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).

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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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The Unboxing of Fallout Shelter Items – 56 Years Later

The very last donation of 2017 was given to SCHS by the Rahr Malting Company on December 21, 2017. It was exactly as if the we had received an early Christmas present. The donation consisted of five boxes, of both the small and large variety, and all that was written down on the paper was that they were civil defense supplies from 1962. Needless to say, it was very exciting opening and uncovering the items inside of these civil defense boxes. As it turns out, these boxes were like a Christmas gift to SCHS, just opened up fifty-six years after they were originally packaged. Although it may have felt like Christmas here at the museum, the items in these boxes were originally packed for a much darker and serious purpose: in the event that a fallout shelter was needed in the future.

The Rahr Corporation, established in 1847 in Michigan, has since expanded to several different locations, one of them happening to be on 1st Avenue West in Shakopee. The facility in Shakopee was built in 1937, and had been added onto in 1954, 1977, 1981, 1994, and 2016.1 The information that many may have forgotten, however, was that the Rahr Malting Company was designated as a fallout shelter in 1961-1962 for the citizens of Shakopee. The boxes that were donated to SCHS were chalk full of fallout shelter items, many of them having been undisturbed for more than fifty years.

Included in the items were lists for Medical Fallout Shelter Kit “A”, which was one of the smaller boxes that could treat 50-65 shelter occupants, and for Medical Fallout Shelter Kit “C”, which was one of the larger boxes that could treat 300-325 shelter occupants. Each list identifies the items and the quantity of each item. Kit “C” contained the exact same items as in Kit “A”, just in larger quantities due to the larger number of proposed occupants. Also included was a brochure titled Fallout Shelter Medical Kit Instructions, dated July 1962, as well as a thicker brochure titled Family Guide: Emergency Health Care, which detailed instructions on caring for individuals while in a fallout shelter. These lists and brochure can be viewed below.

The items that were packed in these boxes were medical supplies, which would be extremely necessary in the event of needing a fallout shelter. Any and all items that could fit were made to sit inside their own individual brown cardboard box, the name of the item written on the front of the box. Items included several different kinds of bandages, scissors, thermometers, tweezers, safety pins, isopropyl alcohol, surgical soap, toothache remedy, eye and nose drops, diarrhea medication, many different kinds of pills (sulfadiazine, penicillin, aspirin, cascara (a laxative)), as well as tins of baking soda, petroleum jelly, and bottles of table salt. Also included were small bottles of iodine pills that would have been used to treat water in fallout shelters. All of these items were necessities when living in a closed off fallout shelter, be it with either 50-65 people, or 300-325. These items were chosen and packed with care, ready to offer aid to those who were sick. Although many of these items were labeled as being packed and stored in 1962, we, unfortunately, don’t have information on which building on the Rahr Malting campus was to be used as the fallout shelter.

Nonetheless, these items are a museum’s treasure, and very much a look into the past when nuclear war felt very much like an imminent threat. These boxes stored in the Rahr Malting Company show that a very national fear was felt by everyone everywhere throughout the United States, even in small Shakopee, Minnesota.

Many of these items have not been viewed since the 1960s, so I am pleased to allow you a secondhand look at these fallout shelter items. Enjoy.

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All of the items unpacked from their boxes, gathered together by type of item.

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(https://www.rahr.com/rahr-malting-co/shakopee-malthouse)

Paintings from Scott County Residents

Halloween has come and gone, and so November follows quickly behind. The first snowfall has already occurred, but luckily for us, it hasn’t been able to stick around. Before we know it, though, snow will be piled up around us.

Instead of focusing on the cold and dreary colors that will come soon, I feel it important to take a look at some colorful paintings that have been done by wonderful Scott County artists. Their bright and beautiful colors will surely amaze, whether they were done with oil, watercolor, or acrylic paint. We have many paintings, several from the same artists,  but I have chosen to pick a variety of paintings to show the diversity of the painters and their skills throughout the county.

I like to think that pictures – or paintings, in this case, are worth a thousand words, so without much more to say about these paintings, I leave you to take a look at them below and enjoy.

I hope that these paintings brighten your day. Thank you to the artists who have taken their time to paint such wonderful images that are close to their hearts, as well as donating them to SCHS so we may preserve them for future generations. Feel free to visit SCHS to see these paintings in person, or donate paintings of your own.

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Oil painting of the Moses Starr Titus residence in Shakopee, 1868. Artist unknown.
2007.65.1
Painting of a street scene in Prior Lake 1965. Artist: John McGuire.

 

 

 

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Oil painting of Josephine Sand Grommesch, Scott County pioneer woman. Artist: Patricia Kness, great-granddaughter,
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Painting of St. Paul House, 1971. Artist: LeRoy Lebens.
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Painting of Dallas Cowboy Tony Dorsett, date unknown. Artist: Dave Tommy (a Shakopee HS student)
2017.42.1
Watercolor painting of Dr. Nevin’s House in Shakopee, 1993. Artist: Susan Melchior.
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Pastel and acrylic painting of Joan of Arc, undated. Artist: Lorraine Coller.
2017.42.3
Watercolor painting of Murphy’s Landing, 1993. Artist: Susan Melchior.
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Watercolor painting of the Old Monnens Farm in Shakopee, 1992. Artist: Lila Greenwood

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.

