Alias  Ray Olson
The complete
story behind the
1939 Chequamegon
Forest Manhunt
Today, few recall the story. And those who do, don't know the whole story. The facts behind the 1939 manhunt and the lives of Delores and Ray Olson inspired this thrilling novel.
Sample chapter and some pix at bottom of page. Scroll down for an excerpt.


$ 17.99 USD

A thrilling novel that lays out the whole truth about the 1939 Chequamegon Forest manhunt!  Order yours today!

A new novel by James Brakken, Bayfield County’s author of award-winning historical fiction.

A fugitive wanted for a double homicide in Hayward leads a posse of 200 deputies & FBI agents on Wisconsin’s largest manhunt. An eye-opening, fact-based novel. Brakken’s thrilling historical fiction at its best.

Historical Fiction based on 1939 press reports, interviews, and court documents.

300 pages. Illustrated.

Now booking community club talks & book signings. 715-798-3163 or email

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You may have heard bits and pieces of the tale of murder fugitive, Ray Olson. Now it's time you learned the whole story---the story that the government didn't want folks to know. It all started with slot machines being sabotaged. Ray Olson, a guide and handyman for  several area resorts, was singled out by the police. An attempt to bring him in led to a high-speed chase through Hayward, then a stolen car, and finally a double-homicide on the Chippewa Flowage. This led to Wisconsin's largest-ever manhunt and a series of amazing close calls and at least 8 escapes as Ray Olson sought refuge in the Chequamegon Forest. His plight altered life in the north for decades.

BOOK James Brakken for one of his PowerPoint slide discussions and learn the truth! REASONABLE TERMS!

Contact James at 715-798-3163 to schedule a presentation for your club or organization.

Alias Ray Olson

A northern Wisconsin Classic!

(Excerpts below!)

Researched and written by James Brakken, Bayfield County’s author of award-winning historical fiction novels and short stories.

Illustrated. 33 Chapters, 300 pages.

Based on press reports and personal interviews with those who were there!

Now booking community club talks & book signings. 715-798-3163

More illustrations below.

Contact James at 715-798-3163 to schedule a presentation for your club or organization.


CALL 715-798-3163 or EMAIL

Here's Chapter 1 and part of Chapter 2 for your enjoyment.

More photos below.

Chapter 1 

June 17, 1939. T wo Sawyer County patrol cars sped down Highway B toward northwest Wisconsin’s Chippewa Flowage. Turning off the highway toward Deerfoot Lodge, Sheriff George Seehuetter signaled the car behind to stop. “I want three men to drop back into the woods and circle the cabin from the right. Three more from the left. At exactly eight forty-five, Deputy Hamblin, Cullie, and I will move in. If he runs for it, don’t let him get past you. But remember, Olson hasn’t been convicted of anything yet. Nobody shoots unless I give the order.” The three teams of three men took up their positions and waited until time came for the circle to tighten. Then … “Ray Olson, this is the Sawyer County Sheriff. Come out with your hands where I can see them.” No response. “Give up, Olson. It’s the only way out.” Again, nothing. “We don’t want any trouble. Come out with your hands up.” Still no reply. Hamblin tried the door, finding it locked. Cullie Johnson grabbed a shovel leaning against the wall. He broke the latch on the second swing. Seehuetter pulled the door open. A hooked screen door came next. “C'mon, Ray,” said Hamblin. “This is your last chance. Either you come out or we’re comin’ in.” Still no response. The sheriff nodded to Cullie who forced the shovel between the screen door and jamb. He gave a twist, then kicked open the door. The three lawmen peered into the dark room. There, with one foot on the bed, the other on a wooden crate, loomed the figure of Ray Olson aiming a shotgun at them. Each man felt his blood run cold upon hearing the click of the hammer being cocked.

Chapter 2

Six years earlier.

Trouble followed him like Mondays follow Sundays. Had he taken any other road, this farmer’s son from Waukesha County, August Frederick Buelo, may have turned out to be just another regular fella, some poor sap working his way through life, trying to make ends meet. But that wasn’t Augie’s style. To him, life was all or nothing—full throttle—winner take all.

The smoke from his cigarette gave him up twice. The second time it happened on a remote island on Lake Namakagon in northwest Wisconsin. The first, a cold October night in 1933, at a farm on the end of a long, narrow lane, not far from Milwaukee.

No lights on in the farmhouse, upstairs or down. No car in the driveway other than his rattletrap 1926 Model T Ford. Augie stepped to the porch, struck a match on the door jamb, and lit a Lucky Strike. He stood there, listening, looking, smoking his Lucky about half-way to the butt before he knocked. No one answered. Augie turned the knob. The door opened. He walked in like he owned the place.

“Anybody home?”

No answer.

“Ma? Pa? Anyone?” he said.

No answer.

He went to work.

The beam from his flashlight lit up the contents of the top left desk drawer. He hoped to find money. Instead, he found a revolver. Augie slipped it into the pocket of his coat, a long, blue-denim oilskin he swiped from God knows who down at the National Avenue truck stop. Probably some truck driver fortunate to have a job. In 1933, Augie didn’t. Applying his twisted, junkyard logic, he figured he had the right. After all, the chump hung it on the coat rack, didn’t he? Right there by the door. Easy pickin’s. What a sucker. Besides, the Journal said it might rain that night. Augie thought a raincoat might come in handy.

