IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.

Clayton Co. Justice & Court Proceedings
... as reported in the 1935 newspapers

~compiled & transcribed by Reid R. Johnson for Clayton Co. IAGenWeb

Clayton Co. Treasurer's Office Robbery
The unsuccessful attempt to rob the county treasurer's safe here a week ago last Friday has been cleared up by the confession of three men captured in an attempted bank robbery at Ottawa, Ill., last week Wednesday. A fourth member, included in the confession of the three men, is dead as the result of a running gun battle after the yeggs (a slang term used in reference to safecrackers/robbers in the early 1900s) were discovered in the Leonore, Ill., bank.

The dead member of the gang is Melvin Liest, 40, of Rockford, Ill., for four years a member of the Dubuque fire department. In a hospital in LaSalle, Ill., Arthur Thielen, 41, a former Dubuque taxicab driver, lies dangerously wounded, a bullet in his abdomen. In the LaSalle county jail are Fred Gerner of Rockford, Ill., formerly a resident of Clayton; and a brother-in-law of Thielen. With him also is John Hauff, who claims to be from Chicago. The latter is the one who first confessed implicating the others in the attempted robbery here. After his confession had been gotten the others admitted their guilt.

Hauff's confession gave a clear account of the time spent here in Elkader and vicinity from the time they arrived until they left after their unsuccessful attempt to loot the treasurer's safe. According to his story in the LaSalle county jail last Sunday, the gang arrived here Wednesday afternoon, January 9th. They came to Elkader via Prairie du Chien and the Marquette bridge avoiding Dubuque because Liest was known there.

They spent Wednesday afternoon here in town and since the attempted robbery a number of people reported to authorities that an out-of-state car was observed on the streets. While the car was parked on lower Front street near the Niemeyer Bros. store, Liest spent about an hour in the court house, getting the lay of the land, according to Hauff. While Norbert Niemeyer took no particular pains to observe the number of the license plates he felt certain the number was Wisconsin "77-070." A check on the plates last Sunday revealed that he had not been far off for the number was "77-080." Both the car and the plates were stolen, county officials have found.

The group ate their supper Wednesday night in the Riverside Café and that evening attended the show in the Rivola theatre where they signed fictitious names on the bank night record in the presence of Donna and Kathleen Dinan. They claim to have spent the night in their car but evidence points to the fact that they spent, at least part of the time, in the Pony Hollow school house just south of town. There is evidence that a fire had been started in the stove and the rope from the flag pole and bell were taken by the gang to use in getting out their car which had been stuck. Their story admits that they broke into the school house.

Thursday morning they claimed to have eaten breakfast in Garnavillo. Thursday night they admit breaking into the court house about nine o'clock, and it was not until after they had broken into the vault that they went to get the torch and gas tanks from the county garage. Hauff stated that he kept guard at the west entrance of the court house while Thielen guarded the east entrance. Gerner and Liest continued the job in the vault.

Just about the time the gas pressure in the tanks began to give out, Liest suffered an attack from the gas. He walked from the vault into the main hall and there fell over in a faint. His pals carried him into the air and after he recovered he wanted to return to finish the job. His pals, however, resisted and they left immediately along the same route they had taken when they came to Elkader. From here they finally landed in central Illinois where they attempted the bank robbery at Leonore, which resulted in the death of four men and the serious injury of two others; with one gangster in a hospital and two others in jail.

Besides Liest the dead are: Charles Bundy, 42, cashier of the Leonore State Bank; Glenn Axline, 32, newly elected sheriff of Marshall county, Ill., and Charles Seipp, 50, a director of the bank and a member of the township supervisors. Seipp died last Sunday. Renof Brown, a member of the posse, and Robert Ness, a 16-year-old farm boy were injured in the running gun fight.

Gerner, who is supposed to have suggested the robbery here is a former Clayton county boy. He lived near Clayton and at one time attended the Guttenberg school. February 25, 1925, he was indicted on a charge of larceny by a grand jury in this county. The following month he was sentenced to a term of six months in the county jail. During the time he was serving his sentence he was used as a trusty to drive a truck on road work and also did odd jobs around the court house. His familiarity about the court house and the county garage is what led officials to believe, for a short time, that the gang had had a local contact.

After the reports of the Leonore attempt Sheriff Palas and State Agent Joe Burke felt that there might be a connection between that job and the one attempted here. They followed those clews and Sunday went to Ottawa and LaSalle where they obtained the confessions as already outlined.

Sheriff Palas left here Saturday afternoon with the Misses Donna and Kathleen Dinan for the purpose of identifying any or all members of the gang. The Misses Dinan did identify Gerner and Hauff but were uncertain about Thielen. Since the three are charged with a graver offense in Illinois than they would be here no effort will be made to bring any of the remaining trio to this county for trial.

