Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.
Volume 51, Number 3: Fall 2016
John Anderson’s Fall from the High Bridge
Author: John T. Sielaff
On May 2, 1902, John Anderson, a painter working as part of a crew repainting the St. Paul High Bridge, fell 125 feet into the Mississippi River and survived. Although injured when he hit the footing of the bridge, he was rescued from the water and subsequently sued his employer. Anderson claimed the equipment supplied by his employer that he had to use was unsafe. The employer claimed Anderson had been negligent. The case went to a jury trial in January 1903. The jury awarded Anderson $4,000, but an error in the trail precipitated a new trial later that year. Anderson, however, died in September, probably from internal injuries related to his accident, and the new trial never took place. Anderson’s family recovered no money. This case of an uncompensated injury in the workplace and others like it eventually led to the adoption of Workers’ Compensation laws in Minnesota beginning in 1913.
PDF of Sielaff article
“Abide with Me”: Grace Craig Stork, 1916
Author: Rebecca A. Ebnet-Mavencamp
Beginning in 1903, the family of William and Grace Stork lived on St. Paul’s Cleveland Avenue. Grace began to experience eye pain in 1914 and two years later she underwent surgery for “orbital cancer,” which removed a tumor from her sinus cavity. The operation bought Grace some time, but the last months of her life are chronicled in the diary entries of her adult daughter, Florence. This article reproduces many of those entries, which range from reports about the weather and routine household tasks to comments about Grace’s pain, her medications, the palliative efforts of the doctors, and the loving support Grace received from family members, relatives, and neighbors. Writing in her diary seems to have been one of Florence’s ways for dealing with the heartbreak she was experiencing, especially as Grace approached her death, which came on September 16th. Florence continued writing in her diary nearly every day thereafter, but these humdrum entries masked her feelings of loss and grief while at the same time they helped her to cope as life went on.
PDF of Ebnet-Mavencamp article
“Production for Victory”: The Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant in World War II
Author: Brian McMahon
Henry Ford was actively antiwar and anti-union in the 1930s. Thus when war came to the United States in late 1941, the Ford Motor Company was barred from bidding on defense-related contracts. Eventually Ford accepted unionization of his plants and agreed to participate in converting them from the production of automobiles and trucks to manufacturing war-related products. At the Twin Cities Assembly Plant, located in St. Paul, workers produced parts for the Pratt & Whitney airplane engine and the M-8 armored car. Author McMahon concentrates on how this plant was converted to making the parts and armored cars and what it was like for the plant’s workers, many of whom were newly hired women. Based on interviews with former employees and other records, hiring women was not easy for either the company or the new female workers. Both, however, persevered and achieved production results that contributed to victory on the battlefield. Most of these women workers left Ford voluntarily after the fighting ended, but some stayed on despite efforts to force them to quit. Ford closed this plant in 2011.
PDF of McMahon article
Streetcars: A Way of Life
Author: DeAnne Marie Cherry
Travelling by streetcar in St. Paul was a way of life for the author’s family at the turn of the twentieth century. Her great-grandparents used them to go to work or shopping. Her grandfather took the trolley to the church for his wedding in 1915, his job in South St. Paul, and outings with his daughter to see baseball games at Lexington Park. Family members continued to use streetcars regularly into the 1930s and her aunt and uncle took one to Union Depot in 1940 to see their son head off to boot camp as a Marine. Five years later, family members all made their way back to the Depot via streetcar to celebrate the return of this Marine from his service in the Pacific. Today the streetcars are all gone in St. Paul, but she keeps the memory of them alive with her grandchildren by taking them on rides on the restored Como-Harriet Line.
PDF of Cherry article