Chapter 1


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The indictment charged that in May and June, 1901, the defendants procured Hiram Reed, Stephen L. Whittelsey, George R. Stimers, Creed T. Hill, James W. Larison, Mrs. Corolynne E. Battelle, Walter L. Rees, Mrs. Jennie Enscoe and Helen Keddie to appear before the registers of the United States land offices of Plumas and Sierra counties and swear that they were not applying for the timber land for the use or benefit of any person other than themselves and that they were not buying it for the purposes of speculation. It was alleged that the defendants advanced to each of the nine persons named $400 to pay for the land, $60 expenses and $100 as their commission.

When Bert Schlesinger announced that the defendants were ready for trial Mr. Banning asked for a continuance on the ground that the United States Marshal had been unable to serve subpenas upon George Stimers, Mrs. Corolynne E. Battelle, Creed T. Hill, Steve Whittlesey, William S. Mead and Mrs. Jennie Enscoe. He added that these witnesses were in hiding because the husbands of Mrs. Battelle and Mrs. Enscoe had informed the Marshal that they did not know where their wives were or what they were doing. The family of William S. Mead had professed also not to know where he could be found.

Judge de Haven remarked that motions of that kind were never considered unless made in the form of an affidavit, and the trial went on.

Mr. Banning in his opening statement to the jury said that he would prove that a contract or agreement had been made between the defendants and certain residents of Loyalton whereby the latter received $400 each to buy a quarter section of timber land, $60 for expenses and $100 for profit on deeding the land to the defendants, and that Engle, as a real estate agent, was to receive a commission of 50 cents for each acre turned over to the defendants.

Hiram Reed was the first witness. He testified that on May 1, 1901, he went to the house of R. H. Lewis in Loyalton on invitation of W. O. Peck. R. H. Lewis, W. S. Lewis, Bert Parker and W. O. Peck were present and it was suggested to him that he could take up a certain section of timber land. Nothing was said to him as to defraying his expenses or as to selling it to others. The witness examined the land and went to Sacramento on May 6 and made application at the office of the United States Land Register at Sacramento for the land. Then at Boca he was given $15 for his expenses by Creed T. Hill, foreman of the Loyalton Lumber Company. The intention of the witness was to sell the land afterward on speculation. In order to pay for the land he borrowed $475 from Mr. Engle on the same day on which he made his final proof, and a few hours after he had paid for the land he sold it to Engle for $575. The witness said that all the facts sworn to in his application were true and that he had made no contract or agreement whatever with any persons for the transfer of the land.

James W. Larison testified that Arthur W. Keddie asked him one day whether he would not like to locate 160 acres of timber land. He told the witness that he would furnish the money to pay for the land, would find a purchaser and that "there would be $100 in it" for the witness. Mr. Keddie furnished him the money for his traveling expenses. The witness declined to make final proof and when at the Russ House in San Francisco in December, 1901, Keddie approached him and said: "Hello, Jim: I understand that you and Special Agent Cullom are putting up a job to get me behind the bars."

"Did you receive any money from Mr. Cullom?" asked Mr. Banning. The objection to this question was sustained. On cross-examination by Mr. Schlesinger the witness admitted that he had not examined the land for which he had applied, although in his affidavit in the land office he had sworn that he had done so. But he had been over the land very often before that and was familiar with it. All the facts that he had sworn to in the affidavit were true, he said.

Walter L. Rees, a nephew of the Lewis brothers, testified that he took up a quarter section of land unsolicited by any one and that he paid his own traveling expenses and those of his wife. He went to Marysville expecting to borrow the price of the land from Mr. Engle, whom he expected to find at that place. He had, however, sufficient money on deposit with the Loyalton Lumber Company, due him as wages, to pay for the land. His wife borrowed from Engle $460. On the suggestion of Engle the witness deeded his land to Captain Roberts a month later. Engle gave the witness $100 over and above the note and mortgage on the land. On cross-examination by Mr. Schlesinger the witness stated that on making final proof before the land register he had truthfully sworn that he had borrowed the purchase money from Mr. Engle. The defendants had not requested him to make the application or to swear to anything in it. The witness added that all the statements sworn to by him in his application for the land were true.

