Ghosts Did Not Frighten Thieves
Steele Scrapbook - 1885?
Looted Odd Fellows' Cemetery and Did Damage Amounting to Thousands of Dollars.
STOLE FENCE FITTINGS
For months the officials of the Odd Fellows' Cemetery, at Twenty-second and Diamond streets, and the police of the near-by districts have been endeavoring to apprehend a gang of thieves, who have been systematically looting the graveyard of metal ornamentation, and causing damages amounting to thousands of dollars. T. S. Cummings, superintendent of the cemetery, has watched all night many times in hope of catching the vandals at their horrid work, but failure always followed his lonely vigils. Special Lawrence, of the 31st police district, and Special Hancock, of the 28th, also gave a large part of their time to an endeavor to locate the miscreants. Their work was also fruitless, however.
But when the officials were almost in despair an end of the protracted hunt is near at hand. The first arrest was made last night, and is expected to be followed by a number of others before the week is out. Policeman Eastlack, on his beat at Twenty-sixth and Susquehanna avenue late last night, had his attention attracted by the suspicious effort of a young colored man to avoid notice, and the further fact that the belated pedestrian was carrying a heavy bag, which he tried to keep out of sight. When stopped and questioned the young fellow could not give satisfactory answers and became confused. The policeman arrested him.
At the station house the prisoner said he was John F. Barnes, and gave his home as No. 2317 Steward street. In the bag was found a quantity of lead fittings, such as are used in the construction of fences around cemetery lots, to form a connection between the iron rail and the posts at the corners. These lead fittings were the articles always missing when a new piece of vandalism occurred at the cemetery, and a little hard questioning brought from Barnes the admission that he had obtained them there.
Magistrate Fletcher this morning held Barnes in $500 for a further hearing. A number of policemen testified that the prisoner had been seen about the cemetery frequently and chased out of the enclosure a number of times. Other boys and young men had been seen there in his company, but it was never suspected that they could have been the authors of the systematic depredations, as they were so extensive and long continued that it was thought some older and shrewder thieves must have been at the task. When the further hearing takes place the police expect to have one and probably several prisoners, with ample evidence for their detention and conviction.
The looting has been done thoughout the entire summer, and scores of fence were broken down. The quantity of fittings, brass work, and ornaments taken away is estimated to amount to $2,000, and the damage resulting is calculated at several times that sum. For months lot owners have complained of the vandalism which seems to have been done at no regular time, the thieves working at night or day as opportunity afforded.
It is now thought that boys and young men did all the damage. It is considered remarkable that boys, and especially colored youths, should have found courage to visit so uncanny a place as a graveyard at night and use heavy hammers to break up strong iron fences for a small amount of plunder. Where they disposed of their loot has not yet been ascertained. It is expected that these particulars and much beside will be produced at the next hearing.
This one qualifies for the racism category as well, for propagating the believe that all "colored people" are afraid of ghosts.