Skip to main content

Escape From Al Capone Gangsters: The Story of the Hibbard's Hideout Refuge in Ely, MN

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

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

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

True Story

What do 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 spunkiness of two people that my grandparents first met and got to know many years ago.

This story all started back in the days when Al Capone's gang solicited payments from store owners in Chicago for "protection." It was sheer blackmail, and the store owners knew it, but most felt pressured to give in rather than incur the wrath and destruction that might occur if they refused.

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!

One business day, some gang members came into their store and blasted them with bullets. This shooting was their first warning. Minn was injured, but George was pretty severely wounded. Often, gang members would start fires, and businesses would burn to the ground for stubborn business owners who refused to make payments.

When exiting the store, the shooters told the Hibbard's that if they testified against them in a court of law, they would not survive the experience. No one, even the Al Capone gangsters, could threaten this most spunky of couples! Testify they did, and the gangsters went to jail. But George and Minn Hibbard knew that their lives were now endangered, and they decided to leave Chicago behind them.

Al Capone's 1929 Philadelphia, Pa, mug shot

Al Capone's 1929 Philadelphia, Pa, mug shot

Their New Life Begins

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

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!

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

Many "Finlanders," as Minn called them (people coming from Finland), did the 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 unique and beautiful naturally curving wooden railing leading up to the second floor. It was 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 like her log cabin home, the Lodge was of a similar design. 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. Sometimes I took her boat out onto the lake and rowed to my heart's content while singing.

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 seasonal 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 and other friends who were also vacationing in McAllen, Texas. When they all retired down there years later, they maintained their friendships.

Below is a photo from a brochure from Hibbard's Lodge.

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.

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 wonderland up there consists 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 fell in love with the place. If you are looking for a pristine area of the country to visit, this just might be the place you are seeking!

Ely, Minnesota


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 10, 2020:

Hi Mike,

It would be fun to be able to see that video. Thank you for thinking of me. It is amazing how many people have viewed this article through the years. I hope you are faring well during this pandemic. Stay safe!

mhlong on October 10, 2020:

Hi again, Peggy. Unfortunately I can't answer Sarah's questions, but I just finished looking at a video on the internet, about 40 minutes discussing the history of Hibbard's Lodge and Moose Lake, I assume by a Kent Worley. It was made in 2015, 5 years ago, and it's a shame I didn't see it sooner. I'm sort in contact now with Kent through another person. It was interesting in that they got many things right about some of the history, but some things not quite how I was told by Art and Min, my grandparents, and my mother all who were there through a lot of it (and some actually written down in diaries that my grandfather kept). And it was sort of interesting that no mention of this website was made at the time. Anyway, I just got back a copy of that video I made back in 2011 (and had lost the master), so if you're interested (it's about 40 minutes with lots of pictures some of which have been used here), I'll send you a copy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 26, 2019:

Hopefully, someone can answer these questions from Sarah who contacted me directly via HubPages. Here is what she wrote:

Do you know who currently owns the log cabin?

I own a liquor store in Ely that Big Tom Brown rented from my grandparents..from 1946 to 1952. I will be transforming it back to the era and making it a destination to visit. Do you know if the Hibbard's and Tom Brown were acquainted? Please let me know...thank you. I believe I've been in that cabin on Moose Lake. And have pictures...

Another question, have you ever heard of anyone talk of the lake called " gangster lake"? Out the Fernberg or up the Echo trail..?

And have you read the book Secret Partners... by Tim Mahoney..super good about the Mobsters coming north..from here to Crane Lk... Also the book John Dillinger Slept Here is excellent too.

If someone reading this can answer her questions, I am sure that she would appreciate it.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 04, 2018:

Hi Char,

I am glad that your question was answered by Mike. He was able to fill me in on information that I never knew and some of these photos also came from him with his permission to use them. Thanks for your interest in this article.

Char on July 04, 2018:

Thanks for Mike getting back in on the conversation. I'm sure this will answer my sister's question about Bob. This is the one she was asking about.

Thanks again and thanks for the memories restored.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 23, 2018:

Hi Mike,

I was hoping that you would check in and see this question from several people who wanted to know about Robert or Bob. Hopefully that answered the question for them as to what might have happened to him. Hope you are doing well.

mhlong from Southern Michigan on June 23, 2018:

Oh, I should also mention that I know of 6 children that George and his 1st wife had (he had none with Mina that I know of), none of them are named Robert. And I am in contact with one of George's grandchildren.

mhlong from Southern Michigan on June 23, 2018:

Hi, again, this is Mike Long (or rather Michael Hibbard Long), grandson of Lewis Hibbard. Both George (we called him Uncle Art) and Warren Hibbard were my grandfathers brothers. Warren was Robert's father . My mother called him Bobby and his sister Helen, Dodie, as she and they were cousins and spent time together as children. Bobby passed away around 2004 and his wife sometime later. They lived in the Cleveland area but Bobby moved to California in his later years. They had two children, Warren and Roberta. My mother kept up a correspondence with Roberta and I have a picture of two of her from about 15-20 years ago. My mother passed away 3 years ago and I contacted Roberta but I never heard back. I also contacted Dodie's daughter but I also never heard back. I hope that's the Robert being asked about, but I can't tell if it's also the 'Bob' in the later message. Best I can offer.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 21, 2018:

Hi Arlene Krause Childers,

Hopefully some of the people that experienced living, visiting or working up there and/or were related to George Hibbard will come back and see your question and be able to answer it. I hope you get an answer.

