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Monday December 6th 2021

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Posts Tagged ‘Sue Hunter Weir’

Letter to Midtown Phillips Neighborhood Association:

Response to 2744 and 2740 12th Avenue Proposed Development: Ensuring Gentrification and Income Inequality by Policy and Design By SUE HUNTER WEIR Reprinted in the alley by permission of the author The City of Minneapolis is well known for expressing concern about gentrification and income inequality—one of the dubious categories in which we lead the nation. These plans appear not to have taken into account the demographic makeup, and therefore the needs, of the people who live here. There is undoubtedly a need to have more housing for renters, but these designs are not the answer. I have listed some of the problems that jump out at me.1) Inadequate parking. Regardless of what the city's current policy is, the reality of life in Midtown Phillips is different. This is not, for the most part, a community of bicycle commuters. Our block (the 2700 block of 12th Avenue) is a block where most of the renters and owners are immigrant families. That usually means two working parents and several young children per household. Five of the houses on the east side of the street are duplexes with little off-street parking, and for those properties there are not two cars/vans per property, but more commonly four to six. Residents already have to pay for parking permits because of our proximity to a school, mosque, mall, and two major hospitals. Parking is at a premium. The notion that people will ride bikes if no parking is available is simply not true. (I say this as someone who walked from my house to the U every day for 30+ years and heartily supports the idea of bike commuting for those who are able).2) Safety. 28th Avenue is one of the city's busier streets and speeding is the norm. Twelfth Avenue is likewise heavily trafficked by residents, school buses, students' parents, and people using the park. All of these amenities are great but they do mean that there is a lot of traffic. (About one out of every three or four bike bollards are flattened on any [...]

A Winter Tale of Friendship and Kindness

A Winter Tale of Friendship and Kindness

By SUE HUNTER WEIR An earlier version of this story appeared in the December 2004 edition of the alley. It is a story about kindness and generosity, qualities that sometimes seem in short supply during these challenging times. Sometimes it’s good to remember good people doing kind things for strangers.Thanks to Tim McCall for providing additional information about Mr. Howard’s military service. The story of Captain Samuel J. Howard’s death was front page news on December 20, 1908. The story of his death was a human-interest story—a holiday story about kindness and generosity, and a story about friendship between two strangers. Because of that friendship, Captain Howard, who had no known connection to the city of Minneapolis, came to be buried in Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery. Captain Howard was a 72-year-old Civil War veteran who was traveling from Olympia, Washington, where he lived in a veterans’ home, to Boston for Christmas. Although the newspaper referred to him as “Captain” Howard, that was an honorary title, a courtesy often extended to elderly veterans. On July 28, 1863, he had enlisted as a private and was discharged less than two months later, on September 15, 1863, due to disability. On October 22, 1864, he re-enlisted, serving in the 11th Massachusetts Light Artillery, and he mustered out as a private at the end of the war, on June 16, 1865. The Tribune’s reporter described him as a “grey-bearded warrior,” who was “still proudly wearing the Union blue and prouder still of the little bronze G.A.R. button on his faded lapel.” Samuel Howard's military marker. Harry Hurlburt, a mortician from Minneapolis, boarded the train in Miles City, Montana. He noticed Mr. Howard, huddled in a corner, surrounded by workmen on their way home for the holidays. Mr. Hurlburt persuaded the other passengers to make room so that Captain Howard could stretch out, and he bought him an orange. An orange seems like such a [...]

22,000+ Rest, Undisturbed

22,000+ Rest, Undisturbed

Tales of Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery By SUE HUNTER WEIR In the cemetery’s early days, the cost of maintenance and repair was paid for voluntarily by the families of those buried there. By 1919, the cemetery was filled to capacity. Many families had moved away and some were simply too poor to continue to pay an annual maintenance fee. The cemetery fell into serious disrepair. On May 23, 1919, the Minneapolis City Council, at the request of some South Minneapolis residents and merchants, voted to close Layman’s Cemetery to further burials. The ordinance did not condemn the cemetery, which would have required the removal and relocation of more than 27,000 people. The ordinance simply stated that no burials would be allowed after August 1, 1919. Nonetheless, there were rumors that the cemetery had to be vacated and the remains of 5,000 to 6,000 people were removed. The deeds to the graves for those removals were returned to the Layman Land Trust, and became the property of the City of Minneapolis when it assumed responsibility for maintaining the cemetery in 1928. The remaining 22,000+ occupied graves remain the property of the families. Confusion about what was to happen to the cemetery and to the remains of those buried there was no doubt fed by Martin G. Layman, grandson of the original owners, who was serving as caretaker of the cemetery. In the cemetery office there are several letters that he wrote to family members asking for more information about what would happen to their loved ones. As he correctly pointed out, when the city council voted to close it, the cemetery still belonged to members of the Layman family. In 1920, he answered one letter by stating that the “ordinance shut off all income therefore the grounds are not kept up any more…” He went on to suggest that “people who care for there dead prefer to remove their dead to some place where it is kept up…” He incorrectly added that “Eventually all bodies will be removed [...]

