Ruther, August (1876–1942)

August Ruther, who served in the German army in the 1890s, was charged with poisoning his brother-in-law in Rice County in 1917. Despite any direct evidence, a jury convicted him in eighty minutes, in large part due to anti-German nativism during World War I. His sentence was commuted to time served (eighteen years) in 1936.

Twine sample

Twine sample

Sample of baling twine produced by the twine factory at the Minnesota State Prison, Stillwater, between 1891 and 1925. Prisoners bundled the twine by coiling it, flattening the coil, and binding the coil in a tight cylindrical spiral.

Prisoners at Minnesota State Prison working in the twine factory

Prisoners at Minnesota State Prison working in the twine factory

Prisoners at Minnesota State Prison working in the on-site twine factory, 1925.

Twine bales

Twine bales

Bales of twine inside Minnesota State Prison, Bayport (later Stillwater), 1925.

Twine factory floor

Twine factory floor

Interior view of the twine factory at Minnesota State Prison, Bayfield (later Stillwater). Photo by C. J. Hibbard, ca. 1914.

Twine factory floor

Twine factory floor

The twine factory floor at Minnesota State Prison, Bayport (later Stillwater). Photo by C. J. Hibbard, ca. 1914.

Twine factory and warehouse

Twine factory and warehouse

Exterior view of the twine factory and warehouse at Minnesota State Prison, Bayport (later Stillwater). Photo by C. J. Hibbard, 1913.

Twine factory, Stillwater Prison

Twine factory, Stillwater Prison

Interior view of the twine factory at Minnesota State Prison, Stillwater, ca. 1900.

Twine factory, Stillwater Prison

Twine factory, Stillwater Prison

Interior view of the twine factory at Minnesota State Prison, Stillwater, ca. 1900.

Twine Industry at Minnesota State Prison, Stillwater

A cornerstone of the prison labor system for almost eighty years, the binder twine factory at the Minnesota State Prison employed thousands of inmates who produced over a billion pounds of cordage for regional farmers. The twine-manufacturing industry began at the original facility and continued at a custom-built factory on a new site after the prison moved in 1914. The factory closed in 1970.

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