It has been learned that there are three, licensed saloons on the island. Chas Cook has two licenses, one for his saloon and another for the house of ill repute. That the board and
voters of Trenton should grant such licenses can hardly be believed and pressure should be brought to bear on the members of the board against such infamy. The members of the
board are James Gilmore, Victor Swanson and T.H. Eidem. Mr. Gilmore is at present candidate for sheriff and it seems that the people of Pierce county should make the island an issue
Honor to Sheriff Oluff O. Halls of Pierce county and his deputies and assistants who raided the hell-holes on the Island across from the city and lodged in the county jail at Ellsworth the
demi-mondes early Sunday morning.
It was a neat piece of work, the difficulties and hazards of which can hardly be appreciated by anyone who has not himself been an officer of the law where crime and lawlessness held
undisputed away – where sobriety, virtue, honesty and other divine traits in men and woman were as scarce as the proverbial snow balls in the infernal regions.
For a quarter of a century the resorts on the island have swallowed up the manhood, the morality, the money and even the lives of men who have come within their zone, without ever
being molested and with only an occasional faint voice raised against them. When spoken of it has been mainly in jest, by men whose blunted senses find merriment in debauchery and
the opportunity for a smutty story and filthy joke in the blotting out of virtue among the habitués of vice. Sodom and Gomorah in their palmist days of licentiousness would have to look to
their laurels were they to be compared with the island over which sounds the peals of Red Wing’s church bells, and yet Heaven has not sent fire to destroy it nor has the public
conscience of Red Wing risen in its might and smitten it, nor has Pierce county felt much uneasiness about this festering ulcer on her body.
More than a quarter of a century ago, there was a pretense at attempts to drive the cloven hoofs from their Island habitat, but they neither were effective nor sincere. True, about that time
the whole filthy mess was consigned to the flames but it was freely charged that some interested individual fired the place to hide forever the evidence of a hundred unpunished crimes.
For a while it was quiet on the island. Then came a brothel that established itself at such a respectful distance from the city as if it were feeling its way. Becoming bolder it moved to the
nearest possible point to Red Wing and there it has maintained itself. Opulent and independent, regardless of law or authority, there it has flourished under the very eyes of ten thousand
people who lay claim to Christianity and morality. Notwithstanding the foul stench which has issued from the leper zone and permeated through the Desirable City, in spite of the fact that
“hell’s half acre” had been recking with rottenness, and physical and moral ruin, has been left to carry on its satanic work of demoralization and destruction.
Every thief and thug who has visited Red Wing has there made his rendezvous. Every crime mentioned in the decalogue, has been there committed. Were everything known – could
those sloughs and ponds and the silent moving river tell their stories, could the trees and walls whisper, the Gunness farm of Indiana, which shocked the world would seem tame in
With their cars close to the ground, listening for the first sound of trouble; surrounded by subsidized people in office and out, ready to give the alarm should something happen; condoned
by those who recognize “necessary evils” and patronized and befriended by the horde of young men and old, who have been selling their souls and buying damnation in these haunts of
iniquity, the Islanders have been fortified, protected and encouraged to a degree which would cause one to blush for shame and ask: “Why these schools, these church spires, these
moral influences, these reputed Christian people when aught like this can thrive in our very midst, for five and twenty years with scarcely a protest against them?”
Is depravity so pronounced, corruption so general and cowardice so great that the county of Pierce and the city of Red Wing should pass this unnoticed? Heaven forbid! The majority of
people are good but they have been asleep. The minority of them are bad – and they never sleep. Granted that Pierce county is legally responsible for conditions on the island. It need
not simply be taken for granted that Red Wing furnishes nine-tenths of the sacrifices which the Island claims on the altars of vice and corruption, for that is an indisputable fact. Although
in Wisconsin and beyond our jurisdiction, there has never been a time when the right kind of public sentiment in Red Wing could not have morally controlled the Island, and the moral
influence of our citizens today, if properly, deiscreetly, forcefully, courageously directed with such demonstration that its meaning cannot be misunderstood, can help the sheriff and
attorney of Pierce county very materially in the wiping out of this “damned spot” from the map of this community.
It was eleven o’clock and the saloons in Red Wing had generally closed. The crowds that had frequented them during the evening were meandering along the streets through the
drizzling rain. Some went directly to their homes. Other loafed around in sheltered places in the down-town district. Many betook themselves to the bridge and over on the island, there to
throw themselves into the gay, mad whirl of gambling, drunkenness and debauchery.
The advance guard of dissipation bad come over at an earlier hour – as soon as darkness had drawn its concealing curtain over the bridge and river – and already a motley crowd of
drunks and disorderlies, some in rags and others in fine clothes, had sometime moved here and there among the dives, throwing their money at the proprietors.
