Bio: Krueger, Frank (Violent Shootout – 1918)

Contact: Ann Stevens

Surnames: Krueger, Ganz, Marks, Kidd, Rasmussen, Vetter, Jensen, Laino, Mattson, O’Connor, Hewett, Rush, Kountz, White, Page

----Source: Neillsville Times (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 9/19/1918

Krueger, Frank (Violent Shoot-out – 14 Sep 1918)

Notorious Krueger Family Shoot to Kill in Resisting Arrest
Draft Evaders Barricade Themselves in Their Home Near Withee and Kill One Man. Mother and One Son Under Arrest But Other Boy Escapes. Battle Held Saturday Nigh

On Saturday afternoon Clark County reverted to Kentucky methods of resisting arrest, when Frank and Ennis Krueger shot and killed an officer of the law. The shooting had been more or less anticipated for several months, for it was known to the authorities that the Krueger boys were in an ugly mood and were bent on making trouble. In fact, Mrs. Louis Krueger had recently made the remark that if the Krueger family were drafted or molested, someone would be killed. However, the insane manner in which the Kruegers resisted arrest came as a surprise and shock to the entire county.

On Thursday Frank and Ennis Krueger, oldest and youngest sons of Mrs. Louis Krueger, failed to register, and on Saturday afternoon Deputy United States Marshals Jos. Ganz and Cyril Marks of Madison drove out to the Krueger farm just south of Withee and Earl Kidd and Peter Rassmussen of Owen, for the purpose of arresting the two slackers. The four men drove up to the Krueger farm in the Kidd car and found both the Kruegers at work in the corn field near the road. The marshals called to the Kruegers and told them that they had come to arrest them, at which both the Kruegers drew revolvers from their pockets and opened fire on the officers. This happened about three o’clock in the afternoon, and the four men immediately drove back to Owen, swore in a number of deputies at Owen and Withee and started out to make another effort to make the arrest. In the meantime, the Krueger boys, together with their mother, had barricaded themselves in their house and awaited the return of the officers. The posse arrived very soon after, but stopped their cars at the Vetter home north of the Krueger house and about 40 rods away.

The return of the officers with deputies was the signal for a general battle and as soon as the posse had gotten out of their cars, the Kruegers opened fire on them. The first round claimed a victim in the person of Harry Jensen, station agent at Withee, who was shot in the chest just below the throat. He was immediately put into an auto and carried to Owen, but died soon after. He leaves a wife and three small children.

The deliberate murder of Jensen was the act which incensed the posse to sterner methods and the battle began now in deep earnest. Additional aid was sent for and the house was surrounded as closely as possible. Emil Laino and Matt Mattson went to the east of the house to stand guard and in crossing a hay field about 50 rods back of the barn, both men came under the guns of the now desperate Kruegers. Laino was shot in the leg and as he lay bleeding on the grass, four more bullets were shot into his prostrate form. Mattson fared better, for as he lay in the grass he was shot through the ankle, but had narrow escapes from death when a bullet struck just in front of his head while another passed over his back so close to his body that it cut his suspenders and trousers. As both Laino and Mattson were within range of the Krueger guns, the two had to lay there under dark, when they were rescued. Laino was rushed to the hospital at Marshfield and is in a very serious condition, but seems to be in a fair way to recovery.

Earlier in the afternoon, however, the posse was successful in wounding Frank Krueger, the oldest son. The two boys went from the house to the barn all the time during the battle, first shooting from the barn at the guarding party in the rear, and then making it hot for the party in front. It was on one of these trips from the barn to the house, that Frank Krueger was wounded. He was shot through the leg and on his way to the house was shot through the other leg. He bled profusely and when the house was finally taken, the lower floor looked like a shambles. So much blood indicates in the minds of some that one of the other boys was also wounded, but this is not definitely known.

Shortly after, Mrs. Krueger appeared in front of the house waving a white flag. She was finally induced to come down the road out of direct range of the Krueger guns, where she was taken to the Vetter home. Later she and Mr. Vetter, the neighbor, went to the Krueger house and determined that the defenders, with the exception of Frank, had slipped away or hidden. Frank Krueger was then taken from the house and he and his mother taken to Owen where they were placed in jail after Frank’s wounds had been cared for. They are now in jail at Eau Claire, prisoners of the United States.

