20th Century, Crime, History, Minnesota, Uncategorized

Gangster Kidnappings

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Jun 15, 1933 to Jan 17, 1934
The brazen kidnappings of prominent businessmen William Hamm (June 15, 1933)and Edward Bremer (January 17, 1934) by the “Ma” Barker gang put an end to Chief O’Connor’s hands-off crime policy in Saint Paul. Both men are returned unhurt after large ransoms are paid.*

In the Prohibition Era of our largely blue-collar city of Saint Paul, there was an empathy and a real motive to look the other way at bootlegging. Physically, the city is located on the Mississippi River, and is the first big stop downstream from Canada. There’s a plethora of natural caves, which made effective stealth warehouses for the product. One also wonders if its populace, mostly of the Catholic regions of Europe, did not share the same moral objections to beer and whiskey of their dry Protestant counterparts in Minneapolis?

To continue the narrative, its people were comfortable with playing dumb to Johnny Law if it meant lucrative cash jobs working for the gangs, and if it kept St. Paul a “wet” city. Civic leadership, allegedly, were on the payrolls of major gangsters from Chicago, and were apt to play it cool if the gangsters kept a low profile. Apparently, this unspoken agreement between Chicago crime and St. Paul police began decades before the Volstead Act.

“This collaboration began in 1900 with the Layover Agreement, an unofficial contract between criminals and Chief of Police John O’Connor.
In exchange for tip-offs about FBI raids and protection during their “layover” in the city, the gangsters first agreed to check in with the St. Paul police when they were in town. Second, they gave a portion of their gains to the police department. Finally, they agreed to commit no crimes within the city limits, though Minneapolis was fair game.”**

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During the era of the Great Depression, Hamm and Bremer would likely stand out as targets for kidnapping. Mr. Bremer was affiliated with banking, and Mr. Hamm with brewing. Though very different personalities, Hamm being an affable sort and Bremer more shielded type, both men were visible leaders from noteworthy families in Saint Paul.

Ma Barker also led a prominent family known as the Barker-Karpis Gang. “Though her children were undoubtedly murderers and their Barker-Karpis Gang committed a spree of robberies, kidnappings, and other crimes between 1931 and 1935, there is no evidence that “Ma” was their leader or was even significantly involved.” What is apparent, however, is that she stuck by her sons and their associates throughout their criminal careers.

Alvin Karpis, the probable real leader of the gang, later said that Ma was just “an old-fashioned homebody from the Ozarks … superstitious, gullible, simple, cantankerous and, well, generally law abiding”.**** He concluded that,
‘The most ridiculous story in the annals of crime is that Ma Barker was the mastermind behind the Karpis-Barker gang. … She wasn’t a leader of criminals or even a criminal herself. There is not one police photograph of her or set of fingerprints taken while she was alive … she knew we were criminals but her participation in our careers was limited to one function: when we traveled together, we moved as a mother and her sons. What could look more innocent?’ *****

So we come to You, Jesus, to watch and pray over this event. What do you want to reveal to us today through it? What blessing can come from an enabling mother, this gang, the corruption of police, and the crime of kidnapping?

We ask forgiveness for these past offenses to You in our city and state. Will You forgive Ma Barker for being an enabler of her criminal sons, and the impact of their crimes to our city? Will You forgive us today of similar co-dependence within the families of Minnesota? Give us grace to face our failures as parents, commitment to stand by our kids going the wrong way, and love that affirms them, yet calls out their sin. Will You bless our present and future mothers of Minnesota, and especially the relationships with their sons?

We acknowledge to You the damage done to innocent lives through the willful actions of the Karpis-Barker Gang. Will You bring restitution to all who suffered their crimes, as well as the heritage of the Bremer and Hamm families? Conversely, will You cut off the curses passed down to any generation of the Karpis or Barker clans?

How we need Your healing for our men, and especially our men enticed into gang life!
We acknowledge to You that we have not followed Your laws to honor our fathers and mothers, or practiced proper diligence in the raising of some of our sons. We have driven them away at times: from our families, from schools or job training, from the Church, and, most painfully, from You! Jesus, Son of David, have mercy!

