Dakota Datebook


Thursday, May 16, 2013


On this date in 1934, people were talking about a family in McKenzie County that had a chance encounter with some bandits, and earned themselves a bit of good advice.


It all started in Sidney, Montana, where two men decided to rob a business. However, while they were otherwise occupied, a police officer passing by noticed their getaway car had North Dakota license plates. He removed the key from the ignition, expecting they would come to the police station and explain exactly what they were up to.


However, when they found their vehicle unavailable, they hightailed it across the prairie on foot, ending up about fifteen miles away, on the property of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Greene, who owned a farm south of Cartwright. They entered the house, which in customary style, wasn’t locked. Waving sawed-off shot-guns, they demanding food, searched the house, and finally ordered the Greenes’ son-in-law, Hugo Oberg, to drive them to Minot. However, the family car didn’t have enough gas, so they first drove to Williston to fill up.


In the end, the culprits made it to their destination – where they paid Oberg $2 in compensation for driving them! They told him to go straight home – which he did, after a fearful wait to make sure they were gone. The authorities felt the bandits might have been caught had he gone directly to the police station, and even though the Greenes back in Cartwright had called the police, the thieves and kidnappers got away into the surrounding darkness.


Nonetheless, they did leave the Greenes at peace, with $2 in recompense, and with some advice to the children: the younger of the two crooks told the Greene kids that he had been a farm boy, but had gone to the cities and fallen in with the wrong crowd – and, according to the McKenzie County Farmer, warned the children “to stick by the farm,” and the paper added: “As a sorry example of a boy gone wrong, the bandit’s advice is excellent for any farm boy.”


Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker



McKenzie County Farmer and Watford Guide, May 17, 1934


This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

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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