11.7.2021 ~ archived

[originally published 11.17.2016]

Your Flag and My Flag

The American Legion in Fergus Falls where I busy working on a novel, covered the city with flags for 2016 Veteran’s Day and nine other noted military days each year.

Those are the words in the first line of a poem written by Stafford King.  He was in his early twenties at the time, and as mentioned in last week’s column, was in the first group to leave our community for active duty during WWI.  And he wasn’t the only Deer Riverite with a gift with the pen.  There were three others that I discovered, wrote during the Great War: Henry Sword, William Byers and Erhard Sandgren,

I have dedicated this column to these poets, who all had their work published in the Itasca News, and at least three beyond our community.

          Our Flag

Your flag and my flag –

     May it float forever free

O’er your ship and my ship

     That sail upon the sea.

Your ship and my ship –

     May they sail forever on,

For you land and my land

     To lands beyond the dawn.

Your land and my land –

     May never come the hour

When your life and my life

     Be spent to give it power.

But our lives and our land,

     Our ships so may it be,

Are firmly pledged to our flag –

     It’s freedom of the seas.

            Stafford King 3-31-1917

Stafford, born on October 27, 1893 was the only child of Cyrus and Minnie.  Like many other Wright County farmers, the King family moved to the densely forested and sparsely populated Big Fork Valley to homestead in the early 1900s. After graduating from Deer River, Stafford attended the University of Minnesota.  Several important events happened for him in the spring of 1917.  In addition to publishing this poem, and enlisting, Stafford came home on leave and married Miss Bertha Breid, also of Deer River on June 30, 1917.  After the war, the Stafford and Bertha settled in St. Paul where they raised two children, Betty and Stanley.  Stafford worked in a variety of state and local government positions and was also active with the American Legion. In 1930 he won election as Minnesota State Auditor, a position he held for ten terms, retiring in 1969.  

Henry Milton Sword was born in Kentucky in 1878. Moving west, he found and married Miss Elsie Miller in Michigan.  After the birth of their first child, Clifford, the Sword family moved to Minnesota and settled the community of Mack. The first published poem I have found of his was from October 1915 and I have located another half dozen through 1919.  In addition to Clifford, the Swords raised five more children, Vivian, Margaret, Kathleen, Eugene, and Virginia.  Henry Sword died in December 1947 and is buried at Greenwood Cemetery.  It should be noted that the poem below was written just four days before the first recruits left the depot in Deer River.

The Price That Our Mothers Pay

A mother said to her boy – “Good bye,”

     As he kissed her and turned away,

To salute the flag, that was passing by

    On that tearful April day.

Her heart was aching but would not break

     As she heard the bugle call;

With sorrow that loves but sadly given,        

     She gave to her country – all.

God gave and God can demand again

     The priceless gift of noble sons

Of the patient mothers of men;

     But up from the depths of their bleeding hearts

There comes this piteous cry;

     Lord we brought them in pain at the gate of death

You may take them but tell us why.

A letter came from the front one day –

     From a comrade – who said goodbye –

The lonely heart that would not break

     But could only bleed and sigh.

He died with the bravest – the letter said –

     But the words grew strangely dim

To a mother who felt the hell of war

     But who’s faith looks up to Him—

Who gave and Who can demand again

     The priceless gift of noble sons

Of the patient mothers of men;

     But up from the depths of their bleeding hearts

There comes this piteous cry;

     Lord we brought them in pain at the gate of death

You may take them but tell us why.

            H.M. Sword, Mack, Minn. April 26, 1917

Seventeen-year-old William Byers not only wrote a political inspired song, but had it set to music by Leo Friedman, composer of the well-known tune, Let Me Call you Sweetheart! The Itasca News stated, “Mack has produced another poet laureate who has made his debut to the song world.  He is William A. Byers, a country boy in his ‘teens, and he has composed a national song, “The Kaiser’s Dream,” which he has had published and is now on sale at the City Drug store.”

The quarter page sized advertisement through the local drug store, printed the chorus:

While walking in the garden among the beds of flowers not growing on tender plants as other flowers do,

but perched upon the garden wall one caught his eye above the rest. 

It was the Stripes and Stars above the boys in blue.

I found the sheet music and will share a copy with anyone who is interested. In July 1918, when it was available locally, the music sold for 15 cents, or two for a quarter.  William was one of ten children, most which were born in Missouri.  In about 1915 the Byers family moved to Minnesota and settled in the Bowstring area.

And last, but not least is a poem by Erhard Alfred Sandgren which was first printed in an American Exploratory Forces newspaper or newsletter humor section.

After the Shells Had Ceased To Come ~ Itasca News 10-25-1919

“In a short time we will gather to celebrate Armistice Day, November 11th.  After that date the immediate danger of the big powerful shells was not considered so great and the soldier boy saw the dawn of a new day when he could once more, look upon ‘The shores where freedom reigns.’  But the days of waiting were long and tedious, and many were the boys who longed for home almost every hour that passed since hostilities ceased.  This, the Overseas Lad’s Prayer will prove.  This is supposed to be the A.E.F. Prayers as it appears in the book of Smiles.”

Overseas Lad’s Prayer

Our father who art in Washington

Baker be thy name,

Thy cable’s come,

Thy will be done in Brest as it is in Le Mans.

Give us this day, our long delayed pay

And forgive us our AWOLs

As we forgive the bugler, the mess sergeant, the YMCA, the field clerk and all those who wear bars,

And lead us not into the army of occupation

But deliver us from another service stripe

For thine is the Army, the Military Police, the Q.M.’s and the Field Clerk, forever and ever.

Oh men

I am for the American Legion.

                                    Erhard Sandgren

Erhard Alfred Sandgren was born in Sweden in 1889 and immigrated aboard the ship Ariosto when he was about 17 years old.  When he registered for the military, he was managing the theater in Deer River. Erhard traveled out west after coming back from the front, but returned to the area.   He was married and his wife died before they had any children.  Erhard lived the rest of his life in Deer River and is buried in the Pine Ridge Cemetery.

Regarding the last line, here is a little history of the American Legion. It is a wartime veterans’ organization which formed in Paris on March 16, 1919, by members of the American Expeditionary Forces. It was chartered by Congress on September 16, 1919. The veterans’ organization is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, and also has offices in Washington, D.C.

If you want the music for “The Kaiser’s Dream,” please let me know.  218-244-2127 or reminiscewithchris@gmail.com


Law & Order ~ County Treasurer Embezzled Funds

part 2

Recap: In October 1909, the Itasca County Treasurer, Arthur Kremer was arrested and charged with embezzling more than $60,000. County Attorney Price anticipated the trial would begin in December.

True to his word, with the adjournment of court on Saturday December 4, 1909, County Attorney Frank Price announced that the Kremer trial would commence on Tuesday December 7. The embezzlement case would be one of fifty-four cases that would be heard.  Price was an ambitious lawyer and since he began trying the criminal cases, fourteen men have gone to state prison. 

Jury Selection

Court opened at 9 o’clock Tuesday morning with Judge Stanton presiding on County Treasurer Kremer’s case.  After the indictment was read, Chauncey McCarthy, attorney for the defendant, made a motion for a continuance, which Stanton denied. 

Only two jurors were chosen from the initial pool of potential jurors provided.  Stanton ordered a special venire (pool of potential jurors) of twenty-five to be in the courtroom the following morning. Wednesday evening the last juror had been selected. “The jury in this case was picked from forty-three talisman, and it is the first time in the history of the county that a jury for so important a case was ever picked from so small a number, former juries of a like nature requiring often as many as 200 venire men.” [Duluth Evening News 12-9-1909]

The jury consisted of twelve men from the county over the age of twenty-one and property owners:

Ed Arsensult, store clerk, Nashwauk; Ben Bonneville, conductor, Deer River; J.S. Cooper, contractor, Coleraine; E.H. Dorothy, farmer, Grand Rapids; J.M. Francisco, farmer, Grand Rapids; Harry Johnson, printer, Deer River; R.E. Kimball, switchman, Deer River; Reuben Larson, cruiser, Bigfork; James McManon, farmer, Cohasset; Joseph McVeigh, woodsman, Grand Rapids; W.E. Meisner, brakeman, Deer River; and A.I. Richardson, farmer, Trout Lake.

Evidence and Witnesses

After opening arguments from the prosecution and defense early Thursday December 9, the state provided their witnesses and evidence.  County Attorney Price concluded his case Saturday afternoon. The defense immediately began their side of the case and finished on Friday December 17.

Drug Habit to Cut a Figure ~ Duluth Evening News 12-10-1909

“Grand Rapids, Minn., Dec.10. — (Special to The Herald.)—Mental incapacity, due to being addicted to the morphine habit.  In other words, loss of proper control of his mental faculties so he could not tell the difference between right and wrong, and he practiced the latter, is expected to be the defense in the case of ex-County Treasurer A.A. Kremer, who is on trial in the district court on a charge of misappropriating funds received in taxes.

This belief is prompted by the evidence brought out by the defense when Deputy Public Examiner M.S. Kain was on the stand as to the discovery of two hypodermic syringes in the vault in the treasurer’s office, and the presence here of a number of outside doctors who are expected to be called as experts on the ill effects of the use of drugs.

Among the medical men on hand are Dr. Stewart of Duluth, who is said to have been subpoenaed by the state, Dr. Jones of Minneapolis, Dr. Sweeney of St. Paul, Dr. Ground of Superior and Dr. Storch of this city.

Deputy State Examiner Kain during the course of his examination said it was Oct. 14 when he discovered an erasure in the column showing the tax receipts for the first half of 1908.  An entry in the next column showed an item amounting to $3,563.90, being taxes received from the Great Western Mining company, a part of which it is alleged that the ex-treasurer appropriated to his own use. Mr. Kain stated that he found in the vault of the ex-treasurer about $24,000 in securities in Kremer’s name and one in the name of Mrs. Kremer.

