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Studabaker Bank Transit Robbery

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1887 Studabaker Bank robbery in transit




THE EXCHANGE BANK ROBBERY
AS REPORTED  IN THE BLUFFTON WEEKLY CHRONICLE


Robbery!
The Exchange Bank of this place telegraphed to the First National Bank at Cincinnati, last Friday, for $5,000 in currency, a thing they frequently do when they run short, and on Saturday received a package from the United States Express agent at this place bearing the stamp of the First National Bank and having the outward signs of containing the money sent for. James M. Studabaker proceeded to open the package when, to his astonishment, he discovered that in place of the money, paper had been substituted by some person, and the money stolen. It will be difficult to discover where the money was stolen, but evidently the express company will be responsible for the loss. The job was very neatly done. A counterfeit seal of the bank was used in sealing the package after the original seal had been broken. The package was receipted for at the Bluffton Bank before the discovery of the robbery. Bluffton, Indiana: Bluffton Weekly Chronicle. VOLUME XIII. NUMBER 22. Thursday, December 22, 1881. p. 3, col. 3.
THAT $5,000 PACKAGE
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Or Rather that Paper Package,
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Received by the Bluffton Exchange Bank.
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It may interest our readers to learn additional facts about the $5,000 package of money that was supposed to be lost in transit from Cincinnati to this place a few weeks ago. The First National Bank of Cincinnati declare themselves wholly irresponsible (sic) for the loss. The U. S. Express Company do likewise; and as the bank at this place know they [ital.] are not responsible for its nondelivery, they are beginning to grow considerably interested in finding out who the responsible parties are. We have known for some time that a lawsuit was under headway, but were cautioned to not give the fact publicity--why, we do not know--but as the facts were all published in the Cincinnati papers of last Sunday, it is no longer a matter of secrecy. John Studabaker & Co., proprietors of the Exchange Bank of Bluffton, have sued the United States Express Company for the loss they have sustained, and said express company expect to defend themselves on the following grounds: That they have made a searching investigation, and are confirmed in the belief that the package intrusted to them by the First National Bank of Cincinnati was the identical package which they delivered to the Exchange Bank of Bluffton. As confirmatory of that belief, it is alleged that the newspaper contents of the package were tied in the customary bank style, with the twine in use in the bank; that the wrapper was sealed in three places, at each end and in the center, with the wax and the private stamp of the bank, and as all of the three are shown to be in absolute good order, without the slightest indication to the contrary, it seems conclusive evidence that the theft did not occur while the package was in charge of the express company. It is quite evident that the abstraction of the money, and the substitution of a foreign matter would leave some trace of the deed, which however does not appear. To this statement of facts the First National Bank takes several important exceptions. Mr. Theodore Stanwood, the cashier, says that the package when received at Bluffton, was not sealed with "the wax and private stamp of the bank." This, he believes, can be shown conclusively. The wax upon the seals, when the package was delivered, was smoked black, showing that it had been warmed with an oil lamp. At the bank the wax is always warmed by gas jet, and it has been shown by actual trial that the wax cannot be smoked and blackened by a gas jet. The seal used was a counterfeit of the bank seal. This can be easily seen by the use of a strong lens. The surface of the wax is rough, showing that the seal used was made from plaster or some such substance, instead of a perfectly smooth metal. It was about a quarter of 6 o'clock when the package was delivered. It should have reached Bluffton at 10 o'clock the next morning. It went a roundabout way, however, and did not get through till the morning of Saturday, instead of Friday. Mr. Sproul explains the roundabout journey which the package took by saying that it was a very unusual thing to receive a package for Bluffton, and the clerks and messengers were at a loss which way to send it. He says that the company can account for the package every hour it was in transitu. [ital.] The company, he says, at first ordered the funds to be sent to the Cincinnati office to make the loss