Minneapolis, MN

Minnesota History you should know: The Trial of Joseph Israel/Lucy Ann Lobdell

Terry Davis

Cecilie Johnsen/Unsplash

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - Joseph Israel Lobdell was a man who lived in Minnesota in the 1850s. He was charged with posing as a man in 1858.

She was born in New York in 1829. She lived the first few years of her life as a woman in Long Eddy. She married George Slater in 1851, but he left town after the baby was born.

Joseph Israel Lobdell was born in 1854 in Pennsylvania. When he was 18 years old, he went to a music school in Pennsylvania and became a teacher. But he was recognized as Lucy Ann and had to run away.

He then moved to New York and eventually Minnesota Territory. He used the name La-Roi and was dressed in a hat and calico suit. He met Edwin Gribble, who had a claim on the shore of Lake Minnetonka.

When the summer season ended, he left his home and settled in Manannan. He lived there for over a year before he was arrested for impersonating a man. Lobdell’s arrest is not known to have been the result of a federal investigation.

In 1858, William Lobdell was arrested for posing as a prophet by exposing his sex. Although he was only supposed to be a witness, he was later charged with impersonation.

Lobdell was tried in a farming colony known as Forest City. It was the first trial of its kind in the state. The judge was Reverend John Robson.

In a case that relied on the Code of Justinian, a judge ruled that Lobdell was not guilty of committing a crime because he was a man.

Lobdell married Marie Louis Perry in 1861, but they were arrested multiple times for minor offenses. After being declared a lunatic in 1880, he was sent to the Willard Asylum for the Insane.

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