The accused told Miss Blanche Dewey, clerk in the ex-treasurer’s office at the time of the alleged crime, testified that Kremer instructed her not to bother about the corporation tax entries as he desired to personally attend to them to be sure they were correct.  She also testified that while Kremer was East last summer the check of the mining company for $1,058.40 for the Buckeye taxes was received, and on Kremer’s instructions was deposited in the First National Bank to Kremer’s personal credit.

County Auditor Staig testified as to the manner of transacting business in his office and County Treasurer Strader identified a number of exhibits, told about the cash records and stated that the erasure in connection with the tax receipts of the Great Western Mining Company was on the records when he took charge of the office and the entry of $3,463.90 on the next page of tax receipts from the company had been inserted since he took possession of the office.”

Kremer Bought Much Morphine ~ Duluth Evening News 12-14-1909

“Grand Rapids, Minn., Dec.14. — (Special to The Herald.)—The ill effects of morphine upon the human system are being freely aired in the district court at the trial of ex-treasurer A.A. Kremer in keeping with the theory of the defense that frequent use of the drug rendered the accused unconscious of wrongful acts.

When court resumed this morning Dr. Ground of Superior, who was on the stand at the time of yesterday’s adjournment, continued to tell the jury how the constant use of the drug affected the user.  He said it impairs the volition and destroyed the moral faculties, making one a liar, that he might appear to be normal, but could not be depended upon.

C.H. Dickinson, local druggist, produced records of his sales of morphine in court and the following sales were read: June ’08 50 one-quarter grain tablets of sulphate of morphine; July, ‘08 25 tablets; September, ’08, 50 tablets; October 13 ’09 75 tablets; Oct 21, 50; November 9, 100; November 19, 100, November 22, 100; December 4, 20 one grain tablets; December 7, 100 one-quarter grain tablets.  Mr. Dickinson stated, on redirect examination, that he thought Kremer to be a morphine user.

Mrs. J.W. Moore, of La Prairie, formerly servant at Kremer’s, testified as to Kremer’s having bad headaches and fainting spells.  Reverend E.S. Murphy of the Episcopal Church of this city, neighbor, and close friend of Kremer’s testified almost the same as Mrs. Moore.  Also did Mrs. H.D. Powers.

H.D. Powers, T.R. Pravitz, and M.L. Toole all prominent citizens who know Kremer well, testified as to his good reputation up until the present trouble.

R.R. Bell., another druggist of Grand Rapids, was the next witness.  He produced a record of poisons sold in his drug store and it showed sales amounting to 2100 one-quarter grain tablets of sulphate of morphine to A.A. Kremer within the past two years.

George F. Meyers testified that he had known Kremer for 16 years and did not hear anything but good of his reputation as an honest man until October last.  He said he took a trip west with Kremer last spring and that they were thinking of investing in land in the west, but that they did not to his knowledge.  When asked if, while on this western trip, Kremer showed any signs of insanity, Mr. Meyers said he did not.

Dr. C.M. Storch, of Grand Rapids, testified that he was called by Mrs. Kremer to the Kremer home the morning of the treasurer’s arrest, she stated that her husband was not right.  She also said that she did not know that her husband used drugs.  At noon she called the doctor again and informed him that her husband had told her he used morphine.  The witness testified that he examined Kremer’s limbs and found numerous marks indicating the use of a hypodermic syringe.  The doctor testified that Kremer confessed that he had used six to eight grains of morphine daily for three or four years.  On cross-examination the witness said that the use of that much morphine would not affect his character.

Mrs. Kremer was called by the state and testified that her husband had been addicted to headaches and fainting spells almost since their marriage and the first time he used morphine was 10 years ago under a doctor’s prescription.  She said she had taken it for asthma and once asked Kremer to call a physician, but he refused to do so, saying that he would treat her and produced a hypodermic syringe and wanted to give her a dose of morphine, which she refused to take.  The witness said that she did not believe her husband to be insane, but sometimes he was not right in his mind.

W.B. Nesbitt, Charles Kearney, M. O’Brien, and Frank McCormick testified as to Kremer’s honesty up to October.

George F. Kremer and E.A. Kremer, brothers of the defendant, gave testimony regarding his past life and J.T. Gardner, a Cass Lake druggist. said that he sold Kremer some hypodermic syringes two years ago.”

Deliberation and Verdict

The attorneys gave their closing arguments late in the date on Friday December 17.  Judge Stanton provided them with their instructions Saturday morning. Sunday afternoon the jury had reached a decision.

Verdict of Guilty Finally Returned in Case Against Kremer ~ Duluth Evening News 12-20-1909

“Grand Rapids, Minn., Dec.20. — (Special to The Herald.)—After deliberating from about 10 o’clock Saturday morning until 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon, the jury that had been considering the case of ex-County Treasurer Arthur A. Kremer returned a verdict of guilty of grand larceny in the first degree and the former official faces a punishment of from one to ten years in the state prison.

The long deliberation of the jury raised hopes of the defense, as it was confidentially expected the jury, in view of the conflicting evidence given by the experts as to whether the accused was insane or sane from the use of morphine, would disagree.

The specific charge was that August 29, 1909, the defendant consummated a shortage in his accounts, as treasurer, of $3500.  Rumors of the shortage first became prevalent October 9, and a few days later Kremer’s arrest followed. At this time the treasurer told his brother, E.A. Kremer, that there was no shortage and that money he had loaned was from a Duluth party.

Failing to secure a new trial, it is expected Kremer will appeal to the [Minnesota] Supreme Court.”

On Monday, December 20, 1909, Judge Stanton sentenced Arthur A. Kremer to five years hard labor in the state penitentiary for grand larceny in the first degree.  This was a compromise between the minimum and maximum penalty, which is one to ten years. That same afternoon Kremer was transported via the train and Sheriff Riley to the Stillwater Prison.


The 1910 United States Census shows Arthur Kremer as an inmate at the prison in Stillwater.  His wife, Elizabeth, and children Russell, Ethel and Dorothy are renting a house in Grand Rapids.

I do not know when Kremer was released, but the 1920 census documents him and his family living in Goodland.  He is employed as a bookkeeper for a logging company.  In 1930, Kremer is a widower, living with his daughter’s family in Hibbing and is the village watchman there.  Arthur A. Kremer died December 12, 1956 and is buried at the Itasca Calvary Cemetery in Grand Rapids.

10.24.2021 ~ archived

*NOTE: Grand Rapids Herald-Review bumped Law & Order ~ County Treasurer Embezzled Funds

part 2 to Oct 31, 2021

[previously published 9.3.2015]

LAW AND ORDER ~ Jail Breaks

Shawshank Redemption (1994) is considered the best jail break film of all times

Escaping from jail was a bit easier 100 years ago or more than it would be today.  The local jail in Deer River and the county jail in Grand Rapids had breaks, as did the Stillwater Prison.  My perusing of the newspapers yielded the following excerpts on prison breaks, or as with the first one on breaking the lock on the jail door in order to place the prisoner inside.

Broke Jail Itasca News 11-18-1899

[Deputy George] “…Mooers returned about 9 o’clock last night and arrested his man, whose name is Bill Beadle, a big woodsman who has worked around here for the past three years.  Beadle was quite ‘jaggy’ and broke when arrested.   He protested his innocence vigorously and was some time in making up his mind to go to the lock-up.  When he found he had to go though it was different.  When at the coop Beadle was searched and no watch nor money was found on him.

The deputy sheriff made a call upon all the officers of the village before making the arrest to see if he could find the key to the lock-up.  He also called upon those who were supposed to be marshal at times for the past year, but no key could be found.  This necessitated breaking the lock on the jail door.  In smashing the padlock the staple of the door was broken and a temporary one was used for the night.

It appears Beadle kept his eyes open and knew what a snap he had, for alas, this morning the bird had flown.  It is Deputy Sheriff Mooers opinion that the prisoner had help from the outside to make his escape.  A search has been made all day but up to 2 o’clock this afternoon no trace of Beadle had been found.  It is believed he took to the woods.”

In 1911 a break at the Itasca County Jail was credited with the escapee having extra-long arms.  “Late last Sunday night there came near being a wholesale jail delivery at the county bastille.  One Beals, a prisoner indicated for arson by the grand jury evidently became tired of imposing on the sheriff’s hospitality, after his incarceration some seven months ago or made up his mind that he had ‘done time’ long enough to atone for his crime so he decided to leave, and he went and is probably still going. 

Beals, who has an extra long arm, with five other prisoners, was occupying quarters in the corridor of the jail which is crowded while the new addition is being constructed.  Just before midnight sheriff Riley was awakened by commotion among the prisoners downstairs and immediately investigating, found that Mr. Beals was a minus quantity.  With his long arms he [Beals] succeeded in reaching through and around several bars, worked the combination lock on the corridor door, walked to the rear of the jail, pried off a bar from the window, and made good his escape.  The other five prisoners could easily have followed him, but refrained, and after giving Beals sufficient time to make his getaway, they turned in an alarm.  The sheriff and his deputies scoured the country for several days but Beals’ whereabouts have not as yet been ascertained.

The escape of Beals, it would seem, tells chapters.  Briefly, it tells particularly of Beals guilty conscience, of the fear that the law had him so that he did not consider he could get away, this particularly, in view of the fact that this is his second escape from the authorities on this charge – a most palpable evidence of guilt.  It tells of the exceeding good behavior and trustworthiness of the other prisoners, who remained in durance vile while it was so easy to make a getaway.  It tells – well numerous other things.

