Maud and St. John’s Episcopal Church

Like Julia she [Betsy] now loved the new church. And it was not just a matter of wearing a black robe and a black four-cornered hat, of marching down the aisle in candlelight and singing. She loved the kneeling down to pray and the standing to praise. “O All ye Works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord…” That was her favorite canticle.  ~Quote from Heaven to Betsy

Maud Hart 1906

Maud Hart, ca. 1906

In a letter written August 3, 1965, Maud Hart Lovelace responded to a request from Don Larson for some of her memories of St. John’s Episcopal Church. Maud wrote: “I did not grow up with the church. I joined when I was twelve or thirteen, after my older sister Kathleen and I started singing in the choir… and then realized that we were meant to be Episcopalians. We left Mankato when I was eighteen so I was connected with St. John’s only five or six years at most and …as you know from the Betsy-Tacy books…at a very frivolous age. I remember the Memorial service held in 1907 for the beloved Dr. Davis who had confirmed us, and how Kathleen had to stop crying…all of us were crying…in order to sing her solo. The organ we had in those days had to be pumped by hand!”

Kathleen 1906

Kathleen Hart, ca. 1906

History of St. John’s: February, 1856 marked the first Mankato Episcopal worship services in the log school house on Mulberry Street. In July, 1866 the Warren and Broad Street location was purchased for $550 and Saint John’s Parish was officially organized with six members. In 1867 the first church building was constructed. In 1904 Maud and Kathleen Hart joined the Saint John’s choir and realized “they were meant to be Episcopalians.”  July, 1916’s 100th anniversary was celebrated with a worship service and picnic in Sibley Park. A December 1922, fire destroyed the church building which was rebuilt immediately.  In 1967 the current Saint John’s building was consecrated. In the spring of 1980 Maud Hart Lovelace’s funeral was at Saint John’s and she is buried in Glenwood Cemetery.  2016 was the 150th anniversary year celebrated with special activities in including a worship service and picnic at Sibley Park.


A piece of stained glass from the church salvaged from the fire in 1922.

On Sunday, April 30, 2017, a unique concert will be held at St. John’s to celebrate the 125th birthday of Maud Hart Lovelace. Popular vocalist Maud Hixson, accompanied by her husband Rick Carlson on the piano, will perform a selection of songs from her CD, Listening For Your Song: A musical companion to the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. This CD is a collection of songs from the 1900s through WWI that were referred to in Maud Hart Lovelace’s series of Betsy-Tacy books. Special guest appearance by Maria Jette, well-known soprano, and regular guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. Tickets and CD’s are available online. 

Episcopal Church about 1907

St. John’s Episcopal Church in 1907 as it looked when Maud and Kathleen Hart attended.

Episcopal church 1965

St. John’s Episcopal Church in 1965. 

Happy 125th Birthday Maud Hart Lovelace!


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maud - BECHS

Today marks the 125th birthday of author Maud Hart Lovelace. She was born in a little house located at 214 Center Street (pictured below) in Mankato, MN to Thomas and Stella (Palmer) Hart. The Hart family moved to 333 Center Street when Maud was six months old.

Was Maud really born on April 26, 1892? Maud’s birthday was always celebrated on April 25. However it was not until she was 50 years old that she learned she was technically born on April 26. She had asked her mother about the hour of her birth, and her mother’s response was “pretty near midnight, in fact it was a little after, but only a teeny bit.” Maud replied, “You mean I was born on the 26th?” Her mother answered, “I suppose so. It was after midnight, a half hour or so.” She Birth homewent on to tell her the story that Maud’s Uncle Jim Hart had become engaged in April 1892 to a widow named Maud Fowler Maloney while Stella was pregnant. Maud Maloney’s birthday was April 25, and Stella had told her that if her baby was born on the 25th, she would be named Maud. Stella went into labor on the 25th, but the baby wasn’t born before midnight. She explained that “they all liked Aunt Maud so well, I fudged on the date.” All legal records show Maud’s birth date as April 25. And so we continue to celebrate Maud’s birthday on April 25, just as she always did.

In Mankato, we’re commemorating this milestone birthday with a proclamation, a birthday party and a concert!