He pulled the next drawer open, then the next, then turned his light toward the kitchen. He opened the first cabinet to find plates, cups, saucers, then closed it. The cookie jar! He lifted the lid. Stale oatmeal cookies. Stuffing two in his mouth, he shook one tin canister after another until a Chase & Sanborn coffee can sang out like a church bell. He dropped his cigarette butt on the floor, crushed it with his foot, and pulled the lid from the can, slicing his thumb on the sharp edge.

“Dang it!”

The twenty-two-year-old, six-foot-two, broad-shouldered, dark-eyed thief dumped the contents of the can on the counter. He scooped up the bills, stuffing them into the pocket with the pistol. Coins came next, same pocket.

Augie heard an upstairs door creak open and the snap of a light switch. He froze.

“Papa, that you?” The child’s voice sounded weak. “Papa? Somebody with you? I smell a cigarette.”

Augie crept toward the kitchen door.

“Papa, who you with? Why don’t you turn on the lights?”

“Go back to bed.”

“Where’s my papa?”

“Go back to bed! Hear me?”

“You ain’t my papa. You get outa here.”

Augie dashed out the kitchen door. He tripped, fell, got up and stumbled to his car. Stepping to the front, he fumbled for the crank, smearing blood on it. One quick turn and the Model T shook to a start. He jumped in, jammed it in gear, released the brake, turned on the headlights, and sped out of the yard just as the porch light came on behind him.

Clattering down the narrow, dirt driveway between the farm and the highway, he seemed to hit every rut and rock. Far ahead he saw headlights coming. Closer now, he slowed, pulling as far to the right as he dared. The other vehicle, a Chevrolet truck, did the same. As the driver rolled down his window, Augie pulled the throttle lever down. Chevrolet and Ford fenders met, screeching like rusty hinges on a jail cell door.

Rocks and ruts didn’t slow him now. And he didn’t stop when he reached the highway. Cranking the wheel, he laid on the gas again, squeezing all the speed he could from the old engine.

Another car came toward him. A single, flashing red light. A howling siren. He slowed. It passed. He exhaled. Then, a flash of headlights in the rearview mirror said they made a U-turn. They’d be on him before he could make another mile. Augie opened the throttle again, searching for any way out. A curve ahead! The instant the red light disappeared from his mirror, he slammed his light switch in, then cranked the wheel hard right. Tires squealing, his car bounded and bounced down the shoulder into a cornfield. Lights still off, he floored it again, plowing down row after row of six-foot-high cornstalks. Behind, a flicker of light said the patrol car passed by, its siren fading into the cold night air.

Augie stopped. There’d soon be more cops. He couldn’t risk the highway. He couldn’t use his headlights. Even with them on, all he would see is corn falling before his car. He slammed his fist on the steering wheel. “Dang it! Dang it all!”

He crept forward in low gear, dry cornstalks polishing the car’s undercarriage and wedging tight against the hot exhaust pipe. The car filled with smoke.

“Jesus! The corn’s on fire!”

Augie pulled the throttle down again, picked up speed, shifted into high, and rattled through the corn, flames behind. With a thump-bump, his front wheels left the last cornrow and climbed onto the shoulder of a gravel road. He swerved away from the glow of the city and turned on his headlights. Speeding off, only a thin trail of smoke followed.


The neon sign in the front window blinked MAUDE’S COFFEE CUP. Augie’s Model T rumbled to a stop near the garbage cans out back. Smoke gone now, he walked around his car, pulling cornstalks from the front axle and fenders. Next, he pulled a comb from his shirt pocket and stroked his black, wavy hair before entering the diner through the back door.

“Hey, stranger,” said the young brunette behind the counter, “what brings you out at this hour?”

“Couldn’t sleep, Delores. Thought I’d go for a drive.”

“You been burning leaves?”


“You smell like smoke.”

“Yeah? Well, maybe I burnt up a pile of leaves down at my Pa’s house.”

“What can I get for you?”

“Gimme a Coke. And cut me a piece of that raisin pie there. And put a scoop of ice cream on it, Baby.”

“Raisin pie à la mode, comin’ right up, Sweetie.”

“Yeah. That’s it, Doll. à la mode. A nice, big scoop.”

“This isn’t on the cuff, is it? Maude doesn’t want me to serve you anything you can’t pay for. Says your tab’s too high and she’s not running some Chicago soup kitchen.”

“Maude said that? She’s got a lotta nerve. Thinks I’m some kinda bum.”

“Well, you know Maude.”

“She got no right. I ain’t no bum, Delores. Not by a mile. Here, take this.” He pulled a twenty from his coat pocket. “That’ll cover my tab, this here piece of pie, and the rest you can keep for a tip.”

“Twenty bucks? Holy cow!”

“I got big plans for you and me, Baby.”

“Where’d you get twenty bucks? You rob a bank or something?”

Augie stared at Delores, saying nothing.

“Oh, Jeez Augie. You stole this money?”

A police car pulled up to the diner.

“Naw, I earned it,” he said, watching two officers exit their car. “But, if anyone asks, I been here over an hour. Maybe an hour and a-half, see?”

“Sure, Augie.”

“Say it. Say it!”

“Hour and a-half, Augie.”

“Thanks, Baby. I’ll make it up to you.”

“Aw, forget it. I’d do anything for you, you big Palooka. Anything. You know that.”

The bell over the door rang as a patrolman entered.

For the rest of chapter 2 and 31 more chapters, many illustrations, and an exciting true-life crime novel, order your copy of ALIAS RAY OLSON today!


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