Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.
Volume 10, Number 2: Fall 1973
Schubert Club History Reflects Romance of Music in St. Paul
Author: Bruce Carlson
The early years of concert-style music in the city. Singing societies, mostly German, began in the early 1850s. Prof. Philip Rohr introduced opera in the late 1850s, and the Signor Lotti Grand German Opera Company took it up again after the Civil War.
Beginning in the 1870s, the railroads made it easy for traveling companies to come to St. Paul. Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore made its St. Paul debut in 1879. The Boston Ideals opera company made the city a regular stop in the 1880s and ‘90s.
Orchestral music appeared in 1858 with a locally organized string quartet. The quartet grew into the St. Paul Musical Society, led for many years by George Siebert.
It was “the major orchestra in the state during the last half of the 19th century . . . .”
Recital music in the city also dates to the mid-1850s, and interest in this form led to the creation of the Schubert Club, which was formally organized in 1882 as the Ladies Musicale. It put on local events and hosted touring artists, including Josef Hoffman and Jan Kubelik. The club also produced Minnesota’s first renowned conductor, Emil Oberhoffer. Stranded in the city in the early 1890s, he was befriended by and then employed by the Schubert Club. He went on to become the first conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony.
PDF of Carlson article
Highland–Groveland–Macalester Park: The Old Reserve Township
Author: Donald Empson
Settlement and development of the southwest corner of the city, bounded by Marshall Avenue on the north, Dale Street on the east, and the Mississippi everywhere else.
The first permanent settler was William Finn in 1848. Formal land sales began in 1854, at $1.25 per acre. Prominent early settlers included John Ayd, William Brimhall, William Davern, Friedrich Knapheide, and Thomas Crosby. What became the University of St. Thomas began in 1874 as the Catholic Industrial School, on land purchased from William Finn. The township became a dairy center in the 1870s and ‘80s; “by 1900 there were at least twenty-six dairy farms in the area.” St. Paul annexed the township in the 1880s. The city’s first electric streetcar line connected the College of St. Thomas and St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary with downtown via Grand Avenue in 1890. Still, “it was not until the 1910s and ‘20s that the mile-upon-mile of houses were built that characterize the area north of Randolph today.”
PDF of Empson article
Memories of Early St. Paul: Perilous Escape from Fire down Eighty-Foot Bluff
Authors: Mrs. George R. Becker with George A. Rea
The author’s father and uncle, August and Charles Mueller, were working in a downtown tailor shop when fire broke out on May 17, 1870. To save themselves they had to jump (or let themselves fall) out the back windows and down the 80-foot riverside bluff. Both were severely injured but survived, though with permanent disabilities. Neither could return to tailoring. August and Louise Albrecht Mueller operated Mueller’s Fancy Goods Store downtown for 20 years. The author grew up in the downtown neighborhood. She describes the neighborhood, the uses for “fancy work,” the courting customs, and school fashions of the time.
PDF of Becker & Rea article