Several local people have reported that there were five in the car when the gang was in Elkader but the confession of Hauff and the other two implicates only four men. Local officials appreciate the assistance of Sheriff Ralph Desper of Ottawa and the co-operation of Chief of Police Gillis and Sheriff Ryder, both of Dubuque.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 24 Jan. 1935


Fifth Member Of Gang Under Arrest: Leo Mellon, who is under arrest in Dubuque, and who is wanted both by Wisconsin and Illinois authorities, is believed by local authorities to be the fifth member of the gang which broke into the treasurer's vault here last month. A confession by one member of the gang has implicated him in the Wisconsin robbery which happened last October and also implicated him in an Illinois job and there is every reason to believe that he was with the gang when they operated here.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 21 Feb. 1935


Gang That Raided Shannon State Bank Is Identified: Ottawa, Feb. 16: Sheriff Ralph Desper said three members of a bandit gang, under indictment for murder, kidnaping and bank robbery after the raid on the Leonore State Bank (Illinois), have been identified as the men who took $1,070 and several guns from the Shannon State Bank Nov. 19. John Hauff, Chicago, and Fred Gerner, Rockford, were identified, he said, and confessed implicating Arthur Thielen, also in custody, and Melvin Liest who killed himself after the Leonore raid. The identification was made by F. E. Woessner, cashier of the Shannon bank, who viewed the prisoners here yesterday.

~Freeport Journal-Standard, Freeport, Illinois, Sat., 16 Feb. 1935


Salesman Admits Part In Robbery At Milton Junction: Janesville: Leo Mellon, 25, Dubuque, Ia., salesman, confessed Saturday Sheriff James E. Croake said, that he participated in the robbery of the State Bank of Milton Junction Oct. 8, 1924. He had been implicated in the robbery by John Hauff, Rockford, Ill., arrested several weeks ago after an attempt to rob a bank at Leonore, Ill. Mellon pleaded not guilty when arraigned here Monday but Saturday changed his story and admitted that he participated in the robbery with Hauff and Melvin Leist, who committed suicide rather than face capture after the Leonore affray.

~Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, Wis., Sun., 3 Mar. 1935


Mellon Gets 15-16 Years For Milton Jct. Bank Job: Waving preliminary hearing in municipal court Monday morning and pleading guilty to a charge of armed holdup of the State Bank of Milton Junction, Leo Mellon, 25, Dubuque, Ia., electrical appliance salesman, confessed member of a bandit gang, was sentenced to not less than 15 years and not more than 16 years in the state penitentiary at Waupun.

Because of his free admission of his guilt and the cooperation which he gave the sheriff's department, the sentence was the minimum which could be given under law. He will serve at least eight or nine years if he makes a good record at the state prison. He was to be taken to Waupun Monday afternoon by Sheriff James Croake, Undersheriff Owen Rex and Chief Deputy Max Kennedy.

After signing the waiver of preliminary hearing and pleading guilty to the information charging breaking and entering a bank and stealing cash while armed, he was declared convicted by the court. Both Sheriff James Croake and District Attorney John Matheson recommended that the court show Mellon some measure of Leniency "I firmly believe that Leo means what he says." Sheriff Croake stated. "He has told us everything, keeping nothing back. He has cooperated with us in every way. I think he still can become a good citizen. He tells me that twice since the Milton Junction job, the gang approached him on other holdups and he turned them down. He had completely broken away from them."

"Whatever leniency the court sees fit to exercise in this case will satisfy the state." Dist. Atty. Matheson stated. " " I have been informed that since he returned to Dubuque and obtained a job, he has been living an honest life. He has aided the state in every way in clearing this robbery." Judge Lange then pronounced sentence of 15 to 40 years. The Judge told Mellon if he made a good record he would not have to serve the minimum sentence. The law provides a sentence of 15 to 50 years for bank robbery.

Over the week-end, Mellon was visited by his father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Mellon, Dubuque, Ia., a brother, his sweetheart and a friend.

The sentencing of Mellon was the first of its kind in Rock county. The state bank of Milton Junction was robbed on Oct. 9, 1934, by Mellon, John Hauff and Melvin Leist, the latter two from Rockford, Ill. At first they attempted to saw bars on a rear window but gave that up when too much noise was made. They later broke into the bank through a door and waited until morning when W. H. Gates, a cashier, and Miss Luella De Long, bookkeeper, came to work. Holding the two at bay with guns, they obtained $1,500 in cash and escaped to Rockford. Mellon stated he received $365 of the loot.

Mellon had been approached to join Hauff and Leist in the Leonore, Ill., bank robbery, but he turned it down. The latter decided to carry on without Mellon, but were foiled when the attempt proved unsuccessful. Surrounded by a posse, Leist and Hauff shot their way out of Leonore but were later surrounded, after three members of the posse had been killed. Leist killed himself to prevent arrest while Hauff was taken into custody and now faces trial. It was Hauff who implicated Mellon in the Milton Junction holdup.

The trio had planned to rob the Croake Bewery, Monterey hotel and the Jeffris theater here. On July 3, 1934, they came to Janesville to pull the brewery job, but when Mellon went in to purchase beer, he found the safe locked and decided not to go through with the holdup.

~Janesville Daily Gazette, Janesville, Wis., Mon. 4 Mar. 1935. Condensed from a longer article.