A Good Time to Be Born

A Good Time to Be Born

Tales from Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery  By SUE HUNTER WEIR  182th in a Series John Wesley and Elinor Lockwood lost three children between 1881 and 1889. Five-year-old Lottie died from typhoid in 1881. Eight-month old Harry died from cholera infantum in 1885, and seven-month-old Lawrence died from pneumonia in 1889. Each of those diseases is treatable or preventable today. It”™s a good time to be born. Photo: Tim McCall Despite being bombarded daily with alarming news stories about the novel coronavirus, there is good news about health. In a recent New York Times article, Dr. Perri Klass declared this to be a good time to be born. Children born in the United States today are likely to live longer than their parents and the diseases that killed so many children in the past are very much relics of the past. It is, she wrote, “A good time to be born.”  In the early 20th century, that was not the case. As many as 20% of American children did not live until their fifth birthdays. And those who did were still vulnerable. There are 227 children who died at the age of five buried in the cemetery. How did these children who were seemingly healthy and who had survived many of the diseases that took younger children die?  There were a small number, about ten, accidental deaths but most deaths were caused by diseases or infections that are preventable or treatable in our day. Common causes of death were membrane croup, spinal meningitis, scarlet fever and typhoid. But perhaps the biggest threat posed to children was diphtheria. It claimed the lives of 71 of the 227 children””31% of them. Young children and adults over the age 40 were the hardest hit by the disease.  There are many superficial similarities between typhoid and novel coronavirus. In their early stages, they look much like colds””fever, sore throat, and loss of appetite””but those early symptoms eventually lead to [...]

What”™s Old is New Again Quarantine and Vaccination

What”™s Old is New Again Quarantine and Vaccination

By SUE HUNTER WEIR  In January 1900, health authorities were at odds over whether a young girl was suffering from chickenpox or smallpox. Four doctors determined that she had smallpox which would have required her to be quarantined, but Dr. Norton, Health Commissioner, insisted that she had chickenpox and accused Dr. Henry Bracken, Secretary of the State Board of Health, one of those who disagreed with him, of “creating an injurious panic without warrant just to belittle me.” Bracken argued in favor of aggressive steps to contain the spread of the disease, arguing that containing the outbreak was critical for the economy: “An epidemic of this kind stagnates business.” Editors of the Minneapolis Tribune chastised both men in an editorial on January 25, 1900: “It would seem as if two men occupying the important positions which they do would cooperate in matters looking to the spread of disease and the preservation of the health of the community.”  All of this”” the disagreements between health professionals, and arguments for and against quarantining patients to stop the spread of the disease”” was the same then as it is now. The one thing that is different””and it”™s a huge difference””is that there was a vaccine that was 95% effective for more than 100 years although many, perhaps most, people had not been vaccinated.  In 1904, the city”™s health inspectors had enormous power to enforce quarantine laws and to vaccinate people. In January, the city reported only one case of smallpox compared with twenty or thirty per day the previous year. That quickly changed. In February, four students at Augsburg Seminary (now Augsburg College) were infected with smallpox, and health inspectors vaccinated every instructor and student on campus including two “anti-vaccinationists” who showed up with guns. It”™s not clear how authorities persuaded the two [...]

Tales From Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery

179th in a Series By SUE HUNTER WEIR Emeline Baker Balch 1830-1867 The Cemetery is listed in the National Register of Historic Places in part because of its ties to the anti-slavery movement.  Its original owners, Martin and Elizabeth Layman, were members of the First Baptist Church of Minneapolis which was closely associated with that movement; and there are several others buried in the cemetery, including a number of women, who had ties to both the anti-slavery and temperance movements.  It is hard to gauge the exact nature of their involvement since very few of the women who died during the cemetery”™s early years left first-hand accounts of their lives, but there can be little doubt about what they believed. Emeline Baker Balch was born in Onondaga, New York on 20 March 1830.  When she was 14 years old, Emeline and her family moved to Aurora, Kane County, Illinois.  The town of Aurora was settled by New Englanders who tended to migrate in groups””sometimes extended families, sometimes in colonies of church-members. Many were descendants of Puritans who fled religious persecution and arrived in what was to become America in the 1600s. Emeline”™s paternal and maternal grandfathers were veterans of the Revolutionary War. The New Englanders who relocated to Aurora had been successful merchants and farmers back East and their moves were prompted less by economic necessity than by economic opportunity.  They were reform-minded, religious people, sympathetic to the temperance and anti-slavery movements, and Aurora became an important stop on the Underground Railroad. In 1908, the author of an early history of Kane County, wrote that the history of the county”™s involvement in the Underground Railroad had not been written, and would, in fact, be difficult to write since its activities were by necessity conducted in secret.  But, he offered this colorful description: It was a [...]

