Sherburne History Center

Sherburne History Center
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Friday, December 29, 2017

100 Years and the Same News: War and Taxes

World War dominated the headlines a century ago.  In reviewing the news pages of January 1, 1918, comes the realization some things never change.  When the news coverage moves away from the death and destruction of world war, the economy and discussion of taxes takes up space in the newspapers. 
Column from the Star News reminding
 county residents to pay their taxes The
third headline seems most interesting:
Heavy Penalty For Failure 

In surveying the pages of the Sherburne County Star News for the first week in 1918, it comes as no surprise the war is a dominant topic of reporting.  Yet, the newspaper’s inside pages provide interesting commentary.  In addition to the war, the Star News reminded its readers to pay their income tax “before March 1, 1918.” 

In the five years since the passage of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, collecting income tax remained a new concept.  Yet, with the war continuing in Europe, paying income tax became a patriotic service.  “All good Americans who are making a fair living are now called upon to pay,” the paper opined.

Income tax in 1918 seemed much easier than 100 years later.  According to the paper, income is defined as “profit, gain, wages, salary, commissions, money or its equivalent from professions, vocations, commerce, trade, rents, sales, and dealings in property.”  The definition of income continues for several lines.  In other words, any money received is income and is taxable.  Congress set the tax rate a two percent over an income of $2000.  An inflation calculator estimated the amount in 2017 dollars as income over $50,000. 

As a final warning, the newspaper reported of significant fines and imprisonment for failing to file a tax return.  As the newspaper noted, “The government is not required to seek the taxpayer.  The taxpayer is required to seek the government.” 

Although the war dominated coverage in the early days of 1918, the economy and income tax claimed space in the newspaper pages.  Some things never seem to change, with taxes continuing to appear in the news.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Merry Christmas from the staff at SHC

 As we celebrate Christmas 2017, we wanted to take a moment and share a small portion of the collection of Christmas cards from the Archives of the Sherburne History Center.  These all date from around 1910.  We hope you enjoy these and also have a safe and Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Sherburne County Faces Challenges in 1920s

The 1920s proved a challenging decade for Sherburne County.  The period seemed particularly tough in the community of Clear Lake.  Coupling crime and economic challenges presented significant difficulties.  The tenacity of business owners and residents kept the village moving forward.  Examples, such as the history of Frank Hankemeyer and his general merchandise store reveal the resolve of character in the local residents.  Despite the challenges of the decade, the persistence of men and women like Frank Hankemeyer reinforce the character of the community. 

The county newspaper, the Sherburne County Star News, suggest the 1920s a crime riddled era for Clear Lake. The news regularly reported businesses burglarized and hold-ups in the small town.  Thieves burglarized the local creamery.  In broad daylight, bandits robbed Joseph LeBlanc’s general store at gun point.  The newspaper regularly reported thefts of livestock and burglaries.  The Clear Lake crime wave culminated with the arrest and conviction of the school district Treasurer for embezzlement in 1933. 

Hankemeyer General Store, circa 1910, Clear Lake

Perhaps the greatest challenges presented, fell in the lap of Frank Hankemeyer.  In the 1920s, the newspaper reported, thieves robbed Hankemeyer’s store nine times.  Located on the main street of Clear Lake, thieves regularly pried open a side door and burglarized Hankemeyer’s in the dark of night.  During a burglary in 1928, the Star News reported, thieves helped themselves to approximately $500 of merchandise.  After ransacking the store, they broke open a gas pump and fueled up the getaway car before leaving the scene.

The ultimate challenge to Hankemeyer’s presented itself three months later, in November 1928.  A fire erupted in the building, causing more than $30,000 in damages.  Although insured for only $17,000, Hankemeyer resolved to rebuild and reopen.  He overcame the challenges of crime and fire to become a long-time fixture in Clear Lake.  Hankemeyer’s store remained in place into the 1950s.

Hankemeyer’s general store reflects the tenacity and resolve exhibited throughout Sherburne County history.  An insistence to flourish in spite of the many challenges put in front of the community.  In spite of crime, fire, natural disasters, or economic challenges, Sherburne County residents continuously reveal their persistence in moving Sherburne County forward.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Ending Prohibition Proves Disappointing

Advertisement for beer sales,
published in the Sherburne County
Star News
, April 13, 1933
Prohibition officially ended April 1933.  Sherburne County officially ended prohibition April 6, 1933.  City Councils adopted ordinances allowing for the sale of beer and other spirits.  Although the local newspaper reported excitement, the availability of alcohol was not immediate.  And after the arrival of the newly distilled spirits, the paper reported a level of disappointment.  The legislation allowing the sale easily passed.  The challenge came in finding brewers and distributors to provide the previously prohibited drink.  Locating a palatable drink to distribute also presented a challenge. 

With the end of national prohibition in 1933, the Sherburne County Star News recalled Elk River as dry in 1915, four years before the national movement.  All of Sherburne County voted dry by 1916.  Yet, with the end of prohibition in 1933, the newspaper reported an excitement to sample legally manufactured spirits.

Headlines in the March 1933 issues of the Sherburne County Star News announced the end of prohibition and promised “beer will be available in Elk River by April 7th.”  Unfortunately, the local population had to wait for their opportunities to imbibe in the legal alcohol.  “Breweries of the twin cities being swamped with orders were unable to make deliveries in the country districts,” the paper reported. 

When the beer finally arrived, many thirsty patrons expressed disappointment with the taste and “lack of stronger kick.”  Possibly due to the lack of flavor or “kick” the newspaper also reported zero instances of public intoxication on the first few days of a more open community.

April 1933 marked the end of prohibition, yet the month presented new challenges to the hospitality trade in Elk River.  Locating breweries, distributors, and quality drink all proved new challenges for Sherburne County establishments.  A new twist on the end of prohibition, how the local bars and restaurants first developed this new offering.