Joliet, Ill., May 10: Three convicted bank bandits and killers died in the electric chair at the old State Prison today, steadfastly protesting their innocence and mumbling incoherent prayers. They were: Fred Gerner, 27, Rockford, Ill.; Arthur Thielen, 42, his brother-in-law, of Rockford; John Hauff, 32, Chicago. The three were convicted in Circuit Court at Ottawa two months ago. The trio insisted, a few minutes before they were led from their cells along the dimly lighted "death row," that their companion in the holdup, Melvin Leist, was responsible for the killings. Leist, a Rockford man, committed suicide with a cumbersome machine gun when surrounded in a cornfield near Varna, Ill. Gerner, Thielen and Hauff were trapped in a nearby farmhouse.

~The Daily Independent, Murphysboro, Ill., Friday, 10 May 1935. Condensed from a longer article.


George Hamann plead guilty to the charge of illegal possession of intoxicating liquor and he was fined $350 and costs. Because the defendant had been sentenced in this case, two other charges - illegal transportation of liquor and bootlegging - were dismissed by the county attorney.

Edgar Opperman pled guilty to maintaining a liquor nuisance and he was fined $400 and costs, and a charge of unlawful possession of intoxicating liquor was dismissed by the county attorney.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 21 Feb. 1935. District court column.


Whiskey, gin and alcohol, illegally possessed, were found in three places as the result of raids made last Thursday afternoon and evening through the co-operation of Federal, state and county officials, in Guttenberg, Marquette and Luana.

A quantity of whiskey was seized in the Alfonse Vorwald home at Guttenberg, and a quantity of gin and whiskey in the E. L. Humphreys place, also in Guttenberg.

Alcohol was found in the Wilbur Heaton place in Marquette, and the F. H. Schweer place was also raided. No liquor was found here, but several slot machines were confiscated,

The George Hamann place, near Luana, was also searched, but here also only slot machines were taken.

Vorwald, Humphreys and Heaton had their preliminary hearings last Monday morning and all three were bound over to the grand jury under $500 bonds. Vorwald and Humphreys provided bonds, but Heaton is being held in the county jail for failure to raise the necessary bond.

The case against Schweer and Hamann on the slot machine charges will be taken before Judge T. H. Goheen of Calmar when he returns here Friday morning.

Federal Agents Purvis and Thompson, State Agent Hewitt, and Deputies E. C. Fitzpatrick and Fred Jungblut worked in these raids.

Humphrey, Vorwald and Heaton waived time to plead yesterday forenoon when Judge T. H. Goheen was here for a short time and the first named was fined $400 and costs while the latter two were fined $300 and costs, all on charges of illegal possession of intoxicating liquor. Humphrey and Vorwald paid their fines but Heaton is serving his fine out in the county jail here.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 21 Mar. 1935


Three cases were heard in the court of Justice D. E. Gleason here Tuesday. In one case the defendant was dismissed for lack of evidence and in the other two cases the defendants were placed under peace bonds.

The case dismissed was that of Mrs. Washington D. Shields of Clayton, who had been charged with assault with intent to commit great bodily injury. Mrs. Shields had shot her husband in the right leg when he attempted to break into the home. Because there was not enough evidence to bind her over to the grand jury, the case was dismissed following the preliminary hearing. Mr. Shields, who had been treated for his wound at the Lenth hospital, was taken before Justice Gleason and he was placed under a peace bond of $1,000, which he furnished.

Glen Nichols, who was brought before Justice Gleason here Tuesday afternoon charged with threatening to injure several people, was also placed under a $1,000 peace bond

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 28 Mar. 1935


Silas J. Beddow, 68, who was convicted on a charge of uttering counterfeit public instruments by a jury in the October term of district court, completed his sentence in the county jail here Tuesday, and that same afternoon returned to his home near Colesburg.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 28 Mar. 1935


Headless, Armless, Nude Woman's Body Found
A real mystery case, that rivals the lurid stories in vogue in detective tale publications and crime annals, has been laid away in the burial ground of the Clayton county poor farm outside Elkader and the sheriff's office and the coroner's office are now awaiting further developments. The whole affair grew out of the finding of a water-soaked body in the river at North Buena Vista last week. A fisherman there, Delbert Thorpe, who lives at North Buena Vista, found the body floating in some willows, that proved to be the headless and armless body of a woman, as he was returning to his home in a boat. The sheriff's office and the coroner were summoned at once and the sheriff's office and Coroner Leslie Oelke were summoned at once and the body towed to shore where a hasty examination was made. The body was that of a middle-aged woman. Her head had been cut off just above the shoulder line and one arm was cut off at the elbow and the other just above the elbow. The body was entirely naked and there were no marks of identification at all.

At first the rumor spread that the body of Mrs. John Rowe, missing North Buena Vista woman, had been discovered but investigation showed that the corpse pulled out had been in the water for several months. The body was removed to Elkader and embalmed as much as possible. Burial was then made. The fact that the body had been in the water for several months made early interment necessary. Strange to say there was little odor, the flesh having been preserved firmly by the cold water. It is thought the woman had been in the water since last fall, possibly just as the first ice came in the river.

