Investigation Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller, Holly Miller, Justin Eller
Investigation Date: October 20, 2018
Previously, I posted the first part of this story about the 1896 wreck of the Nathan F. Cobb. Ironically, when we arrived at our condo at 9pm, we saw lights out by the ocean & noticed a ship had run aground on the beach at the exact spot as the Nathan F. Cobb, 122 years before. The ship (already stranded there for nine days) was a steel-hulled 77 ft. shrimp boat called AMG. When I spoke to the ship’s captain, he said the anchor chain had broken at night while the crew slept and the vessel drifted ashore. Looking at the ship up close, underneath the AMG lettering was the ships original name, the Miss Jacqueline III (my oldest daughters name).
After another week of waiting for high tide and slowly trying to unbeach itself, the AMG was still there in shallow water as we left town. In an ironic twist, the AMG crew used the pole with the Nathan Cobb shipwreck sign to try to winch itself out into deeper water. Once back in Ohio we heard the boat finally freed itself and sailed away a few days after we left Ormand Beach.
Expedition Team: Dave Miller Expedition Date: September 2017
Here is Part 1 of a tale of two shipwrecks at the same location but 122 years apart. We have been going every year for 29 years to our time share condo at Ormand Beach. There is a sign on a pole on the beach saying, “No swimming – shipwreck of the Nathan F. Cobb”. During low tide I have never seen any wreckage debris near the sign. After much research I found the history of the ship.
HISTORY: The Nathan F. Cobb was built in Bath., Maine, was 167 feet long and had a 35-foot beam. The photo is the remains of the American wooden schooner Nathan F. Cobb. Sailing for New York with a cargo of lumber and railroad track ties, a storm stripped away her three masts. After drifting helplessly for three days, waves cast the disabled vessel onto the beach on December 5, 1896. Locals not only saved the six crewmen and treated them for exposure but made off with the wood and ties. Wood from the ship was used to build several houses in Ormand Beach and Daytona Beach.
Investigation Team: Dave Miller
Investigation Date: December 17, 2016 Dayton, Ohio
After his arrest at the boarding house at 324 W. First Street in Dayton, Dillinger went quietly, without talking. He was taken into custody at the Old Ford Street Jail. When being booked and asked what his occupation was, he smiled and said “I’m a farmer”. This was where the famous mug shot of Public Enemy #1, Dayton prisoner #10587 was taken on September 22, 1933. Dayton Daily News reported that Dillinger was always calm and smiling, answered questions with a shrug and the comment “see my lawyer”. Police throughout the jail were armed with machine guns to ward off a jail break. Dillinger spent two nights at Old Ford Street Jail before being transferred to the County Sheriff’s Jail behind the Old Court House while extradition hearings took place for a few days.
The Central Police Station (called the CPS) built in October 1920 was affectionately known as the Ford Street Station. I went looking for 20 Ford Street and found that today it is a parking lot where people park to attend Dayton Dragon baseball games just west of the Metroparks Second Street Market. Back then the jail was just north of the MERC, the old DP&L steam plant on East Third Street. When the Dayton Safety Building at 335 West Third Street opened in late 1954, it hastened the end of the Ford Street Station which closed in 1956. (Thank you to Steve Grismer of Dayton Police History for providing me with photo’s of the jail and extra historical information).
For several days sheriffs from Indiana and western Ohio paraded bank robbery witnesses to Dayton and showed them Dillinger. One witness was Carl Enoch, cashier of the New Carlisle Bank, who was brought in and identified Dillinger as one of two men that robbed the bank. Dillinger was also identified as a participant in bank robberies in Bluffton, Ohio and in Indianapolis and Dalesville, Indiana. Many jurisdictions in Ohio and in Indiana where Dillinger robbed banks wanted Dillinger brought back to their town to stand trial. Since Dayton had no warrant for Dillinger’s arrest, then-Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Patterson decided to transfer him to Lima where he was wanted for robbing the Citizen’s Bank in nearby Bluffton in Allen County.
The big news on September 26, 1933 was that ten convicts including all of Dillinger’s old pals had escaped from the Indiana State Prison. Dayton PD feared they were coming for Dillinger. Dillinger got an armed escort out of Dayton led by Sheriff Eugene Frick on September 28, 1933 and was turned over to Sheriff Jess Sarber in Lima, Ohio. Little did Sarber know that he had only 14 days to live.
