Dangerous Times in Forest County

Hello Forest County Residents!

I came across several articles in the Forest Republican and the extinct newspaper, the Northern Advertiser, from 1922 that reminded me of a novel about the Wild West rather than news from the safe Northwoods. One article describes a  bank robbery in which several men held up the Wabeno State Bank and stole over 8,000 dollars. The men allegedly took the money and buried it in the woods near Wabeno then fled the area. Two of the robbers, Willis Lesperance and Frenchie Yeager, were captured soon after in Forest County.  The other two men, Chalmers Yaeger and Lawrence Lesperance, were apprehended in Chippewa Falls and driven back to Crandon to be put in jail. A year after the crime the police still did not recover the money. So local law enforcement officers brought Lawrence Lesperance out into the woods in handcuffs and chains to search the whole day for the missing money. If the cash was found his sentence would be reduced by ten years. The money was never found! Wabeno residents could stumble across a great deal of riches buried in the woods someday!

Around the same time another newspaper article depicted Ed Nelson lying in a hospital bed very close to death after being shot clear through the groin during a train hold up. That morning Nelson and a friend boarded a westbound Sooline train that was carrying passengers in an open box car. Just as the train left Argonne for Rhinelander three men climbed into the car and when the train was moving at full speed ordered the passengers to put up their hands. They then searched the people for valuables and took a gold watch and 50 dollars from Nelson. In the process of the hold up somehow two shots were fired with one hitting Ed Nelson!  I do not know if the robbers were ever captured.

Scene from the movie The Great Train Robbery http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/
Scene from the movie The Great Train Robbery

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