Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Only Known Gun Battle in Brantwood, WI

Jim Palmquist showing the 38-55 Winchester (used by John Norro
in the Brantwood  "Gun Battle") to Greg Powers.  Greg is a descendent
of  Mr. Wertenen.  In those days men used their guns for putting
food on the table and were good marksmen.  We think they were
not trying to cause harm to one another but just "letting off steam".

Art Palmquist was always interested in the story and a friend of
his acquired the rifle.  His friend used it for deer hunting and sold
it to Art for $20 which was a good value in 1940.

Gun Battle in Brantwood

by Jim Palmquist

It started out as a simple business arrangement between two
farmers that lived across the town road from each other.  Both
were of Finnish descent and their names were Mr. Wertanen and
Mr. Norro.

Not an unusual deal which went something like this. Mr. Norro
was to harvest hay on the Wertanen farm and store it there in
in a properly made stack.  In the winter he would transport it
across the road to his farm to feed his cattle.  He would pay
for each load of hay as he hauled it home.

So, when summer came the hay got made and stored.  And
winter came and Mr. Norro came after "his" hay.  The problem
was he had no money.  Mr. Wertanen let him take a few loads
in the beginning.  He then stated that he had been planning on
the income from the sale of the hay and  "no money, no hay".

Mr. Norro's cows were getting hungry and as the story goes
there was some verbal exchange between the neighbors.  Most
accounts agree it was Mr. Norro who fired the first shot with
his lever action Winchester 38-55 rifle.  Mr. Wertanen responded
with return fire.

And according to the best known information the battle lasted
on and off for most of a day.  The high point being when Mr.
Norro held his cap up with a stick and Mr. Wertanen fired a
round thru it.  (or was it the other way around)

But this was not the end of it.  There was a third farmer who lived
down the road a bit.  No one remembers his name.  He wrote a
letter to the Price County Sheriff up in Phillips.  The sheriff came
down on the train to Brantwood and hired a person to take him
to the site with a horse and buggy.

Both farmers were called to the middle of the road and the sheriff
spoke to them saying whatever sheriffs in those days said.   He
must have said all the right things because this was the end of
the only known gun battle in Brantwood.

NOTE from Jim Palmquist: The information for this was obtained from Paul Heikkinen,Sr and Carl and William (Willie) Heikkinen along with my father Art Palmquist.