A new photo of Joseph and Jane Askew

Joseph and Jane and grandkidsToday’s post highlights a photo that my second cousin once removed Ruth Rogers recently scanned last fall from the collection of family photos she received from her mother Ruth (Manfred and Hope Askew’s daughter).

Col. Joseph Askew was the first distant ancestor I researched as a boy, and I’m always delighted when I find a new photo of him. Until this photo, I knew of only eight different photos of the Colonel (dozens and dozens of prints and illustrations derived from these, but only eight distinct photos). Today’s photo is number nine.

This is definitely the latest photo taken of Joseph and his wife Jane—he’s clearly much aged beyond the photos I have of him from 1909 and 1910.  Since he died on September 21, 1911, I’d estimate that this photo was taken in the year of his death—1911. Given the outdoor setting and the warm weather clothes being worn, especially by the children, I’d guess that this dates to either summer or early fall, 1911. It may well be the last photo taken of Joseph before he died.

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Joseph Askew on the state ballot

Minnesota_SealI came across this tidbit while exploring yet another database of historical newspapers (Elephind for those who are interested). In the morning edition of The Saint Paul Daily Globe for Monday, October 27, 1890, the candidates for the state legislature were named. The candidates represented a total of four political parties (with the exception of three candidates running as independent):

  • Republican
  • Democrat
  • Alliance
  • Prohibition

Joseph Askew was listed as the Alliance candidate for representative of the 53rd State District of Minnesota. He was running against W. R. Baumbach of the Republican party and T. R. Foley of the Democratic party.

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Joseph Askew breaks his leg in a train crash

2-2-2 well tank FR35LgeIt’s been a long and tiring week, and so when I finally had a chance to sit down and write this morning, I found myself staring uninspired at a blank page. Seeking inspiration, I looked for databases I haven’t yet explored. The university at which I work has a great library that I can access online, and after I bit of poking I discovered a database of 19th Century British newspapers (called, for those of you who are curious, 19th Century British Library Newspapers).

I know little about the lives of my 3rd-great-grandfather Joseph Askew and his family before they migrated to Minnesota in 1875, so I set out to see if I could add learn anything at all about Joseph Askew’s time in England. I was successful, and I’d like to share one of the first items I found, about a train crash just outside Whitehaven, Cumberland.

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The Askew women at the Commercial Hotel

2012-11-12-wadena-055The Commercial Hotel (on the National Register of Historic Places, now repurposed as the Commercial Apartments), is a three-story Queen Anne Style, late Victorian brick building on South Jefferson St. in Wadena, Minnesota, that served as an anchor for the Askew family, especially the women of the Askew family, for decades. I’m still trying to understand this aspect of the Askew family, so this post will serve as a place to gather my notes and sources about the Askews at the Commercial Hotel. I have a lot to learn about this subject, so please do leave comments if you can further illuminate the subject.

In the Spring of 1901, Joseph Askew and his wife Jane leased a three-story brick hotel called the Wadena Hotel. They soon renamed the hotel the Commercial Hotel, as their target customers were travelling salesmen who came by train and needed a place to eat, sleep, and display their goods. After a time, Joseph purchased the Hotel for an estimated $10,000 (the equivalent of about $275,000 in today’s dollars).

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Joseph Askew turns 60

Detail of Joseph and caneFor today’s post, I’d like to share an item from a period newspaper that reports on Col. Joseph Askew’s 60th birthday celebration, held at the Menahga town hall. I haven’t had the opportunity to see the original of this article yet, but am instead relying on a transcription made by the late Bob Zosel, a local historian for the Wadena area.
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Joseph Askew on Menahga’s progress

Joseph Askew, ca. 1909.jpgA couple of years before he died, Col. Joseph Askew commented on the town he helped found—Menahga. Joseph built the first frame building in Menahga (which was also the town’s first hotel), and one of the first (if not the first) sawmill in town. He was also the town’s first mayor. In short, Menahga was a town in which he had invested so much of his time, money, and effort as a younger man. Despite his investment in the development of the town, Joseph moved to Wadena shortly after 1900. In the summer of 1908, a couple of years before he died, Joseph was asked to discuss how the village had changed over the years.

I haven’t had the opportunity to see the original of this article yet, but am instead relying on a transcription made by Rebecca Komppa, a local history journalist in the Menahga area.
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Joseph Askew vs. Mr. Paddock

This post may give you the feeling that you’ve walked into a room and found two people arguing so vehemently about such deep-rooted issues that you can’t figure out what they’re actually so upset about. My apologies for that, but currently I’ve only discovered a brief portion of what seems to be an impassioned row between two men of widely divergent political and personal viewpoints.

On the one hand is Joseph Askew, a self-made man who believed in success through hard work and sharing the wealth with the less fortunate. He was a religious man and became a liberal politician affiliated with the Populist party; in today’s political climate he might be fairly described as a Socialist. On the other hand is Mr. L. A. Paddock, a man with a troubled past who’s cast himself as a fiscally concerned individual who feels he’s paying too much in taxes to a government he sees as fiscally irresponsible; someone who, in today’s political climate, might be best described as a Tea Party Republican.

Clearly there’s a lot more to the animosity between these two men than what is presented in these two letters to the editor from 1891.
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