A Golden Time

This year marks a fantastic occasion for us at the Scoot County Historical Society; we get to celebrate our 50th year Anniversary. In appreciation of our volunteers and our communities, we will be having an anniversary picnic at the Stans Museum in Shakopee. It will be a day of food, fun, and trip through the past. Our main entry way will be time machine back to 1968 where you can see what made the headlines and what the world was doing 50 years ago. We will have a photo booth where you can take a picture are a hippie, John Lennon, or even Richard Nixon.

Our Stans House Garden will have picnic tables for food and relaxing as we celebrate the historical societies golden anniversary. We will be recognizing a longtime volunteer, looking back at what we have accomplished, and looking forward to the future we hope to build. A day full of old fashion games, sack races, food, community, and history sounds like a great day to me. August 25th at the Stans Museum, come celebrate the Scott County Historical Society’s anniversary, and help us usher in the next 50 years of preserving our history. 50th picnic celebration


50 Years of History – 1968-2018

The Scott County Historical Society has been around for 50 years, only about half of them at Stans Museum.  In 1968 a group of citizens got together to save their local history – much like every other historical society.

TransfigurationMany of our original members and board were from the Belle Plaine area, and one of our first projects was preserving and restoring the beautiful Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Belle Plaine, and the addition of restrooms.  Along with this project, the Society worked on the Minnesota Valley Restoration Project, resulting in the formation of Murphy’s Landing (now known as The Landing).

SCHS members not only worked on these projects, but they also set about collecting the items that would be the beginning of our over 50,000 piece collection.  Most of the early items were kept in members homes or at Murphy’s Landing.  Eventually, moving to our new home in 1995.


The Stans Museum came about through a very generous donation from the Stans  Foundation.  Maurice Stans grew up in Shakopee; he was a geeky little kid that loved math.  Eventually he became an accountant and helped form the Alexander Grant Company (now Grant Thornton).  Answering a call from President Eisenhower, Maurice entered public life and was the director of the budget for the Eisenhower administration.  He completed his public service in the Nixon cabinet as the Secretary of Commerce*.  Along the way, he always kept Shakopee close to his heart, donating funds to support local students, Murphy’s Landing, and eventually the SCHS.

Maurice’s foundation, The Stans Foundation, donated the grounds, his boyhood home, and the museum to the Scott County Historical Society in 1995.  The museum, built by Laurent Builders, had a gift store, Stans and Africa exhibits, offices, and a multi-purpose room. The original floor-plan is basically the same – but the content has significantly shifted to a more Scott County – local focus. Thanks to board planning and a generous donation from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, we made changes to the building to better serve our communities.

Original floor-plan


Gone is the African travels exhibit – in its place is an open gallery on local topics.  The African diorama is now much needed archival storage.  The center hallway is more defined with walls separating the original “Business/Govt. & Family/Shakopee” galleries, creating three defined exhibit gallery spaces – two of which are dedicated to Scott County topics.  The “Multi-purpose Classroom” still does double duty as our research library and public programs space.  The “Conference” room is now a work-room; the “Office” is the curator office, and “Sec.” is the director’s office.  The entry is more welcoming and we added an education/program closet.

Floor-plan todayBuilding-Map-sm

You’ll notice there is no collection storage in either floor-plan.  That’s because the building was designed specifically for exhibits, collection storage was an afterthought.  The collection is stored in the basement, which is only a fraction of this footprint.

Big thanks go out to: Dr. Lee Smith (SCHS 1st Executive Director), dedicated members, and early board members, such as Charlie Pass and Dr. R. Pistulka.  Through the efforts of these people and a huge number of amazing volunteers, we are still going strong 50 years later.

50th picnic celebration

Please join us in celebrating our 50th Anniversary on August 25, 2018 with a picnic in the Museum Garden.  Lots of activities are planned – food, theater skit, 1968 photobooth, hands-on crafts and much more.  Stop by between 10am and 3pm for great fun; help celebrate our past and look to our future.

*Click Here to learn more about Maurice Stans on our website

Out to the Fair!

It’s that time of year again, next week the Scott County Fair will be on us again. We will be out there in the speak easy collecting stories from all those who stop by. If you have a story about the fair, come on by and preserve it with us, and have a quick chat. Having said that, this seemed a great time to look back at some great photos of the fair to get everyone in the mood for the festivities to come!