In one saloon where a woman had usually slung out the booze and set the pace for the crowd, lushing the liquor with a recklessness which had caused even old lumber jacks to gaze in
astonishment, had been replaced by men who acted as bartenders. Profanity, obscenity and bestiality were the trinity that reigned supreme, while the fumes of liquor and stupefying
drugs and unclean beings issued from every open door.
While far more tame than on nights when the weather was more favorable, the iniquity beggars description, and were it half told this article would be too loathsome to send into the
homes of the city. Here and there were the gambling tables with their victims; here and there a drunken youth clinging clammily to a companion or staggering around, quite paralyzed
with drink. At that hour mothers and sisters were saying their evening prayers in the pure homes of the city a few blocks distant, and clergymen were preparing the words of holy wisdom
for their Sunday sermons, while in this vortex of crime and corruption, unbeknown to their dear ones were being swallowed up the integrity, the morality, yea the temporal and eternal
welfare of many of our young men.
As the night wore on - the same as thousands of similar hilarious, licentious nights in these abodes of wickedness - the crowds around the bars thinned out, worn out by the dissipation
and carousal; sluggish, clammy beings lay around the floors, benches and porches, or in their drunken stupor fumbled aimlessly around the grounds or in the road. A number
staggered back over the bridge to the city as hundreds had done before, laden with liquor and contamination, to infect their homes with the damnation of the dens they had sought, and
thereby shut out forever hope and happiness from innocent, loving hearts.
From among the carousers in the saloons a throng of men had poured into the resort beyond the saloons, the infamy of which had been common report for a quarter century. In the
“parlor” the “girls” held high carnival, entertaining a hilarious constituency. Beer at 50 cents per bottle flowed like water and every new “welcome” meant a drink for “the house.” The wild
and indecent orgies here enacted would look too shocking in print. Demi-mondes in scant attire cajoled both willing and unwilling victims into their nets. Had some of the “guests”
heard from their sisters or their mothers the blasphemy, the filth, the profanity, then what? Or had they found a daughter, or sister or sweetheart in such environments, then what? Yet
here they drank it all in eagerly and the wanton revels, the kind in which nothing is holy and all is hell, went madly on.
It was one o’clock and the stupid crowd was well scattered. The lights were low in the resort and men of varying degrees had been reduced to the same level – young men, recent
beginners in the school of vice, as well as coarse, uncouth humans, in whom every divine spark had, seemingly, been long extinguished. But it is the young men on whom the island
mostly thrives and a sufficient numbers of recruits must yearly be enlisted to make it financially prosperous. The number of recruits, therefore, is shockingly, appallingly large.
The scenes which might be depicted, the incidents which might be described, would sadden and sicken the reader, some bring so loathsome, so unbelievable that any clean mind
revolts against their contemplation; therefore let the reporter pass them by for the present and deal with more uncommon things.
Several carriages roll over the high wagon bridge from Red Wing. As they pass the Island resorts echoes are heard of the blasphemy, the maledictions, the ribaldry of earlier hours.
There are subdued groans and curses. Images of men grope about in the dark. Four, five, six carriages, perhaps. It is not easy to discern in the dark. The carriages pass well beyond
the saloons. Leaving the teams in charge of the drivers, the others walk quietly down to Cook’s saloon and resort. In a shorter time than it takes to tell it, Sheriff Oluff O. Halls of Pierce
county and his men have surrounded and raided one of the most notorious brothels in the Northwest and taken its habitués and a number of their patrons into custody.
Ellsworth, Sept. 27, (6 a.m.) – The officers arrived in Ellsworth with the prisoners arrested in the raid on the Island resorts without any noteworthy incident. They were as meek as meek
could be and gave evidence that they will continue on their best behavior.
“Hickory Bob,” in jail in Ellsworth for stealing some of May Cook’s jewelry, says he is “tickled to death” on the arrival of the Island contingent.
Sheriff O. O. Halls of Pierce county with six teams and fourteen men or more were here most of Saturday afternoon and the sheriff spoke freely about his plans. That the presence of the
sheriff and his posse did not reach the keen-eared Islanders with their host of friends shows with what skill and discretion the affair was planned and managed. Reporters of the
Republican watched the developments as others might have done, but did not and the office was kept open waiting the latest news from the front.
Speaking with the reporter, Sheriff Halls said in particular “It has always been the cry of Red Wing that the officers of Pierce county would do nothing to improve the conditions on the
Island and clean out the lawlessness said to exist there. As sheriff of Pierce county I am trying to do my share, so will the district attorney, Mr. George Thompson, but we expect the moral
support of the good people or Red Wing. If we capture the lawbreakers on the Island we expect a sufficient number from Red Wing to come of their own accord to Ellsworth and testify to
the reputation of the Island resort. If they are not willing to do that, let them hold their peace with reference to the Pierce county authorities.”
