B. Isaac Jarvis Foster's Life and Times as Pembina County Sheriff
As if he didn't have enough going on in his life, Ike threw his hat into the ring during the fall of 1910 to run for Pembina county sheriff. For many years, about all we knew of that period of time was the campaign poster published at the beginning (Part 1) of this post. Now we have so much more.
Leading up to Ike's election as sheriff, The Bathgate Pink Paper, which touted itself as the "only Democratic paper in Pembina county," published a ringing and supremely confident endorsement.
ISAAC J. FOSTER, candidate for sheriff on the ticket above needs no introduction to any part of Pembina county. Evenyone knows "Ike." He came here away back in the seventies, or so long ago that to put it in the law phrase, "the memory of man runneth not." Was you ever so sick that you did not receive a visit, some delicacy or some kind token of his sympathy? Did you ever go to Ike in trouble that he was not willing to sell the shirt off his back to help you out? Speak up if this is not true. BigIsaac J. Foster prevailed decisively over his opponent, J. T. Blacklock, by 1,692 votes to 1,263 votes on an election day that was difficult for many other Democratic candidates. (See Exhibits F and G below).
of frame, burly, fearless, tactful, temperate, a man of large experience in business legal affairs, conversant with the duties of the sheriff's office. But, why go father? His personal admirers and that finest of human sentiments, love a a big hearted, generous, forceful individuality, with such a people as we have in Pembina county, ought to carry him to success, even without party support, which, of course, he will have.
The Pink Paper, Sep. 28, 1910
Two months after the election, on January 4, 1911, The Pink Paper reported, "Our new sheriff, I. J. Foster, left on Monday to take the oath of office and enter upon his official duties." (See Exhibit H).
The farming, ranching, real estate and auction businesses continued apace during Ike's tenure in office, so he was a very busy man. The Pink Paper reported on the sheriff's comings and goings. On April 3, 1911 the paper reported, "Sheriff Foster reported to Pembina on Friday to attend to official duties..." (See Exhibit I) and noted on June 28 "Sheriff Foster was called to Minnesota this week by official business." (See Exhibit J). The Pink Paper noted on October 16, 1912 that "Sheriff Foster went to Neche on Wednesday to attend to official matters." (See Exhibit K).
There was plenty of cops and robbers stuff, which we will presently get into, but a primary duty Ike had as sheriff was taking into custody individuals committed to the state insane asylum in Jamestown, and transporting those individuals to the same. My aunt Charlotte described the sad and vexing responsibility as follows:
On July 19, 1911 the Pink Paper reported, "Sheriff Foster went to Jamestown on Friday with a young girl who had developed insanity of so serious a nature that the insanity board consigned her to the state hospital." (See Exhibit L). On October 2, 1912 the paper, in another case, reported at length:
|The Bathgate Pink Paper, Oct. 2, 1912|
Sheriff Foster took George Flath of Glasston to the asylum at Jamestown last week. George has been a little peculiar for a great many years but could talk rationally on most subjects and one could be with him a considerable time without noting his particularities. He has been committed to sanitariums several times and in each case has claimed that it was malice on the part of someone. He could makes his case appear a good one and is rather a bright fellow. It was hoped by George's many friends that he would improve in condition, but the indications are now that the reverse is true. His mental condition has effected him physically and it is feared that his health is permanently undermined.The State Hospital at Jamestown was originally known as the Hospital for the Insane. At its peak, the hospital housed 2,000 residents -- down to less than 200 today. Parts of the hospital have been converted to a medium-security prison, which today houses primarily non-violent drug offenders.
|View of State Asylum, Jamestown, N. D., 1909 Postcard, SHSND.|
|"Bloody" Jack Krafchenko|
According to local legend, he was as charming as he was ruthless. The Free Press rightly called him a "notorious desperado." One hundred years ago, "Bloody" Jack Krafchenko captured the imagination of Winnipeggers young and old in a crime of murder and robbery and a sensational escape from the city's police station on Jan. 10, 1914 that ensnared a rising young lawyer and a police constable. The two had been lured into aiding Krafchenko with promises of a big payoff.
"Bloody" Jack Krafchenko stood trial in Morden, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to hang. The execution took place at Winnipeg's Vaughan Street jail on July 9, 1914. A crowd of 2,000 people stood outside on the street in awe of Krafchenko's criminal celebrity, but undoubtedly relieved that justice by 1914 standards had been done.When it came to crime reporting during Ike's tenure as Sheriff, The Pink Paper was unfortunately oblique. For example, we learned on November 24, 1914,
I. J. Foster has been a pretty busy man during the past ten days looking after the party who committed the outrage at the Jerry Horgan farm last week and the prospects are that the arrest will soon be made.Word of mouth was likely good enough to circulate the news at the time, but now the nature of the outrage is lost in the sands of time.
