Tag Archives: Minneapolis

Northeasters Walk Their Neighborhood to Honor the Presidents

Question:  Why will families and neighbors  from Northeast Minneapolis spend a Saturday in February  walking or riding the bus from Edison High School to Northeast Middle School?

Answer:  Because Saturday, February 18, 2012, is the 4th Annual “We Love Our Presidents” Walk and Celebration!

It’s a time-honored tradition.

In Northeast Minneapolis most of the North-South running streets bear the names of presidents.  Starting with Washington Street on the West and continuing through Harding Street to the East it’s easy for folks in Northeast who know their nation’s history to check their internal GIS location.

The President’s Day Walk and Celebration is a tradition, a great way for neighbors young and old learn together, to enjoy their community,  and to honor the nation’s leaders.

Here’s the 2012 agenda:

10:00 a.m. Walkers gather at Edison High School, 700 22nd Avenue, between Madison and Monroe (if you don’t count Howard….)

Walkers proceed along a route walking East on 22nd Avenue to Central Avenue (don’t ask – there was no President Central) then North on Central for a Cocoa Break at the freshly-painted Eastside Food Coop on 25th and Central.   Along the way walkers will stop at each corner where members of the Northeast Urban 4-H Club will relate a few interesting facts about that President.  Neighbors will be encouraged to share their memories of the neighborhood.

Next the intrepid walkers, warm and refreshed, will head East to Northeast Middle School, 2955 Hayes Street NE, just in time for lunch

Noon – Walkers and visitors will meet at Northeast Middle School for lunch and program.  Keynote speaker during lunch is Ginny Zak Kieley who writes and publishes stories about the neighborhood.  Ginny’s books, including three about Northeast, will be on sale.

The President’s Day Walk will wrap up at Northeast Middle School with a steaming hot chili lunch (donation requested), a trivia contest, awards for winners of the coloring contest, and the presentation of the distinguished Northeast Presidential Seal for the group that has gathered the most participants for the Walk.

For those who want to be mentally as well as physically prepared for the Walk, here’s a refresher President-named streets that walkers will travel on February 18.

  • Madison St NE is named for James Madison
  • Monroe St NE is named for James Monroe.
  • Quincy St NE is named for John Quincy Adams
  • Jackson St NE is named for Andrew Jackson
  • Van Buren St NE is named for Martin Van Buren
  • Harrison St NE is named for William Henry Harrison
  • Tyler St NE is named for John Tyler
  • Polk St NE is named for James K. Polk
  • Taylor St NE is named for Zachary Taylor
  • Fillmore St NE is named for Millard Fillmore
  • Pierce St NE is named for Franklin Pierce
  • Buchanan St NE is named for James Buchanan
  • Lincoln St NE is named for Abraham Lincoln
  • Johnson St NE is named for Andrew Johnson
  • [Central Avenue is just an anomaly]
  • Ulysses St NE is named for Ulysses S. Grant
  • Hayes St NE is named for Rutherford B. Hayes
  • Garfield St NE is named for James A. Garfield
  • Arthur St NE is named for Chester A. Arthur
  • Cleveland St NE is named for Grover Cleveland
  • Benjamin St NE is named for Benjamin Harrison
  • McKinley St NE is named for William McKinley
  • [Stinson Parkway is named for a member of the Park and Recreation Board because it is part of the city’s Parkway system.  If you get to Stinson you’ve walked too far.]

Generous sponsors of the “We Love the Presidents Walk and Celebration” include Eastside Food Coop, Hennepin County Library, Minneapolis Public Schools Community Education, Minneapolis Park and Recreation, Northeast Bank, Northeast Minneapolis Royalty, Northeast Urban 4-H Club, NEMplsOnline.com and The Northeaster Newspaper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Community to Explore Greening the Holland Neighborhood

Jackson Square Park in Northeast is absolutely the perfect site for intentional planning of the neighborhood’s green spaces.  On Thursday August 4 6:30-8:00 p.m. representatives of the City, Minneapolis Public Schools and Minneapolis Park & Rec will meet with Holland neighbors and others to discuss ideas for greening the landscape and improving water quality in the community.  One impetus for the discussion is the recent designation of the neighborhood school Thomas Edison High School, as a GREEN school.  Students, staff and teachers are at the ready to “green” the neighborhood!

