Joe Kimball’s story about murder in a mansion
by Larry Werner
I’ve never taken a survey, but I would guess most writers would like to write a book. But most, including me, haven’t.
I’ve had a couple ideas, including a book about my Uncle Larry, after whom I was named, but never met, because he was killed in World War II.
I had started to work on another book about a family of con artists named Williamson who were based in Cincinnati.
I was writing about consumer fraud at the time for a newspaper in Louisville, Ky. A man whose con games I had exposed showed up in the newspaper office, saying he was a Williamson and would like to collaborate with me on a book about his infamous family. He wanted me to pay him for his information, which I decided was just another of his cons.
So “Flim Flam Family” didn’t get written.
A guy I worked with in Minneapolis for many years will be speaking at the Thomas St. Angelo Public Library May 4 about the book he wrote because, as is often the case, he was reporting in the right place at the right time.
Joe Kimball will be speaking at the library from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on May 4 about his book, “Secrets of the Congdon Mansion.” If you like good murder mysteries, you should attend. And if you like touring historic homes, you should take the tour of Glensheen that the library is offering on June 3.
Joe and I worked together at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and took buyouts in 2007 when our paper was bought by some Wall Street guys. I went on to manage a group of weekly newspapers for about five years, then retired to Cumberland.
Joe remained in the Twin Cities, where he does freelance writing and speaks at libraries about the 1977 murders at Glensheen, a mansion that was built in 1905 by a lawyer and businessman named Chester Congdon. The murders that took place there were of Congdon’s daughter, Elisabeth, and her maid. They were murdered by Roger Caldwell, husband of Elisabeth’s “black-sheep” daughter Marjorie Caldwell.
I’ll leave it to Joe to share the fascinating story of the Congdon murders and Marjorie’s exploits, ranging from suspected bigamy to arson to charges (of which she was acquitted) that she conspired with her husband to kill her mother for an inheritance.
Joe’s book happened because he reported on the murders at Glensheen for the Star Tribune and decided after the trials of Roger and Marjorie that he should tell about the murders because the tour guides don’t.
Here’s what Joe said in an email after I had written him asking why he wrote the book:
“I had covered the Congdon murder case for the paper from the beginning in 1977, including the investigation, the two trials, and the unbelievable aftermath that includes bigamy, arson, forgery, suicides and more dead bodies along the way. So when they opened the mansion in Duluth for tours, I was appalled that they didn’t even mention the murders. I wrote the first edition of my book in the early 1980s, to give some background and perspective for those taking the tours.”
See you at the library May 4.
And if you want to tour the mansion, sign up at the library for the Duluth trip, which will include a tour of Glensheen, where you can ask the tour guides all about the murders Joe Kimball will tell you about on May 4.
Larry Werner’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.