Another time, The Pink Paper reported, "Sheriff Foster returned from Pembina on Saturday as also did Attorney Burke and the witnesses in the Stewart case." (See Exhibit M). Also reported that day:
There seemed to be a little hitch in the proceedings, in the trial of Stewart on murder charge, last week. The case was dismissed without going to the jury. Stewart has been confined in the county jail for several months, which was a serious hardship for him. The expense to the county was material and all around the case was suggestive of material expense. (See Exhibit N).The The Pink Paper editor betrays obvious upset about the expense and outcome but provides no details on the case or the trial. For detailed reports on crime during Sheriff Foster's terms, we had to look elsewhere -- and we did.
In the early 1900's there was no FBI, no Interpol, and the nearest big city was (and is) Winnipeg, Manitoba. Movement, for most, was free and easy across the Canadian border. There was no refuge for the accused from Sheriff Foster by merely stepping across the 49th parallel, as is related in this 27 June 1911 report in The Winnipeg Tribune:
Ernest C. Steward, a local real estate dealer, was arrested in an office in the McIntyre block this morning by Detective Bishop and is being held at police headquarters to answer a charge of murdering Phillip Worrall, at Neche, N. D. [a border crossing in northern Pembina county] during October 1909. Another arrest will be made this afternoon in connection with the affair.
The case for which these arrests are made has attracted considerable interest throughout the country surrounding Neche and Gretna for Steward was formerly United States Immigration Officer on the American side, and while in the service of the government in many ways attracted attention to himself.
Worrall, who was a Manitoba man, first appeared on the scene during the middle of October, 1999. He wanted to enter the United States, but medical officers rejected him on the grounds that he was slightly demented. Friends of Worrall decided to appeal to the authorities at Washington and Ottawa, for they affirmed that Worrall was in no way an undesirable and would be safe in their care.
The Winnipeg Tribune, June 27, 1911
In the interim the American authorities decided to hold Worrall and he was given in charge of Officer Steward, the man arrested today. He was placed in a cell and Steward given instruction to feed him and see that he was well provided with heat and other comforts. It is alleged that Steward locked up his prisoner and then went off to Gretna and neglected his charge. In the meanaime (sic) Worrall is supposed to have either died or been killed for he was never seen again alive.
On March 11 last the remains of Worrall were found in a rudely dug grave in a small clump of scrub some three miles from Neche and then interest in the mystery was revised.
Search for Steward
Badly decomposed as the remains were it was apparent that they were the mortal remains of Worrall who had been severely frozen and probably had been without food for many hours. Then the search for Steward commenced but he little thought that he was wanted to answer a charge of murder until this morning when Detective Bishop and Sheriff Foster walked into the office, where he was transacting business, and placed him under arrest.
For reference, Neche and Gretna face each other across the Canadian border, about ten miles north, northwest of Bathgate.
|Winnipeg Tribune Nov. 11, 1911|
STEWART RELEASED;IS ALSO DIVORCED
Winnipegger Charged With Murder Set Free -- Divorce Kept Secret
Grand Forks, N.D., Nov 10 -- Freedom from a charge of murder, and freedom from the bonds of matrimony were two events in the life of Ernest A. Stewart, of Winnipeg, the former of which was given today, and the latter of which was only made public this afternoon after the first feature had been disposed of.
Mrs. Stewart, upon whose bill of complaint a separation was granted by Judge C. F. Templeton, of Grand Forks, county district court, sat with Ernest Stewart during the brief trial of his case at Pembina, but at that time she was divorced, the decree having been granted October 18.
Habitual intemperance and non-support are the grounds upon which Mrs. Stewart secured the divorce from her husband, but no information was given to the public of the matter on account of the fact that it was feared the such names might have a tendency to act against the trial for his life on the charge of murder Phillip Worrel.
Mrs. Stewart, though divorced, was in the court room at Pembian each day of the trail, sitting close to her former husband, whom she had charged in the divorce courts with interperance and non-support, and with her was their daughter. To the outsiders they appeared to be a happy family, except for the heavy charge which hung over the head of the husband. The wife's bill of complaint in the divorce court was drawn several month's ago, Attorney F. B. Fethan of Grand Forks, representing her. Only last week, before the trial of her husband commenced, Mrs. Stewart was in the city, attempting to procure employment, and to those to whom she sought she told the story of her husband's troubles, and the necessity that had arise because of his arrest and detention at Pembina, for working for her own sustenance.
Mr. Stewart, when interviewed this afternoon, stated that his plans for the future were uncertain. he intimates that "things have just begun" and that he will remain in Pembina county for a short time at least. The question of whether or not he will commence action in an effort gain recovery for his long period of imprisonment, he says, has been left entirely to his attorney, W. J. Burke, of Bathgate, who defended him both in the preliminary examination and in the trial before the district court.