Mankato Mayor, Eric Anderson, has proclaimed today to be Maud Hart Lovelace Day! On Saturday, April 29, the Betsy-Tacy Society will host “Betsy’s Birthday Party” at the 5th b.dayBetsy and Tacy houses (childhood homes of Maud and her best friend, Frances “Bick” Kenney) complete with party games and birthday cake. On Sunday, April 30, the BTS has partnered with St. John’s Episcopal Church to host a very special concert. Popular vocalist Maud Hixson, accompanied by her husband Rick Carlson on the piano, will perform a selection of songs from her CD, Listening For Your Song: A musical companion to the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. This CD is a collection of songs from the 1900s through WWI that were referred to in Maud Hart Lovelace’s series of Betsy-Tacy books. Special guest appearance by Maria Jette, well-known soprano, and regular guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. will join Hixson in singing Rossini’s “Cat Duet”. Fans of the Betsy-Tacy books will recognize St. John’s Episcopal Church from the Betsy-Tacy books. Characters Julia and Betsy join the Episcopal Church to sing in the choir. Tickets for this concert are still available.

So whether or not Maud was born on April 25 or April 26, we celebrate the milestone birthday of a beloved author whose character of Elizabeth (Betsy) Warrington Ray in the Betsy-Tacy books would inspire women and girls for generations.

Proclamation MHL Day 4.25.2017

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from Deep Valley

Remembering Frances “Bick” Kenney and her Irish family (Tacy and the Kelly family) on St. Patrick’s Day.

March and St. Patrick’s Day brought the annual supper in the basement of the Catholic Church. Katie and Tacy with shamrocks on their shirt waists, green bows in their hair, waited on the Ray’s.  A quote from Heaven to Betsy. 

St. Pats card

She [Tacy] was a tall girl who wore her auburn hair in coronet braids. There was a peachy bloom on her cheeks; her Irish blue eyes looked both laughing and afraid. Tacy had been shy as a child and she was still diffident with teachers, some parents, most boys. But with Betsy and Tib she bubbled over with fun. A quote from Betsy Was a Junior 

Fun Fact: The Kenney family attended St. John the Baptist Catholic Church when they lived in Mankato. The annual tradition of the St. Patrick’s Day annual dinner in the basement of the church dates back to 1885 and continues to this day.

Maud Hart Lovelace’s Deep Valley 2017 Calendar


I’m excited to share my most recent project, “Maud Hart Lovelace’s Deep Valley” 2017 calendar. This full color wall calendar features 12 charming historical photographs from turn of the 20th century Mankato, MN (Deep Valley). Accompanying each photograph are quotes and history related to the Betsy-Tacy books. Great for gift giving this holiday season or treat yourself and enjoy Maud’s Deep Valley every day of the year! Order the calendar online today. Limited quantities, so get yours while supplies last!


Betsy-Tacy Days in 1961, Part 3

(This is continued from Betsy-Tacy Days in 1961 and Betsy-Tacy Days in 1961, Part 2)

Mankato Free Press reported on October 9, 1961:

‘Betsy-Tacy Days’ Draw Huge Crowds of Children

Enthusiasm for the Betsy-Tacy books and their author rose to a high pitch Saturday afternoon when a veritable flood of children rushed from their guided tours of the books’ locale to the Mankato public library.

It was here that the popular writer of the Betsy-Tacy books, Maud Hart Lovelace, held court, autographing the many copies purchased by local school children. She also took time to chat with some of the parents present, at least 450 in all.

Hostesses at the library included Isadora Veigel, head librarian, and her staff and A.A.U.W. members Emma Weicking, chairman for the afternoon, Signe Sletten, Mrs. Al Roehl and Mrs E.J. Halling.

The Blue Earth county librarian, Gilford Johnson, also assisted in receiving the youngsters who assembled in the children’s room. Attracting attention was the bride mannekin [sic] at the door, “Betsy,” in her wedding finery complete with veil.

Circulating in the crowd were six little girls in costume—Lydia Sorenson, Kathy Frahm, Margaret Hanson, Cindy Cooper, Janet Burns and Marla Sugden.

A highlight of the afternoon’s festivities was a coffee party given by Mrs. Fred Marlow at her home, 332 Center street, the original “Tacy” house, where over 50 guests stopped.

Mrs. Marlow was assisted by Mrs. Orville Schwankl and Mrs. Harold Dickmeyer in entertaining the elementary teachers of Mankato who led the children’s tours and the old-time friends of Mrs. Lovelace.