 

Fighting Fires

PhilaFiremen.jpgOne of the earliest volunteer fire companies, and the first fire insurance company, were both set up in the 1750s by Ben Franklin and his friend Dr. Thomas Graeme.  Fire companies served a social significance  as well as the practical significance.  You can see the social aspect of firefighting playing out in the illustration in the center of the image.  Three hoses are trained on the burning building, and you can trace those hoses to three different fire departments.  They each wear different colored capes: red, black and pale blue, to tell each other apart.  Here, the three bands are acting in cooperation, but that wasn’t always the case.

Mose.jpgThe second illustration will seem familiar if you’ve seen the movie Gangs of New York.  The man with the red shirt, stovepipe hat and Paul Bunyan stature sitting on the barrel is Mose.  Mose was more of a myth than a man, but he comes out of the Bowery gangs of New York’s east side that are depicted in the popular film.  He was also a character in one of the most popular plays of the New York stage.  Most of the tough Bowery b’hoys were volunteer firemen, and their companies were their gangs.  They would brawl each other for the honor of putting out a fire, often letting a house burn in the process.  The barrel in the illustration is interesting.  The first person to each fire was assigned the task of guarding the fireplugs.  These are plugs in wooden water pipes that firemen would remove to connect their hoses to the main.  The gangs in New York would send out a man with an empty barrel to put over the main to guard the plug from rival companies.  These goons were called “plug uglies” and that’s very similar to what Mose is doing here.

What does all this as background have to do with Scott County?  The earliest Scott County and Minnesota fire departments were just as social organizations as their eastern predecessors, only much less violent.  Important citizens were active members of volunteer fire fighting, including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Samuel Adams, and Paul Revere.

What did towns do without a fire company: let a house burn or put it out yourself. Fighting fires was everybody’s business and everybody’s job.  As towns expanded and became more dense, the dangers of fire became more serious, and clamor for a fire company grew.

Fighting fires in the 19th century was tricky for several reasons: for one, building materials were easily combustible.  While 1870s Scott County was by no means a new settlement, there were enough log houses to make a general conflagration in a city a major disaster.  Second, sources of heating were dangerous: gas lights, fires, stoves, candles, all contained the possibility of getting out of control and starting a blaze.  Finally, the earliest industries that helped cities grow often contained dangerous possibilities for fires.  Lumber industry, flour milling, textiles, etc.  In fact, one of Shakopee’s flour mills burned in 1885—a very dangerous fire because of the explosive properties of wheat dust.

In 1872 Shakopee had it’s first big fire at the St. Paul and Sioux City railroad machine shop on east First Avenue.  It caused quite a bit of damage to a vital part of the city’s growth and sustenance – the railroad.  In 1879, the National Hotel burned, wiping out an entire city block that contained a grocery, several saloons, and a meat market.

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Belle Plaine Fire House

1883 is our starting date—that’s when years of agitation for a fire department finally paid off and a fire department was organized with elected members and three companies: Hook & Ladder, Engine (pumper) and Hose Companies.  Belle Plaine organzied their company in January of 1883 with great success, however the department would dwindle and disband over the next two years.  However, their early success may have inspired Shakopee to organize their company in the fall of 1883.

 

The Shakopee Fire Department (SFD) has all its original ledger books that record the dates of their earliest meetings, who was present, who was not present and had to pay the absentee fine, and a list of fire calls .  This ledger is of the Hook & Ladder Co.—so not the entire department—and in 1884 their budget was $31.80, a tidy sum for that day, though they received a city appropriation for $2,900 for initial equipment purchases.

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The department was always a tight social organization.  But there was a lot of pomp and entertainment to their events.  They held annual Thanksgiving and Christmas balls which were the talk of the town and also helped the department raise money.  The Shakopee Argus reported on their first one in 1883: “The first annual ball of the city Fire Department was held last evening and was largely attended and thoroughly enjoyed.  The firemen were all dressed in their uniforms and presented a fine appearance in their drill…a thoroughly enjoyable time is the unanimous verdict.”

In America, we don’t talk about class very much.  But some of the earliest visitors to our nation when it was young were amazed at the spirit of community and civic duty that cut across class lines.  The son of a French nobleman, Alexis de Tocqueville, was one of the most astute observers of early American life, and remarked on how, in towns across the county, people felt the duty and desire to pitch in and steer the direction of their community and nation.  This translates down to the Shakopee fire dept., as well.  On its rolls, you see that its members were farmers, butchers, lawyers, shop owners, craftsmen and speculators; blue collar and white collar, sometimes both at once.  Most of them were immigrants.  But they were connected to the growing town and to each other, perhaps by civic duty, by self-interest, or both.

