Posts Tagged With: crime

Dover Police Blotter: Stolen Tire

Foutz Don Tire Theft Mar 1940


Honestly, Who Steals One Tire?

And honestly, who throws a shoe?

From your bustling hometown of Dover, the police blotter of 75 years ago. Grandpa Don Foutz suffered a stolen wheel and tire from his Chevy roadster overnight that Saturday, according to the New Philadelphia Daily Times of March 5, 1940.

Maybe police should have been on the lookout for a uni-roadster piloted by some sketchy looking character?

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Ralph & Sherman Foutz’s Raucous Youth

Glen Mills Schools Delaware Pa

Getting sent to Glen Mills Schools for troubled youth, outside of Philadelphia in Delaware County, was a constant threat for Sherman Foutz’s rough-and-tumble grandsons Ralph and Harry Sherman as they grew up in 1920s and 1930s Harrisburg.

Rough & Tumble Times for Ralph & Sherman Foutz

Research in the last month has shed new light on the mysteries surrounding the family and descendants of my great-great uncle Sherman Foutz.

As intriguing as new leads in genealogy are, though, they only manage to stitch together the roughest weave of a life.

There are still plenty of gaps you can poke fingers through.

But that’s the kind of discourse we’re left with as we examine lives of 70, 80… 100 and more years ago. Absent an audience with our actual ancestors, we collect clues, consider them. And end up, perhaps, with a closer understanding of who they were, and what life was like.

We can see, for instance, well enough to realize that by the time of his father Sherman’s death, Oscar Foutz was living far away from his family, and divorce in 1917 only seemed to cement that.

We can see that Oscar certainly doesn’t show up with family members, or even in and around Harrisburg, from 1920 on. And that widowed mom, Lizzie, though she has the care, for a time, of grandson Ralph and foster daughter Catherine, seems occupied enough with continued existence in Harrisburg, albeit an increasingly solitary one.

What happened to grandsons Ralph and (Harry) Sherman Foutz? Newspaper accounts from their boyhood through their 20s reveal repeated run-ins with local and state authorities. They are listed as “homeless,” “old offenders.” They’re responsible for robberies, thefts, the odd assault.

We know that life eventually settles down for Ralph. He meets and marries Virginia Henson. Finds steadier work as a truck driver. Has seven kids — and countless more grandkids, through which his story lives on, and new ones among his descendants are written.

I’d like to know more about the Virginia and Ralph Foutz who became “gram” and “pap” to my distant Foutz cousins. And of his younger brother who shared their grandfather Sherman’s name.

Their youth, and what became of Oscar and Florence and Lizzie, is only part of the story. The way my own Grandpa Ley’s losing his mother as an infant, and half-brother as a young teenager, shaped his early life, but he wrote his own story the rest of his 70+ years. Or how my Grandma Erma Johnson Foutz lost three brothers within three years to separate water-related accidents. Tragic at the time. And certainly echoed through stories I heard growing up. But the next 61 years for her were filled with family — six other siblings and countless memories.

So, a youth with a rap sheet doesn’t define the shape of the mature man.

But it can underline and even explain much of what we’ve discovered about life after Sherman’s death in 1915.

Foutz Rapsheet: 1920s

I thought it might be useful to view the newspaper accounts I’ve collected in decade-long snapshots.

The beginning of the 1920s find 11-year-old Ralph in the care of grandmother Lizzie Foutz and 14-year-old (adopted) aunt Catherine. This is about the time Lizzie works as a cook for the Elks Home.

Eight-year-old brother Sherman, on the other hand, is probably living in Harrisburg with mother Florence, stepfather William Frank Orner, and half-brother Raymond Carroll Orner.

If Lizzie’s life didn’t seem clearly hard-scrabble when considering the census record (and Oscar’s and Grace’s absence), consider that 11-year-old Sherman is already “on parole” and considered “an old offender” by the courts, and that when the brothers reunite for a theft in 1922 they are identified as “two homeless children.”

  • October 15, 1920: Ralph Foutz, “an old offender”, already on parole (at 11), admitted to running away from home and is sent to Mont Alto hospital for treatment in lieu of being sent to Glen Mills school for troubled youth, according to the Harrisburg Evening News.
  • Jan. 6, 1922: Ralph and Sherman Foutz, “two homeless children,” are sent to Glen Mills troubled juveniles school after “figuring” in a bicycle theft, according to the Harrisburg Telegraph.

