Escape from Al Capone - Hideout Refuge in Ely, Minnesota

This is a true story.


What does the State of Minnesota, the words escape and refuge, the gangster Al Capone and the City of Ely have in common? Stay tuned to hear about the spunk of two people that my grandparents first met and got to know many years ago.

First some background...

This all first started back in the days when Al Capone's gang solicited payments from store owners in Chicago for "protection."

This was sheer blackmail and the store owners knew it but most felt pressured to give in rather than incur the wrath and/or destruction that might take place if they refused.


Looking across the lake at Hibbard's Lodge from Keithan's cabin.

Looking across the lake at Hibbard's Lodge from Keithan's cabin.
Looking across the lake at Hibbard's Lodge from Keithan's cabin. | Source

Al Capone's 1929 Philadelphia, Pa, mug shot

Al Capone's 1929 Philadelphia, Pa, mug shot
Al Capone's 1929 Philadelphia, Pa, mug shot | Source

Al Capone gang


George and Minn Hibbard were the proprietors of a store in Chicago and when they were approached by Capone gang members and ordered to pay protection money, they refused!


Long story short, one business day some gang members came into their store and blasted them with bullets. This was their first warning. Minn was injured but George was pretty severely wounded. Often fires would be started in those days and businesses would burn to the ground for stubborn business owners who refused to make payments.


When exiting the store, the Hibbard's were threatened by the shooters that if they testified against them in a court of law, they would not survive the experience.


No one...even Al Capone gangsters...were about to threaten this most spunky of couples!

Testify they did, and the gangsters went to jail.

But...the Hibbard's knew that their lives were now endangered and they decided to leave Chicago behind them.

Winter in Ely, Minnesota

Ely, Minnesota in the winter
Ely, Minnesota in the winter | Source

Their new life begins...


Fleeing for their lives, the Hibbard's decided to get as far away into a remote area where they would probably not be followed for the threatened retribution of testifying against Capone gang members.


According to what they told my grandparents and later, us, they eventually made their way to Ely, Minnesota.


Gravel and dirt roads leading back into their place (as I got to see in 1967) did not yet exist back then.


Supposedly they had to carry their belongings and do some portaging (walking overland with their canoe and possessions between waterways) and finally settled near a beautiful lakeside location that would later become their home and eventual business.


The first winter they lived in a tent!

Cabin and lake in Ely, Minnesota

Partial view of front of Hibbard's log cabin in the woods
Partial view of front of Hibbard's log cabin in the woods | Source
Partial view of Hibbard's home
Partial view of Hibbard's home | Source
Another view of the house
Another view of the house | Source
The view from the living room window overlooking the lake
The view from the living room window overlooking the lake | Source
View from a boat on the lake looking back at the Lodge.  See the canoes on the bank of the lake?
View from a boat on the lake looking back at the Lodge. See the canoes on the bank of the lake? | Source
Inside the Stuga...George and Minn's cabin.
Inside the Stuga...George and Minn's cabin. | Source

Fast forward...


One summer between college sessions I got to drive Minn Hibbard up to her home in Ely from McAllen, Texas.


Looking at a map of the mid-section of the United States, this trip traversed roadways from about as far south (near Mexico) as one can get to the opposite northern extreme.


Primarily waterways and spits of land and islands separate Minnesota from Canada in this northern part of the country.

Her husband, George, had already died and Hibbard's Lodge...a deluxe fishing resort...had already been sold. What remained was the log cabin home that had been built on the banks of Moose Lake.


Many "Finlanders" as Minn called them (people coming from Finland) did the wonderful construction work in years past building and designing the log cabins, lodges and many other structures using the native trees and rocks found in that part of the country.

Her home had the most unusual and beautiful naturally curving wooden railing leading up to the second floor. It had been crafted from one branch of a local tree. Sadly, I no longer remember the type of wood...but the beauty of it all polished up remains within my memory.

Naturally I got to see the Lodge and just as her log-cabin constructed home, the Lodge was of a similar design...only much larger, of course. The massive stone fireplace in the Lodge was gorgeous and would have warmed many bodies through the years when lit and glowing. The smaller one in her home was also inviting and she was well supplied with wood for the warming and crackling fires.


During the days, I hiked in the woods or took her boat out onto the lake and rowed to my hearts content while singing. (Hope the landlubbers liked my cater-walling! Ha!)

It was a lovely glimpse into the life of these folks who had worked hard and rebuilt their lives after their Chicago experience. They had developed a regular clientele for their Hibbard's Lodge. Because of the nature of their work and the weather in Ely, Minnesota, they had winters to relax.


