Monthly Archives: July 2018

World War I and the Influenza Pandemic



A deadly moment in American history, the Spanish Influenza pandemic reached numbers of Minnesotans during the early 1900’s. Ignatius Hannon of Minneapolis encountered it during its peak in 1918. The Hannon family owned and operated the John Hannon Detective Agency and Patrol Service beginning in 1901. Despite the success of this agency, Ignatius Hannon left Minnesota to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War I.

On his way to South Carolina and the Naval Shipyard, Hannon described the journey in a letter to his mother on October 12th, 1918. At each large city between Chicago and Charleston, Hannon noted 10-15 coffins of servicemen being unloaded, presumably deceased due to the disease. Some men were transported without coffins as Hannon points out “so many are dying they can’t make coffins fast enough”. The Minneapolis Morning Tribune reported the main way the disease spread was through coughing, sneezing and spitting. Quarantine was used as a major preventative measure against the disease, even on Hannon’s ship where 15 cases had been reported.

This letter and other artifacts from the Hannon family are from the Lenore Hannon Collection which can be found at the Hennepin History Museum Archives.

Minneapolis Morning Tribune, April 3, 1918, pg 7

Haskin, Frederic J. “Coughing, Talking, Sneezing, Deadly Projectors of Human Poison Gas, Say U.S. Doctors.” The Minneapolis Morning Tribune, April 3, 1918.

Written by Bridget Jensen, Archive Volunteer

Flour Power: Party Edition

At 7:30 in the morning, more than 1700 milling employees and their family, friends, and supporters, gathered in Minneapolis, picnics in hand, to board special trains that would carry them to Lake Minnetonka for the fourth annual Head Millers’ Association picnic.

The city’s flour mills were shut down for the day so that all employees had an opportunity to join in the festivities. It was an opportunity to celebrate the growth of milling in Minneapolis. Like any such celebratory event, it included plenty of speeches, as well as a baseball game, music and dancing, a banquet at the Hotel Lafayette, boat rides, and – what else? — flour sack races.

The picnic was covered extensively in the local newspapers, where it was proclaimed “the most successful picnic ever given at Lake Minnetonka.” In the words of a particularly enthusiastic journalist at the Sunday Tribune:

“Whether it was the efficient management, the absence of dissipation and the real pleasure unmixed with dissipation at these gatherings, or because the custom was inaugurated by a class of men to whom Minneapolis feels she owes her marvelous prosperity and rapid advancement, or whether both combined at once,the occurrence of the millers’ picnic was a season for a general turning out on a grand gala day, and each year the number participating has increased, and yesterday occurred the greatest and the best of them all.”

-Minneapolis Sunday Tribune, June 22, 1884

This miniature flour sack invitation now resides in the permanent collection at Hennepin History Museum, a reminder a fantastic summer day at the lake many years ago.

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A Royal Portrait Gallery

(Above: 1941 Queen of the Lakes Evan Brunson)

Hennepin History Museum is home to the Historic Aquatennial Collection. Included in this collection is a photographic record of the legendary Aquatennial Queen of the Lakes. The Queen of the Lakes played an important role in the Aquatennial festival, providing a dose of pageantry that enthralled audiences across the state… and the world. During the 1950s, the Queen of the Lakes traveled more than 100,000 miles annually! Early Queens were typically sponsored by businesses; in 1970, the switch was made to candidates representing communities. Shown here are a representative sampling of some of the reigning Queen of the Lakes from years gone by.

1951 Helen Stoeffer Aqua Queen

Helen Stoffer, 1951

1951’s Queen of the Lakes Helen Stoffer originally competed as Golden Valley’s 1950 Lilac Queen. She was at the time an 18 year old nursing student from Robbinsdale. She was no stranger to royalty; she was Robbinsdale’s high school homecoming queen.

1960 Gail Nygaard

Gail Nygaard, 1960

1960 Queen of the Lakes Gail Nygaard originally served as Miss Willmar — although at the time of her coronation her family had relocated to Minneapolis, where her father was minister of Simpson Methodist Church. A student at Hamline University, Gail was also Hamline Snow Queen.

1973 Patricia Kelzer skipper pins with Stenvig

Patricia Kelzer, 1972 (with Minneapolis Mayor Charles Stenvig)

Queen Patricia Kelzer represented the Shakopee Jaycees.

That’s just a handful of photographs from our extensive collection of materials related to all aspects of the Aquatennial, including its Queen of the Lakes program. Please stop by the Museum to learn more. Our Library & Archives are open to the public (for best research assistance contact us in advance so that we can prepare for your visit).

Preserving and maintaining the Historic Aquatennial Collection takes resources and money. Please consider making a gift to support the preservation of local history for current and future generations. Click here to donate today


Aquatennial Ambassadors Program

Hennepin History Museum