Thursday, July 3, 1862: Thievery in St. Paul

Posted on May 17th, 2006 – 10:21 PM
By Ben Welter

For the first time, Yesterday’s News paddles downstream to the St. Paul Pioneer and Democrat, great-grandfather of today’s St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Pioneer was founded by James Goodhue in 1849, nearly two decades before the first issue of the Minneapolis Tribune.

In the summer of 1862, Civil War dispatches from Virginia, Pennsylvania , Louisiana and Washington, D.C., dominated the front page of the St. Paul paper. Local content in the four-page broadsheet was limited to government news, society tidbits, obituaries and crime shorts.

Readers following the recent uproar over the Spanish-language version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” might be especially interested in these 144-year-old briefs, which include a mention of a Fourth of July address to be delivered in — Ach du lieber Himmel! — German.

ROBBERY. – The residence of Mr. S.C. Whitcher was entered early yesterday morning by some daring thief, who succeeded in abducting from the pockets of Mr. Witcher, who at the time was fast asleep, the sum of two hundred and fifty-five dollars. Suspicions were fixed upon a man named Ferguson, an employee on the Northern Belle, and a dispatch was sent ordering his arrest at Red Wing. He is now in the custody of an officer at that place. If we should ask where the police were when all these depredations were being committed, some one might become offended.

HARRY F. LANE, whose trial comes before Squire Gibbs today on a charge of horse stealing, it has been discovered has been guilty of other thefts. It seems that he paid a visit to the village of Afton, and on taking his departure from there lifted a splendid rifle belonging to W.H. Gitchell, valued at $30. The gun was found at Mendota, on deposit as security for borrowed money.

ANOTHER ATTEMPTED ROBBERY. — Early yesterday morning the residence of Wm. B. Langley was entered by a thief who got into his bed chamber and took from his pantaloons pocket two keys belonging to his safe. In making his escape from the house he awoke one of the inmates, who gave an alarm. The thief, fearing arrest, threw the keys down in the yard, where they were found the next morning.

The same evening an attempt was made to enter the residence of Mrs. Corbett, on Fifth street. As the city is now infested with pickpockets and thieves, we will again warn citizens to keep their revolvers close at hand.

THE FOURTH. — The Fourth of July is to be celebrated in grand style, we understand, at St. Cloud. The orators of the day will be Dr. C.P. Fischer, late editor of the Volksblatt, who will address in the German, and J. B. Parsons in the English languages.

The day will also be celebrated at LeSueur. D.C. Cooley, Esq., of this city, will deliver the oration.

GRAND FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATION. — The German friends of education will give a grand Picnic, the proceeds of it to be devoted to educational purposes; and having secured the services of the celebrated Great Western Band, the public may rely upon having a gay old time, such as the Germans generally have.

St. Paul, 1862
In 1862, St. Paul’s Third Street seemed safe enough during the day. But more than one careless, unarmed citizen suffered depredations after nightfall. (Photo courtesy of

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