Conjecture as to the identity of the corpse has not been answered. As soon as the body was found officials at Des Moines were notified and as complete a description as possible sent out. A phone call from Winona was received the next day. A man there said his wife, middle-aged, had drowned last fall, when the boat they were in on a fishing and hunting trip, had tipped over in Lake Pepin. However, his wife was fully clothed in heavy outdoor garments, two wool sweaters, a pair of wool riding breeches and high-laced shoes being part of her dress and it is not considered possible that all of her clothing could have been torn off by the water. Also she had her head and arms when she fell in the water.

Another call came from LaCrosse, Wis., asking about another missing wife, who was thought to have fallen in the Mississippi river there four weeks ago. It was held that the recovered body could not have attained the state of decomposition in had in that short time and again the LaCrosse woman was completely clothed and membered.

The theory was advanced that some woman, decapitated and de-armed by a train on a river bridge, might be the victim, but again the clothing feature entered and also the fact that the head and arms had been cleanly cut off and not mangled or crushed.

So the sheriff and coroner are waiting; the body has been buried and the only possible way of identification is very remote. The official idea is that the woman was murdered, her head and arms cut off cleanly by her murderer, and her body, naked and showing no marks of identification, tied in a flimsy sack and cast into the waters, where wind and ice and current combined to carry it far down the valley to North Buena Vista and oblivion.

~Compiled from articles in the Guttenberg Press, Thur., 4 Apr. 1935, and Clayton County Register, Thur., 4 Apr. 1935
~Transcriber's note: No Identification of the body is known to have been found, nor whether the death was accidental or a case of murder ...rrj


George Rubendall, a farmer living between McGregor and Garnavillo, was bound over to the grand jury under bond of $1,000, charged with assault with intent to commit murder. Failing to provide this bond, he is being held in the county jail here. Rubendall waived a preliminary hearing in the court of Justice D. E. Gleason Monday forenoon. The prisoner, it is alleged, threatened to shoot his wife and son last Saturday and had already raised the gun and pulled back the hammer ready to pull the trigger when the son knocked the gun from his hands. The husband and father was arrested and bound over to the grand jury, as already stated.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 2 May 1935


George Rubendall pled guilty to a charge of assault with intent to commit a felony and he was committed to the Fort Madison penitentiary. Sheriff L. J. Palas took him there Wednesday to start an indeterminate sentence.

George Hamann pled guilty to a charge of keeping a gambling house. He was fined $50 and costs.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 16 May 1935


Drunk and disorderly conduct on the part of Wm. Theodore cost him his freedom for a period of 30 days in Justice D. E. Gleason's court here Tuesday forenoon. Theodore was arrested in Guttenberg Monday night by Marshal Glenn Miller when he found him fighting and in an intoxicated condition. He was brought here Tuesday forenoon and began his sentence immediately in the county jail.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 7 June 1935


Leon Fishel and D. O. Willie paid fines of $5.00 and costs each for a total of $30.00 in the court of Justice George Ehrhardt last Monday when they were charged with malicious mischief. Both men plead guilty to the charge by which they admitted sawing the plow handles from a stubble plow belonging to Ray Noggle. The case was reported to the sheriff's office last Saturday noon and that same evening the arrest was made by Deputy E. C. Fitzpatrick and Fred Jungblut and followed later by the confession of both men.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 13 June 1935.


Ernest Vaughn of Waterville smashed up his car and some other property in McGregor. He was arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. In justice court there he was bound over to the grand jury under $500 bonds. Failing to procure such bonds, he is being held in the county jail here. [Note: No resolution to this case could be found.]

Clarence Johnson is a young man charged with operating a motor vehicle without the consent of its owner. He has been bound over to the grand jury, and, in default of bonds, is held in jail here. [Note: This case is noted as on the court docket in the Clayton County Register, Thur., 3 Oct. 1935, but no resolution was found thereafter.]

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 20 June


Wyman Lenhart of Littleport, who last week was arrested as he stopped at a local filling station, and charged with illegal transportation of intoxicating liquor and illegal possession with intent to sell, appeared before Judge W. L. Eichendorf here Monday forenoon to enter a plea of guilty to the first named charge. The court entered a fine of $300 and costs against Lenhhart, and County Attorney A. H. Borman dismissed the second charge when the defendant pled guilty to the first charge.

Tiffin "Red" Emerson, formerly of Strawberry Point but more recently of Manchester, was bound over on a mayhem charge as the result of a fight in which he and Clarence Madden were involved. The fight is reported to have taken place in Littleport and during the conflict Emerson is alleged to have bitten quite a chunk from Madden's left ear. Bail bond in this case was fixed at $2,000 which Emerson provided. [Note: The case against Emerson was reported as on the court docket in the Clayton County Register, Thur., 28 Nov. 1935, but thru 31 Dec. 1936, no resolution to this case could be found.]

