Category Archives: Events

World War I Homecoming: October 1919

World War I began on July 28, 1914 and lasted until November 11, 1918. From the time of its occurrence until the approach of World War II, it was called simply the “World War” or the “Great War.”

More than nine million combatants were killed. It was fought mostly by soldiers in trenches. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with 20 million wounded, and 10 million military deaths.

When WW I ended, Shakopee was one of many towns that had a celebration. It was a huge event, and many people participated. The homecoming parade for World War I soldiers, marines, sailors, and nurses was held on October 4, 1919.

The celebration started with a huge parade that included veterans, organizations, commercial floats, and four bands. The parade was followed by a concert at Riverside Park and a ball game. Dancing at Dawson’s Hall and Berens’ Hall followed into the early hours on Sunday, October 5, 1919.

(Part of this information from Shakopee Scrapbook by Michael, Patricia, and Joseph Huber, and available from the Shakopee Heritage Society.)

Spanish Flu Epidemic: 1918

The Spanish flu epidemic hit Shakopee in October 1918. Fifty Scott county people and 12,000 Minnesotans died from the flu.

Among the first local victims were John and Theresa Deller, a Shakopee couple, and their newborn son. John and Theresa passed away within 12 hours of each other.

John died first, at 8:10 p.m. on Wednesday, October 30, and Theresa died at 7 a.m. on October 31, 1918. Theresa had just had a baby boy at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. The baby died right afterwards. The mother, Theresa, passed away a few hours later, without knowing that her husband had also died.

John was just 38 years old, and Theresa was just 33 years old. The couple had three other children, who suddenly were bereft of both a mother and a father. Theresa’s parents were Mr. and Mrs. George Fischer of the community.

The three people were buried simultaneously from St. Mark’s Catholic Church. But like many other churches, their remains were not taken inside the church, but only to the door for a blessing, and then off to the cemetery for a hasty burial.

Friends were so concerned that they fathered and said their rosaries across the road from the family’s home. They wanted to pay their respects, but they didn’t know what was happening, and were worried that they would also get the flu.

During the month of October the Spanish Influenza epidemic that staggered the nation descended on Shakopee. By October 20, 1918, public meetings were forbidden, schools were closed, and people died by the dozens.

Martin Frank Dorn, who lived north of town, died at 6 a.m. the next day, the fourth victim of the influenza in a week. The young man was just 17 years old, and his death was a crushing blow to his family. He had been ill about ten days, and the influenza later developed into spinal meningitis.

The strain on physicians was another problem, according to one issue of the Scott County Argus. They cautioned people not to call doctors for mild cases.

By the end of the year, burials of residents from 11 other cities and townships in Scott County followed. They included a 32-year-old Prior Lake barber, a 23-year-old farmer from Sand Creek Township, and two infants in Blakeley Township.

According to Gordon Buesgens, people came home from World War I, and they brought that flu with them. Gordon was five months old when he was sent to stay with relatives after his dad became ill.  His father, a young Chaska baker, died from the flu. His mother was too sick herself to attend her husband’s private funeral. Gordon, an only child, spent much of his childhood living with relatives in Shakopee while his mother worked.

Richard Zaun, a retired teacher from Helena Township, remembers his father Elmer say that the influenza felt like the normal flu. Richard and his five siblings all became sick. They didn’t eat much, other than the raw eggs their mother fed them. According to Richard, it was the only remedy they had.

(Some information from “Influenza Takes Toll in Community,” Scott County Argus, Nov. 1, 1918, and “1918 Pandemic Took Its Toll on County and State” by Shannon Fiecke, Shakopee Valley News, May 7, 2009.)

Burglars in Shakopee: 1900

By David R. Schleper

Burglars wanted to clean up the whole business portion of downtown, and were successful in entering four of the six businesses. Unfortunately, they only earned about nine dollars and a watch…not exactly fancy living!

The burglars started at the Hoffman house, which was near the depot. They tried to enter the hostelry through the back window, but were probably frightened away. They went two doors farther to the St. Paul House, and boldly forced an entrance through the front window into the saloon. The burglars secured about a dollar in change, and a jack knife, which they probably thought would aid them in their next burglary.

Next, the burglars moved one block east, where they broke into the Crystal saloon. They entered through a back window, which they forced open with a crowbar and chisels. The burglars got their biggest haul: nine dollars in cash and a watch.

