Sesquicentennial Highlights

Excerpts from the Plain Talk

By Cleo Erickson
1928

The Civic Council distributed Christmas Baskets to needy families according to the plans being made by the Council and various Vermilion Churches.  The council voted to take money from their treasury to buy toys and clothing for needy families.  This is the first time the Council ever attempted a Christmas program of help.

The Bergen Church south of Meckling was a scene of the baptism of the Bensen twins.  They were held by the Iverson twins.

The Vermillion barber shops will be closed all day Christmas and New Years Days.  The shops will remain open until 10:00 PM on the proceeding evenings.  Signed:  Master Barbers of Vermillion.

The Game Department is trapping pheasants for distribution in west river counties.  The State Game and Fish Commission plans to stock the west river section with 10,000 birds this winter.

Howard Morse was loser to the extent of $22.00 when a lone robber stuck a gun into his ribs Friday evening and told him to lift them high.  Howard had just gone to his cow barn in the early evening to do the milking.  As he said, he had a milk stool in one hand and a pail in the other, but pail, stool and all went high with his hands.  The robber secured about $22.00 which Howard had in his pockets and went his way.  So far he has not been apprehended and no good description has been secured.

For the third time in less than a year robbers entered the Bank of Meckling and also for the third time went away without securing any reward for their efforts.  It was not known until Christmas morning when two little boys were out early and found the front door of the bank open and gave the alarm.  The door had been pried open with a crowbar.  They blew a hole through the brick wall of the vault, making the hole large enough for a man to crawl through.  Inside the vault a charge was then placed in the door of the money safe, and this was blown off.  What caused the robbers to leave without finishing their job is not known.  They left a sack of pennies on the floor of the vault and the only clues left were the crowbar, an old sock, and a part of a glass of explosive on a table.  The interior of the bank was almost a complete wreck.  The other two attempts of robbery were through a rear window and the men were scared away by the burglar alarm.  It is not known if the same men were involved in the three robberies.

A glass was broken out of the back door at Tom's Chocolate Shop at a late hour.  The robbers took several boxes of candy and cigarette lighters but no funds were taken.  The job was quite apparently the work of amateurs.

1930
Robberies seem to be in fashion during the late 1920's and 1930's.  On January 2, 1930, burglars held up the Manning & O'Connor store and post office at Burbank.  However, the three burglars were surprised and held up their hands and submitted peacefully when a group of heavily armed officers walked in on them.  Acting upon a tip which came through the Merchants Mutual Alliance Detective agency of Sioux Falls, local officers secreted themselves in the vicinity of the Burbank store about midnight Monday night.  The party included Col. A. B. Sessions and John Borcherday, of the Merchants Mutual Alliance, Sheriff Jas. Patridge, Deputy Sheriff Howard Curtis, Policeman Will Bliss and States Attorney H. O. Perkins.

Sometime after midnight, three men were seen to approach the store.  They jimmied open the front door, with apparent ease, and entered the building. Giving them a few minutes time, the officers advanced, unlocked the door and called upon them to surrender.  Confronted with an arsenal of shotguns and revolvers the men complied without resistance.

The men were brought to Vermillion and questioned until nearly morning, but they were all hard boiled and refused to talk, beyond giving names which may or may not have been their own.  Raymond Gardner, alias Kansas Shorty, alias Charles Nelson, who is said to be an ex-convict from Leavenworth.  He has been living in Sioux City at the Victory hotel.  His usual haunts are said to be around Omaha, where he is known as a bootlegger and small yegg man.  He is about 32 years of age.

James Robinson or James Keane, also thought to have an extensive penitentiary record is about 50 years old.  The officers had the men finger printed and photographed and have sent out descriptions to Midwestern cities to see if the men are wanted elsewhere.  So far there have been no new developments.

The year of 1929 marked numerous improvements in Vermillion.  The largest building erected during that period of time is the First National Bank and Trust Company and is still under construction.  It is being erected at a cost of about $25,000.00, exclusive of fixtures.  The most expensive single building was the new property of the sorority house for Kappa Alpha Theta on north Plum Street.  The cost was approximately $30,000.00.  Tom Kaltsulas built a nice new home on Church Street.

Cigarette smoking is increasing yearly.  Approximately 250,000,000 cigarettes were sold at a cost to the consumers of two and one-half million dollars.  The tax amounted paid to the state treasury was $469,480.91.  This is an increase of more than $30,000.00 over the previous year.  It includes taxes on cigarette papers and dealers licenses.  The tax was originally designed to take care of building needs at the state school, but was taken away by the last legislature and is now swallowed up by the general fund.

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