Though we try, we have failed them somehow as: sons, husbands, fathers, and friends. Protect and shield our sons from the enticement of a life of crime, and the arms of surrogate families in the underworld. May these vulnerable boys find a good man to call out their holy masculinity. May they forgive their fathers’ offenses, and break with the spirit of vengeance.

We remember to You how we have subtly yielded to the Enemy in St. Paul, by looking the other way. Our police, it seems, were corruptible because they were internally incomplete. It is hard to bribe a content man. You have said, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely–be content with your pay.”******* Have mercy on these policemen past, and free those similarly tempted in the present. We ask Your protections over Minnesota’s police both now and forever; be their shield and very great reward!

We end by thanking You for Your eternal justice! You are our advocate within our broken families, though they may seem beyond hope. You bring us back to our Everlasting Father, no matter our state of lawlessness. You used the Catholic priest Lucien Galtier to rename the city of L’oeil de Cochon, so named for the alleged bootlegger and first resident of St. Paul, Minnesota; Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant. “Pig’s Eye, converted thou shalt be, like Saul; Arise, and be, henceforth, Saint Paul!”
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* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** Sharon Park “Gangster Era in St. Paul, 1900–1936”. http://www.mnopedia.org/gangster-era-st-paul-1900-1936
***, **** Paul Maccabee, John Dillinger Slept Here: A Crooks’ Tour of Crime and Corruption in St. Paul, 1920-1936, Minnesota Historical Society, 1995, p.105.
***** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ma_Barker
****** https://biblehub.com/luke/3-14.htm
******* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Parrant

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20th Century, Culture, History, Minnesota, Native Americans, Uncategorized

Society of American Indians Conference

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Oct 2, 1919 to Oct 4, 1919
The eighth convention of the Society of American Indians is held in Minneapolis.

“It is not right that the Indian, who fought for his country in France, go back to his tribe without the right to vote.” —Dr. Charles A. Eastman, a Dakota Indian born near Redwood Falls who becomes president of the Society of American Indians and a professor at Amherst College.*

At first glance, this issue seems like a slam dunk; American citizens have the right to vote, Indians of this era were American citizens, therefore this is a breech of their Constitutionally secured rights. It breaks faith with both the spirit and the letter of our law. Perhaps Eastman’s statement errs, however, in the assumption that most Indians were citizens?

Through the efforts of individuals and organizations like his, the Dakota would eventually be recognized as citizens by the Indian Freedom Citizenship Suffrage Act of 1924, also known as the Snyder Act. Unfortunately, before 1924, only about 8% of Indians were U.S. citizens, therefore, it is somewhat logical that they did not vote in a nation they did not wish to be part of. ** Many considered the tribe of origin to be their sovereign nation within U.S. borders before the Snyder Act, and many tribes are defined as “First Nations” for the same reason today.

To add a spiritual dimension, we can explore a relationship between civil rights and worship dysfunctions. Both concepts speak to the inherent, unalienable value of a subject. Civil rights are directed to protect the intrinsic, non-negotiable worth conferred by G-d upon each human being. Worship, perhaps, could be defined as human recognition and practice of the intrinsic, non-negotiable worth of G-d. When and where we are dysfunctional in our worship of G-d, we open ourselves to be dysfunctional in respecting the worthiness and honor of our human neighbors.

Prior to his time organizing for SAI, he organized for the YMCA in western states and Canada among Indians. Below is quote of some observations that informed his faith.

“During that time, as an avowed Christian, Eastman nevertheless seemed to maintain a reflective stance toward that religion because of his early traditional Dakota upbringing. He studied what he called “the Protestant missionary effort among Indians” and “almost unconsciously reopened the book of my early religious training.” He wondered how it was “that our simple lives [before Christianity] were so imbued with the spirit of worship, while much churchgoing among white and Christian Indians led often to such very small results.” *** ***https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/opinions/dr-charles-eastman-a-dakotas-conflicted-take-on-christianity/

Lord hear our prayer for Minnesotan’s of 1919. We are guilty of a worship dysfunction in this era. We have attempted to assume the rights of citizenship in Your kingdom without humility. Our legal status is based on the unmerited favor and rights bestowed on us by the blood of the risen Messiah! How can we receive unmerited legal access to the King of the Universe, and then deny legal rights to those we see everyday?