Guess where the burglars went next? Another saloon! One block away was Ben Baker’s White Front saloon. Unfortunately, there was nothing there to take, so they were unrewarded, and decided to go down a few doors further to Strunk’s Drug Store.

A displaced screen and marks from a chisel and crow bar gave evidence that they attempted to break into Strunk’s Drug Store. Luckily a good, strong iron bolt prevented the burglars from entering the building.

The burglars passed by the bank and the Flaherty & Lies’ big store. Instead, they crossed the street and broke into Matt Huth’s saloon. They were rewarded by finding a few cents in the till.

After a bit more than a watch and nine dollars and some change, the burglars decided that enough was enough. They disappeared and no further evidence of the burglars and their money was never found. Most people of Shakopee figured this work was evidence of amateurs, and hopefully they would not be back!

Shakopee in 1942

Gas Station in 1942Wayne’s father was age 68. He had a filling station at 139 Dakota Street in Shakopee. The pumps were not electrified. The customer would state how many gallons he wanted, and then the worker would use a hand pump to reach that level in the glass bowl. Then gravity would hose it to the car. Plastic had not been invented, and no metal quart cans of oil were used, as the aluminum was needed for building planes and tanks. If someone needed oil, they would fill quart bottles from a drum as needed.

Wayne, his son, was 11, and he waited on customers, as well. The station was closed about a year later, in 1943, because it was in a poor location. And gas was being rationed, with the average person only having stamps for three gallons per week. Margaret, who was a nurse, worked at the Cargill shipyard, and received extra stamps due to her vital work. She also had an extra battery installed under the hood of her 1939 Pontiac coupe, as the cars of the day were difficult to start in cold weather.

In 1939, Wayne’s dad’s legs were bothering him. He had been working for years plowing the fields with a team of horses. He let Elmer and Irene take over the farm after their marriage, and Dad, Mom, Rita, and Wayne moved to a house in Shakopee. It was a house acquired through a tax sale.

Rita and Wayne thought they were in heaven because they were only two blocks from St. Mary’s School, one block from the bakery, and two blocks from downtown.

There was no central plumbing or heating. Dad partitioned off part of the very large kitchen for a bathroom, including a tub. After years of an outdoor toilet and Saturday night baths in a washtub behind the kitchen stove, this was a real luxury.

A furnace was ordered from Montgomery Ward in St. Paul, and an installer came by train to put it in. He stayed with the family for two days as he did not have a car.

Wayne also remembered that they were only two blocks from the first indoor movie theatre that he had ever seen.

Farmers were not allowed to join the social security programs in those days, so the family had no real source of income. The house that was acquired through the tax sale was fixed up and painted, and it was rented, which helped.

For a few summers, Wayne’s dad worked for the State of Minnesota planting trees, but he could not stand the hot weather. During the winter he liked to attend court trials, and was always hopeful that they would need a juror, which would give them five dollars per day, probably equated to eighty dollars today.

In 1941, Wayne’s father acquired a large stucco home in rundown condition. The house needed to be razed through tax sale for twenty-five dollars. Rita and Wayne spent many hours stripping plaster and nails from the wall laths so they could be used for the new house. The new house was at 139 Dakota Street. With the help of a retired carpenter for framing, Wayne’s father did most of the building by himself.

On the afternoon of Dec. 7, 1941, Wayne and his father were working there when Rita hurried to tell them of the attack of Pearl Harbor. The family moved to the new house in 1942. Later, Wayne’s father would build two other houses in Shakopee on speculation, one on East First Street, and another near the women’s reformatory.

During the war, Wayne’s mother and other ladies gathered at the reformatory to cut sterile bed sheet into thin strips and rolled them to be used for treating the wounded soldiers in Europe. Since the family lived near the railroad tracks, hoboes riding the trains often came to the door asking to work for food. Wayne’s mother gave them sandwiches and sent them on their way.

In the early days, the Milwaukee Railroad had a daily freight train with a passenger car on the end between Farmington, Lakeville, Prior Lake, Shakopee, and Chaska, returning that afternoon.

At Credit River, about one mile from the church that the family attended was a siding. A siding, in rail terminology, is a low-speed track section distinct from a running line or through route such as a main line or branch line or spur. It may connect to through tracks or to other sidings at either end. Sidings often have lighter rails, meant for lower speed or lighter traffic, and few, if any, signals. This would not happen today, but at that time, trucks to carry goods to the Twin Cities were not very reliable. Instead, the farmers could use this siding to ship crops to market.