It is to be hoped that Beals will speedily be recaptured as he is apparently too dangerous a subject to be at large.” [Bigfork Settler 1-5-1911]

Hard Times: Voices from a State Prison, 1849-1914 by Ted Genoway and published by the MN Historical Society Press (2002) about the old State Prison at Stillwater, Minnesota that over the sixty-five year period became one of the most respected prisons in the country.  It covers many aspects of prison life including the occasional disappearance of inmates.  One such incident was the extensive manhunt for escaped prisoners Juhl Peters and Jerry McCarthy in 1911.  I tracked down an article on McCarthy’s capture and death in a newspaper from Rolla, ND:

…“McCarthy served five years in the Montana State Penitentiary for being implicated in a $15,000 diamond robbery at Butte. Later at Des Moines, Iowa, he was sentenced to 15 years at Anamosa for highway robbery and escaped after serving one year. Three months after his escape he came to Minneapolis and attempted to hold up a man on First avenue south between Washington avenue and Third street when he was frustrated by sergeant Mike Lawrence and patrolman Jonas Jonassen. At this time McCarthy pulled a gun and shot Jonassen between his arm and body. Lawrence grabbed the gun and it discharged, hitting McCarthy in the leg. McCarthy was given 10 years at Stillwater on this occasion and escaped four months later with a penitentiary sentence of 30 years hanging over him. McCarthy was formerly a prize fighter.” [Turtle Mountain Star 1-20-1911]

According to American Movie Classics (AMC) the best prison/jail break movie of all times is the Shawshank Redemption directed by Frank Darabont in 1994. The film, starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman is 142 minutes long and tells the tale of two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

In descending order, others to make the top ten list are: Escape From Alcatraz (1979), The Great Escape (1963), Cool Hand Luke (1967), The Count of Monte Cristo (2002), Con Air (1997), Papillon (1973), Stalag 17 (1953), and Midnight Express  (1978).

Law and Order is a special interest feature of Reminisce..  During the coming months I will share some of the burglaries, murders and other crimes that occurred in our communities years ago.  If you have any such events you would like to see me research and write about, please email chris@reminisce.gmail or call 218-244-2127.

10.17.2021 ~ archived

[originally published 10.8.2015]

LAW & ORDER: “A bullet whizzed through his bushy eyebrow”

Advertisement in the Itasca News ~ Circa 1900

We have all heard that Deer River was a very rough and tumble town at the turn of the century.  Main Street referred to as Whiskey Row had nearly twenty saloons and there was at least one house of “ill repute” in the vicinity. 

The story of the murder of Charley Grant reads more like a dime novel than a newspaper article, but based on the subsequent trial testimony appears to have been true. The headline I used for the column comes from the testimony of the bartender, Alexander “Sandy” Phair.  He stated there were four shots fired in all and “that the third one passed close to Tom Murray’s head who was reclining against the bar asleep.  The whiz of the ball through his bushy eye brow awoke him.”  Murray was not the intended target and is lucky he did not become a casualty in the saloon skirmish.

The articles are rather lengthy so here is the abbreviated version with enough excerpts to give you an idea of what happened on November 30, 1900 through the trial verdict on January 18, 1901.

After folks had eaten their Thanksgiving dinner, many of the young people or those without families, went to Deer River.  It was rumored that there was a clandestine boxing match, where bets were readily made by all men present.  In the early evening there was a dance at the Hotel Deer River.  Most of the saloons were open, and laughter or conversation could be heard spilling out of the doors and windows.

Sandy, the bartender of the saloon in the Northern Hotel said that the men were a bit more rowdy than usual, in part because the band at the Hotel Deer River next door was quite loud. The city marshal, Mike McClusky had been making the rounds, or perhaps had been summoned and was present at the time the melee began.   The main characters were Patrick Burke, a 40- year-old single man from Grand Rapids; and recently married 35-year-old Charley Grant.  Both men were known in the Deer River community and neither had a honorable past..  Burke had been in prison for manslaughter and Grant had just gotten off parole following a sentence at the Stillwater Prison for robbing a woman.

The men were acquainted with each other and though it is not clear if they were together that night, all agreed that Grant and Burke were drinking and began arguing.  Grant succeeded in knocking Burke to the floor and was leaning against the bar and smiling in victory.  Suddenly Burke stood up and whipped a revolver out of his hip pocket and aiming at Grant exclaimed: ‘Grant I won’t take a licking from you!’

With these words he fired, and though he was only ten feet away the ball missed Grant, and whizzing past the bar tender’s ear, bored into the lower part of the mirror frame behind the bar.  Mike McClusky, the village marshal, then jumped in and tried to wrest the weapon from Burke.  While in this tussle McClusky says he pleaded to the ten or twelve men present to take the gun away, but none attempted to do so. 

Grant, it appears, was too drunk to know enough to move out of the room, and Burke in the hands of the marshal, got a second shot at him and Grant began moving toward the back door when a third shot came.  It was then thought the second shot killed Grant because he suddenly scrunched his shoulders and moved sidewise toward the back door, but as he was still facing the gun it may be that it was the third shot which hit him.  The bullet entered the left breast about two inches above the heart, and passed out of his back under the right shoulder.  As Grant was nearing the door the fourth shot came but went wild and the ball went in the wall over the door. [Itasca News 12-1-1900]

Grant fell through the side door into the washroom and died within a few minutes.  Burke was arrested and spent the remainder of the night behind the bars.  Sheriff Tyndall arrived and took the prisoner to Grand Rapids on the afternoon train.  The county coroner was also in town and removed the remains to Grand Rapids. 

The jury in the coroner’s inquest over the remains of Charles Grant returned the verdict Tuesday that Grant was killed by a bullet from a gun discharged by Patrick Burke.

Burke’s preliminary hearing in justice court was set for Thursday December 6th, but he waived examination and his case came before the grand jury in January.  He was indicted for first degree murder by the grand jury, and trial was set to begin on January 11, 1901.

About ninety jurors were subpoenaed before the following jury of twelve men was secured: Edward Bergin, H.E. Graffam, R.A. McAllister, E. Keabie, M. Hagen, Jas. Patterson, David Cochran, George Lemrod, A.M. Sisler, Frank Voight, Irving A Martin and James Affleck.  Other names you might recognize from your own family history include these witnesses: Sandy Phair, W.C. Robbyn; C.W. Robinson, Frank Caldwell, Tom Murray, John Hawley, John O’Reilly, Harry Oakes, Charles Porter, and Joseph Girard.

Burke’s defense was that he considered his life was in danger and drew the revolver in self-defense when he saw Grant’s hand in his hip pocket.  The jury was out about twenty-four hours.  “Yesterday forenoon at 9 o’clock the jury reported that they were unable to agree and it was understood that eight voted not guilty while four favoured a verdict of manslaughter in the first degree.  Judge McClanahan asked them to try again and at 3:30 the foreman announced to the bailiff that an agreement had been reached. 

The word soon spread through the village and the court room was well filled when the twelve men filed in and handed their findings to Clerk King.  In just one week to the hour from the time the case was opened and the work of securing a jury begun Patrick Burke was pronounced ‘not guilty’ of the crime of murdering Charles Grant.” [Grand Rapids Herald Review 1-19-1901]

Law and Order is a special interest feature of Reminisce. During the coming months I will share some of the burglaries, murders and other crimes that occurred in our communities years ago.  If you have any such events you would like to see me research and write about, please email chris@reminisce.gmail or call 218-244-2127


Resort Note: Due to circumstances beyond my control (and yes technology has played havoc with my historical data) the other two resort articles will be postponed until spring 2022. Also, I still can write a few more if you have a suggestion.  The criteria are that they were started before 1935 and have operated from the time they opened until the present.  Names, of course, may have changed! reminiscewithchris@gmail.com ~ 218-244-2127 ~ blog chrismarcottewrites.com

Law & Order ~ County Treasurer Embezzled Funds part 1

In October 1909, citizens of Itasca County were shocked to learn that Arthur Kremer, the man they had elected as treasurer several times since 1894, had been arrested for taking money from the county coffers.

Brief Family History

In the early 1890s three Kremer brothers moved from their homes in Saginaw, Michigan, to the prosperous village of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  Edward (preferred to be called by his initials, E.A.), the oldest, came in 1891.  A registrar of deeds in Saginaw, E.A. and his long-time friend Fred A. King formed a business partnership, Kremer & King Abstract Company located in the Itasca County Courthouse. Twenty-five-year-old Arthur followed in July 1892.  George is the one most of us know because of the Geo. F. Kremer store which occupied a city block in Grand Rapids from 1893 until it closed its doors in1991.  He came in 1894 to build a house for E.A. and returned the following spring with his family. One of their sisters, Minnie Marie and her husband Werner Groening, also lived in Grand Rapids by 1910.

Arthur August Kremer

Arthur was one of nine children born to William and Sophia. They had both immigrated from Germany in 1852, then married and settled in Saginaw. Kremer had been employed as a clerk in a real estate office, a bank, and then as a bookkeeper in the City Treasurer’s office in Saginaw.  In Grand Rapids, he was first employed as assistant cashier at the Lumberman’s State Bank.  When he was offered a more lucrative position with Tuller Brothers, Arthur felt he could now marry.  He returned to Saginaw and married Mary Elizabeth “Birdie” Thompson on October 6, 1892.  The couple lived on Kindred Ave. in Grand Rapids.

Arthur was elected County Treasurer in 1894 and re-elected in 1896.  In 1898 he lost to C.C. Miller. The 1900 U.S. Census shows Arthur, Birdie and son Russell living in a home on 7th St. Grand Rapids that they owned.  Arthur was employed as a bookkeeper for a lumber company. Kremer ran unsuccessfully against Miller in 1904 but was elected in 1906 and re-elected in 1908.