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 4 July 1935


Union State Bank Robbery, Monona

Linked by police with a murder, three kidnappings, and more than [either 30 or 50] robberies, these three alleged desperadoes were captured in a Sabetha, Kan. tourist camp. Larry Kruse, 25, left, and John Meade, 19, right, both of Sioux City, Ia. are said to have confessed to the orgy of crime branding Howard Vernon, center, of Fairbury, Neb., an ex-convict, as the gang leader they feared to disobey. Vernon denie his guilt, declaring he was a hitch-hiker picked up the the other two. The crimes were committed over a trail stretching from Michigan through Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.
~Burlington Daily Hawk-Eye Gazette, Sat., 3 Aug. 1935

Transcription note: The men were prosecuted for their most serious charges, thus they never faced prosecution for the Monona State Bank robbery. Following, is an accounting of the Monona bank robbery & other crimes, as gleaned from newspapers of the time .......

Monona Bank Robbery
The Union State Bank at Monona was held up and robbed of $2,200 by two well dressed bandits at noon Saturday. The bandits joined their accomplice in a black Ford V-8 sedan outside of the bank and fled southward with the vice president as a hostage. He was released, unharmed, less than a block from the bank.

The two men who entered the bank at 11:55 a.m., wore dark glasses and carried revolvers. As they entered the building they first pointed their guns at H. T. Orr, vice president. Then one of the bandits commanded Orr, Cora Haslett and Ruth Bernhardt, bookkeepers, to "lie down.:

While one of the bandits covered the bank employees with his gun, the other scooped up all the available cash. It took about five minutes for the bandit to find all the money in the cash drawers and vault. As the bandits left the bank they ordered Orr to "come along." The bandits took the bank's sawed-off shotgun with them as they fled.

As the robbers were leaving the building with Orr with a gun poked in his ribs, Orr's son, Billy, 8, walked into the bank."Where are you going, daddy ?' the boy asked. "That's my boy," Orr told the bandits. "All right, get going," commanded one of the bandits. They paid no attention to the boy and brushed past him. Orr was forced to stand on the running board as the bandit trio left the bank. He was pushed off a short distance away, but he was not injured.

"They were very courteous," Orr said when he returned to the bank and officers had been summoned. "They appeared to be experts at the business." The car the bandits drove had yellow wire wheels and is believed to have had New Mexico license plates. A car bearing the description of the bandit car is believed to have been seen speeding through Rossville shortly after 1 p.m. Orr said the bandits were well dressed and appeared to be about 30 years old.

State agent Joe Burke came Saturday afternoon to help Sheriff L. J. Palas in the investigation. This is Iowa's seventh bank robbery this year. Sheriff Palas and State Agent Burke returned to Elkader Tuesday evening after they had spent several days in southern Minnesota checking trails which it is believed were made by the robbers. It is quite evident that the robbers went into Minnesota after they went through Allamakee county but further than that the authorities have found no definite clues.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 18 July 1935


The identity of the bandits who held up the Union State Bank at Monona on Saturday, July 13, has apparently been solved.On Sunday three men who were suspected of robbing the Sergeant Bluff (Iowa) Bank and of committing other crimes in the vicinity of Sioux City, were trapped by Kansas highway patrolmen as they entered a tourist camp near Sabetha, Kansas. On Tuesday daily papers carried pictures of the trio, whose names were given as Howard Vernon of Fairbury, Neb., Larry Kruse and John Meade of Sioux City.

Circumstances pointed to the possibility of their being the Monona robbers. Yesterday Sheriff L. J. Palas visited Monona, and H. T. Orr, vice president of the Monona bank, positively identified the picture of Howard Vernon as being that of the man who had held the gun during the robbery there. Kruse was also identified by Mr. Orr, Cora Hazlett and Ruth Bernhardt, bookkeepers, as the man who seized the money. Others at Monona made tentative identification of these men as being ones they had seen in Monona at the time of the robbery. John Meade, the youngest member of the trio, is believed to have stayed at the Monona hotel the night before the robbery, reluctantly registering under the name Arnold Dillon.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 1 Aug. 1935. Condensed from a longer article.


Lincoln, Neb., Aug. 1 : John Meade, 19 year old bank robber, was in the Nebraska penitentiary here today - beginning a 26 year sentence for participation in the $785 robbery of the Blue Springs State Bank at Blue Springs, Nebr., June 24. Meade pleaded guilty to the charge in Beatrice, Nebr., yesterday after being returned from Lansing, Kans., by Deputy State Sheriff Bob Emery and Sheriff Tom Dunn. He was arrested in Kansas Sunday. State Agent Paul Gruber late yesterday arrested Fred Meade, brother of John, in Sioux City and held him in jail as a suspect in the Blue Springs robbery, which was staged by three men.

~Mason City Globe-Gazette, 1 Aug. 1935


Sioux City, Ia., Aug. 30 : A 25 year sentence in the Anamosa reformatory today faced Larry Kruse, 24, who pleaded guilty to a charge of participating in the robbery of a Sergeant Bluff, Ia., bank last July. He is the second bandit identified in the bank robbery who has been sentenced. John Meade, Sioux City, was given a 28-year term in the Nebraska penitentiary at Lincoln three weeks ago for robbing the Blue Springs, Neb., bank.

