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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Little Bohemia raid


On April 23, 1934, Little Bohemia, a vacation lodge near Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin, owned by Emil Wanatka, was the scene of a shootout between notorious bank robber John Dillinger and his gang and a group of FBI agents. The gang, needing to lie low after a bank robbery, arrived at the lodge on April 20, 1934.  Although they attempted to keep a watch on the lodge staff, one member managed to get a call out to the FBI office in Chicago.
Early in the morning of April 23, agents from Minneapolis and Chicago arrived at the lodge, led by special agent Melvin Purvis. The group was reconnoitering the area when three men left the lodge and began to drive away in a car. The car did not stop when ordered, and the FBI agents opened fire. Eugene Boisoneau, a foreman at a CCC camp, was killed and two men riding with him were wounded. The FBI investigation and coroner's inquest decided that Bosioneau was killed by bullets from the federal agents. Dillinger and his gang managed to escape from the back of the lodge, abandoning three woman friends. A federal agent named Baum was killed by Baby Face Nelson in the shootout.
The Little Bohemia Lodge is still in business, and bullet holes from the gunfight have been preserved. The lodge was the site of a reenactment of the gunfight for the 2009 film Public Enemies.

[Source: "FBI Raid at Little Bohemia," by Dr. John Fox, FBI Historian at transcript.htm; Wisconsin State Journal, April 24, 1934.]

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