Adding interest to the Betsy-Tacy days were the displays of old-fashioned dresses and furniture in Brett’s store windows created by John Turner, and many from out of town admired the antiques exhibited at the Blue Earth county museum on Saturday and Sunday. General chairman for the “days,” which drew a much larger attendance than expected, was Dr. Anna Wiecking. (From Mankato Free Press, October 9, 1961)


Six girls had been chosen to dress as Betsy, Tacy and Tib for the weekend. “Nadine Sugden had much to do with finding the six girls to be Betsys and Tacys,” said Kathryn Hanson. “We had two redheads for Tacy, Cindy Cooper and Janet Burns, but we needed another one age 5 or 6. One day driving home on Willard Street, Nadine saw a cute little redhead, so she went to the house and asked her surprised mother if she could be included. After some checking, Mrs. Paul Frahm was convinced that no harm would come to Kathy, so we were set. I remember that my daughter, Margaret, wore my mother’s confirmation dress and Marla Sugden wore another dress of my mother’s. The girls sat in the front seats at Lincoln School auditorium for the Saturday morning program and Saturday afternoon at the library.

Margaret Hanson who was 10 years old at the time and recalled that she was fascinated with Maud’s discussion of creating characters at the Lincoln School program. “I remember Maud said Tony wasn’t based on one person like so many of them were,” said Margaret. She also remembered being at the home of Bert and Inella Burns on Byron Street for the pictures of the six “Betsy-Tacys that appeared in the paper. “I was wearing my grandmother’s confirmation dress and I was thrilled every time I got to put it on,” she said.

The Blue Earth County Museum featured a turn-of-the-century exhibit. In 1961 the county museum was housed in the Hubbard House on South 5th Street. The curator, G.S. Petterson and a special committee selected articles from the museum and got others on loan that were in use during the period of the stories, from about 1897 to 1917. Maud loaned some personal items for the exhibit, such as pictures of herself, and her family and friends, and a Japanese version of a Betsy-Tacy book. Even the steam whistle from the “Big Mill” was on display.

Betsy-Tacy Days in 1961 – Part 2

(This is continued from the previous post – Betsy-Tacy Days in 1961)


Maud Hart Lovelace addresses parents, teachers, librarians, and children in the Lincoln School auditorium on October 6, 1961. Seated are (L-R) Kathryn Hanson, President of the AAUW and Mary Lou Hanson, District #77 elementary school principal and daughter of Eleanor Wood Lippert [Dorothy] . Photo courtesy of the Blue Earth County Historical Society.

The weekend celebration for Betsy-Tacy Days weekend began with a program held in the auditorium of the Lincoln School. The Free Press reported on October 7, 1961:

Large Crowd Welcomes Mrs. Lovelace

A large crowd of men and women welcomed Mrs. Maud Hart Lovelace, author of the Betsy-Tacy books, at the Lincoln school auditorium, Friday evening, the first of Betsy-Tacy Days in Mankato.

Mrs. Lovelace, guest of honor for two days in Mankato, under the sponsorship of the American Association of University Women, opened her talk by introducing some of the women who figured as characters in her series of children’s books on Mankato.

These included Mrs. Marjorie Gerlach Harris of Chicago, (Tib), Mrs. Charles Kirch of Buffalo, N.Y., (Tacy), Mrs. Ruth Williams of Port Orchard, Wash., (Alice), Mrs. Beulah Hunt Ilgenfritz of St. Petersburg, Florida, (Winona), and Mrs. Mildred Oleson Cahill of Waseca, Minn., (Irma).

Pouring at the coffee table after the talk by Mrs. Lovelace, were Mrs. Jabez Lloyd, who was Irene in the Betsy-Tacy book, Mrs. Tom Edwards, Mrs. Elmer Lippert, and Mrs. J.W. Harty, all old-time friends of the author here in Mankato.

Mrs. Vernon Hanson, president of the Mankato branch of the A.A.U.W., presided at the meeting, and Mrs. Ellsworth Hansen of the new Jefferson School at James Fairfield [sic] introduced Mrs. Lovelace. This new school is on the site of Mr. Meecham’s house which is mentioned in the Betsy-Tacy books.

