NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Monday April 12th 2021

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Tales from Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetary

By Sue Hunter Weir

186th in a Series

Annie Erwin: She Loved Not Wisely

Annie Erwin is one of the more intriguing stories in the cemetery although it’s hard to judge how much of it is true. The source of much of the information about her was an unnamed man who claimed to have been told about Annie by her former lover.  This unnamed man, in turn, shared that story with the press. His third-hand account was picked up by the Chicago Tribune on October 21, 1866, two weeks after Annie died. 

Pollinator alert! Spring is just around the corner. Watch for the cemetery’s
annual opening (weather permitting) around April 15th. The
marker in the forefront of the photo belongs to Magnus Norquist (1822-
1901) and his wife Kiasa (1822-1910).
PHOTO BY: TIM MCCALL

According to Annie’s lover she was born in England where her family had become members of the Latter-day Saints (Mormons). Annie appeared to be losing faith in her religion so her family sent her to the United States with another Mormon family which was headed to Salt Lake City.  Annie reportedly told her lover that when she reached Utah she was “compelled to marry a hoary-headed old saint, who had already seven wives.” Since newspapers at the time were openly hostile to Mormons it’s hard to judge how accurate that characterization was but Annie decided to leave Salt Lake City and “being a woman of remarkable intelligence and shrewdness” planned an escape.

There were army troops stationed in the area and Annie, dressed in a soldier’s uniform, returned to the Midwest in the company of one of the soldiers. They stayed together for a while but eventually parted. Following that, Annie became “the mistress of a fast young man, engaged in the mercantile business, but [he] proved a little too fast…”

It was believed that it was while she was living in Logansport, Indiana, that she met Louis Cohen, a traveling salesman for a tobacco company.  He is the one who shared Annie’s story with the man who reported it to the press.

Annie and Cohen moved to Minneapolis where she initially stayed at the First National Hotel.  The couple eventually set up housekeeping in St. Paul.  Cohen spent much of his time on the road but returned to Annie throughout the spring and summer. Eventually he tired of her. One version of the story said that he was already married to a wealthy, older woman whose powerful friends did not take kindly to Cohen’s treatment of her and had threatened him. He wrote Annie a note saying that he was going to New York and abruptly left town.

Abandoned by her lover, Annie returned to Minneapolis and tried to register at the First National Hotel again but they turned her away, most likely because of her relationship with Cohen. Instead, she registered at the American Hotel. It was there, on the afternoon of October 8, 1866, Annie overdosed on laudanum and strychnine.

Before she died, Annie wrote several letters. She wrote one to the proprietor of the hotel where she was staying, telling him that if he sent a bill to David Thomas in Chicago (perhaps her father or family friend), that he would pay it.  Once it was paid she asked that he forward her trunk to Thomas.  She wrote to her father, brothers and sisters asking for their forgiveness for the “rash act” that she was about to commit and asked him to “pray for your unhappy child.”

Her last letter was written to Louis Cohen, the lover who abandoned her: “Louis, farewell. You have broken my heart. I loved not wisely, but too well…”

In the letter that she had written to the hotel’s proprietor, Annie had asked him to bury her in the clothes that she had and with “as little expense as possible.”  She was buried in the cemetery’s paupers’ section, the first of 46 women buried in the cemetery who are known to have committed suicide.

The Cedar Avenue (west side) of the fence under construction about
Look for restoration of the stone pillars along Cedar Avenue and
Lake Street to begin soon.
PHOTO COURTESY OF CITY OF MINNEAPOLIS ARCHIVES

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Letter to the Editor

How the Militant Right Are Destroying Our Nation and the Anarchist Left Are Destroying Our City

My hope and prayer is that our nation is learning some lessons from forty years of unfettered Republicanism that ended up creating unfettered Capitalism. This year it culminated in what we witnessed in Texas, where from the time of the George W. Bush governorship to the present, the Republican Texas state lawmakers put their trust in the “hidden hand of the market” to provide their citizen’s utilities, just one of the many human disasters caused by far-right Republican policies, leading to the unfettered Capitalism that will destroy our nation.

        For several years Donald Trump with the help of news networks like Fox has continued to perpetuate an alternative reality to his base that has strengthened and sustained a militant far-right constituency. The nation looked on in horror as this far-right, militant, terrorist movement reached its pinnacle with the storming of the Capital in a violent attempt to over-throw our government and kill legislators. It is dangerous and if not vigorously checked, will destroy our nation. 