Meeting attendees will want to take time to enjoy Jackson Square Park itself. The newest, and possibly the most notable, is “In Flux”, a spherical sculpture made of steel plates, sculptured glass and light.  The work builds on the connection between the arts community of which the park is an integral part, and the Holland neighborhood.  Surrounding the sculpture are benches and cast iron text excerpts generated during meetings with community residents and Edison High School art students during the artwork development.

Energy Audit Spurs Action Plan and Peace of Mind

An action plan and peace of mind – from my non-technical perspective that’s the result of my recent engagement with Community Energy Services, an initiative of the Center for Energy and Environment.   CEE is a nonprofit organization that “promotes the responsible use of natural and economic resources.”   Though that’s about what I know – or need to know – about CEE, their website is replete with detailed information about their resources and services – check it out.

My experience began when Anita, my daughter-in-law, asked me if I’d like to go with her to a CES introductory workshop at a nearby school – one hour, child care and treats provided.  The hour was packed with background information, tips, graphics and logical explanations that made sense even to me, a homeowner with no clue about how to conserve or what to do about energy use and planning.  On top of the great lecture and informed Q&A it’s important to note that grandson Will, age 2, spent a delightful hour with Bridget, the charming and kid-loving “babysitter”.

In the wrap up of the one hour lecture attendees were invited to make arrangements for individualized home audits ($30) to be scheduled in the near future at our convenience.  The speaker listed good reasons for the audit, the general areas the auditors would cover, and the free energy savers they with which they would be equipped.  What a deal!  Anita and I both signed up for sessions (1½ – 2 hours), paid our $30, scheduled audits within the next couple of weeks, packed up the bag of energy saving products and tips – and Will – and went home with heads full of ideas.

Less than two weeks after that orientation both of our homes have been audited by energy audit teams from CES.  We both live in older homes and have never had any good idea of the basics of insulation, windows, leaks and other structural issues, much less a clear notion of how to regulate appliances, replace energy eaters or how to incorporate energy saving technologies or techniques into our daily routines.

Both teams (one three member, one two member) were magnificent.  They came ready to make the most of the 90 minutes – fully equipped with equipment I didn’t really understand but I know it was able to identify leaks and air flows.  They checked crawl spaces, the attics no one had ever visited, measured air loss around the windows and doors, replaced old fashioned light bulbs, then sat down for a heart-to-heart about defects, strengths, options, priorities, sources of funding, rebates, financing and more – all delivered one-on-one with a written game analysis and plan.

I was left breathless but not rudderless.  I know now what needs to be done and to stop fretting about problems that don’t exist.  I know about financial assistance, possible contractors and, most of all, priorities and potential savings of energy and money.

In other words, I ended the auditors’ visit with a manageable action plan and much appreciated peace of mind.

For more information about Community Energy Services, visit the website at mnces.org or contact Kyle Boehm at khoehm@mncee.org or 612-219-7334.

Memories ofMaple Hill Cemetery Remain in Northeast Minneapolis

 

One of the entrancing stories of Northeast history surrounds the origins of Beltrami Park, that inviting plot of land at Polk and Broadway, most easily identified by the bocce ball courts, just one of Beltrami Park’s living reminders of the Italian-American heritage of the neighborhood.  The fact is, the Beltrami Park site was Maple Hill Cemetery from 1857 until 1890 when it morphed to Maple Hill Park until 1948.

Although it is of record that the earliest settlers of St. Anthony interred some of their dead in a small tract near the corner of Fifth Avenue and Eighth Street Southeast, the first cemetery whose line is unbroken to the comparatively recent day was Maple Hill.  In 1849 Robert W. Cummings obtained some land from the government in St. Anthony township, now part of the city of Minneapolis.  Cummings reserved a twenty acre tract for a cemetery along what is now Broadway.  The dedication of these private burial grounds as Maple Hill Cemetery in February, 1857, gave the people, especially the early settlers of the east side, a resting place for their dead which was not disturbed for more than forty years.  By that time, it is said that no fewer than 5,000 bodies had been laid away on the slopes of Maple Hill,

In time, negligence and vandalism took their toll at Maple Hill Cemetery.  In 1890, with the increase of population, coupled with the rising impact of vandalism, health authorities halted further interments.  The following year the city council condemned land on either side of the cemetery for street purposes; removal of the bodies commenced.”  Many bodies were moved to Lakewood and Hillside cemeteries.  A City Engineers Report from 1894 reports that 1321 bodies and 82 monuments had been removed from Maple Hill.  Clearly, this is a fraction of the 5,000 estimated interred.