Testifying to the great demand for the books was the fact that 170 were sold during the evening, with the first four of the series being the most popular. Many Mankatoans, especially children, who had not read the Betsy-Tacy series, over a dozen volumes in all, will be doing so during the coming months.

1961-ticketDr. Anna Wiecking was general chairman for the Betsy-Tacy Days. The event brought together many of Maud’s childhood friends – friends that Maud used as characters in her books. Thomas Crowell Co., publisher of the Betsy-Tacy books, sent Marjorie Barr, promotion director of children’s books, from New York.

Former AAUW president, Kathryn Hanson, now a Betsy-Tacy Society member, recalled, “While the Free Press photographer was taking the picture of Betsy, Tacy and Tib outside Lincoln School on that beautiful October day, Beulah Hunt Ilgen-Fritz (Winona) stood and visited with me. I visited more one-on-one with her than with the others. Beulah had a sense of style in her dress and manners and made you feel that she really knew her way around. Marjorie was a short little thing —and one could see her as a dressmaker. Bick had a pleasant smile, but both of them let Maud be the center of attention. Maud was very gracious and friendly. She welcomed questions after her speech and when the children swarmed around her after her Saturday morning speech. She offered that I could send her books I would wish to give my youngest daughter for her to autograph, and I did that several times.”

The Saturday festivities featured a 10 am program for children at the Lincoln School auditorium. Maud spoke to the children about her books, took their questions, and autographed books. On Saturday afternoon the Mankato Public Library hosted an open house, where Maud again spoke to the children and autographed books. Well-known illustrator Paul Galdone made the posters for the event which were displayed at the Mankato Public Library, Brett’s Department Store and the Free Press stationary store. Brett’s Department Store windows featured Betsy-Tacy-themed displays made by John Turner. They consisted of period dresses and furniture.

Betsy-Tacy Days in 1961

Mankato Honors Maud Hart Lovelace in 1961

In June 1961 the Mankato Free Press reported “Betsy Tacy Day’ is planned for October.” The Mankato Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) had been working on plans to bring Maud Hart Lovelace to Mankato, her childhood home.

The idea for the event was suggested at an AAUW board meeting that was held at the home of the board president, Kathryn Hanson, in May 1961. Ellen Skibness, a professor at Mankato State University, proposed the group sponsor a Betsy-Tacy weekend because Maud had grown up in Mankato and was writing about Mankato and most of the major characters were still living. The proposal was quickly accepted and it was decided that Dr. Anna Wiecking, who lived in the house across the street from the Gerlach house (Tib’s house) and knew many of the people involved, would be the general chair for the event.

The AAUW group was active all summer making plans and preparations. On August 19, 1961, the Mankato Free Press reported: “Mankato and the surrounding area will have a literary ‘treat’ this fall due to the efforts of the American Association of University Women, Mankato Branch. Maud Hart Lovelace, who lives at Claremont, California, and is famous for her Betsy-Tacy stories throughout the United States, will come to Mankato October 6 and 7 to speak to her admirers and friends.”

Betsy-Tacy Days was made official by a proclamation by Mankato Mayor Rex Hill, who said Mrs. Lovelace’s visit to Mankato “would be of great interest to Mankatoans since the author was born and reared in our community.”

Maud 1961 Free Press

This photo of Maud Hart Lovelace was found in the Free Press files for October 6, 1961. The photo was never published.

Betsy-Tacy Author Planned Only 1 Book

(Mankato Free Press- Friday, October 6, 1961)

“When I wrote my first Betsy-Tacy book I never planned to write another. But the children wanted more of them,” related Maud Hart Lovelace, author of the Betsy-Tacy series of books for girls.

Mrs. Lovelace is the guest of honor this weekend at Betsy-Tacy Day in Mankato, an event sponsored by the Mankato branch of the American Association of University Women.

“The Betsy-Tacy books have been rewarding to me because of the correspondence from children in every state in the Union,” said Mrs. Lovelace, a native of Mankato. “The children ask me about characters in the books and they tell me what books they want next.”

Mrs. Lovelace wrote her first Betsy-Tacy book in 1940 and 11 others in the series have followed. Other children’s stories have also been written by her since the advent of the Betsy-Tacy tales.

“I’ve always written. I sold my first story when I was 18 years old to the Los Angeles Times while visiting my grandmother in California. ‘No. 8’ was the title of the article. It was the number of a streetcar somebody was murdered on. That’s all I can remember about it. It sold for $10.

