Ramsey County History Magazine: Volume 38-4 Winter 2004

Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.

Volume 38

Volume 38, Number 4: Winter 2004

‘He Loved a Tall Story’ The Life and Times of I.A. O’Shaughnessy, the Man Who Happily Gave His Money Away 
Authors: John M. Lindley and Virginia Brainard Kunz
Born in 1885, Ignatius Aloysius O’Shaughnessy was an oilman and philanthropist. His parents, who were of Irish decent, moved to Minnesota around 1861 and became active members of the city’s strong Irish-Catholic community that centered on St. Michael’s Church in Stillwater. O’Shaughnessy’s father was a small businessman in a lumbering town and I. A., as he was known, was surrounded by lumberjacks and later talked about them and their stories. He loved telling his own tall tales throughout his life. He enrolled in college at St. John’s in 1901 and played football, then a new sport. Because of an incident he was expelled in 1902 and transferred to St. Thomas, where he became a mainstay of the football team. After graduation, O’Shaughnessy became secretary of the Amateur Athletic Association of St. Paul. He married Lillian Smith in 1908 and then left St. Paul to join his brother in Texas and later started a tire business in Kansas, where he soon got into the oil industry. Lillian didn’t like Texas or Kansas and got the family to move back to Minnesota. They soon bought a home at 1705 Summit Avenue where they lived for the rest of their lives. Because O’Shaughnessy concentrated on building oil refineries, his company flourished and became one of the largest independently owned oil businesses in the world. I.A. enjoyed doing things with his family, fishing, and travelling. In the 1930s O’Shaughnessy became an active philanthropist making major gifts to the College of St. Thomas and other charities. Soon he organized his own foundation, which made education its focus. He also made gifts to a number of universities, such Notre Dame, and helped pay for the Ecumenical Institute for Advanced Theological Study in response to a request from Pope Paul VI for O’Shaughnessy’s support. After Lillian died in 1958, I. A. experienced a “gray period” in his life, but in 1966 he married Blanche Finn. O’Shaughnessy died in 1973.
PDF of Lindley & Kunz article

A Century Ago: Hundreds of Thousands Greet the Liberty Bell the Day It Came to Town
Susan C. Dowd
The Liberty Bell, with its twenty-four-inch-long crack, came to St. Paul on June 6, 1904. The nation’s “most cherished relic” was on its way from Philadelphia to St. Louis on a special train and made a stop in St. Paul. Although the train arrived late at night, by the next morning there were swarms of people at the Union Depot to see it. During five-and-a-half hours, an estimated 100,000 people walked by the symbol of freedom. It was displayed in a wood frame made of heavy oak on a flatbed railway car parked at the foot of Broadway near the rear of the Depot. All St. Paul schools were closed that day to see the famous icon. The Liberty Bell and its entourage left the city a little after noon.
PDF of Dowd article

Book Reviews

Georgia Ray, ed., Memoirs of Grace Flandrau (St. Paul: Knochaloe Beg Press, 2003).

Moira F. Harris, Fire & Ice: The History of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival (St. Paul: Pogo Press, 2003).

PDF of Book Reviews

PDF of RCHS Donors

PDF of Letters to the Editor