Mrs. Stewart will leave Pembina tomorrow morning and come to Grand Forks. She expressed herself as highly pleased at the dismissal of her former husband.As for the trial itself:
Pembina, N.D. Nov. 10 -- The Ernest Stewart case came to a sudden conclusion this morning when States Attorney McMurchie of Pembina county, filed a statement in court admitting that the evidence was of a very circumstantial nature, and not nearly so positive as it had appeared in the preliminary examination, and dismissed the defendant.
The action was a complete surprise as the prosecution had gone to great pains in making arrangements for the trial, even bringing in outside counsel to assist.
The statement by which defendant Stewart was dismissed is brief and to the point. The procecution admits that evidence which had at first appeared conclusive, had materially weakened. Also the more technical requirements bearing upon the admission of evidence in the district court as compared with the conditions surrounding the preliminary hearing had a bearing upon the action.
|Winnipeg Tribune, November 10, 1911|
It was the Casey Anthony case of its time. The prosecution had a notorious defendant who had custody of the deceased and partial remains of a body, but essentially nothing to tie the custodian to a specific time or method of death. No evidence translated into no conviction.
In another case, down in Bismarck, the state capital, The Bismarck Tribune, spelled out Sheriff Foster's role in the case of Scott Hall.
EMBEZZLED FUNDS OF THE A. O. U. W.
Fargo, N. D., April 13. Scott Hall, wanted on a charge of embezzlement, was picked up in the city by Chief of Police Bowers and Detective Overby of this city, and Sheriff I. J. Foster of Pembina. He is charge with having embezzled funds of the St. Thomas Pembina county lodge of the A. O. U. W., to the extent of $300.
The Northern Trust Co. of this city was on his bond and will prosecute the case. Last November, according to Sheriff Foster, Hall skipped away from home, leaving his wife and children and they have
been providing for themselves ever since. He told the officers when he was arrested that he had just secured a position with the Great Northern and expected to pay back what he had taken.
The Bismarck Tribune, 4 April 1911
When he went away from his home he was wearing a moustache, but is now clean shaven. He was treasurer of the lodge from which he is charged with taking the money. It was stated by the officer from Pembina county that he was short with another lodge, the Yeoman, to which he belonged , and was an officer. He will be taken to St. Thomas tomorrow.
Hall says when he went away from home he went to Montana and drifted from place to place and that he wanted to get back home again.Scott had absconded with insurance premiums. The wheels of justice moved swiftly, for on May 10, 1911, The Pink Paper reported that "Sheriff Foster left on Saturday for Bismarck to take Scott Hall, the St. Thomas man convicted for misappropriation of lodge funds, to serve his term." (See Exhibit N)
In yet another case, Isaac was called in the aftermath of a gun fight. A local marshall shot dead an alleged wife beater who was threatening his wife and mother in law.
|The Winnepeg Tribune, September 12, 1912|
Sheriff Foster investigated and swiftly determined that the fatal shooting was justifiable.
|The Winnipeg Tribune, September 13, 1912.|
Sheriff Ike gave to Okay to move on, and so, apparently all did.
In a more humanitarian vein, Isaac once went clear to central Minnesota at Cass Lake to see if he could track down and retrieve a woman who had deserted her children. The local Minnesota paper published an impassioned plea by the grandmother.
|The Duluth Herald, February 8, 1913|
Sheriff Foster of Pembina county, North Dakota, was in Cass Lake recently looking for a young woman who deserted her children in his countysome time ago. He was unable to locate her here and stated that the mother of the young woman is so grieved over her daughter's disappearance that she is rapidly failing.
Aunt Charlotte reported a special, lasting reward for the family from Ike's years as sheriff.
And now, we have the stories.
For much more on Ike Foster's tenure as sheriff see On the Road to Bathgate Part 4e: More on Ike Foster's Tenure as Sheriff.
Part 3, the final section of this post, on Isaac's Sanitary Livestock Board service will be, published next.
|Exhibit F, The Bathgate Pink Paper, November 30, 1910|
|Exhibit G, The Bathgate Pink Paper, November 30, 1910|
|Exhibit H, The Bathgate Pink Paper, January 4, 1911|
|Exhibit I, The Bathgate Pink Paper, April 3, 1911|
|Exhibit J, The Bathgate Pink Paper, June 28, 1911|
|Exhibit K, The Bathgate Pink Paper, October 6, 1912|
|Exhibit L, The Bathgate Pink Paper, July 19, 1911|
|Exhibit M, The Bathgate Pink Paper, November 15, 1911|
|Exhibit N, The Bathgate Pink Paper, November 15, 1911|