The drama of crime reveals itself in the pages of the Sherburne County Star News. Reporters tell the stories of victims and perpetrators. They also reveal the patterns of crime and use language to generate greater interest in the events.
As an example, in 1903 the newspaper noted crime is seasonal in Sherburne County, “parallel with the influx of the tramp a hobo fraternity.”
The crime reporting also generates creative writing from newspaper correspondents. In a burglary in Haven Township in August of 1903, “two men, on a tall and ugly looking genius, and a shorter companion with a dark mustache” burglarized a home. They ransacked a home, “to show how thorough and accomplished there in the work they cut open and ripped every mattress in every bed in the house.”
Less than two weeks later, “bold burglars” used explosives to rob the Clear Lake bank. “Sheriff Ward has gone up to do some sleuth work.”
The string of burglaries in Sherburne County in 1903 were gender specific. In late October the Sherburne County Star News reported the burglary of Miss Selck’s millinery shop. “The way some of the things were selected would indicate that a woman was in the deal, and the fact that a strange woman was in the store but a short time before the closing hour to make some inquiries adds weight to the suspicion.”
The fall of 1903 witnesses significant crime activity. If we trust the newspapers, “tall and ugly looking geniuses;” and “short companions with a dark mustache;” women, and “bold burglars” were all part of the crime wave. Meanwhile, police did more than investigate, they were busy doing “sleuth work.”
The crime wave in Sherburne County in 1903 taxed the energies of the police and the victims of these crimes. The crime wave also challenged the dramatic flair and linguistic abilities of the newspaper reporters in Sherburne County.