~Burlington Daily Hawk-Eye Gazette, Fri., 30 Aug. 1935


Sioux City, Ia., Sept. 30 : Howard Vernon, 25, of Fairbury, Neb., took "revenge" on Judge Miles W. Newby for sentencing him to life imprisonment for the Sergeant Bluff, Ia., bank robbery. When Vernon was called as a defense witness for Lloyd Peterson, 23, accused of a torture robbery of an elderly couple, he cut antics which pleased the large audience, but irked the judge. Judge Newby rebuked the crowd for laughing at Vernon's remarks and actions but could not cite the youth for contempt since he already was destined to serve life imprisonment in Fort Madison prison.

~Burlington Hawk-Eye Gazette, 30 Sept. 1935.
~Transcriber's note: The trio of Vernon - Kruse - Meade went on a months-long crime spree ranging from Michigan to Kansas, and that which were reported in many different newspapers in six states. They faced many charges from robbery to murder stemming from their crime spree. They were prosecuted for the most serious charges, thus they never faced prosecution for the Monona State Bank robbery.


Ewald Kregel of Guttenberg is serving a 30 day sentence in the county jail imposed by Justice of the Peace D. E. Gleason for stealing a watch. According to the evidence in Justice Gleason's court, Kregel had stolen the watch in Guttenberg last Friday and later sold it in Garber. He was arrested and brought here for his hearing in Justice Gleason's court.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 8 Aug. 1935


Roy J. Scheffert pled guilty Tuesday afternoon before Judge H. E. Taylor to a charge of driving a car while intoxicated. Judge Taylor fined Scheffert $300 and costs or thirty days in jail.

Mrs. Ernest Haltmeyer pled guilty to a charge of operating a slot machine. She was fined $50 and costs and the machine was confiscated.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 15 Aug. 1935


Elkader Fair Shooting Results In Death. Extra !
Tragedy stalked at the Elkader Fair last evening, resulting in the death of Jimmie Jacobson, 25, employed on the Ben Leonard farm east of Elkader, from a bullet fired from a pistol in the hand of Thomas Thompsen, secretary of the fair.

According to the best information we have been able to get from reliable sources, Thompsen had been called to the west line of the fair grounds by a fair policeman. This official reported to Thompsen that several men were trying to get into the grounds from the railroad track.

Evidence uncovered early this forenoon established the fact that at least three shots had been fired from the railroad tracks toward the sheep barns, shortly before nine o'clock. These shots were heard by Walter Carley of Maynard, a sheep attendant, and by Henry Jungblut, one of the fair policeman.

Thompsen saw three men and called to them. Two ran away from him, while the third ran toward him. Thompsen had a small automatic pistol in his hand which he had been carrying on account of having considerable sums of money in his possession at times during the fair. Thompsen denies aiming at anyone or intentionally pulling the trigger. He also states that he was struck quite a sharp blow on the right forearm, and that this may have caused the discharge of the pistol. The bullet struck Jacobson in the left side of the head, directly below the temple, ranging upward and came out at the top of the head.

Thompsen immediately called for help, and doctors were summoned. Jacobson was first taken to Dr. McGrath's office, where Doctors McGrath and Hommel x-rayed the wound. He was later taken to the Moran hospital, where he died at about 11:30.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 15 Aug. 1935


Local Attorney Waives Preliminary Hearing And Has Furnished $5,000 Bail Bond.
Thomas Thompsen, local attorney and secretary of the Elkader Fair, waived preliminary hearing in the court of Justice D. E. Gleason Monday noon on a charge of manslaughter brought by Sheriff L. J. Palas, an outgrowth of the shooting of Jimmie Jacobson at about 10:30 p.m. last Wednesday.

Thompsen had been under $1,000 bonds up to that time on a charge of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. After authorities had interrogated Vincent Boland and Donald Crain, the two who were with Jacobson at the time of the shooting, the charge was changed to one of manslaughter and Thompsen was taken into Justice Gleason's court and bond fixed. Mr. Thompsen has retained D. D. Murphy & Son for his defense.

Funeral services for the dead man were held here last Saturday at St. Joseph's church with the Rev. J. P. Taken officiating. Interment was made in St. Joseph's cemetery, here*.

[*Note: An article in the Guttenberg Press, Thur., 22 Aug. 1935, essentially the same as this article except it states James Jacobson's body was taken to Fonda, Iowa, for burial.]

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 22 Aug. 1935


Find Thompson Is Not Guilty.
Elkader, Ia. 16 Mar. UP: Thomas Thompsen, secretary of the Elkader Fair Association, was acquitted by a district court jury here of charges of manslaughter, growing out of the fatal shooting during last August of James Jacobson, farm hand. The verdict was returned at 3:20 p.m. yesterday by a jury of ten men and two women who had deliberated nearly 28 hours.

The shooting for which Thompsen was brought to trial occurred during a disturbance at the Elkader fair grounds. Thompsen, according to his testimony, had experienced difficulties with several young men who sought to "crash" the fair grounds grates. He fired two shots in the air, he said. A third shot struck and fatally wounded Jacobson.