Summer Solstice

June 21 is the summer solstice – the longest day of the year and the start of astronomical summer.  Although, given our recent weather, I’d have to say that we somehow skipped spring and moved directly into summer in May.  However, this is the tipping point where days become shorter and nights become longer.

In ancient times people noticed the movement of stars and the sun and tracked their progress across the sky.  This was a great way to mark time and know when to plant and harvest crops, as well as track tides and predict flooding.

Different cultures have traditions and/or names for the solstice.  In northern Europe it’s called Midsummer, some Christian churches recognize it as St. John’s Day (birth of John the Baptist), and Wiccans call it Litha.  Ancient Greeks considered the summer solstice the start of the new year and the start date for the countdown to the Olympic games.

Greeks had lots of festivals and rules around the solstice: festivals for agriculture, festivals of hearth, and blessings for families.  European pagans welcomed Midsummer with bonfires – thought to boost the sun’s energy for a good growing season and harvest.  They also thought that magic was the strongest during the summer solstice – watchout  Harry Potter! Don’t forget the Vikings – for some reason they would deal with legal matters and disputes during the solstice. Some scholars believe that Wyoming’s Bighorn Medicine Wheel, built by Plains Indians hundreds of years ago, was the site of an annual sun dance as the stones align with the solstice sunrise and sunset.


Folklore indicates that people would wear garlands of herbs and flowers on the solstice to ward off evil spirts.  One of these herbs was St. John’s Wort – then called ‘chase devil’.  People would also sprinkle ashes from the Midsummer bonfire in their garden to protect themselves and bring on a good harvest.


Most people think of Stonehenge or Chichen itza when it comes to the solstice.  No one knows for sure what the use for Stonehenge was – even though it is aligned with the direction of the sunrise/set on the summer solstice.  Chichen itza aligns with both the summer and fall solstice and most likely has a connection to agriculture.  It is interesting that during the solstice the sunlight playing across the pyramids makes it look like the carved snake sculpture on the steps is moving – quite an architectural feat!


Many cultures still celebrate the summer solstice.  Bonfires are still lit, people still wear flowers in their hair, and decorate their homes with greenery.  Many still flock to ancient sites to commemorate the longest day.

Here’s what you could do:

  • Watch the sky and spend time outside enjoying the longest day
  • Make solstice sun tea: put tea leaves (or edible flowers/herbs) in a jar filled with water and leave it in the sun to steep.
  • Make a crown of flowers – dandelions and daisies work best for this.
  • Start a garden – or visit a farm – or play in the water and watch the sun reflect on its surface.
  • Enjoy some really good food.


Here’s a “summer solstice” recipe from Llewellyn’s Sabbats Almanac: Samhain 2010 to Mabon 2011.

Banana Cream Pie
Banana cream pie makes a great feast for the eyes on Summer Solstice, looking much like a Sun in splendor when completed. Since you’ll want to spend more time visiting than cooking, this recipe cheats a bit with pre-made pie crust.

Prep Time: 20 minutes  Serves: 8 slices

  • 1 premade 10-inch pie crust (chocolate, shortbread, or graham cracker)
  • 1⁄2 cup flourBanana-Cream-Pie8-637x960
  • 3⁄4 cup sugar
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 large bananas mashed
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Whipped cream
  • Dried banana chips or yellow sprinkles

Directions: Place flour, sugar, and salt in a nonreactive saucepan (clay, enamel, glass, or stainless steel) over a low-medium flame. Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly. Add the mashed banana and continue to whisk. Within 8 minutes your filling will become thicker and have an even consistency. Beat the egg yolks separately, adding 3⁄4 cup of the warm filling to the yolks before blending them into the rest of the mixture. Cook for 5 minutes, continuing to whisk. Add vanilla and butter, then remove from the stove. This should rest a few minutes before pouring into your crust. Chill the pie before garnishing, piping whipped cream around the banana Sun’s edges, and decorating with banana chips and/or yellow sprinkles to finish the effect.