As darkness came on and there came a lull in the battle, Ennis and possibly Leslie Krueger, slipped from the house some time during the night and made their escape through the thin line of guards and are now at liberty. Either this or they are hidden away in a previously prepared hiding place. Whether or not Leslie was at home is not known, but neighbors state that they thought they had seen another man at the Krueger house for several days, but had only seen him at a distance. Leslie and Louis Krueger evaded the draft some months ago, both disappearing from the country and having been found. Certain it was that the oldest and youngest boys were there with their mother and all are now guilty of murder and have life imprisonment ahead of them.

The Neillsville Home Guards were sent to the scene of battle, leaving here Saturday evening about 7 o’clock and arriving at the scene in automobiles about nine o’clock. They stood guard all night and gave battle also to the remaining Krueger. The beautiful farm home was literally shot full of holes, for the guard about the house banged away whenever they thought they saw a Krueger. The house itself is one of the finest homes in the county, modern in every way, and cost about $12,000. When the house was finally evacuated by the Kruegers, the guards took possession Sunday morning at day light and found the home in a terrible state of blood and confusion. When it was definitely known that the defenders had made their escape, a search was made, but no trace could be found, and it is evident that the Krueger boy made his escape during the night. The country is being combed for him and he no doubt will soon be arrested and pay the penalty for his crime. The Home Guards are still on duty there and will no doubt remain to assist the United States Marshal Frank O’Connor and Sheriff Hewett until the other Krueger is taken.

About two months ago, readers of the Times will recall that a considerable amount of ammunition and firearms was taken at the Withee express office by Sheriff Hewett, District Attorney Rush and Court Commissioner Kountz which has been consigned to the Krueger boys. It was shown at that time that the Krueger family was preparing for war, and when Mrs. Krueger and sons were brought to Neillsville they were defiant and Mrs. Krueger made the remark that it attempts to arrest the boys were made, bloodshed would follow. Her prophesy came true in the killing of one man and the wounding of several others. It seemed from Mrs. Krueger’s attitude that they felt that the government had no right to interfere with them, that they would not enter the army for they were opposed to killing their fellow men, and Mrs. Krueger had the idea that the government would draft her four sons and confiscate her property. Mrs. Krueger, who is a widow, and her four sons owned the fine 160-acre-farm near Withee and also considerable other property and were estimated to be worth about $60,000. All this was made in Clark County and none of the Krueger family will now live to enjoy the fruits of their labor and toil for they all face life imprisonment as the result of their insane and misguided attitude.

Later Developments
On Monday afternoon cans of formaldehyde were placed in the Krueger barn as there was a suspicion in the minds of the officers that one or more of the Kruegers was hidden in the building. The formaldehyde fumes “gassed” the barn thoroughly, but did not result in the desired effect. Instead, when the barn doors were opened a fierce fire ensued. Just how the fire started is not known. Some say that a formaldehyde tank tipped over and caused the fire. Others say that the heavy gas uniting with the fresh air outside caused a manner of an explosion. At any rate the barn caught fire and in a short time was a smoking heap of ruins, together with all the contents. As soon as the ashes have cooled sufficiently, it is expected to search the ruins closely for the remains of any of the Kruegers. One thing did develop and that was the explosion of cartridges in the burning building. A supply of ammunition had evidently been hidden in the barn and this exploded when the flames reached it.

In addition to the killing of Jensen and the severe wounding of Laino, several others received minor wounds. Among them were Frank White, Mat Mattson and Agnus Page.

It seems to have been pretty definitely decided that the Kruegers have effectively made their escape, but it does not seem probable that they have been able to get very far. The most plausible theory is that the boys have escaped toward the east and are now being hidden around the farms in territory with which they are thoroughly familiar. It is understood that an organized search will be made through the town of Green Grove, Longwood and vicinity by the state guards and to this end it is understood that the home guard companies from Marshfield, Wausau, Colby, Stanley and Eau Claire may be brought down to assist in the search.

When one reads the letters from the soldier boys, they are at a complete loss to understand the references to such innumerable numbers of “cooties”. The various rumors, stories and fabrications which have been flying to and from the Krueger battle grounds are certainly as numerous as the famed soldier “cooties”.

Several slackers have been rounded up in the county as a result of the search for the Kruegers. Tuesday evening a young man was picked up by members of the Colby Guard south of Greenwood and he was turned over to the United States Marshal. It was thought that this young man might be a Krueger as he had a couple revolvers on his person. Two piano men who visit Neillsville regularly, were also picked up for failure to fill out questionnaires and are now in jail. It behooves every person to be sure to carry his registration card with him, even when he goes to bed, for he knows not when he will be stopped and made to show his card.



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