The Cortland Democrat, Friday, December 2, 1892.
WHO BUNCOED GEO. FITTS?
Fitts Himself Says It Was "Red Austin" Instead of Wm. C. Keating, Who is Now in Cortland Jail Charged With the Offense.
Nothing but the red tape of the law now prevents the release of William C. Keating from the county jail, where he has been confined since last spring for the alleged buncoing of George Fitts of McLean over a year ago.
It will be remembered that two strangers succeeded in getting about $6,000 out of Mr. Fitts by working a well known bunco game on him, and that they made their escape. It will also be recalled that shortly after the escape of O'Brien from a Dannemora prison official at Utica, Keating was arrested as being one of his pals—Red Austin, and was brought to Cortland on a warrant sworn out by Mr. Fitts. Although he maintained his innocence and proof was brought on the preliminary examination to show that he was elsewhere at the time of the buncoing, the evidence produced on the part of the people was so strong that the justice decided to hold him to await the action of the grand jury.
The principle witnesses for the people were Mr. Fitts, Landlord Cole of Dryden, liveryman Hall of Groton, and Mr. and Mrs. Knettles, neighbors to Mr. Fitts. Of these all swore that to the best of their knowledge Keating was the man, or that he so closely resembled him that they were positive he was the culprit, only that he had grown much stouter since the crime.
After Keating was held, bail being fixed at $5,000, a person from Newburg, another from Vermont, and one from Saratoga county, came here and partially identified Keating as the man who had buncoed them in the same manner as that by which Flits had been duped, and each swore out warrants for his arrest, placing them in the hands of Sheriff Miller to serve in case Keating was released on bail.
Keating was indicted by the grand jury in October and his trial was to have come off next week, had not an accident placed the real Red Austin in the clutches of the law. The latter was arrested a few weeks ago and placed in the Goshen jail. The Newburg man saw him there and immediately recognized him. The warrant for Keating was then withdrawn from the hands of Sheriff Miller. Next the Vermont farmer went to Goshen and identified Red Austin, and his warrant was also withdrawn.
Keating's friends naturally heard of these things, and last week prevailed upon Landlord Cole and Mr. and Mrs. Knettles to go to Goshen and see if they could identify the man there as the one who had beaten Fitts out of his money. They picked Austin out of over a hundred men and said he was the man— Mrs. Knettles saying that she had maintained all along that Keating was a much stouter man than the buncoer. On their return they prevailed upon Mr. Fitts and liveryman Hall to go to Goshen, and they went there Monday night. Tuesday morning they were shown through the jail and as soon as Mr. Fitts saw Austin he remarked, according to a telegram received from one of Keating's friends, who was present, pointing him out, "The man at Cortland is not the one; there is the man who buncoed me."
Meanwhile the Saratoga county man had been to Goshen and he, too, identified the prisoner there, and his warrant was withdrawn from the sheriff's hands on Thursday.
The two men resemble each other in a marked degree. Both are about the same height and of a similar complexion. Keating has sandy hair, while Austin's is a pronounced red, and each has a slight cast to one eye—not exactly cross-eyed, but rather a drooping of the lid, that gives the face a peculiar appearance. Keating, whose weight is about 250 pounds is nearly 100 pounds heavier than the real Red Austin.
Who helped Austin in the transaction here is not positively known, but from descriptions furnished the detectives, he is supposed to be no other than the king boss of buncoers, O'Brien himself.
A Bad Lot.
Some time between 2 and 8 o'clock last Sunday morning officers Parker and Jackson made a raid on Stoddard's saloon on Railroad-st., where they found Bud Carpenter, Ella Wood, Geo. Mee, William Fennel and Stoddard's bar-tender, all of whom were gathered in and brought before Justice Bull Monday morning, who sentenced Carpenter and Ella Wood to 60 days in the Onondaga penitentiary. The others were fined $5.00 each, which they paid. The charge brought against all of them was drunkenness and disorderly behavior.
Gertie A. Porter, a girl of 18 summers, who has been leading a fast life for some time, was arrested Sunday morning on Main-st. by Sheriff Miller and was sentenced by Justice Bull to the House of Refuge for Women at Hudson.
Addie White and Etta Moshier were arrested in a house, claimed to be disorderly on Shermerhorn-st. [Grace Street] and the examination was adjourned to Wednesday morning when they had a hearing, but were discharged, the complainant falling to appear and substantiate the charge made against them.
Two Fires in One Night.
About 11:30 Wednesday evening officers Goldsmith and Parker noticed a small blaze rising through the floor of Stowell's Bargain House. An alarm key was in box 383, but someone suggested that a few pails of water only would quench the fire. It did, and no alarm was sent in.
Later, at 1:15 Officers Parker and Jackson discovered smoke in Main and Railroad streets, and finally located the origin in the rear of the grocery store of Frederick Strube & Co., in the Garrison block, and box 338 was pulled.
The Emeralds were soon on hand, but the smoke was so dense it was very hard to exactly locate the blaze. Admittance was gained by breaking the glass in one of the front doors. It was not long before the other companies responded and hose was laid in the rear and a line carried to the second floor. The flames were finally located in the southeast corner of the building, and water was turned on that point. At 2:30 Chief Dowd announced the fire all out.
The origin was probably from spontaneous combustion in a pile of rubbish in the cellar. The flames ascended a stairway, broke out the glass in the closed door and entered the store. At the head of the stairs is a large oil tank. The floor around it is charred and the heat melted off one of the bands, but fortunately it did not explode or a fire similar to that of 1884 would probably have been the result. The ceiling and walls are baldly charred and a small space burned in the floor of the second story.
