The 1868 robbery of the Clinton County Treasury


Information for the following article was found in The Wilmington Journal on July 1, 1868.

On Wednesday evening of last week shortly after nine o’clock an alarm was raised from the Court House by a cry of robbery and calls for help. Judge R. B. Harlan and other citizens rushed into the Court House where they met Wm. Rhodes who cried out that the treasury had been robbed. Going further in the direction of the Treasurer’s office they found Mr. Amos Hockett, Treasurer, in the dark; his head wrapped in a cloth, and his hands tied behind him with twine.

After being given aid Mr. Hockett gave a statement. He had been engaged in receiving taxes until night. He had then been counting the money and putting it in $500 packages. Wm. Rhodes, who lived with Mr. Hockett, came in and seeing Mr. Hockett still busy, was leaving and locked the door behind him as instructed by Mr. Hockett. Mr. Hockett heard the whistle of the evening train and decided to put the money in his safe and postpone balancing books until the next morning. He picked up the packages of money and some loose bills and stepped back several feet to place the money in the safe. Suddenly his head was enveloped in a cloth and he was jerked backward and fell to the floor. He immediately began to call for help. A bandage was placed over his mouth and his hands tied. The robbers then departed – having extinguished the lights.

Every precaution was taken to discover and arrest the robbers. Detectives Hazen and Craven were sent from Cincinnati to help with the investigation. They went to Mr. Hockett’s stable where Rhodes also kept his horses. There they found an umbrella from which a piece of fabric had been torn. Mr. Rhodes said he had torn a piece from the umbrella for the purpose of washing his carriage and after using it for some time had thrown it away. They proceeded to arrest Mr. Rhodes and he was placed in jail. On Sunday Mr. Craven and Constable Jerome Smith went to Xenia and brought back a man named Jerome A. Harper on the suspicion of having had something to do with the robbery.

An audit was made of the Treasurer’s books. There was found to be in the Treasury a little over $67,000 and upon checking the duplicates, it was found that $4,730 was missing. This agreed with the amount presented by Mr. Hockett. The detectives were still on the case and the article states, “We can only say that we hope, for the vindication of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty parties that the whole transaction, now so mysterious, will be fully unraveled and exposed.” Wm. Rhodes was still in jail awaiting action of the Grand Jury. The detectives determined the piece of fabric used to cover Mr. Hockett’s face did not come from the umbrella found in the barn.

The following part of the article is exactly as presented by the editors of the newspaper in the exact words of the editors.

“We deem the above corrections necessary that justice may be done the accused. But there is one thing we do not understand. Mr. Harper was arrested and gave bail for his appearance on Wednesday for examination. No examination of Mr. Harper has been had. Nothing is said about it. The nine days’ wonder is over. Nothing left of the case, only Billy Rhodes in jail to await trial. And, by the way, Rhodes it seems has heretofore borne an irreproachable character for honesty, and has been entrusted with a key to the office for more than two years. He has had ample opportunity to rob or to introduce burglars into the office, but until this affair occurred, has been above suspicion. We learn that Mr. Harper’s father is wealthy. Has this anything to do with the fact of no examination taking place? Can those engaged in the prosecution of the case explain?”

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