Ramsey County History Magazine: Volume 46-4 Winter 2012

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

Volume 46

Volume 46, Number 4: Winter 2012

From Boom Times to the Great Depression: Two Stolpestad Men in St. Paul Real Estate, 1886–1936

Author: James A. Stolpestad

This is a story about a Norwegian immigrant, Andrew H. Stolpestad, to St. Paul in 1884 who went on to make a modest mark for himself in local real estate and unwittingly began a family real estate tradition that continues to the present day. In his time, he did not build any lasting edifice or change the skyline, although later family generations would do both. Andrew Stolpestad was not part of the Old Stock establishment that ruled early St. Paul or the German cohort that challenged the existing business order. Instead, he probably was a stereotypical Norwegian: unassuming, hardworking, and from a farm family; yet educated and adventurous enough to have crossed the north Atlantic three times in steam-powered sailing ships in the 1870s and ’80s. Andrew’s second son, Annar T. Stolpestad, also went into real estate in St. Paul in the early 1920s as part of his duties at the Northwestern Trust Company (later after a merger in 1929, it was known as First Trust Company of St. Paul). In that position, he worked closely with Louis W. Hill, the second son of James J. Hill, on several of Hill’s real estate deals. Annar’s early death in 1937 ended the direct line of Stolpestad men in the field of real estate, but today men from the fourth and fifth generations of descendants of Andrew and Annar and their families are once more in the field of real estate.
PDF of Stolpestad article


How Nettie Snyder Put the City on the Musical Map

Author: Roger Bergerson

When Enrico Caruso and the stars of the New York Metropolitan Opera Company took the stage at the brand-new St. Paul Auditorium in the spring of 1907, the arias soared and so did civic pride. “The great building was filled for every performance and the audiences made a brave display in the way of costumes and jewels,” the St. Paul Dispatch enthused. “The assemblages were representative of the whole Northwest-representative of its riches and of its culture.” This gala event and more like it were the work of Mrs. Fred H. (“Nettie”) Snyder, a dynamo who had studied voice in Italy and when her career as a soloist ended, turned instead to organizing and promoting opera in St. Paul. After her first husband died, Nettie married Fred Snyder in 1889 and gave voice lessons while Fred operated the Frederic Hotel, beginning in 1904. Her work as an opera impresario peaked in 1912. Thereafter she continued to stage events in St. Paul, but they were less frequent and she spent much of her time in New York City. A divorce from Fred in the early 1920s allowed her to live for a time in Italy and then in California, where she died in 1929.
PDF of Bergerson article

Louis Hill to Henry Ford: “No Deal!” Henry Ford and the William Crooks

Author: Brian McMahon

Henry Ford was born and raised on a farm and always preached the value of the rural life and character. Ironically, his Model T automobile (first produced in 1908), more than anything, was responsible for the migration of farmers to the city and the transformation of an entire culture. This conflict between Ford’s stated goal of preserving the agriculture world he had known and the result on the ground must have added to Ford’s unresolved inner turmoil. Ford’s attempt in 1929 to purchase the William Crooks, the first locomotive used in Minnesota (1862), from Louis W. Hill, the second son of James J. Hill, for his new museum in Greenfield Village in Michigan was resoundingly rejected by Hill. Today the William Crooks is on exhibit in the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth rather than in Greenfield Village.
PDF of McMahon article