer, April 10, 1849. The Hotel to the Wild Hunter was also
destroyed at this fire.
* * * * *
In the fall of 1862 the Winslow house, located at Seven Corners, was
entirely destroyed by fire. A defective stovepipe in the cupola caused
the fire, and it spread so rapidly that it was beyond the control
of the firemen when they arrived upon the scene. A few pieces of
furniture, badly damaged, was all that was saved of this once popular
hotel. The Winslow was a four-story brick building, and with the
exception of the Fuller house the largest hotel in the city. The hotel
was constructed in 1854 by the late J.M. Winslow. Mr. Winslow was one
of the most ingenious hotel constructors in the West. In some peculiar
manner he was enabled to commence the construction of a building
without any capital, but when the building was completed he not only
had the building, but a bank account that indicated that he was a
financier as well as a builder. The proprietors of the Winslow were
arrested for incendarism, but after a preliminary examination were
* * * * *
The American house, on the corner of Third and Exchange streets, was