Ramsey County History Magazine: Volume 42-4 Winter 2008

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

Volume 42

Volume 42, Number 4: Winter 2008

Tommy Milton: The Story of “St. Paul’s Speed King”

Author: Steven C. Trimble
While he is rarely remembered except by sports historians, “St. Paul’s Speed King,” Tommy Milton (1893–1962), was one of the most prominent race car drivers in America during the early years of the twentieth century. He was the first person to win the Indianapolis 500 twice. Milton lived with his family on Dayton Avenue and attended Mechanic Arts High School. He became fascinated with racing first with motorcycles and then, around 1913, turned to automobiles. He toured with a barnstorming show, then worked with the Duisenberg Company. About this time he met Jimmy Murphy, who was his mechanic and then a racer himself. The two men formed a strong friendship until they had a major fight that turned into a long feud. Milton’s first surprising win was at the 1921 Indianapolis race. He won the race again in 1923. In 1924, his old friend Jimmy Murphy died in a crash and Milton‘s grief was deep. He soon decided to quit racing, but Milton remained in the world of cars, worked for the Packard Company, and was the chief steward for the Indianapolis event. Milton died of self-inflicted gunshots in 1962.
PDF of Trimble article

Labor Found a Friend:
 W.W. Erwin for the Defense

Author: David Riehle

Known as “The Northwest Whirlwind” or “The Tall Pine,” William Wallis Erwin (1842–1908) was an accomplished defense attorney. Even though he was respected throughout the country as a champion of underdogs, he is little known in the city where he lived. Erwin came to St. Paul in 1870 from New York. He was a splendid orator, often quoting classical writers, and became a favorite speaker at local labor events. He became nationally famous when he successfully defended the strikers who were arrested during the 1893 Homestead Strike in Pittsburgh by using a “justification defense.” One of his greatest moments was being the lead defense council for Eugene V. Debs and the members of the American Railway Union after the turbulent 1894 Pullman strike. Although he ably defended Debs, the case was lost. Nevertheless, Erwin became a hero of the labor movement. He moved to Florida in 1900 and died there eight years later.
PDF of Riehle article

Book Review

Georgia Ray, Grace Flandrau: Voice Interrupted (Roseville, Minn.: Edinborough Press, 2007).
PDF of Book Reviews

PDF of Donors