Saturday, February 13, 2010

Banking Scandal of Hamilton County, Indiana circa 1915-16

While I don't yet have all of the details, thanks to some newspaper articles and Google books, I've managed to piece together some information regarding Ed and Luther HINSHAW, nephews of my 3GGF, Nathan Thomas BEALS.  Nathan died in Arkansas before the scandal broke, and I have no evidence that any of his dealings with the HINSHAWS were questionable, but I found it a fascinating story that close family members were involved in a scandal.  Another nephew, Elmer L. STURDEVANT was also involved.

Apparently, the following banks were involved in the crash: Hamilton Trust Company of Noblesville, Indiana; Farmers and Merchants National Bank of Cicero, Indiana; People's State Bank of Arcadia, Indiana; and the Fidelity Trust Company of Indianapolis, Indiana.  I've yet to research using the contemporary newspapers from Hamilton County area, but the following articles found on will highlight some of the details:

From: Indianapolis, Indiana Star, Sunday, March 5, 1916, page 8.


Noblesville Judge Overrules Motion Alleging People Have Conspired to Mob or Lynch Defendant in Bank Case


State Accused of "Packing" Court to Influence Jury in Bowen Trial - Prosecutor Suggests Perjury Indictment

[Special to the Indianapolis Star]

NOBLESVILLE, Ind., March 4. - Late this afternoon Judge Cloe overruled the motion for a change of venue from the county in the case of E.M. Hinshaw, charged with conspiracy in connection with the failure of the Farmers' and Merchants' Bank of Cicero.  The case is set for hearing March 14.

When the motion for change was presented it was accompanied by the affidavits of forty-two citizens, who said under oath that the defendant could not obtain a fair and impartial trial in this county.  Ninety-five counter affidavits were presented by the state.  

Arguments on the motion brought out some sharp exchanges of opinion between J.F. Neal, one of the special prosecutors, and E.V. Fitzpatrick of Indianapolis, representing the defendant.
Charges Sharp Practice
 Fitzpatrick insisted that the state had called spectators to the court room by telephone to influence the jury in the trial of George Bowen, who was convicted recently of embezzlement in connection with the failure of the Hamilton Trust Company, of which he had been president.

"Is there an affidavit on file to that effect?" quickly inquired Neal, implying that some one might be charged with a false accusation.

Fitzpatrick also asserted that Neal had indicated to him that a special session of the grand jury might be called to indict Hinshaw for alleged perjury growing out of the statement in the defendant's motion that there were persons in Hamilton County who would perjure themselves in order to get on a jury so they could convict Hinshaw.
Suggests Indictment
In arguing the motion Neal indicated with a great deal of emphasis that Hinshaw should be indicted for this assertion in his motion and also because he alleged the people of Hamilton County had combined and confederated to mob or lynch him.

In passing on the motion Judge Cloe paid a high tribute to the citizenship of Hamilton County and said he could not believe such threats were well founded.

Jointly indicted with E.M. Hinshaw are J.L. Hinshaw, R.H. Metcalf and Lee Tescher.  The latter was cashier in the Cicero bank.  Metcalf was president and J.L. Hinshaw was a director.  Tescher and Metcalf have asked for separate trials and J.L. Hinshaw will probably be tried at another time.  

From: Indianapolis, Indiana Star, Sunday, March 28, 1915, page 10.


Crittenberg's Warning to Replace Notes With Cash Results in Closing of Arcadia State Bank.


Indorsers of Paper in Question Are Men Connected With Other Hamilton County Institutions - Officers Expect to Avoid Loss.

[Special to the Indianapolis Star.]

NOBLESVILLE, Ind., March 27. - The People's State Bank of Arcadia did not open its doors today, being locked up by Cashier J.S. Hinesley when Auditor of State Crittenberger demanded that he take out of the institution three notes of $5,000 each and replace them with cash.

Hinesley was notified yesterday by the auditor that he must take up this paper before the bank opened this morning, and realizing that he could not do so in such short time, he refused to open the bank today.  The bank is not yet in the hands of the auditor, but he probably will take charge of it on Monday.
Result of Other Failures
The three notes in question bear the signatures of John W. Jessup, Thomas Hussey, Kenton C. Hershey, Francis T. Hinshaw, A.H. Bowen, Elmer Sturdevant, George Bowen and the estate of John H. Harvey, by George Bowen through power of attorney.  All these persons were directly connected with the Hamilton Trust Company of this city, which was closed by the auditor of state in January and is now in the hands of a receiver.

