Little Chicago

Back in the mid-20th century, Shakopee had a bit of a reputation.  In a time when gambling and liquor were illegal, they were both pretty easy to obtain in Shakopee.  Restrictions on drinking and gambling made both of these activities lucrative for the business minded.  Gangsters and unscrupulous business people used corrupt officials, money, and force to keep their illegal activities unchecked and underground.  Shakopee became one of the area’s worst known offenders earning it the nicknames “Little Chicago” and “the local Las Vegas.”

In Early 1920, America enacted the 18th Amendment, also known as Prohibition, a movement that had been building in America well before 1920.  It was spurred on by heads of church, political figures, business leaders, and social reformists worried about what alcohol was doing to America and they sought to rid their country of this moral threat.  There was also a great deal of distaste for Germany at this time, it having been an opponent of America in World War I.  Seeing as most beer brewers had German surnames, this drew American distrust and ire (Holmgren, 2005).  Think “Freedom Fries” of the early 2000’s.  Their venture “succeeded” and Prohibition was put into action January 17, 1920, guided by what was known as  the Volstead Act.

While the 18th Amendment, in broad terms, made it illegal to sell, make, or transport alcohol, the Volstead Act determined what violation meant and how it should be persecuted.  The Volstead Act stated that possessing, selling, manufacturing, bartering, or transporting anything that had an alcohol content above 0.5% was an in violation of the Amendment.  Juices and ciders below this limit were permissible.  There were few exceptions to this rule.  This act still allowed alcohol to be used for medicine, sacrament, science, and industry.  It also permitted physicians to prescribe up to one pint of alcohol per month to patients.  Those permitted to have alcohol needed permits and were required to keep records for the sale of all alcohol.  First offenders could be fined up to $1000 dollars and imprisoned for up to six months.  Second offenders could be fined up to $2000 and faced imprisonment for up to five years.

Scott County, in the summer of 1919, had 40 licensed saloons in Shakopee, Jordan, New Prague, Belle Plaine, New Market, Prior Lake, and Savage.  When the 18th Amendment came into effect, many of these businesses had to make changes.  At least, they had to give the appearance of change.  Some chose to serve soft drinks and root beer instead of alcohol.  Others changed to ice cream parlors. Sometimes both ice cream and soft drinks were served. One man planned to sell tobacco, merchandise, and a low to no alcohol malt beverage referred to as near beer.  Other local businesses like the St. Paul hotel and Minneapolis House kept on as just hotels (Shakopee Argus, 1919).  Some planned to continue on their businesses and practices with full intention to abide by the new laws but for various reasons, many did not.

A general issue that the 18th Amendment faced was the concept of supply and demand.  First: with supply cut short, the ability to provide alcohol became extremely profitable.  Second: Minnesota’s proximity to Canada, which had enacted its own form of Prohibition in 1920.  Unlike America, they repealed their Prohibition after only two years as opposed to America’s 13 years.  This meant the flow of alcohol from Canada reached the Twin Cities quite readily.  Third: like most everywhere else, police and federal agents lacked the manpower to have any hopes of giving the new law any teeth.  A fourth problem encountered in this area reached back years before Prohibition even began.  This problem being a culture of corruption and lax policy enforcement already in place.

In Minnesota, the 18th Amendment was preceded by strict gambling laws enacted in 1851.  Put simply, Minnesota had outlawed all forms of gambling.  Even playing Bingo for charitable causes was illegal until 1945 (Williams, 2005).  This was already poorly enforced and helped set a groundwork for further corruption.  Some businesses had slot machines, pull tabs, and other forms of gambling that they kept “secret”, usually with the help of letting police or politicians in on the take.  Other businesses were willing to leave their gambling out in the open without fear of repercussion. With gambling laws already being ignored, and/or profitable, it was easy to get police and politicians to lay off enforcing liquor laws.

It is not surprising that these elements allowed the Twin Cities to become a haven of criminal activity.  These factors drew in some of the most famous gangsters of the time like Alvin Karpis, John Dillinger, the Barker Family, and “Baby Face” Nelson.  The picture at the top is of our own local celebrity, Isadore “Kid Cann” Blumenfeld.  In the picture, he is celebrating after being acquitted of the most high profile murder of his career, the murder case of Walter Liggett (Foster, 1999).

In 1920, Leon Gleckman was “the kingpin of the St. Paul liquor industry.”  In St. Paul, he installed his own chief of police.  This man, Thomas Brown, maintained his position through the entirety of Prohibition and even two years afterwards.  He was not removed until wiretapping revealed his corroboration with criminal activities in 1935.  Brown and his corroborators allowed organized crime to operate with very little to stand in its way (Foster, 1999).

In March of 1921, raids were conducted in Scott County and surrounding areas.  In Carver County, ten arrests were made and one complete still was found with large quantities of mash.  Mash being the fermented mixture of cornmeal, sugar, water, and yeast used to make moonshine.  Four arrests were made in Jordan and it was claimed that 100 gallons of liquor was seized, 25 gallons having come from one house alone.  Three arrests were made in Belle Plaine, along with two others in Chaska.  R. H. Mies, the mayor of Hampton was arrested for having approximately 10 gallons of liquor in a restaurant he owned.  Near Fish Lake, police expected to find stills but only found liquor.  In New Market, a man was raided after drunkenly bragging that he had already made $16,000 off of the sale of illegal liquor.  Shakopee stands out slightly in this list of raids, with only one arrest.  One arrest but seven other cases that were pending further investigation.  The reason for this?  Those seven were being investigated on suspicion of having been tipped off to the raids (Jordan Independent, 1921).

Raid
Authorities conducting a raid.