Did you know that former flashy Chicago gangster George “Bugs” Moran has a Moraine connection due to his 1946 robbery and kidnapping crime? Moran is forever linked to Chicago’s infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Mob Boss Al Capone was the leader of Chicago’s south side gang. Bugs Moran was the leader of the north side gang. On February 14, 1929, Capone’s gang (several dressed as police officers) machine gunned Moran’s top seven gangsters in a north side garage. Moran was late arriving or he would have also been killed. After the massacre Capone took control of organized crime and bootlegging in Chicago.
Fast forward to 1946 in Dayton, Ohio. Moran was not the big time crime boss that he once was in Chicago. He needed money. He needed a new city to flex his muscle. Dayton, Ohio was a promising, blooming, industrial city. Along with Dayton bootlegger Al Fouts and Moran’s partner Virgil Summers, the trio of killers had been casing a branch of Winters Bank on West Third Street and Broadway watching the routine of a local tavern keeper.
On June 28, 1946 when John Kurpe, Jr., a bar manager at Silas Tavern in Moraine City left Winter’s Bank he was followed. Silas Tavern is the former name of today’s Upper Deck Tavern at the corner of Springboro Pike and Blanchard Avenue. (Through the years that location has been called Silas Tavern, The Lighthouse, John Bulls Restaurant & Upper Deck Tavern). Kurpe withdrew $10,000 in ten dollar bills from Winters Bank which he would use to cash pay checks for workers from the nearby Frigidaire Plant. Silas Tavern was owned by Kurpe’s father-in-law Gabor Silas.
As Kurpe drove south he was forced off the road at Broadway & Dona Streets by a Buick, forced to the floorboards at gunpoint by two men and was driven to a wooded area. We was led into the woods, bound hand and foot and robbed. Eventually, he got free and walked out of the woods onto Vance Road and obtained help.
Dayton Police Department detectives arrested Fouts in Dayton within a week of the robbery/kidnapping. A week later J. Edgar Hoover announced that the FBI had arrested Moran and Summers in Kentucky. G-men had tracked the pair to Henderson, Ky. where Dayton detectives (including Russell Pfauhl, the detective credited with arresting John Dillinger in Dayton in 1933) took them into custody and returned them to Dayton. Daytonians were fascinated to have a big time gangster on trial in their hometown. In the end all three crooks received sentences of twenty years in jail.
Today, few people realize that one of the nation’s top gangsters who battled Al Capone during Chicago’s bloody bootlegging era pulled his final crime by robbing a Moraine, Ohio tavern manager.
Investigation Team: Rosie Miller, Jacque Kelly, Dave Miller Investigation Date: June 2017
While visiting the Temple of Tolerance in Wapakoneta, I took a photo of the jail cell door that allegedly came from the Wapakoneta Jail where members of the John Dillinger Gang, Harry Pierpont & Charles Makley, were being held in 1933. They were extradited after being arrested in Arizona to stand trial for the murder of Lima, Ohio Sheriff Jessie Sarber. Both gangsters had broken into the jail to free John Dillinger and shot the Sheriff the previous year.
Findings: a researcher at Dayton Police History doing some preliminary research could not substantiate that those gang members were held at Wapakoneta Jail. Also, at the Temple of Tolerance is allegedly the marble countertop from a bank that John Dillinger jumped over when escaping. I cannot yet verify the authenticity of the countertop but Dillinger’s very first bank robbery was in nearby New Carlisle, Ohio.
Did you know that famous gangster Clyde Barrow of Bonnie & Clyde fame was arrested in Middletown? Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway portrayed these Depression Era gangsters as folk heroes in the movies. But in real life, they were nothing like that as they robbed banks, killed guards and terrorized people.
In 1930, after Bonnie Parker smuggled a gun into a Waco, Texas jail for boyfriend Clyde Barrow, he used the gun to free him and two others. They drove through Oklahoma, Missouri and Indiana stealing cars and burglarizing stores. The gang made several Middletown area thefts including the B & O Railroad ticket office. Following a wild car chase and gun fight through downtown Middletown, the three stopped the car on Auburn Street and took off on foot. Two were arrested and but Clyde eluded the MPD for a while. He stole a car, abandoned it on Wilbraham Road, ran to the canal and threw his gun in the water before being arrested. At first Clyde gave his name as Robert Thomas, but his fingerprints identified him as the 19 year old, short 5 ft. 5 inch, Clyde Barrow from Texas.
BARROW ARTIFACTS & FINDS
I spent a day researching at the Middletown Library where I found the Tuesday, March 18, 1930 “Middletown Journal” blazed the headline “Bandit Suspects Held By Local Police, Gun Fight Plays Part in Capture.” The Wed., March 19, 1930 Journal article describes the chase in detail and the Fri., March 21, 1930 article states the trio will be returned to Waco, Texas.