When seen after the raid, which was witnessed by reporters from this office, Sheriff Halls said: “We have got them, and in less than two hours and a half they will be in jail in Ellsworth,
except Charley Cook, who was temporarily brought over to Red Wing because the carriages were full before he was captured. The evidence was have obtained and what has been
gathered during the past week by representatives from my office ought to be sufficient to convict.”
The story of how the evidence was obtained and who seemed it need not be told at the time, but it will make an exceedingly interesting chapter when the trial takes place in November.
Those who participated in the raid were: Sheriff O. O. Halls, of Ellsworth; Under Sheriff Frank Baker of River Falls; Perey Ap. Roberts, editor of River Falls “Times;” Supt. of Schools, Geo.
Weldon, of Ellsworth; Deputy Sheriff Joe La Grande, of Ellsworth; Deputy Sheriff Sam Mars, of Spring Valley; Deputy Sheriff Oscar Halls, of Ellsworth; Deputy Sheriff Jay Halls, of Ellsworth;
T.H. Eldem, of Trenton. Besides these there were four or five men who took care of the teams.
One of the boys taking part in the Island raid had not slept for three days and three nights, having assisted his father in running down the thieves who stole $400 worth of property at
various places in Ellsworth during the fair.
The saloon and adjoining resort run by Chas Cook and May Cook on the island opposite Red Wing were raided at one o’clock Sunday
Chas Cook and May Cook were arrested in their room in the saloon building by Sheriff Halls of Pierce county, Under Sheriff Frank Baker
of River Falls and Deputy Oscar Halls. They make little resistance and submitted with simply the utterance of a few curses. After the two
prisoners were presumably in hand, Chase Cook escaped but was recaptured by Barton Jenson, a visitor in Pierce Co. from Virginia,
Soren Halls, the son of the sheriff, and Chas Campbell of Ellsworth, three young men who were along as drivers.
While the Cooks were being arrested the officers not there engaged raided the resort a hundred yards or so further up stream, a place
which has had a most unsavory reputation. Five women were there gathered in, also 3 young men, probably all from Red Wing were
taken into custody. They pleaded for mercy but the strong arm of the law was relentless and the eight persons arrested in this house
together with May Cook were brought to Ellsworth. The carriages being overcrowded, Charley Cook was brought to Red Wing and placed
in the county jail. Sunday morning at five o’clock Sheriff Halls and his son, Jay Halls, a student at the University of Wisconsin, took him
over to Ellsworth. When Sheriff Halls came over from the island with Cook he saw that the Republican office was open and marched his
prisoner in to the waiting and surprised editors who were waiting for their reporters to return and not for prisoners to appear. A telephone
message to Sheriff Lundquist secured accommodations for the prisoner for the night.
The raid on the resort where the girls were found was led by Jay Halls and he was ably backed by Messrs, Roberts, Weldon, LaGrander,
Campbell and Mars, whose full names are given elsewhere. As the entrance was made sound of the “guests” took to the tall timber,
those remaining were meek as lambs. The “girls” thought the arrest was a joke at first but they soon realized it was the real thing. One
started to call up Cook’s by ‘phone but young Halls prevented her from sending the message. One of the girls cried piteously, but
securing some cigarette paper and tobacco which was not taken away from her she was soon pacified and ready to go with her sisters in
The men arrested gave their names to the officers, but the sheriff and others feared that they were the names of other Red Wing people
and deemed it wise not to make them public. One of the men said he was married. As those arrested were all in the “parlor” at the time
of the raid no new evidence was obtained, in fact the sheriff did not expect any. What he wanted was to place the whole outfit under arrest
on the testimony he could already produce, taking for granted that people of standing in Red Wing will volunteer to testify to the general
reputation of the Cook resort.
The men and teams came over from Wisconsin in the afternoon. Driving back shortly after midnight they passed the saloons and
stopped some distance beyond. The officers hastened back and the arrests were made as before stated. The whole affair was done so
quickly, so expeditiously and so quietly that it was evident the sheriff and his men knew beforehand to a dot what they were going to do.
The remnants of drunken men in the Cook saloon gave evidence of making trouble but the sheriff paid no attention to them and they
finally thought best to restrain themselves.
This is the first raid made on the island in a quarter century and it is to be hoped that it marks the beginning of the end of that era of infamy
and shame which has prevailed. The influence of the island on Red Wing has been damnable and it is time to call a halt.
|Red Wing Republican Eagle, 1908
STORY OF THE RAID
|HONOR TO THOSE UPHOLDING LAW
Picture of Island Life Where Debauchery Reigns Supreme In Resorts.
|PROFANITY AND RANK OBSCENITY
Together with Bestiality Are the Trinity on the Island Saturday Nights.
|THE PRISONERS HAVE ARRIVED
Those Arrested in the Island Raid Placed Safely in
the Jail at Ellsworth Without Incident.
|SHERIFF HALLS INTERVIEWED
Says That Red Wing Should Cooperate In Prosecution
or Forever Hold Its Peace.