Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.
Volume 42, Number 2: Summer 2007
Minneapolis and St. Paul Stumble:
Henry Ford Wins the Struggle for the High Dam
Author: Brian McMahon
There were two early Ford plants in the Twin Cities—one in Minneapolis and another on University Avenue in St. Paul. Henry Ford was a big promoter of hydroelectric power; consequently he wanted to locate his automobile plants on navigable rivers. The building of Dam Number One on the Mississippi launched a big debate over its financing. There was a Municipal Electric Company that wanted to operate it, but St. Paul wanted to work with Ford to create an industrial area near the dam. In 1923 Ford announced plans for an assembly and manufacturing plant in St. Paul, but Minneapolis wanted to block the plan. Business leaders didn’t want a “socialistic” plan for a municipally owned facility. Ford visited the Twin Cities and then persuaded the Federal Power Commission to let him have the hydroelectric franchise. In 1924 Ford built a large dam and adjacent power plant to provide electricity to his nearby assembly plant.
PDF of McMahon article
Mystery in the Library: The Bishop Jade Books and the St. Paul Public Library
Author: Biloine W. Young
The article revolves around a local library “mystery.” It began in April 22, 1915, when a candy store located in the Market House building caught fire. It spread to the second story which housed the St. Paul Public Library with its 158,000 books. Two men among the watching crowd of 25,000 decided to save the “Jade Books” that were inside. These books were part of a rare edition written by a man named Bishop, who was fascinated with the gem and had given the books to the library. They ran through smoke and succeeded in carrying out the heavy tomes. Since only 100 copies of the books were ever made, the mystery is how St. Paul ended up having a set of them. Young recounts the story of Bishop’s deathbed decision to put the books together and how he made a list of all the institutions he wanted to have the books. St. Paul received set number twenty-seven, but to this day no one knows why.
PDF of Young article
Growing Up in St. Paul: Memories of Dayton Avenue in the 1950s
Author: Susanne Sebesta Heimbuch
In August 1956, Heimbuch’s parents and five siblings moved to 1795 Dayton. Their parents had been attracted to the parish by St. Mark’s no-tuition policy. All the children took time inspecting the neighborhood and roaming the nearby woods. Suzanne was eleven years old when the Sebestas moved and she has vivid memories of the community and the school girls in navy blue jumpers and white blouses. She writes about a variety of things, including Sister Dorinda, her sixth grade teacher, wondering about the facts of life, and Ed Gein jokes. One frequent activity she had was reading comics at the drug store. Following graduation from St. Mark’s, she went on to Our Lady of Peace for high school.
PDF of Heimbuch article
James B. Bell, From Arcade Street to Main Street: A History of the Seeger Refrigerator Company, 1902–1984 (St. Paul: Ramsey County Historical Society, 2007).
John M. Lindley, A Powerful Catalyst for United Action: The History of the Saint Paul Area Council of Churches, 1906–2006 (St. Paul: Saint Paul Area Council of Churches, 2007).
Mary Hawker Bakeman, ed., Casting Long Shadows: 125 Years at Hamline United Methodist Church (St. Paul: Hamline United Methodist Church, 2006).
Moira F. Harris and Leo J. Harris, Minnesota on Paper: Collecting Our Printed History (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006).
Richard P. Klobuchar, The USS Ward: An Operational History of the Ship That Fired the First American Shot of World War II (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2006).