Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.
Volume 57, Number 1: Spring 2022
Six Decades Making Music and Memories: Minnesota Boychoir
Author: Barbara W. Sommer
Sixty years ago, father and son—Morris M. Nilsen and Morris A. Nilsen—wished to give back to their community, and, so, they founded the Morris Nilsen Boys Choir, featuring the high treble voices of young, male singers. In the first decade, three talented directors worked with the vocalists, teaching discipline, teamwork, and appreciation for the magic of music. In the early 1970s, Paul H. Pfeiffer with his wife Virginia took up the baton, adding new repertoire and changing the name of the organization to the Minnesota Boychoir. The boys sang at PTA meetings, churches, and other venues, as well as around the state, country, and world. The choir grew in size and reputation when its fifth director—Mark S. Johnson—stepped onto the podium in 1993. During his tenure, he’s formed six choirs, a summer camp, and other opportunities for singers to lift their voices in song. He and his team put their creativity in overdrive during the pandemic, knowing “the show must go on,” and it did.
PDF of B. Sommer article
So Much Music supplement PDF
Link to the Minnesota Boychoir website for Sights and Sounds
Boychoir Timeline supplement PDF
The Man and the Can: Patrick J. Towle and the St. Paul Origins of Log Cabin Syrup
Author: Mathew M. Thomas
In 1888, after a grocery business failed in Chicago, Patrick J. Towle relocated to St. Paul with a new focus on packaging and selling a single product—maple-flavored syrup. Settling on Log Cabin Syrup as a brand name, Towle put into action an advertising and marketing plan that made his product the country’s best-known brand of table syrup. The Towle family and the Towle Syrup Company took risks and overcame challenges—from accusations of mislabeling and selling an adulterated product, to burned out factories, to the death of the company founder. In 1927, the Postum Company, the precursor to General Foods, purchased Log Cabin Syrup from Towle’s sons. However, the Towle family legacy did not end there. Retaining ownership of the plant in the city’s West Side Flats, the Towles and other company leaders formed Pioneer Maple Products, creating and marketing Bucket Brand Syrup for another decade. (147)
PDF of M. Thomas article
Grasshoppers in My Bed
New RCHS Children’s Book Coming in May – Kickoff Event at Gibbs Farm
Ramsey County Historical Society is pleased to announce the much-anticipated launch of a new children’s historical fiction book, Grasshoppers in My Bed: Lillie Belle Gibbs—Minnesota Farm Girl—1877 by author Terry Swanson and illustrator Peggy Stern. Written as a diary, the book highlights the everyday happenings of real-life girl Lillie Belle Gibbs and her experiences on the family farm in the late 1870s. Swanson, who worked as a site manager at Gibbs for ten years, mined the RCHS archives, which contain photographs, maps, programs, a personal Bible, Lillie’s dictionary, and school notebooks full of essays, spelling words, and penmanship assignments, to stitch together the story of Lillie’s life as an adventure-seeking eleven year old. Stern enhanced the story with over 200 colorful and imaginative hand-drawn illustrations. Swanson and Stern will be on-hand for discussions and a book signing at the opening day of Gibbs Farm on May 28 from 10 am to 4 pm. (155)
PDF of Grasshoppers promo article
For more information on Grasshoppers in My Bed and an order form, see the book page.
And for details on the May 28, 2022 event and registration, go to the event page here.
Spring 2022 Book Reviews
PDF of reviews