Collection Item Feature: Violet Ray Machine

This device was a high frequency generator that claimed to “counteract the causes” of illnesses by use of the “violet ray” the generator produced. It is believed Minnie Foster Goodrich purchased this machine in the 1920s. Minnie was born in Anoka County in 1865 and lived in the area her entire life, most of it in what was then called Anoka Township, today’s Coon Rapids. Family members remember her loaning the Violet Ray machine to friends and neighbors in the 1930s.

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Get to know the Ghost tour docents

One of the most enjoyable things I do as a volunteer for the Historical Society is to spend a few evenings each fall as a Ghosts of Anoka Walking Tour guide.  I can’t think of  a better place for ghost tours than the Halloween Capital of the World, and it’s a great opportunity to take a walk around town, share some history, and tell some stories that Anoka residents have shared with us about some of the unusual or unexplainable things which they’ve experienced in their homes and businesses. 

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The wire grass fields of Anoka County

The northeastern part of Anoka County was home to a unique industry in the 1890s because of a tall, tough grass, called wire grass, that grew there. More accurately the grass was sedge grass, but locally the common name of wire grass was used. This grass was too coarse and hard for animal feed, but the American Twine Company believed the grass could be harvested and used to make twine. The company bought roughly 30,000 acres in the Columbus and Linwood areas to harvest grass. Their efforts at making twine failed, but other companies were interested in the grass and several invested in Anoka County’s wire grass.

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Coming home

As you read this, Eileen and I should be on our way to pick up Ted in Litchfield after being deployed for 11 months, almost to the day.

I’m sure it will look just like reunions always do in the pictures, just like it did for us when he came home from Kosovo. Three or four buses loaded with soldiers coming along the highway, escorted by police, local well-wishers and some Patriot Guard. Streets lined with signs made by families and friends shouting messages of pride and love. Electrified wives, girlfriends, children, even a dog or two, standing in front of the red brick armory wall, fidgeting with clothes, nails and hair.

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Where’s Morrill: An Anoka Cold Case

In order to take advantage of opportunities further west, George Morrill moved to Anoka in 1873 with his wife Olive (nee Caldwell) and daughter Eliza (Lida) Caldwell Morrill. He began a successful law practice, welcomed two more children, and served as Secretary for the Anoka Library Association for 1879 and as the Anoka County Attorney, 1877-1881 and 1885-1887. For all appearances, Morrill seemed a successful businessperson and happy family man in 1890--yet, he vanished never to be seen again. What happened to cause his sudden and mysterious disappearance?  

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51 Museums Selected for Board Diversity and Inclusion Program as Part of $4 Million National Initiative

The American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the only organization representing the entire scope of the museum community, today unveiled the names and locations of the museums taking part in AAM’s unprecedented national initiative to diversify museum boards and leadership. The full list of selected institutions below includes a cross-section of museums of all types and sizes.

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Anoka County Fair: Home of the White Frost Fridge

Welcome to Anoka County Fair week and all the festivities that go along with the tradition of gathering together to celebrate agriculture, community, and the legacy of our area! You’ll find us at the historic farmhouse once again, chatting on the front porch and putting together a puzzle or two. Funny enough, one of the puzzles we usually solve for visitors is just what is that thing in the corner?

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Soil and Sunshine Garden Club has rich history

Ours is the greatest garden club in America! Okay, maybe that's a stretch, but we like our club. Why you ask? Gardening is a great way to reconnect with nature in this digital age. It's good for your mental health and acts as a stress reliever after a busy day. I enjoy growing and eating my own food in the vegetable garden, while the flowers are pleasing to the eye and the soul—and provide a habitat for our pollinators.

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Columbia Heights Garden Club

Whether we look to the Garden of Eden, the paradise garden of Darius the Great, or the Zen garden form featured at temples, people have always adapted and tamed the foliage around them in one manner or another. Enclosed gardens emerged about 10,000 BC and the idea of landscaping moved from Western Asia and eventually spread westward into Greece, Spain, Germany, France, and Britain.

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The Weber files: Part 2

Last week we began a three-part series about the Weber Family Collection at ACHS. This week, we’ll look at some more records that are part of that collection.

The Weber farm was handed down through three generations of the family. Some of the legal documents that trace these ownership transfers tell us another interesting story as well: How did older people plan for retirement in the years before nursing homes and assisted living facilities became common?

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The Weber files: Part I

Collections of records from a single family are generally referred to in the preservation world as “family papers.” Family papers would include many actual pieces of paper (correspondence, household or business records, legal documents, etc.) but can also include photographs and, sometimes, three-dimensional artifacts as well. One such collection at the Anoka County Historical Society is one for the Weber family of the Centerville area.

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