One of the most popular boxes of research we have in the Morrison County Historical Society collections contains folders for victims of murder who have a direct relationship to Morrison County. The folders have been compiled by staff over the years, although it is not a box we like to add to. Having gone through the box in order to compile an online index, I can tell you that the cases are heartbreaking. The act of murder brings sharp focus to the people involved, both victims and suspects.
I’ve been working on the online index on and off for months now, having just gotten back to it after a busy summer. When I told our curator Ann Marie that I was going to upload it to the website this morning, she said it seemed appropriate because this is the day after Halloween, which is known as All Souls’ Day or the Day of the Dead.
The Morrison County Murders Index summarizes the files we have in the Murders Box, which date from 1892 through the present, with the exception of the recent murder in October 2011 because the outcome on this case is still pending. I have also included murders that are mentioned by Nathan Richardson in his 1876 and 1880 histories of Morrison County. These date from 1866 to 1878.
There’s a gap between 1878 and 1892 that will take research to fill (a good volunteer job should anyone be interested). There’s also a gap between 1849 (when the first European/American settlement was established in what is now Morrison County) and 1866. Why nothing before 1849? Because 1849 is when Minnesota Territory was formed, which meant there was some form of official criminal process for prosecuting murder suspects in Minnesota.