EDITOR’S NOTE: The article below came to the R-E from Mrs. Phyllis Montey of the Cannon River Inn at
Welch, via Red Wing historian Evelyn Nelson.
Mrs. Montey copied out this article from a magazine-type publication dated 1914 which somebody in
Cannon Falls found while tearing down an old house.
The publication was entitled “Tidsskrist” and was entirely in Norwegian except for this and one other
article. The office of publication was listed as 1204 College Ave., Red Wing, Minn.
This Island, which belongs to Wisconsin, harbored the most unmoral places imaginable, and there was probably not
a spot in the Northwest that was more wicked.
Drunkenness and debauchery and grossest immorality there held sway for a generation.
In the spring dead men were found in the sloughs on the Island. Every night in the week, and all Sunday the places
on the Island were crowded by scores and scores of people, many of them young men and boys, and were led to
temporal and eternal ruin.
It so happened that fearless Oluff Halls was sheriff of Pierce County, Wis., to which the island belonged, and he
offered the undertake the dangerous business of raiding the island dens and dives if Mr. Grondahl and the Daily
Republican, together with such other men as could be trusted, would help in the work.
Sheriff Halls and about 20 deputies armed with guns and revolvers, gathered in the basement of the Republican
office one Saturday night and about 1 o’clock in the morning quickly marched over to the Island and placed the evil
doers under arrest.
In the mean time, telephone wires had been cut to keep the Island population ignorant of what was coming, and big
electric flashlights had been provided so that the sheriff and his men could do their work when the lights on the
Island went out, as they always did on the first sign of danger.
If the people in the houses on the Island had had a moment’s notice, or if they could have escaped in the darkness
into the woods, the attempt to arrest them would have failed.
The owners and inmates of the evil houses were successfully arrested and taken to jail at Ellsworth. This, however,
was only the beginning of the clearing-out process on the Island.
The lawless element, assisted all along by the liquor interests on both sides of the river, fought for several years to
get a foothold again on the Island, and at one time some of the leading church people of Red Wing, with their own
hands, but in strict harmony with the law, tore down the buildings while hundreds of angry brewery adherents looked
on from the Red Wing side of the river.
A barn was left standing and after a while the lawbreakers took possession of that, until the woman in charge was
again arrested and finally sent to the penitentiary of Wisconsin for a year.
During this long-drawn fight Mr. Grondahl was repeatedly threatened that he would be killed unless he let up his
fight against the lawbreakers. Even when this old barn was the last resort of the wicked element, the brewing
interests protected the place and smuggled large quantities of beer and liquor over to the place.