During the trial Thompsen said he could not remember how the fatal shot was discharged. Testimony was introduced for the defense , showing that Vincent Boland, companion of Jacobson, allegedly grabbed Thompsen's arm during the fair grounds disturbance.

The court room was virtually deserted when the jury returned its verdict to District Judge T. H. Goheen.

~Oelwein Daily Register, Mon., 16 Mar. 1936


Elkader, Ia.: Judge H. E. Taylor of Waukon was in the county seat this past week and disposed of several cases which had been scheduled for court hearing.

Roy Scheffert of Luana was fined $300 and costs or thirty days in jail when he pleaded guilty to a charge of driving a car while intoxicated.

Mrs. Ernest Haltmeyer pleaded guilty to a charge of operating a slot machine in her business establishment at Farmersburg and was fined $50 and costs. The machine was also confiscated.

~Guttenberg Press, Thur., 22 Aug. 1935


Hugh Pugh, 30, of Guttenberg was arrested last Monday on a charge of attempted rape. He was brought before Justice D. E. Gleason Monday afternoon where he waived preliminary hearing. Justice Gleason bound the defendant over to the October term of the grand jury under $500 bonds which he furnished. [Note: This paper, on Oct. 24, 1935, reported that Hugh Pugh plead guilty to a charge of assault and battery and received a fine of $50 and costs.]

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 29 Aug. and 24 Oct. 1935


Homer Olson, who several weeks ago was arrested for breaking into the Schmidt Pharmacy, pled guilty to a charge of breaking and entering before Judge W. L. Eichendorf here last Tuesday morning. The young man was sentenced to the state reformatory at Anamosa "until released by law," but since this was the first time he had ever been convicted of a crime Judge Eichendorf saw fit to give him another opportunity and Homer was paroled to Prof. Hamlet Peterson, athletic coach at Luther college, Decorah, Iowa, and A. C. Bishop, editor and publisher of the Decorah Public Opinion. This parole is only to be in effect during good behavior.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 5 Sept. 1935


Lawrence Loetz, 18, and Harold Grimstad, 19, both of Marquette, Friday forenoon plead guilty to a charge of grand larceny before Judge W. L. Eichendorf of McGregor. These young men had been caught stealing lumber from a freight car at the Marquette yards by a railroad detective. They were hiding the lumber in the weeds along the right of way declaring, during the hearing, that they intended to sell the lumber later on.

Loetz is married but Grimstad is single. This was the first time that either had been arrested on any criminal charge and Judge Eichendorf was inclined to be lenient with them on that account. Both were sentenced to the reformatory at Anamosa, "until released by law." but both were paroled during good behavior - Loetz to C. M. Brooks of McGregor and Grimstad to Sheriff L. J. Palas. Judge Eichendorf gave the boys a soul-touching talk after which the boys promised to avoid further violation of the law.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 5 Sept. 1935


Frank Knitsch, 46, and his son, George, 23, both of near Monona, plead guilty last Tuesday afternoon in the court of Judge T. H. Goheen, of Calmar, to the charge of grand larceny. Both father and son had signed confessions previously so that the plea of guilty Tuesday was merely a formality.The father was sentenced to Fort Madison penitentiary for a period not to exceed five years, while the son was sentenced to the county jail here for a year. Since this was the first conviction of the younger man, Judge Goheen paroled him to the sheriff of this county during good behavior.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 26 Sept. 1935


Gypsies Take $120 From Fred Benzing
The trail of a gypsy band, numbering about 60, which has been terrorizing and robbing farmers in northeastern Iowa, followed by sheriffs of Winneshiek, Fayette and Clayton counties, ended in Holy Cross, Dubuque county, late last week, Wednesday afternoon and which resulted in the recovery of $120 alleged to have been stolen from a farmer near Farmersburg. Forty-five dollars taken from a sexton at Wadena was not recovered.

Chief Deputy Sheriff Leo J. Eisbach of Dubuque, was instrumental in assisting Sheriff L. J. Palas and his deputies, of Clayton county, in corralling the gypsy band, searching them and recovering the money. According to Sheriff Palas, two women gypsies and one man stopped at the farm home of Fred Benzing near Farmersburg. The two women got out of their automobile, which carried an Ohio state license 45K, and approached Benzing, who was on the farm alone. The women engaged him in conversation, during which one of them lifted his purse containing $120. He didn't miss the money until the women had gotten into the automobile and drove away.

Benzing notified the authorities at once and a description of the automobile and the occupants were broadcast to sheriffs of three counties. While the hunt was on for the trio that robbed the Farmersburg farmer a report was received that another person fell victim to the gypsies.

This was at Wadena, Ia. The trio believed to be the same who picked the Farmersburg farmer's pocket, stopped at the Wadena cemetery, where Sexton Zeke Davis was at work. The two women approached him and got into conversation, which lasted about ten minutes. While one was holding him in conversation, the other woman relieved him of his purse, containing $45. He later reported the affair to the Clayton county sheriff.

