The Confession of Charles Ferguson

The text below is a transcribed confession of a local horse thief named Charles Ferguson. The confession was made on January 18, 1910, after Ferguson was caught for horse and buggy theft by the Grant County Sheriff’s Department. As you can read in the wanted poster at the top, Ferguson was sentenced to a term of one to fourteen years in Michigan City prison for the crimes listed in this confession, but escaped through an unlocked door and went on the lam again in May, 1910. Our records do not have any information on the ultimate fate of Mr. Ferguson.

Charles Ferguson

Wanted poster for confessed horse thief Charles Ferguson, 1910

Confession of Charles Ferguson.

Taken January 18, 1910, at the county jail.

Taken by Frank Ghalfant in shorthand, court reporter, in the presence of C. N. Hardy, Deputy Prosecutor, Tony George, Sheriff Grant County, and Fred Lennox, Deputy Sheriff.

My name is Charles Ferguson; I am 32 years of age; I was born at Indianapolis, Indiana.  My parents are both dead.  My occupation, I am a salesman.  I have been working in dry goods stores for a number of years.  I have been in cities in Indiana most all my life.  I was in the saloon business in Akron, Barberton, and Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

I was down on my luck in the last of October or 1st of November, 1905, I think.  I fell in with a fellow named Oscar Bunker at Marion, Indiana, and he and I stole a horse from a farmer about 2 ½ miles from Huntington, going towards Warren.  It was a brown mare and a red running geared rubber tired buggy.  There was a party at the house and the yard was full of young folks.  It was about 8 o’clock in the evening.  Bunker went in the barn and brought the horse out, harnessed and hitched and we drove away.  We drove to a little town about Van Wert, east of Van Wert; pulled the rig in behind a school house and slept until about 11 o’clock the next evening.  Then left rig at school house and walked into the little town.  We there took from a barn a three year old bay colt, weighed 1525 pounds and a steel tire buggy with light upholstering and one set of single harness.  Got horse and harness in one barn and buggy in the barn across the street.  Were not molested at all.  The last horse stolen was unbroken.  Not being even bridle wise.  We left this little town going towards the east.  WE went along about 3 or 4 miles and were broke.  He told me to go straight on east and he would pick up some turkeys for expense money.  He overtook me the next morning about 9 o’clock at some little town near Fostoria, south and west of Fostoria.  He sold the turkeys to a little cross roads store and we split the money.  My share was between 4 and 5 dollars.  Then being afraid to be both seen together, we separated.  He went on to Columbus, Ohio, where his home is now, I think No. 2538 ½ Broad Street, west of insane asylum and over a barber shop.  He is going under the name of Oscar Bingham.  He sold his mare to a dealer on Wall St. pretty close to the State House.  The mare is still in Columbus.  He sold the whole rig for $50.  I drove on to Akron, Ohio, I trade the horse to Bill Keller, a brick yard man.  I traded for a gray mare.  I got $200, to boot.  I sold the gray mare to a farmer at Talmidge, Ohio, about 4 miles from Akron.  I got $185.  I gave my harness and rig to a fellow for making the trade.  Bill Keller traded the colt to Maria, a milk man still in business at Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.  Maria sold the colt to the McCaslin Brick Company at Cuyahoga Falls.  Those people still own the horse.  This was my first experience.

I went into the Saloon business at Cuyahoga Falls that winter, 1905-6 on the money I got in this deal.  I run saloon until the taking effect of the $1000 license in May, and this stealing I have related took place the fall previous.  During this winter, Bunker had sold his horse and moved to Wabash, Indiana and spent part of the time in Marion, Indiana.  During that time he went to Peru, Indiana, stole a black mare or horse, I think mare, from a man named Cole.  I think the brewerman.  He got on that mare and rode her bare-back to Bill Bird, a farmer living about 5 miles out of Warren, in Huntington County, near Batson Bridge.  He sold the mare to Bird, who knew he was buying a stolen horse, for $50.  Bunker has related this experience to me and so did Bird.  I heard them talk about it.  I don’t know where this horse is, but Bird could tell.  I moved to Fort Wayne the next spring and worked for myself at fruit and produce business on commission ‘til fall, then went to work for Menter Rosenbloom Company, a clothing house.

Well, that same spring, Bunker went down in the southern part of this County or northern part of Madison County, and stole a sorrel colt, a 3-year chestnut colt.  He drove this to Akron, Ohio, and traded it there for a brown horse.  Then he drove the brown horse back here and him and this fellow, I can’t think of this fellow’s name, they got mixed up and separated—Bodkins is this fellow’s name.  Orville Bodkins.  Then Bunker went to Warren, Indiana, stole a brown horse or bay horse over here at the edge of Warren and drove it to Columbus, Ohio, and traded to a fellow by the name of Charles Hall, then mail carrier at Columbus, for a gray pony.  He drew $70 to boot.  Mr. Hall still has the bay horse.

