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October 31, 1909



Must Face Charge in Federal Court
Today -- Young Man's Father
Pleads in Vain for
Son's Release.

A father's eloquent pleading and an aunt's tears availed nothing yesterday morning when Thaddeus S. Wilson was arraigned before John M. Nuckols, United States commissioner on the charge of sending letters with fraudulent intent to R. A. Long and Lawrence M. Jones, and he was bound over to the United States district court which meets tomorrow. In default of the $2,000 bond Wilson was sent to the county jail.

"I knew my boy never meant anything wrong," said the Rev. W. E. Wilson, the father of the young man, who arrived yesterday from Earlton, Kas. "He simply wanted to borrow the money to pay me back the debts he has incurred during the past years. If he has violated any law, I'm willing to have him punished, but I can't see where it is. He has the best reputation in our part of the country, and I can't see where any harm was done."

According to the father, the young man's past had not always been a rosy one. He had become extravagant and had invested his savings in mining stock which never amounted to anything. He had been successful as a school teacher, the father said.

When Commissioner Nuckols announced that the young man would have to be bound over and that the bond was $2,000, the father said:

"I can get him here to trial. He won't have to stay in jail, will he?"

"I'll have that disagreeable duty to perform if the bond is not furnished," was the commissioner's response.

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November 18, 1908


Chinese Interpreter Is Convicted on
Three Counts -- Admits He Is
Not Reardon.

Guilty on three counts, was the verdict returned by a jury yesterday in the United States court which had heard "Harry S. Reardon" conduct his own case, when he was tried for impersonating a government immigration inspector. "Reardon" was convicted on evidence furnished by Chinese witnesses, who accused him of obtaining money and endeavoring to get money from them by representing himself to be a government official.

When it was shown that he had been convicted a number of times and served time in different penal institutions, "Reardon" dramatically pointed his finger at a group of government immigration officers and, with tears streaming down his cheeks, exclaimed: "I am going to break the ice. I am Arthur P. Spencer. I have been in the penitentiary. They lie when they say I was convicted, because I always pleaded guilty."

Reardon conducted his own defense and was guilty of many blunders. In making this argument to the jury the Chinese linguist said: "This is part of a plot among the Chinese to get rid of me. They are suspicious of any white man that speaks their language. I have done no wrong in Kansas City and have been trying to live a straight life, as I gave my word to do. These charges are trumped up to get me away. I cannot get the truth out of these Chinamen, they have lied to you on this stand."

"Reardon" will be sentenced to the Leavenworth prison this morning.

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November 17, 1908





Reardon's Singing of "Holy City"
in a Church Praised by One
Newspaper -- Acts as His
Own Lawyer.

"Mr. William A. Graves was a visitor in our city last evening. He paid a very welcome visit to the rectory and at a special service sang 'The Holy City' in the Methodist church. Mr. Graves is an accomplished gentleman of much Oriental travel, and is always a delightful guest."

So says a newspaper clipping, part of a bundle two inches thick, relating to Arthur P. Spencer, alias a dozen other names, among them Harry Reardon. There was not much in the proceedings in the federal court yesterday afternoon to identify the "Holy City" singer as being Harry Reardon, on trial for impersonating an officer, so that he can be held to give the state authorities time to see if he is the man who killed the Chinaman last week near Liberty.

Reardon acted as his own lawyer and made a botch of the whole business. The government put six or eight witnesses on the stand who testified that Reardon had gone to their laundries or stores, had spoken to them in Chinese, had said he could "fix" residence certificates for from $150 to $400 and had collected from $3 to $6 from each of them in the way of loans. Every witness examined told the same story, and Reardon was unable to break down one of them. This morning he will take the stand in his own behalf and will have several white people by means of whom he will try to establish a reputation.

"You came to my house and said that you could fix up residence papers for a boy in my kitchen, who had none," said Dr. Mon Gong Young.

"I did, did I! And what did you say?"


"I said I would not pay it. It was too much," the doctor answered, whereat Assistant United States District Attorney George Neal, conducting the case, had to laugh. The simplicity of the witness was too much for his decorum.

Reardon or Spencer, or whatever his name is, is an animate example of a misspent life. Master of the difficult Chinese language, he could command $100 a month steadily, according to the government interpreter who was sent here to help in the case now on trial. In addition to English and Chinese, he speaks Portuguese, Spanish and Italian.

With all these accomplishments and without a dollar to his name, after living forty or forty-five years, he has a record of having done five years in the New York penitentiary, three years in the Pennsylvania state penitentiary, two terms of three years in the California Penal Institute and three years in the state penitentiary in Washington. In addition he was sentenced to do three months in jail in Pennsylvania for beating a woman out of a board bill, but was paroled. He was fined "to pay 6 1/4 cents to the commonwealth of Pennsylvania" at another time and to undergo three months in jail for representing himself as a lawyer long enough to collect $5 from one Frank de Laurentis, and there is a sentence of three years hanging over him in New York for a last offense.