Arlene Krause Childers on June 21, 2018:

Hi there I worked there in 1945. 46 and 47 and I know the girls from Alexandria. I was wondering if you know the whereabouts of Bob? Thank you

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 20, 2018:

Hi Char G,

Growing up in Ely must have been wonderful. It is such a beautiful area! That appleless apple pie recipe is an old one. I remember eating it and it really did taste a lot like apple pie. If you want the recipe just Google Ritz Mock Apple Pie. It is easy to make.

Char G on June 20, 2018:

Born and raised in Ely. It was a wonderful place to grow up. I am the youngest of 6 with 4 of us still living. The one recipe I recall hearing about was an appleless apple pie. The Hibbards did a great job of this recipe. I don't recall ever having it. I would get to go with my dad to visit Mom on Sundays. There was a strike in the mines so that is why Mom was working there.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 20, 2018:

Hi Char,

The fact that so many of your family members worked at the Hibbard's Lodge is interesting. Did you live in Ely, Minnesota or somewhere nearby?

Char G. on June 19, 2018:

I just found out that one of my 4 brothers also did work there. He of course took care of boats, etc.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 17, 2018:

Hello Char G,

That is interesting that both your sister and mother worked for the Hibbards at their lodge in the 1940s. I am glad that they enjoyed the people and the food. As to knowing what happened to Robert Hibbard, I have no idea as I never knew him. Perhaps other people reading this might be able to help you.

Char G on June 17, 2018:

Both my sister and mother worked for the Hibbards in the 40s. They loved working there meeting so many great people and the food was wonderful. Does anyone know what ever happened to Robert Hibbard, the son?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 10, 2018:

Hi Lynn Keck,

That is interesting that your grandmother was Minn's sister. I know the Hibbard's Lodge was sold but I am assuming that their home might still be there. It was a beauty! Nice to hear from you.

Lynn Keck on June 10, 2018:

What a great article. Growing up I heard this story a lot from my parents and aunt and uncle. My Grandmother was Minnie’s sister and she lived in Alexandria, MN. The pics are great, too bad nothing remains, I never did get to go there. I had forgotten a lot of the details until I read your article. I now live in NM and happen to have some Capone descendents in my town!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 07, 2017:

Hi Colleen,

I contacted Mike Long and gave him your email address. George Hibbard was his great uncle. He also has a distant cousin who was a grandson of George Hibbard. Mike told me that he would be contacting you as well as his cousin regarding your request. Hopefully this will help in your search. Thanks for leaving a comment. Please let me know if this works. Best wishes!

Colleen L. on November 06, 2017:

My mother worked at Hibbard's Lodge around 1947 as a teenager. She has many memories and many photographs of visitors to the lodge and other young men and women she worked with there. My mother and I would love to get in touch with some other former employees (families) or relatives of the Hibbards. Thanks for your post.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 12, 2015:

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.

C E Clark from North Texas on August 11, 2015:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 16, 2015:

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 on February 16, 2015:

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

mike fass on February 16, 2015:

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!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 04, 2015:

Hi Mike Fass,

Hopefully your mother had a good experience working there. I used to know someone who also worked at Hibbard's Lodge who retired in McAllen. Apparently Minn was a taskmaster who expected perfection from her workers. The woman I met had a good experience and later spoke highly of her experience and was friends with George and Minn in McAllen.

mike fass on February 04, 2015:

My mother worked for them in the 1930s and have a few pics

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 30, 2015:

Hi Don,

It makes sense that many of the people living in that area would know one another. I'll bet that your fireplace is a beauty. I remember the beauty of the one in George and Minn's cabin as well as the lodge. Real craftsmanship involved!

Don Beans on January 29, 2015:

We have a cabin on Jasper lake that we own that also has a fireplace built by 'Rock-a-Day' Brown. Many of those names are still well known Ely names.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 28, 2015:

Hi Mike,

It must really be fun for you knowing so many of those names in the book. No wonder you are enjoying it so much! :))

mhlong from Southern Michigan on January 27, 2015:

Just an update on Mike Hillman's book. Today, it would be stories of Old Ely, but even when he wrote the original articles it was fairly current. I read with great interest, of course, the chapter 'Almost Older Than Time'. The cabin my grandfather had built, the stone work was done by John Brown, the general contractors were Tjader and Jonas. I found some other names in the construction - Hauling by Zorman, Lampert Lumber, Korrke Lumber, Fin Labor and board, Percy Foreman. Others who worked on the cabin - Tony Palcher, Vince Vessel (and his son who fished a lot with my younger brother). Barry Bain stopped by once or twice, and my grandparents had Don Beland guide them to Dorothy's. Spent time in town at Buccowich's and the IGA Foodliner. It was 1961 I met Mike Vosburgh and Chris, I was 14.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 11, 2015:

Hi Donald,

Mike will be particularly interested in this since he spent so much time up there. Thanks!