Still, because Maple Hill Cemetery was in part a potters’ field there was no great attention to perpetual care, much less record-keeping.  By 1906 the non-denominational cemetery had been abandoned and had become a community eyesore and cause of consternation.  Community members took matters into their own hands.  Actually, they took reins into their own hands, hitched up their horses, and one night cleared the cemetery not only of debris but of all of the tombstones.  The tombstones, including a civil war veterans memorial, were later found dumped in a ditch.  City officials, understandably outraged, made pronouncements about capture and prosecution of the miscreants.

In time, the idea of a quiet urban park tempered the cry for retribution.  Writing in his History of Minneapolis, Reverend Marion Daniel Shutter reflects that “the pretty little park bounded by Broadway, Fillmore, Polk and Summer streets is what remains of the old burial grounds.”  In 1908 the Park Board purchased Maple Hill Cemetery for $8,000.  The City Council contributed $5,000 for the initial improvement of the land.  That improvement included construction of a seven-foot high wire mesh fence around the cemetery to protect the Civil War-era stone monuments from vandalism.  That fence lasted until the early 1920’s when the neighbors declared it too unsightly and the Park Board decided it was too costly to repair.

In 1978 The Minnesota Genealogist (Volume 12, No. 2, 1978)  carried a detailed article about the cemetery, submitted by Barbara Sexton and Lauraine Kerchner.  Sexton and Kerchner report that in 1908 an Improvement Association was formed; the cemetery was restored and fenced in at a cost of $12,000.  Ten acres of the original tract were cleared and used for a playground.  The playground area was eventually awarded to the Park Board and the park renamed Maple Hill Park.  In the first plans for Maple Hill Park Superintendent Theodore Wirth proposed a picnic ground for most of the park, with a small section, where no bodies have been buried, reserved for a school garden for the children of Pierce School across the street from the park.  Early plans also called for a warming house and skating rink which were finally approved in 1913.  The warming shelter was also for “lectures” and a tool room.  Wirth lamented in his 1909 report that the park was not much frequented and probably wouldn’t be as long as it “retains the appearance of a cemetery.”

Wirth, with neighborhood support, continued to propose upgrades of the park for many years.  At some point ice skating was added to the list of park amenities.  One of Beltrami’s claims to fame was that the skating club at the park produced the city’s first qualifier for a US Winter Olympic team.  Though Charles Leighton of the Maple Hill Club qualified to represent the US in speed skating he never got the chance when the 1940 winter games scheduled for Sapporo, Japan, were cancelled because of World War II.

As early as 1915 park enthusiasts had also begun to petition – to no avail — for a tennis court.  The Park Board history of Beltrami indicates there is no firm attribution of the date for installation of the tennis court that currently exists at Beltrami.  Still, the report notes, “the enormous oak tree branch that stretches over the court, removing the lob from the arsenal of shots Beltrami tennis players could use, suggests it has existed at least since the first concrete wading pool was built in the park in 1953.”

Sexton and Kerchner report that, by 1916, vandalism became a serious problem.  “Residents of the area and members of the Dudley P. Chase Post of the GAR and the Rev. Harvey Klinger protested the desecration of the Soldiers Monument.  Again there was debate, legislation, and litigation for much of 1916.  Stones were carried away leaving little or no evidence as to any remaining graves.  In August the old Maple Hill Cemetery-Park was dedicated as Beltrami Park.  When the Park Board started construction of Beltrami Park, concerned citizens protested the bulldozing of broken monuments to the edges of the park.  To this day, reminders of Maple Hill Cemetery remain.  Sexton and Kerchner refer to an earlier article in which Alfred J. Dahlquist reported finding in Beltrami Park a plaque listing names of Grand Army of the Republic soldiers who had been buried in Maple Hill Cemetery. The inscription on the updated tablet reads in part:  “Although men’s thoughtless actions have deprived them of their right to individually marked and cherished graves, the children of future ages will gather here to honor them.” Though the Park Board did maintain records of what could be salvaged,  remains of gravestones were found much later.  Family members continued for some time to protest the moving of their relatives’ graves.

