The Spirit of an Entrepreneur: Wilbur David Dover

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Image from HHM Archives

Wilbur David “Dave” Dover was born on March 4, 1914 in New York. He was the eldest child of George and Fanny (Weintraub) both first generation immigrants to the United States. George was an Englishman, born in London, who worked as an electrician in Manhattan. Fanny, was a German Jew who had immigrated to America in 1907, at the age of 13, by herself. Fanny raised her children Jewish and the family acquired a set of silver and brass menorahs, from Israel, which have now found their home in the collection at the Hennepin History Museum.  

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Image from HHM Collections

The Dover family relocated to Minnesota in the mid-1920s, buying a home in Robbinsdale, just northwest of Minneapolis. George took up work as a taxi cab driver, while Fanny worked as a clerk at a local grocery store. Together they raised their four sons and went from the new family in town to respected members of the growing community. Inspired by his father’s hard work and long hours, Dave set out to start the first taxi cab company in Crystal. He founded Flash Cabs, in 1948, and later established the Robbinsdale Yellow Cab Company. In addition, he went on the open the Beltline Diner, in Crystal, and become the city’s first Constable.  

An article in the Star Tribune, dated November 7, 1946, tells the tale of an action-packed night in Dave’s lifeHe was visiting his friend’s home when the water pump in the basement caught fire due to an electrical malfunction. Dave immediately jumped into action to help put out the fire and saved the home. With one blaze under control, Dave returned to his cab stand, only to have an oil stove explode 15 minutes later! Thankfully, he escaped unharmed, but most of the building was destroyed and had to be rebuilt. Ironically, following this eventful evening, Dave became a volunteer firefighter in his community, just another skill for this jack-of-all-trades.  

Perhaps the most notable position in Dover’s career was his service as Deputy Sheriff of Minneapolis, under Ed Ryan. Ryan was a political ally of Hubert Humphrey and together the men ran for Sheriff and Mayor, respectively; both being successfully elected in 1946. The goal of Humphrey, Ryan, and his deputies was to clean up the crime-ridden streets of downtown Minneapolis. The group notoriously built a reputation for cracking down on corruption and organized crime that was prevalent at the time. As Deputy Sheriff, Dave Dover worked alongside these two men and helped build Minneapolis into the thriving city it is today.  

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Image from HHM Archives

 

Author: Ashley Fischer is the Undertold Stories Intern at Hennepin History Museum. She is earning a bachelor’s degree in English and History from the University of Minnesota, with a focus on literary criticism and 19th century American history. 

Citations:
Romskog, Anna. “Ed Ryan.” The Historyapolis Project. December 17, 2014. Accessed April 17, 2019. http://historyapolis.com/blog/tag/ed-ryan/. 

“Taxi Operator Busy as Fireman.” Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 7, 1946. Accessed April 17, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/182521906/?terms=wilbur dover. 

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