Operators in Shakopee had local police and politicians deep in their pockets.  Businesses, such as the Rock Spring Cafe, had runners to inform them of when raids were coming and safe houses to house their illicit materials.  Informants in the police department, much as in the case of Thomas Brown of St. Paul, profited from keeping gambling dens and speakeasies informed.  In later years, corruption was so bad that Shakopee’s mayor at that time, Mayor Cavanaugh, requested Pat Thielen become a police officer so there would be someone he could trust in the police department.  After making thirty-two arrests, people tried to use threats and whatever other leverage they had to stop him (Thielen).  This is one of the reasons Shakopee became known as “Little Chicago.”  It became known for its blatant disregard of gambling and liquor laws.  Betty Dols, Scott County Historical Society’s librarian, once wrote, “Anyone over sixty years of age can remember when there were slot machines in every bar, restaurant, store and cafe in Shakopee.” (Dols, 2003)  In fact, one reason Mayor Cavanaugh sought out Pat Thielen is because Governor Youngdahl gave a deadline to have Shakopee cleaned up or he would step in.

Shakopee also gained repute from its most famous establishments, The Millpond Club and the Rock Spring Cafe.  The Rock Spring Cafe was a curious case in which gambling and drinking was done in an exclusive basement room.  It was exclusive for two reasons.  On one hand, it only catered to wealthy patrons from out of town, mostly customers from the Twin Cities.  Secondly, only those that were well known to the man guarding the basement were allowed to enter.  People could come here to drink and gamble safely because the Rock Spring Cafe always had the aforementioned runners prepared to warn of any incoming raids.  The Millpond Club was renowned for its gambling.  It was said to have any of the same methods of gambling that could be found in Las Vegas.  They protected their business with political arrangements.  No police interfered with their business, even after they were robbed at gun point.  Instead, the Millpond Club beefed up security by installing a bulletproof enclosure in the gambling room that contained a guard armed with a shotgun.

Smashing Slot Machines
Authorities destroying slot machines.

As mentioned, Shakopee’s unsavory reputation did not go unnoticed.  Governor Youngdahl had turned his focus on cleaning this city up.  In the late 1940’s, police enforcement was increased.  Illegal activities were finally punished as they were supposed to be.  Governor Youngdahl also reduced Shakopee’s liquor licenses from 9 to 5 (Dols, 1999).  In time, Shakopee lost its role as a destination for debauchery and its title of “Little Chicago.”

Sources:

Holmgren, Chuck.  (2005, February 4).  It’s the Booze Talkin’: Prohibition and the Gangster Film.  Retrieved from https://http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MA03/holmgren/prohib/prohib. html.

N/A.  (1919, June 27).  Saloon Men Are Readjusting Businesses.  Shakopee Argus.

Williams, John.  (2005, March).  Gambling in Minnesota.  Retrieved from: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/gambhist.pdf.

Foster.  (1999).  For the Record: 150 Years of Law and Lawyers in Minnesota.  Minnesota: Minnesota State Bar Association.

N/A.  (1921, March 24).  Prohibition Officers Active Herabouts.  Jordan Independent.

Pat Thielen.  Transcript from a tape recording.

Dols, Betty.  (2003).  Gambling in Shakopee.  Shakopee Heritage Society Newsletter, 1, 9, 2-3.

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75 Years Ago in Review

The end of the year is often a time for reflection and looking hopefully forward to a new year.  75 years ago, as the end of the year approached, people were reflecting on the great conflict that their country was embroiled in.  In the midst of World War II people were focused on the victories, the losses, the gains, and the sacrifices made.  The December 31st edition of the Shakopee Argus-Tribune provides us with a list of significant events of 1942 to help us reflect on our past.  As we reflect on the passing of 2017 let us also take a look at what weighed most significantly on the minds of Americans in 1942.

Information was added to help clarify some of the details listed in the paper.  It should also be noted that the information presented by the paper does not always match more recent reporting of these events.

Events of World War II
January
1st– Hitler takes command of retreating Nazi army on Moscow front.
2nd– Japanese forces take control of naval bases in the Philippine cities of Manila and Cavite.
11th– Japan invades the Netherlands East Indies.
12th– Japan invades the Dutch East Indies
19th– Japan takes the port at Burma, present day Myanmar.
23rd– Australia calls on the U. S. to help fend off Japanese forces.
25th– Dutch and American forces take 33 Japanese ships in the Makassar strait.
26th– American Expeditionary Forces land in North Ireland.
31st– Malaya falls and Japan drives forward into Singapore.

February
3rd– Nazis rush air and tank reinforcements to the battlefront in southern Russia.
4th– American Expeditionary Force gives aid to the Far East Allies in the Asiatic-Pacific theatre.
6th– A key oil town in Borneo, an island in Asia, is captured by Japan.
13th– Hitler’s fleet escapes from Brest, Belarus and retreats to Kiel, Germany.
15th– Singapore falls to Japan.
16th– Dutch forces destroy 100 million dollar oil fields on the island of Sumatra.
19th– Japan drops first bombs on Darwin, Australia. The Battle of Darwin was Japan’s largest attack since Pearl Harbor and was the largest single attack made on Australia by a foreign power.
20th– Japanese forces land on Timor Island.
21st– A Dutch and American air fleet launches an attack on Japanese ships either causing damage to or sinking 19.
28th– British parachutists and Commandos invade a radar array in northern France.