Just as the early town was dependent upon the civic engagement of all its citizens to survive, so were nearby towns dependent upon each other.  Fire calls in Shakopee history have often been assisted by companies from other towns.  Before Shakopee had its own department, St. Paul was one of the only organized fire departments in fledgling Minnesota.  They had men and equipment, like a pumper engine, though it took the department several hours to get here by rail.  Jordan and Chaska were also instrumental in fighting Shakopee’s fires, and it works vice versa.

A page from the first ledger of the department shows part of the fire record for 1884.  It indicates that barns and railroad shops were the unfortunate recipients of fire for the first half of the year.  The Omaha Railroad company shops caught fire twice, and neither fire was ruled accidental but “incendiary.”  It also lists J. B. Conter’s hotel barn as catching fire accidentally for a loss of $2.  Conter’s hotel was Shakopee’s Pelham hotel, later the Merchant Hotel.  The details of early Shakopee society that the ledgers reveal and the services rendered and records kept by the fire dept. are extraordinary.

The first decade of 1900 brought new improvements for Shakopee’s firemen.  The city installed new water mains and fire hydrants for a larger and more reliable water supply.  Hydrants provided their own pressure, so the use of heavy pumpers was reduced.

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Shakopee Fire Department c1928-1930

In 1916, the SDF aquired its first motorized fire apparatus, a Kissel Chemical Fire Engine. That same year, fire broke out at Ries Bottling works (of which we have the letter).  The fire took off because the warehouse that caught fire stored paper, boxes and wooden cases that fed the blaze.  Apparently the Kissel did not perform well at that fire.  Another large fire took place in 1923 at the Minnesota Stove Co.

A pivotal year for the SFD was 1954/5, the year that they got their new building and moved out of the city building on 2nd and Lewis.

Fires included the McMurray building at 1ststation.jpg and Lewis in 1957, the Shakopee Warehouse  in 1962, and the St. Paul House in 1965 which firemen kept at for 16 hours.  Simons Lumber Yard burned in 1968, and was at 2nd and Lewis, visible at left of the picture with the fire bell.

 

1959 had the worst fire that Shakopee has yet seen, not so much for loss of property or extent of the blaze, but for the only loss of life to occur within the department’s history.  A fire started at Schesso’s garage, a Chevrolet dealership.  The fire was tricky because the fire fed on the gas and oil in and around the cars.  The blaze lasted 6 hours, in the course of which, Max Wermerskirchen, a 28 year old fireman, fell through the roof of the building while trying to break out a skylight to ventilate the building.  The SDF dedicated a  plaque to Max’s memory as the one firefighter to die in the line of duty in Shakopee.

We recommend Caroline Paul’s book Fighting Fire for the women’s side of the occupation.  Her book is grizzly in parts, but a very interesting read.

Original article written by Patrick Rodgers, former curator at SCHS.

 

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

 

 

 

 

Spring Has Arrived!

Spring is here! The flowers are blooming, the grass is green, and the days are getting longer. Indeed, summer will nearly be upon us in a month!

Now that the weather is warming up, and the sun is shining more and more, don’t forget to step outside your house and enjoy the warmth you haven’t felt since last year, as well as the activities your town has to offer.

Call your friends, sit in the yard, and enjoy a picnic or a party, just like these Shakopee foundry workers did back in 1905. 19960190001

Parades will soon start marching down the streets of towns, so don’t forget to set your chair on the curb and make memories like these individuals did during a parade in Belle Plaine in 1901! (And maybe…not so secretly… snack on some candy).
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Baseball season is already well underway, so make your way to your local baseball diamond, eat a hot dog and some nachos, and cheer on your favorite team, just like the fans of this Rock Spring team did in 1910.20130320068

Try and make time for some leisurely afternoon walks in your local park, be it to listen to music, take your dog for a walk, or just to hang out with friends, like these young women did in 1905. 19990680001

Last, but not least, hit the road! Head to your favorite destination, with your windows or top down, and enjoy the spring breeze on your face and in your hair. Have fun and make memories, just like Mathilda (Nyssen) Stans and her family did in 1905.20080051907

Photo Treasures from the Lebens Collection – Shakopee Businesses

Over his long career in photography,  Shakopee native Leroy Lebens seems to have documented a little bit of everything in Scott County: weddings, construction, floods, graduations, sports, wildlife, and concerts to name a few.  He also happened to track the growth and development of many Shakopee businesses and institutions. This week we are taking a closer look at a few of these photographs of Shakopee businesses from his collection we have housed at Scott County Historical Society. Spanning well over thirty years, these ten pictures feature places you can still visit and some of which have long been closed. This is just a small sampling of what we have found so far. Take a quick trip down memory lane with us!

Shown: Wampachs, Midland Glass, Shakopee Motors, Rahr Malting, Betty Lu’s, Abeln’s Bar, Mill Pond, St. Paul House, St. Francis Hospital, and First National Bank.