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Violin Thief


On this date in 1911, the Fargo newspaper reported on an interesting crime.

Professor Hendrickson, the main player and victim, lived a relatively quiet life. He worked at the Dakota Conservatory of Music in Fargo where he taught the art of music. The Conservatory existed among other offices in the upper floors of a newly-built, yellow brick three-story building. Surely, sweet melodies could be heard by passersby on the street.

The professors at the conservatory were also performers, and one night, as he practiced alone, Professor Hendrickson grew hungry, and in need of supper left his violin in his room.

It was a night like any other, except for one thing-when he came back, his violin was gone!

Professor Hendrickson panicked. His violin was worth $200-no mere trifle for a professor in 1911. Immediately, he contacted the police. The police worked quickly and within a half hour got back to him with good news. They had found the missing violin in a pawn shop.

The thief had pawned the instrument for a mere $5.00. Professor Hendrickson was relieved! Had the thief known the true value, he could have taken the violin directly to a large city and made a handsome profit.

In the end, though, the professor who lived a relatively quiet life-except when his students hit the occasional sour note-enjoyed a happy ending to the story. He paid the $5 to the pawn broker himself, and took the $200 violin, still safely nestled in its $25 case, home. In the meantime, the police obtained a description of the thief, and stayed confident that they would catch him.

And if the thief read the papers on this date, he received a little music lesson, too.

By Sarah Walker


Fargo Courier-News, Thursday, March 9, 1911