Death of "Dapper" Dan Hogan (Dec 4, 1928)

1928 St. Paul Newspaper

Saint Paul Pioneer Press; Dec 5, 1928 SPPHS

Gangster Dan Hogan, affectionately known as "Dapper" due to his stylish dress, wasn't just a prominent figure in St. Paul's underworld; he was a key liaison between local law enforcement and the criminal elements within the city. His pivotal role in ensuring that incoming criminals adhered to a set of rules - a system recognized today as the O'Connor Layover Agreement - significantly contributed to maintaining order within the city.

He rose to prominence as the city's underworld ambassador around 1909. Hogan's leadership under the O'Connor Agreement effectively organized the diverse criminal factions of St. Paul without the interference of local law enforcement. His deft political acumen and reputation as a "Smiling Peacekeeper" grew notably after the passing of William H. "Reddy" Griffin in 1913, the city's first criminal liaison.

Hogan rocketed to a notoriety previously unseen in the city with that promotion. He was adept at keeping the "heat" out of St. Paul, and the Justice Department considered him one of the country's most resourceful criminals. Hogan understood that too much attention on criminal activity in the city would jeopardize the profitable O'Connor Agreement. He controlled this arrangement until his death.

He was considered a kind man willing to help those in need, leading some to see him as a modern-day Robin Hood. However, others deeply resented his ironclad grip on all illicit activities within the city. In the days preceding his death, Hogan claimed to have seen a suspicious individual lurking in the alley behind this house. Believing he was a marked man, Hogan installed a home alarm system for added protection. Tragically, the alarm's batteries were expired and failed to function on the very day he needed them most.

On December 4, 1928, at around 11:30 AM, after a large, late morning breakfast with his wife and father-in-law at his 1607 W Seventh St. home, Hogan went to his garage, got in his Paige Coupe, turned the ignition, and pressed the starter. A bomb had detonated with such tremendous force it propelled the car backward into the alley. Because he was a heavy-set man, Dan's stomach had shielded his head from the blast. He was rendered unconscious but didn't die from the impact. However, his right leg was utterly shattered and later amputated in a desperate bid to save his life.

After clinging to life for nine agonizing hours at the hospital, Hogan finally slipped into a coma and perished from his grievous injuries. The local underworld was so upset over this brazen act that they initially lined up to donate blood, then shockingly offered to aid the police in finding those responsible. The initial rumor was that Hogan's murder was retribution by either a band of outlaws he had barred from operating in the city or a gambling outfit seeking vengeance. Potentially complicating matters, Hogan's wife and sister-in-law both claimed to have spotted two unknown men near the garage just before the blast.

Popular opinion later shifted to the theory that Hogan's second in charge, Harry "Dutch" Sawyer, had him killed. Sawyer was angry Hogan had not repaid a $25,000 bond in 1924. He also believed Hogan had cheated him out of his fair share of profits from their casino, The Hollywood, located just south of St. Paul near Mendota Road. However, even on his deathbed, Hogan had remained a consummate gangster, taking his secrets to the grave rather than betraying one of his own - even if one of them had betrayed him first.

Hogan had placed a large sum of money in a safe deposit box for his wife to have in the event of his death, but when she went to get the money, it was gone. Sawyer was the only other person with a key.

Respect shown to Hogan during his life continued after his death. Over twenty-five hundred people, along with two hundred automobiles, came to mourn him—a who's who of both city officials and local crime attended. Over five thousand dollars worth of flowers from underworld bosses in New York, Chicago, and the Twin Cities adorned Hogan's casket. A colossal six-foot wreath was placed beside the coffin, decorated with a ribbon bearing the words "Our Danny" in tribute. Former middleweight boxing champion Mike O'Dowd was a pallbearer.

The criminal underworld was taken aback by his death and "went dark" for a short time as a tribute to Hogan. Many assumed there would be retribution, but it never came to be. "Dapper" Dan Hogan was laid to rest at Calvary Cemetery in St. Paul, MN.

His killers were never brought to justice.

This location is a stop on:

The Saint Paul Gangster Tour

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