Sexton and Kerchner meticulously combed the files of the Minneapolis Park Board to identify protests and the names and dates of those who were interred at Maple Hill Cemetery..

Beyond the six bocce ball courts, the tricky tennis courts, and the picnic grounds of Beltrami Park lies an intriguing history of one of the city’s oldest memorials to early settlers, known and unknown, families, community leaders, Civil War veterans, children and mothers who died in childbirth.  The memorials, including a statue of Count Giacomo Constantino Beltrami himself, are worthy of exploration.

The story of Beltrami Park also reflects the vision of the neighborhood and of the visionary Theodore Wirth.  Today’s Beltrami Park offers a unique mix of history and of leisure time activities, both of which enhance the life of the city.

Whither Shoreham Yards – blight or boon to Northeast Minneapolis

The ongoing saga of the future of Shoreham Yards is as complex and tangled as the map of the 230 acre railroad yard that has taken up a generous expanse of Northeast Minneapolis since 1888.  In recent years Canadian Pacific Railroad has operated the sprawling train, trucking and bulk distribution site that was once the major switch point for trains headed from the grain mills on the Mississippi to the East Coast. Since the mid-1990’s the Yards have been at the center of a host of controversies involving affected neighborhood residents, the entrenched  railroad, anxious developers, concerned environmentalists, health authorities, architectural preservationists and a parade of elected officials.  Though the Yards incorporate the land from Central to University and 27th Avenue Northeast to St. Anthony Parkway much of the discussion about disposition of the area focuses on an area known as “the teardrop” and on the historic Roundhouse.

For the driver speeding past en route to elsewhere, the Yards are a passing curiosity, a maze of interlocking tracks, parking lots, some outbuildings and a neighborhood eyesore.  In fact, the Shoreham Yards represent one of the last vestiges of the prominence of Minneapolis as a transit center.  The facility once served as the primary locomotive repair and maintenance facility for the Soo Line Railroad and its predecessor, the Minneapolis, Sault Ste. Marie and Atlantic Railroad.

A unique feature of the Yards is the 48-stall Historic Roundhouse, constructed in 1887.  Preservationists are particularly concerned about the Roundhouse/ which was designated early in this century as a Minneapolis Historical Landmark. In 2003 Shoreham Yards and Roundhouse were named one of the state’s Ten Most Endangered Properties by the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota.  To this day the Roundhouse is closed to the public, visible only from a distance over a fence west of Central Avenue and 29th Avenue.  Dan Haugen, writing in the Northeaster (reprinted in the Twin Cities Daily Planet) in 2007, offers an excellent review of the history and current status of negotiations regarding the Roundhouse.

Preservation is but the tip of the controversies surrounding the future of the Yards.  A portion of Shoreham Yards is a designated Industrial Employment District in the Comprehensive Plan for Minneapolis. This designation means that the City will support redevelopment of the area for new light industrial business that provide high job density, good wages and low impact on the surrounding community The City of Minneapolis has outlined a number of potential redevelopment scenarios for the section of the 2008 Shoreham Yards, including the Roundhouse,  in the Shoreham Yards Roundhouse Reuse Study, a living document that is updated regularly on the Community Planning and Economic Development website.  An important recent development is posting of Request for Proposals for two parcels of Shoreham Yards, one including the Shoreham Roundhouse.

Much of the discussion relating to the disposition of Shoreham Yards focuses on pollution, particularly dust from activity in the Yards, as well as appearance and safety issues related to unlocked containers near public streets.  Arguments rage about the contamination of the major aquifer essential to long-term and emergency water access./ Neighbors have also complained about trash deposited on the grounds.. Health Consultation documents have been produced by the state and federal government/ These and hundreds of environment related documents are available on the Shoreham Depository document site which also provides an excellent list of state and corporate contacts.

An important player in the deliberations is the Shoreham Area Advisory Committee (SAAC) formed in 1998 as part of the court settlement between the city of Minneapolis and the Canadian Pacific Railway, an agreement that related generally to demolition of various Shoreham buildings.  The SAAC which meets monthly includes city, railroad, neighborhood organization, business and community members.  Notes of SAAC’s activities over the past dozen years present a vivid record of the work SAAC has done to explore economic, environmental, preservation and other issues.  A 2008 note reports that “Shoreham on Central and Roundhouse is listed as a ‘transformational, once-in-a-generation’ opportunity in the city’s Small Area Plan.”  \

One recent initiative of the SAAC is the Nine Lives Project.   Artist Foster Willey has created one of his “Made in Minnesota” posters featuring icons of the historic Shoreham Roundhouse.  Tax deductible purchases of the Nine Lives Project poster support the work of SAAC.

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The Eastside Food Co-op is taking affirmative action by providing an open forum on Shoreham Yards for the community.  The Other Side of the Tracks is the topic of EFC’s December Network. It’s Thursday, December 9, 7:30 a.m. in the Granite Room at the Co-op,  2551 Central Avenue Northeast, just North of Lowry.  It’s free and open. Good Parking.  MTC #10.

Residents, policy-makers and others concerned about the process, proposed plans and potential problems may wish to consult some of the key online resources linked here or join the exchange on  E-Democracy* (http://forums.e-democracy.org/groups/mpls-ne).   Each presents a unique perspective on a complex issue that has profound long-term consequences for Northeast Minneapolis.

Green in Audubon Park

A bit of good news on the housing front comes from Northeast Minneapolis.  As Don Jacobson reports in the Star Tribune this week Audubon Crossing “is believed to be the first new housing development in Minnesota to win both Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification as well as to follow the low-income housing-specific design criteria of Minnesota Green Communities.”  Development of the 30-unit rental apartments is MetroPlains LCC.

 

It’s a long and complex story of politics and collaboration.  The original plan was proposed by Majdi Wadi, owner of the expanding Holy Land and prime mover in community development.  His vision was to replace several run-down houses he owned on 25th and Polk with affordable housing.  After the collapse of the affordable housing tax credit market, the project stalled.  Ultimately, federal stimulus funding breathed new life into the project, ultimately taken over by Metro Plains.

 

Jacobson writes that “after several years of efforts by the city, the Audubon Neighborhood Association, and MetroPlains LCC, the new apartments opened in late August at 100 percent occupancy – 26 rental units and four units set aside for renters transitioning out of homelessness.

 

Kudos to all involved and welcome to the new neighbors in Northeast.

 

 

William Windom – as in Windom Park

 

William Windom

 

Windom Park is just the right name for the Northeast Minneapolis neighborhood that reflects the life of its namesake, William Windom, Minnesota Member of Congress and Senator and U.S Secretary of the Treasury.  The neighborhood encompasses Windom’s life  – from the administration of Franklin Pierce through the presidency of Benjamin Harrison,  Windom Park  residents  might reflect on the life of William Windom as they walk Windom Park down Pierce, Buchanan, Lincoln, Johnson, Ulysses, Hayes, Garfield, Cleveland, Benjamin and Harrison Streets.  Windom’s life,  impact, struggles –and parallels with politics today — come readily to mind with each block and each administrative era in which Windom was a powerful player.

 

William Windom was born in Belmont County, Ohio in 1827, the son of Quaker farmers Hezekiah and Mercy Spencer Windom.  In 1837 the family moved to Knox County, Ohio, where Windom was admitted to the bar in 1850.  He practiced law in Mount Vernon, Ohio and was elected Knox County prosecuting attorney in 1852.  In 1855 Windom moved to Winona, Minnesota, where he established a thriving  law practice and a reputation as a political force..  In 1859 Windom was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where he served five terms as the Republican representative of Southeastern Minnesota during the administrations of Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant.

 

In 1869 Windom was appointed to fill the US Senate vacancy caused by the death of Senator Daniel S. Norton. Two years later, in 1871, he was elected to the U.S. Senate where he served until his March 1881 appointment as Secretary of the Treasury under President James A. Garfield.  Following Garfield’s death in November 1881 death Windom resigned his position.  He was then elected to fill his own Senate vacancy and served until 1883 when he failed in a re-election bid.

