Douglas County Past: 'Ghost ship' eludes authorities; grave stones vandalized in the Hebrew cemetery

Headlines from Douglas County's past.

Douglas County Past graphic
Gary Meader / Duluth News Tribune
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June 17, 1947

Billings Park library station is moved

Listen: Garden clubs helped Superior blossom

The Billings Park library station has been moved according to Miss Lucille May, head of the Superior Public Library Tuesday. Formerly located at the Larson Grocery store, the books are now stacked at 1903 Iowa Ave. The library will be open on Thursdays from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. and from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Grain ship aground, resists tugs’ efforts

The combined efforts of two tugs and a sistership were being utilized Tuesday in an attempt to free the steamer Sonora, which remained hard aground off Cargill Elevator K in East End.


Standing by to assist the 346-foot Sonora is her sistership, the Sonoma, which was attempting to aid two tugs of the Union Towing and Wrecking company in freeing the freighter.

The Sonora rammed aground in approximately seven feet of water Monday afternoon, and efforts to free it Monday evening were futile. Four cables were snapped during the initial attempts by tugs to haul the ship back into deeper water.

John Showers, caretaker of the Hebrew cemetery, shown on the left, and Leonard Westberg, a laborer, engage in the task of righting gravestones and markers overturned Monday night in an act of vandalism by four South Superior youths, all of whom have admitted the depredation, and will be brought into juvenile court to answer the charge of “willful destruction and mutilation” of the monuments. A total of 53 stones was overturned, with some of them cracked and damaged, the caretaker reported. June 19, 1947 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram

Grave stones knocked over, some broken

Vandals who tipped over tombstones and monuments in the Hebrew cemetery were being sought Tuesday by members of the Douglas County Sheriff's Department.

Caretaker John Showers reported the depredation Tuesday morning when he found 53 monuments and grave markers overturned. Deputy Sheriff Bannick reported that some of the markers had been cracked and broken.

June 18, 1947

6-18-47 Bobby.jpg
Vacationing from his exacting role as star of the Ice-Capades, Bobby Specht, U.S. figure skating champion, is spending his time loafing and doing odd jobs around home as he visits his parents in Superior. June 20,1947 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram

Bobby Specht home for vacation; career in movies beckons figure skating star

Bobby Specht, son of Dr. and Mrs. O.G. Specht, 1615 Ogden Ave., was “just taking it easy around home” Wednesday, spending his vacation with his parents prior to resuming his role as leading star in the “Ice-Capades.”


Bobby’s parents revealed Wednesday that the coming “Ice-Capades” season will be his last with the skating show which he has headed since winning the U.S. men’s figure skating crown, and that a career in the movies is beckoning strongly.

Listen: Superior wartime wedding attracts worldwide attention

It is intimated strongly that Specht is “all set” for a movie career, although Mrs. Specht said that “we can’t say anything about it yet.”

At 24 years of age Specht has achieved the heights in the figure skating world. As an amateur he grabbed every possible title, then has gone to even more widespread fame as star of the ice extravaganza.

Completes training

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Pvt. Bruce T. Ciskie. June 18, 1947 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram

Pvt. Bruce T. Ciskie, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Ciskie, 1924 ½ Belknap, has completed basic training at Fort Lewis, Wash. and is awaiting his next assignment. He entered service April 3, and qualified as a sharpshooter during his basic training.

“Ghost Ship” lives up to name, slips out of harbor

The “ghost ship” Jupiter lived up to its name Wednesday, slipping into – and out of – the Superior harbor, despite efforts of the National Maritime Union to tie up the freighter with a U. S. Court order.

The Jupiter took on a load of iron ore at the Great Northern docks and got underway at 1:20 p.m. destined for an unnamed port on the lower lakes.


U.S. Court Commissioner C. W. Bishop Wednesday morning dismissed a petition of the NMU, which asked that a summons be served on the claim that 17 seamen, former crew members of the Jupiter, had not been paid for their services or had not been able to get their personal effects off the ship

The Jupiter’s troubles were brought into the open May 22 at Detroit where the 17 crew members struck. According to the owners of the ship, the crew was given a chance to return to the ship and was notified of the sailing time.

When the men did not report, the ship sailed and the paychecks, together with the personal belongings or “gear” of the NMU men were expressed to them.

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James Lally, shown nere in his hospital bed at St. Francis hospital, receives his diploma from the Rev. Fr. Salvatore Wegemer, OFM. Looking on are fellow graduates of the eighth grade, left to right, Fred Connor, Patrick Glonek and James Heinen. June 18, 1947 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram

Graduate gets diploma while hospitalized

On May 10, James Lally was injured in an automobile accident, and is still recuperating. At the time he was hurt, he was nearing completion of his studies in the eighth grade at St. Francis Xavier school, and was slated for graduation last week.