During the first week of October 1909, it was brought to the attention of “Attorney General Simpson of shortages in the treasury of Itasca County, and last Saturday [Oct 9] he took up the matter with Anton Schafer, public examiner, who sent Mr. Kain to Grand Rapids to make an examination.” [Bemidji Daily Pioneer 10-13-1909]

Michael Kain immediately began going through the books of the County Treasurer’s Office and by noon on Monday had enough evidence to take control of the office. In a telegram to his superiors, he stated that Kremer had confessed to the embezzlement of county funds.  It is believed he took about $8,000, and that he has about $6,000 in his personal bank accounts towards restitution.

The telegram, along with a formal recommendation that Kremer be suspended, was brought to the Governor, Adolph Ebenhart, who that afternoon ordered the suspension. By law no official can be removed by the governor without a hearing, but the county auditor was also sent a copy of the order.  Kremer resigned and, on Tuesday, the County Board elected Glen Strader to serve as County Treasurer.

By the time Kremer was arrested, the financial discrepancies continued to climb, and were near $20,000.  He was released on $10,000 bail provided by his brothers.

Two questions that were on the minds of the county citizens were how he embezzled the money and why.  It was alleged that he wrote incorrect totals on the duplicate tax receipts.  For instance, when several items on a tax receipt totaled $324, he would mark that total as $224 on the duplicate he gave the county auditor and keep the remainder.  It is believed that at first, he started with $100 at a time, then $500 and possibly even more substantial amounts.  Based on dates, this had been going on some months when the discrepancies were discovered.

The question of why will not be resolved until perhaps the trial, but there was still speculation.

County Gives Ample Bonds ~ Duluth Evening News 10-14-1909

Grand Rapids, Minn., Oct 14. – (Special to the Herald.)—The National Surety company furnished ex-County Treasurer Kremer’s bonds in the sum of $75,000, so the county is believed to be amply protected against loss resulting from the deposed official’s misconduct.

Deputy Public Examiner Kain continues his probe of the books of the county and is quoted as saying that the shortage will not exceed $40,000 if it reaches such a large figure.

Kremer has securities including mortgages and other property, amounting to $34,000, all of which will be turned over to the county.  Mr. Kremer has on deposit in various banks, $6,240.43 which he has turned over.  The public examiner found $1,545.77 in the treasurer’s vaults.

Kremer’s hearing may develop more sensations.  The public appears to be at a loss to explain where all of the money went, large family expenses being one of the explanations offered.

Although Kremer is said to have made a confession of his shortage to the public examiner, it is reported he has retained counsel and will fight prosecution, but this is not verified.”

Friends of Kremer Attribute His Trouble to Mental Defect ~ Duluth Evening News 10-18-1909

“A friend who has known him for twenty years stated that twelve years ago Kremer had an attack of brain fever and that during this spell of sickness morphine was given to him to relieve him.

Recently Kremer spent some time at a sanitorium, telling his friends here, that he was compelled to take treatment for his nerves.  Since his return from this hospital, he has apparently been somewhat improved in health.

The news of his defalcation, while an absolute surprise to most of the residents of this county, was not unexpected by many who have been close observers of events here.

When Kremer was elected treasurer about five years ago, he is said to have been a poor man.  Almost at once he bought land and built a handsome home, which was elegantly fitted up.  He took pleasure trips with his family to the Pacific coast, Niagara Falls and other places, sent his children away to school and lived in an expensive manner.

He also began to lend money, and a list of notes and mortgages totaling many thousands of dollars is now in the hands of Assistant Public Examiner M.F. Kain.  Most of these were registered here under his own name and the apparent lack of ordinary prudence in covering his tracks is pointed to by his many friends as one strong evidence of his mental incapacity.

The entire list of securities belonging to Kremer and now in the hands of Mr. Kain totals more than $37,000, all of which is believed to be good.  It includes deeds to various lots, mortgages, bank stock, building and loan and mining stock. 

If, as now appears probable, the shortage in his accounts proves to be in the neighborhood of $50,000, these securities will come within a few thousand dollars of covering it.  It will be at least a month, however, before an accurate statement of the deficiency can be made.”

As the sum of misappropriated funds continued to climb, the county residents were impatient for the court process to continue in a timely manner.

Kremer Shortage May be $60,000 ~ Duluth News Tribune 10-24-1909

“Grand Rapids. Oct 23. —The board of audit is still at work on the books of the ex-county treasurer Kremer, and up to tonight had found discrepancies, indicating an apparent shortage of about $60,000.  Quite a good many securities have been uncovered in the vault and others are not in the vault but have been accounted for.  The ex-treasurer’s investments were so good that it is regarded as probable that sufficient funds may be realized upon them to cover the shortage within a few thousand dollars.  It is the aim of the board of audit to complete the investigation by Oct. 29 when Kremer’s hearing will be held.  The hearings will be held before Justice Walker of Grand Rapids.”


Kremer Indicted on Five Counts ~ Duluth Evening News 11-5-1909

“The grand jury has completed its labors and reported to the court. The court thanked the jury and dismissed it.

Arthur A. Kremer, ex-county treasurer was indicted on five counts. In three of these cases, Kremer is alleged to have taken certain portions of tax payments of the Great Western Mining Company.  In one of the cases, it is charged that the company made a payment of $16,342.54 and that the sum taken out by Kremer and appropriated to his own use was $2500.  In another case, the company paid $28,045.17 and the sum of $2000 was held out.  In another instance, an entire payment of $3583.10 was entirely held out.  In the other two instances, personal property taxes were never entered on the county books, the amounts being $265.45 and $370.34, respectively.” 

Kremer was arraigned on the five counts but entered no plea.  Judge Stanton fixed his bond at $25,000, which was furnished.”

At first it was thought that the trial would not happen during the present term of court, but County Attorney Price was adamant that the case would be scheduled for early December.

Look for the trial and decision on Sunday October 24, 2021, in Part 2 of County Treasurer Embezzled Funds.


Resorts with a History ~ Bowen Lodge

Resorts with a History ~ Bowen Lodge

In 1925, the Commercial Club in Deer River took out a full-page advertisement in the June 4th issue of the Deer River News.  It included a listing of twenty-four resorts as well as the name and address of the proprietors. Remarkably, nine of those resorts are still in operation today, so last summer I began to highlight them in this special series, Resorts with a HistoryThis article is the last one in the series.  The lodge wasn’t in that 1925 advertisement, but since Herb and Jessie Bowen were instrumental in starting several resorts, it seemed appropriate to finish the series with an article about the resort they established in 1931.   

Property History

The first recorded owners on the abstract were John and Jane Jackson.  John’s 1926 obituary states “he has lived on the farm 16 miles west of Deer River, on the road through the National Forest. Mr. Jackson’s home has probably been the stopping place for more settlers than any other in the county.  Emigrants traveling into the territory northwest of here stopped at Jackson’s for food and shelter. The sturdy pioneer was most hospitable.  He welcomed the traveler to his home and cheered him on his way.  For many years Mr. Jackson has been known as a substantial citizen of this section. About forty-one years ago, Mr. Jackson was married to Jane Fairbanks, who, with three children, Mrs. Henry [Hattie] Peters of Minneapolis, Mrs. George [Catherine] Tibbetts of Deer River, and William Jackson of Deer River, survives him.” [Itasca News 5-6-1926]

After John’s death, Jane sold the property to the Thorpe Bros., a land company from Minneapolis.  Thorpe Bros. had bought up lake property in Itasca County in the early 1920s, parceled it off, and sold it to those wanting to build lake homes at a considerable profit.  One of their most successful ventures was the land around Deer and Moose Lake just north of Deer River.  


Cut Foot Sioux Lodge

Howard Vincent Shull, a resort owner from the Marcell area, bought the property from Thorpe Bros in 1928.  He built the lodge, several cabins and named it Cut Foot Sioux Lodge. Mr. Shull and his family lived in St. Louis County, so he hired Fred Tibbetts to manage the resort. Fred was also a fishing guide, and it is possible the Shull and Tibbetts families were both there during the busy summer season.  Cut Foot Sioux Lodge was prominently marked on a1931 Itasca County map showing fishing resorts.

Bowen Lodge

Jessie Bowen had sold Eagle Nest Resort after Herb died in 1931.  Her son-in-law and daughter, Al and Stella Christie sold the Cut Foot Sioux Inn about the same time. (This resort with such as similar name, was also clearly marked on the 1931 map!)  Al was interested in buying a service station, with a large home behind it, for his family and his mother-in-law.  They spent the summer looking, and in the end, decided to purchase Cutfoot Sioux Lodge.

The transaction was finalized by deer hunting season.  After about a year of running the resort, they decided to rename it, Bowen Lodge.  Jessie, called “Ma” as long as anyone can remember, Al, and Stella had the resort until 1946.  Jessie was 64 years old and had been running a boarding house or resort for about 47 years when it was sold to George and Rose Goodwin.  Imagine the amount of fish she fried (as that was her specialty) in the 25 years of feeding guest all the fish they could eat!


George and Rose Goodwin bought Bowen Lodge in 1946.  They, and later their son Bob and his wife Shirley owned the resort until 1974.  The Goodwin family lived in the same cabin that the Christie’s did.  In the previous Reminisce article, Joy (Christie) Tervo shared that her parents and siblings lived in their own cabin, away from the main lodge and cabins, because her grandmother, Ma Bowen, didn’t want children around the resort guests.

At the time the Goodwin’s bought the resort, only a few of the cabins had cooking facilities.  They changed over the rest of the cabins to include kitchens, and meals were no longer served in the main lodge.  This was a fairly common modification during the 1940s and 1950s.  It made the cost of staying at a resort more feasible for a family.