Likewise, our worship dysfunctions manifested in our failure to recognize Your image and worthiness and inherent legal rights of our Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota neighbors. Will You have mercy on our lack of mercy for these neighbors? Will You have mercy on our worship dysfunctions that usurp Your position as Author of All Human rights!?

Will You raise our awareness of the perfection of Your authority? May we be humble and learn from our elders about our relationships and laws; human to human. May we receive our justice as a gift from the One so that we can pass it to the many until You reign forever! Amen.

 

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Citizenship_Act
***https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/opinions/dr-charles-eastman-a-dakotas-conflicted-take-on-christianity/
A nice summary of the life of Dr. Charles Eastman. (aka Hakadah and Ohiyesa) http://aktalakota.stjo.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8884

 

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20th Century, Culture, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, sports

Streetcar Double Headers

April 1907
A heated sibling rivalry develops between the Twin Cities’ two pro baseball teams, the Saints and Millers. Streetcar doubleheaders are scheduled on Decoration Day, July 4, and Labor Day, with a game in each city.*

A bit of background is in order to help those who may not know much about the Twin Cities. There is definitely much in common between these two places, but it’s the distinctions that give each it’s flavor. They may not be thought of as ‘strong’ flavors by those who consider Minnesota ‘flyover country’, but that is a matter of taste.

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St. Paul is the older brother of Minneapolis. According to local legend, first two structures in St. Paul were a log trading post that doubled as a pub, and a log Catholic church. There are very strong communities derived from nations with a Roman Catholic heritage: Irish, French, Polish, Italian, and Mexican. This city leans blue-collar, tends to move slower, and with more respect for tradition.

1907 Spalding Guide - Hart - MPLS team

Minneapolis is the kid brother that just kept growing. It historically has been more Protestant, with residents mostly from Western and Northern European descent. It leans more white collar and entrepreneurial, with more nightlife to spend new money.

Holy Umpire, thanks for the heritage of baseball in Minnesota! What an awesome combination of sport with times for team play, and individual achievement! Baseball truly is a mirror of the best attributes of our culture.
Unfortunately, Saints and Millers reflect the darker sides of our nature too. Sometimes we, as fans attempted to “help” our home team. Check out this example of ‘sportsmanship from 100 years ago;

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“The newspapers joined the struggle, firing their artillery at enemy camps across the Mississippi River. In the 1890s, when both cities were represented in the Western League, the Minneapolis Tribune leveled a charge of “dirty ball” against its neighbors to the east, the Saints, who were owned and managed at that time by Charles Comiskey. “Manager Comiskey,” reported the Tribune, “will be served with a formal notice that the Minneapolis club will not play today’s game unless guaranteed that there will be no spiking of Minneapolis players, no interference on the part of the crowd, no throwing of rocks, no throwing of dust and dirt in the eyes of the Minneapolis players, and a few other tricks which the game yesterday was featurized by.” “ Thornley, Stew. On to Nicollet: The Glory and Fame of the Minneapolis Millers.**,***

God, thanks that You gave a home team to enjoy and be proud of. Will You forgive us for when we have gone overboard and over identify ourselves with a baseball team? Will You forgive harsh words that were sowed then between Minneapolis and St. Paul that still smart today?

Today I want to acknowledge specific sports offenses to You. We have loved winning more than losing, but doesn’t losing build character? We have loved showboat personalities more than the team at times, but innately we know that a single player can’t win the game. We can behave like spoiled brats at games, then lecture our kids about the importance of sportsmanship. God help our ERA and our era! Have mercy on our inconsistent batting average with beloved rivals of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Thanks that these hostilities birthed a solution; the Minnesota Twins! Will You help us find creative ways to find common ground with our rivals today?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

**Peruse this wonderful link to the complete article by Stew Thornley. http://www.stewthornley.net/millers_paydays.html

***Dig into a book on the Saint Paul Saints, again, by Stew Thornley. http://www.mnhs.org/mnhspress/books/st-paul-saints

 

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