Murder at Buffalo Creek

Murder at Buffalo Creek

May, 1897:

It was spring, a time of rejuvenation.  Winter had passed and the thaw was all but over, leading people to look forward to the summer ahead.  Yet, as the trees were beginning to fully leaf out, the grass was beginning to green up and grow tall, and the smell of the thawed out earth rose to the air; some remnants of winters charge were still left about the land.  One such place was north of Brownton on a bridge that traversed Buffalo Creek.

The winter ice was treacherous that year, pushing, pulling, and twisting the bridge to contort it into an impassable mess.  This, of course, became something of a spectacle for people in the area.  On the morning of May 11th, two school children did just that as they passed the warped bridge on their way to school.  As children do, they playfully walked around the banks of the river, likely throwing stones into the water, kicking up dead leaves on the ground, and making merry as they went on their way to school.  Their playful glee was soon interrupted, however, as they laid their eyes on something that no child should see.  Laying face down in the shallow water along the banks of Buffalo Creek, was the body of a man.

The children screamed, ran as fast as they could to the school, and alerted their teacher, Miss Sarah McAdams.  Miss McAdams ran to the scene, followed closely by her school children.  When they reached the body, however, the teacher fainted; leaving the children huddled in fear.  A few of the kids ran to a nearby farmhouse for help.  Soon a group of locals formed a party and ran to the scene.  The men waded into the river and pulled the dead man from the water.  While doing so they made a ghastly discovery, his throat had been slit from ear to ear.

As a result of the discovery, a small ad-hoc jury was assembled to address the situation and decipher what happened to the man.  After a bit of investigating, they believed to have identified the man as John Boehn, and ruled that he had committed suicide by means of cutting his own throat.  For all purposes, the case was considered closed.

So they thought…

Years later, a man lay on his death bed in a Minneapolis hospital.  The man’s name is unknown today, but he confessed to something that had been eating at his conscience for years.  Apparently, in May of 1897, this unnamed man had encountered John Boehn near Brownton where he learned that Boehn was carrying a large sum of money.  He told Boehn that he was a barber, and that Boehn needed a shave.  Boehn sat down on the banks of the river, thinking he was about to get a shave.  Instead, the unnamed man, standing behind Boehn, slit his throat and made away with the money.

WithBoehn’s money in hand, this unnamed murderer conducted some business in a nearby town, and remained undetected in McLeod County for some time after.  Six years later, while lying on his deathbed, he would recount the murder at Buffalo Creek.



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