While vacationing, that is where they had met my grandparents (also vacationing) in McAllen, Texas. When they all retired down there years later, the friendships were maintained.

Other images viewed near the Hibbard's home in Ely, Minnesota

Source
Saw this while walking through the woods near her home
Saw this while walking through the woods near her home | Source
Looking back at the shore while out on her boat one day
Looking back at the shore while out on her boat one day | Source

Kawishiwi Falls - Ely, Minnesota

The beautiful area around Ely!

The Red God's Call

Source

To the right is the back of a brochure from Hibbard's Lodge. On the front the following was found:

"HIBBARD'S Lodge

ELY, MINNESOTA

ALL AMERICAN PLAN

ACCOMMODATIONS ARE COMPLETELY MODERN (With hot and cold water showers and lavatory, and flush toilets)

Deluxe --Per person per day--$12.00

No weekly rates

Boat and maid Service Included

Children under 8 half price

ALSO STEAM BATH (Sauna) with SHOWERS"

In addition to the above, it was triple A (AAA) approved. For an extra charge one could hire guides for a charge of $14.00 per day. Motors for the boats were also an extra charge from $3.50 to $5.00 per day or $21.00 to $31.00 per week (obviously depending upon the size of the motor.)

You can tell from these prices just how old this brochure must have been when the Hibbard's were in business.

Today there are many Lodges in that part of the country and most of them are probably still of a rustic nature that would blend in with the natural scenery found there.

View to west - northwest from Gin Hill - Moose Lake - Canadian Border Bay

View to west - northwest from Gin Hill - Moose Lake - Canadian Border Bay
View to west - northwest from Gin Hill - Moose Lake - Canadian Border Bay | Source

Moose Lake in the distance (obviously taken from the air)

Moose Lake in the distance (obviously taken from the air)
Moose Lake in the distance (obviously taken from the air) | Source

George and Minn Hibbard holding fish caught at their Lodge in Ely, Minnesota.

George and Minn Hibbard holding fish caught at their Lodge in Ely, Minnesota.
George and Minn Hibbard holding fish caught at their Lodge in Ely, Minnesota. | Source

Have you ever visited the area around Ely, Minnesota?

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Northern Pike on a fly rod - Ely, Minnesota


As a side note, when one of my brothers became an Eagle Scout, his boy scout troop went canoeing in the waters around Ely, Minnesota.


This is a wonderland up there consisting of the Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. There are multiple trail-heads and canoe portage sites.


Crystal clear waters and unpolluted air are a delight to the senses. There are over 1,500 miles in which one can canoe on waterways consisting of 1,000 lakes and streams. Numerous campsites are available.


Wildlife is abundant.


The population of people remains small.


It is no wonder to me that the Hibbard's not only sought refuge in Ely, Minnesota to escape Al Capone's gangsters but that they absolutely fell in love with the place. If you are looking for a pristine area of the country in which to visit...this just might be the place you are seeking!

Memories of Ely, Minnesota

Ely, Minnesota

A markerEly, Minnesota -
Ely, MN 55731, USA
[get directions]

© 2009 Peggy Woods

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Comments are welcomed. 81 comments

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 13 months ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi Au fait,

Interesting that you grew up living so near one of Al Capone's lieutenants and that your dad was once offered a job. Good thing that he was not lured by money alone and turned it down. All of your lives may have turned out very different had he accepted that offer! Of course he may have ended up dead or in jail!

Wisconsin and Minnesota are both beautiful states among others. This country of ours is jam packed with beauty! Thanks for the shares.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 13 months ago from North Texas

Gorgeous photos! I grew up in central Wisconsin not that far from the north and it's similar in WI as it is in MN. Well, you lived not far from me, so you know what I'm talking about.

Anyway, Al Capone had one of his lieutenants living less than a mile from where I grew up out in the sticks. My dad talked about how he was offered a job working for him and turned it down. There was a black-top road by our farm, but DeGeorge lived on a dirt road that T'd off it to the west. Not sure I spelled the name right, but they would come for weekends from Chicago and sometimes a couple of weeks vacation. They would drive by with their huge Cadillacs (bigger than most apartments nowadays).

Voted up and "BUI. Pinned to Awesome HubPages, and will share with followers.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 19 months ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi Mike Fass,

Your family history is certainly intertwined with George and Minn Hibbard and the Hibbard's Lodge. No wonder you are so interested in this subject. Thanks for your comments.


mike fass 19 months ago

I forgot to say my dad met grace mcmongle at the resort fell in love had six kids and lived to 93


mike fass 19 months ago

As I remember my mother went to Chicago with them maybe as a housekeeper or nanny as she went to the century of progress with them!


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