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Iowa Butter Gang: Iowa Time Machine July 8, 1936

Iowa Time Machine ⏰: On July 8, 1891, the Iowa Butter Gang stole 3,443 pounds of butter from the creamery in Palmer. Part of a wider spree spanning the spring and summer of 1936, the gang stole over 20 tons of butter and cheese from 17 different creameries across the state.

While desperation reigned king during the Great Depression, crime thrived. While bootleggers brewed in Templeton and the Dillinger gang knocked over the First National Bank of Mason City, a different group of enterprising thieves targeted Iowa’s bustling butter industry. A leading dairy state during the early 20th century, many of Iowa’s towns hosted thriving creameries to process the milk produced on local farms.

The gang’s first robbery in Palmer on April 3 netted over a ton of butter, and soon after, crimes followed in Fenton, Edgewood, Britt, Kimballton, Coulter, Afton, Hampton, Hubbard, Randall, Nashua, Masonville, Dumont, and Oran. Using dry ice, the gang drove nonstop to markets as far away as New York to capitalize on their scores before the butter went bad.

As the crimes continued, law enforcement and vigilantes searched high and low over the summer, hoping to bust the Butter Gang. When the long arm of the law finally cornered the criminals, a group of six Omaha men took the fall. Caught with 70 tubs of butter, the men went down for the crimes. One of the men, Byron Green, moved to Sioux City after his sentence and attempted to revive the scheme. Found forcing entry into the Masonville Cremery, Green found his way back behind bars only a few weeks after serving out his initial three-and-a-half-year sentence. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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