To merit all this punishment Reardon has done no more than blackmail small sums of money out of contraband Chinese, commit perjury, forgery once and represent himself as a government inspector. In being sent up in Pennsylvania the federal judge declared that Reardon was doubly guilty for not taking advantage of his accomplishments. Now he is in Kansas City trying to prove that he was here organizing a Sunday school, and trying to disprove that he killed the Chinaman found dead a week ago near Liberty and with having borrowed money from laundrymen here under penalty of turning up unregistered Chinamen to the government.

The records show Reardon to be a man of amazing nerve. He borrowed $5 from a Pennsylvania chief of police after explaining to the chief that he was in his town looking for contrabands. At another time he actually went to a government immigration officer, in Waterville, Pa., and told that he was a lawyer representing the Six Companies, adding that the Chinese company always required him, when in the vicinity of immigration officers, to work with federal authorities. Thereupon Reardon, sailing under the name of Spencer, asked for a dozen John Doe warrants so he could make an arrest. Armed with those -- which he did not get --Reardon could have made a hot time of it in Waterville Chinatown.

Witnesses on the stand here yesterday said that Reardon had told some of them that he was a government immigration officer, detailed to look after the Chinese, but that for $400 he would let any Chinaman into the United States. Reardon is up to the minute on the Chinese exclusion law, which has made him formidable in the laundries, where, as one witness said yesterday, through an interpreter"

"He came in and asked if I had any papers and any boys without papers. He said he was an inspector and wanted to see mine. I was not sure that he would not destroy them if I handed them to him, so I gave him $3 he asked for and got rid of him that way."


"It is all a conspiracy," said Reardon to United States Judge Pollock. "The Chinese hate a white man who speaks their language. They have tried for years to have me locked up. I am being persecuted, and I want the court to protect me."

"The court will," Judge Pollock replied.

Reardon showed his legal training when at one time he said hastily:

"I object, your honor. That is misleading."

"It is a little so," the court admitted. "Objection sustained."

Reardon, while in Kansas City during his three weeks, had addressed a ladies' study club, addressed a church society, had undertaken to organize a Sunday school class of fifteen Chinamen, got mixed up in a murder and now is nabbed on the word of eight laundrymen and storekeepers, on a charge of representing himself as a government inspector of Chinese certificates.

In swearing the witnesses, the usual form prescribed for use in this country was followed. Reardon, familiar with Chinese customs and himself knowing the trivial light of the United States oath in the eyes of a Chinaman, offered no objection. This was supposed by the government authorities to be his ruse for a fight later on to throw out testimony. The evidence is being given before a jury.

"They could not take a binding oath no matter what form it was administered in," said Reardon. "To make a Chinaman tell the truth, he has to break a saucer over the grave of an ancestor, have a baked fowl there, and walk all around the grave. They have no graves here. This trial is ridiculous. They are determined to keep me locked up, and are here now doing their best."

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November 12, 1908


Pay Brides as Much as $100 to Go
Through Ceremony -- So They
Can Sell Lands.

Effie Smith remarked incidentally on the witness stand in the federal court yesterday that "there was a heap of them young Indians comin' up here to git mar'd so they could sell their lands," and immediately set the entire court retinue thinking. It was developed that scores of negroes with Indian blood in them, who had come in for 160-acre tracts in the old Indian Territory, had come to Kansas City to qualify to sell their lands by making themselves heads of families. This they did by getting wives.

"Had they any trouble in finding women who would be willing to marry them," Smith was asked.

"Nearly all of the lot I met up with, who came here to get married so they could sell, got their women form the colored rooming houses. They gave some of them as high as $100 to marry them."

"Did the marriages 'stick'?" was asked.

"They were not supposed to. I never heard of one that did. The boys just got married and then sold their lands and moved on."

Smith was on trial for cashing a post office order that had been stolen. He had been indicted two days before, and during the afternoon a trial jury found him guilty. This morning he will toe the mark in the federal court before Judge John C. Pollock, along with a cargo of Greeks and others for sentence.

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November 10, 1908


Interpreter and Witness Spend Much
Time in Arguments.

Greeks are testifying in the federal court just now and Judge John C. Pollock knows it to his sorrow. They will not quit talking, and instead of the required yes or no, heated arguments ensue between the witnesses and the interpreters. In vain the court directs the interpreter to call for a direct answer. The interpreter grows red in the face, talks as much and almost as fast as the witnesses, and in the end explains that the witness wanted to explain his answer.

Some months ago the Missouri, Kansas & Texas railway sent a letter containing $25 to Joseph Alespsis. The letter was rifled and the United States district attorney made a raid on the local Greek colony.

It was found that one Thomas Rigors knew something about the case and he was subpoenaed as a witness for the government. Last Thursday Rigors arrived from Nebraska and while walking on West Fifth street was slugged. He spent almost all yesterday afternoon on the witness stand trying to tell how it happened.

