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Look Back: Ill-gotten gains from the past

As the 1899 photo above shows, the grocery of Patrick Whitstead at 420 Market St. made use of barrels. They may have originally held sugar such as is described in the story below. (Photo provided by Bernie Dowler)

(Editor’s note: The following contains historical excerpts that contain language which would not be used in today’s reporting.)

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Arrested in the South

Three residents of Parkersburg, and well-known characters about here, were arrested on last Monday at Winston, N.C., on the charge of robbing a large cotton mill. Their names are Frank Delaney, George Delaney and Albert Hobeck. Frank Creston, of Dayton, Ohio, was arrested with them. The men are now in jail at Winston and will be held for trial.

The Delaneys are father and son and were known as bad characters while here.

The Parkersburg Sentinel

July 6, 1901

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A mysterious family

The members of the Delaney family who were arrested and put in jail at Winston, N.C., some days ago, have lived in Parkersburg for about four years and during their stay here have been regarded as most mysterious personages. Soon after their advent here they went to a spot near Wilson’s Mill [near the mouth of Worthington Creek] along the Kanawha River and burrowed into a bank where they made a typical dugout. This was their home and where they spent every winter. In the spring, and always at about the same time, the family would completely disappear, leaving no clue as to their whereabouts. In the fall when the atmosphere began to get chilly they would as suddenly and mysteriously reappear and again take up their quarters in their crude home. They gained a living by selling small fancy baskets which they manufactured out of old cigar boxes, but beyond the selling of these they held no intercourse with any of their neighbors, and nothing was known about them.

The Parkersburg Sentinel

July 8, 1901

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Nine boys stole sugar

What promises to be the “sweetest” case ever heard in a justice court will be given an airing before Squire Carfer as soon as warrants can be served on the following persons: Gene Blake, Joe Renforth, Rube Nolan, Rex Gallagher, Arnold Davis, Clint Smith, Eric Dye, and Ernie Houchen. These boys, all of them white, are accused of stealing sugar to the amount of two hundred pounds which belonged to C.C. Martin, the wholesale grocer.

A carload of the sweet stuff was run onto the siding back of the store yesterday to be unloaded. The workmen thoughtlessly left the doors to the car open and the barrels of sugar were seen by the boys. Thinking this a good opportunity to lay in a supply of sugar they went to Plum’s grocery store where they borrowed a large number of paper sacks. They then procured a wheelbarrow and made their way to the car. Breaking open a barrel they helped themselves to 200 pounds of sugar and carted it away. They were seen by George Wilson, and a number of others, who informed Mr. Martin. Warrants were sworn out before Squire Carfer but the boys have not yet been apprehended. A number of them, however, became frightened and returned their portion of the plunder.

The Parkersburg Sentinel

July 10, 1901

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Bob Enoch is president of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society. If you have comments or questions about Look Back items, please contact him at: roberteenoch@gmail.com, or by mail at WCHPS, PO Box 565, Parkersburg, WV 26102.

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