Jessup and Hussey have made assignments of them properly to Samuel M. Smith of Indianapolis.  Hershey and Hinshaw filed bankruptcy proceedings in the Federal Court at Indianapolis last Thursday.

George Bowen served as president of the Hamilton Trust Company from its organization ten years ago until last December, when Sturdevant was chosen to succeed him.  A.H. Bowen, another endorser on the three notes, is a brother of George Bowen, and has been secretary and treasurer of the Hamilton Trust Company for several years.

Hinesley asserts with the exception of these three note the bank is in good condition and he expects this paper to be eventually paid in full.
 Depends on Court Action
He admits that whether the notes are good depends entirely on two suits pending in court in this city, in which Thomas Hussey and John W. Jessup are suing the officers and other directors of the Hamilton Trust Company to be released from notes aggregating $117,000, now in the possession on John Dulin, receiver for the Hamilton Trust Company.  It is alleged by Jessup and Hussey that their signatures to the $117,000 in notes were procured by George Bowen and Elmer L. Sturdevant through fraud.  In the event the court holds these notes are not legal the action will be equivalent to saying that Hussey and Jessup are not bankrupt, and it is possible Hinesley will be able to collect his three notes of $5,000 each even though the other sureties are not financially responsible.

Hinesley went into court this afternoon and obtained judgment on default against three of the indorsers on the three notes, George and A.H. Bowen and Elmer L. Sturdevant.  Attorney for each of the other indorsers asked that action as to their clients be delayed a few days.  Hinesley said the three notes came to his bank in 1912 through J.L. Hinshaw, then president of the Farmers and Merchants' Bank at Cicero, now in the hands of a receiver.  At that time the sureties were rated high in financial circles.
 Receiver Files Suits
John Dulin, receiver for the Hamilton Trust Company, has made E.M. Hinshaw, the East Tenth Street Bank of Indianapolis and the Farmers and Traders' Bank of Lafayette, defendants in a suit to foreclose a mortgage on property in Cicero, belonging to Hinshaw, which was given to secure a note for $5,400, executed Jan. 7, 1913.  It is said in the complaint that the Indianapolis bank is made a defendant because it has a judgment for $414 against Hinshaw.  The Lafayette bank is brought into the case that it may present whatever interest it may have in the real estate.

In the same complaint Mr. Dulin asks for the foreclosure of another mortgage, which Hinshaw executed last July to secure a note of $900. 

The Wainwright Trust Company, as administrator, with will annexed of the estate of the late John H. Harvey, a former county commissioner, and the First National Bank of this city have filed a replevin suit against John L. Dulin, receiver for the Hamilton Trust Company, to obtain the property of the Hamilton Abstract Company.  Damages in the sum of $10,000 are demanded.  The abstract company and the Hamilton Trust Company were conducted jointly and owned by the same persons.  It is alleged the stockholders turned over their holdings in the company to the First National Bank and the Wainwright Trust Company and these two plaintiffs are demanding possession of the property, which is under the control of Mr. Dulin. 

From: Indianapolis, Indiana Star, Saturday, November 13, 1915, page 4.


Noblesville, Ind. Nov. 12. - In the Circuit Court today Judge Cloe overruled motions to quash thirteen grand jury indictments alleging felonies growing out of the failure of the Farmers and Merchants Bank at Cicero and the Hamilton Trust Company of this city.  The defendants are A.H. and George Bowen and Elmer Sturdevant of the trust company, and Lee Tescher, Ed and Luther Hinshaw and R.H. Metcalf, who were connected with the Cicero bank.  On a motion filed by the Special Prosecutor, J.F. Neal, the court quashed seven indictments against the same defendants and at the same time new affidavits were filed to take the place of the indictments.  The dismissal of these indictments and the filing of new ones was the result of a desire on the part of the state to correct some clerical and technical errors.  No material changes were made in any of the charges, which include embezzlement, larceny, grand larceny and conspiracy.  Bench warrants were issued for the rearrest of the defendants, who will appear in court tomorrow and provide new bonds.

