Saturday, January 14, 2017

On This Date in Minnesota History: January 14

January 14, 1911 – Two desperate road agents held up and robbed three men on the country roads in Golden Valley township this evening, severely beating one of their victims with a revolver butt, and finally escaping capture after a hot chase by mounted patrolmen and detectives in automobiles, deputy sheriffs in sleighs and citizen posses on horseback.

The robbers’ victims were:

Thomas Garrity, aged farmer on Sixth Ave. road, held up, robbed of $50, beaten unconscious and left in the snow beside his sleigh.

Theodore Site of Loretta, employed at the farm of Frank Schied, held up and robbed of a gold watch and $4.

Gus Engman, farmhand on the Medicine Lake Road, held up at point of gun and kicked off railroad trestle because he had no money.

All of the holdups were within the space of one hour, were carried out within a radius of a mile from one spot, and in each instance by the same team of desperadoes, wearing jackets and masks made from black mufflers.

As reports of the three holdups leaked in successively to police headquarters and the sheriff’s office, the country side became alarmed and farmers left their homes, under guard of their elder sons and patrolled the roads with shot guns. Parties of young men, armed with revolvers and rifles loaded up bob sleds and traversed the roads in search of the highwaymen. Reports and rumors that flow from mouth to mouth through the township cast the little communities into excitement. Moonlight and weather not too cold, in addition to the prospects of no work tomorrow, make the night alluring for a man hunt and the citizens assisted the police and deputies with a will. Some of the parties will not return until tomorrow morning.

Site was the first man to be held up. He was walking on the 19th Ave. North just about one-half block beyond Xerxes Ave. North, the northern limits of the city, when the two road agents stepped from the side of the road and leveling revolvers at his head, ordered him to throw up his hands. Site complied and was relieved of a gold watch and $4 in cash.

Not 15 minutes later, about 40 rods further north on the same road, Thomas Garrity, 60 years old, was driving home in his cutter when the two road agents suddenly appeared on opposite sides of the road. Becoming suspicious at the action of the two figures standing beside the road with their faces muffled in black, Garrity lashed his horse and attempted to drive past on the gallop.  

The shorter highwayman made a dive at the horse’s head and brought the animal to a stop, while his companion walked to the side of the cutter and jumped in, at the same time pressing a revolver in the old man’s face.

The robber demanded Garrity’s money; the latter replied that he had none, whereupon the larger road agent smashed the butt end of the revolver over Garrity’s head. When Garrity came to his senses, he found himself lying on his back in the snow. Blood was coming from several deep wounds in his head. The horse and cutter had strayed to the side of the road.

He dragged himself to the rig, gathered the reins and drove to Miller’s dairy farm at 19th and Xerxes Avenues North, from which place the police were notified. In the meantime, word had been received at the North Side police station from the farm of Frank Schied, concerning the holdup of Site.

The auto patrol with a reserve squad of police and the headquarters auto, loaded with detectives and equipped with two riot guns, was dispatched to the scene, while extra patrolman were rushed to the city limits in the North Side patrol. Sheriff’s deputies were personally notified by telephone and responded by arming themselves and driving to the scene of the holdups.

Mounted Patrolman Gillon found traces of the men along the Cedar Lake Road. On the trestle over the Great Northern railroad tracks, the fleeing road agents came upon Gus Engman, plodding homeward along the right of way.

With the greatest dispatch, owing to the warmth of the chase that was growing interesting by this time, the highwaymen pressed revolvers to Engman’s head while they rifled his pockets. Finding nothing for their pains, one of them drew away from his victim and with an oath gave him a kick that sent him clear to the trestle and rolling in the snow down the embankment. Engman went to the farm of Max Pallings on Medicine Lake Road and from there reported his experience to the police. The descriptions in all cases were identical.

The fleeing highwaymen were traced to the south on Xerxes Ave., then to the Great Northern tracks. At this point they evidently became aware of the pursuit and probably fearing that further ingress to the city would be guarded, turned and continued their flight in the direction of Cedar Lake. Here all trace was lost, but it is thought that they doubled on their tracks and returned to the city either by way of Western Ave. or Sixth Ave. North, although a sharp look out was kept along both of the roads all night.

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune“Road Agent Activity Scares Golden Valley. Three Men Are Victims of Masked Desperados Who Elude Capture. Holdup Carnival Draws Out Police, Deputy Sheriffs and Citizens. Armed Posses Trail Robbers, But Fail to Catch Them—All Trace Lost.”; January 15, 1911; p. 1.

Photos taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain Jan. 14, 2017, as long as acknowledgement included.


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