good, but upon investigation it was found that the responsibility for the loss could not be placed upon the company, and the order to make good the loss was countermanded. Mr. Sproul says that all they have to fear, if the matter is carried into court, is the prejudice of juries against wealthy corporations. Should the suit go against the company, he says it will result in an examination of valuable packages received by express companies before a receipt is given for them. It seems like an outrage to us that the bank at this place must be deprived of the use of their money, as they are entirely innocent in the affair, and the responsibility lies wholly with the Cincinnati bank and the U. S. Express company; but that wealthy corporation will law the bank here until it will cost them half of the $5,000 to recover the other half, and by some technicality in law the bank may lose it all. The case is attracting a great deal of attention all over the country, and will be extensively commented upon all over the United States, but it is an expensive advertisement for the Exchange Bank of Bluffton. i>Bluffton, Indiana: Bluffton Weekly Chronicle. VOLUME XIII. NUMBER 26. Thursday, January 19, 1882. p. 2, col. 2. The Exchange Bank of this place entered suit in the superior court, at Ft. Wayne, Thursday of last week, to recover $8,000 from the United States express company. The case is familiar to all our readers, and the result of the trial will be looked for with great interest. J. J. Todd, of this place, and R. S. Taylor, of Ft. Wayne, are counsel for the plaintiff. Bluffton, Indiana: Bluffton Weekly Chronicle. VOLUME XIII. NUMBER 28. Thursday, February 3, 1882. p. 3, col. 3. The trial of J. Studabaker & Co., of Bluffton, vs. the United States Express company, will probably come up for hearing before Judge Lowry on the 13th.--Ft. Wayne Gazette. [ital.] Bluffton, Indiana: Bluffton Weekly Chronicle. VOLUME XIII. NUMBER 29. Thursday, February 10, 1882. p. 3, col. 3. The depositions taken by Matthew J. Day, an Indianapolis notary, in the important case of Studabaker et al., of Bluffton, vs. the United States express company, were received by the county clerk yesterday. There were seventeen of them taken at a cost of $101.--Ft. Wayne Gazette. [ital.] Bluffton, Indiana: Bluffton Weekly Chronicle. VOLUME XIII. NUMBER 30. Thursday, March 16, 1882. p. 3, col. 4. The case of J. Studabaker & Co. vs. the United States express company for the recovery of $5,000, lost in transit between here and Cincinn[a]ti, will come up some time in June. Bluffton, Indiana: Bluffton Weekly Chronicle. VOLUME XIII. NUMBER 43. Thursday, May 18, 1882. p. 3, col. 3. J. Studabaker & Co., bankers of this place, lost their suit against the U. S. Express company, in which they endeavored to recover the $5,000 lost in transit between here and Cincinnati. This is a disappointment to everybody here, as everything seemed favorable up to the time the jury left their seats, for the Studabaker side. The cost and the loss of the money will foot up $6,000 or more. We are informed by one of the bank officials that the bank will make no further attempt to recover the lost money. It seems like an outrage that the Bank here should lose it, as it is acknowledged on all hands that they are the innocent parties, and the theft occurred either among the Cincinnati bank employees or of the express company. Bluffton, Indiana: Bluffton Weekly Chronicle. VOLUME XIII. NUMBER 52. Thursday, July 20, 1882. p. 3, col. 3. The case of J. Studabaker & Co., vs. the United States Express Company came up last Friday at Fort Wayne for re-hearing. It was decided to open the package and examine the contents in the presence of all the interested parties to see if any of the slips contain marks of any kind that will lead to solve the mystery of who stole the money, or where it was stolen. This interesting part of the drama will take place at the First National Bank in Cincinnati some time in the near future and the application for a new trial will take place in September, after the package has been examined. Bluffton, Indiana: Bluffton Weekly Chronicle. VOLUME XIV. NUMBER 2. Thursday, August 3, 1882. p. 3, col. 2. The mysterious package that didn't contain $5,000, and which was sent to Studabaker's bank by the First National bank of Cincinnati via the United States Express company, was opened at Fort Wayne last week in the presence of the interested parties and their attorneys. Nothing new, particularly, was revealed by the examination except a small tag of the Cincinnati bank, and the probabilities are that the bank here will have to lose the amount. Bluffton, Indiana: Bluffton Weekly Chronicle. VOLUME XIV. NUMBER 11. Thursday, Oct[o]ber 5, 1882. p. 3, col. 4. Judge Worden has granted a new trial in the case of Studabaker's bank, of Bluffton, vs. the United States express company, in the suit for the loss of a $5,000 package of currency en route from Cincinnati to Bluffton.