Since I’ve spent the last week immersed in the wacky world of my German-speaking ancestors up in Anoka County, Minnesota, I thought this week’s post should include my favorite of their stories. But then, that story necessitates another, and then another… so, buckle up, here goes.
My great-grandparents John and Carrie (Kraus) Leibel were both first-generation Minnesotans born of immigrant parents. Each actually had siblings born in The Old Country before the family moved to the U.S. in the late 1860s. Coincidentally, this photo was taken within a few months, either side, of the main incident in this story. That’s John, the shorter man in front, and Carrie has the toddler in her lap.
Michael (below, left, with his wife Ida) and Patrick Golden were brothers, two of the several children of Michael Golden, Sr. These folks were born in County Tyrone in Ireland, and came to the U.S. in 1851.
This detail of the Lino Lakes area of Anoka County (1888) shows the locations of our main characters’ farms and one particular schoolhouse. Frank Kraus was Carrie’s father, my 2nd Great-grandfather; Michael Leibel was John’s father. The names Flor, Wenzel, Rehbein, Husnik and Tauer are all well represented in the trees of the Kraus and Leibel families.
One other nearby family figures into this saga – that is, two daughters of Francis Xavier Labelle. Louise married Patrick Golden’s son, Edward, and Josephine married Michael Leibel’s son William (pictured below, circa 1940s).
Apparently, things were always contentious between the families, so it must have been a stunner when Michael Leibel’s son, Edward, married Michael Golden’s daughter, Julia, in June of 1913. Add to that some bickering over a roadway AND opposing views on school board candidates, and you’ve got the makings of a good old-fashioned donnybrook! A brouhaha, even!
From the case record of Leibel v. Golden, 163 N. W. 991 (1917) (with added clarifications):
The alleged assault[s] took place at a nearby schoolhouse at the close of a school election on the night of July 18, 1914. In the schoolhouse, unfriendly words passed between Josephine [Labelle] Leibel and Michael Golden. On the outside, as the people assembled were leaving, there was a spirited quarrel between Josephine Leibel and Agnes Golden [Patrick’s daughter], who was a sister of Joe Golden and a niece of Michael Golden. This quarrel had some connection with the talk between Mrs. Leibel and Mike Golden in the schoolhouse. The men folks at once became champions and a fight resulted. In it John Leibel received injuries which the jury were justified in finding so severe as to warrant substantial damages. The injuries to the other three were slight.
There were four cases, ultimately tried together, and each case had the same four defendants: Michael Golden, his sons Jack and George, and Patrick’s son Joe Golden. The four plaintiffs were John Leibel, his wife Carrie Leibel, John’s brother William Leibel (on behalf of his minor child), and his wife, Josephine. (Their child is named in the case record – Reuben Gordon Leibel – but none of the various write-ups of the case mention that Reuben was about a month old at the time of the incident! Now, nobody punches an infant – so I assume he must have been dropped at some point during the kerfuffle.)
The subsequent appeal (to the State Supreme Court!) had to do with the lower court’s finding of a conspiracy behind the assaults, and whether Michael and Jack Golden should have been held liable (with Joe and George, the instigators) if there was, in fact, no conspiracy. The Court finally determined that these people simply hated each other’s guts and didn’t need to pre-plan their fights, so with no evidence of conspiracy, Michael and Jack got a new trial.
Damages were assessed – John Leibel received $1500, the others between $10 and $100 each.
Reuben, the injured infant, survived intact.
Those star-crossed lovers, Edward & Julia (Golden) Leibel, eventually left Anoka County for Seattle, arriving between 1917 and 1920, joining Julia’s parents, Michael and Ida, and a couple of Ida’s brothers.
For decades, these families lived in the North Seattle neighborhoods near the University of Washington and Green Lake. So did my sister, in the 1970s, and so did I, from the 1980s through the 2000s. Edward & Julia’s son, Byron Golden Leibel, graduated from my neighborhood high school (Roosevelt) in 1935. That school and their former home on 11th Avenue NE were on my regular bus route.
My grandmother Irene, the middle daughter standing in front of the Buick above, lived in Spokane and visited us in Seattle many, many times. Her uncle Edward was only a year older than her eldest brother, and lived to be 90 years old, dying in 1983. But, curiously, she never mentioned him, her aunt Julia, or her cousin Byron. I wonder if she even knew they were there!