By Ben Welter
I’ve been looking for a good example of the blood-and-guts reporting typical of newspapers published before about 1910. Here, with a headline to match, is a particularly gory piece from the front page of the Minneapolis Tribune.
Behind the gore lay a CSI-worthy mystery: The body of a farmer was found sprawled on a bed, his head nearly blown off, a half-spent double-barreled shotgun in one hand and an unfired revolver in the other. His three children were asleep in the room, but none reported hearing a gunshot. Was there more to this suspicious death? Unfortunately, no followup stories can be found in the next seven issues of the paper. Probably just a sad suicide, blown out of proportion by Minnesota’s newspaper of record.
HEAD BLOWN AWAY
FARMER FOUND DEAD NEAR ST.
Corpse Had Revolver in One Hand
and Shotgun in the Other – Stock
of Gun Rested Between His Feet
and One Barrel Had Been Explod-
ded – Position of Body and Nature
of Wounds Gives a Suspicion of
Murder – Inquest to be Held Today.
(Special Telegram to The Tribune)
ST. JAMES, Minn., July 23—Charles Rinne, a farmer, was found dead about 2 o’clock yesterday morning at his home on the Lamb farm in South Branch township, eight miles south of St. James, by his eldest daughter, Caroline, 16 years old. The entire back side of his head was blown off and his brains scattered all over the room.
The dead man when found was lying across the bed, with a revolver in one hand and holding a double-barreled shotgun in the other. The stock of the gun rested between his feet and one barrel had been exploded. The revolver had not been discharged.
Coroner Rowe went to the scene of the tragedy and decided that an inquest was necessary. The inquest will be held today.
The position of the body and the nature of the wounds gives a suspicion of murder.
The three children of the man were asleep in the room where Rinne met his death, but did not hear the report of any firearms, nor were they awakened by any commotion in the room.
The eldest daughter found her father and spread the alarm to the neighbors. The first report that reached St. James was that Rinne had committed suicide, but later information would seem to contradict this report. The result of the inquiry is awaited with great excitement.
|The streets of St. James, Minn., looked pretty quiet — maybe too quiet — in this 1904 postcard. (Image courtesy mnhs.org)|