Window to the Past

Thieves find Delphos Firm bad medicine


Gas thieves found a visit to the hay and straw plant of Howard and Hempker, South Jefferson Street, a rather unpleasant experience Wednesday night.

Ray :Howard and Clarence Hempker, the two members of the firm, had been trying to catch thieves who for six months past have been visiting their place of business and stealing gas from their trucks and tools from the plant.

Wednesday evening, a car which aroused their suspicions was parked on Canal Street, east of their plant. The partners returned from their supper early and lay in wait for the thieves. At about 10:30, two men came from the parked car, entered the plant and started to draw gasoline from the tank of the truck.

As the owners of the place approached them, one of the thieves started to run, carrying with him a gasoline can. Mr. Howard ordered him to stop and then fired a shot at him in the darkness and believes that he had hit him, as the can was dropped the moment the shot was fired. The second man did not run, but was taken and turned over to Officers Wagoner and Link, who were called following the shooting. He was lodged in jail and gave his name as William Taft of Carey and Kenton. The other man was not captured.

The parked automobile was also taken by the officers and is being held here. It is an Oakland touring car. The officers state that Taft has made a confession of his past in the affair.

From the Delphos Herald

Battle follows robbery at Blanche Danner home on South Canal Street

Robbers were again shot up in Delphos early Monday morning.

The police were called to the home of Blanche Danner, 311 South Canal Street, at about 12:30. Three robbers had visited the. Danner home and had taken about $100 and two revolvers.

A running gun battle between Patrolman T.B. Wagoner and Merchants Police Art Kohn on one side and the three robbers on the other developed when the two officers arrived upon the scene of the robbery.

It is believed that two of the men were hit. One of them fell but was able to make his getaway. A bullet knocked an automatic out of the hand of one of the robbers, breaking the gun and it is believed wounding the man.

The three men made good their escape along the Clover Leaf track east of Canal Street. A gun stolen by them from the Danner home was dropped in their flight.

The two officers escaped injury in the battle.

A machine believed to have been driven by the robbers was found Monday morning on the Spencerville road at the corporation line of the city. It was disabled, the driver having failed to make the turn from South street.

A purse taken in the robbery was found on Suthoff street.

From the Delphos Herald

Jan. 1, 1880 Delphos Herald

Picker Picked

Bernard Picker, a frugal German living four miles northwest of Delphos where he owns a small farm, has accumulated several thousand dollars, all of which is in bonds and notes except $1,000 of which $700 was in silver and the remainder in greenbacks, of which he was called upon to shell out. The secret of the Picker family's hoard was known by very few, yet became known to some members of that class of vultures that infest almost every community - thieves. Three of these, masked and otherwise, made their appearance at the house of the old German. A knock at the door was answered by the old man, who was immediately felled to the floor by a heavy blow across the eyes. Mrs. Picker ran to the defense of her husband, but was promptly seized by the burglars, who demanded to know where their money was, hidden. Threatening to burn her feet, it had the effect to frighten her into pointing out the bureau as the place. They found $1,000. Having secured the Pickers a hasty departure was made. Although the robbery was promptly conveyed to the neighbors, no trail to the perpetrators has yet been found.

Continued - Jan, 8, 1880 Delphos Herald

After a running gun battle, the ringleader and some of his accomplices were later captured. Mr. Chris Grossman, the; ringleader, John Coxson, and James Gross who is said to have harbored Grossman overnight.

Kate Tucker and a man named Mrs. Picker, accompanied by Mr. Geise, Mr. H. Dickman and others visited the jail this morning, and confronted John Coxson who. was captured at Kate Tucker's. Mr. Geise recognized him at once, and said, "I did not expect to find you here." The burglar replied, "You have the advantage of me, I don't know you." Mr. Geise said that the fellow had been lurking around Delphos and vicinity for some time.

After seeing him walk and hearing his voice, Mrs. Picker said, "In spite of the fact that he was masked when he robbed us, I know this is one of the men." The conversation between those from Delphos was in German. The burglar said, "You are taking advantage of me, I don't understand German." Mr. Dickman said, "You understand Pennsylvania German." (The burglar was from Pennsylvania.) He hung his head a moment and admitted that he did. Mr. Dickman then said, "and your father understands Pennsylvania German." This ended the interview and the burglar was locked in his cell. Those present were leaving when the burglar said, "Dickman, come here." The burglar knew Mr. Dickman and remembered his name. Pointing to Mr. Stevens of the Lima Democrat, and to the editor of the Bulletin, he said, "Who are those fellows?" Mr. D. replied "Newspapermen." The burglar said, "D---n the papers, I don't want reporters here. Tell them to say nothing about this."

