The Mysterious Murder of O.A. Palmquist

On Thursday, November 12,1914 The Dassel Anchor carried this headline,

The Mysterious Murder of O.A. Palmquist

Dassel People Tremendously Excited Over Cold Blooded Murder

 Last Thursday Of Cashier Of Citizens State Bank Dassel Anchor November 12, 1914

On November 5,1914, the case of the murder of Olaf Palmquist, a cashier at Citizens State Bank in Dassel, caused quite a stir in the area that stayed active for years with no resolution.

Palmquist was shot in the back office of the bank building in the late afternoon.  Nothing had been stolen from the Citizens State Bank, suicide was ruled out by the coroner, George Peterson.

Bill Sisston and
Frank “Whiskers” Carlson
In Citizens State Bank Lobby

Peterson suggested that Palmquist had refused to open the safe, and the killer then shot him ‘in retaliation’.  Robbery was ruled out.  $6,000.00 was visible in the open vault near the office.  The money remained

An inquest was held, 20 witnesses were questioned; however, no indictment was brought forward.  Authorities were unable to come up with any motive for this murder. Palmquist was considered a gentle man who was well-liked by the residents of Dassel.

Witnesses saw a man leaving the building to access a train heading to Minneapolis.  That man, J.G. Barnett, a salesman from Minneapolis, discovered he was being looked at for a person of interest.  He contacted the authorities on his own and was cleared of any wrongdoing. Buffalo Journal, Minneapolis Nov. 1914

This was a triple tragedy for Palmquist’s wife of six months, Della (Madelia) Palmquist.  At the time of Palmquists murder she was pregnant with their son. Her previous husband had committed suicide in 1905, drinking carbolic acid in a building that was next door to the bank in which Palmquist was murdered. The Minneapolis Journal Nov. 8, 1915

A great deal of discourse, rumors and dirty deeds followed the murder for years. 

A newspaper article in the Dassel Anchor on May 27, 1915, accused the Cokato Enterprise of ‘creating cheap gossip’, and distorting information to, ‘Make it appear that Dassel is inhabited by barbarians instead of an enlightened. intelligent and entirely civilized people’ Dassel Anchor, May 13,1915

Another prevalent rumor regarded a woman from Litchfield, Miriam Ingram, who died five months later and was quickly buried. Ingram was sitting in a buggy across the street from the bank at the time of the murder. It was suggested that Ingram was a witness to the murder of Palmquist, and she was murdered to prevent her from speaking of the killer.

Some local speculation claimed that she lived by Washington Lake with two counterfeiters, one of whom was a cross dresser. This, of course, was only an unsubstantiated rumor, and more likely untrue. Other people said that she had lived with a family by Washington Lake since she was eight, and they were kind but eccentric people. (attribution below)

Ingram’s body was exhumed, and a postmortem autopsy was performed at the Dassel City Hall. Her death was ruled to be due to a valvular disease of the heart, chronic mitral stenosis. Dassel Anchor May 6, 1915

Due to the unorthodox burial, the grave digger, Eckman, was fined for shoddy, but not illegal, activity in the quick burial of her body with no medical acknowledgement. (attribution below)

There were suspects talked about by townspeople.

One unfounded speculation was Lem McGrew who was a banker at another Dassel Bank. It was said that the younger McGrew had “no scruples”, and that his” first and second wife walked together behind his casket when he died.

One possible suspect (unfounded) was Frank Carlson, who succeeded Palmquist in his position at the bank. Carlson was a victim of an attempted shakedown by two private detectives in 1917.

The widowed Della Palmquist and her brother-in-law, August Palmquist, of Cokato, were approached by a Minneapolis private detective named Frank Rutz.  Rutz intimated that he had information on the identity of the murderer and would like the Palmquists to hire him to prove the case.  He cautioned them to tell no one in town or at the bank that he was investigating,

He was hired and paid $1,600 in increments.  In order to look like he was working Rutz hired a Minneapolis resident, George Waldorf to follow people around the town, to try and find a ‘goat’ [scapegoat] in the murder. Waldorf was paid $1.00 a day.  He stayed at the Dassel Hotel paying day to day for one year.  He shadowed many people in the area, particularly Carlson.

