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Program: “The Unpardonable Case of August Ruther” with Ariel Butler

Posted on: May 13 2022 by admin

Thursday, May 19, 7pm

Join us on Thursday, May 19, at 7:00 pm as Rice County native Ariel Emery Butler presents her research on “The Unpardonable Case of August Ruther” who was convicted of murder in Rice County, MN in 1918.

August Ruther, served in the German army in the 1890s and moved to the US in 1907. He eventually to Rice County in 1914 where, he met and married Josephine Fiske, whose father had left her a farm. Josephine also had charge of her older brother, August Fiske, who did farm work but was developmentally disabled.

On September 9, 1917, August Fiske was found dead at his brother Henry’s farm and two months later, August Ruther was charged with poisoning his brother-in-law in Rice County. 

Throughout his trial and sentence, Ruther maintained his innocence, yet, despite any direct evidence, a jury convicted August of murder in eighty minutes. Was he convicted because he was guilty, or was the anti-German nativism that was presented in the US during World War 1 the reason he was convicted? 

This program will be held at the Rice County Historical Society at 1814 NW 2nd Ave., Faribault, MN 55021. For more information or to make a reservation, please call us at 507-332-2121.

The program is free and open to the public thanks, in part, to a grant from the Minnesota Humanities Center.