Mrs. Picker is probably fifty years of age, above the medium size, and has a pleasant looking face. She is an intelligent, shrewd woman, and is highly spoken of by her neighbors. She carefully manages for her husband, who is an industrious thrifty farmer. Her testimony is valuable and conclusive.


From Jan. 14, 1898 Delphos Herald

Nearly $10,000 found in Mrs. Barbara Picker's wardrobe

Three and one-half miles northwest of Delphos, a large amount of money was unearthed Tuesday at the residence of Henry Picker.

Since the death of Barney Picker eight years ago, his wife made her home with her nephew. It was known that she had considerable money besides the 160 acres of land she owned, but the amount that was unearthed Tuesday astounded her relatives.

She had a room in her nephew's home where she lived quietly. Last Thursday morning, the aged lady was stricken with heart failure while in the hayloft of the barn, gathering eggs, and died before assistance reached her.

Michael Kimmet, her brother, was appointed administrator of the estate, the deceased leaving no will. After her death, Mrs. Picker's room was closed.

Tuesday, Mr. Kimmet and Constable H.J. Bergfeld, went to Mr. Picker's home. When the room lately occupied by the old lady was open and searched the people present were fairly amazed.

In every drawer of her wardrobe, were various amounts of money, carefully tied up in packages. When the search was completed the money and notes spread out amounted to nearly $10,000. Among the total was $800 in gold coin.

Mr. Bergfeld picked up a bonnet Mrs. Picker had worn in life on all occasions. He thought it rather heavy and opened a seam in the lining to investigate. Between the bonnet and lining was found $4,500 in paper money. The money was brought to town by Mr. Kimmet and Mr. Bergfeld and deposited in the vault of, the National Bank.

The money represented the hoardings of Barney Picker and his wife for 30 years. They had no faith in banks.

City Newspaper Correspondents Distort Facts in the Picker Case, with very annoying results

Lima is chock full of newspaper writers - liars and the evil effects of their greed for money, sacrificing anybody and everything to make up half-lies, to be printed in the city dailies at so much compensation per inch, often ending in great annoyance. The following, taken from the Lima Times - Democrat, as a sample case:

A few weeks ago the Delphos papers published an account of the death of Mrs. Picker, an aged widow and of the finding . of $10,000. Local "space-jammers" on outside newspapers sent out accounts of the find, dated Lima, but neglected to state that the woman died at Delphos. As a result, about 900 relatives of the deceased widow have deluged Lima with inquiries. Mayor Baxter has a waste basket full of letters of inquiry, the postmaster is bothered half to death with the same kind of correspondence They have called at the post office, the police. station, court house, city clerks office, and even telephoned to undertaker Grosjean, one and all clamoring for the alleged $10,000.

E.S. Peters, City Clerk, has received a letter from a Boston attorney which reads:

Boston, Mass. Jan. 8, 1898
City Clerk, Delphos, Ohio

Dear Sir: - A client requests me to ascertain what can be learned regarding the decease of Mrs. Barney Picker who died in your city.

I understand from him that she is said to have left something over $15,000 in personal estate and that there are no known heirs to the estate living.

I will be obliged if you will kindly favor me with the name and address of whoever may have this estate in charge, together with such information as you may be able to give as to whether anyone having a legal claim to the property has yet come forward and greatly oblige.

Very Truly Yours,
Fred D. Robbins

Jan. 20,1938 Delphos Herald

Bound to jury for attempting to rob Capitol Theatre

Raymond Greene, 23, Lima, married, and the father of one child, and Elmer Fast, also of Lima, were bound over to the Allen County grand jury on charges of attempting to rob the Capitol Theatre on Monday night.

Miss Jane Deffenbaugh, West Second Street, was in the cashiers booth at the time. When the demand for money was made, she turned and rapped on the booth door and attracted the attention of E.L. Staup. The would-be robber ran from the lobby dropping his handkerchief mask in the rush. He obtained no money.

On Wednesday morning, the Lima police called Delphos officials and stated that they had taken a Lima man into custody. Chief of Police Diito, of this city, accompanied by Mayor Baringer and Miss Deffenbaugh went to Lima. Miss Deffenbaugh identified Green as the holdup man and he confessed after several hours of grilling.

According to Green's confession, he and Fast and several other young Lima people drove to Delphos to attend a party. Before leaving Lima, Green took a small revolver from the home of his aunt and put it in his pocket. He stated that on the way to Delphos he and Fast talked of holding-up somebody.

Capitol Theatre
Capitol Theatre

Compiled by Robert Holdgreve
Delphos Historical Society

October 27, 2001 Delphos Herald Newspaper

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