My son and I were able to view new archives that had just been donated to Carillon Park thanks to curator Gwen Haney. They included a Bonnie and Clyde wanted poster by the Department of Justice and a negative of the set of Barrow’s fingerprints. Clyde’s gun is still believed to be in the canal/river.
Following arrest, Barrow was returned to Waco, where he was given a 14 year sentence. He would be released in February of 1932 and soon thereafter, he and Bonnie became a legend, robbing banks throughout the Midwest until their deaths in a police ambush in Louisiana in 1934. But early in their career, Barrow was arrested here in southwest Ohio just like Public Enemy #1 John Dillinger.
Investigation Team: Sgt. Matt Miller, Dave Miller Expedition Date: January 25, 2017
THE SETTING After Dillinger’s escape from Lima, Ohio (see Part 4) in October 1933, for the next eight months through July 1934 Dillinger and his gang killed 10 people, wounded 7 others, robbed police arsenals (of guns and bullet-proof vests) and robbed about a dozen banks. The gang staged three jail breaks and terrorized the Midwest. Returning to Dillinger’s arrest in Dayton, Ohio back on September 22, 1933, a Colt .38 handgun was taken from him. Thanks to Moraine Deputy Chief Tracy Harpster and to Gwen Haney, Curator for Dayton History at Carillon Park, we obtained special permission to see Dillinger’s gun. THE GUN’S HISTORY The gun was a Colt .38 Super semiautomatic blue-steel pistol, serial number 12187. Originally, the .38 Super was designed for law enforcement officers who found their regular .38 caliber weapons weren’t strong enough to penetrate the car doors of mobsters. Colt built the .38 Super on a standard .45 caliber frame then modified its workings to shoot Super .38 caliber ammo. The gun was special ordered and shipped to a gun shop in Chicago back in 1932. Unlike today, where police are not allowed to take crime scene evidence as souvenirs, Dayton PD had the gun engraved and given to then Dayton Police Chief Rudolph Wurstner, a 47-year veteran of Dayton PD. The chief carried it with him the next 16 years until he retired in 1949. It is engraved “Taken from fugitive John Dillinger upon arrest in Dayton, Ohio, Sept. 22, 1933, at 2:30am. R.F. Wurstner Chief of Police” (Photo#2). Following the Chief’s death in 1969, the gun was hidden in family closets for decades, eventually appraised and almost auctioned off on the internet. Thanks to the descendants of Chief Wurstner, the gun was donated to Dayton History in 2004 and it is occasionally displayed. Photo#3 is the gun and the actual handcuffs used on Dillinger when arrested in Dayton. THE GUN TODAY My son Sgt. Matt Miller of the Fairfield Township Police Department and I were led to a back archives room at Carillon Park where Ms. Haney opened a box and allowed us to see and take photos of the historic gun (Photo#4 & #5) as well as a few other artifacts.
Investigation Team: Dave Miller
Investigation Date: January 12, 2017 Lima, Ohio
Dillinger was transferred to from Dayton to Lima on September 28, 1933 where he was wanted for robbing the Citizens National Bank in nearby Bluffton. Dayton Detective Pfauhl warned Allen County Sheriff Jesse Sarber in Lima that Dillinger wasn’t an ordinary criminal and that his pals had broken out of an Indiana prison two weeks earlier. Sarber replied that “he was just another punk”.
On Oct. 12, 1933, Sheriff Sarber, Mrs. Sarber and a deputy had just finished supper and began reading the Lima News. Mrs. Sarber was a good cook and had just fed Dillinger and three other prisoners pork chops and mashed potatoes. The jail was a stone block wing at the rear of the Sheriff’s home on North Street across from the courthouse. Dillinger was in the cell playing Pinochle with the other prisoners. At 6:25pm three of Dillinger’s gang dressed in suits walked in. The men said they were state of Indiana officials coming to take custody of Dillinger. Sheriff Sarber asked to see their credentials. Gangster Harry Pierpoint pointed a gun and said “these are our credentials”. When Sarber reached for a gun, Pierpoint shot a bullet through Sarber’s left lung and began beating him to get the whereabouts of the cell key. Mrs. Sarber grabbed the keys from a drawer and gave them to Pierpoint. Dillinger was released. Mrs. Sarber and the deputy were locked in the cell. Sheriff Sarber died 90 minutes later. Dillinger and his gang eluded several police roadblocks and spent the night in Hamilton, Ohio eventually returning to Indiana where they continued their crime spree.