Donald Beans on January 10, 2015:

Good Evening from the cold Northwoods. Vosburgh Custom Cabins located on Moose Lake has a photo framed as a picture of Austrian George, and that of another old woodsman of yesteryear- Gunner Graves of that same era. Gunner was a lumberman and guide of that period. You may also recall the native American family, the Chosa's who lived on Basswood Lake.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 09, 2015:

Hi Mike,

This book would really strike a chord with you since you spent so much time up there and knew many of the names of people and the area so well. It is wonderful that you learned of it because of what Donald wrote on this hub. Makes me smile! :))

mhlong from Southern Michigan on January 08, 2015:

Peggy - and Donald,

I purchased the book, and am glad I did. Mike Hillman's stories are mostly about the times in the 1970's and after, but so far, I'm familiar with the locations and even some of the names he writes about. I'm guessing this book is a compilation of articles he wrote for the newspaper or little talks he gave on the radio. Sort of a Garrison Keillor of the Arrowhead/Boundary Waters area. Chapter 3 is about the cover picture of the fireplace, a little background, and reminiscences of his interaction with Tanglewood, which is what Hibbard's Lodge became. The story really picks up after George and Mina sold the Lodge, but it pretty much follows the story I'm familiar with. He mentions walking the 'old path'. I walked it many times. Thanks for the suggestion.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 19, 2014:

Hi Mike,

Don should really like this extra information if he comes back to read this. I am so glad that I had that experience of driving Minn up to Ely and spending time with her that one summer. My parents and grandparents visited up there at different times and one of my brothers who later became an Eagle Scout took a boy scout trip up there and did some canoeing and portaging between lakes, etc. Good memories!

I have forgotten their names, but a doctor who owned a cabin one or more over from the Hibbard's towards the lodge drove me to the airport that year for my return to McAllen. I had driven Minn's car up there for the summer. At the time they owned a Lincoln Continental car which impressed me. Ha!

Prior to my return to Texas, Minn had me cook a pork chop dinner for them at the Stuga. She liked my cooking and that dish in particular. I cooked from a young age always assisting my mother in the kitchen and took over making entire meals in my early teens on occasion.

mhlong from Southern Michigan on December 18, 2014:

Don, you are stirring up old memories. If you scroll down some ways, into the older comments, you'll find more of my story, but suffice it to say that I was up at Moose Lake especially in the early and mid-1960's for a number of summers spending anywhere from 10-45 days at a time. My grandparents were Lewis and Becky Hibbard and they built one of the cabins around the bay to the west from Hibbard's Lodge. I can't give you an exact count from the old foot bridge, but it was 2 to the south from George and Mina's cabin (called The Stuga). My grandparents sold it around 1965-6 and I came up there for week in 1967 and then again for half a day in 1969 and then around 1987 for a 3 day canoe trip that my brothers (and a cousin) and I took from Don Beland's up to Knife Lake, portaging over to Carp, back down to Prairie Portage and into Basswood a ways, and then back to Moose. We three brothers spent around 630 total days on the shores of Moose Lake in our pre adult years. When I was around 15 (1962 or 3), I met (I can barely remember 1st names and not last name at all) Chris, who was my age and was staying about 2 cabins to the west from Kirk's, closer to 'Gin Hill' or Inspiration Point or whatever others called it. (my grandparents and I often had dinner at Kirk's because they were very friendly). He knew Mike (I recognized the name Vosburgh immediately), and we 3 hung around together for several weeks. My grandfather had an AlumaCraft with a Johnson 10HP outboard and we would zoom around Moose Lake and up through the chain. I didn't know Mike as well, but we did hang out. Sad to hear about his passing. We knew Bernie Carlson, knew Bill Romm a little, and my grandparents knew many cabin owners, the Fredrickson's, Mrs. Soukup, Longsters, others. My grandparents around this time hired Don to guide them up to Dorothy Molter's, who we happened to visit on that canoe trip, just months before her passing. Lots of stories, lots of memories and good times. I made a 40 minute video combining some movie film, slides and photos from that time, telling the story of my grandparents and the cabin. Several of my cousins, grandchildren of George (we called him Uncle Art because his name was George Arthur Hibbard) have also come on here, cousins I knew little of that I'm now in contact with. Thanks for posting and sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 18, 2014:

Hi Donald,

I'll send an email to Mike because he may well know some of these people you mentioned. It is a small world! Thanks for the added information.