Waldorf, who spoke with a German accent, was so good at his job, skulking about, watching and listening that it was believed that he was a German spy, in the area for a reason unknown.

George Waldorf sent anonymous letters to Carlson by mail and slipped under the bank door.  Carlson was told in the letters that “they” knew what he had done, and he needed to “come across quick or they would prosecute.”  Carlson traveled to Minneapolis to see if he would be followed.  He was and notified the police.  Waldorf was subsequently arrested and after “being made to talk” gave up the name of his employer Frank Rutz.  They both were arrested and sent to Litchfield for arraignment in the matter. (attribution below)

Rutz was fined $50.00 and sent to Stillwater prison June 21, 1917, for one year. No information is available concerning judgments against Waldorf.

Interestingly after Rutz had spent his year in prison he returned to Dassel. The Dassel Dispatch of September 1,1920 reported


Alleged Detectives Work Results in All Sorts

Of Unfounded Rumors in Neighboring Towns

After months of Rutz (now called Root) and his partners movement about town enough interest was once again raised that a Grand Jury was held on December 6, 1920 to reopen the case. Twenty five witnesses were called. The Dassel Dispatch reported on December 12, 1920


Renewed Agitation of Past Few Months and Activity of Alleged Detectives Bring No Results


A Dassel Dispatch article on June 14, 1922 reported the detective had again returned to town. Root and associate Calhoun were requesting money to reveal important information regarding the murderer in the case. They were met with disregard and were told that they would receive payment upon receipt of credible information. They provided no information and did not appear in Dassel again.

In 2003 three letters which had been found stored in an old chicken house owned by Ralph Peterson were donated to the History Center.  These letters were correspondence to Carlson in 1917 from J.J. Welch of the Minneapolis branch of Pinkerton.  Welch had been contacted by Carlson regarding the letters that he had received.  Welch was instrumental in helping to discover the miscreants who were causing trouble in Dassel.

Sadly, according to the writings of Roland Dille, the Palmquist’s son, Ostler, died sometime in the 1950s or 1960s, He had become a undertaker in a western Minnesota town. During a blizzard he was unable to get his hearse on the road, so he took his station wagon to a nearby town to pick up a deceased person. On his way back he became stuck in the snow. To get his chains from the car he took the body out of the wagon and laid it upon a snowbank. A patrol officer stopped to check and discovering that Ostler had been drinking arrested him. Ostler committed suicide in jail.

Della Palmquist never remarried. She passed at the age of 89 at the Swedish Hospital in Minneapolis. (Roland Dille Storys of Dassel, unpublished)

Still no word has come forward with any name or motive for the murder.  This is a mystery that Dassel may never find an answer to but still creates interest in our small city 109 years later.

Attribution noted, Reported by Jeanette Servin following Presentation by Phyllis Carlson, Dassel Historian on April 5,1990 to the Dassel Historical Society “As I recall Hearing it”

War…What is it good for?

Absolutely Nothing!

My oldest sister was born at the beginnings of World War II. A war baby to a very young mother. I was born at the endings of the Korean War. Another war baby to a still very young mother.

My point…I have, we have, always lived in a state of war. Or “conflicts”

Myself… The Korean Conflict. Viet Nam, The Cold War, The Bay of Pigs, the American occupation of the Dominican Republic, The Irish Troubles, The Angolan Conflict, the Six-day war, Afghanistan, The Middle East, …ad Infinium. From 1945 to 1971 the world saw over 200 conflicts, wars, uprising, battles of attrition, and enemy encounters alone. That means…From my birth until my graduation from high school our world was engaged in approximately 180 regional and worldwide battles.

