Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.
Volume 41, Number 4: Winter 2007
“If It Can Be Manufactured from Wood, We Can Make It:”
A History of the Villaume Family and the Company They Built
Author: Steve Trimble
In 1847, Joseph Villaume, a Frenchman, arrived in St. Paul and his two nephews joined him in 1873. One of them, Eugene, landed a job as a woodworker with a local company and in 1882 he and his brother opened a box-making company on the city’s West Side. The company, which started with beer boxes, soon diversified into other wood products and Eugene also dabbled in real estate. The second generation of the Villaumes continued the business and started producing fancy millwork. The company survived the Great Depression. Another generation took the business through World War II and the changes during the postwar era. The big flood of 1952 had a widespread, but short-term effect on the firm. Financial problems in 1954 led to grandson Robert Linsmeyer heading up the company, bringing in new business with truss production, and introducing new technology. His son, Nicholas Linsmeyer, carried Villaume Industries, as it is now named, into its fourth generation and overseeing the relocation of the business to Eagan, where it celebrated 125 years of continuous operation.
PDF of Trimble article
“A Great Experience”
Villaume Builds Gliders in World War II
Author: John M. Lindley
German troops used gliders in May 1940 and the Americans decided to use them too. They didn’t want to build gliders at existing airplane manufacturers and wanted to minimize the use of scarce metal. The gliders were made of wood, fabric, and a bit of steel. They would be hauled into the air by motored aircraft. Glider pilots had minimal control of the “flying coffins,” as some soldiers called them, because these aircraft were unpowered. Northwestern Aeronautical Corporation (NAC) of St. Paul received a contract to build CG-4A gliders in 1942. NAC hired Villaume Box and Lumber Company as a primary subcontractor to build wooden wings, tails, and cargo floors. Villaume employed a large number of new workers, many of them women to build gliders. A high level of precision was required, since all 70,000 parts in each glider had to be interchangeable with spares. Each CG-4A glider held either thirteen soldiers or equipment such as a jeep or howitzer. The U.S. Army Air Forces first used gliders on July 9, 1943, in the invasion of Sicily. Subsequently the Allies employed gliders at Normandy on June 6, 1944, and in Holland in September 1944. The biggest glider operation was the assault across the Rhine River in Germany on March 24, 1945.
PDF of Lindley article
An Encounter at Kaposia:
The Bishop and Chief
Author: Leo J. Harris
In July 1839, there was a meeting of two men at Kaposia during a time of cultural change for the Mdewakanton Dakota who lived there. Their leader at the time was Wakoyantanke (Big Thunder) commonly called Little Crow III (1765–1845). Pierre Mathias Loras, who was the first Catholic bishop for the area and was interested in converting the Native Americans, had come to Kaposia. When the two leaders met, there were speeches and an exchange of gifts and tobacco. Loras baptized 226 people at the meeting. Some of the Bishop’s letters have survived and tell of Dakota daily life and their conflicts with the Ojibwe. Bishop Loras never returned to Kaposia, Big Thunder traveled to Washington for treaty negotiations in 1837.
PDF of Harris article
Donald L. Empson, The Street Where You Live: A Guide to the Place Names of St. Paul (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006).
Mark Diedrich, Little Crow and the Dakota War (The Long Historical Cover-ups Exposed) (Rochester, Minn.: Coyote Books, 2006).
PDF of Book Reviews