Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Nov. 6, 2000

Pages from the past: what was happening in 1888?

The following is taken from the May 21, 1888 issue of the Farmers' Minneapolis Tribune, submitted by Fred Schuster, Howard Lake.

Gas explosion

Several persons, more or less, injured at St. Cloud, May 18 ­ At 8 o'clock this evening a terrible explosion took place in the First National Bank Building. A bright flash, and a loud report and the bank building was flying in every direction, and a dozen or more persons were blown headlong across the street.

The hose company were on the ground and a flood of water was quenching the flames that began to burn. It proved to have been a gas explosion.

The gas had escaped and Mr. Will Wing, a bookkeeper in the bank, struck a light, and the explosion followed, blowing the entire front of the bank out and demolishing the desks and furniture.

The vaults and valuables were not injured. Mr. William Wing was blown out through the front of the building and badly cut about the hands and face. Jas Huhn was in front of the bank and badly cut.

There were about a dozen persons, more or less, injured, but none very seriously. The windows in the post office on the other side of the street were all broken. The superintendent of the gas works had just gone after Cashier J. G. Smith, as he had noticed that gas was escaping. People were greatly excited, many at first thinking it was for robbery. The damage is comparatively small.


An Owatonna store burglarized, but the thief soon arrested, May 19 ­ A detective claiming to be a milk tester arrived in this city soon after Mr. Sanders' hardware store was entered and $300 taken from the safe.

The combination of the safe being known to Sanders and a tinner, Wm. Race, some suspicion rested on him. The detective has watched Race since arriving, having considerable work done by him, and also visited places where he formerly resided, learning his character and record, until finally, this noon, having obtained sufficient evidence, he charged Race with theft.

Race confessed and surrendered $200 of the money taken. Race has not been arrested yet and it is not known what further action will be taken by Sanders.

Horrible death

A little girl burned to death by her clothes catching fire, Fergus Falls, May 19 ­ Last Monday, while the 11-year-old daughter of a farmer named John Svenson Olnes, was cooking, her clothes caught fire. She ran out to call her father, but a neighbor passing caught her and carried her to the Pomme de Terre river, where the fire was extinguished, but not before she was fatally burned. A physician was not summoned until last night, but there could have been no hope, and the sooner death comes the better.


A halfbreed Chippewa Indian commits assassination, Tower, May 19 ­ Joe Banville was atrociously murdered by Cutface, a Chippewa halfbreed, through jealousy.

Banville was a squaw Lothario, and infuriated Cutface, who placed a gun at his head and fired, blowing part of his head off. Banville was carried to a wigwam nearby by Durand, his partner, who then fled for aid to Tower, securing Deputy Sheriff Free and a posse for the arrest of the Indian. Banville no doubt was tortured, as smuggled whiskey was in that vicinity.

The raging Mississippi

Fifty thousand acres of fine farming lands under one to 20 feet of water, St. Louis, Mo., May 17 ­ Advices from Mississippi river towns say: At 4:15 o'clock this morning a break occurred in the Long Bottom, at a point about two miles below the Hannibal bridge, and this was followed at 6:45 o'clock by a larger and more serious one above the bridge a short distance.

The wildest excitement prevailed in Hannibal, as well as among the few farmers who had stubbornly remined in the bottoms. The 200 men who had been engaged all night in the work of stopping seeps and placing bags of sand on top of the levee, to keep the river back, attempted to close the breaks, but without success.

The more sensible farmers had removed all their livestock to the bluffs, six miles distant, but not a few remained until the moment of the calamity, consequently they sustained serious losses.

Hogs, cows and horses could be seen swimming in the flood until they came in contact with some obstacle upon which their bodies would be mangled.

The smaller houses in the bottoms are wrecked. As yet no loss of human lives is reported. The territory now covered with water is 45 miles long and six miles wide, with 50,000 acres under cultivation. The depth of the water is from 1 to 20 feet, consequent upon the breaking of the levee.

The river is receding rapidly. The tenants state that if the ground gets in favorable condition that by the middle of June they can raise late corn. The loss at this writing is incalculable. The damage to railroad property will be great.

From Keokuk word comes that it is thought the worst was over, but a very heavy rain set in there this morning, and as the Des Moines river is rising rapidly there is no telling what the result will be.

The overflow is constantly increasing, covering more land every day, and the water is getting deeper. Vast quantities of water are pouring over the levee about a mile north of Alexandria, which forms a swift current that sweeps through the town and threatens to carry away a number of houses when the foundations have been weakened by prolonged inundation. Many families have abandoned their homes and sought temporary quarters elsewhere.

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