--Fort Wayne Gazette. [ital.] Bluffton, Indiana: Bluffton Weekly Chronicle. VOLUME XIV. NUMBER 21. Thursday, December 14, 1882. p. 3, col. 3. The case of the Exchange bank of this place vs. U. S. express company comes off July 5th, in Fort Wayne; so says the Ft. Wayne Gazette. Bluffton, Indiana: Bluffton Weekly Chronicle. VOLUME XIV. NUMBER 49. Thursday, June 28, 1883. p. 3, col. 1. A Dramatic Scene In Court. This afternoon the evidence in the express package case of Studabaker et. al. vs. the United States express company was all in and Judge Taylor began the arguments for the plaintiff. Judge Taylor made a sensation in court when he virtually charged Richie, the express messenger at Muncie, with the robbery of the money. The counsel then went on to illustrate the case with which a package could be opened. Judge Taylor had a sealed facsimile of the original package, a paper of plaster of paris, a bottle of oil, a copy of the Cincinnati Enquirer and a cup and spoon. He then proceeded in a very scientific manner, while the jury craned their necks, to apply oil to the seals with a brush and take plaster of paris casts of them. Then the judge bent down and, placing the newspaper on the floor, cut it into strips the size of bank notes. He then tore off the seals of the package, removed the contents, substituting the slips of paper and resealing the package. The job was done in good style and a lawyer present humorouusly (sic) suggested that Mr. Maxwell, of defendant cousel, recommend Judge Taylor to the express company for a position. The jury watched the proceedings very carefully, and Judge Fraser got down from the bench and looked on with great interest.--Friday's Fort Wayne Sentinel. Bluffton, Indiana: Bluffton Weekly Chronicle. VOLUME XIV. NUMBER 52. Thursday, July 19, 1883. p. 2, col. 3. VICTORY. The Exchange Bank comes out ahead. One of the most gratifying pieces of news that has reached our ears this week is the decision of the Jury in the case of the Exchange Bank vs the U. S. Express company for the recovery of $5000 package lost in transit from Cincinnati to this place. The jury was out one hour and returned with a verdict for the plantiff (sic) fixing the amount due the bank at $5475. The extra $475 is for interest accrued since the bank has been trying to recover their money. The decision is a just one and the trial brought out the fact that the express agent at Muncie is a persin (sic) the U. S. express company had better look after. He has suddenly become quite wealthy with no visible reason. He was placed on the witness stand and swore that he won $2000 one night playing poker in Muncie. He told of horse races where he had won large sums, and in this way accounted for all the money except $800 which he said would criminate him to tell where he got it. We doubt very much if every any one man won $2000 with one hand in a game of poker in Muncie. Bluffton, Indiana: Bluffton Weekly Chronicle. VOLUME XIV. NUMBER 52. Thursday, July 19, 1883. p. 3, col. 5. The United States Express company has removed its office from Bluffton and we believe withdrawn from the Fort Wayne and Muncie road and it might just as well do so as it will get but little if any business to do in this region of country. Its course with the bank here will cause all to lose confidence in it as a safe carrier of valuables. Bluffton, Indiana: Bluffton Weekly Chronicle. VOLUME XV. NUMBER 1. Thursday, July 26, 1883. p. 3, col. 1. George Richie, who was the agent for the U. S. Express company at Muncie, is not the agent any longer. He says he will sue J. Studabaker & Co. and R. S. Taylor, for $50,000 damages for slandering him. We venture to say he will never bring suit at all. Bluffton, Indiana: Bluffton Weekly Chronicle. VOLUME XV. NUMBER 1. Thursday, July 26, 1883. p. 3, col. 3. They Give It Up. The following dispatch to the Indianapolis Journal explains itself:-- FT. WAYNE, Sept. 28th.--This morning the attorneys for the United States Express Co. received a draft of $5,000 to pay the judgement in favor of Studebaker & Co., of Bluffton, Ind., proprietors of the Exchange Bank, for a currency package sent by the First National Bank of Cincinnati. This surrender of the express company settles the first of many cases of robbery of express packages in litigation. This package was sent from the First National Bank of Cincinnati on Dec. 15, 1881, and was delivered to the assistant ca[s]hier of the Bluffton Bank on the 17th. An incision was made in the package which showed its worthless contents. After two trials, the second by a struck jury, a verdict for Studebaker & Co., for the full amount was rendered. Each litigant pays his own costs. Bluffton, Indiana: Bluffton Weekly Chronicle. VOLUME XV. NUMBER 11. Thursday, October 4, 1883. p. 2, col. 4. Trial of an Alledged Express Robbery. The trial of Austin C. Case for alleged embezzlement of a $5,000 money package from the United State[s] Express Company, on the night of September 7, began in the Circuit Court to-day, attracting wide attention from the fact that this is the fourth package lost by the company, the amounts aggregate $15,000. The defendant is a man of heretofore unimpea[c]hable character. Sensational developments are expected. Bluffton, Indiana: Bluffton Weekly Chronicle. VOLUME XV. NUMBER 25. Thursday, January 10, 1884. p. 3, col. 4. Another Express Robbery. MUNCIE, Ind., Jan. 14.