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Attempted Bank Raid
1876 was a year of great change in America’s history. America celebrated its 100th birthday with the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, George Custer was killed at the Battle of Little Big Horn, and Rutherford B. Hayes beat out Samuel Tilden for the presidency. Tilden won the popular vote but Hayes won the Electoral vote and became the 19th president of the United States.
Northfield in 1876 was a growing Southern Minnesota community. By this time the town had two colleges and saw the completion of a railroad through town. The town also had many prominent business leaders and a healthy bank. It was the bank that would draw the attention of America’s most notorious bank and train robbers: the James-Younger Gang.
In late August 1876 the James-Younger Gang, consisting of Jesse and Frank James; Bob, Jim, and Cole Younger; Clell Miller; Charlie Pitts; and Bill Stiles headed for Minnesota. After arriving in the state, the gang divided into scouting parties of two, three, and four men. Looking for possible sites to execute their plans, they considered banks in Minneapolis, Red Wing, St. Peter, and St. Paul, as well as Madelia, Mankato, Lake Crystal, St. James, Garden City, and Northfield.
On September 4 the gang rode into Mankato to rob the 1st National Bank of Mankato (the gang’s first choice). However, the gang decided to abort the robbery and headed for their second choice, Northfield. Little did the gang know that this decision would end all of their careers as outlaws and result in the deaths of three gang members and two Northfield citizens.
Read more about the attempted robbery …