As close to finishing as he was, school authorities determined that James would not be deprived of his diploma this year – and even though he was hospitalized, they decided to pay special tribute and honor to this plucky lad.

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Stevens School of this community marked its 30th anniversary at the close of the term recently at a picnic drawing over 175 to the event. Former students and teachers came from various places to take part in the reunion. Glen Java of Frederic extends his hand over the radiator of a car to welcome Miss Oris Erickson of Minneapolis, front, and Norma Tollefson, background, former school mates. June 18, 1947 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram

Stevens School at Dairyland marks 30th anniversary

DAIRYLAND – During the 30 years that the Stevens school has been in existence about 160 boys and girls have been recorded on the roster. Eighty pupils have been graduated from the eighth grade and 26 teachers have been hired to teach there.

Listen: Vanished communities along the South Shore railroad

Among events at the picnic were recognizing certain students of teachers. For instance, the family who had the largest number of children attending the school were the Hjalmer Ericksons, who still reside in the community. They had 10 children who all graduated from Stevens. Six of them were present for the reunion.

The student who traveled the furthest distance to get to the reunion turned out to be Harry Anderson of Detroit, Mich.

June 18, 1945

Catherine Butler to christen ship

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Miss Catherine Butler June 18, 1945 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram

Miss Catherine Butler, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Butler, president of Walter Butler Shipbuilders, Inc., will christen the Dragon Fly, ocean going cargo vessel, in the Butler shipyard Wednesday.

Miss Butler served as an ambassador of good will in 1943 when she made a trip to Canada to invite the Dionne quintuplets to come to Superior to christen the quint fleet on May 9 of that year.

The Dragon Fly will be the third ship that the Butler firm has launched in less than three weeks and will join her sister ships to carry much needed supplies to the armed forces in the South Pacific.

June 19, 1945

Butler women interviewed on postwar plans

In an effort to determine the postwar plans of women now working in defense industry, a group of women at the Superior Butler yard were asked the following question: “Do you intend to keep on working after the war is won?”

Mrs. Andrew Mattila, Superior, member of Shipbuilders 117: “My husband has been in the army for three and one-half years. I taught school, worked as a weighmaster at one of the local coal docks and am now a shipfitter helper. Definitely, I will set up housekeeping when my husband returns.”

Mrs. Ray Monto, Superior: welderette and member of Shipbuilders 117: “I intend to go back to housekeeping, but don’t think housekeeping is easier then welding.”

Miss Emily Hendricks, Superior, sweeper and member of Local 117: “I support my mother. I intend to keep on working. I worked after school last year at the Androy hotel.”

Miss May Saburn, Duluth, welderette and member of Local 117: “Yes, I’m going to keep on working. I plan to go to Arizona. I like welding and wouldn’t change now. I formerly worked in a cafe. It seems good to have a change.”

Sgt. Stralka returns home after liberation

A Superior sergeant, Paul A. Stralka Jr., who was kept in solitary confinement for 32 days in a French prison in Paris after being shot down over France July 4, 1944, is home for a 60-day furlough with his mother, Mrs. Paul Stralka, 1420 Fisher Avenue.

PFC Hagen awarded bronze star on Luzon

Pfc. Sigurd Hagen, son of Mrs. Sina Engstrom, 908 Winter Street, has been awarded the bronze star by Maj. Gen. P.W. Clarkson, commanding general of the fighting 33rd division, for heroism in action against the enemy in northern Luzon. His citation said “The calmness and courage displayed by Private First Class Hagen was an inspiration to all members of the patrol.”

Hagen was with a combat patrol from Company “F” of the 130th infantry, senior unit with the 33rd division, reconnoitering an enemy position. While advancing up a slope of a hill, the group was fired on by enemy machine guns, rifles and mortars. The opening bursts of fire killed one man and wounded another one seriously.

The injured man lay in an exposed position and Private First Class Hagen, with the aid of another man, crawled to the injured man over open terrain and under the direct fire of the enemy, and carried him back to a place of safety.

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One of the oldest veterans of the city fire department, Assistant Fire Chief Hans Dhols, is starting his 41st year of service with the force. He is shown above receiving congratulations from Fire Chief Olaf Sorenson, left, and from Leslie Gagnon, who is leaning out of the door of the big fire truck at the 18th street station. June 18, 1945 Telegram
Superior Public Library / Superior Telegram

Articles and pictures courtesy of retired librarian Judy Aunet with the Superior Public Library.

Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "staff." Often, the "staff" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.
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