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Mankato, Minnesota

This all-encompassing project includes the organizing, preserving, processing, and describing of the 119 years of historical records for the Dotson Company, its subsidiaries, and its predecessors. All records are being prepared for storage in archival quality storage products and detailed with a complete inventory.

Once the records have been processed, the historical research will be completed and a comprehensive history will be written of manufacturing in rural areas through the history of the Dotson Company.


1896 MANKATO MURDER:

SOLVING THE CASE OF A LOST DAUGHTER OF THE VICTIM

In September 1882 Mary Klingel Fronert's first husband died, leaving her alone with one-year-old daughter Johanna.  Less than a month later, Louis Balzer's first wife, pregnant with their 8th child, falls down the basement stairs and dies; some say the death was very suspicious. Three months later, 40-year-old Louis marries 20-year-old Mary, who is pregnant with his child. 

In 1896, Louis, by then the father of 15 children, was known to be a violent man with a drinking problem.  Around midday on 2 November, as Mary was fleeing the hotel that Louis operated, he shot her in the back. Louis was immediately arrested, charged, and later convicted of murder.

Our research challenge: find out what happened to Johanna who was 14 years old at the time of her mother's death, had lived most of her life with her grandmother, married at the age of 17, gave birth to two children, and then disappeared, leaving her husband and children in Mankato.

 
Mrs Balzer (Mary Klingel Fronert), murder victim. Artist sketches from the murder trial. Source: Mankato Free Press 2 Jan 1897.

Mrs Balzer (Mary Klingel Fronert), murder victim. Artist sketches from the murder trial. Source: Mankato Free Press 2 Jan 1897.

Johanna Fronert, daughter of murder victim Mary Fronert Balzer and her Joseph Fronert. Johanna  left the Mankato area about 1904. (family photo)

Johanna Fronert, daughter of murder victim Mary Fronert Balzer and her Joseph Fronert. Johanna  left the Mankato area about 1904. (family photo)

Louis Balzer. convicted of shooting his wife in the back as she fled from their hotel. Mr. Balzer was sentenced to life in prison.

Louis Balzer. convicted of shooting his wife in the back as she fled from their hotel. Mr. Balzer was sentenced to life in prison.

 

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UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY, ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND

As the Naval Academy approached its 150th anniversary, it was determined that a history of the library should be part of the commemoration. The Nimitz Library, named after Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, had humble beginnings but has grown into a premier college library with special collections and archives focusing on the history of the academy and general Naval history. The Library history made its way into publications related to the 150th anniversary and remained available as part of the website for many years.

 

The project for the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota included completing the archives processing and preservation along with the development of a records management process for the organization. It also included researching and writing a history of the building that currently houses the new museum. Finally, The History Writers conducted oral histories of all the founding board members of the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota.

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NBC/TLC  "WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?"

Retained by NBC to conduct genealogical research for model Cindy Crawford and her family, our research focused on the earlier settlers who migrated to southern Minnesota in the mid-1800s. Following the family from Illinois, Wisconsin, and then to Minnesota during the height of homesteading, the US-Dakota War, and Minnesota statehood.

"Who Do You Think You Are?", a genealogy documentary series, first ran on NBC and was later picked up by The Learning Channel (TLC). Each episode follows the journeys of some of the most well-known names in American popular culture. The episode on Cindy Crawford aired 27 August 2013.

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IRON COUNTY WISCONSIN INTERPRETIVE TRAIL PROJECT

The Iron County Interpretive Guide project was made possible when the county's economic development body devoted funds to create historical markers along several trails in the county.  After researching the history of the specific geographic areas, markers were created that contained the historical information and then placed  at key locations along county hiking and cross-country skiing trails.

 
 
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THE VILLAGE FAMILY SERVICES, FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA

The Village Family Services provides comprehensive social service support for children and families in the Fargo, ND, area. Formed as the Children’s Home Society in the late nineteenth century, the organization commissioned this history to commemorate its 100th anniversary. The history focused on the organization’s start as an orphanage and later development in providing comprehensive services. Parts of the history continue to be used to describe the organization’s origins.