Remembering a Fallen Marshfield Hero
May 17, 2017 is Peace Officer Memorial Day. A special service will take place at 6:00pm tonight at Marshfield Middle School.
Fred Beell, born in 1876 in West Prussia, Germany, became a Marshfield resident at age three, attended Immanuel Lutheran School, and worked at the Upham mill. A member of Company A, Second Wisconsin Regiment, he honorably served in the Spanish-American War.
Becoming famous for his middleweight and light-heavyweight championships, he won national attention after defeating world heavyweight champion Frank Gotch. At one point during his career, he was a holder of three separate world champion wrestling titles.
After his outstanding wrestling career, Beell served Marshfield as a relief Police Officer on a part-time basis from 1921-1933.
On the heels of Prohibition, when famous criminals like John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and Pretty Boy Floyd were sneaking throughout the midwest, bank robbers and gangsters were a staple of American crime at the time. Marshfield was no exception.
In the early morning hours of August 5, 1933, Beell and fellow officer George Fyksen responded to a burglary call at the Marshfield Brewery. According to newspaper reports at the time, as Fyksen investigated the property, he was shot at by a man on guard, but escaped injury. Beell, stepping out of the vehicle to assist (or, as one report suggests, was helping peer into windows), was shot with four bullets in the head, killing him instantly.
The gang members escaped with $1,550 in Federal beer revenue stamps, but were later apprehended and sent to prison.
Beell was 57 years old at the time of his death, and he is laid to rest at Hillside Cemetery in Marshfield. In 1997, his name was placed on the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial in Madison, Wisconsin.
He remains the only Marshfield Police Officer to have died in the line of duty, but serves as a reminder of the incredible risk police officers take each and every day. Each May, he is remembered and honored at Marshfield’s Peace Officer Memorial Day.
(Special thanks to Sergeant Dennis Keffer for his help with this article.)