Pedaling Scott County’s Past

      It finally feels like spring at the Scott County Historical Society. There’s a green tinge in the Stans Garden, and plans are underway for summer programs, festivals and fairs. I am particularly excited for a series of bike tours highlighting the environmental and social histories of Shakopee, Jordan and New Prague. In the process of preparing for these tours, I started digging into the two-wheeled history of Scott County

                Biking has always been an essential summer pastime of Scott County. On October 26, 1893 the Scott County Argus front page boasted an editorial entitled “Riding A Wheel”. It begins “As in everything, a young girl has the best time of it in learning to ride a bicycle”. The piece goes on to describe the trials a young woman might endure in mastering a bike,  but concludes with “It is better to depend on oneself than lean on the shifty arm of a man. For arms tire and become sorely aweary, but the will of a woman is the truest steel”. 

                A few years later the July 19th 1897 issue of the Argus published a scathing review of the public highway system written by the Farmers Union. It begins with “Not for many years has need for better country roads been felt so much”. It continues, “Road repairs may seem expensive under the most favorable of circumstances, but when the cost of cartage and the expense of future repairs are taken into account, the cost of road repairs now would probably be less expensive if choices are economically made”. The sentiment would not seem out of place today, except the farmers were not arguing for better roads for motorized vehicles. Instead, they wanted the country to expand highways for bikes.

                On June 19th, 1900, William Hinds extoled the virtues of a new bike path from the Twin Cites to Shakopee, explaining that “With a good cycle path from the cities to this point we will see from fifty to two hundred riders from the cities here on every pleasant Sunday or Saturday afternoon, and the business of many firms, hotels, refreshment shops, soda water fountains and cycle shops will be largely increased in consequence”. He also said that the “The short run, fifty miles for the round trip, will serve to make it very popular for those who ride for pure and simple pleasure”. Bikes were so popular that on July 7th, 1897 it was published in the Argus that the State Agricultural Society declared that September 11th would be “Bike Day” in Minnesota.

                In fact, in the Local and Personal page of a single issue of the Argus, June 17, 1987, the following messages were posted:

·         Miss Mabel Peck entertained Misses Purdy and Loftus of Minneapolis Sunday, the young ladies made the journey on their bicycles.

·         Misses Adelaide and Rosa Marks delight in the possession of a new bicycle of the Fleetwing make

·         D.W. Pettit made the trip to and from Minneapolis by bicycle Sunday

·         Bicycles for rent by the day or hour by EJ Gellenbeck

·         Misses Annie and Lizzie Ries now in possession of a Fleetwing bicycle bought of JC Marx. The Fleetwing is the companion wheel of the Envoy line

·         Mrs. D W Petit returned Monday by bicycle from a week’s visit to Minneapolis

Along the sides of that page are lines of advertisements, including two for different bicycles. It is clear that the introduction of bikes gave a new sense of freedom to residents of the area, especially women. Bikes were used to visit friends and family, travel into town, and opened up new possibilities for work and entertainment.

                Today, bicycles are still important to Scott County. Shakopee alone boasts 80 miles of bike trails. You can still take a Sunday bike ride to the twin cities along the Minnesota LRT, Cedar Lake Trail and the Minnesota Greenway. If you are interested in joining us for summer bike tours, tickets are available now for our May tour of Shakopee. You can find more information at our website or at https://bit.ly/2oMtC6

Written by Rose James, Program Manager, Scott County Historical Society

St. Patrick Hamlet

With St. Patrick’s day just ahead there is an obvious desire to want to write about it.  Instead of talking about the day itself, though, I would like to discuss the small hamlet in the Cedar Lake township named after that patron saint of Ireland.  St. Patrick, like so many aspiring towns of its time, never really grew bigger than a couple hundred people.  Today, St. Patrick is not more than three points of interest, clumped together on a stretch of road called Old Highway 13, and a few residences.  What is there has an interesting and long standing histories.

Prior to the intrusion of settlers, the area of St. Patrick was heavily forested land inhabited by members of the Sioux tribe.  The Sioux in this area lived primarily on a hill, referred to as Teepee Hill, at the time that settlers first arrived.  This hill served as both a village, with 50 bark teepees at the time settlers arrived, and as a sacred meeting place.  Nearby lakes were used for fishing.  The swamps and woods of the area also provided wild animals for fur and food.

