These six characters from Bemidji’s past will be the suspects in the Beltrami County History Center’s History Mystery event on Dec. 31:

Elizabeth “Bess” Ridenour Arnold (played by Sasha Almendinger)

Elizabeth “Bess” Ridenour married Francis Spinner Arnold in a small wedding in Minneapolis on Jan. 10, 1905, and moved to Bemidji, where her husband was a successful lawyer. They first rented rooms on Lake Boulevard in the home of M.D. Stoner, and then moved to a house at 802 Beltrami Ave. NW, where they lived the rest of their lives. An active member of the community, Mrs. Arnold was a charter member of the Women’s Study Club, was active in the Red Cross, was a member of the county welfare board, the Beltrami County Historical Society, and the Presbyterian Church. She died in 1952.

Elizabeth “Bess” Ridenour Arnold
Elizabeth “Bess” Ridenour Arnold

Francis Spinner Arnold (played by Gary Rozman)

Francis Spinner Arnold was born in Washington, D.C., in 1867. He studied law at Georgetown University and, in 1900, moved to Bemidji where he and L.H. Bailey started the law firm Bailey & Arnold. They operated the firm for several years until Arnold became Register of Deeds and, along with two partners, formed the Beltrami County Abstract company. He later became a part-owner and manager of the Bemidji Abstract Company. Mr. Arnold, a member of Bemidji’s Metropolitan Club, was a key player in bringing the Bemidji Normal School to town. Francis died in 1937.

Francis Spinner Arnold
Francis Spinner Arnold

Andrew Aubolee (played by Terry Holter)

Andrew Aubolee was born in Norway and came to Bemidji in about 1898. He was the senior member of the city boat firm of Aubolee & Kroken, also known as the Viking Boat Co. He began advertising his boats for rent in 1900. They brought in the first boats used in this territory, employing teams to transport them. They also secured the bulk of the business of building boats. In 1909, the company built a second boat house to accommodate 27 launches. The Viking Boat Co. realized such an increase in business that they practically controlled the business of letting boats and launches on Lake Bemidji. The family moved to California about 1927.

Earle Ames Barker (played by DeeJay Arens)

Earle Barker was a member of the Thirteenth Minnesota infantry during the war with Spain and went with that regiment to the Philippines in 1898. He came to Bemidji in August 1900 and engaged in the jewelry and watch-making business. He was handsome and a hard worker, and he married his boss, Mina Ross, in July 1901. Barker purchased the Mayo drug store in 1903 and built up a lively trade. Lt. Barker headed Bemidji’s Naval Militia, the first contingent of Bemidji men to leave for service on April 17, 1917. After his return, he aided in securing an armory for the city. He was a charter member of the Elks and held membership card No. 1 issued at the founding of the Bemidji Lodge in 1905 and served as Exalted Ruler during the time when the Elks building was being constructed.

Earle Ames Barker
Earle Ames Barker

Donna Lycan (played by Judy Dvorak)

Donna Lycan, daughter of Frank Lycan of the Markham Hotel, was born into politics. Frank was active in Republican politics and served as a delegate to several presidential conventions. Donna graduated in 1910 from the University of Minnesota where she was a reporter for the Daily. She participated in hometown vaudeville in the Brinkman Theatre and was a popular but also civic-minded single woman in Bemidji. In 1917, she was a leader in the Bemidji Patriotic League and then became secretary of the local Red Cross. She was a successful golfer at the Country Club. As a member of the newly formed League of Women Voters in Bemidji, she participated in the celebration of women’s successful right of suffrage on Aug. 28, 1920.

Elias M. Sathre (played by Kevin Cease)

By the time Elias (E.M.) Sathre moved to Bemidji in 1911, he had worked as a telegrapher, street car conductor, justice of the peace, register of deeds and more. In Bemidji, he farmed -- both in Liberty and Turtle River townships, though they also lived on America Avenue. E.M. founded the Bemidji Business College, as well as the Sathre Abstract Company. He was active in civic affairs, including the Bemidji Commercial Club, Rotary, Boy Scouts, Onion Growers Association, Turtle River Township Board, and many others -- notably for this night, the Beltrami County Old Settler’s Historical Society, which is now the Beltrami County Historical Society.

Elias M. Sathre
Elias M. Sathre

Click here for more information on Beltrami County History Center’s History Mystery event on Dec. 31.