March
1st– The Japanese 2nd Division unloads 50 transports at Merak, Java where they are invading.
3rd– Archibald Wavell is dropped as the chieftain of the Allied forces.
7th– Japan invades New Guinea at two sectors, the regions of Lae and Salamau.
14th– American forces land in Australia.
17th– MacArthur and aides escape from Philipines, where they were surrounded by Japanese forces, and land in Australia.
19th– A Japanese invasion fleet headed to Australia is defeated by American forces.
25th– U. S. Navy raids Makin island, a Japanese seaplane base and Japan’s easternmost line of defense.
27th– Chinese destroy a trap in Burma relieving British forces.
29th– British Commandos wreck a Nazi-held St. Nazaire port.

April
1st– Hand-to-hand combat with Japanese forces occurs in Bataan.
4th– U. S. Navy admits that three warships were sunk by Japanese planes.
8th– Axis desert forces move against British forces in Libya.
9th– Bataan falls. 36,000 U. S. soldiers are taken prisoner.
10th– British-Indian self-rule parley collapses.
13th– Pierre Laval named vice premier of France.
16th– Royal Air Force blitz on German industrial centers goes into its fifth day.
18th– Tokyo bombed by U. S. Air Force, referred to as the Doolittle Raid.
22nd– Commandos raid France at Boulogne and rout the Nazis.
30th– Royal Air Force bombs Paris industries.

Airplane

May
1st– Hitler and Mussolini meet at Salzburg with the focus of discussion being Germany’s campaign against Russia. Japan is not included in the meeting.
5th– British forces backed by U. S. forces occupy Madagascar in order to prevent Japan capturing Madagascar’s ports and to protect Allied shipping lines.
6th– The island of Corregidor, in the Philippines, falls to Japanese forces. 7,000 U. S. troops surrender.
8th– U. S. forces sink 13 Japanese warships in the southwest Pacific.
25th– Allied planes sink an Axis submarine off the coast of Brazil.
27th– Nazis launch an attack on Gazala, Libya in an effort to capture Tobruk.

June
1st– Nazis are trapped in a Libyan desert. Japanese submarines are sunk in Sydney harbor.
2nd– Nazi industrial city of Essen “smashed” by 1,000 Royal Air Force planes.  According to the World War II Database website, the damage dealt by this attack was not significant.
4th– The naval operating base and U. S. Army base at Dutch Harbor in Unalaska, Alaska is bombed twice by Japan.
5th– Japanese forces attack Midway island.
6th– The U. S. Navy smashes the Japanese fleet at Midway Island.
10th– British announce 183,550 casualties during first two years of war ending September 2, 1941 including 48,973 killed and 46,363 wounded.
12th– Japanese forces land in the Aleutian Islands at Kiska Harbor.
21st– Tobruk, a British stronghold held since January 22, 1941 surrenders to Nazi desert fighters.
25th– Nazi General Erwin Rommel drives 60 miles into Egypt; British abandon the Egyptian cities of Solum and Sidi Omar.

July
1st– Germans capture Sevastopol after eight-month, 25-day siege.
6th– U. S. made General Grant tanks battle Nazis in African war.
8th– Nazi 35,000-ton ship Tirpitz, torpedoed twice by Soviet submarines.
16th– Soviets place German losses for period, May 15-July 15, at 900,000 men. Germany admits their own losses as 399,000 killed in action.
19th– German drive eastward to Stalingrad and southeastward to Rostov slowed by Soviets. Royal Air Force and Russia both bomb the Vulkan submarine yard in Berlin. Most bombs miss their targets.
23rd– One of the largest U. S. convoys to cross the Atlantic reaches North Ireland.
26th– U. S. pilots in action over France, flying British Spitfires. One American-piloted Spitfire shot down by Nazis.
27th-Russian admit Rostov, Gateway to Caucasus, falls after evacuation of troops.
31st– According to U. S. Naval official, 10,000 Japanese soldiers stationed in the Aleutian Islands.

August
10th– Marines land in the Solomon Islands where Japan was building naval and air bases. U. S. Navy raids Japanese positions at Kiska in the Aleutian Islands.
14th– German military begins march on Stalingrad.
19th– Ten thousand Allied troops, mostly Canadians, supported by British Commandos and a few score U. S. Rangers raid Dieppe, France, for nine hours. Casualties heavy on both sides. Overhead 1,000 British planes engage the enemy.
21st– Japanese forces attempt to retake Solomon Island positions but are repelled by U. S. marines.
22nd– Fifteen Jugoslavian guerrilla planes bomb Axis garrison and Nazi troop columns west of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia.

September
3rd– U. S. pilots down German Focke-Wulf bomber near Iceland, report U. S. military authorities.
4th– Lieutenant General Joseph Stilwell’s headquarters in Chungking announces that bomb loaded U. S. fighters hit Japanese forces in five different Chinese zones.
6th– Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s Axis forces begin retreating. Allies bomb Axis African sectors.
9th– All 1,600 passengers and crew members saved when 24,289-ton U. S. navy transport Wakefield (formerly luxury liner Manhattan) swept by fire at sea. Wakefield saved and brought to Atlantic port by tugs.
13th– House to house, see-saw battle between Nazis and Russians in progress at Stalingrad.
14th– New type Nazi stratosphere bomber reported flying over England on reconnaissance flights at 40,000 feet.
16th– U. S. 19,900-ton carrier Yorktown reported sunk on June 7 during the Battle of Midway. Vichy French officers reject armistice terms offered by British occupying Madagascar.
23rd– Tobruk attacked from sea while British mobile units raid Axis African positions 500 miles behind lines.