I watched the Russian ruler Khrushchev on television; pounding his shoe on a table, (obviously a Mandela Effect, because that NEVER happened) declaring he would bury us. I worried about someone attacking Iowa with an “A-Bomb”.

Our youth went off to other countries, for no understandable reason. Returning with a great deal of ongoing emotional and spiritual anguish, physical damage, or dead. I marched with Viet Nam Vets against the war, helped to hold up a flag of Peace at our local Iowan government center. I thought I was all that. I was not. I was just a young unfashionable hippie in patched up jeans.

So now we have another battle; a peaceful country being invaded by its bully of a neighbor, a raving despot determined to win back the glory days of Russian imperialism.

And this is indeed another world conflict, with all of the sanctions, protests. And boy howdy I am right there, angry, tearful, appalled. I want Ukraine to be left alone to continue its move towards a peaceful future. I despise Putin. I despise him and all of his sick cronies.

And now the hard part, the little niggle in my mind. Currently this year, today, the world has 45 of these events happening, everywhere. Death of innocents, invasions, destruction. We have grown so used to this. We ignore it when we wake in the morning.

Loss of freedom is a thing. We are soft here in the North American continent. We equate loss of freedom to being told to get a shot or wear a mask. We equate that to fascism, to socialism. We don’t care about capitalistic spoilage of our environment. We care about only the bottom line…our personal comfort.



We white, pampered citizens are awfully spoiled and whiney

We are for some part a racist, non-caring, angry people here. We (I) jump on temporary bandwagons when we (I) have real trouble shoved in our (my) face.

We are soft, we need to care more, we need to toughen up to help save our world.

Auld Lang Syne

pagennewyearLately my words have failed me, not because I have nothing to say, but because when I sit down to write my thought, my mind wanders.

The concept of Auld Lang Syne for instance.  Recently I reconnected with a friend from my distant past.  Distant past! From two or three lifetimes ago.  Sue was a woman that I spent countless hours with in my youth.  We talked, we exercised, we had babies, we ate, we commiserated, we loved one another.  Life and I think the need of both of us to remove our selves to new worlds interfered.  We both moved, we both divorced, we both remarried, I divorced again, and had another daughter. We lost our connection.

When I finally found her on Facebook I was hesitant to reach out, would she remember me?  It had been over thirty years, all four of our children were grown, we were now grandmothers, no longer those immortal children of our early twenties.

We both had continued to live, both to grow, both to love, and had new friends, new lives, far apart from one another, in years, life styles, and distance.

But I messaged her, and waited, for about a week.  I was a tad anxious, would she still want to know me?

And then her message came.  And then a phone call. and we laughed, we chatted. I cried a bit on my side, so happy to hear from that beautiful friend.  I admit to stalking her Facebook page whilst I waited, and I was so relieved to know that her infectious smile was still the same.  And now we are making plans to spend a weekend reconnecting.

So what is the point of this ramble?  Although lifetimes pass, and we make new and beloved friends, create new families, new adventures, we can go home. And our home always lives in our hearts.

Happy new year to my friends, new and old.  I love you all!friendship

The Fourth Marches On!

Happy fourth everyone. 


Our country, well, we are so diverse.  We are a people made of the cultures, beliefs and history of  many.  We have a great deal of goodness to focus upon,  so at this time I will.

Happy Fourth of July.  Celebrate this honest holiday with pride and faith!


Time for a Wagon

Time for a Gypsy Wagon

Please take some time to check out my new endeavor!tyger voyage



children of the poor

Yesterday I watched a news story.  Women and children are coming to our boarders, believing that they will find freedom.  Believing in  the American Dream;  met at the border by rich US citizens, turned away, screamed at, disregarded as people.  We furiously protect what we have, forgetting where we got it!

Trail of Tears

We forget that our ancestors came from other countries; pushing out the native people who lived here.  In many cases with genocide.

