Trial of North Star Brewery Owner Jacob Schmidt (1893)

Trial of North Star Brewery Owner Jacob Schmidt (1893)
Jacob Schmidt shooting article header Minneapolis Tribune. "Dastardly." July 5, 1893, 3.

On the evening of July 4, 1893, friends Theodore Beaudoin and Samuel Guion rowed a small boat from the foot of State Street, located on the Mississippi river's west side, across the river to the Dayton's Bluff area to shoot pigeons. Upon their arrival, the men walked up from the river with shotguns in hand.

At around 5 pm a series of shots rang out from the malt house of the nearby North Star Brewery. The last bullet struck Beaudoin, who was standing on the railroad tracks, just above the heart, He immediately fell to the ground. His companion Guion grabbed Beaudoin and brought him back across the river to his home at 236 E Water St. Dr. Marquis was called to attend to him. The doctor removed a small caliber bullet located underneath the victim's left arm. Both men claimed that owner Jacob Schmidt, wearing a pink shirt and a cap, had fired multiple shots at them from the brewery's Malt House.

Guion reported the shooting to authorities at the Ducas street sub-station on the corner of South Robert and Delos Street. Two officers were dispatched to the brewery to arrest Schmidt. When the brewer met the men at the door, he was wearing a pink shirt. After changing his shirt, the officers took Schmidt back to Beaudoin's house where both Beaudoin and Guion identified him as the shooter in question. Schmidt, considered by many to be a "quiet and peaceable citizen" was then charged with assault with a deadly weapon, arrested, and taken to the Ducas Street Station. He denied his involvement in the crime and told officers he had an alibi.

On July 5th Schmidt was formally arraigned for his crime and subsequently released on $5000 bail. The trial was scheduled to take place on July 16th. When questioned Schmidt contended he had been in his office playing euchre with John Heinlein, Michael Begiel, Daniel Cashman, and Peter Rogers from 2:30 PM to 6 PM that day. He knew nothing about the shooting. His attorney believed an Independence Day celebration might have been to blame for the more than likely unintentional wounding of Theodore Beaudoin. He noted it was customary for people to shoot guns, revolvers, and rifles into the air to celebrate holidays of the significance of July 4th. Beaudoin's injury was likely caused by a stray bullet and was little more than an unfortunate accident.

Police, unsure whether or not Beaudoin would survive his injury, interviewed him from his home on July 4th, He would eventually go on to spend fourteen days as a patient at St. Joseph's Hospital in Saint Paul. While in the hospital an infection inflamed the lining of his lungs, causing pleurisy and making him temporarily delirious with pain. As the trial date approached the health of Beaudoin fluctuated between steadily improving and dire. Concerns about his condition and his inability to leave his bed to be present at the trial led to a series of continuations. Beaudoin eventually improved, and the hearing took place on July 28.

The court case was held before Judge Cory in local Police Court. Beaudoin testified he and Guion brought shotguns to the other side of the river to shoot pigeons. The men were roughly 400 feet away when Schmidt fired shots at them. They both maintained the attack was unprovoked. Schmidt insisted that while he owned two guns, neither of them was the rifle in question. He repeated his alibi and each of the men he was playing cards with at the time of the assault corroborated his testimony. The judge, in light of the evidence of an alibi substantiated by multiple witnesses, dismissed the charges against Schmidt and deemed him free to go.

It is unclear whether Beaudoin and Guion found justice after the trial, and as time wore on the two men became little more than footnotes in history. On the other hand, Schmidt rose to a level of prominence few other Minnesotans have managed to reach. His Schmidt Brewery was immensely successful, and Jacob Schmidt has remained a part of the local lexicon more than one-hundred years after his death.