Sven and Joan Olin owned the resort from 1974-1979.  It was then purchased by Larry and Althea Miller.  Robert Heig, Sr. bought it from the Millers in late 1982.


In his retirement, Robert Heig, a businessman from Minneapolis, decided to invest in a resort.  He and his family had spent annual vacations at resorts on Pelican Lake near Brainerd, and those memories fueled this decision.  He and his oldest son, Robert Jr. began looking at property in northern Minnesota in early 1982.

By the end of the year, they bought Bowen Lodge, and the father-son duo welcomed their first guests at the 1983 fishing opener.

After a couple of years, there was a shift in who was managing the resort. Bob Jr. decided to dedicate more time to his career, and Bill, the other son of Robert, joined his father.  Funding for Bill’s position in wildlife management in Washington state was no longer available.  Gail had known Bill for years, and when the resort opened in 1986, she was part of the team. 

It was a good fit, so Bill and Gail married at Bowen Lodge in 1987, 46 years after Joy Christie (granddaughter of Ma Bowen) and Hjalmer Tervo held their wedding ceremony at the resort.  Bob Sr., Bill, and Gail Heig shared the responsibilities of managing the resort for twenty years. “We got along really good, and we made good decisions,” Gail explained. “Bob was here until he was 90, and we worked really well together. He was always involved in the major decision making but gave us the freedom to make other decisions on our own.  Then he passed the torch.”

Some of those decisions included changing the accommodations. “When started,” Gail said, “there were 21 rental units. Some did not have running water, some only cold water, and only one had a toilet. So, we tore them down. There was also tent camping, and RV camping.”  Now they have 12 cabins, the largest with five bedrooms, 26 seasonal RV and six short-term RV.  

The original lodge built in 1928, has undergone some transformation with probably every owner.  When the Heig’s remodeled, they found that linoleum used in the lodge was the same print used at Cut Foot Sioux Inn.  The oldest part of the lodge is identified by the original timbers and rock foundation. And the front door is still in the same place.  In 1992 a gorgeous 30×36 great room was added overlooking the lake.  It is timber-framed and entirely pegged together by Bill.

Bowen started as a fishing resort, as most of the resorts in Itasca County. “But it is so much more than fishing,” Gail said.  “It’s about the whole experience.  It’s about being on this beautiful lake. A lot of people enjoying sitting and just looking at the lake.  It’s a part of it, but not a major part of it.  So, we put the emphasis not so much on fishing, it’s about being on vacation with your family.  It’s about reconnecting.  Watching the eagles.

“We’ve had people coming to this resort for 60+ years, many years before us. Same cabin, same time, same place, because they grow up with the people of that week as well.  So, their kids grow up together.  We have families here right now that are three generations.”

Gail shared a delightful story that occurred in their early days as resort owners, and before they had a computer. 

“Quite a few years ago we had first timers arrive who were staying in the cabin which was then called cabin 14.  We showed them the cabin, and they settled in.  About 11 p.m. that night, we get a knock on the door. It was people here for cabin 14. We said, your party has already checked in, and they said, no it’s just us.

“So, we had to go over and ask the other people, what their name again, and we discovered they were to be staying in cabin 14 at William’s Narrows! Those poor people had to pack up and go to William’s Narrows. Bill and I had to clean the cabin, change bedding, etc., and the folks had to wait while we did all that. Those guests have become fantastic customers of ours and in fact, had five cabins this year now because their family has grown.” 

Incidentally, cabin 14, is now called Ma Bowen “after the matriarch of Bowen Lodge, Jessie Bowen was a lively woman who once ran the resort with a capable hand.”  The descendants of George and Rose Goodwin, who grew up in the cabin when they owned it, stay in that cabin on their annual vacations. In the thirty-six years, the Heig’s have owned the resort, they have raised two sons, Jens and Dane helped to sponsor a Make-A-Wish dream come true for a nine-year-old boy with leukemia from Iowa, and hosted a group of International Tree Climbers.  Gail and Bill are described as gracious hosts with a vast knowledge of the wildlife and history of the area. They go out of their way to make each guest’s stay special and have many who are now lifelong friends.  The Heig’s love the resort life and plan on continuing for years to come.


“Tremain Leading Babe Ruth by Safe Margin”

This headline was on the front page of the Itasca News on September 1, 1927.  It is evident that the editor was caught up in the exhilarating challenge between Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig for the home run championship, but who was John Tremain and what did he have on Ruth and Gehrig?

John Tremain

John Tremain (April 1857-December 1929) was a well-known local muskie fisherman.  At the age of seventy-two, he had been catching trophy fish on the lakes of northern Itasca County for nearly thirty years.  He and his family moved from Michigan in the spring of 1903.  By mid-summer his fishing success was recorded in the local papers, where it was noted at least once a season thereafter. 

He was most famous for muskies, and if his name sounds familiar, I did mention him in the May 23, 2021, Reminisce column “Mother-in-law Saved the Fish.”  In that column Tremain is lauded for several typical catches of the fishermen he guided. 

Another newspaper article from early in the 1927 fishing season, describes Tremain’s success. “Shortly after his return from Minneapolis last Sunday, George Herreid yielded to the lure of the fishing rod, and after securing John Tremain, who has been responsible for hooking more Muskies than any other man in Northern Minnesota, went out on Moose Lake in search of the big fellows.

“And John made good again, piloting George right across the path of a fine specimen.  They hooked him early in the evening.  The muskie weighed twenty-four (we had to write it out, “figures won’t lie”) pounds and measured 43 inches in length.  It was much admired by a large number of people here Monday morning.  George is having it mounted.” [Itasca News 6-23-1927]

The Itasca News editor has not yet (publicly anyway) compared Tremain’s fishing prowess with Babe Ruth’s home run record.

Babe Ruth

George Herman “Babe” Ruth Jr. (February 2, 1895-August 16, 1948) was an American baseball player whose Major League career spanned 22 seasons from 1914 through 1935.  He began his career as a left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, but he achieved his greatest fame as a slugging outfielder for the New York Yankees.  He was one of the first five inductees into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.

Lou Gehrig

Henry Louis Gehrig (June 19, 1903 – June 2, 1941), was an American baseball player who played 17 seasons for the New York Yankees from 1923 through 1939.  In 1939, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and was the first Major League Baseball player to have his uniform number retired.

The Convergence

The September 1, 1927, article in the Itasca News stated, “John says he can get a muskie oftener than Babe Ruth can hit a home run, and just at the present time John has a lead of nine on Babe.” This statement is absolutely true.  On August 31, Babe Ruth hit his forty-third home run against the Boston Red Sox and John Tremain hauled in his fifty-second muskie while guiding for Mr. Freidmann of Chicago. 

Tremain proudly proclaimed that, of his total of 52 muskies, twenty-five of them have been over thirty inches long and two were 48 inches each.  According to the Minnesota DNR, the oldest official record fish for the state was in 1929.  Had trophy fish been documented earlier, no doubt, John Tremain would be listed in a category or two.  As it stands, the record for the largest muskie was caught on Lake Winnibigoshish in Itasca County in 1957.  It was 54 pounds with a length of 56 inches and girth of 27¾ inches.

A month later the season had ended for Babe Ruth, but Tremain has one more fishing excursion.

Congressman Carss and Guide Capture Muskie Laurels ~ Itasca News 10-6-1927

“With the veteran John Tremain as guide, Mr. Carss spent Monday afternoon and Tuesday on Deer Lake in quest of muskies.  They fished from 3:00 to 6:00 Monday afternoon and from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. Tuesday.  In this time, they landed five muskies ranging from 34 to 45 inches in length, two Monday and three Tuesday.  The record surpassed any other made here in years and is likely to stand for some time.

“The work of the two days brought John Tremain’s total of muskies for the season up to 64. John says he bests Babe Ruth out by four and started a month after the Babe did.

“Now let Bob Becker and Robert Page Lincoln be fully informed that this IS a muskie region!”

Bob Becker of the Chicago Tribune and Robert Page Lincoln fishing editor of various national sports magazines at different times were sportswriters who were known to have doubted the fishing in Itasca County.

One Summer America 1927, a book writtenby Bill Bryson, was the inspiration for this Reminisce column, and one of the most enjoyable books I have read in a long time. It is hefty, a 562 pages, but chock full of fascinating information about a forgotten summer when America came of age, took center stage, and changed the world forever.

I have extracted some of the information Bryson has gathered on Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and the remarkable season. “Ruth in 1927 was the best paid player in baseball and proud of the fact.  He had a three-year contract at $70,000 a year…On his pay, newsmen calculated, Ruth could buy a new car every week or a new house every month.

“All the fans in all the cities were drawn by the same thing – a chance to see Babe Ruth in the flesh, and ideally to watch him swat a ball into the firmament.  That Ruth was locked in a seesaw battle with the youthful upstart Lou Gehrig for the home run championship brought the kind of excitement that made people crush their hats in distraction.  There had really never been anything like it.  At mid-August, Gehrig – impossibly, unprecedentedly – led Ruth by 38 homeruns to 36.  But Ruth came back with towering clouts in Chicago on August 16 and 17, to draw level.   Gehrig went one up again on August 19, against the White Sox, but Ruth matched that the next day in Cleveland to put them even again at 39. 

“By now people were practically having heart attacks.  On August 22, Babe hit his fortieth, Gehrig tied him two days later.  Ruth hit his forty-first and forty-second on home runs on August 27 and 28, in St. Louis.  Gehrig came back with a three-run shot in St. Louis on August 29.  Two days later, back in New York against the Red Sox, Ruth hit the last home run of the month for either player.  Ruth had 43 home runs and Gehrig had 41.”

