Asle Sorbel's Ride

Two weeks after the James–Younger Gang raided Northfield the gang appeared at the farm of Ole Sorbel on Lake Linden near Hanska. Ole spoke to the men briefly and his wife, Guri, provided the men with bread and butter for breakfast. The gang told the family that they were hunting in the area, but 17-year-old Asle Sorbel didn’t believe them. He had a hunch they were the Northfield robbers that authorities had been chasing around the area for weeks.

Historic marker near the Sorbel farm in Hanska

Historic marker near the Sorbel farm in Hanska

Historic marker near the Sorbel farm in Hanska

Historic marker near the Sorbel farm in Hanska

Asle told his father that he was going to follow the men to see where they were camped, but Ole was afraid they would shoot his son and insisted Asle finish milking the cows. Instead, Asle ran to the top of a nearby hill and saw the gang disappear into the forest. He returned home and milked one cow before leaving on foot to warn the three closest neighbors to be on the lookout for the gang. He ran back home, retrieved a horse, and rode to Madelia where he alerted the sheriff.

The sheriff raised a posse to find and capture the gang. Six miles west of Lake Hanska the posse ran into the James–Younger Gang and a shootout eventually resulted in the death of Charlie Pitts and the capture of the three Younger brothers. Asle Sorbel’s name was never revealed as the informant, but he did receive a share of the reward money and went on to become a veterinarian.