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Historic Economic Consequences

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Nov 4, 2007
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A Look Back in Time: Debt enslaves

By Daniel Sandoval
We are all master and slave to it -- it is the crucible of commerce and in every deal, who is the master and who is the slave depends on who has more wampum. Money was in the news for the second week of March.

100 years ago
The March 11, 1908, Natrona County Tribune had some catching up to do, and committed the sin of opening the article with apologetic excuse (the article comprising a column and a third on a five-column page), because the event overlooked was the minstrel show that the ladies of Casper worked hard to produce, thank you.

Where's the money -- R.A. Hudson was sentenced to three and a half years in the pen for his in the forgery case defrauding the Stockmen's National Bank, but his lawyer, cited as "Mr. Hammond," argued for a stay of sentence pending a ruling on whether Hudson got a new trial.

In a deft legal maneuver, Hammond stumped the court by saying that cashier's checks already issued and used for exchange were no longer negotiable paper, and so "it was not a crime to forge a void instrument."

Hudson would have to wait until April for the decision on his new trial, but if a judge found in favor of Hudson based on the issue of the checks being void, then they would have to let one of his fellow forgers out of prison.

Bareback blues -- Charles Mallory wasn't a horse thief. He was purported to be from a moneyed family and he was traveling in the company of Thomas Smith of Wallensberg (sic), Colo.

Mallory and Smith stopped at Shorty Castle's barn, where Mallory rented a saddle valued at $30. The two said they were going to ride to Stroud, and they did, and they kept on going.

After leaving Casper at around 11 a.m., not mentioning to anyone at Stroud how much farther they were riding, they arrived at Inez, some 40 miles down the trail, at 7 in the evening.

Word was sent to Converse County Deputy Sheriff Howard Jackson, who caught up with Mallory and Smith and brought them to Glenrock, where the Natrona County sheriff took custody from the neighboring county.

In Casper, Mallory and Smith appeared before Justice of the Peace Tubbs, who moved the case to District Court and set bond, $500 for Mallory and $100 for Smith. Smith was being held as a witness. Neither men had the money to post bond.

Disguised demon -- People in Casper could go to W.S. Kimball's drug store and see samples of asbestos on display. "Uncle Jerry Dain" purchased a property on Casper Mountain from J.C. Hogodone. The asbestos was thought to be of such quality that Dain found pay dirt.

75 years ago

The top headline in the March 10, 1933, Casper Tribune-Herald reads, "Bank opening to be speeded," referring to the closing of banks by incoming President Franklin Roosevelt. Roosevelt issued an executive order to close all the banks for an audit to help restore the nation's financial system.

Small time -- Carl Fossum, William Peters and W.E. Merrick all confessed to being part of a burglary ring that threw off investigators by plundering unrelated homes and distributing their heists far afield throughout Casper.

The trio admitted to breaking into two houses, including one belonging to Ed Scherck. People who bought plumbing and household fixtures from the burglars were grumbling because the police confiscated the goods.

Police Chief M.R. Quealy beat back the complaints by mentioning that people who insisted on keeping the stuff, once they knew it was looted, could be charged with the possession of stolen property.

Hunger pangs -- Two men avoided felony charges at Kemmerer by agreeing to reimburse the owner of the horse they ate. John Carollo and Joe Stacco were unemployed miners with destitute families.

Rudy Gunter watched through a field glass as the two slaughtered his horse and carried off the animal in pieces.

50 years ago

James A. Speas Jr., a prominent Alcova rancher, died March 10, 1958, when his aircraft hit a conductor line to a power station near Pathfinder Dam, as reported the day after in the March 11 Casper Morning Star.

Rightful heir -- The Shah of Iran announced that he would be legally separated from his wife. Queen Soraya, and that a divorce was imminent. Queen Soraya was the 25-year-old commoner he married, but she was childless after seven years of marriage and that simply wouldn't do because the Shah wanted an heir to the imperial throne.

The divorce settlement was expected to be a lump-sum payment of 1 million rials, ($133,333). Soraya was expected to remain in Europe, in other words, not welcome back in Iran.

Vortex of fate -- The 1958 Morning Star published a front-page photo of the crumpled wreckage of the Piper Cub piloted by James Speas Jr., 37, who died in a plane crash four miles from the site where a plane crash killed his father, also James Speas, in 1946. The younger Speas survived the crash that took his father.
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