Every fall, Wayne’s dad would contract to sell a load of grain, and each winter a load of cordwood. On the appointed day, Mary, Margaret, and Helen would go to the siding and flag the train down and instruct the trainmen where the empty boxcar was located. Elmer would stand on the hill behind their house and listen for the whistle of the steam engine approaching the grade crossing. Then if he heard the engine starting up several minutes later, Elmer and Wayne’s dad would hitch teams of horses to the already loaded wagons. The girls would be waiting at the siding, and help load the boxcars, which were huge in size and required many wagon loads to fill.

Two days later, they would return again, flag down the train to transport the car. Wayne’s dad, Elmer, and at times a hired hand would spend much of the winter cutting wood as there was no fieldwork at that time of the year.

Helen remembered that every second day, Wayne’s mother would bake 13 loaves of bread and two tins of muffins. When a hog was butchered, she would cook and can the meat in mason jars. The pork was put in huge crocks with a layer of salt between each.

Wayne remembered asking his sister about their parents. She replied in part that “We were lucky to have such good, hardworking parents who did not smoke, drink, curse or gamble.” Wayne, on July 9, 2014, agreed, saying, “How true!”

(This information is from Thoughts Towards a Better World, #953, by Wayne as he remembered the early Shakopee in the 1940s. Kathy Garvey, granddaughter of Wayne’s dad.)

The Strunk Glider (1906)

When Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first flight at Kittyhawk in 1903, Raymond and Herbert Strunk were school kids, but the flying bug bit them hard. The two boys were sons of Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Strunk.

The design was by cut-and-try methods. The first glider that the two boys built had a bamboo frame from fish poles, and was covered with light muslin, stitched and tacked to the frame. The framework of subsequent models were made of hand-sawed light pine.

Herb and Ray then took the gliders and had them ski down the bluffs near Shakopee. In the summertime, the gliders were towed by a rope pulled by Dr. Smith’s Rambler touring car.

When Herb and Ray were involved in the glider, many friends visited and watched and participated in the flying of the glider. One of them was Charles “Speedy” Holman, who later became a famous pilot.

Charles W. “Speed” Holman (Dec. 27, 1898 – May 17, 1931) was a stunt pilot, barnstormer, wing walker, parachutist, airmail pilot, aviation record holder and airline pilot.

Charles Holman was raised on a farm in Minnesota, not too far from Shakopee. Speed Holman raced motorcycles under the nickname “Jack Speed,” and later when doing daredevil parachute jumps in a flying circus, his father was amazed to find that Jack Speed was his son. In return for a promise to never jump again, his father bought him his first airplane. Speed broke the promise and also broke the airplane.

His name became a household word, and when the newly organized Northwest Airways looked for its first pilot, they hired Speed. He became operations manager and pioneered air mail routes across Wisconsin and into North Dakota. In 1928, Holman set a world record of 1,433 consecutive loops in an airplane in five hours over the St. Paul Airport.

His airline career was punctuated by wins in national air races, including the prestigious Thompson Trophy Race in 1930, part of the National Air Races in Chicago, where Holman set a looping record that stood for many years; he visited every corner of the state, lobbying cities to build airports; he was considered one of the country’s top aerobatic pilots; and every fragment of his life was spectacular.

Such was his death during an impromptu aerobatic performance at the dedication of the Omaha Airport in front of 20,000 spectators. He was 32 years old. His funeral was the largest in state history, with 100 thousand persons turning out along the funeral route and at the cemetery.

Holman Field, St. Paul Downtown Airport is named in honor of Speed Holman, as was Holman Street in St. Paul, Minnesota. Holman is also inducted in the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame.

And it all happened because Charles W. Speed Holman watched as the two Strunk brothers, Herb and Ray, learned to fly a glider in Shakopee, Minnesota!

(Some information from The Shakopee Story by Julius Coller II, 1960. “A Tribute to Speed Holman” by George Smedal, Popular Aviation, July 1931, pp. 21-22)

Skat Tournament at the Opera House (1905)

By David R. Schleper

Skat tournament participants outside the Opera House, April 24, 1905A skat tournament was held at the Opera House at the northeast corner of Holmes Street and First Avenue in Shakopee on April 24, 1905.

Skat is a three-handed card game played with 32 cards in which players bid for the privilege of attempting any of several contracts. Players came from as far as 50 miles away to participate.

It has become the most loved and widely played German card game, especially in German-speaking regions. And it was the German Americans in Shakopee in 1905 who held the tournament.

