Listen to the Weekly Radio Readings by Sheila Winstead, RCHS Board Member
Recorded September 2021
September 5, 2021:
A tragedy in 1926 led to the new leadership of the Standard Oil station in Roseau. The Roseau Times-Region of July 2, 1926, told the story.
Finding of the body of Axel Sundin, Standard Oil agent here, in the Roseau River yesterday afternoon, put a sad relief to a tension felt alike by relatives and the community since his disappearance Sunday night.
It was known that Mr. Sundin had imbibed too freely of intoxicants Sunday afternoon and that he had gone to sleep at his oil station that evening. It is assumed that he had later started for home, following the track and that he had fallen off the bridge.
At first, it was believed that he might have gone out with associates and that he would soon return.
The finding of a cap in the river Wednesday morning which was identified by members of the family as belonging to Mr. Sundin, started a systematic search of the river between the north bridge to the railroad bridge. Two boats were going most of the time Wednesday and during the night. It remained for two boys, Walter Lundquist and Howard Dieter, paddling their boat towards the railroad bridge to meet the body coming downstream. They pushed the body to shore, gave notice and Coroner Carl Listug took charge.
Coroner Carl Listug called an inquest last evening, getting a jury of six representative men, namely: J. P. Anderson, S. F. Bonaime, Charles Loff, H. J. Martin, B. J. Hodgman and Henry Myrand. Several witnesses were called and after due deliberation came to the unanimous decision that “Axel Sundin was accidentally drowned after stumbling on the railroad bridge and falling into the Roseau river.”
Mr. Sundin had the reputation of being a good oilman and enjoying a thriving business. His accounts were kept well and he had the confidence of his employers as well as his customers. His untimely death is a source of deep sorrow.
Mr. Sundin was born in Sweden and came to this country about sixteen years ago [so around 1910]. He married …listen for the rest of the story.
September 12, 2021:
Last week I told you about the tragic death of Axel Sundin, manager of Standard Oil in Roseau, who had drowned in the Roseau River. In the same issue of the paper that described his funeral, the July 9, 1926, issue of the Roseau Times-Region, we read about who replaced him in that job.
The Standard Oil Company has selected Dewey Oie to have charge of the local oil station, filling the vacancy caused by the death of Axel Sundin. Mr. Oie was checked in Saturday. He has had considerable experience as assistant to the former manager and his choice meets with the approval of patrons. “Duke”, as he is popularly known, is a single man – a matter which was not in his favor when the officials considered him as a candidate for the job – but it is understood that he set them at ease on that point if the job became his.
And sure enough, by that fall, a story appeared in the November 5, 1926, edition with the caption: “Duke” Oie is given up by Bachelor Friends. Here’s the article:
The news which spread last Saturday among his bachelor friends that all hope for Dewey Oie had been given up, cast a pall on their spirits. His case had been considered serious for some time, inasmuch as it had been known that “Duke” had been afflicted with the malady for a period of at least ten years. “Duke” will be missed in the many activities of the single men in which he was wont to participate. These friends of his are consoling themselves, however, with the thought that what is their loss is another’s gain.
For “Duke” is married. The young lady who is now Mrs. Oie was Miss Grace Hodgman, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. B. J. Hodgman of Roseau. She is a fine woman whose friends are all who learn to know her.
The ceremony took place at the home of the bride’s parents Saturday at high noon, with Rev. W. S. J. Bleakley reading the services. Mr. and Mrs. Ed. G. Johnson stood up with the groom and bride. Only members of the two families were present. A delicious wedding dinner was served after the ceremony. The newlyweds motored to Thief River Falls in the afternoon, returning here the following day and going to housekeeping in rooms in the Sundin residence.
The groom, who is the Standard Oil representative here, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ole E. Oie. The friends of the two young people join us in extending our glad hand and our best wishes to them for a bright and happy future.
Many years later (in 1992) when the Roseau County Historical Society assembled their big Roseau County Heritage book, the daughter-in-law of Grace and Dewey Oie, Anne, submitted the story of their son Jim, to whom she was married. Here it is:
James Oie was born in Roseau on August 15, 1933, to Grace Hodgman and Gordon Dewey Oie, and died …listen for the rest of the story.
September 19, 2021:
In 1920 during Prohibition, there were a lot of anecdotes in the local papers about trying to put an end to smuggling liquor across the Canadian border. Confiscations led to storing of cases upon cases of illegal liquor at ports in the area, and sometimes even thefts from those stashes.
