Ramsey County History Magazine: Volume 49-4 Winter 2015

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

Volume 49

Volume 49, Number 4: Winter 2015

Robert C. Minor: Steward on James J. Hill’s Private Railway Car
Author: Eileen R. McCormack
An African-American who was the steward on Hill’s private railway car (the A-18) for more than twenty years and was one the small number of Black employees of the Great Northern, Robert Minor (1863–1947), began working for the railroad in 1895. Minor was a trusted confidant of Hill and had significant responsibilities as part of his duties, which included all the preparations and cooking for the “President’s Special” wherever it went. Minor also accompanied Hill whenever he went to his Saint John River fishing lodge in Canada. After Hill died in 1916, Minor continued as steward on the car serving other Hill family members until the early 1920s. A long-time resident of St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood, Minor and his wife, Addie, were also prominent leaders of their church and community.
PDF of McCormack article

October 1857: The Kochendorfers Arrive in St. Paul
Author: Daniel C. Munson
Johan and Catherine Kochendorfer were German immigrant farmers in central Illinois who along with their four children moved to Minnesota Territory in 1857. In November of that year, Catherine wrote a long letter in German to her sister in Illinois. Translated by a Kochendorfer descendant, the letter is reprinted here with its vivid description of the family’s arduous journey to Minnesota and what they experienced in their first months in St. Paul. The Kochendorfers, now with five children, moved in the spring of 1862 to homestead on land near the Redwood Falls. In August 1862 both parents and one child were killed in the U.S.-Dakota War with the surviving four children escaping to safety at Fort Ridgely and later to St. Paul, where both parents and their youngest child are buried in Oakland Cemetery.
PDF of Munson article

William Boss and His Specialty Manufacturing Company
Author: Harlan Stoehr
During his lifetime, William Boss (1869–1965) of St. Paul was a farmer, student, instructor, inventor, professor, administrator, and entrepreneur. This article examines how he came to play so many roles, first at the School of Agriculture at the University of Minnesota, and then later as the founder of the Specialty Manufacturing Company (SMC) that developed and sold his many practical inventions. Unlike his older brother Andrew, William had little interest in raising animals or in farming. William had a mechanical bent which earned him a position in agricultural engineering at the University. He began his work as an inventor in about 1901 with the design and fabrication of his Easy Emptying Grass Catcher. Sales of the grass catcher led to the founding of SMC and a long career at the University while also managing SMC and inventing other useful devices for the home and office.
PDF of Munson article