Tragedy in the Woods: Couple Murdered, Burned

It was supposed to be a winter camping trip in the woods of northern Minnesota. Rosina and Ernest planned to spend the winter in a cabin and  improve their health in the fresh, cold air. But the trip ended in tragedy as the husband and wife were murdered and their cabin set ablaze.

The sensational crime rocked the tiny town of Allen Junction, Minnesota in early February 1911. Rosina (Ostermann) Newman and her second husband, Ernest Newman, had not been seen for two weeks. Bert Sopher, telegraph operator for the Duluth & Iron Range Railroad, traveled 7 miles into the woods to the Newmans’ camp to check on them. He found the terrible sight, with the couple dead and their shack burned to the ground.

The immediate theory was that the couple were killed as part of a robbery, then the fire set to cover up the crime. When they left home in Minneapolis on Nov. 19, 1910, they carried with them $200 in silver and gold. Each also had a gold watch and heavy gold rings. They were last seen alive Jan. 28, 1911 by J.E. St. George. Mr. St. George had paid the Newmans $55 to care for his home and barns.

Two of Mrs. Newman’s sons, William and Charles Lawrence, rushed from Minneapolis to Allen Junction to investigate the murders. No one had noticed any suspicious characters in the area. The investigation was no doubt hampered by the rural crime site, and the fact the Newmans never visited Allen Junction except for supplies.

St. Louis County Deputy Coroner Henry G. Seeley set the date of death at Feb. 8, 1911. He listed the cause of death only as “murdered and burned.” There was some talk that the couple had befriended a trapper who might have been the murderer. But the crime was never solved.

The former Sarah Rosina Ostermann married Ernest Newman on Dec. 23, 1899.  She had five sons and two daughters by her first husband, Charles Simmons Lawrence, who died in 1904. She was the aunt of Rosine Bertha Henrietta (Ostermann) Hanneman of Grand Rapids, Wisconsin.

©The Hanneman Archive

4 thoughts on “Tragedy in the Woods: Couple Murdered, Burned”

  1. Thank you for this I did not know Great Great Grandma Rosina divorced Charles Simmons Lawrence and married Ernest.

    Like

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