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A Haven for Public Enemies: St. Paul in the Gangster Era

Date: 06/25/2013

Time: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Location: Continuing Education and Conference Center

Cost: $125


This one-day immersion is offered by the College of Continuing Education's LearningLife program.


Bank robbers, kidnappers, hit men, bootleggers, and machine gun-toting mobsters—they all flocked to St. Paul in the 1930s, thanks to the protection of the infamous O'Connor System agreement between the St. Paul Police and criminals across America, which guaranteed public enemies safe haven in the Saintly City. 

This immersion will begin with a lively overview of the gangster era in St. Paul presented by the man who knows it best: historian Paul Maccabee whose book, John Dillinger Slept Here, was deemed "one of the bestbooks of local history I have ever read—about any city anywhere on Earth," by Bryan Burrough. (Burrough's Public Enemies was adapted for film by Michael Mann in 2009 and starred Johnny Depp.)

After the presentation, you will embark on a bus tour that highlights the underworld secrets of John Dillinger, Alvin "Creepy" Karpis, Ma Barker, Babyface Nelson, Edna "The Kissing Bandit" Murray, Bugsy Seigel, Machine Gun Zeigler, Frank "The Gentleman Bandit" Nash, and Freddie and Doc Barker of the Barker-Karpis Gang, as well as St. Paul's own Irish Godfather, "Dapper Danny" Hogan. Throughout the day, you'll visit the sites of brothels, crime scenes, speakeasies, and mob hideouts. You'll investigate the kidnappings of William Hamm and Ed Bremer, the Lincoln Court Apartments shootout between Dillinger and the FBI, the killing of Dillinger's machine gunner Homer Van Meter, and the House of Ill Repute run by society Madame Nina Clifford (plus, the tunnels that took Minnesota's wealthiest men to her ladies' doors). Saintly City, indeed!

Tuition includes transportation, meals, and refreshments.

Recommended: Paul Maccabee, John Dillinger Slept Here: A Crooks' Tour of Crime and Corruption in St. Paul. Copies of the book will be available for purchase the day of the event.

Paul Maccabee is a crime historian and investigative reporter who spent 13 years researching his book, John Dillinger Slept Here: A Crooks' Tour of Crime and Corruption in St. Paul, 1920-1936 (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1995). Called "a small masterpiece of social history" by Playboy magazine, Maccabee's book is based on more than 100,000 pages of FBI files and wiretaps, prison and police records, mob confessions, and more than 250 interviews with crime victims, gun molls, policemen, and family members of notorious criminals. Maccabee has testified about his battle with the FBI over long-secret crime files before the U.S. Congress, and has been featured in three A&E TV documentaries about gangsters, as well as on the History Channel's "Crime Wave," and on the Travel Channel's "Off Limits."  


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LearningLife is a program of the University of Minnesota College of Continuing Education. Established in 1913, the College provides high-quality continuing education and lifelong learning opportunities for professional development, personal enrichment, career transitions, and academic growth.


  • Name: College of Continuing Education Information Center
  • E-mail: cceinfo@umn.edu
  • Phone: 612-624-4000
  • Sponsored by: College of Continuing Education

More information: http://z.umn.edu/dcp

Disability Options:

To request disability accommodations, please contact the College of Continuing Education Information Center at 612-624-4000 or at cceinfo@umn.edu.

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