“My second story was called ‘Three Roses.’ My husband always said it should have been ‘Four Roses.’

“I married Delos Lovelace in 1917. He wrote short stories for The Saturday Evening Post and other magazines but I wasn’t good at short stories. He suggested I write novels,” remarked Mrs. Lovelace.

Mrs. Lovelace did write novels, six of them. Two were written with her husband. The first was “The Black Angels,” a book which was staged in Blue Earth county.

Ft. Snelling is in the background for “Early Candlelight.” “One Stayed at Welcome” relates to Minneapolis and the Fairmont area is the setting for “Gentlemen from England.” “Petticoat Court” and “The Charming Sally” were the novels written with her husband. [Editor’s note: Books co-authored by Maud and Delos Lovelace were “One Stayed at Welcome,” “Gentlemen from England” and “The Golden Wedge: Indian Legends of South America.”]

Mrs. Lovelace said she developed her interest in children’s stories when she started telling stories to her daughter, Merian, who is now the wife of a magazine editor in New York City, N.Y., and also a short story writer.

Mrs. Lovelace’s husband has continued his writing since retiring from the staff of the New York Telegram and Sun. He has written a biography of former President Eisenhower for children and two other juvenile books in recent years.

The next Maud Hart Lovelace book will be entitled, “Betsy’s Bettina.” “I have done some work on the book but it really hasn’t started rolling.” The latest in the Betsy-Tacy series will be about the child of Betsy and her husband.

Mrs. Lovelace has not visited Mankato since 1953. She moved to Minneapolis from Mankato in 1910, the year she graduated from Mankato high school, but still recalls what the city was like then.

“I lived at 333 Center Street. At that time the hills at the end of Center were completely wild. We called it the Big Hill. Now it is called Sumner Hill. There were only one or two houses on the hill then.

There is another great change. The slough is gone. The high school is on it.

“We drove up Front Street last night. The only change I notice is the traffic. My father had a shoe store on Front street. He sold it to Wood and Sterling. The rest of the town looks quite natural to me,” she commented.

“The college was the Normal school then with only two or three buildings. The second house I lived in during high school in Mankato is now the journalism house at Mankato State college.

“I can’t imagine a more wonderful place than Mankato for children to grow up. There is something about it that is friendly. I’ve always loved it. Being large won’t change it,” said Mrs. Lovelace.

With Mrs. Lovelace, who is Betsy in her series of books, are other persons who are the basis for characters in the stories.

Maud 1961a

Maud Hart Lovelace, famed author of the Betsy-Tacy series of book for girls, is in Mankato this weekend to take part in Betsy-Tacy day. Seen with Mrs. Lovelace, who is sitting, are (left to right) Mrs. Marjorie Gerlach Harris of Chicago, who is the character of “Tib” in the Betsy-Tacy books; Mrs. Charles Kirch of Buffalo, N.Y., who is “Tacy,” and Mrs. Ruth Williams of Port Orchard, Wash., “Alice” in the series. This is the first time the group has met in nine years. (Free Press Photo) [Editor’s note: This photograph is from the Free Press files and was published October 6, 1961.]

They include: Mrs. Frances Kenney Kirch (Tacy), of Buffalo, N.Y.; Mrs. Marjorie Gerlach Harris (Tib) of Chicago, Ill.; Mrs. Beulah Hunt Ingenfritz (Winona) of St. Petersburg, Fla.; Mrs. Ruth Williams (Alice) of Port Orchard, Wash.; and Mrs. Mildred Oleson Cahill (Irma) of Waseca. Other characters in the books are Mankatoans, Mr. and Mrs. Jabez Lloyd (Cab and Irene) and Mrs. Eleanor Wood Lippert (Dorothy).

Also in Mankato is a life-long fan of the Betsy-Tacy stories, Libby Demp, of Philadelphia, Pa. Miss Demp has corresponded with Mrs. Lovelace since the first of the books appeared on the market. “I always wanted to be a writer. I admired the characters in the books,” said Miss Demp, who is chairman of public relations for the Academy of Natural Science, the oldest natural history center in the country.

Miss Demp and another Philadelphia woman have written a book on secretarial careers for young women which will be published next year. “Mrs. Lovelace has been an inspiration in my writing. When I signed the contract for this book I phoned her first.”

