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The fugitive vanished into history…..

From the desk of Steve Willis, Former Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library:

The dry humor of this reporter is fun to read in the January 18, 1895 issue of The Wilbur Register. The random article found this week relates a drama that took place in northwest Lincoln County:



 So Prisoner Dawson Left the Court Room to Escape Them.

 A young man named Tom Dawson has given our neighboring town of Almira her fill of sensations this week. It appears that on Tuesday Mr. Dawson assaulted William Twitchell, the village blacksmith, without due provocation, and pounded his face up considerably. Upon mature reflection Mr. Twitchell decided to get angry at this rough usage, and swore out a warrant praying that his assailant might be apprehended and dealt with according to law. This was exactly the turn Mr. Dawson had expected the matter to take, so he made tracks toward Wilbur. Along in the night he peered through the window of one of the saloons, and satisfying himself the coast was clear, entered and ordered refreshments. But he had counted without his host. He was unaware that any officer but ex-Deputy Sheriff Mike Flohr guarded the peace and dignity of western Lincoln’s metropolis, and as Mike was not in sight the fugitive walked directly into the arms of Chief of Police Keables, who, armed with the wired warrant and description, was awaiting the arrival. Constable McPheron of Almira arrived on Wednesday morning and took his prisoner back on the train. Attorney Lacey was retained to defend the prisoner, and accompanied the party to Almira, where the case was put on trial before Judge Otto. During one of the discussions between the counsel the prisoner got rattled over the flights of oratory and stepped outside to cool his fevered brow, and while his counsel was making an impassioned plea for his liberty was calmly taking a constitutional neath the stars which were just beginning to shed their chaste twinkles on the Big Bend plain. As it was reported that he had agreed to requite his lawyer’s services with $10 worth of stovewood, it is suggested that Mr. Dawson may be in Rocky canyon exercising with an axe and saw.

 Dawson was about a decade younger than Twitchell, who was a 40 year old Civil War veteran and a native of Maine. The fugitive vanished into history but Twitchell lived on Almira until he died in 1904.

This story reminds me of a tale concerning one of my Willis uncles. In the 1920s he was running some of his excellent moonshine through Centralia when he was caught by law enforcement. They took his car and gave him jail time at night and road crew work during the day. My uncle said it wasn’t so bad. He had a place to sleep and three meals a day. Then, as he put it, “I took up a notion to go home. So I sold the road crew wheelbarrow and shovel to a passerby and left.”

The Wilbur Register is still with us today. It has existed since early 1889, and catalog librarians will love this, without any title changes!



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