I also learned that in 1927, Babe Ruth starred in the movie Babe Comes Home with Anna Q. Nilsson. It was a silent, black and white baseball comedy produced by the First National Film Company. The film is considered a lost film, which means that it “is no longer known to exist in any studio archives, private collections, or public archives.” I did locate a short clip of Babe Ruth’s 60th home run in 1927. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOt0Tmwc2Rk)

Baby Ruth Candy Bar

While researching, I decided to check out the “Baby Ruth” candy bar.  It was not named for Babe Ruth and has a controversy all its own.  I can’t effectively condense the explanation from Wikipedia, so here is exactly what I found:

“Although the name of the candy bar sounds like the name of the famous baseball player Babe Ruth, the Curtiss Candy Company traditionally claimed that it was named after President Grover Cleveland’s daughter, Ruth Cleveland. The candy maker, located on the same street as Wrigley Field, named the bar ‘Baby Ruth’ in 1921, as Babe Ruth’s fame was on the rise, over 30 years after Cleveland had left the White House, and 17 years after his daughter, Ruth, had died. The company did not negotiate an endorsement deal with Ruth, and many saw the company’s story about the origin of the name to be a devious way to avoid having to pay the baseball player any royalties. Curtiss successfully shut down a rival [candy] bar that was approved by, and named for, Ruth, on the grounds that the names were too similar.

“In the trivia book series Imponderables, David Feldman reports the standard story about the bar being named for Grover Cleveland’s daughter, with additional information that ties it to the President: ‘The trademark was patterned exactly after the engraved lettering of the name used on a medallion struck for the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, and picturing the President, his wife, and daughter Baby Ruth.’ He also cites More Misinformation, by Tom Burnam: ‘Burnam concluded that the candy bar was named … after the granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Williamson, candy makers who developed the original formula and sold it to Curtiss.’ (Williamson had also sold the ‘Oh Henry!’ formula to Curtiss around that time.) The write up goes on to note that marketing the product as being named for a company executive’s granddaughter would likely have been less successful, hence their ‘official’ story.”

I am constantly amazed at the unique connection Itasca County has with famous and influential people back during a time when mass travel was limited to the Model T and its contenders, and communication with the outside world was limited to newspapers and magazines.

The final two stories of the resort series for 2021 will appear in the October 10, and October 24 issues of the Grand Rapids Herald-Review. To see archived Resorts with a History, check out my blog chrismarcottewrites.com.

9.19.2021 ~ archived

[originally published 6.14.2018]

Resorts with a Story ~ Northland Lodge

Neil King has been coming to Northland Lodge from southern Minnesota for 80 of his 83 years. Northland was strictly a fishing and hunting camp when he first accompanied his folks in 1938, so like or not, a lot of time was spent in the boat.  Neil took to fishing just fine, and in fact, there have been four generations of Kings spending at least a part of every summer on the northeast shore of Winnibigoshish Lake.

Besides good fishing, and experienced proprietors (the O’Reilleys are in their 35th season), the resort is known for the beautiful Norway pine log lodge, constructed by many men and great teams of horses back in 1919.  At that time, the resort was named Camp A-Be-We-Ning, said to mean “Resting Place” in Ojibwe, and was being built for a hunting club from the Twin Cities. 

The ridge-pole of the lodge is massive – it is 60 feet long, 61inches in circumference at one end, and 53 inches at the other – and it hasn’t budged an inch!  Pat O’Reilley, the current owner, along with his father Mike, explained. “This is because the log was set in place with the rise of the ‘crown’ (the slight natural bend) facing up.” Ray Callaway and his wife Lynda were the prior owners, and he added, “I used to keep a pole that was the exact height of the log, and every spring I would use it to check the distance between the floor and ridge-pole.  I was amazed that it never moved.”

The lodge is indeed impressive, and its uniqueness adds to the charm of the resort. Today it is one large room, 60×48, though the components of its 1919 construction are still in the same locations, there are no partitions separating the dining area from the living room. The walls are adorned with trophy fish, bird and animal mounts, including a moose from the 1920s in remarkable shape. There are photographs, treasures of woodland scavenging and the art of inspired resort guests.  A beautiful brick fireplace, the focal point of the living room was no doubt host to many lively discussions through the years.  “If these walls could talk,” Pat said, “I’m sure they’d have plenty to say.”

Thank goodness the walls are still here.  Ray stated that when he approached Louie Usher about buying the resort, Louie told him that if it didn’t sell that year (1978), he had planned to tear it down. One of the first projects Ray did was to replace some rotting logs. “I went to Russ Vickerman, he had a sawmill, and he told me they had been saving a log for that very project.  It had been cut two years previous, so it was dried and ready to go.  Vickerman and his son knew exactly what they were doing, we had an old time ‘log raising’ and two logs were replaced in no time.”

The History

According to an article in a 1922 publication highlighting the successes of Itasca County, in addition to the lodge (which they described as a log hotel), nineteen cabins had been constructed.  The officials of the Northland Camps, Inc. were businessmen from the Twin Cities.  Falvey Williams was designated the secretary and general manager. Falvey is the same man who several years later established the Williams Narrows Resort, also located on Lake Winnie.

It is unclear how long the group from the Twin Cities had the resort, but 1925 advertising listed A.L. Lee as the proprietor, and the Itasca News ran a good-sized ad announcing a Sunday Dinner on July 19, at The Northland Camps, Inc. “The Big Log Cabin Just a Step Across Winnibigoshish Dam.” The menu included: celery, olives, cream of tomato soup, one-half baked chicken, giblet sauce, sage dressing, garden spinach, whipped potatoes, pie ala mode, fruit salad, coffee, milk, and iced tea.

By 1927, the name of the resort was changed to Northland Lodge.  C.H. Rawson, the proprietor at the time, began having occasional ‘dancing parties’ open to the public, in the lodge during the weekday evenings.  The floor, constructed of long even planks, perfect for dancing.  Musicians mentioned include Swede Hedstrom and his Hot Points, and Gene’s Hot Rocks.

Neil explained that when his dad, Henry started coming up here, the new dam hadn’t been built yet, so one of the best places to fish was over in the bay by the Sunset.  “Northland would haul the fishermen in a 24-foot launch and drop them off, one by one on old cedar stumps that stuck out of the lake,” Neil said. “They’d have a sack lunch, their fishing stuff and a gunny sack for their catch.  At the end of the day, they come back and pick them up.”

There was a succession of short-term owners, but by the time Neil began coming up as a toddler, Lucille Woodroff and her daughter Margie were well established as owners.  They provided two home-cooked meals each day and sack lunches to the fishing or hunting parties.  The pair were extremely hard workers with a good sense of humor, and the resort flourished. 

Earl and Paula Mosgaard were the last owners to serve food on a daily basis, and unfortunately, no old recipes have been found, but Lucy King, Neil’s wife, recalls that she was a very good cook.  “I remember one meal in particular when she made a baked northern stuffed with wild rice and seasoning.  It was excellent!”

All told there have probably been a dozen owners, but a fire in the 1960’s destroyed the records, including guest registry books that went back to the beginning of Northland as a privately own resort. The names of owners located between 1924-1983 were: A.L. Lee, C.H. Rawson, Lucille & Margie Woodroff, Walter Beinke, Earl & Paula Mosgaard, Louis & Diane Usher, and Ray & Lynda Callaway.

The O’Reilley’s 1983 – Now

Mike and Mary O’Reilley bought the resort in 1983.  Mike had worked for the Minneapolis, Northfield and Southern Railroad for about 20 years when they decided they would like to own a resort in northern Minnesota.  It was another eight years before everything fell into place, he retired, and they were the very proud owners of Northland Lodge.

From the very beginning, they knew they had made the right decision, and their dedication is indeed evident by the improvements.  Their genuine enthusiasm turned guests into lifelong friends.  Though Pat was working in the cities and had a family of his own, he came up to help his folks get ready for the opener every year.  He jokes “I have been doing dock work for 35 years, even my dad can’t say that!”

The fishing opener has always been a big deal at Northland, and Mike always invited Ralph John Fritz, a sports announcer for WCCO radio to come up.  “Ralph would bring an unfolding antenna and dish and broadcast a fishing report during the opener.”   The O’Reilleys started a tradition of a fish fry on the Sunday of the opener, and also continued the ‘get to know your neighbor’ potluck near the beginning of each week, started by the Callaways. “One time,” Mike said, “we ended up lots of potato salad! Now we have a sign-up sheet.” And families have their traditions, not just fishing contests and campfires.  “One family brings frozen pizzas to the potluck, as a joke because that’s what their parents did, but it is always the first to go!”

Mary died in 1998, but by then the die was cast.  There was nowhere Mike wanted to be but at the resort.  Pat continued to help out when he could, and in 2006 he moved north to become a partner in the operation. The father and son duo work well together, and plans are to continue the O’Reilley ownership for years to come.  The lodge received a new roof to prevent deterioration from the Minnesota winters, and the floor is still as solid as it was when people were dancing to the ‘Hot Rock’ and ‘Hot Points’ ninety years ago.  In fact, last summer, Ray celebrated his 70th birthday with the live music of Steve Pratt, and the floor undulated with the nearly one hundred dancing feet.

Neil and Lucy now have a camper in the Northland Lodge camping area and like to visit as much as they do fishing.  Neil has contributed to the wildlife art with his intricate scenes carved in antler, bone, and wood.  They know a lot about the resort and have many stories to tell, and though some may be unbelievable, there are also photographs.