After leaving Mankato, Miss Demp will visit Minneapolis and Milwaukee, other settings for the Betsy-Tacy books, prior to returning to Philadelphia.

Mrs. Lovelace will speak at Lincoln school at 8 p.m. today. Saturday she will give a talk to children at the school at 10 a.m. She will autograph books at the Mankato public library from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

From 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday there will be a “turn of the century” exhibit of items in use during the Betsy-Tacy period, including some personal items belonging to Mrs. Lovelace. The exhibit will be at the Blue Earth county museum.

Also, there will be foot tours of the locales of the Betsy-Tacy stories.

Monday, Mrs. Lovelace will visit friends in Minneapolis. Wednesday she will return to her home in Claremont, Calif.

The Andrews (Humphreys) Boys


picture 2 football team

Football Team: Front Row (L-R) H. Andrews, Chambers, R. Andrews (Capt.), Johnson (Mascot), Bean, Rossman. Row 2: Hunter, Briggs, Harper, Ash, Shaul, Mason, Ireland Row 3: Bogard (Manager), Kilty, Doig (Coach), Lusardi, Hackelman. From The Russ, June 1909.

I wrote this article in 2006 for a Betsy-Tacy Society newsletter and thought I’d share it here. Nancy Wilson, from Seattle, Washington sent photos of Rupert and Helmus Andrews (characters of Larry and Herbert Humphreys) that she found in the San Diego High School yearbook, The Russ, June 1909. Nancy wrote:

“I first met Betsy and Tacy when I was just their age—5 years old. My best friend and near neighbor, Virginia, introduced me to these stories. I checked them out one by one from the old children’s library in Santa Ana, California, and I continued to check them out of the library and read them over and over, even as an adult, until I discovered at about the age of 50 that they were available in paperback. Quickly I purchased every one, and now I have a complete collection.

It was only after my grandmother’s death in 1978 that I began to realize that the characters in these books, everyone in the Crowd, were her contemporaries, not my own. I had read the books so many times, yet I somehow never let go of the illusion that we were all the same age at Deep Valley High School. I will never forget how I waited for Betsy’s Wedding to be published, rounding out the series.

picture 1 boys track team

San Diego High School Track Team: Back row: Howard Briggs, Frank Garrettson, Willard Newman, Harry Clark, Bill Madden, Arthur Loveland, B. Ward. Front row: Eugine Daney, Helmus Andrews (Herbert Humphreys), Rupert Andrews (Larry Humphreys), Paul Sloane, George Harper, Sydney Morgan. From The Russ, June 1909.

One day it dawned on me that my grandparents had graduated from San Diego High School in 1909. This meant that they might have known Rupert and Helmus Andrews, the Humphreys boys, who moved to San Diego at the end of Betsy’s freshman year. Sure enough, my sister and I found the school yearbooks in the archives of the San Diego Historical Society, and there were the pictures of Rupe and Helmus, alias Larry and Herbert.

picture 3 class officerscropped

This discovery seemed very fitting to me. My only regret is that I did not figure it out          when my grandparents were alive. How I wish I could have asked them about the Andrews brothers. I’m sure they knew one another, because the school was quite small in those days.”


The Theater, on Sunday?

“I love the theater so much,” said Betsy, “that I wouldn’t care if the play was in Chinese. But Tib!” She grasped Tib’s arm suddenly. “It can’t be tonight we are going.” “Why not?” Betsy laughed merrily at Tib’s mistake. “It’s Sunday!” “Yes,” answered Tib, “That’s the night Uncle Rudy got the tickets for, Sunday, the twenty-second.” Betsy was silent, astonished. She could hardly believe her ears. They were going to the theater on Sunday. It was certainly Sunday, for they were on their way to church.  Nobody Betsy knew ever went to the theater on Sunday. (Quote from Betsy In Spite of Herself)

Wonder why Betsy was so surprised to go to the theater on a Sunday? The answer is in an interview with Guy Crane, a stage manager of vaudeville theaters in Mankato, who was 86 years old when he was interviewed by Lowell Schreyer in 1975. Crane worked at the Wonderland in 1908 and at the Unique in 1909; before he went to the Wonderland he had worked for a few months at the Opera House. His experience included many vaudeville acts including tap dance, minstrel troupes, comedy acts, song and dance, marionettes, hypnotists, magic and illusions, and, fairly common in those days, blackface acts. Crane left Mankato in March 1909 to work in vaudeville theaters on the west coast.

