This is a guest column by NHS Executive Director, Hayes Scriven that will appear in the Northfield News on September 3.
“YOU ARE THE CASHIER; NOW OPEN THE SAFE, YOU $&# %@&* SON OF A &!$#*.”
Image that those are the last few words you hear. Well, those were the words that Joseph Lee Heywood heard during the failed robbery of 1876. Image what your response would be to that. Heywood’s was “It’s on a time-lock and cannot be opened now!”
Shortly after that, Mr. Heywood was hit over the head with a pistol, had a knife run across his throat and ultimately a gun put to his temple and the trigger pulled, ending his life. But at every point during the robbery, he refused to open the vault for a cut-throat from Missouri.
The story of Joseph Lee Heywood is an amazing one and inspires me in my job as Director of the Northfield Historical Society and as a volunteer on the Defeat of Jesse James Days committee. Heywood was a volunteer and loved this community. He volunteered at his church, he worked with City of Northfield and Carleton as their treasurer. Not to mention he was a Civil War veteran who lived through some of the worst battles of the war. He loved Northfield, that is why he and his wife decided to settle here.
I always think about the bravery of Heywood and the determination that he exhibited in a moment of ultimate fear. I also think of the bravery and the willingness of the other townspeople who took up arms and acted so calmly under pressure.
So when people ask me why I volunteer for the Defeat of Jesse James Days, I always state that I try to emulate my work and the way I live my life the way the townspeople of 1876 did. I try to watch out for my fellow person, care for people in their time of need, act appropriately in certain situations and give back to the community that I love.
That is what the upcoming celebration is about. It is not about a carnival, parade, car show, giddy up horsey races or even the amazing food. It is about celebrating what is great about Northfield! So join me in celebrating Northfield this year, September 7-11, and let’s honor the people that have made this community great!