Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.
Volume 5, Number 2: Fall 1968
Theater in Old St. Paul—Extravaganzas, Melodramas
Author: Frank M. Whiting
Vignettes from early theater in St. Paul, beginning with an amateur production at Fort Snelling in the winter of 1821–22, through an “Around The World In 80 Days” extravaganza in 1890. Professional theater began in 1851, and traveling shows dominated the early decades. The first Grand Opera House went up in 1867, providing a suitable venue for national and international stars as well as burlesque entertainments. Many women’s productions were tried—”Female Minstrels,” “Living Art Statues,” “Frisky French Favorites,” some to acclaim. Storms, fires, disputes, and mishaps enlivened the cavalcade. “We may smile at the old Nineteenth Century theater of spectacle, thrills, laughter and tears, but it had its merits.”
PDF of Whiting article
The Wandering Skeleton of Charley Pitts
Author: Carl A. Eide
More information on what happened to the skeleton of Charley Pitts, one of the members of the James-Younger gang that tried to rob the bank in Northfield in 1876. Pitts was killed and his body was turned over to Dr. Henry F. Hoyt, who, along with his brother, put it on a box that was sunk in Lake Como. Later the bones were turned over to Dr. John H. Murphy. He gave them to a physician in Chicago. Later the skeleton went to a museum in Scott County, Minn.
PDF of Eide article
Bernheimer Block Is Gone But Memories Linger On
The Bernheimer Block, on East Third Street (now Kellogg Boulevard) at the corner with Minnesota, was built in 1859. It was the site of many noteworthy events: the first Civil War enlistments; the first velocipede demonstrations; one of the first known boxing matches. The St. Paul Gymnastic Society, the YWCA, the St. Paul and Chicago Railroad, and the trial lawyer W.W. Erwin, among many others, used the building. It came down in 1968.
PDF of Bernheimer article
‘Salubrious Minnesota’—Kohlman’s Hotel and the Resort Era
Author: Jerome O. Schueler
“People came out in these tally-hos (double-decked, horse-drawn carriages), on horseback, and in surreys with the fringe on top,” to Kohlman’s Hotel on Lake Gervais in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Kohlman’s had a saloon, boats, a walk-in ice house, and a dining room featuring fish from the lake and sausage and sauerkraut made on site. This article evokes a lost time, when Minnesota was considered “a large health resort.”
PDF of Schueler article
Forgotten Pioneers: Stephen Desnoyer
Stephen Desnoyer (1805–1877) operated a saloon and hotel on the old ox cart trail from Pembina to St. Paul. The site was later occupied by the Shriners Children’s Hospital. He came to St. Paul in 1845 and died there in 1877. The Desnoyer Park neighborhood is named for him.
PDF of Forgotten Pioneers
Silver Lake Childhood – Revisited
Author: William F. Morgan
A very brief memoir of the author’s childhood spent at Silver Lake in North St. Paul.
PDF of Morgan article
Spring Wagons and No Roads: A Pioneer Family’s Sunday
Author: Lillie Gibbs LeVesconte
A short reminiscence left by the youngest child (born 1865) of Jane and Heman Gibbs about Sundays in the 1870s in near St. Anthony Park and the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota. Her recollections include a little white church, Sunday carriage rides, listening to the noted evangelist Maggie VanCot, and enjoying “some of the pleasantest scenery in the state.”
PDF of LeVesconte article