Smoke and water have damaged the grocery stock badly and very little if any of it is of any value.
The prompt action of the fire department was very commendable, for had the fire gained a little more headway it would have been between the floors and the oil tank would have exploded, then no one can tell what the loss might have been.
Orris hose was represented by only five men, the rest of the company being at the fair in Marathon.
Through a bursted hose pipe playing for a moment on the basement windows of the DEMOCRAT building, an inch of water was run on the floor and some paper stock damaged.
Death of Mr. M. A. Rice.
On Wednesday evening, November 23d, occurred the death of Mr. M. A. Rice at his home, 48 Clinton avenue, in this place. In this past ten years Mr. Rice had been suffering from a bronchial trouble, but the disease did not assume a serious form until about three months ago, when it became apparent to his family and physician that his health was fast failing, and which finally resulted in his death as above.
Mr. Rice had been a respected citizen and business man of this place for the past twenty-five years, and was well known to a large circle of friends in this village and throughout the county. For many years he conducted a large trade in the boot and shoe business, but about four years ago was obliged to give up mercantile pursuits on account of failing health. He was a great lover of music, being possessed of a deep, rich bass voice, and was for long time a member of the choir in the First Baptist church in this place. For many years he had been a most devout member of the order of Free and accepted Masons, and was considered to be well posted in Masonic matters. He was a Knight Templar and a member of Ziyara Temple, Ancient Order of the Mystic Shrine.
The funeral services were held from his late residence on Saturday last, and were conducted by Rev. J. L. Robertson, pastor of the First Presbyterian church, of which deceased was a member, assisted by Dr. H. A. Cordo, of the First Baptist church. A male quartette composed off Messrs. M. D. Murphey, Jr., F. Daehler, C. F. Brown and O. W. Lund rendered some choice music. The presence of a large number of friends at the funeral and the numerous floral offerings attested in a large measure the high esteem that was felt for deceased. Services at the grave were conducted by the Masonic fraternity, and the beautiful ritual and burial service of that order was rendered
Besides a wife, deceased leaves five children, four sisters and three brothers. His age was 60 years.
CHENANGO.—The cry of a large panther was heard the other night near Sherburne, says an exchange.
Samuel Figger, son of Geo. Figger of Afton, has been adjudged insane and taken to the Binghamton Asylum.
Samuel Figger, son of Geo. Figger of Afton, has been adjudged insane and taken to the Binghamton Asylum.
Norwich Democrats had 150 loaves of bread and four or five bushels of biscuits left over from their jollification, which they had the poormaster distribute among the poor of the village.
The Third Annual Ball of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen will be held at Burr's Opera House, Norwich, on Wednesday evening, December 7. Ogden Orchestra of Munnsville. Dancing ticket, 50 cents. Supper, 25 cents.
Thomas Dowd of South Oxford shot a coon on the 3d inst., which weighed thirty pounds after the entrails were removed. Thomas was out with his dog and the canine tackled the animal, but the coon was too much for him, and after rolling down a steep incline with the unwilling dog tightly clasped to his bosom, he took to a tree. Tom was bound to have the coon, and he built a fire and waited till morn when he got a rifle—and the coon.
About one o'clock Tuesday morning the cheese factory and cider mill at South Plymouth was discovered to be in flames, and it was entirely consumed, with its contents. The factory was owned by Alfred and Theron Holmes, of Sherburne, and has been conducted during the season by W. G. Hatch. During the fall Merton G. Carpenter had occupied it as a cider mill. About forty-five cheeses belonging to patrons were burned, with thirty barrels of cider belonging to David Cook, and two hundred bushels of apples owned by Giles Sextan. The fire is believed to have been of incendiary origin. Loss estimated at about $2,000. There was an insurance on the building of $1,500, by Aldrich & Inman of this village.
MADISON.—Teachers' Institute at Morrisville during the week beginning December 19.
The stage route between Morrisville and Cazenovia will be discontinued July 1.
J. W. C. Burdick of Brookfield has been appointed to a good position in Dannemora state prison.
A New York Home for Epileptics is to be established at Durhamville. The capital is $800,000, divided into 800 shares.
F. Wayland Smith, for many years the efficient manager of the Oneida Community silk and trap works, goes to New York to reside.
Geo. Williams, who has figured as a Zulu chief with Leo's London circus during the season, struck Cazenovia on Saturday night, was arrested on Sunday for vagrancy and on Monday morning sentenced by Justice Benjamin to four and one half months in the poor house.
TOMPKINS.—The new county house is nearly completed.
The Cornell Football Team is reported to be $1,000 in debt.
Ithaca has 14,000 population, having doubled in 24 years.
There are two hundred students in the Law school at Cornell University.
Eureka Hose Co. No. 4, of Ithaca, will open a fair and exposition in that city, Dec. 5th. It will continue a week.
A farmers' institute, under the direction of Geo. T. Powell of the New York State Agricultural society, will be held at the town hall in Dryden. N. Y., on Saturday, Dec. 17, 1892.
Enos Brown, keeper of the County House, who was severely injured several weeks since by being thrown from a wagon, does not improve very fast.
Miss Libby Burns of Ithaca, daughter of James Burns, Sr. and sister of Thomas W. Burns Esq., recently 'took the veil' at the convent at Watertown in this State.