The Opera House was in the Reiss Building, on the north side of First Avenue. The building was placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1979, but unfortunately, the city bought it to be used as a right-turn lane. They demolished the building in 1986.

A book, Lost Minnesota: Stories of Vanished Places by Jack El-Hai discusses 89 historic buildings, including the Reiss Block. (It also included the Merchants’ Hotel/Conter Hotel/Pelham Hotel, also in Shakopee, which was leveled in 1987.)

(Some information from “Wrecking ball writes final chapter of House of Hoy’s 103-year history,” by Beth Forkner Moe, Shakopee Valley News, 24 Dec 1986; and Lost Minnesota: Stories of Vanished Places by Jack El-Hai, 2000, University of Minnesota Press.)

Shakopee: Turtle Capital of Twin Cities (1926)

By David R. Schleper

Over the years, by fact and by legend, Shakopee had created for itself a colorful past. Old timers recount stories of times that will never be recaptured. One interesting story is the famed turtles that were captured on the Minnesota River near Shakopee starting in the late 1920s. According to Pat Thielen in 1974, people used to trap turtles commercially, and sold them to outlets throughout the Twin City area and beyond.

Thielen began his interest in hunting, trapping, and outdoor activity at an early age. “I used to go out with my dad almost before I could walk,” he said. Pat Thielen used to be the police chief in Shakopee.

“I started trapping turtles with my dad in 1926, when I was 10 or 12 years old,” he recounted, “and began to market them commercially in the 1930s.”

“We started turtle trapping for sport and for our own use,” Thielen said, “but it gets in your blood.”

Local taverns, according to Thielen, used to have turtle feeds every week, and he had several customers in Minneapolis and St. Paul. A commercial fisherman in Waterville bought Thielen’s turtles, as did a buyer in Wisconsin.

At one time, Thielen had a trap line consisting of 200 traps in Scott and Carver Counties, covering nearly a 75 mile area. He trapped mostly along the Minnesota River.

Trapping took place all year round. During the winter months, when ice formed, turtles were dug out of the mud in spring holes and in channels and creeks where the flow of the water keep the top from freezing.

Thielen’s biggest turtle, a 58 pounder, came out of the Priest’s Bay, which is near Mound in Hennepin County. Thielen was in a boat at the time with game warden Ernie Boyd. They spotted the big snapping turtle on top of a trap, attempting to get the bait inside. He was too big to get into the trap itself.

“I grabbed him by the tail and hauled him into the boat, and the two of us almost left,” Thielen said. “It was the biggest turtle I ever caught or ever saw.”

Over the years, Thielen trapped many snappers that weighed in at 40 to 45 pounds, but the average was generally in the 15-pound range.

In the 1930s, Thielen was paid three cents a pound for live turtles, and 18 cents per pound if they were dressed. In 1964, a live turtle sold for almost 50 cents per pound, and dressed turtle meat cost $2.50 per pound. According to Wholey, in 2018 a snapping turtle meat, boneless, is $120 for 5 pounds.

“I quit trapping in 1941 when I spent five years in the Army. When I came back, I worked at the St. Paul House and started again,” said Pat Thielen. Frank Wampach ran the St. Paul House at that time, and Thielen supplied him with turtle meat.

“Frank wanted some turtles to put in his rock garden to show customers what they looked like,” Thielen said. “So I put 200 of them in there, and they ate $200 worth of goldfish in one day.” The display was not effective for long. The air conditioning system in the building drew in the odor from the turtles, and they finally had to be taken out of the rock garden.

Thielen quit trapping in 1965, but the activity is pursued by a few area residents, though not with commercial interests in mind. While the market for turtle meat was still good when Pat Thielen was interviewed in 1974, there were too few turtles in the area to make it profitable.

Traps were made of reinforcing wire. They were round, about four feet across and four feet deep. Inside the trap, a carp was placed in a small basket for bait. It was not uncommon to find seven or eight turtles in one trap, and Thielen often rounded up between 60 and 70 turtles a day.

Pat Thielen was the first person to trap turtles in Lake Minnetonka, a source from which he got thousands of the reptiles. He also did a lot of trapping in pot holes between Renville and Sacred Heart west to Granite Falls.

A turtle is cleaned by hanging it by its tail and cutting the shell away. “The whole thing takes five minutes if you know how,” Thielen said. “Otherwise, you’d be out there all day.” Turtles and snakes are known for having muscle movements and heart beats many hours after beheading, even more than what chickens have. After cutting off the head, some people scald them in hot water so you can scrape the skin off. Just split the shell on each side to separate the top and bottom. About one-third of the turtle’s weight is consumed in useable meat.