Following the robbery at the Farmersburg farm, and after a complete description of the trio had been given him, Sheriff Palas and his deputy started in pursuit. Miles of Clayton county were covered before the two officials finally picked up the trail. It lead into Dubuque county. The trail was picked up on highway 52. Just south of Holy Cross, Sheriff Palas located a band of gypsies in camp. They had already pitched their tents to make a stay for the night. Stopping at a store, Sheriff Palas called Sheriff Tommy Ryder, Dubuque, and asked assistance.

Chief Deputy Leo J. Eisbach rushed to the scene. As he was enroute to Holy Cross to join Sheriff Palas, he came onto a band of gypsies camping near Gillespie Hill. Looking them over carefuly he continued on to Holy Cross. There he told Sheriff Palas of the band near Rickardsville : He suggested that both be brought together and given the once over. This was done. The brown car alleged to have stopped at the Benzing farm near Farmersburg was in the caravan.

The leader of the band at Rickardsville, giving his name as Chief George Meclow, denied any connection or association with the tribe at Holy Cross. It later developed that he was head of both units. Orders were issued by Deputy Sheriff Eisbach to the gypsies to line up and be searched. Reluctantly the gypsy chief ordered his tribe to stand in line. It was not necessary to go through the belongings of the men and women for the leader produced the $120 and turned it over to the sheriff of Clayton county. [Next few words missing.]

No arrests were made. At this time, when the officers were attempting to recover the Farmersburg farmer's $120, they did not know of the Wadena holdup in the cemetery in which the sexton was relieved of $45. The officers of the Clayton and Dubuque county after recovering the $120, took the license numbers of all the automobiles in the gypsies caravan. After this they were told to knock down their tents, pack up and leave the state. Chief leader Meclow attempted to resist the order, stating that he had been given permission to camp for the night. However, he complied with the Dubuque sheriff's order and it was Eisbach who saw to it personally that the caravan moved out of state into Illinois.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 26 Sept. 1935


A band of Gypsies made a call on the Edna Bolsinger store Wednesday afternoon. Mrs. Bolsinger kept them outside the door for a while, but while she stepped behind the counter to get some article for them, they entered the store and helped themselves to things that were handy.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 26 Sept. 1935. Graham column.


Lawrence Nichols was arrested Friday evening under suspicion of stealing some chickens from the C. F. Rothenhoefer farm west of Elkader on the old Volga City road. Nichols was taken before Justice George Ehrhardt Monday forenoon where he was charged with larceny of domestic fowls. Here he waived preliminary hearing and was bound over to the grand jury under $1,500 bonds. Failing to furnish such bond he is being held in the county jail.

This is the second time in about two months that Nichols has been arrested on a charge of stealing chickens. On a former occasion he was bound over to the grand jury under $500 bonds charged with stealing chickens from the Louis Wagner farm.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 26 Sept. 1935


Lawrence Nichols, who was indicted by the grand jury, charged with chicken stealing, plead guilty to the charge last Wednesday afternoon. He was sentenced to serve five years in the men's reformatory at Anamosa and was taken to that institution by Sheriff L. J. Palas Friday.

Harold Gass plead guilty to a charge of illegal possession of intoxicating liquor. Judge Taylor fined him $300 and costs and sentenced him to three months in the county jail. The jail sentence was suspended during good behavior upon payment of the fine.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 24 Oct. 1935


Pleading guilty to a charge of driving a car while intoxicated disposed of the case against Wm. Theodore of Clayton in district court here last week Wednesday afternoon. Judge H. E. Taylor assessed a fine of $300 and costs against Theodore and sentenced him to serve three months in the county jail. The jail sentence was suspended upon payment of the fine and costs and Theodore was released from the county jail where he had been held awaiting action of the grand jury.

Francis Moreland of Mallory township plead guilty to a charge of petty larceny Tuesday morning in the court of Justice D. E. Gleason. He was sentenced to serve thirty days in the county jail. Moreland was accused of taking some old iron without the consent of the owner.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 7 Nov. 1935


One criminal action was disposed of Monday forenoon. This was the case of the State of Iowa vs. Clifford Noggle, in which the defendant was charged with illegal possession of intoxicating liquor. Noggle plead guilty to the charge and the judge's order shows that the defendant was fined $300 and costs and sentenced to serve three months in the county jail. Since this was the defendants first offense the jail sentence was suspended during good behavior and he was paroled to the sheriff. The order further provides that upon payment of $75 of the fine the commitment is to be withheld for 30 days.

~Clayton County Register, Thur., 4 Dec. 1935


Pleading guilty to a charge of driving a car while intoxicated B. W. Cox was fined $300 and costs and sentenced to serve three months in the county jail by Judge W. L. Eichendorf here Monday forenoon.

On a similar charge Wm. Bahls was bound over to the grand jury after a preliminary hearing in the court of Justice D. E. Gleason last week. [Note: No resolution to the Wm. Bahl case could be found.]

~Clayton County Register, Wed. 18 Dec. 1935


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