The first white settlers of the area were of Irish decent, arriving in the early 1850s.  Ireland at the time, was suffering under the atrocities committed during the Great Famine.  Many families were fleeing  Ireland at this time to escape the combined problems of potato blight and gross mistreatment at the hands of the British government.  This resulted in large numbers of Irish immigrants arriving in North America.  The first settler to arrive to the area of St. Patrick was named Thomas O’Donnell.  Early on, a total of 65 Irish families ended up settling  in the area.  The area was then, and is still now, used primarily for farming.

These Irish families were of the Roman Catholic faith, hence the town’s name, and they held early church services in the cabin of one Thomas Quill beginning in 1856.  In 1857, these families claimed Teepee Hill for their own and started to build the first St. Patrick Church and cemetery there.  Despite this, the settlers relationship with the native Sioux remained friendly with only some moments of tension that never spilled over into violence.  This church, which was built from logs, was completed in 1859.  In time, this church became inadequate for the needs of the people of St. Patrick.  Using limestone from Jordan, construction on a new church was began in 1870 with the cornerstone being laid in 1873.  This church and cemetery still stand today.

In the late 1800s, the people of St. Patrick built a combination tavern and hall.  This original building burned down in the early 1900s but was rebuilt.  A gas station and repair shop were added in 1939.  The building is currently known as St. Patrick’s Tavern.  This tavern was, and still is, the center of information and social activity in St. Patrick.  One of the most popular activities held here were card parties involving games like poker and euchre.  There were also plays, dances, celebrations and even traveling medicine shows.  Of course, St. Patrick’s Day was the most important celebration of the year.  The people had a local reputation for their celebrations, not only on St. Patrick’s Day.

Besides its church, tavern, and renowned celebrations, St. Patrick used to be a popular destination for local farmers to buy feed and sell their milk.  This is because St. Patrick used to have a creamery and feed mill which allowed people to take care of selling milk and buying feed in one location.  These two places used to be the main source of business in St. Patrick and made it much more of a destination than it is today.  When the feed mill caught fire December 2nd, 1962 it was completely destroyed while the nearby church and parish building were both saved.  The feed mill was not rebuilt making it less convenient for farmers to sell their milk.  Farmers went to places like Jordan or Lydia seeing as both these areas had feed mills as well as creameries.  This along with being passed by for railroad construction stopped St. Patrick from growing.

Though it is not growing now, St. Patrick did see more immigrants coming to the area between World War I and II.  Czech families began moving to St. Patrick during World War I while Irish families began to slowly move out.  The Czechoslovakian families were not well received to the area but these poor relations never led to violence.  Throughout World War II more Czechoslovakian, German, and Swedish families moved to the area as more Irish families left.  By the mid-1950s only four Irish families still lived in the area.  This change was said to have revitalized this community.

The other remaining attraction, besides St. Patrick’s Tavern and St. Patrick Church, was built during the 1950s around the time of this revitalization.  On May 25th, 1952, Bonin Field was officially opened just behind St. Patrick Church.  This baseball field was named after the former Catholic Priest, Leo Bonin.  The field was renovated in 1989 and now has teams from third to eleventh grade as well as two adult teams.  One adult team, the St. Patrick Irish, are an MBA Class C team that have won 13 state championships.  The other adult team, the St. Patrick Shamrocks, play in the Federal League and have won four Class A state championships and one Class C state championship.  The field has no bleachers but fans can get a good view of the field from a hill just past the line between third base and home.  Children can make a little bit of money by helping to fetch the balls.

Despite its small population St. Patrick still attracts a decent amount of attention with its three points of interest.  St. Patrick Tavern still pulls a crowd, St. Patrick Church still has a strong congregation, and Bonin Field has a lot of baseball going on.  From the early settlers rough beginnings, St. Patrick has formed a small and enjoyable community.


Written by Tony Connors, Curatorial Assitant.


Rass, Jeanne.  “St. Patrick: Irish settlers move, but town remains.”  Prior Lake American, 3 Aug. 1987.

The New Prague Times, 29 May 1952.

“Losses Total In Excess of $50,000 As Weekend Fires Destroy Feed Mill, Granary, Cedar Lake Home.”  The New Prague Times, 6 Dec. 1962, vol. 74.

Doerr, Sylvia.  “Stories and recollections of St. Patrick, Cedar Lake.”  As I Remember Scott County, edited by Marcia Spagnolo et al., Scott County Senior Citizens, 2006, pp. 113-115.