        In so many categories our city and state have been rated at the top due to the foresight of those who have governed through the years and the progressive policies they put forth. However, things aren’t so great for the people of color who live here. The top ratings our city and state receive are up-side-down for those who aren’t White. Minnesota is at or near the bottom of every category for people of color. Joseph Jealous, a former Director of the NAACP called Minnesota, “Mississippi with snow.” Systemic racism, often hidden by “Minnesota nice,” has plagued our city for as long as I can remember. The murder of George Floyd should have surprised no one. 

        However, am I just not woke enough for Minneapolis because I do not want to defund the police, but would rather see the Justice Department step in after this Minneapolis horror like they did in Ferguson and help our police department change its culture and truly reform? I would also rather see some real restraints put on the police union and by law have to stand down when an officer is charged with a crime, like unnecessary violence while arresting a perpetrator. Is something wrong with me because I’m intolerant of needles and feces all over my street, violent drug dealers prowling my block in stolen cars with no license plates, or a gun in my neighbor’s face as she was exiting her car?

        Like the far right took over Texas, the far left took control of our City Council. First they pushed out the Republicans in Minneapolis and I said, “That’s ok. I don’t like their policies anyway.” Then they pushed out the moderates and I just shrugged. Today the liberals are moving out in droves and soon the city will be left to the anarchists. And God help Minneapolis when it is.

Donna Pususta Neste

Midtown Phillips resident for 26 years 

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Democracy and the Wizard of Oz

RAISE YOUR VOICE

By PETER MOLENAAR

A few blocks east of Cedar on Riverside Avenue is the People’s Center where, at age 70, I received the Moderna Vaccine. Given that my father died of COVID-19 at age 99, I look forward to voting in seven more presidential elections. Right?

Looking back, at age 20, I was actually fit enough to assist in voter registration in Carthage, Mississippi. Mrs. Hudson was our guardian while the three of us faced down a comparable gathering of hostile young men. Subsequently, for fear of a lynch mob, we wisely deflected a deployment of flirtatious southern belles.

Then, at age 32, I would tour the Soviet Union in the midst of electoral activity. To facilitate the voting process, everyone there had the day off with pay! Fast forward to this country… major sections of the working class remain captivated by Trumpism, and are imprisoned by racist thinking.

Do you remember the Wizard of Oz and the associated cast of characters?

From behind a curtain, strings were (and are) pulled on behalf of big business. To cast divisions among the masses, the Wizard busied himself with sound effects and flashing lights. Observant intellectuals like Marx and Lenin pondered the inner workings of this ‘bourgeois-democracy’. Actually, it was Lenin who elaborated the revelation that a dictatorship operates behind a facade. Nonetheless in his day, Fred Engels advised workers to utilize the franchise to incrementally advance whenever possible.

Note: fascism is an open-faced dictatorship.

Question: why was a massive transfer of wealth to the super rich allowed to happen recently?

Biden is now compelled to save our country via the American Rescue Act, even as this will exacerbate the nation’s deficit beyond Trump’s original sin. Republicans will hoot, holler and obstruct without agreeing to raise taxes, let alone agreeing to cut back on military expenditure… never mind making ends meet again.

Is this “bourgeois-democracy” even worth the time of day to us? Certain “revolutionists,” laser focused as they are on a future ‘workers-democracy’, tell us: no it is not. To which: “gosh,” said the Scarecrow character of Oz, “whatever happened to the dialectical motion of interpenetrating opposing conceptions?” Curiously in response, the Cowardly Lion began biting his own tail, however the Tin Man pumped his fist to the place a heart belongs. Dorothy interceded, “comrades, in the last election folks in Georgia overcame a racist shutdown of their familiar voting locations, they were then compelled to stand in long lines while holding their bladders in check, and yet they prevailed in their purpose!”

Oh my, when exposed, the Wizard of Oz was embarrassed, contrite and repentant, but no not the Republicans of this world. Floundering now in their fantasy dream place, they imagine voter suppressions too numerous to elaborate here. Hopefully, Senate Democrats will break the filibuster to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Hey, around here we are antifascists who understand the long term nature of the revolutionary process. Right?

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Phillips West

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Cultural Wellness Center

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Ventura Village News

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EPIC News

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Really Really Free Market April 6th

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Cartoon

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Deep Winter Greenhouse: Tamales y Bicicletas

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