--It is known to-day that the United States Express company has again lost a money package in this vicinity. A few days ago a messenger for the Erie road received a $700 package at Tipton, for Elwood and receipted for it; when it reached Elwood the package had strangely vanished. The messenger who is said to have received it is the same who should have received the $5,000 package lost in this city some time since. The matter has been suppressed as long as possible. This makes $16,700 which the express company has lost by theft in this vicinity in the past four years. Bluffton, Indiana: Bluffton Weekly Chronicle. VOLUME XV. NUMBER 26. Thursday, January 17, 1884. p. 2, col. 4. AN OLD CRIME, ------ Which is Likely to be Cleared Up. The readers of the CHRONICAL will recollect of the $5,000 stolen express package in 1883, on its way from a Cincinnati bank to the Exchange bank of John Studabaker, Bluffton, and of the long contested suit at Fort Wayne, and the final compromise by the Express Co. and payment of the money to the Bluffton bank. The Cincinnati Enquirer of Wednesday of last week has the following: In 1883 the entire country was excited over a supposed express robbery. The First National Bank of this city sent a money-order package from here to Studabaker Bros., of Bluffton, Ind. The package was supposed to contain $5,000. When it reached its destination and was opened it was filled with blank paper. The mystery was never entirely cleared up. It seemed likely now that it has been solved by a curious combination of circumstances. On last Saturday Constable J. G. Benninger arrested Joseph G. Moore on a warrant sworn out before Squire McGranahan by John Douglass & Co., of Mount Auburn. Moore, who was employed by the firm as book-keeper and clerk, was charged with embezzlement. He was said to be short between $1, 200 and $2,000. Two specific allegations against him were for $400 and $100 taken. It was said that to avoid detection Moore had burned up the books. Moore declared he would make the amount good, and under his promise to do this he was left in the custody of the Constable, who slept with him. The accused, however, didn't come to time yesterday and he was arranged and bound over. A bond of $1,000 for the $400 case was signed by Moore's brother-in-law, W. F. Winter. Duncan Brice, another brother-in-law, went security in the sum of $500 for the second offense. Moore lives at Ivanhoe and has a wife and family. The interesting part of the story now develops. The defendant was the messenger of the First National Bank when the robbery occurred. A young man named Guild was the teller. A suit against the express company was brought by the bank. The express company won. Upon a second trial the decision was reversed. Smart detectives found that the package had been transferred at Muncie, Ind. It was learned that the agent there had suddenly become possessed of a large sum of money. Wat was the natural inference? That he was the guilty party. He was put on the stand, and could give no satisfactory statement as to where he got the money. The jury decided for the bank. When the suit was settled, Moore, the messenger, was discharged. It was charged that he had $500 belonging to the bank, but that fact was kept quiet until after the case with the express company had been decided. It had leaked out that the Muncie man had nothing to do with the robbery. He was working a little fraud of his own. One of his wealthy acquaintances had seduced a girl, and was anxious to compromise the case. The express messenger said: "Two thousand dollars will settle it." It was promptly paid over, but the girl only got $300 of the amount. The fellow pocketed the rest. This was the reason he couldn't tell on the witness-stand where he got the money in his plethoric pockets. Since the expose, the United Express Company talks of reopening the case, to recover back the $5,000 which it cost it. Bluffton, Indiana: Bluffton Weekly Chronicle. VOLUME XVIII. NUMBER 29. Thursday, February 10, 1887. p. 3, col. 6.



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Thomas Liby
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