If These Walls Could Talk

“Al Capone did not stay at Northland,” Mike O’Reilley explained, “but when I bought the place there was a ‘hood’ here from Chicago, and the only name I knew him by was Blackie. He’d come with two or three others, and they all wear suitcoats because they were packing all the time. He’d go into cabin 5, it was the only one he would stay in.  You’d never see him come out of the cabin until he was going to go fishing, then it would be with the guys in suits, and they’d go with him. The last year he was here being in1984.”

Ray recalled a story told him by Louie, of a guest he had in the early 1970s. “Louie was behind the bar one day, and Bugsy Matthews came in.  He was a bank robber from the 1950s.  He sat down and had one beer, looked around the lodge and left.  Louie’s theory was that maybe Bugsy hid money or other valuables here from his last heist, and was returning now, after getting out of jail to claim it, but because so much of the resort had changed, he didn’t even know where to look.”

Pat and Mike have updated cabins, removed the ice house and old storage buildings, and installed a swimming pool, but have not come across Bugsy Matthews hidden cache yet.  There is a ghost who haunts the lodge occasionally makes himself known. I am still attempting to discover his identity and will save that for another column. Next year Northland Lodge will be 100 years old, a significant achievement for any northern Minnesota resort.


Resorts with a History ~ Little Bass Camp/Resort

It is probable that when Jesse and Ell Dora Jellison brought their family from Minneapolis to Bass Lake on the train in 1894, they had no idea that within thirty years, four of their children would be engaged in the blossoming resort business within Itasca County.  It was in 1917, that Clyde and Clarence built several cabins on the family property on Bass Lake as a way to bring in money to support their widowed mother. This later became Wildwood Resort.

Mabel Jellison married Christopher Baker, and in 1925, after their children were grown, they welcomed fishermen and their families to Baker’s Shady Nook on Bass Lake. Clarence Jellison married Orva Jones in the spring of 1927 and within a couple years they had established Jellison’s Log Cabin Campon Big Bass. 

Clyde Jellison had inherited land just across the road, on Little Bass Lake, and when he married Dorothy Jones, the younger sister of Orva in the fall of 1927, it was with the intent that they too could run a resort if she wanted. She did, and they named it Little Bass Lake Camp.

This is the first time in my Resorts with a History series that I had the opportunity to interview all of the owners of one resort. Little Bass Lake Camp has had only four owners, and I had the privilege to visit with the last three and also the original owner’s daughter, Ruth (Jellison) Dickie. Ruth has become a resource to me on several Reminisce articles.

Clyde & Dorothy Jellison 1930-1970

Clyde built three modern housekeeping cabins and Dorothy ran the resort. “My mother was a very good businesswoman,” Ruth Dickie explained. “She kept careful records, was known for her hospitality, and was a member of the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce.” These were all important attributes of a successful resort owner. 

It is rare that guest registration survives the years of long-standing resorts, but Dorothy’s have. Pages from the well-worn 1938 volume of a Guest Register for Cabin Camp and Resorts produced by the Blackbourn Company show that the resort was filled from the fishing opener until the end of summer.  Guests came from Chicago, IL, Des Moines, IA, Omaha NE, Fort Wayne IN, Kansas City, KS as well as Minneapolis, St. Paul and Milaca, MN.

“Mother’s goal was to make $2000-$2500 in a summer.  She made extra money by selling dairy products, garden veggies and chickens to resort guests. She used some of the money to get us kids what we needed for school.”  Dorothy took great pride in the cabins, and even though they were always spotless for the new arrivals, she would say, “oh, so and so is coming, we’ve got to have their cabin super nice.” That might mean the patchwork quilts were swapped for the new ones Dorothy had made over the winter.  In addition to the homemade quilts and curtains, the Little Bass Camp cabins were all adorned with handmade rugs. Ruth recalls, “I used Mother’s treadle sewing machine to sew strips of old sheets, curtains and clothing together for the rag rugs. I’d roll them in balls and then Mom took them to a woman who lived on Horseshoe Lake Road, who wove them into rectangle rugs with fringe on the ends.  Mom would have me sort out some of the brighter colors and roll them separately so they could be used for a stripe of color on some of them.”

Clyde’s primary employment was building bridges and houses in Itasca County. He expected his four children to help their mother with the resort as much as they could, often until 9:30 at night. “Dad taught us how to use the old-fashioned rotary style push mower and sharpen the blades. And it seems like we were mowing and raking all the time.  His philosophy was ’keep the kids busy and they’ll stay out of trouble.’ It seemed to work!  We never used propane on the property, all the cabins used wood stoves. It was Wayne’s job to bring in wood.  On Saturdays it was my job to take clean sheets and rugs to the cabins for guests who were here for more than a week. As soon as the younger kids were old enough to push a wheelbarrow, they collected the trash cans from the cabins.”

But it wasn’t all work, there was time for fun.  “The lake was my playground. It was a great place to grow up.

I’m still friends with a family that came from Missouri.” Ruth also remembers a nearby resort, Catch n Fish, that is no longer operating.  “We’d ride our bikes down there because they had a nice swing, and we could get a popsicle for a nickel!”

Clyde and Dorothy owned the Little Bass Lake Camp for forty years and never regretted their decision to build it. Ruth and her family have continued to spend part of their summers on one of the lakes in the area, sometimes staying at Little Bass and other times at Wildwood. As often as they can, they enjoy sharing the family and local history of Bass Lake with a boat tour and explaining of how things used to be.

John & Ginger Anderson 1970-1992

When John Anderson bought the resort there were three cabins and the house that the Jellison’s had lived in.  His plan was to remodel the cabins, build a couple more that were wheelchair accessible, and install sidewalk trails from cabins to the dock and other communal sites on the resort.  John was able to do most of the work himself as he was a contractor. With a total of six housekeeping cabins, he changed the name from Little Bass Lake Camp to Little Bass Lake Resort.

John attracted guests from the Sister Kenny Institute in Minneapolis and explained, “We received an award from the Multiple Sclerosis Society of MN because we were handicapped accessible before it was required.” Although John never saw the article, he was told that their resort was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal for their initiative. It was important to the Anderson family that everyone had an opportunity to experience the wonders of a northern Minnesota resort. 

“It was good for us.  My five kids had a chance to interact with people they would have never seen otherwise. They helped the handicapped guests with things so many others took for granted. They would run the motorboats so guests could fish out on the lake, assist with cleaning fish, and help those who requested it to roast hotdogs or marshmallows at the fire pit.”

One of the celebrities to stay at Little Bass was the musical band, Asleep at the Wheel. “They were playing at the Itasca County Fair back when hardly anyone had heard of them. They gave us a T-shirt and an album. I think it was their first one.”

A brief overview of Asleep at the Wheel ~ The band started in 1969, made their debut album, Comin’ Right at Ya, in 1973, and has accrued 10 Grammy Awards. “The long running and influential western swing band will mark fifty years together with a new album, Half a Hundred Years, to be released in October 2021.

The best memory John has of the resort is the people.  “The friendships we made were very special. We’ve had people from Alaska, Russia, Australia, and France.”

The Andersons had the resort for twenty-two years. In 1992, Jerry Angst came to Little Bass Lake and explained that he was looking to buy a resort in the area. “We hadn’t talked about selling,” John said, “but it was to be the first summer Ginger would have had to run it on her own as the kids were gone.  We thought it over and decided to accept his offer.”

Jerry Angst 1992-2017

When Jerry had a chance to leave the corporate world of IBM, he decided to buy a resort even though his experience was minimal. But, he craved the solitude that two of his friends who owned resorts had in the winter. Learning that John Anderson might be interested in selling, Jerry knocked on his door.  “The first thing John said to me was, ‘Are you in it for the money or are you in it for the lifestyle?’ I replied, the lifestyle and he said, okay, we’ll talk.”

Jerry quickly learned the ropes of running a six cabin resort thanks to his friends at Back O’ the Moon and his kids helping out when they could. Once he had the day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year responsibilities figured out, he started the Little Bass Lake Resort Chronicles.  Inspired by a guest, he kept in touch by having a countdown until fishing opener and sharing snippets and photographs during the off season. 

By the late 1990s he was recording something nearly every day which was always accessible to guests via his webpage. Some guests began writing their own snippets, and as an offshoot, Northland Stories, Poems and Anecdotes, was launched on his webpage. I have had many resort owners tell me they wish they had recorded what happened at their resort. However, this was the first time I have known anyone to follow through – recording for over 20 years. If it was printed and bound, I’m sure it would be a hefty book!

“The guests have been the most rewarding part of being a resort owner,” Jerry said. “And one I didn’t even anticipate because I had never spent time at a resort. I have watched young children grow up and bring their families. That’s what I found memorable.”  

Tim & Monica Bluhm 2017-current

The first time Tim came to Little Bass Lake Resort was in 1978.  He was seventeen years old and came up from Iowa to go fishing with friends who had a cabin at the resort. After he married Monica, and their children were old enough to fish, Tim brought them to his favorite northern Minnesota lake.  The Bluhms kept coming back until there were also grandchildren in tow. Eventually, Tim and Monica told Jerry they were interested in the resort when he was ready to retire.

In late 2017, the Bluhms purchased the resort, and 2018 was their first season. “We are so glad to have this place,” Tim said. “We have always loved the fishing and the beauty of this lake. It’s small enough where we don’t get the big boats and jet skis, and we can still hear the loons.” The couple lives in Iowa for part of the year, but plan to be at the resort year-around before too long.

Jerry had shared that when he sold the property to Bluhms, the cabins were in worse shape than when he bought it from John Anderson. Tim and Monica knew this and started repairs right away.  They gutted several cabins, replaced a couple roofs, and updated the water/septic system. “This last winter we did a lot of work inside cabin 3 and built a large deck onto the house, where we will soon have our office.”