LIMA MUSEUM EXHIBIT
At the Allen County Museum in Lima where I visited is an exhibit showing Sheriff Sarber at his desk and John Dillinger in his cell. Photo’s of Sheriff Sarber, Dillinger and Dillinger’s gang that freed him are on exhibit. Many more photos show the gang members on trial after they were eventually caught. A display case holds Sheriff Sarber’s police hat and badge, a machine gun used during the court trials and several hand written notes signed by Dillinger asking for gum, snacks etc. It was a very informational exhibit.
Investigation Team: Dave Miller
Investigation Date: December 20, 2016 New Carlisle, Ohio
Did you know that in 1933 famous, notorious gangster John Dillinger robbed a local Dayton Bank? Here’s the story. John Dillinger’s first bank heist was stealing $10,600 from the National Bank in New Carlisle on June 10, 1933.
Located at 100 Jefferson Street, because it is a corner building, the front door faces at a 45 degree angle to the right straight towards the traffic light of the busiest intersection in town. Though not occupied at the present time by a business, the historic building built in 1882 is in excellent condition. My photo’s show the inside lobby area where the teller cages were located on the left side.
According to FBI records, New Carlisle National Bank bookkeeper Horace Grisso walked to work on June 10th. He stopped at the bank front door, took out his keys and opened it. As he crossed the marble floor and stood behind a teller cage three men wearing handkerchiefs across their faces appeared before him. Twenty-nine year old John Dillinger said “all right buddy, open the safe“. Dillinger needed money to break out three friends from an Indiana jail where he himself was released only three weeks earlier.
Grisso retrieved a bank combination book from a drawer and fumbled with the safe lock, unable to open it due to his nervousness. “Let me drill him, he‘s stalling,” Dillinger’s partner William Shaw said. Dillinger put up his hand and said to Grisso to take his time. Just then the front door opened and a bank clerk entered. Dillinger told her he didn’t want to hurt her and had her lay on the floor. He politely laid a smock under her and tied her hands and feet with wire. Grisso opened the safe and Dillinger’s two partners emptied the safe of cash bags. Dillinger stayed by the door and tied up two more employees who entered. “You hadn’t ought to come in the bank so early”, quipped Dillinger. Minutes later Dillinger and his partners jumped into their car and sped west towards Indiana.
Investigation Team: Dave Miller, Holly Miller
Investigation Date: December 12, 2016 Dayton, Ohio
Did you know famous gangster John Dillinger was arrested in Dayton? After Dillinger robbed the New Carlisle Bank, he fled to Indiana and robbed many more banks over the next three months. Dillinger had the hots for the 23 year old sister of a fellow con named Mary Longnaker. Dillinger, age 30, was only 5’7’’ tall but made up for it with charm, confidence and bravado. He first met her in Indiana. Longnaker let it slip to her Dayton landlord Lucille Stricker that Dillinger was her boyfriend and he planned to come visit her. Between tips from Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency and Stricker tipping off the Dayton Police, Stricker helped Dayton PD Detectives Charlie Gross & Russell Pfauhl move into a room below Longnaker’s at her upscale boarding house at 324 W. First Street. The stakeout began. After seven long weeks and no Dillinger, the two detectives returned to their homes for the night to visit their families. Ironically, Dillinger snowed up at just past midnight on Sept. 22, 1933 and sneaked into Longnaker’s room. Stricker had seen him pull up and notified Pfauhl.
Dayton PD surrounded the boarding house. Just after 1:00am, Stricker led Detectives Gross & Pfauhl up to the second floor and knocked on Longnecker’s door asking to speak to her. When Longnecker opened the door the unsuspecting Dillinger was standing in the middle of the room looking at Chicago World’s Fair photos. Gross stormed through the door with his machine gun pointed at Dillinger saying ”Hold them high John”. Pfauhl jammed a sawed off shotgun in Dillinger’s face. Longnecker fell to the floor at Dillinger’s feet. Pfauhl told her to get on her hands and knees and crawl away. Dillinger offered no resistance. “I would have been crazy ,” he told his gang members later, “to have pulled my gun”.
The detectives found a Colt .38 handgun tucked up Dillinger’s sleeve and a .45 automatic was in his pocket. Also found in the room were $2,604 in cash, notes explaining the fastest way to escape from various cities, two more guns, rifle and shotgun shells, and sacks full of carpet tacks. (Tacks were used to throw onto roads to puncture the tires of pursuing police cars). I found in archives several Dayton Daily News front page articles (see photos) from September 1933 and also the Springfield Daily News that tell of the arrest.
THE SITE TODAY
Mrs. Stricker’s boarding house was razed in 1967 for urban renewal. The address site Holly & I stood on is a parking lot with a modern high rise apartment building beside the lot. The old boarding house site is just a couple blocks from Sinclair Community College.