 

What’s missing from this synopsis is the full story.  William Windom did not just hang out with the DC solons.  His legacy is quite amazing.  The untold story of his political presence  is that he might well have been President William Windom.  During his years in the House Windom gained a reputation of one of the foremost advocates of activist government, promoting a program of intervention by the federal government in the nation’s economic, political and social institutions.  In his massive biography of Windom Robert Seward Salisbury observes that “Windom supported such policies  as protective tariffs, subsidies to business, and public works projects to promote economic development; assistance to various discriminated-against groups including blacks, Indians, and women; regulation of private behavior includingtemperance and anti-pornography laws;  control of patent monopolies, and the supremacy of national authority over the competing dogma of states’ rights.”An anonymous correspondent to the Daily Pioneer Press mentioned the senator’s entire congressional career as “a continuous struggle for the rights of the masses against rings and monopolies.

Convinced that government improvement of water routes was the best solution to the problem of excessive rates charged by railroad monopolies Windom was active in political action  related to transportation.  From 1873 to 1874 he served as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Transportation Routes to the Seaboard.

 

In his role as Secretary of the Treasury Windom was also an activitist.  The Department of the Treasury biography of Windom notes that his “expansionist beliefs combined with his Minnesota roots made him personally sympathetic to the new Western states’ desire for a currency backed by silver.  Although he advocated a gold standard, he effected a compromise in the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890 which authorized the Secretary [of the Treasury] to buy silver and gold bullion and to issue notes of full legal tender.”

 

Salisbury writes that the first mention of Windom as a possible candidate for the national ticket occurred in February 1876 when a number of Minnesota newspapers began touting the Senator as the Republican nominee for vice president.  Newspapers in Windom, New Ulm, Waseca, Redwood Falls and Winona all put in a word for Windom as did the Daily Pioneer Press.  Most promoted an electable ticket with James G. Blaine of Maine for president and Windom for vice-president.  The St. Peter Tribune noted “there couldn’t be a better man found in all the land…He has a national reputation and we believe his nomination would give general satisfaction.”  The New Ulm Herald observed that his Senatorial record, particularly his work with transportation reform “placed him at once in the front rank of statesmen and thinkers of the country.”  Windom indicated he would prefer his position as Senator representing the State of Minnesota.  In the end, his name was not put in nomination for the vice presidency in 1876.

 

That was not the end of the national buzz, however.  When it became clear that the presidential incumbent, Rutherford B. Hayes, would not seek re-election in 1880, Windom’s name re-surfaced as a candidate for the Republican presidential candidacy.  A spate of pro-Windom editorials touted Windom’s credentials.  Minnesota newspapers sang his praises, while the Washington Star commended his “freedom from personal antagonism within the party, his clean record and lack of scandal, his great popularity among Southern Republicans, his intelligent conception of the nation’s industrial questions, and his straight record as a Republican, satisfactory alike to the stalwart and independent elements.” (quoted in Salisbury, p. 294.

 

Windom seems to have taken the presidential talk in stride.  He did concede, though, that the deciders of the day “might go farther and fare worse, and they probably would.”  The self-deprecating Windom, nonchalant on the surface was no barnstorming politician.  Vying with the understated Windom for the presidential nomination were Ulysses S. Grant running for a third term and Senator James Gillespie Blaine of Maine.  The Minnesota press, while highly supportive of Windom’s character and political acumen, was a bit dubious about his chances.  The Chicago paper, the Inter Ocean, observed that Windom had “many warm friends here who believe that as a candidate he would carry the Northwest solid in the convention…He is..spoken of as having a perfect, straight and correct report.  Salisbury includes a delightful personal note, quoting a Senate page who wrote that Windom was “more highly respected than any other in the senate.  The boys stand more in awe of Windom than any other senator.  He is polite but not familiar.  We look upon him as a very correct man.  Never heard of lobbyists approaching him, or even thinking of such a thing.  He is a sort of a model fellow.”