For a while, the authorities believed that there wasn’t so much smuggling in this area, thinking maybe most of it was coming across from western provinces. But they decided to beef up the force of agents here and found plenty of action to keep them busy. An article in the Roseau Times-Region of November 12, 1920, tells this story:
According to the statement of P. D. Keller, supervising federal prohibition agent for the northwest, more than 12,000 gallons of smuggled Canadian whiskey has been seized within the last six months and at present, there are about 700 liquor cases awaiting trial.
The experiences of the twenty-five men watching some 300 miles of boundary, which includes fighting battles on lonely roads, ambushing armed gangs, combating desperate men who use ships, airplanes, armored cars, dynamite, railroad trains, and even innocent water wagons and gasoline tanks to outwit the law, have produced settings in northern Minnesota for the romance of adventure that rivals the legends of liquor wars in the Cumberland Mountains and the backwoods of Kentucky.
The many wild tales of encounters with liquor runners, which a short time back raised an incredulous laugh, have been vouched for by federal agents so often of late that they are no longer questioned. Revolvers, sawed-off shotguns, and even machine guns have entered very much into many of the affairs.
With the advent of winter as well as the near approach of bone-dry provinces in Canada the efforts and daring of the runners have increased and as a result, the agents have been kept extremely busy.
Even submarine chasers have been used on Lake Superior, one of these fast crafts capturing, this week, a launch loaded with liquor. The agents have averaged over 500 gallons a week from their captures.
They are also getting many of the runners. This week three Baudette residents were caught. While over in Dakota, Al Forseth, who headed the International Flying Circus, which gave the aeroplane exhibition at the Roseau County fair this summer, was caught together with three of his brothers and three other Grand Forks men in a running gunfight. Their cars were more or less shot up ..listen for the rest of the story.
September 26, 2021:
Last week I told you about three local fellows who had been apprehended with several cases of whiskey in their possession during the late months of 1920, during Prohibition. The following week another article appeared while they were awaiting the U. S. Marshal’s arrival. Here’s the article from the Roseau Times-Region in November 1920, which I read at the Roseau County Museum.
- S. Deputy Marshal Dahlgren arrived in Roseau Wednesday to take charge of [the three men] arrested last week on whiskey smuggling charges and held here pending the marshal’s arrival. The delay was occasioned by the lack of enough federal officers to take care of all the liquor arrests as fast as they are made and also by a little mix-up whereby the warrants went to the marshal’s house in Bemidji, while he went on to St. Paul to get them. The warrants were forwarded hereby registered mail and the marshal got them on his arrival. Thru some miscue, the warrant for [one of the men] did not come with the others. [Those other two] were taken Wednesday afternoon to Warroad for a preliminary hearing before U. S. Commissioner Fosmark. As the paper was printed a day early this week because of Thanksgiving, results of the hearing were not available at the time of this writing, but it is likely that they will be bound over to the federal court at Fergus Falls and released on bonds.
I don’t know how their cases turned out, but apparently, there was enough interest in that lifestyle to keep one of the three in the business. Five years later, his name was included in a Roseau Times-Region article from August 26, 1926, telling about a big shootout in Badger. Here’s the story with a couple of the names omitted since I don’t know how it ended up for them.
The serenity of Badger was rudely jolted Tuesday about midnight when shots were exchanged by Patrolmen DeWitt and Babcock on one side and Emery Smith, a suspected booze runner, on the other. No one was hurt, fortunately, but Smith has laid up for himself trouble that may take years to erase.
[One of the fellows that took part in the whiskey smuggling five years earlier] had as companions in a Dodge touring car, Emery Smith of Fargo and another man whose name was not learned. The officers named stopped the car near the hotel and Smith stepped out, but upon being questioned made a dash for cover. Shots were exchanged between the officers and the fugitive, the latter taking a shot at DeWitt at a distance of 25 feet. At the same time, [the driver of the car] started away in his car but stopped when shots began hitting the back of his car. The officers let him go after examining the passenger and the car.
Meanwhile, Smith had worked his way to the home of Charles Glen, elevator man at Badger, entered the house and at the point of his revolver made Mr. Glen get up and go to the hotel to notify Smith’s companion were to meet him, and failure to do so would bring fatal results. Evidently, Smith decided to get away sooner so that when the officers arrived in the vicinity the fugitive had found hiding elsewhere. A search was started and a lookout is kept but so far he has not been apprehended.
Smith has made Fargo his headquarters for some time, is a former resident of the Badger community. He is suspected of …listen for the rest of the story.
Thank you to for letting us share the history of our county with your listeners.