Donald Beans on December 18, 2014:

Hi Mike and Peggy, unbelievable but Mike Hillman has just recently passed away at age 62. I believe the Mike you worked with at Kirk's Lodge was Mike Vosburgh. His grandparents Burley and Ruth Anne ran Kirk's Lodge in the 60's. Now you're getting into more history and adding me into the mix. Mike Vosburgh was instrumental in getting my career up and running. Kirks was bought out by the USFS and Mike started Vosburgh Custom Cabins on the big cliff overlooking Moose Lake, just down (east) from Hibbards. I took over Mike's guiding in the mid 1980's-early 1990's. My business grew to where I started my own guide/ outfitting and now have lodging in Ely and cabin rentals on Jasper Lake and an easement on Moose Lake with my towboat. Mike V. died suddenly at age 56 in 2004 and his wife, Betsy V. still operates Vosburgh Custom Cabins along with Mike's son, William. It is a wonderful operation. Kirk's is all gone, no sign of ever being a resort except for the well head. People you probably remember that I worked (guided ) for, or have come to know and became friends with some - Don Beland, Bernie Carlson, Knife lake Pete Cosme, Julian Jones, Robert (Jeep) Latourell, John Herrick. Some are still around and some, their families have taken over their businesses. Moose Lake is still the dropping off point for BWCA/ Quetico Park fishing trips.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 17, 2014:

Hi Mike,

Will read that obituary regarding Mr. Hillman. Thanks for leaving it. Wonder where that book can be found? I had not yet started my search for it.

mhlong from Southern Michigan on December 15, 2014:

Hi, Don, I'm Mike, great grandnephew of George Hibbard, and I've supplied some of the pictures and comments here. It's really great to hear from someone still up there. Thanks for pointing out Mike Hillman's book, I'll probably purchase a copy. Although when I saw the posts here, I thought I'd look into Mike Hillman a little more as he is definitely from my generation. I knew a Mike who worked at Kirk's Lodge in the 60's, about that age. Anyway, I did a search, and sad to say, came across Mike Hillman's obituary - which was 4 days ago!

Sort of a sad part of getting old, people you want to meet or maybe reacquaint with are now passing away. Anyway, thanks for the info.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 14, 2014:

Hi Don,

Thank you! I will search for it.

Don Beans on December 13, 2014:

Take a look at Mike Hillman's book titled 'Stories of Old Ely and the Lake Country', the book cover is the stone fireplace of Hibbard's Lodge.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 08, 2014:

Greetings Don Beans,

It is nice to know that the gorgeous fireplace is still intact amidst the woods. I am so glad that I got to see it when the lodge was still functioning and when I was staying with Minn Hibbard at her cabin.

Thank you for adding to the information in this hub. You must derive great pleasure from your chosen career. That is such a spectacular part of the country by way of natural scenery.

Don Beans on December 08, 2014:

S Forest Service left the lodge's fireplace intact and it sits in it's grandour all alone in the pine, aspen and birch forest today, as a marker for one of yesteryear's old time resorts. I walked through all the cabins and saw the craftmanship of the log walls, I believe the years were 84, 85, 86, and 87, before full teardown began. I have guided guests (my chosen career) that stayed at Hibbards as children. I never recall it being in operation and I arrived in Ely in '83. This spring will mark my 33rd. year living off the Fernberg Road, and guiding wilderness paddlers and fisherfolks. Hibbard's Creek still flows naturally, there's many beaver, otter, mink, and muskrats there. There's alot of history here, Hibbard's lodge, Kirk's Lodge, Anderson's Lodge, Canadian Border Lodge, etc... all of them gone now, but several more resorts and outfitters still ply their services from Moose Lake.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 25, 2013:

Hi Mike,

Thanks for answering Wendy M's question as to what happened to Hibbard's Lodge. Although the land is now pristine and has gone back to nature with the forest service owning it and no trace of the lodge now will live on in memory for those who were fortunate enough to have visited it or even those who worked there. I'm glad that I got to see it once. It was beautiful and rustic. Thank you so much for the update! :))

mhlong from Southern Michigan on May 25, 2013:

Here's a brief history of Hibbard's Lodge after George and Mina sold it.

It was called Tanglewood for awhile.

The main lodge burned down sometime in the 1970's or early 80's.

It went bankrupt. (I believe)

The Forest Service bought it dismantled all the remaining buildings, dock, everything. (they did the same thing to a lodge east of there called Kirk's. It's also totally gone with no clue as to its existence)

One of the remaining cabins (Eagle's nest the farthest east) was moved west across a foot bridge, which crossed Hibbard's Creek and led to a number of private cabins as well as George and Mina's Stuga. The three small housekeeping cabins on the west side may still be there as they were sold off by George before he sold the lodge, but I suspect they have been replaced by more sturdy cabins.

Everything else was plowed under and today, you can't really tell from looking at it that anyone ever did anything there. The footbridge is now also gone, so to cross the creek you have to go upstream about a 1/4 mile to find any narrows.

From the late 1920's to the 1980's it was a wonderful place. My mother was there in 1930 as a young girl and I was last there in 1987. I spent parts of 11 different summers up there.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 24, 2013:

Hi Wendy M,

The Hibbard's sold the lodge when they retired many years ago. I am not sure what has happened to it since that time. I would hope that it is still operational but would obviously be under a different name. Were you there when the Hibbard's owned it? It was already under the new ownership when I drove Mrs. Hibbard up to her cabin in the late 1960's.

