Forgery Foiled

Sibley Gazette - January 4, 1900

E.B. Townsend, of the Sibley State Bank Detects Forgery

Detains Forger Till Evidence Exists



warranting his capture


    Tuesday, at 3:30 p.m. a stranger handed in at the Sibley State Bank a check, purporting to be from a A. W. Harris on the First National Bank of Sibley and signed "Fred Owens."  The check was for two (spelled 'tow') hundred dollars for 1000 bushels of corn at 20 cents per bushel.  Acting cashier E. B. Townsend saw at once that it was not A. W. Harris' handwriting and that the check in total appeared fraudulent, so he called Mr. Locke from his conversation with W. B. Stevens and directed his attention to the check.  Mr. Locke questioned the man who said he was a renter living near Bigelow,, but could not tell the land owners name. 

    While cashier Locke was interviewing the man, E. B. Townsend was talking over the telephone to Mr. Harris.  He soon found that Mr. Harris had given no such check.  Then E. B. Townsend interviewed the man while Mr. Locke used the phone in getting service ready for the fellow's capture.  Meanwhile the forger began to get nervous and wanted his check back as he was in a hurry.  But E. B. Townsend kept urging him to wait till he thought would be a good time for him to try to escape thus making his conviction more certain.  When the forger started out of the bank he went west to Sanders where he crossed the street and passed up the alley next to Parker's drug store.  E. B. Townsend followed but went up past Littlechild's livery barn and crossed the street west and passed through Bruce Lumber office.  The forger went up the alley and by the J. T. Barclay barn and E. B. Townsend changed his course going by Chidister's  and asked him to telephone to Mr. Locke and have the sheriff come.

    Sheriff Desmond came and the two found tracks from the Barclay alley leading to the Omaha railroad, though E. B. Townsend had grave suspicion that the forger was about the barns some place and sent word to have the barns watched.  The marshal went up to watch there while E. B. Townsend and the sheriff went up the tracks, locating the man they were tracking and finding him not to be the forger.  The forger started out of his hiding place and directed his steps north. 

    Ex-Sheriff Stamm was coming along and as the description and news of the fellow was pretty well public in that vicinity of the city, he suspected the man and called to him to stop that he might speak to him.  But the fellow hastened and Mr. Stamm repeated his request that he might speak to the traveler, but the more he requested, the more the traveler hastened till he was on a pretty good run.  There were several boys playing about the streets near Mr. Cleggs residence.  Mr. Stamm told the boys that the man running was wanted, and they took up the excitement and went after him.  Doubtless, the forger thought the city was now after him, and as doubtless images of lynching and all such horrors came before his excited mind.  At any rate he ran into Mr. Cleggs house, into the kitchen.  Mr. Stamm came into the kitchen and ordered him to throw up his hands, which he did so quickly as to almost startle Mr. Stamm.  He at once gave up and is in the county jail.

    He has since claimed that he cashed the check for another man.  The real facts in the case are that the whole part of the transactions are lame as a criminal, though the intentions were valid enough. 

    He has done some corn husking up about Bigelow, and he and another man were trying on clothing at Desky's preparatory to purchasing.  This man said he must go and get a check cashed before the bank closed and the other replied it is about four and you had better go soon then.  So he took off the coat he was trying on and went out with results as we have reported.

    This is the third attempt forgers have made at the Sibley State Bank and the third time they have been foiled.


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