Tippecanoe County Sheriff Breaks Up Multi-County Horse Thief Ring; Marshal Arrested After Attempted Escape

This has all the elements of a great western. It involves a gun being drawn at the Tippecanoe Court House, and pits the Marshall-turned-criminal against Stephen O. Taylor, the hero sheriff of Tippecanoe County. Next up: The Life of Stephen O. Taylor.

Desperate Horse-Thieves as told by the Muncie Evening Press December 4, 1882

Courthouse postcard 1907 Mrs Larson life sentence (2)“A startling affair, involving criminal matters in Western Indiana, occurred at Lafayette a few days since and has proved extremely dramatic, and will likely lead to surprising results. It is a matter that will interest in particular the honest citizens of Western and North-western Indiana. The press had for several years been called upon to report horse-thieving depredations in Tippecanoe, Clinton, Montgomery, Boone, Benton, Carroll, Warren and other counties in this State. So extensive had these operations become that almost every day the public was informed of horses having been stolen, and in many instances they were not recovered, nor were the thieves apprehended. There has been much evidence showing there is an organized band of horse-thieves plying their peculiar vocation in this section of Hoosierdom, and special efforts have been made to break up the gang and afford relief to the long imposed-upon owners of stock. Over two years ago the present Sheriff of Tippecanoe County, Stephen O. Taylor, made special efforts to unearth the gang, and succeeded partially in accomplishing his object. Among those implicated were Felix Connelly (a Lafayette marshal), Charles Rowe, William Harlan and others, all of whom were indicted by the Grand Jury. One or two convictions were secured, but the thieving operations, although quieted temporarily, broke out afresh again, and have recently raged with the old-time fury. Two arrests were made a few days ago, viz., those of William Roe and James Graybeal. The extraordinary developments just made concerned more particularly for the latter, for whom it was desired to prove an alibi. To do this, Ed Fahnestock and John Hall, ostensibly in the interest of Greybeal, approached Justice of the Peace Applebaugh, and asked him to make a fake entry upon his criminal docket by which it would be shown that Graybeal was arrested and fined for an assault on September 15th, the time on which he wished to prove an alibi. The ‘Squire heard their proposition, and said it could be done. In the mean time, he reported to the Shariff and Prosecuting Attorney, who advised him how to proceed. On Tuesday evening he was taken in a carriage to Hall’s house, where the mock trial occurred. Fahnestock and Hall signing the record and giving the ‘Squire $4. Today, after the evidence of witnesses had been given the ‘Squire was placed on the stand, and exposed the fraudulent trial, to the great surprise and consternation of everybody in the courtroom. Hall and Fahnestock were placed under arrest for forgery and perjury. The son of the prisoner, Roe, attempted to attack Applebaugh, but Officers Summerville and Neville interfered, and the latter was struck in the head. Sheriff Taylor drew his revolver and restored order. It was a thrilling scene, and showed the extreme desperation of the prisoners. The entire city and community are excited over the extraordinary developments, and it is confidently believed that the events of the past week will lead to the unearthing of an extensive gang of thieves and robbers who have made this city a rendezvous, and the entire western part of Indiana, from Greencastle to the extreme northwestern part of the state, the field of their operations. It has been ascertained that the attack on the officers in court was a prearranged effort to effect the escape of the prisoners, but the Sheriff received intimation of the conspiracy, and, when the effort was made, drew his revolver and threatened to shoot the first man who tried to escape. The Sheriff states he will use every effort to convict the entire gang.”””

About Stephen Taylor, a newspaper account:

Stephen Oliver Taylor Jr (2)“Who will probably be his own successor as councilman from the Seventh ward, was born in this city on March 20, 1840, coming from one of the oldest and most sturdy pioneer families of the State. His father, Stephen O. Taylor, Sr., was reared in New York City, but located near Dayton, Ohio. He came to Jackson Township in 1828, and the next year became a resident of this city. He was, politically, a Whig, and also introduced this county the first fine stock from Kentucky. S. O. Taylor, the subject of this sketch, has always been a resident of this county, and engaged in the live stock and livery business, which he has built up to large proportions. Between 1878 and 1883 Mr. Taylor was Sheriff of the county, having been re-elected to the office by the people. He is a leading Mason, and a citizen whose past record is his best recommendation for future positions of trust. Mrs. Taylor was Miss Laura J. Shively, also coming from a pioneer family. Together Mr. and Mrs. Taylor have established on Indiana Avenue (now Elmwood) one of the most beautiful residences in the city, where many a time their friends have been welcomed with rare hospitality. The same generosity has always been extended with unstinted hand in the conduct of his business. No man so poor, or humble, that the resources of the Taylor stable were not freely at his command on any occasion, whether of family affliction or connubial bliss. This life-long kindness of conduct has endeared him to a wide circle of true though humble friends; and this circumstance has its share, no doubt, in building up the strength which Mr. Taylor has always shown at the ballot box in his races; for a right minded man is not likely to soon forget one who befriends him in the hour of sorrow. Mr. Taylor has been a lifelong Republican, and always a generous contributor in political campaigns. His career as sheriff speaks for itself. To his shrewdness and fearlessness is dire the breaking up of the worst gang of horse thieves of which this county was ever afflicted…”

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