A Case of “Burglarious” Entry – Augustus Ley


Ley Charles Augustus Karl Lester

Clockwise, from top left: Charles Henry Ley, his father Augustus, his grandfather Karl Gottleib Ley, his son Lester Herman Ley. About a year before Karl’s death. From Doris Ley Hill’s book, THE CARL FREDERICK LEY FAMILY.

Augustus Ley Granted Relief from Stolen Treasury Funds

It seems, in the wild early decades of Ohio’s first towns, our Ley ancestors were no strangers to politics or criminal perfidy.

Earlier posts have shared the Ley tradition of public service.

Fourth-great-grandfather (and Bavarian immigrant) Karl Ley served on the school board in Shanesville, where his wife, Caroline (Vogelsang) Ley was president of the Ladies’ Guild.

Son Augustus Ley manned the posts of treasurer and clerk for Salem Twp.

Grandson Charles Henry Ley served on the board of education and city council before gaining election and reelection as Tuscarawas County Treasurer from 1911-1915.

His son Robert Earl Ley, Sr., assisted him in the treasurer post during his first term, and was a charter member of the Dover Kiwanis Club, a member of the Masonic Lodge in New Philadelphia and of the Shrine and affiliated organizations. He was a past president of the Tuscarawas County Dental organization.

Karl Ley’s great-great grandson, Robert Earl Ley, Jr., my grandfather, served on the Dover City Council. He also participated in many fraternal organizations. The rundown: He was a member of Dover Kiwanis, Dover American Legion, past president of Dover Lions Club, past exalted ruler of Dover Elks Lodge No. 975, a 32nd degree Mason, member of Dover Masonic Lodge, Scottish Rite Valley of Canton, Tadmor Shrine, Royal Order of Jesters, and Chef de Gare of the 40 et 8 Voiture 117.

So, yeah. You could say the Leys were civic-minded.

As for criminal perfidy, we’ll focus on the Port Washington, Ohio, Leys and the subject of this post in particular.

Ley General Store Robbed of Public Funds

Of course, I’m not ranking our relatives among the notorious. Merely referring to another article I stumbled upon a couple years ago in The Ohio Democrat of July 5, 1888. As related, a U.S. Marshal had staked out Port Washington, waiting for an at-large counterfeiter to stop by the Post Office next door to Augustus’s store. He’d often chat up my great-great-great-grandfather while he waited for his quarry. And once the chase was on, one of Augustus’s sons lent the lawman a horse and joined in the pursuit.

But the Port Washington Leys had encountered criminal mischief before. And the crime directly impacted the political role of Augustus, as well as his personal livelihood.

That is, until the Ohio state legislature stepped in.

The official statues actually do a great job, below, of telling the entire story. But the cliff’s notes summary:

Augustus Ley, as treasurer, used to keep township and school funds in his store safe. In October 1865, the store was broken into and robbed, the safe blown up(!), the money stolen.

Augustus was held responsible for the $600 and change, and, I’d imagine, his worthiness questioned in the small community of several hundred souls. The legislature, in typical plodding fashion, didn’t get around to ruling on the matter until 11 years later…!

From Acts of the State of Ohio, Volumes 66-73:

AN ACT… for the relief of Augustus Ley, treasurer of Salem township, Tuscarawas county, State of Ohio.

Whereas… On the night of the 13th of October AD 1865 the dry goods store of A Ley & Co in Salem township, Tuscarawas county, Ohio, was burglariously entered and the safe therein in which Augustus Ley treasurer of said Salem township had deposited the township and school funds of said township to the amount of six hundred and thirteen dollars was blown up and broken to pieces and the whole amount of said safe was stolen and carried away by some unknown parties,

and WHEREAS… A majority of the legal voters of said township by their petition represent to this general assembly that said robbery was not due to any fault or negligence on the part of the said Augustus Lev or any person in his employ and ask that the said Augustus Ley and insureties be relieved from liability for said sum of six hundred and thirteen dollars so taken and stolen as aforesaid, therefore,

SECTION 1… Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio that the trustees of said township of Salem county of Tuscarawas state of Ohio are hereby authorized to release the said Augustus Ley and his sureties on his official bond from the payment of said sum of six hundred and thirteen dollars so taken and stolen as aforesaid and enter said release on the minutes of said trustees and the said trustees of said township and the board of education of the school district are hereby authorized to levy a tax on the taxable property of said township of Salem to make up any deficiency of said funds that may exist on account of said theft aforesaid,

SEC 2… This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.

Passed April 6th 1876

CH GROSVENOR, Speaker of the House of Representatives

THOS L YOUNG, President of the Senate

I actually wonder if the safe theft date is an error, since if it is not, it took the legislature more than a decade to grant relief to Augustus. A search of local newspaper around the date and my own gutcheck date 10 years later in 1875 turned up nothing.

As for the citizens of Port Washington and Salem Twp., it seems their confidence in my third-great-grandfather Ley was not shaken (or, at the least, they were willing to put up with higher taxes — as indicated by the official legislative act — to make up this stolen deficit). Just two weeks after the legislature acted, the April 20, 1876 Ohio Democrat reported, in its Port Washington dispatch:

The election passed over quietly, producing the usual number of defeated candidates. Among those about whom the greatest interest was manifested was A. Ley, for township treasurer. Mr. Ley’s majority of 80 shows that, notwithstanding the safe robbery, the people of Salem are willing to trust him with the township funds.

Ley Augustus store 1875

Augustus Ley’s general store, along the canal in Port Washington, Ohio, about 1875. From the Combination Atlas Map of Tuscarawas County.

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One thought on “A Case of “Burglarious” Entry – Augustus Ley

  1. Great find!

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