Tales from Pioneer and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery

Tales from Pioneer and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery

178th  in a Series By SUE HUNTER WEIR Lafayette Mason””One Mpls.”™ First Black Firefighters  Musician, Artist, and Southside High Football Captain Other than some graffiti on about a dozen fence pillars, the Cemetery was untouched during the protests on Lake Street.  The graffiti was gone within a few days but the stories about the lives of those who are buried inside the gates continue.  It”™s obvious to passersby that the Cemetery is old.  What is less obvious is that the Cemetery is listed in the National Register of Historic Sites because of the people who are buried there.  For the most part they were not famous but collectively their stories tell how the city and state were built. Some of them had ties to the early abolitionist and anti-slavery movements in Minnesota and others because it was a favored burial site for members of the early African-American community, many of whom led extraordinary lives. Photo and caption from “The Appeal,” September 24, 1910, read "The Late Lafayette Mason, Musical Genius, Minneapolis." COURTESY MN HISTORICAL SOCIETY Lafayette Mason was an incredibly gifted man.  He was an athlete, an artist, and one of the city”™s early African-American firefighters.  Members of three earlier generations of his family are buried near him in a block of graves purchased in the 1860s. Chloe Aidens, his great-grandmother, died from cancer on November 11, 1863.  Hers is the first recorded burial of an African-American in the cemetery. Her daughter, Harriett, died on December 19, 1891; the cause was listed only as “heart.” Harriett was married to Morgan Jones who died from “old age” on December 6, 1907, at the age of 101 after having lived a remarkable life [...]

Open Letter about Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery and Sue Hunter Weir

As I have gotten to know Sue over the years, I can not even begin to describe how impressed I am with what a great historian, member of our community, and friend Sue is.  Sue has such a passion for the cemetery.  It may seem like a very niche interest, but Sue has a talent for researching the lives of those Minneapolitans who have come before us and translating them into stories that we may “get to know” these great people in a way that is not communicated through granite.  It is inspirational to know someone who “gets it” that life is about putting your energies toward that which you are passionate about. One of my great self indulgences (when I can find time to be by myself) is to go to the Midtown Global Market, grab a bite to eat, grab an Alley newspaper, and loose myself in one of Sue”'s articles about someone who lived in our city 100+ years ago.  In particular, Sue brings attention to those who lived rather common, or sometimes even unconventional lives. (more…)

157th Cemetery Season Ends as Picket Restoration Begins

157th Cemetery Season Ends as Picket  Restoration Begins

By Sue Hunter Weir Another cemetery season (the 157th) has drawn to a close:  the Cemetery officially closed for the year on Friday, October 15th.  You will still see plenty of signs of life during the next few months, though. On September 20th, restoration work began on the Cemetery”'s fence and gates.  The thirteen sections of the fence that are in the worst shape have been removed and have been temporarily replaced by 8-foot chain link. The gates, which weigh roughly 300 pounds apiece, have been removed.  The restoration process involves many steps:  sandblasting, filling, galvanizing, and painting before they will be reinstalled in late November or early December.  Most of the kickbacks (the braces that support each fence section by extending at an angle into the ground and anchored in concrete) are too badly damaged to be restored and will be replaced.  The stone where the gates and picket sections attach to the masonry columns will need to be repaired by some replacement and tuck-pointing.  All in all, it is a very big job, but one that seems to be going quite smoothly. (more…)

P.T. Barnum Circus”' elephants, tigers, tents, and Tom Thumb, amidst urban, pioneer, frugal splendor “paints” image of the Layman Family and their Cedar Avenue homestead

P.T. Barnum Circus”' elephants, tigers, tents, and Tom Thumb, amidst urban, pioneer, frugal splendor “paints” image of the Layman Family and their Cedar Avenue homestead

by Sue Hunter Weir When Martin and Elizabeth Layman arrived in Minnesota in 1852-53, they set up housekeeping in a log cabin. It was a tight fit. They had ten children at the time and three more after they arrived. In 1857, Martin Layman built what is believed to be the sixth permanent house in what later became Minneapolis. There is no question that the Laymans worked hard, and they certainly prospered. In addition to owning the cemetery, they had a large farm where they grew fruit and vegetables. They sold their surplus food as well as wheat and oats that they grew. They sold the hay that they mowed and gathered in the cemetery. The sons hired out to work on other farms during the harvest season. They raised their own farm animals and sheared sheep for their neighbors. If there was work to be done, the Laymans could be counted on to do it. In 1876, the Martin and Elizabeth Layman built their dream house directly across the street from the cemetery”'s gates near what is now the intersection of Cedar Avenue and Lake Street. And, what a house it was. Their four-story house had marble fireplaces in every bedroom. It had indoor plumbing, a real luxury at the time. The hand-carved stair railing in the front hall reportedly cost $500.00. Peter Clausen, a well-known local fresco artist, painted the figures of four women on the ceiling of the reception hall; each figure represented a different season of the year. A chandelier that had five kerosene lanterns lighted the hall. The house”'s exterior was graced with a cupola, a wrought-iron enclosed widow”'s walk, and numerous gabled windows. Yet, there is evidence of the Layman”'s thriftiness, as well. The fence in the foreground of the photo has advertising for Edwards”' Monitor Liniment painted on it. Whether the Laymans used salvaged wood for their fence or charged a fee to have the ad placed there is not known. They had a windmill to pump water out of the ground for use in the [...]

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