An adjournment of the court was then taken until Monday morning, November 9, at 11 o'clock.

On that Monday morning Miss Helen Keddie, daughter of Arthur W. Keddie, was the first witness called. Her statement was that she signed an application on June 3, 1901, for a quarter section of timber land in Sierra County. Her father, James M. Engle, and Mrs., Engle were in the land office at the time, the Engle’s filing applications also. She paid her expenses and the cost of the land out of her own money. She intended to hold the land until she could sell it at a profit, which she afterward did to John H. Engle of Philadelphia, a brother of defendant James M. Engle. The first deed to John H. Engle she destroyed because there was a good deal of talk at the time to the effect that a person would not have a right to sell timber land after having purchased it from the Government, but afterward, feeling that she had a right to do so, she made a second deed and sold the land to John H. Engle. Before making application at the land office she had not made any contract or agreement with any one for the transfer of the land.

Captain J. H. Roberts, a wealthy resident of Sacramento, president of the Boca and Loyalton Railway and president of the Roberts Lumber Company, which company Engle was securing the lands for, was next called. He said that Engle had secured for him in the neighborhood of from 24,000 to 25,000 acres of timber land. That through his agent, whose name was Bates, he had paid to Engle in the neighborhood of $190,000. He did admit having advanced $40,000 to Engle and that he had never been on the land and knew nothing about it. Roberts also stated that the Lewis brothers had charge of the lumber mill and interests, and that he was devoting the greater part of his attention to his steam boating business.

Mr. Schlesinger, on cross examination, asked the witness whether he had ever induced William S. Mead to commit perjury in making an application to file upon Government timber lands, but Mr. Banning objected to the question on the ground that Captain Roberts was not a defendant in the case. Judge de Haven sustained the objection. William A. Schroeder, a blacksmith of Loyalton, told the court that in May 1901, he took Mrs. Battelle and others to view some timber land in the vicinity of Loyalton and that he paid her expenses at a hotel at her request, which money was repaid to him by James M. Engle several months later, Mrs. Battelle had filed her application for the land. He had not heard any of the defendants ask Mrs. Battelle to file upon the land, or to make any false statements in her application. Mrs. Enscoe and others were in the same party.

William A. Schroder, who conducted a party of eight people to locate on land at the instigation of Arthur W. Keddie, was next called. He said he worked for the Loyalton Lumber Company and that about May 1901 he drove the party over to a place called Long Horse and that he paid all their expenses. Upon question put by Judge De Haven he admitted that Engle or Keddie on August 10, 1901 had given him $483.30 which was to pay $400 for the land entry and the remainder as his expenses.

The names of Mrs. Carolynn E. Battelle, George Stimers, Creed T. Hill, Stephen Whittlesey and William S. Mead were called at the door and they failed to answer. Bert Schlesinger, on behalf of the defendants, protested against the action of First Assistant United States District Attorney in calling witnesses who had not been subpoenaed. Then Mr. Banning placed United States Marshal John H. Shine on the stand to prove that he had attempted to find the missing witnesses, but had failed. Mr. Schlesinger proceeded to cross examine the witness but had not completed the first question when Judge de Haven rapped sharply on his desk with a lead pencil, peremptorily ordered the witness to leave the stand.

W. O. Peck, surveyor for the Roberts Lumber Company, testified that he took George Stimers and four other applicants into the timber belt and showed them the tracts on which they afterward filed applications. Delia Hale, the notary before whom, the Keddie-Engle deed was acknowledged, testified that Arthur W. Keddie, one of the defendants, told her that it was not necessary to keep a record of the deed.

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