Author Archives: Hennepin History Museum

About Hennepin History Museum

Hennepin History Museum preserves and shares the story of Hennepin County, Minnesota. Located in the historic Whittier neighborhood of Minneapolis, we offer exhibitions, a research library, and public programs and events for visitors of all ages. Your history. Your museum.

Minneapolis-Moline Goes to Washington

While Hennepin History Museum doesn’t have the space to collect tractors, that doesn’t stop us from collecting tractor history. And even the briefest survey of tractor history will unearth the name Minneapolis-Moline.

The 1918 tractor shown here was originally used on a farm in Nebraska. A Model “D” Universal tractor, it featured electric ignition, speed control, and electric lights. In 1953, Minneapolis-Moline’s marketing department purchased the tractor and brought it home to Minnesota and sent it on tour to the state and county fairs. In 1957, the company exhibited it at their headquarters in Hopkins.

In 1962, the tractor moved yet again — this time to Washington, DC. The Smithsonian Institution recognized the significance of Minneapolis-Moline and their role in American innovation and agriculture and installed it in one of their history and technology galleries.

The following year, Minnesota business leaders gathered at the Smithsonian during the 1963 Convention of the Chamber of Commerce. Shown here are representatives from the Minneapolis Area Chamber of Commerce, the Pillsbury Company, the United States Navy, the Smithsonian, and, of course, Minneapolis-Moline.

Learn more about the history of Minneapolis Moline and other Hennepin County companies in our library and archives. 


Take the Bitter with the Sweet: Abdallah’s Banana Split Dish

This banana split dish is from the 4th generation family owned business established by Lebanese immigrant Albert Abdallah. Albert opened Calhoun Candy Depot in 1909 on the corner of Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue in the Uptown area of Minneapolis. In 1916 it was renamed Abdallah Candy Company. Abdallah’s served chocolate, caramels, toffee, truffles and ice cream.

Over the years Abdallah’s persevered in the face of adversity. After the Great Depression, Abdallah’s was forced to close due to bankruptcy. However, Albert was able to pay off his debt and reopened a smaller store a few blocks from its original location just a few years later. Abdallah’s later struggled through the Food Rationing Program enacted during World War II. Finally, in 1965 the business was destroyed in a fire caused by a gas explosion, forcing them to completely rebuild.

Through hard work and dedication, Albert Abdallah was able to establish a successful chocolatier and confectionery that is still in operation today, over a century later. His great-grandson carries on the family tradition in their current location in Burnsville, using some of the original recipes perfected by Albert.

Author Bio

Alyssa Thiede in the Assistant Collections Manager at Hennepin History Museum.

A Survivor and Pioneer of Change: Dr. Borgen’s Dentist Chair

This dental chair was used by Dr. Fanny ‘Nusia’ Freund Borgen, the first female orthodontist in Minneapolis. Dr. Borgen graduated from the University of Minnesota Dental School where she earned her DDS in 1956 and her Orthodontics degree in 1964. She was the only practicing female orthodontist in the state of Minnesota for 20 years.

Dr. Borgen was born in Poland in 1923, and survived the Holocaust. Following the war she immigrated to the United States and became a naturalized citizen on April 9th, 1955. In 1956 she married Milton L. Borgen. For 40 years Dr. Borgen devoted her life to helping others. She practiced orthodontics in Buffalo, Minneapolis, and Wayzata. She was a highly respected and active member of her community, taking part in various organizations: Temple Israel, Hadassah, American and Minnesota Dental Association, American and Minnesota Association of Orthodontists, University of Minnesota Alumni Association, Heritage Foundation of MN, Component Association, and the USC Shoah Foundation.

Dr. Borgen passed away just one month shy of her 91st birthday on October 1st, 2014. In her will she established the Milton L. Borgen & Dr. F. N. Freund Borgen Memorial Park Endowment Fund, helping the up keep of the Temple Israel Memorial Park Cemetery.

Author Bio

Olivia Schiffman is a volunteer at the Hennepin History Museum. She has her Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, History, and Music from Hamline University. She currently works for the City of Hugo, digitizing records and compiling research on the cities one room schoolhouse, as well as the Minnesota History Museum, researching the history of underrepresented communities at Fort Snelling.