October
3rd– U. S. Army troops, supported by the Navy, occupy Andreanof group of the Aleutian Islands, between Japan held Kiska and Alaskan Dutch Harbor.
17th– A large force of U. S. troops arrive in the Republic of Liberia.
20th– Total of 530 Axis submarines announced destroyed by British and U. S. Navies since the war began.
23rd– Japanese mining installations in North China bombed by U. S. planes in successful attack.
24th– British start African campaign to drive Axis out of continent.
25th– First U. S. air raid on Hong Kong destroys docks and railroad yards in the region of Kowloon.
26th– Naval officials announce that aircraft carrier, Wasp, sunk off Solomon Islands on September 15. Serious fighting continues on Guadalcanal with heavy Japanese losses. Guadalcanal is an area Japanese forces attempted to claim in order to limit Allied forces supplies and communication.

November
1st– U. S. Army troops reinforce marines on Guadalcanal. Australian and American forces push Japan back on New Guinea. U. S. air force bombs Japanese forces daily on Aleutian Kiska.
7th– U. S. troops land in French Africa (French Morocco, Algeria) under commander-in-chief Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower to forestall successful Axis invasion which would endanger America.
8th– Vichy French government breaks relations with U. S. for first time since 1778. Nazis retreat to Libyan border.
11th– Axis forces invade unoccupied France; Italians also land on Corsica. Under orders from Admiral Jean Francois Darlan French, North Africa surrenders to U. S. troops. Tunisia continues fighting.
12th– Second naval battle of Solomon Islands begins.
13th– French garrisons in Tunisia reported battling Axis forces landing by sea and air. Admiral Jean Darlan assumes responsibility for French interests in Africa.
16th– U. S. naval authorities announce crushing defeat of Japanese navy in second naval battle of Solomons: 23 ships sunk, 7 damaged, with enemy casualties near the 40,000 mark.
18th– Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain, former prime minister of France, appoints Pierre Laval dictator of Nazi-occupied France.
24th– Russian offensive smashes across Don River, Germans lose 50,000 men in pincer dive.
27th– French scuttle fleet at Toulon, 62 ships sent to bottom of harbor to avoid seizure by Hitler.
29th– Prime Minister Churchill appeals, via radio, to Italian people to overthrow their dictator, sue for peace.

December
1st– Russia continues to advance in two large-scale offensives. Allied parachutists seize airfield near Tunis.
2nd– U. S. push German forces to the sea in Tunisia. Admiral Jean Darlan assumes African rule in Henri-Philippe Petain’s name.
5th– Pearl Harbor disaster reviewed: 10 ships, floating drydock sunk or damaged; 247 planes destroyed or disabled; 4,575 casualties.
7th– Office of War Information reveals 53,307 casualties in first year of war.
14th– Nazis retreat from stronghold at El Agheila in Libya after a battle with forces from the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
15th– U. S. troops capture Buna from the Japanese, following the fall of Gona, in New Guinea.
17th– Units of Erwin Rommel’s Nazi forces retreating from El Agheila cut off by British in Libya.

DOMESTIC
January
1st– Sales of new cars banned pending rationing.
5th– Congress reconvenes to discuss the war. In this session Congress discussed methods of raising money for the war effort, lowering the draft age, providing support to dependents of soldiers, and expanding the power of the President for emergency situations.
6th– War draft of 1942 announced.
10th– Industrialists protest automobile labor-management plan, rejected.
11th– Office of Personnel Management orders halt in private home building.
14th– Donald Nelson, now chief of all war production. He helped to convert commercial production factories into war time factories and identify ways for the military to save money on its materials.
16th– Sumner Welles asks for a Pan-American anti-Axis front at Rio.
19th– Roosevelt asks congress for another 28 ½ billion dollars.
21st– Office of Personnel Management abolished by Donald Nelson.
22nd– South American anti-Axis compact completed.
28th– Nation told 80 Nazi U-boats off East coast.
30th– Price control bill passes. President Franklin Roosevelt’s 60th birthday.

Buy War Bonds

February
4th– Congress working on loans to China.
5th– Giant Japanese spy ring disclosed on West coast.
10th– House kills so-called “frivolity” in Office of Civilian Defense. The Office of Civilian Defense was intended to help protect civilians, maintain morale, and promote civilian involvement in defense.
16th– U. S. registers nine million more for draft.
25th– Two waves of planes seen over Los Angeles causing an immediate blackout. Anti-air weaponry opened fire over the period of a few hours. This event was later determined to be a false alarm after finding no evidence of an attempted enemy air raid.
28th– Bill to end 40-hour week defeated.

March
2nd– Automobile rationing begins. Automobile production was often halted and sales were limited to priority cases.
3rd– Army air force now an equal branch of army. The Army Air Force was put under its own control instead of being under the control of the Army Field Forces.

6th– All new and used typewriter sales are halted.
8th– Supreme command of all U. S. naval operations given to Admiral Ernest King.
11th– U. S. fixes used tire price.
12th– House farm bloc kills sub-parity bill.
13th– First wartime lottery since 1918.
24th– U. S. takes over strike-bound Toledo, Peoria and Western railroad. After refusing to let The United States District Court arbitrate on a strike, Franklin Roosevelt seized the railroad from Peoria and Western through executive order.
25th– Charles Lindbergh offered position in Henry Ford’s bomber plant.
27th– U. S. unifies command to end U-boat menace.

April
1st– Senate defeats ban on 40 hour week.
2nd– All bicycle sales halted.
7th– Plan to halt production of most durable goods.
23rd– Sugar for restaurants and other food services cut by 50 percent.
24th– U. S. opens sedition quiz of suspects. Suspects were brought in and interrogated to determine if they were guilty of sedition.
27th– Thirteen million sign labor questionnaire.
30th– Report three Nazi bids for peace since first of year.

