Isanti Str - History

Isanti Str - History

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A former name retained.

(Str: dp. 12000; 1. 423'9", b. 54'; dr. 24'2"; s. 11 k.; ' cpl. 70)

Isanti (No. 3423) was launched by Western Pipe & Steel Co., San Francisco, Calif., 2 June 1918. She was transferred to the Navy from New York & Puerto Rico S.S. Co., and commissioned 30 September 1918 at San Francisco, Lt. Comdr. J. K. Koughan, USNRF, in command.

Assigned to NOTS, Isanti immediately began loading cargo for transport to Europe. She departed San Pedro 10 October and arrived New York via Panama Canal 3 November. After loading more supplies, she sailed for France 22 November, arriving Cherbourg early in December to discharge the vital cargo. Her supply activity took her to various French ports. She returned to the United States 15 February 1919 and decommissioned 24 February. Isanti was transferred to USSB the same day for return to her owner. She operated under USSB until abandoned in 1930.

2012.029f.10 - Folder, Subject File

Spring Vale Cemetery Association Mission Circle minutes, March, 1977-Dec., 1980 Mission Circle minutes, 1973-1976 Spring Vale Baptist Church beginning Sweetheart banquet, 1977 Sunday afternoon homecoming service bulletin, Aug. 1, 1976 Citation: Spring Vale Baptist celebrates centennial, June 13, 1986. Cambridge Star May 22, 1986

New history center is opening in Isanti County after arson destroyed old building

It’s been physically and emotionally draining, but rebuilding the Isanti County History Center after a devastating fire represents a fresh start in more ways than one.

The county Historical Society recently wrapped up construction of the new $550,000 Heritage Center, built on the same site in Cambridge as the structure that was destroyed in an arson blaze on July 8, 2011.

On July 21, the ­Historical Society will hold an open house and its annual meeting at the new building. The center will also keep special hours that week in conjunction with the Isanti County Fair, said Executive Director Kathy McCully.

After the fire, for which no arrests have been made, the center temporarily operated out of a two-room suite in a county building in Cambridge. Its collection, or what remains of it, has been stored in different places. This includes a number of documents drenched during the firefighting that were freeze-dried to fend off fast-growing mold, she said.

Although staffers and volunteers still are unpacking at the new Heritage Center, the idea behind the open house is to “get people initiated to the fact that we’re in the same place, but we look a little different,” McCully said. That’s how the center came up with the tagline, “Same place, new face,” she said.

The center has been largely out of commission for the past couple of years, meaning “we need to reinsert ourselves into the culture of the community,” she said.

During the open house, some of the damaged goods — including a sewing machine from the early 20th century, a number of charred photos and a vintage military uniform — will be on view. “People can see the damage that the fire did. It’s not pretty to look at,” she said.

Unfortunately, the bulk of the center’s holdings were lost in the fire. However, the floor slab and the building’s geothermal heating and cooling system were intact, creating a solid base for the new construction.

The new center is reminiscent of the old one but “has more architectural character,” McCully said. Although the circumstances weren’t ideal, “not everybody gets a chance to redesign a whole building and figure out what worked and what didn’t,” she said. “We were able to try to improve it, in order to streamline stuff.”

That included securing the archives and office areas so other parts of the building, such as a commercially licensed kitchen, a 150-seat banquet room and a conference room, can be rented out. The building, which went from light gray to blue, also has an outdoor covered patio, much-needed storage space and a reception area, she said.

In early talks about the new building, the society decided to designate more space for research than exhibits, better reflecting how the place is used on a daily basis, McCully said.

Although the center continues to rebuild its collection and is taking in new items, “the focus should be on collecting stories and history,” she said. “We need to rebuild in that way before we go into museum mode again.”

It signals a shift from accumulating physical objects to creating a new digital archive. “We don’t want to become grandma’s attic,” she said. “If someone doesn’t want something at home, they need to make a case for why it should be here.”

‘Gold’ in fragile documents

Ann Marie Martinson, a part-time curator at the center, is entering information about fire-damaged items into an electronic database. Many of the documents are so fragile that they won’t last beyond this process, while others will be sealed between sheets of film, to avoid touch.