Not Just Superheroes Wear Capes: Cora Stahn’s Fairview Hospital Nursing Cape

This navy colored, wool cape was worn by Cora Eleanor (Hanson) Stahn during her years as a nursing student (1942-1944) at the Fairview Hospital School of Nursing in Minneapolis. Capes were given out to nursing students in the 1940s and early 1950s, and used by nurses into the 1960s. A student would wear her cape as she traveled from her dorm to the hospital: keeping the designated white nurses uniform clean underneath.

Cora herself was born in Granite Falls, MN in 1922 to Henry T. and Mary Hanson. After moving to Minneapolis to attend nursing school, she met her future husband Dr. Louis H. Stahn. The two married in 1945 and following the birth of their three children the family moved to Fergus Falls in 1955, and eventually to the St. Cloud area. Cora (age 95) currently lives in Sartell, MN.

Fairview Hospital first opened its doors to patients on January 31, 1916 after almost ten years of careful planning and preparation, organized by the United Church Hospital Association. To ensure that patients were receiving the care they needed, the Fairview Hospital Training School opened 15 days before the hospital on January 16, 1916. The first task of the 24 women who were hired as nurses was to make up the beds for the soon to be admitted patients. By the time Cora came to the nursing program in 1942, the United States was heavily involved in both the Pacific and European theaters of World War II. The hospital had to be prepared for “blackout drills” and the rationing of supplies like sugar, gas, and even shoes. In The Fairview Story, written by Fern Swanke, Swanke mentions that nylon hose, a staple of a nurse uniform, “[were] impossible to buy.” Due to the influx of Graduate nurses leaving to serve overseas, new student nurses were given more responsibility.

The original building that housed the nursing program was raised in 1956 to make room for the Fairview Mental Health and Rehabilitation Unit.

Author Bio

Olivia Schiffman is a volunteer at Hennepin History Museum. She has her Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, History, and Music from Hamline University. She currently works for the City of Hugo, digitizing records and compiling research on the cities one room schoolhouse, as well as the Minnesota History Museum, researching the history of underrepresented communities at Fort Snelling.

Minneapolis Hosts the Woman’s Relief Corps

Long before women won the right to vote in 1920, women were given the opportunity to vote in small-scale local elections through organizations like the National Woman’s Relief Corps (WRC). This ballot box was used by the women of the WRC to discreetly vote for the acceptance, or rejection, of a new candidate hoping to gain membership.

With the lid to the ballot box closed, votes were secret and each member cast either a white or black marble to indicate how they felt about the new candidate. If the box was full of white marbles the candidate was accepted, if it contained black marble the candidate was “blackballed,” or rejected from membership.

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Founded in Massachusetts after the Civil War in 1879, the WRC began as a “secret” organization that served as auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and established Posts throughout the county. Women who had remained loyal to the Union were eligible to obtain membership regardless of race or where they lived during the war.

On July 22, 1884 Minneapolis hosted the Second National Convention of the WRC, establishing  the state of Minnesota’s headquarters in parlor No. 1, of the luxurious West Hotel located of Fifth and Hennepin. According to the Journal of the Second National Convention, “parlors were filled” by local members as well as National officers and delegates from abroad.

Author Bio: Olivia Schiffman is a volunteer at Hennepin History Museum. She has her Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, History, and Music from Hamline University. She currently works for the City of Hugo, digitizing records and compiling research on the cities one room schoolhouse, as well as the Minnesota History Museum, researching the history of underrepresented communities at Fort Snelling.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas



(Photo: Frank Stoneman holding his daughter Marjory at far right. The rest of the Stoneman or Trefethen families are unidentified.)

The name Marjory Stoneman Douglas is much in the news just now.  At a high school in Parkland, Florida, there was a horrific mass shooting, and that school happened to be named for her.  Most people have probably never heard of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, but she turns up on the Internet.   Marjory was an admirable writer and environmentalist. Her Wikipedia page has plenty of good information on her works.  She lived to be 108, and was a tremendously loved figure in South Florida.  Naming a school for her seems entirely appropriate.

There’s a Hennepin County angle to her.   Marjory was born in Minneapolis, MN.  And her family stories in Minneapolis are kind of interesting.

Marjory’s father was Frank Bryant Stoneman.  Frank had come to Minnesota in 1862 or 1863 as a boy.  His father Mark Stoneman was a dentist.  Mark and his wife Althea installed their family in St. Anthony on the corner of today’s University and Central avenues. He opened a practice over a drug store, and was a dentist there until he died of pneumonia in 1875.

