Moonshining, Name Changes; The Colorful Story of Roscoe
Roscoe is a small town in western Stearns County located along Highway 23 west of Richmond and east of Paynesville. To tell the story of Roscoe I was joined by longtime Roscoe residents Martha Schmitz, Sylvester Ludwig, Joann Ludwig, Mayor Don "Chopper" Albrecht, city clerk Marleen Philabaum, Jerry Muglee, Mary Vanderbeek, and Alan Flint.
Roscoe was established in 1865 under the name Frogtown before the name changed to Zion and then in 1914 the town name was changed to Roscoe, after a railroad executive. The town grew due to its location along the Great Northern Railway line between St. Cloud and Willmar. The railroad tracks were abandoned in 1988 and were raised. Roscoe had a post office in the early years but it closed in 1995.
Some of the early businesses in Roscoe included a blacksmith shop, a grocery store, a garage, creamery, lumberyard, elevator, a piano dealer named Canazei's, a livestock yard, Britt's cabinet shop and funeral home, Al's Tavern, and Al and Harvey Hogeman's bar.
Roscoe's history also includes moonshining during prohibition times in the 1930s and 40s. Alan Flint says his grandfather and grandfather's brothers Frank and Louie along with Alan's mother were involved in the moonshining business. He says Frank ran the moonshine as far away as the Dakotas. Alan recalls his mother telling him Frank's car was still wet from paint when he arrived home after fleeing the Feds. He says a lot of moonshine was cooked in the woods near Roscoe. Richard Philabaum says a farm site east of Roscoe had a tunnel under it to a shed that was used as a hide out to avoid the Feds. Philabaum explains moonshiners in the area, to avoid the Feds, at one point dumped numerous barrels of moonshine on the east side of Big Lake, which is between Roscoe and Richmond. He says moonshiners in the area supplied people with alcohol during prohibition times from Cold Spring to St. Cloud.
Roscoe currently has St. Agnes Catholic Church, the Roscoe Rangers amateur baseball team and ballfield, the Roadside Tavern, DJ's Downtown Bar and Grill, Roscoe Bar, MD's Bar and Grill, Roadside Tavern, Roscoe Garage, City Hall, Fire Station and the Roscoe Elevator. Roscoe also used to have a school for students grades 1st through 8th. Alan Flint believes the school closed in the late 1960s.
Jerry Muggli grew up in Roscoe and describes the town as a great place to grow up where everyone looked out for each other. Mayor Don Albrecht says people have always been there to help each other in the community and they still do. Joann and Slyvester Ludwig say it was a great place to raise a family. Slyvester served 47 years on the city council. Joann played organ at St. Agnes for many years. The church recently celebrated their 150th Anniversary. Alan Flint says there is no place he'd rather be. Martha Schmitz says she met her husband working at a local bar. Marleen Philabaum recalls how friendly people were to her when she moved to town and Mary Vanderbeek says growing up in Roscoe was great for her and everyone looks out for each other. She calls it a friendly small town.
If you'd like to listen to my conversations with the longtime Roscoe residents they are available below.