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They Were Very Drunk


On this date in 1904, two men were standing trial for burglary. Albert Kemper and Joseph Frantz were accused of committing the crime near Overholt. The Ward County Independent had no doubt that the men would be found guilty. The accused were being ably defended by two lawyers, but the newspaper reported that the members of the jury were “on their guard” and were paying close attention. The jury frequently questioned witnesses, a procedure that seems unusual to us today.

The two men went to the house of a Mr. Baldwin near Overholt on the night of September 9. They had shared a quart of bad whiskey and both said they were very drunk. In fact, they said they were so drunk they didn’t know what they were doing. Baldwin was not home, but his sister Icy Logue was staying there with her friend Mrs. Lampson. The women woke up to loud knocking on the door and several pistol shots. They ran down to the basement just before the men burst into the home. Mrs. Logue went upstairs to try and persuade the men to leave. Frantz hit her on the head with the butt of his gun. When the doctor examined her, he said she had numerous bruises and a bad gash on her head.

Kemper and Frantz both insisted they had been too drunk to know what they were doing. The newspaper noted that this was “a very poor defense but better than none.” Kemper said he had a pistol, but he couldn’t have fired because he didn’t have any ammunition. Kemper admitted that he and Frantz forced their way through the door of the house. States Attorney Johnson asked how he could be sure they got in through the door, since they were both so drunk. Perhaps they had climbed in a window. Kemper said they were far too drunk to be able to climb through a window.

The case went to the jury a week later. It took less than four hours to find the men guilty of second degree burglary. The men hoped to be set free, or at most receive lenient sentences, but Judge Palda sentenced them to long terms at hard labor in the penitentiary at Bismarck. Frantz was sentenced to seven years; Kemper to seven years and nine months.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher


Ward County Independent. “Kemper and Frantz Very, Very Drunk.” Minot, ND. 21 December 1904. Page 1.

Ward County Independent. “Kemper and Frantz Drew Seven Years.” 28 December 1904. Minot, ND. 28 December 1904. Page 1.