Wendy M on May 23, 2013:

Years ago I had the pleasure of living and working at this lodge and remember how much fun I had during those summers. I wonder what has become of the lodge

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 31, 2013:

Hello Princess,

Sounds like you have more information about the Hibbard's than I do. I did not know where they were born. Their location in Ely started out as a hideout but eventually became a great fishing resort and area where there were beautiful homes in addition to the one they had built for themselves. By the time I drove Mrs. Hibbard from McAllen up to Ely, Minnesota her cabin was certainly no longer a hideout...and that was in the late 1960's. Thanks for your comment.

Princess on March 29, 2013:

Was trying to figure out why a Chicago born woman went with her Ohio husband to live in that very remote area of MN near the boundary waters. Your story makes me wonder what her story was since I had heard the cabin they owned in the'50's - 60's was a hideout of some type. Very interesting reading. Thank you for posting it!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 28, 2012:

Hello mhlong,

Thanks for adding that information about "Gin Hill" into this hub. I may have seen it when I was out rowing on the lake but would not have known the name of it. Did your grandfather ever perfect the perfect dry martini? Perhaps he just waved the bottle of vermouth over the glass with the gin as a salute. Now THAT would be dry! Ha!

mhlong from Southern Michigan on June 27, 2012:

Very interesting that comment about 'Gin Hill' by Joel. The hill to the northwest of the old Hibbard's Lodge up the shoreline (which was fronted by Bill Rom's Canoe Livery) was called 'Gin Hill' by my grandfather starting sometime in the mid to late 1950's (as I recall the story) as he and friends would look down the lake and attempt to give favorite names to landmarks. They named it 'Gin Hill' (or so the story goes) because of the gin martini's that my grandfather made, constantly attempting to obtain the perfect 'dry' martini. The mention by Joel suggests it was called Gin Hill far earlier than I ever thought. Later, many called it Inspiration Point - being more of a point. Sad thing is, there are now several cottages right on top as seen from the latest aerial view. No doubt private property and no trespassing allowed. It was a favorite destination every year, either from the sides, the back, or a climb up the face.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 25, 2012:

Hello Joel,

Thanks for adding your comment to this article about the Hibbard's Lodge and days spent in Ely, Minnesota years ago. That must have been nice to see where your mother used to play that piano and where many people had good times fishing and relaxing. The air and water is so pristine and cares just seem to melt away in environments like that. Thanks again!

joel evers on April 25, 2012:

I just recieved a B/W photo from my brother in Illinois. the inscription on the photo in my mothers handwriting was ....."focus of attention Charlie Warner"..... "Gin Hill". My parents before they were marrine in 1939 used to venture up to Ely from West of Chicago to vacation and fish. My father located Charlie Warner a guide for him back then down in a home in Duluth. we also made a trip up to the resort and my folks stood on the resort shore and reflected about all the good times they had there. my mother would play a piano that they had at the lodge and they had the best of times. thanks for your history articles. Joel

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 25, 2012:

Hi Janet S,

So glad that you liked this article. I am lucky that I got to know them as I did. My parents as well as my grandparents are all in that same mausoleum in McAllen. Ely, Minnesota is a gorgeous part of the country. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Janet S on February 25, 2012:

Thanks for the wonderful story! George and Minn were my Great Uncle and Aunt on my Dad's side of the family - and although I never met them, I visited the Mausoleum while on a business trip to McAllen and added photos of their resting place to my collection of family cemetery pictures. We also visited Ely, MN - on a camping and canoeing trip - and it is indeed beautiful up there.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 11, 2012:

Hi Mn Ted,

I haven't thought about that drink in years! George and Minn often served that drink and as she used to say "It will put hairs on your chest!" It is strong! Going back in memory, here are the ingredients: Gin, Bourbon, lemon juice and pure Maple Syrup. 3 of the ingredients were equal parts. I think that it was the maple syrup that might have been a bit less...or it was the lemon juice. Experiment around to get the right flavor. Served over ice. LOTS of ice!

It was a favorite drink served by the Hibbard's at their home in McAllen. Obviously it also goes back to the days at Hibbard's Lodge from what you say.

How long did your dad work for the Hibbard's? Was he a fishing guide?

Thanks for your query and comment.

MnTed on January 10, 2012:

Does anyone know the ingredients of the infamous "Texas Steer" drink? My dad worked/guided at Hibbard's and at Christmas this year Hibbard's came up in conversation and Texas Steers were mentioned. Googling around for the mix brought me to this page. Great read!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 29, 2011:

Hi Mike,

I'll go check that gmail acct. again. If it did not show up there for some reason I'll check Facebook and get in touch with you that way. Thanks!

Mike L on August 28, 2011:

Hi Again,

I sent you an email through hubpages, don't know if you got it or not - no pictures attached but it gave my email address; however, if you'd like to see some old photos, I am on facebook at I put 4 up that include the cabin, George, Mina, and my Grandmother.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 18, 2011:

Hi Mike L,

I would love to see those old photos. I probably have photos of the Hibbards that you have not seen. We could email them to one another. Thanks!