Dr. Mark Stoneman’s children were hard-working and successful.  Oldest son Orville—Marjory’s uncle—was one of the first 13 students at the University of Minnesota.  He went on to work in real estate, even building the 3-story Stoneman Block at 609 West Lake St.  He was also a city council member for the 8th ward during the tumultuous late 1880s, a time when social liberals and social conservatives were battling over illegal saloons, police corruption, and growing the city.  The Stonemans supported temperance, were churchgoers, and seemed like upright citizens.   These positions were entirely at odd with third-term Mayor A. A. Ames, who was showing all the signs of corruption that would bring down his 4th administration.  How odd that the youngest brother, Edgar Ames Stoneman, was probably named for the Mayor’s father.

Marjory’s father Frank Stoneman helped support his mother and younger siblings by working as a pressman in a printing company.   As a young man, “President Stoneman” founded the Gopher State Amateur Press Association, and then leapt into publishing by starting The East Side Enterprise, a “neatly printed weekly” in 1875.  In 1880, Frank Stoneman was a founder of a young republicans club. He worked as an election judge several times.  He joined his father’s Masonic lodge; he attended Holy Trinity Church.  In 1887, he and Forrest Rundell founded the American Building and Loan Association with $10,000,000.  They incorporated it again in 1888 with $50,000,000 capitalization, on the same day that the Edison Power and Light Company proposed to manufacture electricity in Minneapolis.  And this was the year that Forrest Rundell married Frank’s sister Kate.

Frank was 30 when he met Florence Lillian Trefethen, who came to Minneapolis to play her violin.  She was not the vaudevillian popular rowdy sort of musician, but one who played classical music for a polite and appreciative audience.  Lillian was consistently lauded in newspaper reviews of her work.  Perhaps it was an oversight to cause the St. Paul Globe to gush that “the finest talent in the city” had played a private concert at the home of Mr. Thomas Lowry on the same evening that Lillian was preforming across town.

In 1889, Frank and Lillian married. At the time he lived in Minneapolis, and she in Taunton, MA.   Both were 31 years old.  They honeymooned at Lake Minnetonka for the summer of 1889, then went to their home called “Netley Corner” at 124 13th St. S, in Minneapolis.  Marjory Stoneman Douglas was probably born in that house, just ten months after her parents’ wedding.  But in that same busy year, both Frank and Forrest Rundell had some sketchy dealings with their American Building and Loan.  By January of 1890, the governor was looking into it.  They were exonerated a few weeks later, and “great chunks of joy were lying around loose at their office.”

The next summer the family again spent time at Lake Minnetonka. Frank founded another business, an envelope company.  Lillian settled into society, and published the day when she would be at home to receive callers (Tuesday).  Happiness did not last.  And between 1896, when his marriage crumbled and Lillian took Marjory back to Taunton, and 1898, Frank fled Minnesota for Florida.  The family had visited in 1884.  Perhaps he had acquaintances there.

In 1900, Frank was living in Orlando, and the Census claimed he was working as a lawyer.  He was boarding with the Greethams, and in the house was daughter Lilias Shine.  She was 33, ten years younger than Frank.  Lilias’ father was Captain Thomas J. Shine of the 1st regiment of the Florida Cavalry, but he had passed away and her mother remarried.  The Shines were native Floridians.

Ten years on, Frank was in Miami, while Lilias as still at home.  Frank had switched careers again, back to his first love: the press.  He was the first editor-in-chief of the Miami Herald.  Kate and Forrest Rundell moved to Florida with Marjory’s grandmother Althea.

Lillian Trefethen’s struggles with mental illness were well-documented elsewhere.  She died in 1912.  In 1914, the week of Marjory’s 24th birthday, Frank and Lilias married.   Before long, Marjory and Frank were reunited when she moved to Miami.

Wikipedia picks up Marjory’s story from here.  But it is worth emphasizing one other small Minnesota connection.  Marjory only lived in Minnesota for her first 6 years, yet her earliest memory was listening to her father read “The Song of Hiawatha.”


Karen Cooper is a local historian with great fondness for reading old newspapers and for Hennepin History Museum.  You can read her Minnehaha Falls history articles at <>.

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