May
1st– Plans to draft women for war service temporarily abandoned.
2nd– Director of Defense Transportation, Joseph B. Eastman, announces
restriction of competing train and bus service.
4th– National sugar registration for ration books begins, first of four days.
12th– House passes (102-40) increase in pay to $50 for army and marine privates, navy and coast guard apprentice seamen.
16th– Earl Browder, former secretary of the American Communist party, has four-year federal sentence commuted to 14 months already served.
19th– East coast gas rationing to be put on national scale, Roosevelt hints.
26th– Commercial air service for 25 cities, 21 routes, curtailed by Civil Aeronautics board.
27th– Total of 13,600 women apply as candidates for officer’s training school of the Women’s Army Auxiliary corps: WAACs.
28th– On the grounds he is a Communist party member, Harry Bridges, Australian born West coast Congress of Industrial Organizations leader, order deported by Attorney General Francis Biddle.

June
1st– First eastern statewide surprise blackout held in New Jersey. Blackout drills were done in order to prepare civilians for air raids.
7th– Virtually entire Japanese population of West coast (99,770) moved inland.
9th– William Dudley Pelley, a member of the para-military American fascist organization called the “Silver Shirts”, indicted on charges of sedition by Indianapolis, Indiana grand jury.
18th– Prime Minister Churchill makes third visit with the President of the United States, at Capitol.
23rd– Genealogy magazine editor reveals President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill are eighth cousins, once removed- both descended from Mayflower passenger John Cooke.
26th– Naval expansion bill of over 8 ½ billion dollars passed by senate for 1,900,000 tons of ships.
27th– Eight highly trained Nazi saboteurs caught by FBI. Four landed on beach in Florida, other four landed on Long Island. Nazi sub used in operations. Long Island landing effected on June 13, Florida landing on June 17.

July
1st– Navy’s giant 70-ton patrol bomber, Mars, makes official tests over Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.
8th– Seven-man military commission, appointed by President, begins secret trial of eight Nazi saboteurs in Washington.
10th– Elmer Dais, director of the new Office of War Information, names new assistants, says OWI shall try to give American people an accurate picture of nation’s war activities.
17th– Super-powered troop carrier command announced by Lieutenant General Henry H. Arnold, chief of army air forces.
29th– Henry Ford urges world federation after present war to prevent another “more terrible conflict.”

August
1st– Local police and FBI agents round more than 80 Japanese, Nazis and Italians in New York city and Philadelphia.
2nd– Charles Lindbergh testifies at sedition trial of William Dudley Pelley, Indianapolis.
8th– Six of eight Nazi saboteurs executed in the electric chair at Washington, D. C. Two others (who turned over state’s evidence) sentenced to prison.
14th– Commemorating first anniversary of Atlantic Charter President sends message to Churchill reaffirming principles for a happier world.
19th– James Bennett Jr., attorney general of New York defeats White House favorite Senator James M. Mead for Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
25th– Pending stabilization of farm prices and wages at present level hinted by the President during press conference.

September
2nd– John McCloy, assistant secretary of war, says 500,000 American fighting men and technicians are now abroad.
10th– Creation of Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying command, headed by Nancy Harkness Love, announced by war department.
13th– Selective Service Director Major General Hershey says married men with children face draft in 1943.
21st– War Production Board Chairman Donald Nelson forecasts great civilian economy to win war. Japanese sponsored disobedience program in Chicago broken up by FBI.

October
1st– President Roosevelt ends two-week, secret circle trip of nation.
3rd– Office of Economic Stabilization created by the President to stabilize farm prices, rents, wages and salaries.
7th– United Mine Workers Cincinnati convention votes to withdraw its 500,000 members from Congress of Industrial Organizations.
9th– U. S., Britain announce willingness to give up extra-territorial rights in China. Ethiopia joins United Nations. War Production Board orders all except small gold mines to cease operations. There is a raise in food price.
12th– Department of Justice’s petition for injunction against James C. Petrillo’s ban on commercial recording dismissed by Chicago U. S. District court.
14th– Wendell Wilkie arrives in Washington to report to President Roosevelt on his 31,000-mile trip. American Federation of Labor president William Green re-elected at close of Federation’s convention in Toronto, Canada.
21st– 4,000 experienced miners undergo a furlough because of shortages in copper, lead, molybdenum, and tungsten.
22nd– Draft bill rider by Senator Josh Lee (Democratic) Oklahoma, banning sale of alcoholic beverages in or near military reservations defeated by Senate: 49-25.
26th– In a New York broadcast Wendell Willkie, reporting on his globe-circling trip, renews his demand for a second front in Europe.
27th– War Manpower Commission Director McNutt announces plan to freeze all necessary skilled dairy, livestock, and poultry workers.
29th– War Secretary Stimson announces army trucks now using all of the 1,671 mile Alcan highway.  The Alcan highway was built to connect Alaska to the United States through Canada.

November
1st– U. S. takes over all short-wave broadcastings for use by the Overseas Division of the Office of War Information.
2nd– To relieve growing coal shortage in West, United Mine Workers executive committee authorizes seven-day work week.
4th– Republicans make new gains: 19 in Senate, 42 in the House of Represenatives.
9th– President scores France’s chief of government, Pierre Laval, and expresses regret that Laval forced diplomatic break of U. S. and France.
14th– Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, a renowned airplane pilot, and crew members rescued. His crew was sent to the Pacific to inspect military equipment and personnel but they ended up getting lost.
18th– President orders registration of 600,000 youths who reached 18th birthday after July 1st.
20th– Women’s Auxiliary Reserve in the Coast Guard termed “SPARs.” SPARs is a contraction of the group’s motto “Sempur Paratus, Always Ready.”
24th– Saboteurs sentenced in Chicago: Men get death, women get 25 years in jail.
26th– All war industries continue working while nation celebrates Thanksgiving.
27th– Virginia conference of the Methodist Church South demands through their official organ that song “Praise the Lord” be eliminated from radio broadcasts.
28th– New ration book (Number 2) to be issued toward end of year, or first part of 1943.