Bunker stole a colt out of pasture at Columbus, Ohio, I can’t think of the fellow’s name.  It was right along Neal Avenue Bridge, and drove that horse to Bill Bird at Warren, Indiana, and traded to him for a bay mare that he got from Jim Cahill up near Van Wert, Ohio.  I don’t know how close to Van Buren.  Bunker stole that mare at Columbus, Ohio, at the stable right across from the police station.  Bunker came over and I was working for Mr. R. & Co.  I worked a couple of days after he came and through our conversation, I guess I was as bad as he was or I would not have listened to him, we stole a brown mare 3 miles and a half northeast of Fort Wayne, Indiana; sold her to Bill Bird at Warren, Indiana; $50 was all we got for her.  We left the rig and harness at Bill Bird’s, went home and stayed all night at Fort Wayne, Bunker and I; stayed at our house.  The next afternoon we took a street car and went to Liberty Center, Indiana, walked about a mile out of Liberty Center on towards Warren and led a brown horse out of a barn and he had spavin and we put him back.  Went a mile further to a school house and then we must have turned north to first house on right side of road, took one bay horse 5 years old, weighed 1100 pounds; led the horse from there to Bill Bird’s about 5 miles, hitched him to a rig we had left there, bid him good bye and drove to Columbus, Ohio.  Then I came home.  This bay horse was taken last July, both of these horses were taken last July—no, in June, because the 4th of July we were at Urbana, Ohio.  This horse we sold to the collector of some house in Columbus, Ohio, and the horse is still there.  The collector is driving it on the streets there.  He would be very easy found.  Anybody where Bunker lived at the time could tell who bought him of Bunker.

I guess that is about all about that fellow except he got a roan horse and rubber tire buggy he gave to John Millinor at Wabash for defending him—about sometime, about 5 years ago, of course you will have to look this horse up.  You can get those cards, Bunker and James Cahill took a bay mare from a stock dealer down in Madison County near Alexandria or Elwood, in the vicinity there; drove this mare to Bill Bird’s, sold her to Bill Bird.  God, she could pace.  I never sat behind nothing like her.  Bill sold her to an oil worker and she is still there in that country—that is near Warren; Bunker stole an iron gray mare two years old, out of the same vicinity and drove to Bill Bird’s, traded her to Bill Bird’s for a roan pony, sold the roan pony at Huntington near the Erie depot to a grocery man.  I guess he has still got her.

Jim Cahill stole a bay mare up near Delphos, Ohio, drove the mare to Jim Bird’s and sold it to Jim Bird.  This son of Jim’s bought this gray two year old.  He knew she was crooked.  That is he traded for her.

I stole a bay mare at Fort Wayne about 10 or 12 miles south and east; drove the mare to Columbus, Ohio.  Sold her to Preevy, a horse buyer on North High Street.  I got $90 for her.  This was along this summer.  He sold this horse to a private family.  He will tell you where she’s at.

Bunker and I stole a bay colt, two year old, and iron running gear, rubber tire buggy, about 5miles out of Huntington.  This place is about two miles beyond that other place, the first brown mare I told you about.  Drove the same to Columbus, Ohio.  Sold it to I can’t think of the horse buyer’s name right down off of High Street near the Columbus Savings Bank sales stable.  Bunker sold the buggy.  I don’t know who got it.

Bunker stole a bay mare some time near the 15th of October, somewhere near there, him and this Till Cole, and drove it to Columbus.  I think Bunker has still got it at Bunker.

Jim Cahill, who goes by the name of Jim Knight, too, came to my house at Fort Wayne, about the 1st of October; went to Gepharts, near the poor farm, stole one red rubber geared tire buggy, and brought it to Marion, here and traded it for a wagon, to somebody, I don’t know.  Then I came to Marion along about the 1st of December; stayed until the 14th.  Last week, all that time, with Harry Imil.  He and I hitched his horse, steel tire buggy and drove out to an old, empty house about two miles west of Marion, I guess it is, and stole a set of harness out of a barn.  This was the 14th of December.  Drove back to the thicket along the Kokomo Street Car Line, and tied his horse and walked over to Alfred Bair’s barn and took one black horse.  Hitched it to his buggy, led his horse back within two blocks of his house.  He gets out and walks and puts his horse in the barn.  Then we turn and drive through by the way of Warren, miss Warren a mile and went straight on through and the first town we hit was Fostoria, Ohio.  From there we went to Cuyahoga Falls.

Left the horse with a barber by the name of Billy Smith.  He is on the square; don’t know nothing.  Borrowed $50 of him and left the horse for him to sell.  There is not a man of better reputation anywhere than he is; lived there all his life.  I guess that is about the end of it.