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).

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.”


Written by Tony Connors, Curatorial Assistant.


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.

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
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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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)

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.


Written by Tony Connors, Curatorial Assistant.

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…


treaty of mendota
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.
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!

Baseball with the Quicksteps

Base ball is a sport that has been enjoyed by many over a long span of years.  It was originally conceived of as “a gentleman’s sport” and was played with a great deal of reverence and respect for both the game and opponents.  Today it is America’s past time and one of its most popular sports.  Starting in the summer and extending into the fall, you can turn on your TV and watch a professional base ball game most any day of the week.  The games you see here, however, are not the same kind of game you would have seen in base ball’s early days.  There have been drastic changes in not only the appearance of the game but in the rules as well.  The set of rules credited with leading to today’s baseball is called the Knickerbocker Rules, which were established in 1845 by the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club.  Though the rules are what they are today there are still groups out there that choose to play baseball by older rule sets.  Some go all the way back to the original Knickerbocker rules others choose other iterations of the rules commonly from the 19th century and early 20th century.  One such group came to Shakopee in 1995 to put together a game based on rules used in 1858.  The Halsey Hall Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research brought their team, the Quicksteps, to play baseball at Murphy’s Landing Restoration Village.  Scan_20170825

Pictured above are the Quicksteps in their, more or less, era appropriate garments posing for a photo taken in 1994.  We can immediately notice several differences between these outfits and those worn today.

Modern Baseball

The shirts of Quicksteps are collared and cuffed.  The hat, though it has similarities to a baseball cap, is a far less streamlined affair that sits much more loosely instead of hugging the head tight.  The pants are full length and sit loosely as compared to the modern players outfit which is pulled up on the leg and hugs the leg more tightly.  The shirts of the Quicksteps are cuffed and collared.  These shirts share the same baggy quality as their pants.  There are no short sleeves, afterall, it’s a gentleman’s sport and the clothing reflects that.  There are also a few more subtle differences.  If you look closely, you may notice that the Q on the Quicksteps’ shirts are not actually part of their shirt.  Instead these are bibs that attach to the shirt.  If we look at the Quickstep player kneeling on the far right of the photo we can see a ball in his right hand.  The base balls being used by the Quicksteps were made from leather wrapped around yarn and rubber. Early baseballs were often made from other materials as well but the leather yarn and rubber balls were rather typical.  Early on these balls were stitched with a cross pattern called the “lemon peel” pattern.  The figure eight pattern on base balls hadn’t started to become more popular until 1858.  Lastly, you’ll see that our modern base ball player has a glove.  Originally base ball was played without gloves, helmets, face masks, shin guards or chest pads.  Gloves were not introduced until 1875 and they looked very little like the gloves we know today.

Ball CatcherBaseball Glove

The introduction of these items was viewed with derision by many early base ball clubs.  The Quicksteps included a popular poem along with their rule set that reads, “We used no mattress on our hands no cage upon our face we stood right up and caught the ball with courage and with grace.”  Along with the outfits and equipment, the fields and team positioning have undergone various changes.

Before a time when public base ball diamonds were readily available, early diamonds were often impromptu and could vary widely.  Firstly, most games were not played on dirt diamonds.  Baseball players in these early days took their bases and set up their games in fields of grass.  Bases were canvas or a similar material stuffed with sand or sawdust.  These sat loosely on the field instead of being pinned down.  The hurler’s (pitcher’s) plate and home base were often made of metal or wood.  In these early day, the size of these plates and the distances between them changed frequently.

The players positions on these fields were much the same as they are today.  The biggest differences were in the positioning of the shortstop, the behind (catcher), and the umpire.  The positioning of these players and the umpire changed as their roles in the game changed.  Initially, the shortstop was not really a defined position.  This player would play anywhere on the field.  Over time players came to the realization that having a player in the modern shortstop position would be a good idea seeing how frequently the ball is struck to that position.  The behind, unlike modern catchers, was a glorified ball stop.  They stood further back from the pitcher than they do now and were not involved in making plays in quite the way they do today.  This is, in part, due to the relationship between the hurler and striker (batter) being different.  It is also due to the lack of protective gear.