Numerous freeze-dried documents were slipped between pieces of butcher-block paper for safekeeping. Using the tip of a knife, Martinson is peeling apart the pages that burned together. Before scanning the pieces and adding notations into the database, she carefully wipes away the dust and grime from the fragile documents.

Most recently she’s been sifting through assorted letters from one family dating back to 1911 and 1912. Reading through their personal writings, it makes her tear up. She pictures one of the boys, Walter, “as a young man in a Navy bunk writing his dad, while he’s lonesome.”

In the scanning process, she can manipulate the image to retrieve visual information. It’s tedious, but “I enjoy it. I get lost in my work,” she said. She doesn’t even mind that she leaves the office “smelling like burnt stuff.”

Similarly, she’s sifted through a couple of hundred death certificates from the 1920s through the early 1950s. She even came across the record for the doctor who delivered her when she was a baby, she said.

It’s a daunting task, but she’s driven by the fact that this is “something that hundreds of people pore over when they want to know about their great-whomever,” she said. “There’s gold in those documents for someone doing research.”

An asset to the community

Mike Warring, a county commissioner who serves on the Historical Society board, said he’s encouraged by the fact that “we had so many people volunteer and step up to help,” he said.

Those who strived to rescue items after the fire worked especially hard amid record-setting hot weather, he said. “The community has been watching and has been very supportive,” he said.

He’s pleased with the new facility, for which many contractors donated labor and supplies. Going forward, he hopes the center serves as a community gathering place. “We’re looking forward to a lot more visitors. It’s something new again,” he said.

New Start Times for 2021-22

With a change to our transportation model, elementary schools will be starting earlier and secondary schools will be on the second tier for the 2021-22 school year. The change is needed to shorten ride times for students, respond to a national driver shortage, allow for more age-appropriate rides, and ensure equal instructional time among our schools.

From the ashes, a new Isanti County history center

The Isanti County Historical Society, which lost its old home to an arson fire last year, celebrated the start of work on its new home last week with a ceremonial groundbreaking.

The Heritage Center will be built on the site where the former building stood in Cambridge, and the society is looking at a completion date sometime next spring, said Executive Director Kathy McCully.

Thursday's groundbreaking was an informal occasion, with participants donning their own hard hats and bringing their own shovels.

In an e-mail invitation, McCully said that "when you are starting over with much less than previously owned, you realize that you can do without the fanfare and can relish the accomplishments of the moment."

The July 8, 2011, fire that gutted the building remains unsolved. It claimed an estimated 70 percent of the society's collection of archives and artifacts, including photos, taped oral histories, uniforms and other items.

Staff and volunteers have worked painstakingly since then to preserve what they can. The effort included taking documents that were soaked when the fire was doused and literally hanging them out to dry and then freeze-drying them to prevent mold.

The process has been successful but left papers brittle, and the society plans to preserve all of its documents digitally. Some will be encapsulated between sheets of film so visitors can handle them without touching the paper itself.

For now, the society is housed in temporary quarters, a two-room suite in Cambridge. Staff and volunteers are still going through items that were salvaged, inventorying them and determining what to keep and what to replace, McCully said. Nothing is on display.

The new Heritage Center will be about 5,500 square feet, larger than the one it's replacing, with added space for storage. It will rise on the same slab as the old building and will use the same geothermal heating and cooling system, which survived the fire. Kitchen appliances and some bathroom fixtures also will be reused.

The new center will cost about $350,000, McCully said. Officials hope insurance will cover much of the cost, she said. The society received monetary donations directly after the fire, which helped it salvage documents and begin to do business in a temporary location. Because the society is working to rebuild without a mortgage, it will be conducting fundraisers and seeking in-kind contributions and donated labor to help.

While acknowledging the road ahead, McCully said, "The preservation of history in and for Isanti County is moving forward."

