This is Percy Redpath, the city's first full-time paid police officer, hired in 1931.
This is Martha Johnson, long-time volunteer for the Edina Historical Society.
Percy Redpath patrolled the dirt roads of the village as well as the paved streets of the Country Club District, where Martha grew up. The two have never met - except on paper.
For the past several months, Martha has spent her Thursday mornings transcribing Redpath's daily police log, handwritten in diaries for 1931 and 1932. Outside of his family, Martha probably knows more about Redpath than anyone after reading his daily log. I am grateful for her efforts to transform Redpath's jottings, sometimes in very faint pencil scratchings, into a great document for researchers.
Redpath's writings provide a wonderful picture of Edina life during the Depression years. For those who think the "old days" were a simpler time, think again. Even though much of Redpath’s logs documented speeders kicking up the dust at 25 mph or couples “spooning” on country roads, he also dealt with some serious crimes. Here are just a few highlights from the log book:
Friday, Jan. 23, 1931
Description [of] man [who] attacked girl with club 35-40, 5’-8” 180 lbs. Lt. complex[ion]. Short brown sheep lined coat, light cap, 4 day beard
Sunday, Feb. 1, 1931
8:00 p.m. Sedan parked field off 60 St. and France. Couple [in] rear seat. Suggestion of heat. But guy’s trousers buttoned up according to latest regulations.
Saturday, Feb. 7, 1931
10 p.m. – Call to #55 [Minneapolis squad]. Boys on roof of stores, 50th Street and Xerxes throwing snow balls at pedestrians. Was at 50th and France at time of call. Made run, held boys until #55 came.
Tuesday, Feb. 10, 1931
8:30 Religious nut – sitting by fresh made fire – just off Hanson Road. Clean and honest face. …(Long hair, beard.) What police would term a lodger. Refused space in C.C. Garage for him, found him a place to sleep. Sent him to U.G Mission in a.m. [Note: probably Union Gospel Mission in Minneapolis.]
Sunday, Feb. 15, 1931
12:30 (a.m.) Usual run of maids returning to Country Club District.
Friday, Feb. 20, 1931
3:30 (a.m.) Collegiate party treasure hunters in search of #13 green on Golf Course. Told them where #13 was.
Saturday, March 7, 1931
8:45 Radio call – 56 St and Normandale, prowler. At my home – wife thought she saw and heard someone around buildings. Not found.
Monday, March 16, 1931
Radio call – 3121 West 56th St. Horse destroying property. Horse had been annoying for a week and found him eating on H. Bachman’s lawn – above address – signs of damage to lawn. Did not know who owned horse. Found owner – had horse taken home and warned to keep him up.
Sunday, April 26, 1931
10:50 Call to #50 and #55 [Minneapolis squads]. Hold up at 50th and France. … Arrived … just ahead of St. Louis Park Car. Civilians had left in pursuit of stick up car south on Halifax. … Sheriff’s got the hold-up man in chicken shack. All credit due to pursuers.
Wednesday, May 6, 1931
1:15 a.m. Radio call – 4528 Casco. Some trouble. Visitor thought his car stolen. It had run away. Found and parked it on Bridge St. at 9:30.
Sunday, May 24, 1931
9:30 Radio call… Insane man threatening to shoot. [Went to house and one of the grown sons] had struck his mother and oldest brother on head with heavy bolt or similar object cutting open their heads. Mother must be about 80. Found him hiding amongst the cows in barn. Held at our car until Sheriff’s car arrived.
As a second half of the project, we'd like to research some of the incidents. Wouldn't it be fun to find out what exactly the city regulations were regarding spooning? Apparently, it required a gentleman's trousers to be buttoned up, but what else makes sitting in a car at the side of the road an illicit activity? What does the "usual run of maids" mean? My guess is that the live-in maids in the Country Club District left every Friday and returned late every Sunday night.
If you would like to know more about Redpath, please see the story I wrote for the Spring 2007 membership newsletter. If you'd like to read more of Redpath's log, stop in during regular museum hours.
Thank you to Martha and the Redpath family for helping us make the log books accessible to researchers.
Search this blog:
Jennifer Adam is the Executive Director of the Edina Historical Society. She welcomes your contributions. Comment on a post or send an email (see below). Traditional mail, of course, can also be sent to:
Thank you, your message has been sent
Support this blog!
Help us bring you Edina history with this web site by becoming a member or donating today. Click on the link to our GiveMN.org site to make a donation with a credit card. The Edina Historical Society is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that depends on contributions to continue operation.