Mike L on August 16, 2011:

Actually, the contractor's name was John Brown, but I believe a number of Finns (1st or 2nd generation) worked on it. They had the traditional roof raising party. I have some pictures of George and Min and the building of the cabin if you'd like to see them. I'm putting together a video for my family of about 200 pictures and several minutes of old home movies of the years we spent up there, narrated, etc. about 35 minutes. My two brothers and I spent a combined total of 600 days up there growing up. It shaped our lives in many ways.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 16, 2011:

Hi Mike L,

So glad that you found this hub about George and Minn Hibbard and to know that you were related to George makes your comment extra special. We were told that the cabins and lodge were built by Finnish people. Is that who also built your grandfather's cabin? Such a lovely area! I would have walked past your grandfather's cabin during my stay up there one summer. Those memories for you must be wonderful. Thanks for your comment. I will always think kindly of the Hibbards from my days knowing them in McAllen.

Mike L on August 15, 2011:

Hello Peggy,

George Hibbard was my grandfather's half brother. Our family grew up calling him Uncle Art (his name was George Arthur Hibbard). I started going up to Moose Lake in 1952 staying at their lodge and then the cabin my grandfather had built, two cabins toward the lodge from George and Min's cabin (the Stuga). Spent parts of 8 summers up there until 1963, then 3 more times. Heard a lot of stories about Austrian George. And have a lot of photos taken from the 1930's to the 1980's. btw, the place in Chicago was called the Shady Rest or Shady Cottage Restaurant. My grandfather helped out there but missed the shootings, thankfully. And George and Min were always nice to us nephews and nieces.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 28, 2011:

Hello Dawn S,

Sorry, I can't help you directly. Perhaps you could contact a newspaper in that area or a library or courthouse and see if you can't find names in that manner from old files. Someone should be able to help you. Another thought...the Mormons keep great genealogical records from what I have heard. Starting with your grandmother's name, perhaps they can help you? Or...tracking it down by the reference to Al Capone...if you can locate the homes on either side of where he lived, court records should be able to tell you the former owners of the homes...assuming your grandmother owned and was not a renter. Good luck with your search. Glad that you liked this hub and thanks for your comment.

Dawn S on July 27, 2011:

I am doing family history research about my Grandmother Lillian Johnson Olson. I was told that she was raised by her Grandmother and she lived next to Al Capone's Minnesota home... the kicker is no one can remember Lillian's Grandmother's name... I would appreciate if you could pass on some of the names of the other families that lived in the area during the 20's and 30's.

Thank you, I loved the story!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 05, 2011:

Hello Greg A,

How very interesting that your father used to be a guide at Hibbard's Lodge! Small world! "Austrian George" must have been a memorable character! That pre-dated my time of knowing the Hibbards, obviously. Thanks for your comment!

Greg A on February 05, 2011:

I found this site after looking at an old photo of my father's. He used to be a guide at Hibbard's Lodge in the 30's. I remember him mentioning the name "Austrian George", and was surprised to see him mentioned in the above post. I have several photos of Dad's days as a guide at Hibbard's if anyone is interested.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 18, 2010:

Hello M.Parker,

Actually it was some of Al Capone's gang that shot them and since they originally had to portage (no roads back then!) and actually lived in a tent that first year including the winter! while they were slowly building the lodge and cabins, they were probably so far off of the radar screen by then that they hopefully no longer had to worry. Interesting tidbit however! Thanks!

M. Parker on October 18, 2010:

How funny. Al Capone had a hide out in Finland, MN, just up the Hefflefinger Rd and only about a hours drives now a days, from Ely, MN. I wonder how the Hibbard's would have felt knowing that?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 27, 2010:

Hello Old Guide,

Am so happy to hear more of the story from someone else who knew George and Minn and who is also related to them.

Obviously since I was a teenager when I first met them and after George died, Minn became a regular "adopted" part of our family, I have fond memories only.

The store part in Chicago is what we were told. Bootlegging was rather common back then so I would not be surprised. They were threatened and shot by Al Capone gang members from what we were told. Had you never heard that part?

As to the rest...

I remember the Texas Steers! When I was old enough to drink...had several and they were tasty! (Smile)

Is that door sign the one that read Kwitchyerbellyakin? Spelling might be a little off but it was something like that burned into a piece of wood.

I did not know about Charles Kuralt staying at Hibbard's cabin. Interesting! Apparently they had many wealthy people from Chicago and elsewhere regularly returning year after year to the Lodge.

We got to know a couple in McAllen and the wife had worked at the Lodge for the Hibbard's in her youth. She always told us (and to they were also friends) that Minn was a hard task master...but fair. Anyone working for them would be well prepared to work elsewhere. They tolerated no nonsense...the help could not associate with the guests...things like that.

I agree with you that Ely is God's Country. So pristine and beautiful.

There is no way that I can jump into the middle of a family feud as those details are only known by you guys.

I will always think fondly of the Hibbards the way that I had gotten to know them...primarily Minn as she outlived George for so long a time and she was often in my parent's home.

I have a little jug from Chicago that Minn gave to my husband and me that we have had made into a small lamp. It is a treasured memory of her to both of us as he had gotten to know her also. He also remembers the Texas Steers! Ha!

Thanks for your additional information.

