Minnesota on the Death of Darwin: “If one such man arises in a century, that century is fortunate.”

There's a certain charm about small-town newspapers. In the case of those early publications - long before radio, television, the Internet - this was where a community got its news, entertainment, and gossip. This was Facebook. As an archival historian, let me tell you: there's always something waiting to be discovered. So, after realizing that April 18 marked the anniversary of Charles Darwin's death, I thought I'd do a quick search to see how Minnesotans responded. But, first, I'd like to share something published three months earlier, on January 18, 1882. Now, for those unfamiliar with the evolution-creationism debate, the Nye-Ham debacle was their first exposure to the creationist movement. Far from being a contemporary phenomenon, though, that kind of nonsense proliferated before the ink on The Origin of Species was dry. Fortunately, then as now, there was always someone available to mock the church - before there was PZ Myers there was the small-town editor doing newspaper-vaudeville. In the New Ulm Weekly Review, for example, was published the text of a "sermon" by the fictional Reverence Plato Johnson.

Advertisements