Food Ration (Edit)

December
1st– Gas rationing begins on nation-wide basis.
2nd– Governor Herbert H. Lehman of New York becomes director of foreign relief and rehabilitation.
4th– President orders Works Progress administration abolished.
7th– Harrison E. Spangler, Iowa, named chairman of Republican party.
11th– Approximately 660,000 war workers frozen to jobs in Detroit.
15th– Office of Population Affairs orders change in heating oil rationing for North zone.
17th– Leon Henderson, director of Office of Price Administration, announces resignation.

 

Other Sources:

Wells, Kathryn and Jack Mulholland.  “The Japanese bombing of Darwin Broome and northern Australia.”  Australian Government, 9 June 2015.  http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/japanese-bombing-of-darwin.

Commonwealth of Australia, The Japanese bombing of Darwin Broome and northern Australia, viewed 21 December 2017.

“Chronology of 1942 San Francisco War Events.” The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco, http://www.sfmuseum.org/war/42.html. Accessed 20 December 2017.

Miller, Robert L. Hitler at War: Meetings and Conferences, 1939-1945. Enigma Books, 2015.

Chen, C. Peter. “Battle of Gazala.” World War II Database, https://ww2db.com/battle_spec.php?battle_id=262. Accessed 20 December 2017.

“Record of the 77th Congress (Second Session).” CQ Press, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre1942121500. Accessed 20 December 2017.

McCarthy, Stephanie E. Haunted Peoria. Arcadia Publishing, 2009.

“Air Force History.” Military.com, https://www.military.com/air-force-birthday/air-force-history.html. Accessed 20 December 2017.

Glines, C. V. “Captain Eddie Rickenbacker: America’s World War I Ace of Aces.” HistroyNet, 12 June 2006, http://www.historynet.com/captain-eddie-rickenbacker-americas-world-war-i-ace-of-aces.htm.

“What does SPARS stand for?” The University of Iowa Libraries. http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/ref/collection/wwii/id/2037. Accessed 20 December 201

Thoughts and Scribblings…

 

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Treaty of Mendota

A while ago I asked one of our volunteers to take a stab at writing a blog post.  He wasn’t sure what that meant, but did since he’s a newcomer to our area, he dug up some history of our county.  Here are his Thoughts and Scribblings!

August 5, 1851: The Treaty of Mendota, in which the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute bands of the Dakota “sold” most of their land in the southern part of the state, was signed by Governor Ramsey and Luke Lea, representing the United States, and Little Crow, Medicine Bottle, Good Thunder, Six, and Wabasha signing for the Dakota.  Other bands had previously “sold” their land in the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux.

August 4, 1854: Congress approved legislation guaranteeing pre-emption for Minnesota settlers squatting on lands that had not be surveyed.  Technically, the land could be sold only after being surveyed, but settlers had poured into lands “purchased” from the Native Americans, sometimes making substantial investments before the surveyor completed their work.  This act, sponsored by delegate Henry H. Sibley, allowed the settlers to purchase their land after the fact of settlement.

All this lead to an interesting question: What is Scott County?

Well, in no particular order…

  • Scott County was established and organized by the MN Legislature on March 5, 1853, and named in honor of General Winfield Scott (who never set foot in Scott County).
  • The county has a total area of 368 sq. miles of which 356 (96.8%) is land and 12 sq. miles is water.
  • It is the third-smallest county in MN by land area and the second-smallest by total area.
  • Now mostly farmland, it was initially an oak savanna and a mixture of grass and clusters of trees that grew parallel to the river valley.  The savanna bordered the “Big Woods”, a closed-forest savanna that covered most of MN before it was logged in the mid-19th century and converted to farmland.
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Oak Savanna
  • Scott County is home to several historic, scenic, and entertainment destinations, including Canterbury Park, The Landing, Elko Speedway, Mystic Lake Casino, the Renaissance Festival, Valleyfair Amusement Park, Blakeley Bluffs, and more.
  • This area was first inhabited by two bands of the Santee Sioux (Dakota), the Mdewakanton and Wahpeton.  Their semi-nomadic life followed a seasonal cycle.  In the summer the villages were occupied, but in the winter the groups separated for hunting.  They had many permanent villages along the MN River and trails leading to these settlements and to the Red River Valley in the north and Prairie du Chien to the Southeast.  These trails were later used by fur traders and settlers; known as the “ox cart trails.”  Later these trails became highways such as Hwy’s 13 and 169.
  • The MN River and Ox cart trails were the primary transportation routes.  The first settlers were Yankees, followed by Germans, Irish, Czechs, and Scandinavians, each bringing their own traditions and religions.  Most settlers became farmers.
  • The county has seven cities – Belle Plaine, Elko New Market, Jordan, New Prague, Prior Lake, Savage, and Shakopee (the county seat); 11 townships – Belle Plaine, Blakeley, Cedar Lake, Credit River, Helena, Jackson, Louisville, New Market, Sand Creek, Spring Lake, and St. Lawrence; and 10 unincorporated communities – Blakeley, Cedar Lake, Helena, Lydia, Marystown, Mudbaden, Spring Lake, St. Benedict, St. Patrick, and Union Hill.

Another blog post will explore how each of the major communities within Scott County came to be (and why), and how they developed.

This blog post was written by SCHS Volunteer Paul Keever – Thanks Paul!

