Home History Did This 19th-Century Man Go Too Far to Protect … a Dam?

Did This 19th-Century Man Go Too Far to Protect … a Dam?

by Enochadmin
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Born in Winneconne, Wis., on April 3, 1861, John F. Deitz (or Dietz) is remembered alternately as an outlaw or people hero in state lore as a result of his yearslong land rights dispute with the Chippewa Lumber & Growth Co.

In 1904, he started demanding a toll for logs sluiced down the Thornapple River via the present Cameron Dam, which abutted his property southeast of Winter, in northwest Wisconsin. Contesting his possession declare to the dam, the lumber firm sicced the legislation on Deitz. The landowner efficiently resisted arrest for six years, keeping off lawmen and firm males alike at gunpoint, although a deputy and two of Deitz’s personal youngsters have been wounded throughout varied confrontations.

The press largely portrayed Deitz as a typical man preventing company greed, whereas others noticed him as little greater than a trigger-happy lawbreaker. Issues got here to a head on Oct. 8, 1910, when a sheriff’s posse surrounded the household residence, and a gun battle ensued. Deputy Oscar Harp was killed earlier than Deitz surrendered.

“John appears very confident, though behind bars,” says Tony Sapienza, who purchased this undated actual picture postcard a number of years in the past. “I discovered the little woman (his daughter?) fascinating. Additionally observe that a part of the pinkie on his proper hand is gone, and his left hand seems to be in a solid.”

Charged with homicide, Deitz was tried, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. In 1921, Wisconsin Governor John J. Blaine, bowing to public strain, pardoned the “Defender of Cameron Dam.” Deitz died in Milwaukee three years later. The household farmstead and dam have lengthy since disappeared.  

this text first appeared in wild west journal

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