October 2011

Black Sheep in the Family Tree

An excerpt from "Ritchie County Crimes & Calamaties" tells the tale of counterfeiters William and Emmanual Alkire (in our family tree by marriage.)

By Melanie Spiker-Fouse

Although brothers, William and Emmanuel Alkire, are not direct ancestors of ours, we thought you might be interested in a tale involving members of our Family Tree (see excerpt from article below.) William’s exact relationship to my generation is as follows: he is the father-in-law of my great grand uncle. Does that help you understand? No? Well, our Isaac Monroe’s (father of Jake Spiker) brother, John Henry, married William’s daughter, Jennie Alkire. Is that any better? Ha-ha. OK, so maybe you’re still lost but this story does show that all family trees have a few black sheep.

Excerpt from “Ritchie County Crimes & Calamities, Reports from the Local, State and National Press, 1847-1922”, Edited by John M. Jackson, Nov. 2011:

The Ritchie Gazette(Harrisville, W. Va.), September 21, 1882.

Detected at Last. The Bold Shovers of the Queer. A Romance of Ritchie County. From Whence the Bogus Coin Came. Several Arrests and an Escape.

Lately the discovery has been made by the business men of this part of the State that Ritchie county is literally flooded, so to speak, with counterfeit coin. For a long time no suspicion was aroused, and our merchants, and others must have handled large sums of the base stuff, innocently, without discovering the imposition that was being practiced. With in a short time, however, the base metal became so plentiful that every one was on the alert. But one conclusion could be reached, which was that some counterfeiters must be operating within the borders of our usually law-abiding county. For some time before any disclosures were made, there was a feeling of certainty that the persons so boldly engaged in swindling our people, would not be long undetected.

On last Thursday, the 14th, in Parkersburg, the first developments came. Emanuel and William Alkire, two well known citizens of Bond’s creek, in this county, were arrested by Policeman Bartlett and Detective Logan, who were operating under the supervision ot (of) Capt. Jas. A. Haggerty, a well known and successful detective of this State. Considerably over a hundred dollars, of counterfeit coin was found in their possession. They told a straight story of how they had sold a yoke of oxen to Jacob Hashman, of this county; and said that he had paid them in the counterfeit money found upon them, and that they were innocent of any knowledge of its base character.

As the result of this statement, Captain Haggerty and Deputy United States Marshall Gibbens came out to Ellenboro, and on Friday morning arrested Hashman at his house. While there, they accidentally, as we understand, came upon a man by the name of Miller, and the circumstances under which they found him being very suspicious, they arrested him. As it transpired, they had done exactly the right thing. A considerable sum of counterfeit money was found on him, together with a book giving complete directions how to manufacture and “shove” the “queer.”

So far, so good. Captain Haggerty and Marshall Gibbens brought Hashman and Miller to Ellenboro. The two officials as our reporter was informed, kept their eagle gaze closely fixed on Hashman, supposing no doubt he was the dangerous criminal. They were determined he should not escape. The seemingly inoffensive and sleepy headed Miller, was not so closely watched. Captain Haggerty, who is an excellent marksman, we are told, got down on the platform in front of Mr. T. P. Jeffrey’s store and proceeded to detail some of his exploits with the unerring revolver.

“Why,” said Captain Haggerty, “I can shoot a chicken’s head off at a distance of ——.”

Just at this juncture he was interrupted by Mrs. Kate Stevens, who looked out of a window of the West Virginia House and remarked:

“Your friend is taking a walk up through the orchard.”

Sure enough Miller was making good time for the woods. Before any one could take in the situation, he was out of range of Captain Haggerty’s silver mounted pistol. He disappeared with the alacrity that showed his respect for the revolver the detective possessed. The scene of excitement that followed in Ellenboro, has not been equalled for many a day. The whole male population, we understand, were called out as a militia. But all efforts to capture Miller were unavailing. He still roams at large out of range of the famous shooting iron of Captain Haggerty.

In regard to the operations of the gang of counterfeiters, we have no doubt they have been extensive. Miller was undoubtedly the ring leader. By his machinations, persons who would otherwise be good citizens, have been led into the nefarious business. It is said that twenty men have been engaged in it, among whom were the notorious Bowie, who lately made his escape, in spite of the efforts of half of Clay District. Miller should have been held; and considerable indignation is felt, by our people, that he should make his escape.

We are informed that the attempt to pass counterfeit money in Parkersburg, was not the first by the two Alkires. They had previously tried to “shove” some of it in Ellenboro, and on the train. This is the other side of the story to theirs, which we gave last week. We only desire to do justice, and sincerely hope they are innocent of any criminal intention. Hashman’s statement is that while he bought the yoke of oxen, as alleged, he made the purchase for Miller, and agreed that Miller would pay one hundred and forty dollars in good money, or two hundred and eighty dollars in conterfeit coin. The Alkires, he says, took the larger sum of counterfeit money in preference to the genuine. He claims he handled none of the base metal, but that Miller paid it direct to the Alkires. We suppose that as usual all of them have told enough, with such evidence as can be secured otherwise, to make their conviction sure.

The case looks like another illustration of the pitcher’s going too often to the well. Emboldened by success, criminals become careless, until finally, however they may for a time escape, they become entangled in the meshes of the law.

It is due Emanuel and William Alkire to say that they have heretofore borne good characters.

We hope the principal offenders, who are no doubt Miller and Bowie, may yet be secured and punished.

The adventures of these two desperadoes, are worthy of the “g-r-e-a-t” novelist, Mrs. Southworth, and remind us of some of the alleged scenes of “Black Donald”, who was entirely, altogether, invariably too much for their “perlice,” sheriffs, constables, detectives, etcetera.

We shall give all future developments that transpire in these cases.

To be noted: A total of eighteen counterfeiters were arrested in this case with William Alkire, the first of the counterfeiters arrested and the first one tried. He was found guilty on Feb 2, 1883. No mention of his sentence is found in the book.