You may be now wondering, “if the catcher is standing further away, where is the umpire.”  The answer is, between first base and home base.  While this is not an optimal viewing position, it worked well seeing as the umpire had different responsibilities at the time.  Players were expected to be well capable of following the rules on their own.  The umpire was not there to call every play.  They stepped in so that they could keep the game moving if it slowed down.  The umpire would call strikes and balls only if the time at bat was taking too long.  They also called balls fair or foul. The only other time they commented was when their arbitration was asked for.

Seeing as we have begun to touch on the rules, let us continue by discussing these differences.  The Quicksteps played their game based on a set of 33 rules adopted in 1858 that were known as the New York rules.  Comparatively their were only 20 Knickerbocker rules and in the 2017 Major League Baseball rulebook there are 9 sections of rules divided into 70 subsections with 32 clauses and 2 sub-clauses.  Despite this, a good portion of the modern game looks quite similar to what it would have been when played by the Quicksteps so we’ll focus on the most glaring differences.

We’ll go step by step through the phases of play and how they differ, starting with the pitch.  Base ball pitches of 1858 and prior were all done underhand.  This is partially due to the fact that base ball evolved out of games like rounders and cricket which were both played with underhand pitches.

Shakopee Player

This also due to, a point we touched on earlier, the purpose of the hurler being different at this time.  Base ball was much more focused on the idea of the ball being played in the field.  The hurler was permitted to apply things such as soap, grease, or mud to make hits less effective but it was still about playing the ball in the field.  The goal of the hurler was not to strike out their opponent, instead they were supposed to make it so the ball could be hit.  For this reason, the striker (batter) would actually point to where they wanted a pitch thrown.  As discussed, strikes and balls were not taken into consideration unless the umpire felt they needed to keep the game moving.  If an umpire felt that the hurler was throwing the ball where the striker could not reasonably hit the ball the umpire would give the hurler a warning.  It the hurler continued to throw poorly, the umpire would begin to call balls.  On the other hand, if the striker did not swing at good throws, the umpire would warn the striker and then call strikes from then on.  As it is today, a swing and a miss was still considered a strike.

Once the ball was hit, you would perhaps notice a few more changes.  Rules of fair and foul are practically the same as they are today.  If the ball goes out past the lines formed by first and home or third and home, the ball would be called foul.  A ball that hit something like a tree or privy, though, would not count.  If a ball were hit fair and did not hit something that made it not count then the ball would be played no matter where it went.  There was no such thing as a home run in the early days of base ball.  A contributor to this, was that games were usually only played using one ball.  If you wanted to continue playing you had to get the ball regardless.  As it is today, catching a fair ball before it hit the ground is one way to get a batter dead (out).  However, going by the 1858 rules their was a bit more room to get a batter out by catching the ball.  If a ball was caught off after only bouncing once, that striker would still be dead.  Unlike today’s rules this could also be done with foul balls either on the fly or after having bounced only once.  An interesting rule related to this is that if the ball was caught after a bounce, players on bases could be made dead if they had left their bases.  On the other hand, if the ball was caught mid-air players on the bases were permitted to freely return to their places.

Interestingly, in the case that someone did ace (score a point), that ace did not immediately count.  It was the the responsibility of the acing player to go report to the tally keeper.  The tally keeper would record the ace and the player would ring a bell to inform the cranks (fans) of this.

That is the last of the most apparent differences between the 1858 version of base ball that the Quicksteps played and modern professional league games.  However, there is one last interesting fact to bring up.  Like modern games the Quicksteps played their game with 9 innings.  However, the original Knickerbocker Rules did not have a set number of innings.  Instead the game ended once one team had 21 aces and only after both teams had an equal number of turns at bat.  To a modern audience this may sound ludicrous seeing as games that never leave the single digits are not uncommon.  This was less ludicrous than it seems though.  Around 1845 balls were known to be much smaller and bouncier than they are today.  It was more common for the balls to get launched and for scoring to go much faster than we would see today.

As stated, only the most glaringly obvious of changes between the games the Quicksteps played and modern professional league baseball have been noted.  There is so much more nuance to explore, so if you’re interested by this topic you are encouraged to explore.  This post is far from definitive and only focuses on one rule set so if you are curious there is far more to learn.


Written by Tony Connors, Curatorial Assistant.