 

History shows that Windom’s fate was doomed at the Chicago Republican National Convention.  The Minnesota delegation went into the convention united in support of their native son. They anticipated that Windom was the second choice of a majority of the Convention delegates who would turn to him when and if there were the expected deadlock between Blaine and Grant.  Windom’s nominating speech by delegate E.F. Drake was a lackluster three minute snippet described by the Chicago Tribune as “a brief speech of simple eulogy.”   Drake’s limp effort paled in comparison with Roscoe Conkling gave a rousing endorsement of Grant for a third term.  Though the deadlock endured Windom was out of the game.  Even the Minnesota delegation caved when three delegates went to Blaine.  Post-convention rumor was that at one point the Grant delegation came close to throwing their substantial weight to Windom but fate got in the way.  After 34 ballots the Wisconsin delegation threw 16 or its 20 votes to Garfield who was nominated and ultimately elected to the presidency in 1880.

 

Though it seems unfair now, Windom’s rout in Chicago made him a favorite target of political cartoonists. Historian Roger Fischer wrote an in-depth piece on “William Windom: Cartoon Centerfold, 1881-91” for the Fall 1988 issue of Minnesota History, the publication of the Minnesota Historical Society.  Fischer reports that Windom appeared in about two dozen color cartoons in Punch and its rival Judge, the two most popular and politically influential illustrated humor weeklies of the age.  The cartoons lean to the vicious, lampooning Windom, an honorable man, as a “roly poly” Christmas ornament, a monkey, a chicken, a school child, and a circus performer.

 

In 1883 Windom moved to New York City where he opened a law practice.  President Benjamin Harrison  reappointed him Secretary of the Treasury in March 1889.  In 1891 Windom addressed a banquet of the New York Board of Trade and Transportation at Delmonico’s with the words, “As a poison in the blood permeates arteries, veins, nerves, brain and heart, and speedily brings paralysis or death, so does a debased or fluctuating currency permeate all arteries of trade, paralyze all kinds of business and brings disaster to all classes of people.”  This was Windom’s last pronouncement.  Seconds later he suffered a heart attack and died.  He was laid to rest in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, DC.

 

Some William Windom factoids:

  • Windom married Ellen Towne Hatch (1831-1914) of Massachusetts on August 20, 1876.  They had three children:  Son William Douglas (b. 1859, d. 1926) Daughter: Ellen Hatch (“Nellie”, b. 1866, d. 1941) and Florence Bronson.
  • The USS Windom, a Treasury Department revenue cutter named for William Windom, served in the US Navy and was later named Comanche.  Constructed at the Iowa Iron Works in Dubuque, the USS Windom served in Spanish-American War, then reverted to the Treasury.  Renamed the Comanche, the ship also served under Navy Department control during World War I.  Serving out her years with the Revenue service the ship was placed out of commission on July 31, 1930.  The story of the USS Windom is a saga in its own right.
  • The papers of William Windom are held by the Minnesota Historical Society which has compiled an extensive catalog of the collection.
  • The town of Windom, county seat of Cottonwood County, Minnesota, was platted in 1871 and incorporated in 1875.  The name of the town was proposed by General Judson W. Bishop of St. Paul, chief engineer for construction of the railway ,
  • The post office for the city of Harmony, Minnesota, was once named Windom, in honor of the Senator.
  • Windom Township, organized in 1858, was first called Brooklyn, then Canton, and renamed in 1862 to honor William Windom.
  • Minneapolis has not one but two neighborhoods named after the sometimes radical Republican reformer – Windom Community in Southwest Minneapolis  and Windom Park in beautiful Northeast.
  • And yes, actor William Windom is the great grandson of Senator William Windom for whom this neighborhood is named.

 

Further reading:

Fischer, Roger A.  “William Windom: Cartoon Centerfold 1881-91)  Minnesota History, Fall 1988.  (available online)

Salisbury, Robert S.  “Presidential Politics 1880: William Windom and the GOP”  Minnesota History, Fall 1985.  (available online)

Department of the Treasury’s history of the Treasury Secretaries – William Windom, 1861 and 1889-91

William Windom: AN Inventory of His Papers, prepared by CHaryl N. Thies and Kathryn M. Johnson, Minnesota Historical Society.