Tale of Two Cities – Merger

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the merger of Elko and New Market into one unified city.  Today the long-term residents of the two towns live side by side with new inhabitants, people who came to the area in search of small-town life, but who enjoy the convenience of the nearby suburbs.  The population of New Market quadrupled between 2000 and 2004 due to the influx of young professionals settling into the area.

In 2004, the city councils of both towns began to consider the possibility of a merger.  Together, the two towns drafted a Cooperation and Combination Plan which laid out the steps they would have to take for the approval and implementation of a merger.  This plan was completed and approved by both city councils in January 2006.

The merger plan was detailed, laying out the exact changes in city structure and services that would follow a successful merger.  The Cooperation and Combination Plan was especially thorough when it came to development and land use, facilities, services, finances, and governing structure, as these would be the most important elements to consider in a merger.

Even before the merger, Elko and New Market shared several services.  Elko contracted with New Market’s fire department and New Market borrowed Elko’s police department.  The two towns even shared a sewer system.  A successful merger would only compound the symbiotic relationship that existed between the two settlements.

A merger vote was held on March 21, 2006.  This was a public vote, open to all citizens of Elko and New Market.  The merger was passed with resounding success.  In Elko, 213 people voted for the merger, while only 38 voted against, and in New Market the score stood at 224 to 47.  The referendum to merge passed.

Once the merger passed, the towns’ administrators had just over nine months to implement the Cooperation and Combination Plan before the towns officially merged on January 1, 2007.  The city councils and administrators from both towns came together to form a single interim government in charge of implementing the merger plan.

Today, the unified town of Elko New Market is home to over 4,500 people, long-time natives and new arrivals alike.

To learn more about the histories of Elko and New Market and the merger that brought them together, visit the new exhibit on Elko New Market, opening soon at the Elko New Market Library.

Blog by SCHS Intern: Amanda Roberts

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Scott County Fair Origins

The Fourth of July has come and gone once again, and now it’s nearly August. Before August can roll in, however, the Scott County Fair must begin!  The Scott County Fair is coming up within a few weeks, running from July 26th to the 30th,  a long-awaited source of joy in mid-summer. Adults and children alike have waited patiently (and perhaps not so patiently) for the fair, mouths watering at the thought of deliciously fried food, a spike of excitement through the heart at the thought of rides, and pride at the thought of showing off their crafts.

The Scott County Fair has been a source of community camaraderie for a very long time, but for how long exactly? Strap on your boots and belts – we’re about to take a step back in time.

Long before the Scott County Fair was known with its modern name, it was first known fairas the Scott County Agricultural Fair. The very first Scott County Agricultural Fair took place in Shakopee in 1857. As the name suggests, the fair featured items concerning agriculture and livestock, hosting the displays in various buildings. The Scott County Agricultural Fair, having no permanent location, used Jordan, Belle Plaine, and Shakopee for fair locations, up until 1883. In 1872 the Scott County Agricultural Society was formed, and the society took it upon themselves to answer the demands of the people – find a permanent location for the county fair.

In 1883 a decision was made to have the permanent location in Shakopee. Twenty acres of ground were chosen, and within a year, buildings were erected to house agricultural, horticultural and livestock displays, as well as other various events, such as horse races.

Information on the Scott County Agricultural Fair is scarce between 1885 and the early 1890s. In years that had troubled times for crops, displays were small and nearly nonexistent. Mentions of fairs in Scott County do not appear until around 1893 – and this is where things get confusing. Instead of a county fair, there are articles of a street fair, located annually in Shakopee. The street fair was very similar to a county fair in that it ran for three days, and had displays on local agriculture and horticulture, but also featured music, dancing, parades, and performers of all kinds. It is not entirely known whether the street fair and county fair occurred in the same years, or that the street fair simply took place of the county fair when times were difficult.

fair1Street fairs were held in late August or early September – to make things even more confusing, newspaper articles described Shakopee’s street fairs as Scott County Fairs – perhaps in a way to let individuals of Scott County know that the fair was all inclusive, and not just for those living in Shakopee. An article in the Shakopee Tribune in 1925 noted that the “Scott County Agricultural Fair…in Shakopee” had a “larger crowd than usual”. It is unknown whether this is another street fair or an actual county fair.

The Scott County Fair eventually moved to a location in Jordan. Similar to the fairs mentioned above, displays were available for viewing, and plenty of entertainment was provided, such as trained animals, parades, band concerts, and free movies. In 1973, the fairgrounds moved to 80 acres in St. Lawrence township, which is where the fair has taken place ever since. The fair and fairgrounds are always improving, with new buildings being erected for more viewing entertainment, and new attractions entering the scope of joy. Despite all of the years that Untitled-2it has been since the very first Scott County Agricultural Fair and the many changes the fair has taken over the years, the coming together of Scott County individuals and the pride that they feel for their local farmers, businesses, friends, and family members, has not changed.

So, make sure to take the time to visit the Scott County Fair this July 26-30, and embrace the community and shared sense of joy that the fair gives to visitors.

 

Connections Across Time

It’s kinda weird, creepy even, when today’s events reflect those from 100 years ago. This year marks the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I.  While researching this topic I was struck by the similarities between what we’re experiencing today and WWI sentiments.

Language

Before the U.S.19980150001 got involved in WWI, the phrase “America First” was used by those wanting to stay out of the war. This same phrase was used in the 2016 presidential campaign.

President Wilson stated: “The World must be made safe for democracy.  Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty.”  Barack Obama stated: “…we must recognize that lasting stability and real security require democracy.”