Here are some interesting excerpts from the interview.

Opera House

Mankato Opera House

Crane: There were no Sunday shows of any kind here, in those days. I used to work at the Opera House where they play here on Monday nights. Six a week. New Ulm on Sunday nights.

Schreyer: What was the average length of their performances in Mankato?

Crane: Three days

Schreyer: Did children come to the matinee and the evening performances or was it understood they be at only the matinee?

Crane: No, no. They went to night shows as well, the younger people that is. The children would be with their parents, as I remember.

Schreyer: What times during the day did the shows begin?

Crane: Well the matinee, I think, was 2:30. And the evening shows at 7:00 and 9:00.

Schreyer: So it was generally about an hour and a half show all together?

Crane: Yes, and they had another half hour to clear the audience and get in a new one.

Schreyer: Was the Opera House in operation at that time already?

Crane: Oh, the Opera House was old by then.

Schreyer: So, that actually would have been a competitor to the Wonderland?

Crane: Well, when the show was over in the Wonderland and they had the play still going on at the Opera House, we’d go over if we wanted to see the last of it.

Schreyer: Were they legitimate plays or were they the vaudeville acts as well?

Crane: Oh no, they were legitimate.

Schreyer: What were some of the plays that you got a chance to see?

Crane: Oh my, I worked there for about a year before that is, one winter, one season before I went to the Wonderland, in property and I helped with the scenery. Of course, I was a light weight in those days. Skinny as a rail. But, oh, “The Lion and the Mouse” and Joe Howard and a lot of George M. Cohan shows. Let’s see, what’s some of those Southern plays…“The Old Plantation” and things like that.

Schreyer: So that [Opera House] was more a legitimate playhouse than a vaudeville house.

Crane: Oh yes.

Schreyer: What’s the earliest time that you can recall a film – a motion picture being shown in Mankato?

Crane: 1906 “The Great Train Robbery.” That’s one of the first…I think that was the first.

Crane: The Opera House had one section of removable seats. They were cranked off under the dress circle of the theater.

Crane: Chauncey Olcott, they had big choruses with them. They played at the Opera House.

Schreyer: Chauncey Olcott, did you see him there?

Crane: At the Opera House. Oh my, you bet.



A Great Matchmaker

Maud Delos 1917

Maud and Delos Lovelace after their wedding in November 1917

Writing would bring Maud Hart and Delos Lovelace together, with a little help from a matchmaker. That matchmaker was Lillian Wakefield.

In 1915, Delos Lovelace began working as a reporter for his good friend Harry Wakefield, the city editor of the Minneapolis Tribune. The following year, Wakefield’s wife Lillian opened the Wakefield Publicity Bureau in Minneapolis. At some point Harry steered Delos to his wife’s office. In the spring of 1917, Delos left the publicity bureau to join the First Officer’s Training Camp at Fort Snelling.

When Lillian was charged with spearheading a fundraising effort she needed a writer, and she was introduced to Maud Hart. Maud recalled, “I went to see her and we liked each other very much. She told me to look through the collection of articles and materials to see the kind of thing they were doing. I remember coming across Delos’ name and saying, ‘Why, what name is this? It sounds like a valentine.’ Then I went on to read some of the things he had written, and I said, ‘My, he certainly writes well.’

In a 1974 interview with Jo Anne Ray, Maud told her, “Mrs. Wakefield was a great matchmaker, and she invited Delos, myself, and Helen [Maud’s sister] to dinner at her home – I think she invited Helen because she was young enough not to give any competition. Well, we had a lovely time Delos and I were seated across from each other and we kept eyeing each other. I remember we walked Helen home and then Delos and I walked and walked, around the lakes, and talked and talked – it was practically dawn before we reached my home. After that, whenever possible, Mrs. Wakefield would send me on assignments out to Fort Snelling,” where Delos was stationed.

This first meeting between Maud and Delos was in April 1917. They were married on November 29, 1917. When they wed, their combined names sounded even more “like a valentine”.

Maud dedicated Betsy’s Wedding to Lillian Hammons Wakefield, the matchmaker who brought her and Delos together. The fictional names Maud gave to the Wakefields were Bradford and Eleanor Hawthorne.