Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.
Volume 37, Number 1: Spring 2002
‘The Best School in the City,’ 1896–1916 Mechanic Arts High School: Its First Twenty Years
Author: John W. Larson
Mechanic Arts High School was an unusual institution that provided students with vocational training as well as an academic education. It started as a manual training program at Central High School. When the school moved out into place of its own, it became the first manual training school in the Midwest. George Weitbrecht, a chemistry teacher, added academic classes and named the institution Mechanic Arts School. Weitbrecht believed that even those learning a craft needed to be broadly educated.
One of the early students at MAHS was Paul Manship, who became a world famous sculptor, even though he left school early. As the school grew in the number of students it served, a new five-story red brick building was constructed on Robert and Constitution streets. When MAHS’s talented principal died in 1916, the school was named the George Weitbrecht Mechanic Arts High School.
PDF of Larson article
A Memoir: A Temporary Shelter for Six Under 12—St. Joseph’s Catholic Orphan Home
Author: Janet Postlewaite Sands
The author recalls the family circumstances that brought her and her siblings to St. Joseph’s Orphanage at 1458 Randolph in 1945 and what it was like during her stay there. The six Postlewaite children had to go to the Orphanage because of the poor health of their parents. When their mother had a recurrence of scarlet fever, she arranged for them to go to the institution, which was run by Benedictine nuns. She writes of a regimented daily life. They went to school, had to work in the laundry or in the large garden, and helped prepare the food they ate. While they were at the Orphanage, their father died. Finally, in spite of the predictions of doctors, their mother recovered, could even walk again, and in 1947 took her children back.
PDF of Sands article
Donations and Their Own Pockets—An Orphanage’s Roots in 1869 St. Paul
Author: Paul D. Nelson
This article examines the St. Joseph’s Orphanage by looking at the experiences of the Postlewaite family. In the early days, it was a German institution which bought a forty-seven acre plot of land at Randolph and Hamline Avenues, then out on the edge of the city. Russell and Helen Postlewaite were married in 1932 and had six children. Since both the parents were in ill health in 1945, Janet Postlewaite and her five siblings were placed at the St. Joseph’s Orphanage at 1458 Randolph Avenue. Almost all of the food supply of the institution was grown in the orphanage’s gardens as part of a closely regulated life with a fixed daily schedule. The need for an orphanage such as St. Joseph’s was coming to an end due to a greater reliance in the community on foster care and in 1960 Archbishop William O. Brady decided to close the home. It was torn down two years later. The article concludes with a brief account of what the Postlewaite children did after they left the orphanage. They all went to St. Mark’s School and several of them went on to college.
PDF of Nelson article
Growing Up In St Paul: The War To End All Wars: A Schoolboy’s Recollections of World War II
Author: Ray Barton
The author looks back at the coming of World War II when he was a young boy. His uncle had been a hero in World War I, and they were living in the Cherokee Park area on St. Paul’s West Side. There was a rush to enlist in 1942 and his brother Wes was among those who did. Ray read the papers and learned about the Bataan Death March and noticed all the blue stars in the windows of families who had men and women serving their country. Everyone on the home front was involved with scrap drives, buying war bonds, planting victory gardens, and living with rationing. To help his family, Ray got a job at Kline’s at the age of thirteen. The schools showed their patriotism by having the Civilian War Patrol and other activities. When the war ended, Ray went downtown to see the celebrations.
PDF of Growing Up in St. Paul
The Fire Insurance Patrol: Gone But Not Forgotten
Author: John S. Sonnen
The Fire Insurance Patrol, a private organization incorporated in 1895, was financed by small assessments on fire insurance policies. When a fire broke out, the Patrol rushed to the conflagration, usually getting there before the fire department with its heavier and slower rigs. The goal of the Fire Insurance Patrol was to remove items from the affected buildings and to cover personal property on nearby buildings using tarps to protect store merchandise. In 1911, the Insurance Patrol became motorized. The Patrol was around for forty-four years until the St. Paul Fire Department took over its responsibilities.
PDF of Sonnen article
Doing History in Ramsey County and St. Paul: A Review Essay
Author: John M. Lindley
Like the late nineteenth century spate of local history books about St. Paul, the author comments on a similar recent flourishing of St. Paul history and gives several short summaries of the works. Among the earliest of these new books is Virginia Kunz’s St. Paul—The First 150 Years in 1991. Just as Kunz took a new approach to a familiar topic, several St. Paul and Ramsey County writers have gone in new directions. Elmer Anderson’s A Man’s Reach is an insightful and entertaining autobiography that includes much information about his wife as well. Other new biographies include Cass Gilbert: the Early Years; Cap Wigington: An Architectural Legacy in Ice and Stone, The Story of a Groundbreaking African American; and Frederick L. McGhee: A Life on the Color Line, 1861–1912, and Jimmy Griffin, A Son of Rondo: A Memoir. Mary Lethert Wingerd’s Claiming the City: Politics, Faith, and the Power of Place in St Paul is an important new history of the city up to about 1930. Dionicio N. Valdés wrote Barrios Norteños: St. Paul and Midwestern Mexican Communities in the Twentieth Century about people from Mexico, Texas, and other states in the Southwest who came to Midwestern cities, such as St. Paul, in search of jobs and a better life. This essay also has a few short reviews of novels, such as Until They Bring the Streetcars Back; In the Deep Midwinter; Larry Millett’s series of detective novels such as Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders.
PDF of Lindley article
Paul D. Nelson, Frederick L. McGhee: A Life on the Color Line, 1861–1912 (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2002).
David Vassar Taylor, Cap Wigington: An Architectural Legacy in Ice and Stone (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2001).
Mark Neuzil, Views on the Mississippi: The Photographs of Henry Peter Bosse (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2001).
Charles Wehrenberg, Mississippi Blue: Henry P. Bosse and His Views on he Mississippi River Between Minneapolis and St. Louis, 1883–1891 (Santa Fe, N.M.: Twin Palms Publishers, 2002).
PDF of Book Reviews