From: Fort Wayne, Indiana Daily News, Monday, July 24, 1916


Young Man Believes Now He Will Never Be Convicted

Noblesville, Ind. July 24. - After being out 30 hours the jury in the case against R.H. Metcalf, charged with having accepted a check for $6,700 while president of the Farmers' and Merchants' bank at Cicero, and when, it is alleged, he knew the institution was insolvent, reported to Judge Cloe yesterday afternoon that it could not agree and was discharged.  Nearly 50 ballots were taken.  The last one stood nine for conviction and three for acquittal.  Most of the ballots were two for acquittal and ten for conviction.

Metcalf and his friends consider the disagreement a victory.  It is generally believed that Metcalf, who has been in jail here for nearly ten months, will be able to give bond and return to his home at Paint Lick, Ky.  There are several other charges against him, but the opinion prevails that he may never be tried again.

The disagreement in the Metcalf case was the first in the four trials here resulting from the three bank failures in Hamilton county about a year ago.  George Bowen, who was president of the Hamilton Trust company of this city until a short time before it was closed by the auditor of the state, was the first convicted and sentenced to prison, charged with embezzlement.  Edwin M. Hinshaw and John Luther Hinshaw, brothers, who controlled the Cicero bank until the reorganization by which Metcalf became its president, also were sentenced to prison.  The convicted men are at liberty under bond, pending appeals to the supreme court.

Metcalf, who is less than 30 years old, had been the object of much sympathy.  In his defense he attempted to show that he was led to enter the Cicero through misrepresentations of E.M. Hinshaw and that state examiners gave him reason to believe the bank was sound.

From: Logansport, Indiana Daily Tribune, Wednesday, August 16, 1916, page 1


[By Associated Press]

Noblesville, Ind., Aug. 15. - Charged with forgery and conspiracy.  John L. Hinshaw, formerly connected with the Hamilton Trust company of this place, was arrested here tonight, and it was announced the arrest of Edwin M. Hinshaw, formerly of Farmers and Merchants Trust company of Cicero, and of George W. Bowes and Elmer Sturdevant of the Hamilton Trust company is expected to be made tomorrow on similar charges.

The charges are said to be the outgrowth of evidence given at the recent trials of the Hinshaws here.  Under the new conspiracy charges it is alleged the former bankers sought to give the public the impression the institutions were solvent when it was known to them, it is alleged, that they were insolvent.

From: Rushville, Indiana Daily Republican, Monday, March 5, 1917, page 8.


Only Few of 75 Witnesses in Noblesville Bank Wrecking Case

[By United Press]

Noblesville, Ind., March 5. - When the trial of Elmer L. Sturdevant on the charge of conspiracy to wreck the Hamilton Trust Company was resumed today, it was evident that the case would extend over several weeks.  The case has been on for nine days and only a few of the seventy-five witnesses which the state has summoned, have been examined.  W.H. Whitson, former state bank examiner, was expected to resume the stand today.  He has already occupied a day and a half in giving testimony.

From: Tipton, Indiana, Daily Tribune, Saturday, June 29, 1918, page 4.


Frankfort Court Given Judgment Against Arcadia Concern

Guy Booth, receiver for the defunct People's State Bank of Arcadia, has been given judgment in the Clinton county circuit court against the defendants in his suit, the amount fixed by the court being $4,480.  The judgment is against John Luther Hinshaw and the American Surety Company.

This is another echo of a financial disaster that befell Hamilton county some time ago.

Hinshaw had given bond in the sum of $2,000 during the fiscal year of 1911 and 1912 for the faithful and honest discharge of his duties as the president of the bank.  It is alleged in the complaint that Hinshaw and his brother Ed took from the bank $2,100 and executed their note for that amount at a time when each was alleged to be insolvent.  It was further alleged that in 1912 and 1913, by means of two checks, one for $1,500 and one for $2,500, executed by J.L. Hinshaw and Ed Hinshaw respectively and that they took from the bank $4,000 without having funds on desposit and later executed notes for that amount when, it was charged, each knew they were insolvent.

The Frankfort court found there had been a breach of the bond in the execution of the $2,700 note and also a breach of the bond in drawing two checks.  There was a judgment entered against the defendents to the amount of $4,000 and interest from the date of demand which amounted to $180.  The surety company immediately gave notice of an appeal of the case to the Supreme Court.


Elmer L. STURDEVANT was the son of Calvin and Emma (BEALS) STURDEVANT, and my  maternal 1st cousin 4 times removed.

Edwin M. HINSHAW and John Luther HINSHAW were the sons of Solomon and Elizabeth J. (BEALS) HINSHAW, and my maternal 1st cousins 4 times removed.

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