Old Guide on June 27, 2010:

Actually your story is not true. I knew Min and George Hibbard quite well. Well enough that her bedroom furniture is now in our bedroom as are other things she left to our family to whom she chose to sell her home (It is now owned by someone else who has changed it, unfortunately). She told us the story of how she got it.

I also still have the custom door sign she had made when she sold it to my parents.

But first, your story, Min and George were bootleggers. You cannot gild that by calling them store keepers. Their bootlegging is why they got in trouble in Chicago. I still have the top to the still they used to brew whiskey. When he tended bar at the lodge George made it plain he did not learn bartending in Minnesota.

There is much more to the story, but not enough space to tell it all.

And no, George was no SOB. Actually when it came to running the resort it was Min who was all business.

One comment must be made. Min and George were old school. You had to earn their trust, but if you did they were your friends for life.

Oh yes, George--and Min after he died--could mix a mean Texas steer which was made in a Texas-sized shot glass.

A few other tidbits: the cabin was build by Austrian George, who had to be kept sober while he worked. The fireplace was an early Heatilator that consisted of rocks the Hibbards had collected. The one person is right that the stair rail was made with diamond willow which grew in a thicket in back of the house. They also had hangers made of deer antlers.

As for the Hibbard's character, there is a reason guests came back year after year to the lodge--they knew how to treat people. If George was an SOB he would not have stayed in business long. If anyone reading this remembers the Brush Batty Club (whose credo I still have) they know what I am talking about. A well-worn trail went from the lodge to the Hibbard's cabin which unfortunately fell into a state of disrepair when snobs moved into the row of cabins and discontinued the afternoon cocktail hour.

Trivia: Charles Kuralt stayed in the Hibbard cabin when he wrote his book about America and fell in love with Ely.

Ely is God's country. My parents lie in the cemetery there. The Hibbard's were God's people.

I have no desire to stir up family resentments, but I know well what both Hibbards thought about the situation and that is all I will say. Min and George were a part of our family and I cannot let their memory be defamed.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 23, 2010:

Hi dahoglund,

It truly is beautiful up in the Ely, Minnesota area. Would make for a nice vacation for you since you live relatively close in Wisconsin.

As to mentioning my name, of course I do not mind. Can't wait to read your hub and see what pictures you have of your Dad's artwork. Going there now...

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on May 22, 2010:

Peggy W.

I've never been there which seems bad since I was raised in Minnesota. It is a favorite area for outdoor types, such as a friend of mine who became a Forest Range out west. Furhter north than Brainard of Duluth used to be considered an adventure.

my first thought when you connected Al Capone and Minnesota is the fact that St. Paul was a "sanctuary" city for the gangsters during prohibition.As long as they didn't cause trouble in St. Paul they were left alone to hide out.

I posted a hub about my father and his artwork. I hope you don't mind that I put in a note mentioning your name as encouraging me to do so. If you do object for any reason than I will remove it. I don't have the pictures that I want but decided to make do with what I have.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 01, 2010:

Hi Linda,

So very sorry to hear about the George you knew as your grandfather. I did hear that he and Minn had met when she was his nurse so that part of the story is accurate. Had no idea about the rest.

I barely got to know him before he passed away but knew Minn for many years. She was pretty much adopted into our family for special occasions and many Sunday dinners.

All I can say is that she was a fun and very friendly older lady that was most enjoyable to be around.

I knew that she was Swedish but did not know that she was actually born in Sweden.

As to the mausoleum, I have a very different idea of it as both of my parents and grandparents are interred there. Guess all mausoleums have a certain coldness to them with so much marble, etc. Very friendly folks that operate it however. very sorry for your less than good memories of your grandfather. Needless-to-say, I saw an entirely different side of these people at a much older age and my memories are good ones.

If I were in your shoes...I would feel the same as you. Thanks for this very interesting comment.

Linda Nevins on April 01, 2010:

Hi From George's grandaughter

The magnificent wood that some of the furniture was made from was Diamond willow. Minna gave me a stool.

We stayed at Canadien Boarder Lodge when my husband and I were firt married. Boy the lodge owner had absolutely no kind words about George Hibbard.

He would take his clients at night and trespass over Canadien Borders land at night to Hibbard's Lodge..there were no roads to his lodge..I got the impression he was a shnook. And the stories mhy mother and her sibs told O my what an evil man. He drove me to town one day and never said a word. That whole family should have been sent back to God and readjusted. Minna left Sweden not speaking to anyone in her family. I am a Swanson now and she couldn't understand why we were Catholic..we should have been 9utheran. She was amazed when she bragged about being married by Dr Norman Vincent Peale..and I didn't know who he was...I was 8 or 9 at the time.

I also found out from his son, my Uncle George, that he had to sleep under a porch outside in all sorts of weather when he worked as a dock boy during the summer..HIS OWN SON...

He would get my grandmother pregnant and then leave her..she had5 kids that she had to support alone..then he takes off and marries Minna who was his nurse while he was in a hospital. hmm nice one grandpa

For a wedding gift I got a used wool blanket..gee thanks.

They were the coldest people I ever met..and he was family.

I went to see their grave in McAllen. They are buried in the Mausoleum..It was as cold a setting as the two of them.