Foutz Rap Sheet: 1930s

As Ralph and Sherman reach their 20s, their involvement in thefts continues, and their estrangement from family seems complete.

Youthful, but no longer considered children, their crimes no longer land them in hospitals for treatment or schools for troubled youths. The major crime both are involved in at the beginning of the decade puts them in county prison for more than a year.

Their victims? When not random, they include family. Ralph and Sherman break into and rob the farmhouses of their grandpa Francis Hartman and Aunt Hannah Gable, Florence’s father and sister. Ralph faces additional time for stealing a necklace and cash from a girlfriend’s house in Harrisburg.

Some context: according to my latest research, Florence’s second marriage didn’t last long. In a genealogy boards discussion from 2006, a daughter of Raymond Carroll Orner reported that William Frank Orner moved away and remarried, and that her father was told as a boy that his mother had died (in reality, she wouldn’t die until 1938, when “Carroll” was 20). By 1930, there is a Florence Orner listed in the Pennsylvania State Lunatic Asylum in Harrisburg. I haven’t cemented the connections yet, but if this holds together, it would seem the fracturing of Oscar and Florence Foutz’s family was complete.

  • Dec. 28, 1931: Ralph, 23, is charged with felonious entry and larceny for entering a Harrisburg home and stealing $2.62 and a necklace, according to the Harrisburg Telegraph.
  • Nov. 27. 1933: Transported back to Harrisburg after serving 22 months in Berks County prison for breaking into his relatives’ farmhouses, Ralph, now 25, is made to answer for the stolen cash and necklace from 1931. He pleads guilty, but asks for leniency, telling the judge, “I’ve learned my lesson. All I ask is a chance to prove it.” The judge sentences Ralph to a reduced 60 days in Dauphin County prison, but tells Ralph if he is arrested again, he’ll serve three years, according to the Harrisburg Telegraph.
  • April 1936: Sherman, 26, is sentenced to 60 days in Washington County (Maryland) jail for stealing instruments from a parked car in Hagerstown and likely selling them to a second-hand store, according to the Daily Mail.


Foutz Ralph Virginia

Virginia (Henson) Foutz and Ralph Francis Foutz, in an undated photo.

Foutz Rap Sheet: 1940s

Although I haven’t tried to assemble an exhaustive account of the Foutz brothers’ run-ins with the law, by their late 20s and 30s, life appears to settle down for Ralph and Sherman.

Ralph successfully pleads for leniency in the early 1930s, and stays out of trouble before getting involved in a hold-up and robbery. He is granted parole, however, returns to his wife, Virginia, and young son.

  • Feb. 8, 1938: Ralph, 29, is held on $2,000 bail after he and three 18-year-old youths attempt to hold up and rob residents of a Harrisburg house. He pleads guilty to assault with intent to rob, unlawfully carrying firearms and a statutory offense, and is sentenced to 9 to 18 month in Dauphin County prison. Five months later, a judge grants Ralph’s plea for parole, which cites his wife and 2-year-old son being on relief, according to the Telegraph.

During the course of the 1940s, Ralph finds steady work as a truck driver, and celebrates the births of Charles Harry, in 1939, and Catherine in 1941. Like his father, Ralph appears to enjoy boxing, as articles in local papers in the late 1930s indicate.

Foutz Ralph more boxing Lebanon Daily News 17 July 1934Foutz Ralph amateur boxer Evening Sun Hanover 1 Sep 1937

A truck accident in 1944 is the final off-kilter news item for Ralph and family in the 1940s.

Brother Sherman, meanwhile, faces serious time in 1946 after being involved in stealing from a refrigerator car. Although I’ve found a couple traces of him marrying (a woman named Mary) and moving back and forth between Harrisburg and Hagerstown in the 1930s and 1940s, that’s where the story of Oscar’s younger son goes dark for me.

Just as these articles have helped shine a little more light on Sherman Foutz’s descendants in the early part of the 20th century, I’m hoping getting to know Ralph and Oscar through their family will illuminate what happened next.

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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.

Categories: Ley, quickie post | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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