The Saratoga Sun -

Reflections: Attempted hold up at the Smelter office


Reprint of this story from the September 5, 1902 issue of The Grand Encampment Herald brought to you courtesy of Grandma’s Cabin, Encampment, Wyoming. Preserving History - Serving the Community.




An attempt was made last Tuesday night to enter and rob the smelter office. About half past eight a telephone message came from Thos. Hardwick, bookkeeper for the Smelter Company and who has his sleeping apartments adjoining the office, announcing in frightened subdued tones that an attempt was being made to hold him up. He had scarcely gotten the words out of his mouth when the connection was broken, conveying the idea that he had been suddenly interrupted in his conversation and that he was probably then struggling with the supposed hold ups. Tim Gaskill of the Bohn Hotel, who received the message, rushed out upon the street and gave the alarm.

Tom Elwood, deputy sheriff, who was standing near, lost no time in organizing a posse, calling to his assistance constable Jake Wirth and night marshal Ben Gabbott. Scenting a possible conflict by the side of which his recent experience in Battle would sing into insignificance, Tom Elwood started on a run for the smelter followed by a few excited and eager citizens. Jake Wirth and Ben Gabbott secured a wagon into which they scrambled the balance of the posse and overtaking Elwood they approached to within a short distance of the smelter office. Under Elwood’s leadership the members of the posse deployed and stealthily surrounded the building and gradually closed in.

Pictures of Hardwick’s mangled remains filled the imagination of those who came to his rescue, which however were dispelled when Tom appeared white faced and trembling at the front door.

Interrogated, Hardwick told the following harrowing tale: “I lay in bed reading when I suddenly heard someone going from window to window on the outside, trying each one with the evident desire to enter. I rattled the blind to my window to convey the idea that there was someone within whereupon the noise ceased. I must have fallen asleep for I was awakened by someone trying to effect an entrance through the back door which is within a few feet of my bedroom door. I knocked on the wall and demanded to know what was wanted. My tones evidently had the desired effect for there was a scampering down the back steps and for a moment all was quiet. I hesitated to open the door for I was unarmed and feared that as soon as the door was open I might be overpowered. I therefore conceived the idea of stealthily creeping to the telephone in the front office and placing one hand on the clapper of the bell so that no noise would result I called up central. In low tones I asked for the Bohn Hotel, gave the alarm and then awaited results. The deathly silence and suspension can better be imagined than expressed. Finally 1 heard the hushed voices of several men and thought my time had come. Feeling around for some weapon of defense my hands encountered several bottles which I knew contained poisonous acids. I conceived the idea of allowing the burglars to approach me in the dark, then throw the acid in their faces and make a bolt. Just as I had strung myself up to this desperate plan someone called my name. I recognized the friendly tone and knew all at once that aid had arrived.”

After hearing Mr. Hardwick’s story a search of the premises was made with the discovery of foot prints at the back door which Constable Wirth, after an examination, pronounced the tracks of a number twelve shoe, and he proceeded to verify it by putting his own foot into the track which it fitted perfectly. Other evidences of an attempted entrance were discovered but a thorough search failed to discover the burglar who had undoubtedly escaped towards Riverside.

Now that the city is growing and all kinds and conditions of men are coming in, it behooves the citizens to use a little care in protecting their houses and stores against petty thieves.


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