Robbery part of lore: Two men stole $700 from bank in 1932
The great Audubon bank robbery took place on Ole Netland's birthday. Cashier Netland -- grandfather of today's bank president Mike Netland -- was counting money at 2:45 p.m.
The great Audubon bank robbery took place on Ole Netland's birthday.
Cashier Netland -- grandfather of today's bank president Mike Netland -- was counting money at 2:45 p.m. June 13, 1932, when two men robbed the Becker County bank at gunpoint.
As Mike Netland recalls his grandfather telling the story, the robbers, brandishing sawed-off shotguns, forced bank teller Ginny Bjornstad and customer Ole Swenson, an area farmer, into the bank vault.
"The farmer told them he couldn't stay because he had to go milk cows, but it was the middle of the day and the robbers didn't buy that," Mike Netland said.
The robbers, George Brown and Dale Garver, forced Ole Netland to open a currency drawer and place $700 in bills and change into bags. Then they forced him to drive them out of town in his car. They had him stop near Pelican Rapids, Minn., tied him up with baling wire in the car's back seat, and covered the car with brush, as the account goes. They waited with him in the car until nightfall.
By this time, news of the robbery had spread through the area on WDAY radio broadcasts, according to a newspaper report of the robbery that's framed on the bank's wall. After three hours, Netland freed himself from the baling wire and went to a nearby farm home to get help. Having heard the radio reports -- and being alarmed that he might be one of the robbers -- the home's residents refused to let Netland in, so he had to go on to the next farm to get help.
Graves was caught within a week. Ironically, he was defended by Francis Schroeder, a member of the law firm Schroeder & Schroeder, which was owned by Peter Schroeder, who also represented the bank. Otter Tail County District Judge Thomas Schroeder is the son of Francis Schroeder.
Brown wasn't rounded up until November in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Before he could be extradited to Minnesota, he escaped from jail. He was recaptured nine months later and tried for the crime.
Both were sentenced to prison terms in Minnesota's Stillwater Prison. Ole Netland's son, Jim Netland, later found a State Bank of Audubon bag containing 77 dimes in the family sedan. That $7.70 was the only money ever recovered.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Gerry Gilmour at (701) 241-5560