could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers

Today is:

Joe Mrkvicka's Story

Parents: Albert & Anna Mrkvicka, Ravenna, married in Feb 1902 in Catholic church there.
    Albert was a carpenter. 9 children, Joe was 2nd
    Younger brother, Leo, got into some trouble and went to the State Industrial School, paroled in 1925 when he was 15

Joe’s troubles started in the summer of 1928 (July)

Intoxicated; broke into a home in Ravenna and stole some jewelry
In speeding away he collided with another car, killing one woman injuring her husband and another couple.
Arrested & charged with manslaughter, breaking and entering, speeding and operating an automobile while

Pleaded not guilty and was bound over to district court on two charges, manslaughter and breaking and


Sept 6 – Mrkvicka escaped by prying a lock off his cell door

About 10 p.m. - a time when both the sheriff and his deputy were out on other duties.
    First used a long splinter of wood to try to open the cell lock, failed
        Then he used it to loosen a bar in his steel bed which he used to pry the lock.
Then quietly make his way into the hall and out through the back door.
    Stole a car in Kearney, and drove it to Ravenna.
    Stopped and stole someone else’s plates and put them on the car.

At Ravenna he got some money and headed northwest.
Worked 4 weeks in Rapid City, SD

Moved on, picking up a stranger as he headed back to Nebraska.
    [The car stolen in Kearney was abandoned in Lansford, SD.]
    Stole another car (the stranger’s fault)

Drove through Kearney and on to Ravenna
    Stole the cash register from the West Hotel (again the stranger’s idea)

Oct 29 – Arrested in Macon, Missouri on auto theft charges
                Using an assumed name, Carl Marka

Nov 26, 1928 – Pled Guilty to Four Charges – grand larceny, breaking and entering, car theft and jail breaking.

        He was sentenced to serve eight years in the state penitentiary.
        The cash register was recovered from the Loup river at a point to which he directed officers.
        [the manslaughter and driving while intoxicated charges are mentioned as also having been filed but nothing more.

             Pending? Dropped??]

1930 census – Joe, now 25, was listed twice
        1. Inmate, State Penitentiary, pants maker

        2. Parents listed him with their other children as if he were living a home

[Nov 26, 1936 would have ended 8 year sentence; must have been released a year early]

Dec 28, 1935 – Stole a car from Wood River

Jan - Feb 1936

        With an Indian from the Winnebago Indian reservation, stole a car near Ravenna
        Drove it to South Sioux City & wrecked it

        “Chief” Isaac Yellowbank, – arrested
        Brought to Kearney on charges filed here for Ravenna car theft

        Meanwhile, Joe went on a small crime spree
            He stole one or two other cars
            Robbed several liquor stores in various parts of the state,
            Broke into and robbed a farm house near Arcadia
            Was involved in an assault

        Arrested at Tekamah
            Brought back to Hall county jail for charge of stealing the car in Wood River
                Local officers warned by State Sheriff to watch him closely

Late Feb, 1936

 Jailer notice Mrkvicka was spending much time in his cell
Search for possible weapons followed.
Club or “sap” was found hidden in his bed clothing in his cell
        About a foot long, and apparently was built over a wire frame (coat hanger)

        Wrapped with metal and tinfoil to add weight to “business end.”
Also had manufactured a duplicate jail key out of tobacco cans

Discovery taken as evidence of a planned jail break
        Placed in “Solitary” at Grand Island
Added charge of being a habitual criminal
Moved to the penitentiary, a more secure holding facility

Apr 1936 – Mrkvicka was returned to Grand Island for arraignment on car theft charge.
        District court jury convicted Joe Mrkvicka of car theft and being a habitual criminal.
        Sentencing was to be the following week but [no news]

[No further information]

– died; buried in Highland Park Cemetery, Ravenna


[Update July 2014:  This information is added by Joe Mrkvicka's nephew in Oregon.

Joe Mrkvicka was my uncle. Unfortunately, the story doesn't end there. He was eventually convicted of murdering a Ravenna gas station attendant in 1947.... I'm not sure what he did during the war years--but he did have a wife and daughter.]


And Also
From the Buffalo County Court Record Book – Jan. 1928-March

Many filings for nonpayment of bills for goods, services, and occasionally for rent

Several charges of driving on highways /roads in the county at speeds over 35 mph (one was a woman)
        Usual fine was $10 plus costs of about $4.50

Several charges of driving without a license and at least one for no car registration

Man arrested for carrying a loaded revolver while not doing any business that would require one.

Woman went to court declaring she was unmarried and pregnant with a bastard. She named the father.
        He was arrested and a court date set.
        But nothing that date or elsewhere in that record book [Settled out of court?]

And then there were the cases involving liquor:

A man was accused of (1) having in his possession 1 quart of liquor and (2) intent to sell without a license which would allow sale for medicinal, mechanical, chemical, or sacramental purposes.
        Found guilty on the first count, fined $100 + costs and stay in jail until he paid.
        Second count dropped.

A man was arrested for concealing intoxicating liquor in a building, not his residence, on a lot in Ravenna.
        Found guilty, fined $100 + costs

A search warrant was issued for a place in rural Buffalo County.
        The search turned up 6 bushels of mash and other material and equipment for unlawful manufacture

            of intoxicating liquors.
        [Location: South of UP tracks, west of Shelton Road]


Copyright ©   All rights reserved


You may use content from this web site for your personal, not-for-profit purposes only. 


 Search Our Site

Please send Mardi Anderson your comments/feedback

Revised: 02/06/2018