Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.
Volume 40, Number 3: Fall 2005
Stonebridge: The Story of a Lost Estate and Oliver Crosby, the Inventive Genius Who Created It
Author: Jay Pfaender
Even in the Groveland neighborhood, little is remembered about Stonebridge, an estate built by St. Paul businessman and civic leader Oliver Crosby. A New Englander from Maine, he came to St. Paul in 1876 with an inclination for mechanics. Crosby became a holder of thirty-six patents and founded American Hoist and Derrick, a business that built and repaired heavy equipment. Crosby’s first home, at 804 Lincoln, was a splendid limestone structure designed by Clarence Johnston Jr. But Crosby wanted a mansion and in 1907 purchased twenty-eight acres on the western bluff overlooking the Mississippi River.The new brick mansion with twenty-four main rooms was built on a beautifully designed site. It was named after a stone bridge that crossed a ravine on the property, which included two artificial lakes and a reservoir to feed waterfalls. There were also large sunken gardens, a hundred-foot-long pergola, a greenhouse and a nine-car garage. Crosby moved there in 1916 but died six years later. His wife lived in the mansion for a time and then sold it to John Cable, a 3M executive. In 1928 much of the estate was sold off for development, but the mansion remained on a three-acre site. Frederick Crosby lived in the home from 1928 to 1935, but development of the property lagged because of the Great Depression. Eventually the mansion was razed in 1953 to make way for the construction of new houses.
PDF of Pfaender article
Ramsey County’s Distinguished Agriculturist: Willet M. Hayes, the Scientist Who Saw ‘Shakespeares’ among His Plants
Authors: Harlan Stoehr and Forrest Troyer
Willet M. Hays (1859–1928), the first head of agronomic research at the University of Minnesota, is arguably the greatest all-time contributor to the advancement of agriculture in Minnesota. The experiment station system was created in 1887 and twenty-nine-year-old Hays was its first head. He worked off the principles of heredity and sometimes said there were “Shakespeares among plants.” Hays started the use of organized field plots tests and appointed Andrew Boss, who would have a long career at the field station, as farm foreman. Hays worked with farmers to test his crops and convinced the Minnesota Legislature to establish remote experiment stations in Crookston and Grand Rapids. Hays pushed scientific plant and animal breeding, flax development, as well as wheat and alfalfa improvement. Minnesota 13, one of his department’s hybrids, became the country’s most popular corn variety for many years. He was also concerned with business of farming and was a pioneer of agricultural economics. A prolific author of almost a hundred books and pamphlets, he was considered a good teacher. Hays left Minnesota in 1905 when asked to go to Washington to be Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, a post he held for many years.
PDF of Stoehr & Troyer article
Thomas Saylor, Remembering the Good War: Minnesota’s Greatest Generation (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2005).
PDF of Book Reviews