“Turtle meat tastes something like frog but it has a beefy taste to it as well,” Thielen said. “I guess it tastes different to everybody.”

Rubberback turtles are best prepared by French frying, according to Thielen, but snappers are tougher and should be browned first, and then roasted. Snapping turtles are most often used in soup as well. An old Cajun once told David Schleper that turtle stew is so good it will “make your tongue slap your brain!”

A fishing license was required to trap turtles, and there was no limit placed on them. “Turtles will be extinct pretty soon if they don’t put some limits on them,” said Thielen in 1974. Thielen noted that “more people are trapping and eating turtles than ever before.”

A limit of three turtles is allowed, and a state license is required. In fact, most turtles are taken with traps and nets. Turtles can range in weight from 10 to 35 pounds. Turtles are found throughout Minnesota, but starting in 1984 they were listed as a “special concern species,” mostly because of the possibly detrimental effects of commercial harvest on the local populations.

Starting in 2004, commercial harvesting snapping turtles now included limiting the number of traps which could be used, restricting turtle licenses to Minnesota residents, and putting a moratorium on the sale of new licenses. Anyone who held a license prior to the rule changes was permitted to renew it and they may pass their license down one generation to their relatives. Additionally, trappers must now keep a daily log of where their traps are located and how many turtles they harvest.

Thielen had been bitten several times, and carried a knife while trapping. Of course, if someone is swimming in the Minnesota River, and one of the snapping turtles bites down on the toe, it’s going to be a long walk back to the house with an 80 pound turtle on the toe! According to Pat Thielen, “About the only way to get them off was to cut the cords in their neck!”

“If I had the turtles today that I had back in the 1930’s, I’d be a millionaire!” said Thielen in 1974. “But it was sure fun while it lasted!”

(Some information from “Shakopee Was Once Turtle Capital of Twin City Area,” Shakopee Valley News, 25 Dec 1974; “DNR Seizes 1.5 Tons of Turtle Meat,” Minneapolis Star and Tribune, 3 Nov 2015; Wikipedia; “Snapping Turtle Boneless Meat (5 lb.),” Wholey. Accessed 18 Sept 2018.)

Read more about Pat Thielen in Robert George Thielen: The Legend of “Pat” Thielen, available for purchase from the Shakopee Heritage Society.

Coca Cola (July 1890)

by David R. Schleper

On July 11, 1890, Daniel M. Storer was a merchant in Shakopee. In his diary, he noted, “The Van Houten Coca Cola folks were in our store today, giving people a cup of Coca Cola free. They had a nice young lady to dish it out, a Miss Cora Ellis of Austin, Minnesota.”

The Van Houten Coca Cola Company was mostly focused on chocolate. Coenraad Johannes Van Houten (1801-1887) was a Dutch chemist and chocolate manufacturer who in 1828 invented the process that is used to turn roasted cacao beans into cocoa powder. His method was an inexpensive way of removing much of the cocoa butter from the nib, or center of the beans, using a hydraulic press, and adding alkaline salts (potassium carbonate or sodium carbonate) so that the cocoa powder would mix readily with water or milk. The resulting cocoa powder can be used to make chocolate milk and other delicacies.

But in the 1890s, the Van Houten Coca Cola Company was in Shakopee to get the Shakopee people to try coca cola!

Before coca cola happened, in 1863 a Parisian chemist, Angelo Mariani, combined coca and wine. It was very popular, and even Pope Leo XIII used to carry a flask of Vin Marian, which he used regularly. In fact, he even gave Mariani a medal!

After the Civil War, Dr. John Stith Pemberton, a morphine addict following an injury in the war, set up to make his own version of Vin Marian, with coca and wine. But as Pemberton’s business started to take off, a prohibition was passed in his county in Georgia, 34 years before the 18th Amendment. So French Wine Coca was illegal because of the alcohol, not the cocaine.

Pemberton was smart. He replaced the wine in the formula with sugar syrup. His new product was debuted in 1886 as Coca-Cola, the temperance drink. Dr. John Stith Pemberton, a pharmacist and inventor of patent medicines, sold the first coca cola at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, George.

