REDWOOD FALLS - A little more than 120 years ago, a man is hanged not once, but twice for his crime.
Some say that the man, William Rose, was innocent of the crime, and Patricia Lubeck wanted to tell his story.
Lubeck, the curator of the Redwood County Museum in Redwood Falls, released the novel "Murder in Gales: A Rose Hanged Twice" earlier this summer.
Photo by Cindy Votruba
Patricia Lubeck, the curator of the Redwood County Museum, stands in the jail cell where William Rose spent his last night before he was executed. Lubeck wrote a book about Rose titled “Murder in Gales:?A Rose Hanged Twice.”
Lubeck said the idea for writing a book started while she was still curator at the Yellow Medicine County Museum.
"I was researching early crime in particular in that county," Lubeck said. She had found information on the only man hanged in Yellow Medicine County. "I guess I've been kind of interested in early crime in southwest Minnesota in the early days, the 1800s."
Lubeck went with Michelle Gatz, the Veteran Service Officer for YMC, to the Minnesota History Center, where they came across the William Rose case. Rose was hanged on Oct. 16, 1891 for allegedly shooting and killing Moses Lufkin in Gales Township, which is in the southwest part of Redwood County.
"I picked out several that day I wanted to do research on," Lubeck said. But the Rose case intrigued her. Gatz did a lot of the research on the case, while Gary Revier accumulated newspaper articles and court transcripts that Lubeck reviewed.
"The third trial is over 900 pages of transcripts that I went through," Lubeck said.
The story of the Lufkins and the Roses began in the late 1800s. They were neighbors and started off being friendly toward each other. But eventually, the families started quarreling over minor differences. Then William Rose fell in love with Moses Lufkin's daughter, Grace. Moses brought the romance to a halt, which led to a feud between the two families.
On Aug. 22, 1888, Moses Lufkin was talking with his niece's family with his back to the window. A shot rang out and Moses Lufkin put his hand on his heart, collapsed and died within minutes. Eli Slover ran to the window, saw a man fleeing and thought it was William Rose. Rose was arrested two days later. He was acquitted at the first two trials as the evidence presented was circumstantial.
But at the third trial, Rose was found guilty, and he was sentenced to hang.
Early in the morning on Oct. 16, 1891, the sheriff pulls the lever to hang Rose. There is a crash, and Rose's body is on the floor as the rope has snapped in two. The deputies picked up Rose, fashioned another noose and Rose is hanged a second time.
"I wrote 90 percent of it in one sitting, just to get the facts down, Lubeck said. She said that some who have heard the story of Rose say that an innocent man was hanged twice. "It was a notorious case for its time."
The Rose case made news in Minnesota as well as across the country.
Lubeck said the Rose case was not cut and dried, that there were a lot of factors surrounding the case.
"I thought it was time to tell the story and describe it as a journey into the past were the reader sits up close and personal with the characters," Lubeck said. Not a lot of people had heard about the Rose case, and readers get to see how people lived their lives in the 1800s. "You get a sense of what the justice system was like back then."
Lubeck said she would put away the book for long periods of time while she was working on it. Last winter she decided to sit down and work every day on it. "Murder in Gales: A Rose Hanged Twice" was published in July.
"I felt I was the voice for William Rose, and he wants his story told," she said. "He was such a young man and suffered so much pain in his young life. I actually want the whole world to know his story."
The one-room jail where Rose stayed the day before his hanging is at the Redwood County Museum. It has been preserved by the Redwood County Historical Society. Lubeck's book is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, at the Redwood County Museum's gift shop and through Outskirts Press.