We forget that our ancestors came, and lived in hovels, worked, scraped, struggled.  So that they could have the American Dream. We forget that they were scorned and terrorized, yet kept coming.  thp-ny-tenementWe forget where we came from.

This is not a treatise on immigration policy, I am not smart enough for that.  This is a call for understanding and love, for a return to our basic values of liberty and justice for all.  What are the words?

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This is how most of us arrived here.  My great grandparents from Prussia and England with little, working their way here to the Midwest, coming to dream.

Today, everyday, remember and honor.liberty







Celebrate Earth Day!!!

mary 3


Trains in the distance

train_plum_blossomsAs a small child I spent time with my Grandmother Schumacher in the summer.  Nights I slept on the couch, next to her dining room window, and listened to the train  whistle blowing as the train headed through Marengo.  I dreamed of  where the train could take me, the mystery of adventures I would enjoy.

Now what seems like a century later, near our house, across the road and past the swamp is a railroad track.  The sound comes through our open windows in the summer evening,; drifts across on the cold air, like wisps of ghostly sighs, in the winter.  The glory of it’s song wakes me in the evening, and I lay awake wondering where it is heading, who else is hearing its music.

During the day, I can see the train passing, cars heaped with coal, tankers with oil, corn syrup, flat cars holding massive equipment, and trailer cars with names like Evergreen, Pacific, Burlington,Hanji.  The train for all of it’s fundamental use is a magical mystery for me.  Graffiti adorns the sides of it’s cars, art from place and people unknown.

At times, the train stops on the tracks across the road, across that swamp, and its brakes chime a large sweet chime.  The first time I heard this, I thought perhaps fairy had broken through the veil, bringing song.

I am happy trains exist, transporting life.




The Second Saturday Strikes Again

Mara1625492_10152266100397490_1998179080_nAn occasional store…a communal setting of joy…a great time is had by all…Cookies…palm reading…great gifts to browse and buy…time with Ms. Mara!

Call this what you want, I am so happy Second Saturday exists.  225 water Street is a store filled with beautiful stuff, magical mosaics, kindred spirits, and just plain good conversation!  Not to mention a few ghosties that may float by and send a happy chill up your spine.

I met Mara years ago, during the days I still lived above 225 Water Street, the days that the store was an empty shell; dusty and waiting for positive nuturing.  I loved the building there, loved my time spent living there and dreamed that someday, someone, would come and brighten the space below me.  Little did I know the lady would also kick me out of my lofty tower.  Oh well, Life moves on, and I happily continue to be a part of the place, dusting the area with my own brand of human haunting!

225 Water Street, the home of the Tile Gypsies; those women who spend time quietly decorating the streets of Jordan with tiny little baubles and beauty.  225 Water Street, the home of happy friends!

Come ommpalmsut one and all, come out for the fun, come out for the joy.  Brush up against the spirit of old, and engage the spirit of new.

Have your palm read, eat a cookie, buy a gift.  Just come out for the fun!!!  Celebrate that Spring is near!

Re-Define Neccesity

I am thankful.  I have more than I need.  I have more than enough.  My home is filled with stuff, my cupboards with food, my car with gas.  I have love, I have family, warmth, friends, joy.

I have employment, enough to live, not enough to immerse myself in conspicuous consumption. 

During my youth I embraced minimal living, reveled in it.  As I grew, I forgot the beauty of less, fell more and more into the trap of gain for the sake of having.

At this stage of my life, I am returning to the basics of life.  And I delight in this.  I am remembering gardening, canning, raising chickens, and glory in the prospects of the fantastic freedom of recreating my life in a simple, less hectic fashion.

 For Thanksgiving, redefine your necessity.  Give thanks.

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“I want to think again of dangerous and noble things. I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be improbable and beautiful and afraid of nothing as though I had wings.” ~Mary Oliver

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