Isanti County, Minnesota

Isanti County Courthouse, built in 1871

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Cities and Towns
Braham (part extends into Kanabec County), Cambridge, Isanti

Unincorporated Communities
Andree, Athens, Blomford, Bodum, Bradford, Carmody, Crown, Dalbo, Day, Edgewood, Elm Park, Grandy, Oxlip, Pine Brook, Spencer Brook, Springvale, Stanley, Stanchfield, Stanford, Walbo, Weber, West Point, Wyanett

Athens, Bradford, Cambridge, Dalbo, Isanti, Maple Ridge, North Branch, Oxford, Spencer Brook, Springvale, Stanchfield, Stanford, Wyanett

Online Data

Website Updates

BIOS: Transcribed by Robin Line - Henry Freeman Barker, Henry George Becker, Charles Henry Dickinson
CENSUS: 1860 Mortality Schedule transcribed by Angie Lietzau
HISTORY: Isanti County History
MARRIAGES: Isanti County Records - 1891-1892
MILITARY: MN Historical Society Gold Star Vets, submitted by Robin Line - Gust Anderson, Ernest Wilhelm Anderson, Frank Buckingham, Ole A. Eastlund, Nels Engbert Finkelson, Gustaf Einar Haglund, Victor Edgar Hanson, Robert E. Kreisel, Teddy A. Krona, Gustave Lindbloom, William H. Marsh, Willie Melander, Eddie B. Miller, Alrick Olson, Henning Wm. Olson, Andrew Ostberg, Elmer Otto Palm, Warner P. Pearson
OBITS: Albert Newman, Hulda Isturis, Selma M. Nelson, Hattie Staack, Lavina O. Kienitz

JULY 2020
BIOS: Andrew Ekstrom
CHURCHES: 1942 Church Listing & Record Storage
MARRIAGES: Isanti County Records - 1889-1890
NEWS-CRIME: Doc. Warriner indicted, A. J. Conger victim
NEWS-FIRES/WRECKS: 1906 Train Wreck
NEWS-VISIT/RELOCATE: Roy McCrillis, Annie Lien, Carrie Peterson, Hazel Zimmerman
OBITS: F. Reuben Rydeen, Luella Kathryn Nordstrom, Melvin E. Grams, Ida Miller, Marie I. Gaddis, L. A. Berg, Mrs. Bean, Olivia Bengston, Otto E. Palm, Marie H. Watson
SCHOOL: News - 1904 - George A. Young

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2015.31.17 - Newspaper

Articles on historical topics from around Isanti County: Headlines: Isanti County's tiniest park bears name of community long gone The quintessential Quonset hut Storms Of The Past New treasures spring from old junk at Dry Creek Barn Elm Park -- yesterday & today Zion Ev. Lutheran Church celebrates 125 years 125th anniversay celebration planned Isanti County Church Directory Rättvik horse makes journey from Sweden to Cambridge A Horse of a Different Color Stores to stay open until 10 on Saturday nights Freak Bird to Be Shown at Local Poultry Show Tombstrone in Öje, Sweden bears inscription "lived in Dalbo, Minn." Dry Creek Barn artists Kruegers build a life & business in Is

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As some of you may be aware, CIHA has a scholarship program that helps families in need help pay for their child to play hockey. We understand that situations arise that unfortunately may make a family choose between everyday necessities and keeping their child playing a sport they love, all while learning great life lessons.

As a 501(c)3, CIHA can accept a tax deductible donation from anyone wishing to donate to a new program that will supplement our scholarship program. We are calling it "Keep A Kid In Hockey". This can be an anonymous donation, if you wish, and can be for any amount, or be specified toward something in particular.

If you'd like to "sponsor" a mite, for example, you can donate the amount to cover that cost. If you'd like to sponsor a player whose family you know may be going through a difficult time, you can do that as well. Lastly, you can donate a specific dollar amount that will supplement our current scholarship program, which works with a specified budget and looks at each situation independently.

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If you are interested in receiving communication from Cambridge-Isanti Hockey Association you will need to create an account on the CIHA website. This account will be needed to keep you up to date with CIHA communications and online registration. The account you create on the website is a family account. The 'member' should be a parent. Multiple email addresses can be added to the account. Click here to create an account.

Man shot to death by police in Isanti County is ID'd accomplice charged

Charges were filed Tuesday against one of two men who led police on a 40-mile highway pursuit out of Blaine over the weekend that ended with the other suspect shot to death and a police K-9 wounded by gunfire.

Joseph W. Heroff, 26, of Hammond, Wis., was charged in Anoka County District Court with first-degree aggravated robbery and fleeing police in a vehicle in connection with the high-speed encounter early Sunday afternoon.

