Local History and Genealogy

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Gritty Sheriff of Steuben County

Males Capture After Score of Shots Are Fired - Second Capture of the Week

After a running gun battle extended over ten miles, and a knock-down fight, Sheriff Zimmerman Monday afternoon captured James Henderson and Ernest Chalmers, giving their address as Indianapolis, driving a REO Speed Wagon loaded with sixty cases of beer.  The men were lodged in the Steuben county jail and the load was confiscated.  Zimmerman with Robert Denman, were in the Rickenbacker roadster taken from bootleggers the day previous, riding on the Fox Lake road near the railroad crossing a mile from Angola when they approached the truck driver from the rear, and were startled by a rifle shot from the truck and the whiz of a bullet past them.  They immediately took after t he truck, Denman driving the card, while the sheriff stood on the running board and opened fire with his revolver.  Probably thirty shots were exchanged in the battle which continued over the hilly and winding road for five miles and then onto the gravel road that runs down past the Ed Smith farm and onto the Ashley road, shooting through the dust and across the fields as they turned corners.  The sheriff ran out of ammunition and stopped at a farm house and secured a rifle and continued the pursuit.  At Ashley the truck men gave up the race, and after a fistic encounter submitted to arrest.  Their weapon was a Winchester rifle.  Bullet holes in the back curtain of the truck and broken bottles showed where the sheriff's shots had taken effect, but no shot of the booze runners registered on the sheriff's car.

The booze runners claimed they recognized the roadster in which the sheriff was riding as an automobile belonging to some Indianapolis hijackers, and that they had decided to save their load and one of the men had gotten back into the body of the truck to shoot at the approaching driver.  The roadster in which the sheriff was riding was one he had captured Sunday forenoon about six miles north of Angola, after a chase from Lake George, where Sheriff Zimmerman's attention was attracted to the car by the fact that it sat so low on it's springs. The roadster, which was a new one, the speedometer registering only 3400 miles, was camouflaged with a camping outfit, even to a pair of ladies shoes being exposed. Zimmerman was riding with Robert Denman in his car, and they started in pursuit and the men ahead increased their speed to a high rate.  When the first car reached the curve on the Sellers farm five miles north of Angola, it was turned back north of the old road, and there it was overtaken by the sheriff, and  the occupants were placed under arrest. They gave their names as Charles Geseking and William Mock, of Indianapolis.  The load consisted of wight cases of beer and two cases of whiskey.  The men claimed that they did not know they were being pursued but that they had turned into the byroad to change license plates.  The car had Michigan plates on it, and a pair of Indiana plates in the car.  The car and contents were confiscated and the men placed in the county jail.  They claimed the was was mortgaged and could only be confiscated subject to mortgage claims.

Geseking and Mock, the bootleggers captured Sunday, appeared before Mayor Stevens Tuesday afternoon and pleaded guilty to transporting liquor and were fines $ each and sentenced to  days in the penal farm and the card was ordered sold.  The other men asked for a continuance until their attorney could come from Indianapolis.  An Indianapolis city directory does not contain any of these names.

Steuben Republican July 21, 1926