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Frazee's seedy side

Frazee's saw mill was the center of activity years ago. It also brought with it crime and brothels. Hear about the seedier side of Frazee during the Becker County Historical Society's Hidden History Happy Hour in Frazee on April 25 in the Hostel Hornet. Submitted Photo

Around the turn of the 20th century, Frazee was a hopping town. The lumber business was in full swing and population was around 2,000.

With that large population of mostly men from the lumber industry, so came plenty of crime and prostitution.

Yes, the underbelly of life in Frazee will be revealed during the Becker County Historical Society’s Hidden History Happy Hour on Thursday, April 25 at the Hostel Hornet in Frazee.

The BCHS put on a Hidden History Happy Hour dedicated to women’s undergarments in February as well.

“Frazee was next (in the series) because when we started researching, it was an accidental thing because we’d find interesting things (about Frazee),” BCHS Executive Director Amy Degerstrom said.

“Frazee seemed to stand out — particularly in terms of crime.”

Once she came across all the little tidbits inside the newspapers and on the back pages, she started asking others about the stories she’d find regarding Frazee. That’s when even more interesting stories started to surface.

Degerstrom will be focusing on 1880-1920 for the Hidden History presentation, when the city was filled with lumber, crime and brothels.

Though there wasn’t any documenting of the brothels, of which there were rumored to be nine at one time, Degerstrom said she found a couple mentions of women being arrested in Frazee.

It wouldn’t say what they were arrested for, but, she assumes, everyone back then knew what line of business the women were in and what they would be arrested for.

Through the stories she has heard, she said the old Essentia Health clinic on Main Avenue of Frazee was the biggest and most known.

“That was a hopping place,” she said with a laugh.

As for the crimes in town at that time, she said they ranged from petty crime to murder.

She will also talk about the saloons in Frazee and “all that goes with that.”

“The goal is to set the scene of what Frazee would have been at that time,” she said. “It was a pretty wild place to live for a while.”

And while she plans to educate the public about Frazee, she’s also hoping to learn from those willing to share stories as well. It’s important to get them recorded, she added, so the stories aren’t lost in history.

Degerstrom said she will also touch on moonshining because Height of Land and Frazee seemed to be the key places for that as well.

Tickets for the Hidden History Happy Hour in Frazee on Thursday, April 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. are $10 in advance at the museum or $12 at the door. It includes appetizers at the Hostel Hornet. A cash bar will be available.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield