Local Man Lives Under Alias

Hello Forest County Residents! This week’s blog post includes a local resident living under an assumed name to escape the law. Vance Purdy was born in 1906 to Robert and Olive Purdy in Crandon. During the hard times of the depression he would travel to Door County to pick cherries for very little money. To survive he turned to driving moonshine to Milwaukee in the days of prohibition. Eventually he entered a life of crime, robbing banks in Woodman and Leopolis, Wisconsin. He also may have been involved in the stick up of the Refined Cabaret cast of Rhinelander. Purdy and his two accomplices escaped to Upper Michigan and were chased through swamps by the police (Appleton Post Crescent, Ludington Daily News,  Rhinelander Daily News 1930). When they were surrounded by the authorities Purdy escaped by floating down the river at night.  Purdy’s partners in crime were caught and spent a great deal time in the state prison (Tribbett 2014). Purdy  then changed his name to Ward Abbett. There are records of Abbett living in Popple River and Crandon in 1930. Purdy now known as Abbett joined the military in  1942 and served for three years.  Abbett lived in Milwaukee where he was married several times and eventually died.  He is buried in an unmarked grave in the Lakeside Cemetery (Tribbett 2014) .

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