During the remodeling of cabin 3, one of the original Jellison cabins, two matchbook covers were found in the wall. One, from the Terrace Motor Court in Nashville, TN, had the date August 30, 1947, written in pencil.  The other, from Nate’s Open Pit in Aurora, CO, was dated July 30, 1948. Knowing how fond guests are of a particular cabin, it can be assumed the same individual tucked the matchbook covers away to mark their vacation.

Little Bass Lake Resort has most of the amenities of the larger resorts but maintains its rustic charm. Three of the cabins are within twenty-five feet of the lake. The main dock is a magnet for morning coffee drinkers, and the sidewalks allow for easy wheelchair and stroller use.  The bookings are going well. They have had room for some new guests, many which are now repeat customers. “Currently we are summer only, however, we do plan to be open in the winter before long.  The house and several cabins are winterized, and we are amazed at what Itasca County has to offer guests in the winter.”

Tim and Monica may be new resort owners, but they have spent most of the previous thirty summers as guests and know just how special Little Bass Lake Resort is.  They have plans to be here for a very long time.

9.5.2021 ~ archived

[previously published 8.16.2018]

Resorts with a History ~ Cedarwild

Cedarwild Resort was initially named Cedarwild Lodge and owned by Frank Voigt Jr.  This was common for the oldest resorts because the cabins were not set up for cooking and meals were provided by the owners. Later, Lodge was replaced by Resort, but Cedarwild has remained the name through the nearly 100 years. Located on the shore of Moose Lake it is called Cedarwild for a very good reason.  All of the original buildings were constructed of cedar trees harvested on the property. 

As a young man, Frank Jr. moved with his parents and siblings from northern Wisconsin to the Deer River area in 1895.  The Voigts came to Itasca County to cut timber, and it is estimated that Frank Sr. and his crew of ten, including Frank Jr, and other sons, logged about 1,000,000 board feet between 1896-1899.  Not long after the logging endeavor, Frank Sr. established Voigt’s Lodge on Deer Lake.

It was also at this time that Frank Jr. filed on a homestead that bordered the shores of both Moose and Little Moose Lakes.  He married, built a log home, and as his children got older, decided the tourist trade looked promising and would be a good family business.  It is believed he built the six original log cabins and the lodge of Cedarwild.  According to records, it appears that there have been five owners between Voigt’s and Steve and Paulie Kutschat, owners for the past eleven years.

Voigts & Others ~ 1923-1962

Rose Voigt, daughter of Frank Jr. and Irene, thought that Cedarwild Lodge started in 1925, but the local newspaper noted it was ready in 1923. “Frank Voigt last week received from a factory at Rice Lake, Wis., two fine cedar clinker built row boats for his place at Moose lake.  Mr. Voigt is catering to the summer boarder trade having built a splendid house and other buildings and is fitted geographically for the trade in his fine location between Little Moose, Big Moose, and Deer lakes.” Itasca News 6-6-1923.   [Note ~ Clinker built, also known as lapstrake, is a method of boat building where the edges of hull planks overlap, called a ‘land’ or ‘landing.’ Wikipedia]

“My dad built a log cabin, and I was born in it, and all the children were born in it except two of my older brothers. The swimming pool is in the place where the log cabin used to be.” [Rose (Voigt) Brisset ~ 1980 Interview Itasca County Historical Society Archives] Rose didn’t elaborate on the resort layout, but vividly recalled a shooting star on the night of January 18, 1927, when she was nine years old. “There was a big star that fell from the sky that lit up the whole living room, and it was a big living room because we used it for the dining room in the summertime when we had guests at Cedarwild.  It fell right into Moose Lake.”

Another memory Rose shared was of the musical ability of her father and Uncle Charlie. “My dad wrote two songs, and one was ‘On the Bank of the Big Moose Lake,’ and the other was ‘The Little Brown Bulls.’ He used to sing them for the tourists.  Uncle Charlie was a great whistler.  He would whistle, and dad would sing, and tourists really enjoyed it.”

Rose explained that the resort changed hands several times. “Dad had Cedarwild until 1929, and he sold it to a bunch of business people from Hibbing, and they hired my brother Lester and his wife to run it for them. In 1932 it was sold to Herman Seege, and he sold it to a Gun man. Then Joe and Elsie Fischer had it from 1947 to 1962 and sold it to Allan Peterson.”  [Note ~ ‘Gun man’ may have referred to a member of the Gunn family from Grand Rapids, or perhaps a man who represented a gun manufacturer or dealer.]

The Seege’s bought the Deer Lake Schoolhouse when it closed and moved it onto the resort in the late 1930s as cabin number 7.  When electricity became available in the late 1940s, the cabins were remodeled to include kitchen and bathroom facilities, and a few additional cabins have been constructed through the years to meet the growing needs.  

Al & Kate ~ 1962-2006

Rose was a CB radio enthusiast, and when she visited Allan Peterson in July 1980, learned that he was too. Her handle was Nosey-Rosey, and Allan’s was BRO which stood for Big Resort Owner. 

Kathie Nelson, who has been a guest at Cedarwild since she was 4 years old, remembers the BRO well, “Al had BRO on his chair, his hat and at least a couple of shirts.  He also had an old-fashioned neon pink and green swimsuit that he wore at the weekly pool party.”

“My dad had been to a few resorts in Wisconsin, but when he met Al Peterson at a Sports Show in Des Moines, in 1964, he decided to come to Northern Minnesota. We came up that summer, and it became a family tradition. My grandparents, my folks, my family and our children, were now in our 4th generation.” 

From these memories and other snippets, it is evident that Al and Kate were meant to be resort owners. The Petersons lived at the resort year-round, raised two daughters and were involved in the Deer River community.  Somewhere along the way, the slogan “A friendly sort of place” was given to Cedarwild and it has stuck.

In the late 1960s, a pool with a nine-foot-deep end was added, and a short golf course built on the Little Moose Lake side.  Kathie and her childhood friend DeAnn shared vacations at Cedarwild and enjoyed seeing the same kids year after year.  “As teenagers, we’d play volleyball, water polo, spend hours in the water, either the pool or the lake. I have lots of good memories – seeing the stars are night, hearing the loons and feeding the ducks.  I loved the smell of the smoked fish my dad always had going and waking up to a blue sky.”  Kathie spent her 54th summer visit at Cedarwild last month, happily declaring: “I haven’t missed a single year!  We always come up the same week and stay in the same cabin – number 7.”

Al and Kate shared the responsibilities of running Cedarwild until Kate passed away in 2002.  Al continued managing the resort for another five years with help from his daughters, his commitment totaling 44 summers!  In early 2007, Al sold it to guests Steve and Paulie Kutschat and graciously spent time transitioning with the new owners in their first year, before his death in Nov. 2007.  

Steve & Paulie ~ 2007

The Kutschat’s were appreciative of the time Al spent at Cedarwild their first summer, as he could reconnect with the Cedarwild guests, and help the new owners with some tips   Steve’s first trip to Cedarwild was when he came with his folks in 1955 at age 13.  Steve’s family had stayed at Pinehurst in previous years. “After our first summer at Cedarwild,” he said, “we always came here.  We stayed for a week, always in cabin eight, and I spent all my time fishing.”  

Fishing is still a big part of the resort for some guests, as indicated by the annual fish species length contest. The resort is on two lakes; Moose Lake where the cabins and docks are, and Little Moose where there are also two docks.  Paulie explained, “That really is one of the specialties of the resort. The two lakes are entirely different from one another.  If the weather is rough and wild on Moose, people know to go to Little Moose where it is calmer because it is smaller.”

Because there is a channel between the two lakes, there are Muskie, Walleye, Northern Pike, Bass and panfish in both.  Little Moose is sometimes friendlier for children to find fish, but is also home to Big Bertha, a Muskie that has been caught over the years but manages to evade capture.  An avid fisherman and Cedarwild guest, Tony Lucas, has had the fish on his line more than once.  He estimates Bertha to be about 65 lbs. and 6′ 5″ in length.  

In the early 1990s, Steve told Al and Kate that he wanted to buy the resort when they were ready to sell.  In the intervening years he and Paulie married, traveled to Tanzania, and started Bookfriends International, a non-profit, that is a story in its own right – just google to learn more.

Since becoming owners, the Kutschuts replaced logs where required; indeed, they have made many improvements to all the cabins, and to the docks and grounds, focusing on the safety and enhanced space for guests to enjoy. “By request of the guests, we have left most of the cabin spatial arrangements and furnishings the way they are,” Paulie said, “as the rustic nature of the cabins is one of the things our guests like about Cedarwild.” 

Cedarwild guests are especially delighted with the heated pool and enjoy it as a happy gathering place.  Steve promises: “We have one of the best in Minnesota, as it is a very clean and healthy saltwater pool.” Not far from the pool is a wood-heated sauna.

The biggest challenge since having the resort was the straight-line windstorm of July 2012.  Paulie explained, “the resort was full, and thankfully no one was physically hurt, but we were heavily damaged.  The worst damage was a tree that came down on a cabin. Several porches were damaged and huge trees uprooted.  We had a generator running part of the day for the well, and the guests just pitched right in.  Men were sawing up trees with chainsaws, the kids were gathering branches – Steve made about 100 loads to the dump – and the ladies set up three grills and cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner for all of us.  That kind of community effort will never be forgotten.”

Steve and Paulie have clearly cultivated lifelong friends with many of the guests who have been making memories at Cedarwild for generations.  They keep in touch during the offseason and look forward to each week, and of course, those over July 4th, always reminisce about the post-storm comradery.  “This is kind of a magical place.  It’s great to be here and help people enjoy it.  I’ve done several things in my life, but this has been the best.”