Fraud at the Street Fair (1899)

Two Gallatin men were once taken in by a fence man, signing “contracts” that later turn up as notes.

Two Gallatin men were once taken in by a fence man, signing “contracts” that later turn up as notes.

Thomas J. Harris (white) and Ace Page (colored) are each bemoaning the fate which made them susceptible to the wily ways and glib tongued entreaties of the sanctified appearing “original” patent fence man.

It was during the street fair times that they became interested in the patent fence business as portrayed by a feminine appearing gent with a piping voice and bearing the sobriquet of “Walter Clement.” Walter claimed to represent the United States Fence Co., and Harris and Page each seemed desirous of engaging in the same avocation. This, of course, interested Walter, who explained in detail how they could make a good thing out of it by the preference he could give them as agents. Not coming to terms, however, at that time, Walter became fearful that they were going to let a good thing go by and went to theri homes near this city, where each was duly ordained as agent and the “contracts for Walter to send them $100 worth of fence to begin on where duly signed.

Later Walter presented the “contracts” at the Farmers Exchange Bank in the shape of two promissory notes, each of $100 due 6 months from date and bearing 8% interest. Walter wanted money on the notes and was willing to allow a good discount for cash. The signatures were undoubtedly genuine and yet bank president Meade was fearful there was something wrong in the matter. He told Walter he would allow $150 for the two notes, but would only pay $25 down on each until they had seen Harris and Page about them.

After considerable pleading for more cash, Walter finally accepted the $50 and a receipt for the notes, leaving his address: 210 Brush Street, Detroit, Mich., for the remaining $100 to be sent him when the genuineness of the notes was attested by the givers.

Harris and Page were duly notified of the notes and while they did not deny their signatures, they said the young man said they were simply signing contracts as agents and they did not think but what he was perfectly honest in the matter as he was “so nice and accommodating.” In the meantime, Walter had disappeared, not even saying good-bye to his landlord, Landon Schwyhart, to whom he is yet indebted for two weeks board. A vigilant search has yet failed to disclose his whereabouts.

From the Gallatin Democrat, Sept. 28, 1899.