Dakota Datebook

Law for the Lawless

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Alcohol may have been illegal in North Dakota when it became a state, but the law often looked the other way. One this date in 1897, the Blind Piggers actually came under the protection of the law. It appears that a man by the name of Fred Bussett came to Devils Lake and claimed to be a detective in the Enforcement League. He visited all the saloons in the city and got a drink in each. He then contacted each of the proprietors and gave them notice that he was shutting them down and that they were required to appear before him. When each of them showed up, Mr. Bussett demanded $25.00 indicating he would let the prosecution drop. One bartender paid him $5.00 and then swore out a warrant charging him with extortion. Until national prohibition was initiated, the small town bars basically continued to operate with the police looking the other way; Mr. Bussett was not so lucky.

Dakota Datebook written by Jim Davis


Grand Forks Daily Herald November 24, 1897

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Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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