|Legal case against Samuel D. Steiner|
in Wyandot County Courthouse, OH
There we found legal documents about great-great-uncle Samuel D. Steiner (1835-1901) being charged in November, 1870 with "feloniously, burglariously" intending to steal from a store-house in Nevada, Ohio. Sam was supposed to post $1,000 bond but he didn't, and he also failed to show up at court as required. The document shown above directed the sheriff to take Sam into custody and hold him until the court date.
Until this week, we had no idea what the burglary entailed or how the story ended. Now, thanks to GenealogyBank, I've read a few Wyandot County newspaper reports that reveal the surprising conclusion of Sam's legal saga.
Two Tries at Burglary, Two Shots
The first news article, from November 4, 1870, explains that "some parties" tried to break into a boot and shoe store on Saturday evening, October 29th. They left before getting inside, and returned on Sunday evening, October 30th, for a second try.
That Sunday, one man broke a window on the second floor and entered the building and another stood by a window as lookout. But they didn't realize the building was now being watched by three men, who ordered the lookout to surrender as the burglary got going.
The accused burglars failed to surrender, and quickly attempted to escape. Shots rang out. The lookout was shot, and the inside man was shot in the shoulder. Apparently neither man was seriously hurt, because the shootings were never mentioned in any news article after the first time.
Legal Actions, Bail, and No Bail
Several days after the attempted burglary, the inside man--named Holmes--"turned state evidence" (according to the news report) and "three more of the gang were under arrest," including Sam'l Steiner, John Sheehy, and Sam's brother, my hubby's great-great-grandpa.
After a lengthy hearing and lots of attorney talk, the judge set bail for Sam Steiner at $1,000 and bail for the other three at $500 each.
The bail for Sam was the equivalent of $19,549 today. In other words, a really huge amount of money. Sam was a butcher by day, and most likely he had no way to raise $1,000 cash. He didn't post bail and the legal document shown at top of this post called for his arrest as a result.
Oh, great-great-grandpa Steiner and John Sheehy both posted bail and were ultimately cleared of the charges.
State of Ohio vs Holmes and Steiner
The trial against the two accused burglars was scheduled for late January, 1871, but delayed due to a death in the judge's family.
Nonetheless, Holmes and Steiner were both convicted. Elisha Holmes was sentenced to a year for burglary. Sam Steiner was sentenced to three years for "abetting and causing the burglary to be committed."
According to a news report, the two convicted men were led in manacles to the train for transport to prison in early February, 1871. Sam raised his manacled arm to the crowd and was quoted as saying: "See that you fellows don't get any of these things on you." Holmes was said to be weeping. The report talked of pity for them and their unfortunate families.
Sam had three children at home, the youngest only 6 years old. Exactly when Sam was released from prison, I don't know--but he was back home with his family in Nevada, Ohio, in the 1880 Census, working as a plasterer. Sam died in 1901, at the age of 66, having been widowed for a decade and lived for months in the Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Home at Sandusky.