Heroff, whose criminal history spans more than five years in two states, remains jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail. He's due back in court on March 15. Court records do not list an attorney for him.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), which is investigating the incident, said Tuesday night that the suspect who was fatally shot has been identified as Dominic Lucas Koch, 27, of St. Croix Falls, Wis.

Citing the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office, the BCA said he died of multiple gunshot wounds.

According to the charges against Heroff:

Blaine police responded to a shoplifting call at Kohl's department store and were told that Heroff and his accomplice were driving off in an SUV. Police located the vehicle and tried to stop it. However, it fled into a nearby Menards parking lot.

The officers used their vehicle to bring the SUV to a halt, but Heroff and the other man, later identified as Koch, ran across a frozen drainage pond toward the Conquer Ninja Gym, where they carjacked a pickup truck at gunpoint from a man and his 9-year-old daughter.

The suspects led officers on a high-speed chase north through Anoka and Isanti counties, police said.

After the pickup became disabled on Hwy. 65 outside of Braham, the two men started running. They soon exchanged gunfire with officers, who killed the then-unidentified suspect, police said. A gun was recovered at the scene.

Also wounded by gunfire was an Anoka Police Department K-9. The dog, Bravo, was treated at a veterinary hospital Monday and released. One officer suffered minor injuries.

Once in custody, Heroff told police that he waited in their SUV while his accomplice stole a cart full of merchandise. Heroff also said it was his accomplice who brandished the gun during the carjacking and was the driver during the high-speed chase.

At the time of Heroff's capture in Isanti County, authorities in Polk County in Wisconsin had a warrant out for his arrest on charges filed in July of possessing illicit drugs and paraphernalia, and for resisting law enforcement. He also has convictions in western Wisconsin for resisting an officer and possessing drug paraphernalia.

In Minnesota, from Chisago County to the Twin Cities and as far south as Mower County, Heroff has two convictions for drug possession, and three for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He also has a drug possession case pending from June 2020 in Hennepin County.

Paul Walsh is a general assignment reporter at the Star Tribune. He wants your news tips, especially in and near Minnesota.

Charge: Hockey dad's discarded napkin at rink ties him to 1993 killing in Twin Cities 25 years later

Hockey dad Jerry Westrom visited a rink for a game one recent winter’s day, as he had done countless times over the years, ate a hot dog and threw his napkin in the trash.

Within weeks, DNA evidence on that napkin put the Isanti businessman in jail, charged with murder in the 1993 stabbing of 35-year-old Jeanne Ann “Jeanie” Childs in a Minneapolis apartment. Prosecutors say the DNA, tested against crime scene evidence collected decades ago, leaves no doubt that Westrom killed Childs.

Westrom, 52, was arrested Monday at his Waite Park office. He remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail ahead of a court appearance Friday.

“If we don’t have a match, we don’t have a case,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said soon after Westrom was charged in district court.

The charges against Westrom, who was 27 at the time of the killing, detail an especially violent attack in the apartment in the 3100 block of Pillsbury Avenue, which police said Childs used for prostitution.

According to the complaint:

Police were called to the building after a tenant saw water coming from an apartment. Officers found Childs dead in the shower, wearing only socks, the water running.

She had dozens of stab wounds, and “a number of wounds were inflicted [after she died],” the complaint read.

Evidence collected by investigators from the room included the bed comforter, a towel and washcloth, a T-shirt and a bloodstain on the sink.

The trail soon went cold in a killing that received little attention.

Advances in DNA testing prompted Minneapolis police to revive the case in 2015. Samples from the scene were sent to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and a private DNA company.

The FBI then ran the sample through an online genealogy website in 2018, relying on a process that others have used to find lost relatives and map family trees. That turned up two possible suspects, one of them Westrom. It turned out, Freeman said, that either Westrom or a close relative of his had submitted DNA for genetic background information.

In January, officers trailed Westrom in hopes of collecting a DNA sample without tipping him off. They said they caught up with him at the hockey game, where he ordered a hot dog from the concession stand.

When Westrom was done eating, he wiped his mouth with a napkin and tossed it in a trash can, authorities said. Once the coast was clear, investigators recovered the napkin.