Loyalty – Surveillance

20000490029Being of German descent was not a positive fact during the war.  Since Scott County was settled by a majority of Germans, loyalty to America became a public issue.  This pamphlet of a speech by Julius Coller, clearly illustrates this public demonstration of loyalty.  In Belle Plaine, a movie that had a pro-German bent, was thrown into the street and burned by local citizens!  100percentAmerican

Not only were you expected to demonstrate your loyalty to the U.S., you were also encouraged to turn in those you suspected of German sympathy.  “It is the duty of every good citizen to communicate to proper authorities any evidence of sedition that comes to his notice.” New York Times, July 1917.  “Clip and send to us any editorial utterances they encounter which seem to them seditious or treasonable,” Literary Digest.  All of this brings to mind today’s wire taps, surveillance, Wiki Leaks, and investigations.

Immigration

The Immigration Act of 1917, among other things, required that immigrants be able to read and write in their native language, which led to standardized literacy tests. Standardized testing continues today in schools across the county.

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Terrorism

WWI introduced air raids and poison gas – precursors to today’s chemical weapons, bombings, and nuclear war threats.

It’s funny how researching the past can give you a clearer understanding of the present, and an understanding of how personal beliefs/conduct, and national and global relations evolved.

The SCHS newest exhibit: The Great War: Scott County in World War I, opens June 22, 2017.  Special guest speaker Iric Nathanson, author of World War I in Minnesota.

Recent Program Highlights

It’s been a busy few months at the SCHS! Below are photos and highlights from some of our recent programs.

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David Schleper presenting “We Were Here, Too: African-Americans in Early Shakopee” at the SCHS on Feb. 9, 2017.

– In February, we learned about the lives of several African-American men and women who lived in 1800s Shakopee, thanks to guest presenter David Schleper of the Shakopee Heritage Society.

– In March, Shelley Gorham from the Minnesota DNR taught us all about the Minnesota River valley, from the history of fur trading in the area to present-day habitats and wildlife. (PSSST- if you haven’t yet visited the SCHS’s “Minnesota River” exhibit, there’s still time! It will be up through the end of May!)

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Making lye soap at the SCHS!

-In April, guest instructor David Hudson showed us how to make our own lye soap, just as people did in the old days. (Well, except we had the advantage of microwaves to help speed up the process!)

We’ve also had lots of fun kids’ programs recently!

– If you visited the museum on just the right Saturday in January, February, or April, you may have seen students carving tools out of rocks, throwing darts with an atlatl, or digging for artifacts in the museum garden. This was all part of our Youth Archaeology program. Big thanks to the Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund for making these workshops possible!

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Students flintknapping as part of our Youth Archaeology workshop series.

– Meanwhile, younger kids enjoyed singing songs, listening to stories, and making crafts at our monthly Kids Kraft program, a fun opportunity to introduce young children to the museum.

We have many more great programs coming up, including our annual meeting next Thursday, May 18 featuring guest speaker and local racing legend John Boegeman. Register for that program here, and stay up-to-date on all of our events by visiting http://www.scottcountyhistory.org.

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St. Patrick’s Day Kids Kraft at the SCHS

 

 

 

 

Prefabricated Homes: Page and Hill’s 15 Year Stint That Ended in Disaster

The Page and Hill Company moved to Shakopee in 1942 into the old Kienzle & Merrick oven enameling plant, and began operating in late June. They planned to make and sell prefabricated homes (also known as pre-fab or kit homes). They came in many styles, all designed by architects. Most things could be altered, giving each house a unique look and many possible floor plans. These were very popular for government use (in military bases) and for civilian homes, and are still very common. You can find whole neighborhoods full of prefab homes, and still purchase new ones today! Page and Hill employed many people during their 15 years in Shakopee. They planned to start out with 125 employees and increased that number to 500 in a few months, many of which were filled by women.

Two prefabricated homes (419 and 427 Seventh Avenue W.) that were constructed in 1948 are listed as historic properties today.

Within a few months of opening, the employees voted in a union and presented an employment contract to the company. The contract was not accepted, and this resulted in the declaration of a possible strike. The company was unable to accept more contracts (for 500 houses and several thousand grain bins) until the proposed strike was delayed for negotiations. A settlement was finally reached in late October 1942. Another labor dispute over the wages for skilled, unskilled, and common work caused a strike in 1948, halting the production of two houses a day that the plant was producing.

Nearly one decade later, in 1957, a fire swept through the plant. This caused a total of $500,000 ($4.4 million dollars today) worth of damages and destroyed a city block-sized area. The company either did not have the ability to recuperate after the major loss or did not want to rebuild, and decided on the permanent closure of the Shakopee plant.

The fire that caused the end of the Page and Hill Company in Shakopee was documented by LeRoy Lebens, who photographed the fire during its progress. These are photos of the fire.

 

Member Appreciation Event

We shook things up a bit this year at our annual Member’s Appreciation Event (3/16/2017). Instead of the same old- same old treats and speaker… we decided to play!

The exhibit scavenger hunt was a huge hit.  Members dug deep into the exhibits looking for snippets of photos to fill in their sheets.  They collaborated – or snuck peeks with each other to try and fill in every blank.

I have to say, it was pretty difficult – but tons of fun!  Before drawing the winner’s name, I read off the answers to plenty of groans and cheers.  The was most difficult picture to find was of fake pancakes found on the stove in the atrium. No one could figure out what the heck the photo was.

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Play didn’t stop there – we moved into the library for Exhibit Bingo!  Using exhibit images instead of numbers on the bingo cards was another way to learn more about the exhibits, while enjoying a little friendly competition, and some laughs.  We had plenty of winners this evening.

Oh yeah we also included the same-old, same-old treats too.

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Thanks again to all our members!  We appreciate your faithful support, and wouldn’t be here without you!  THANKS!!