Way Back When

(The Spirit is pleased to share with our readers vignettes of life in the 19th Century as originally reported in past issues of the newspaper. These reprinted stories include their original headlines and spelling.)

Local Intelligence
(April 1, 1896)


Gets Into Trouble by Trifling
With Uncle Sam's Mail

Andy is a Slick Article and Has
Heretofore Gotten off Easily

Andy Anderson, a former resident of Punxsutawney, who was tried in the Jefferson county courts recently on a charge of burglarizing the Clayville depot, was convicted at the United States court in Scranton last Wednesday on a charge of lifting another man's mail from the post office at DuBois.

In September, 1893, the defendant, A. D. Anderson, called at the DuBois post- office and inquired for mail. He was given a letter addressed to another Andy Anderson. It was written by his brother, John Anderson, of Johnsonburg, and contained the information that writer would send him the $400 he owed him in a few days.

This made our Andy Anderson open his eyes and think. And the result was that he went back and told the postmaster that he was going to LaJose, and asked the postmaster to forward any mail addressed to Andy Anderson to that place. In a few days a letter came containing a check for $400, which Andy indorsed and had cashed, appropriating the money as his own.
Attorney George D. Jenks, of this town, had charge of the defendant's side of the case, and by taking advantage of a technicality, had the Government's side guessing. He took the ground that, the letters having been addressed to Andy Anderson and voluntarily delivered to a man of that name by the postmaster, no crime was committed against the United States, and that, if a crime had been committed, it was against the Commonwealth, and should have been tried in the quarter session court of the proper county. It was not a crime against the Government, he said, to accept a letter with your own address written upon it. The crime, he contended, must have been in appropriating the contents of the letter, which was one against the State and therefore the United States court had jurisdiction.

In rebuttal the United States produced an expert who testified that the checks had undoubtedly been indorsed by the defendant, samples of the writing of O. D. Anderson having been shown him.

The jury, however, thought it was the duty of the defendant, who must have known that the letter was not intended for him, to return it to the postoffice, and accordingly found him guilty.

Anderson was sentenced to two years imprisonment in the Western Penitentiary. After the sentence was pronounced Anderson
confessed his guilt, and the Judge was relieved of any qualms of conscience he might have had about sending the young man to the penitentiary.

Andy is a smooth, affable fellow, the very picture of ingenuous innocense, and has heretofore escaped punishment for crimes of which there was strong evidence of his guilt.

Andy went to New Castle and introduced himself as the representative of a large manufacturing concern that wanted to locate there. He had the enterprising citizens excited about it, and won their confidence by his geniality. Then he discovered that he was short of expense money, and as he was not known at the bank he asked some of the citizens to guarantee a check for $500 for him, which they did.

Andy came home, and in a few days some gentlemen from New Castle paid him a visit. Andy received them cordially, paid back the money and their expenses besides, and the matter was dropped. Not long afterwards he was said to have forged a check on Frederick Hummel of this town, and that, too, was settled. But when Andy got into complications with Uncle Sam's mail, he reached the end of his string.