Journeys through Crawford County

Journeys through Crawford County –The Olson Murder

On our last blog, we talked about the drive down Highway 27 from Tomah in Monroe County, where we live, through Vernon County, and entering Crawford County near Rising Sun.

On our way to get haircuts at Bernie Hanson’s barber shop, when we were grade school boys, our Dad pointed out to Phillip, a year older than me, and Bob, a year younger than me, the place in the woods (Battle Ridge) where the body of Clara Olson was found.Olson murder

The following is a paragraph from a newspaper printed ten years after she was found. “On Sept. 10, 1926, 22-year-old Clara Olson, of Mount Sterling, Wis., went missing. Her family thought she was eloping with her sweetheart, college student Erdman Olson, 18, the son of wealthy tobacco growers (no relation). Her relatives didn’t know she was six months pregnant with Erdman’s child, although Erdman’s parents knew. Almost three months after her disappearance, her badly beaten body was found buried face down in a shallow grave on a knoll called Battle Ridge near Rising Sun, Wis., just six miles from Erdman’s home. She had “terrific, crushing blows” to the back of her head. Erdman denied he had anything to do with her disappearance, but a love note found on Clara’s body showed Erdman had written her for a midnight tryst the night before her disappearance. Charges were filed against him in the slaying, but he disappeared after Clara’s father visited him at college and begged Erdman to return his daughter. Erdman has never been found.”

You can “Google” in this murder and get lots more details. Interestingly, people in Crawford County still talk about it.

Continuing south on Highway 27, we slow down for the community of Fairview. I think it has a population of about 13, if everybody is home. The most distinctive feature is a half dozen  tractors, mostly Minneapolis Moline, parked right beside the highway. It appears they are waiting for somebody to restore them, but I swear they have been rusting away there for going onto 6 decades.

On the edge of Fairview, right past the old building with the new Pepsi vending machine in front, is the turn onto Boma Ridge Road. That has special meaning for us Scheckel kids because Don Heiar had a cheese factory out on Boma Ridge, and our family would visit them several Sundays a year. They had cheese curds, right out of the cheese making bin, and Don and his wife MaryLou always made sure we got some.

Recall the Don Heiar was the son of Tony and Carrie (Scheckel) Heiar.  Carrie Scheckel was my aunt, sister to my Dad, Alvin Scheckel. A son of Don and Mary Lou is Donald J. Heiar, now Monsignor Heiar, in the Madison Diocese. He is also a chaplain in the United States Air Force. There is no extra charge for this family tree info! Next blog, we will continue our travels down Highway 27, to Utica Lutheran Church and Mt. Sterling.


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3 Responses to Journeys through Crawford County

  1. Dave Steinert says:

    It sounds like this would be a beautiful bicycle ride, of course in the warm weather. There’s always history where every we ride but it’s more special when it has personal relationships. Which brings back memories of my own growing up in Sparta, Michigan, on state hwy 37. Northern part of Michigan 37 travels from Grand Rapids through Sparta to Traverse City. I had many childhood memories on/off this highway. My dad had a canning ( peas and corn) factory right off Highway 37 in Kent City. Dad often visited other area canning factories and sometimes I would go with him. One such visit (about 1946 to 1949) was to Fremont, Michigan, and Gerber Canning Co. Fremont, Michigan, is about 20 miles off of Hwy 37 west of Newaygo. We visited that day with Dan Gerber. I understand Dan Gerber is the baby on Gerber baby food. We often visited in the years thereafter to Fremont and the Gerbers. I’ll think of more childhood memories on Highway 37.

  2. Ron Ingham says:

    My mother used to tell about that girls murder.My mother lived on the first farm west of stoney point,Pete Crowley was her Father.

    • Thanks for sharing, Ron. I’m trying to find out more about this murder event. I heard there is someone in the area that has a great deal of information, pictures, newspaper clippings, et.

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