The BCA said the DNA on the napkin was consistent with DNA collected from the apartment where Childs was killed, and that gave them probable cause to arrest Westrom.

Freeman is sure that picking that napkin out of the discarded food container will withstand any legal challenge.

“When discarding something in the trash, the Supreme Court has said many times it is fair game,” he said.

After Westrom’s arrest this week, DNA was collected from him. It too was a match with DNA on the washcloth seized from the homicide scene, authorities said. His DNA allegedly also matched sperm on the towel and the comforter from the apartment.

Under questioning, Westrom denied every aspect of the allegations, including being in the apartment, recognizing Childs or having sex with any woman in 1993. He said he has no explanation for why his DNA would have been in the apartment where she was stabbed.

Westrom’s attorney, Steve Meshbesher, said he had no comment for now.

Westrom’s father, Norlin Westrom, said Tuesday that his son was raised in the Elbow Lake area, about 30 miles northwest of Alexandria, was working in Minneapolis at the time of Childs’ death, and had not yet married at that time.

While the Minneapolis Police Department’s cold case squad increasingly uses DNA to crack unsolved cases, such as the September 2017 arrest of a man in the 34-year-old murder of a teenager, genealogy research websites have recently come to the forefront as investigative tools. Last spring, evidence on one of them led to the capture of the Golden State Killer, a rapist and murderer who had eluded authorities for decades.

“Genetic genealogy has incredible power for human identification,” said CeCe Moore, chief genealogist at Parabon NanoLabs. “It’s revolutionary [for law enforcement]. There’s really no reason for there to be serial killers or serial rapists anymore. We should be able to identify them much more quickly and stop them from victimizing people.”

Since spring 2018, Moore said about 50 cold cases have been solved nationwide using public genealogy websites.

Childs’ mother, Betty Eakman, long wondered about her daughter’s fate. “I am so happy they have come out with this new [DNA] technology,” Eakman said, “so it can help other cases to be solved.”

Childs dropped out of school in Isanti in sixth grade, ran away from home many times and pretty much moved out for good in her late teens, Eakman said.

Eakman said her daughter “went off the deep end in her teens” after the shooting death in Minneapolis of her mother’s second husband in 1971 by his business partner and brother-in-law.

Childs later moved to Minneapolis and bounced from place to place. “I didn’t know anything about drugs,” Eakman said, offering a hint to another of the troubles in Childs’ life. “I was not suspicious for many, many years.”

Westrom lived in the Twin Cities area for about 2½ years until moving away six months after Childs was killed. He later married and had a fairly high profile in the Isanti area through his business ventures and support of youth athletics, raising his two now-grown children in organized hockey.

His blog, which has been dormant since early last year, said he earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business from the University of Minnesota in 1989 and managed an organic farm just outside of Isanti. In the meantime, he built a history of convictions for drunken driving. He got off probation last year after being convicted in Stearns County in 2016 after getting caught in a police sting believing he was soliciting a teenager for sex.

“Well, I never in a million years would have thought that I worked for [an accused] murderer when I was 16,” said a 31-year-old woman who was raised in the Isanti area and requested anonymity for this article out of concern for her safety. “This news makes every interaction I had with him seem even more scary.”

The woman, who now lives in the Twin Cities, recalled that “Jerry was loved by the town when I was growing up. He did the pancake breakfast for some of the high school sports, and he employed people at at least four businesses that I can recall.”

She said she worked at Westrom’s gas station when she was 16 and that he employed mostly teenage girls and would sometimes supply them with alcohol.

The woman said she last saw Westrom a little more than 10 years ago, when he showed up at her friend’s house and made inappropriate comments about her body.

Childs’ sister, Cindy Kosnitch, said Wednesday that despite reliving the trauma of what happened, her mother never gave up.

“This has been very hard on our family, of course, but I have a very determined mom who always kept in contact with Minneapolis police,” Kosnitch said. “She refused to let Jeanie be forgotten and wanted some type of closure, as most parents would.”

Staff writer Mary Lynn Smith contributed to this report.

Paul Walsh is a general assignment reporter at the Star Tribune. He wants your news tips, especially in and near Minnesota.

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