The beverage was named Coca-Cola because, originally, the stimulant mixed in the beverage was coca leaves from South America, which the drug cocaine is derived from. In addition, the drink was flavored using kola nuts, also acting as the beverage’s source of caffeine. Pemberton called for five ounces of coca leaf per gallon of syrup, a significant dose. In 1891, Candler claimed his formula, altered extensively from Pemberton’s original, contained only a tenth of this amount.

Coca-Cola was an intellectual beverage among well-off whites, especially in the segregated soda fountains. This changed when the company started selling it in bottles in 1899. Anyone with a nickel could now drink the cocaine-infused beverage. In The Atlantic, an article showed that southern newspapers reported that African Americans were becoming “negro cocaine fiends” who drank Coca-Cola, and then were raping white women. I am not kidding!

Coca-Cola once contained an estimated nine milligrams of cocaine per glass. So people in Shakopee were drinking a bit of cocaine, starting in 1890.

By 1903, the manager of Coca-Cola bowed to white fears and removed the cocaine, adding more sugar and caffeine.

Cocaine wasn’t even illegal until 1914, 11 years after Coca-Cola changed its recipe.

The Coca-Cola we know today still contains coca — but the ecgonine alkaloid is removed from it. Perfecting that extraction took until 1929, so before that there were still trace amounts of coca’s psychoactive elements in Coca-Cola.

So in July of 1890, people in Shakopee stopped in and got a drink of Coca-Cola, cocaine and all.

On July 13, 1890, Daniel again commented in his diary. “The Coca Cola folks got done with us today, and went to Hastings. They sold a good deal of goods while here, and we bought some besides, so as to have it in stock.”

(From The Diary of Daniel M. Storer from 1849 to 1905: A Pioneer Builder and Merchant in Shakopee, Minnesota by Shakopee Heritage Society, 2003, p. 183; “Why We Took Cocaine Out of Soda”, The Atlantic, 31 Jan. 2013; Wikipedia.)

A Gunfight at 3 a.m.: 1947

Night Officer Pat Thielen was making his rounds shortly after 3 a.m. in downtown Shakopee in 1947. As he was driving out of the alley next to the telephone company, he heard the tinkle of falling glass. He thought it might be in the rear of Metcalf’s, so he drove down Holmes Street and turned into the alley between the Pure Oil and the Standard Oil gas stations. As he passed the station, Pat saw a figure dart out between the pumps at the Standard Station, and a car parked across the street did a U-turn and picked up the person. Then the car raced east on First Avenue toward Savage.

When Thielen saw the car, he skidded on the ice, and broke a headlight against a telephone pole. Pat started the chase, with the two vehicles driving in excess of 80 miles per hour. They roared past the First Presbyterian Church, which was dedicated on Feb. 25, 1900, and was used until 1967. The church is now the Igelsia del Dios Vivo, Columna y Adoyo de la Verdad, La Luz Del Mundo on 502 First Avenue East. The three bandits, driving a 1941 Buick Road-master, opened fire at Pat, and Pat returned fire, emptying his pistol at the fleeing machine.

The bandits’ bullets struck the police car, one through the center of the right windshield, and one at the edge of the roof, also on the right side. The slugs were .41 caliber weapons. Thielen believed that the burglars were professionals, as the driver kept his machine on the left side to protect himself, while his companions fired, one from each rear window of the car.

When the firing started, the burglars slowed down, and when Thielen fired back, they sped away, rapidly outdistancing the police car. Pat, who was a veteran of the heavy combat in the South Pacific during World War II, noted that if he had a Browning automatic rifle, he could have stopped them. But without it, the bandits escaped.

Thielen was unhurt except for flying glass. He headed back to town and alerted the nearby law enforcement agencies.

A few years later, Don Miles from the State Crime Bureau called Pat and they met at the Carver County Jail. A prisoner was there, and he was being interrogated. The prisoner described how he and his friends had been hired for $500 to come to Shakopee in 1947 to scare a new police officer out of his job. They spent a day watching his routines, and the next night the burglars broke a window in the gas station to get his attention. The prisoner mentioned that Pat had come so fast that they had to get the hell out in a hurry. While firing on the officer’s car and making a bee line out of town, the prisoners and friends got four bullets in the back of their car.

When Don mentioned that Pat was there now, listening, the prisoner said, “Oh, my God, no!” and clammed up. Unfortunately, Pat realized that is was no use pursing it as the statute of limitations had already run out!

(Some information from Robert George Thielen: The Legend of “Pat” Thielen by the Shakopee Heritage Society, 2007, p. 11-13.)