Ramsey County History Magazine: Volume 45-4 Winter 2011

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

Volume 45

Volume 45, Number 4: Winter 2011

“We Can Do Better with a Chisel and a Hammer”
Appreciating Mary Colter and Her Roots in St. Paul

Author: Diane Trout-Oertel
Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, one of the few women to become an architect in the late nineteenth century, spent most of her first three decades in St. Paul, which she considered to be her hometown. She is virtually unknown here, since her training occurred in San Francisco and her many designs were for buildings in the Southwestern states, most along the route of the Santa Fe Railroad as it opened up the vast territory to U.S. travelers. Her work combines the designs of the Arts and Crafts movement, Native American arts and crafts, with eight of her building designs in the Grand Canyon National Park. The vehicle for her continuing contributions to that region was the Fred Harvey Company that collaborated with the Santa Fe to promote tourism in the Southwest. As with other prominent architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, her work was not limited to designing buildings and their interiors: she selected the art and furniture, table service including china and artwork; she even designed the uniforms worn by Fred Harvey Company’s waitresses. Several of her buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, yet widespread recognition—especially in her hometown—is long overdue.
PDF of Trout-Oertel article

Growing Up in St. Paul: 
Louis and Maybelle: Somewhere Out in the West

Author: John W. Larson
This is Larson’s evocative view of his aunt, Maybelle, and her husband, Louis, who were proprietors of a nightclub hotel in a Montana boom town, which flourished during the construction of the Fort Peck Dam in the middle of the 1930s. Much of this reminiscence is about Larson’s efforts as a young boy to understand who these relatives were and why Maybelle had left St. Paul for the West. In an abrupt ending just when Larson was graduating from high school in 1941, Louis dies and Larson realizes that despite his grief over the loss of his uncle, life goes on. Looking back from many years later, Larson identifies this is the moment when he became an adult.
PDF of Larson article

“Write Us in Your Own Way:” A Tombstone from the Sears, Roebuck Catalog

Author: Janice R. Quick
The article highlights the process of buying a tombstone from none other than Sears, Roebuck about 1909. This is what Katherine Rittle and two of her sisters in St. Paul did following the death of their mother. The practice of ordering headstones from the Sears mail-order catalog was widespread at the time and it had the merit that Sears offered a variety of sizes of headstones, ornamental details, lettering styles, and set prices. Once the tablet was ordered, it was delivered by rail about twelve weeks later and a hired dray hauled it to Calvary Cemetery, where the sisters paid to have it installed.
PDF of Quick article

What Readers Are Saying about The Dutiful Son, Louis W. Hill, and Glacier National Park
Excerpts from a variety of communications to the Ramsey County Historical Society regarding the Society’s recently published book, The Dutiful Son, which is a biography of Louis W. Hill (1872–1948), the second son of James J. and Mary M. Hill, and the article derived from this book by its authors, Biloine W. Young and Eileen R. McCormack, in which they recount Louis’ role in the creation of Glacier National Park in northern Montana. Their article was published in the Summer 2010 issue.

Book Review

Biloine W. Young and Eileen R. McCormack, The Dutiful Son: Louis W. Hill; Life in the Shadow of the Empire Builder, James J. Hill (St. Paul: Ramsey County Historical Society, 2010).
PDF of Book Review

PDF of RCHS Donors