I have lots of history and newspaper clippings from the family and went I relate my stories to my children I hope Minna and George feel the pain they caused Eva Patterson HIbbards children.

In closing I loved the resort sorry my Grandpa was an unfriendly SOB.

Linda Jean Nevins Swanson

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 27, 2010:

Hello Micky Dee,

Glad that you enjoyed this true life story about my grandparent's friends and their encounter with some of Al Capone's gang members in Chicago and their flight to Ely, Minnesota. It is a beautiful part of the country! Thanks for the comment.

Micky Dee on January 26, 2010:

Very nice Peggy. I voted no, that I wouldn't go but that's only because I don't have money for bicycle parts hardly. But this was enchanting! Thanks

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 01, 2009:

Hello agusfanani,

I agree with you. That part of the country...Ely, filled with glorious sights of nature combined with serenity. Wonder if we could get a hubber discount? LOL

agusfanani from Indonesia on October 01, 2009:

The lodge is, indeed beautiful combined with serene environment, hubbers needing a lot of inspiration for their hubs should come and rent such a place.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 26, 2009:

Greetings Hello,hello,

Thanks for your comment and letting me know that you liked this true story of escaping to Ely, Minneosota to avoid any more interactions with Al Capone and his gang.

Really like your avatar! Could be a woods in Minnesota!

Hello, hello, from London, UK on September 26, 2009:

Wow, what a story and beautiful pictures. Thank you so very much for sharing it with us. I like yur writing and telling the story so beautifully.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 24, 2009:

Hi Ethel,

Yes, the Hibbards ended up with a really nice place in Ely and also a nice way to earn a living despite the tough start. Al Capone and his gang never squelched their great spirit! Thanks for the comment.

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on September 24, 2009:

Funny how certain incidents can change your life entirely. Nice to hear that the ordinary man can win through

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 24, 2009:

Hi shamelabboush,

What an avatar change! Some pirate in your soul? LOL

I am in agreement with you that their refuge from Al Capone turned out to be really nice. Thanks for the visit and comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 24, 2009:

Hello loveroflife,

I agree with you as to not being able to imagine living in a tent in the wintertime in Minnesota. BRRRRRRRRRR! Wish I had asked more questions when they were still among the living. Could have furnished you and others with more details as to how they managed.

Thanks for the comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 24, 2009:

Hi Mardi,

Happy that these photos taken in Ely, Minnesota brought back good memories for you. Minnesota is "the land of 10,000 lakes" after all!

Where I grew up in Wisconsin there were also many lakes. But this combination of forested area, all the clean water and streams and the small population density makes this a very special place.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 24, 2009:

Hi Pete,

Since you do not like cold weather, I imagine that sleeping in a tent in the wintertime in Minnesota would be out of the question even IF you were threatened by members of the Al Capone gang. Right?

Minn was a Swedish gal who came from hearty stock obviously not afraid of cold weather. Don't know if I ever heard about George's background. In any case, they survived and their refuge turned in to an eden in Ely.

Thanks for commenting.

shamelabboush on September 24, 2009:

Nice story with those bad boys Al Capone :) and their refuge is really natural and nice...

loveroflife on September 24, 2009:

I can only imagine the extreme hardship of spending winter in northern Minnesota in a tent. What an experience.

Mardi Winder-Adams from Western Canada and Texas on September 24, 2009:

This is a wonderful hub Peggy. The pictures, as others have noted, are absolutely wonderful. Reminds me of lakes back home.

Pete Maida on September 24, 2009:

That was a great little story and you always have so many beautiful pictures. I'm not a fan of cold weather so I avoid Minnisota like the plague.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 23, 2009:

Thanks Candie!

I've been going through some old photo albums sending family photos to my cousin for one of his projects and I came across these old photos taken up in Ely, Minnesota. Thought that others might enjoy hearing about the genesis of how and why these family friends fled to the sparsely populated area of Ely and how they fared up there. I was so happy to have gotten to see it in person.

Candie V from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure! on September 23, 2009:

You always do such a great job bringing these places to life! Thank you Peggy!!!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 23, 2009:

Hi Lupo,

Yes...they surely had incentive to escape what might have happened to them had they stayed in Chicago because of the threat from Al Capone's henchmen. Ely is a small piece of heaven for those that appreciate nature's pristine beauty.

Hope you escape your frenetic between city driving and get to some solitude soon as you wish. Thanks for the comment.

Lupo from Boston Area on September 23, 2009:

Sounds like a bad way to get to a good place. Ely sounds wonderful. My past few days of driving between New York and Boston make me long for the country, a lake and some solitude that your hub describes.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 23, 2009:

Hello bingskee,

Yes, I would say that it took much bravery to stand against gang members of Al Capone. If you had known these people as we got to know them, it would not have surprised you to know that they did it. Their Minnesota refuge turned out to be a good thing for them, and Ely is such a beautiful place. Thanks for offering the first comment.

bingskee from Quezon City, Philippines on September 23, 2009:

it felt exciting as well to read a true real life story that involved encounter with capone and his gang. hats off them for being very brave to stand up against. their story was almost like those we see in the movies.

Related Articles