Dakota Datebook

Her Side of the Story

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Grand Forks Herald reported on this date in 1900 a story of “considerable interest” among the people in Grand Forks. After many “pre-trial rumors”, the victim was finally able to give her side of the story.
Percy Baker was on trial for the shooting of Nettie Larson of Grand Forks. Mr. Baker had been working on the Great Northern Railroad, running between Grand Forks and Crookston when he first met Nettie.
Mr. Baker told her at the time that he was single, and for two years Nettie believed him. She eventually discovered that Baker was married, and immediately tried to get rid of him.
Baker was not quite ready to abandon the relationship, and began to threaten Nettie with violence if she refused to see him. The threats worked, and their acquaintance continued for two years. The people of Grand Forks grew quite accustom to seeing Mr. Baker and Nettie together. The basis of their relationship however was quite different than the people of Grand Forks assumed.
Finally, Nettie had had enough and despite the threats of violence, told Mr. Baker that she wanted out. Baker followed through with his word, and shot Nettie, badly wounding her. Baker was arrested and immediately put in jail.
At the trial, Baker testified that he didn’t really know why he shot Nettie. They both enjoyed their time together, and after all, according to Baker, she did promise to marry him.
Now it was Nettie’s turn to tell everyone her side of the story: Baker shot her because she refused to entertain his marriage proposal, and in fact had been trying to get rid of him for two years!
Percy Baker was convicted of attempted murder. When asked about the conviction of the man she spent two years with, Nettie Larson indicated she didn’t particularly care what happened to him, just so long as she was rid of him. She went on to say that she had not the slightest sympathy for him, because he didn’t deserve any sympathy. In fact, she said, she didn’t care if he was put in the penitentiary or sent to another country, just as long as she didn’t have to see him again.
Nettie was just glad to be able to give her side of the story.

by Dave Seifert
The Grand Forks Herald, as reprinted in the Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, November 29, 1900. pg. 4

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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