"Get him to say how his eyes were blacked," Assistant United States District Attorney George A. Neal directed the interpreter. The interpreter translated the instruction. Two minutes later Judge Pollock had to call a halt.

"Stop him now, will you please, and let us see where we are," the bench directed.

"It took the interpreter two seconds to give the answer which the witness had spent minutes in giving, most of the time evidently wrangling with the interpreter.

The hearing will be resumed this morning.

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June 29, 1908



Largest Class Since New Law Went
Into Effect Will Be Examined
by Judge John F. Philips
This Morning.

Twelve foreigners will line up in the United States court this morning to be examined by Judge John F. Philips as to their fitness to be admitted to citizenship. It will be the biggest class held in the federal court since the enactment of the new law. Classes this size formerly were put through the circuit or county courts in two shakes of a lamb's tail. Now it is all different, and getting naturalized is about as tough a proposition as a man has to go through. Getting married is nothing at all; getting divorced is, of course, little more, and going dead is no trouble whatever.

Getting naturalized used to be done by going with a ward heeler a few weeks before election day to a judge, and signing a paper there. That facility made the business big. Hanging in the office of United States District Clerk A. Utter are three sheets of paper with forty names on them. These represent every application for citizenship that has been filed here since February 13, not 1 per cent of the old colony days, when ward heelers got so much per head for "citizens" to vote the next month.

The forty men who are bulletined had all been in the country five years before they got their second papers, and they have all had their second papers two years, or nearly two years. Twelve of them will be ripe today, and so they will be marched up before a federal judge and quizzed. There will be no ward heeler doing the talking, and assuring the judge that "he's all right, judge; I've got his slip here," the slip being the man's name written in English, himself, most likely, unable to utter it, and the prospective citizen absolutely ignorant of the government of the United States.

That type of foreigner is out of the running entirely now. He never will get to vote. In the federal court there is no night sitting, no colonizing, no running them through in blocks, and above all else no slips. Each man will have to toe the mark and tell something about the constitution, the rights of the franchise, the form of government, the course of a document, from the draft to the signed law, and most likely may have to compare the government of the United Stats with that of the land he is forsaking.

The new law does not limit immigration. The same lot of undesirables can still get into the country, but they may not vote till they know English, have established a reputation, and are up on the bill of rights and other fundamental principles of the government.

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May 14, 1908


Marie Moore, the "Silent Woman,"
Becomes Loquacious.

Marie Moore, the "silent woman," yesterday pleaded guilty in the United States district court to sending an objectionable letter through the mails to another woman. When she was placed on the witness stand she became so voluble the court had difficulty shutting her up. She told a story of her past life that astonished even the court officials. The letter the woman wrote was not read in open court, but was passed to the jurymen to read individually. It appeared that the woman was under some sort of influence of a half-breed negro. She is a good-looking, apparently fairly well educated woman, and seems to possess ordinary intelligence. The woman said her parents were farmers residing near West Grande, Ia. Her case has attracted considerable sympathy, that waned perceptibly when her life story was told in court yesterday.

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April 29, 1908



Editor of Art Book Fined Nominal
Sum and Escapes Payment.
Other Federal Offend-
ers Sentenced.

It was sentencing day in the United States district court yesterday. Judge Pollock of Kansas was on the bench. Alfred Friend, formerly a clerk in the New England National bank had stolen out-of-town remittances by means of juggling accounts in the bank. The government prosecuted him for getting only $5, but he was supposed to have got about $2,000. After everything in the case was told Judge Pollock undertook to examine the prisoner on his own account.

"What made you do it?" he inquired.

"This made me do it, sir," Friend replied, displaying a small packet of letters and holding them out towards the bench. "Would your honor read them, please?"


Judge Pollock scanned some of them, interrupting his perusal to ask:

"And did you send the money to this sick brother of yours?"

"I have the money order receipt for it," Friend then said, at the same time producing another paper and handing it to Judge Pollock.

After reflecting a minute the court announced that as Friend had been confined to jail for six months, had lost his employment and had not profited by his thievery, he would be let off with a fine of $500, which means only thirty days in jail. The United States government never holds a prisoner longer than thirty days in liquidation of a fine, no matter how bit it may be.


Julius Planca, a Frenchman, who was surprised to know that it is contrary to the laws of this country to sell liquor without a license, was fined $10 and costs for bootlegging in a railroad camp east of the city. Arthur Anderson, a 14-year-old boy from the southeast part of the county, was given the same punishment for stealing stamps and coppers from rural free delivery boxes.

A week ago William Soper robbed the little postoffice at Mount Washington, just outside Kansas City's eastern limits, and got $2.50. Yesterday he got a year and a half in the government prison at Fort Leavenworth. He pleaded guilty, saying to Judge Pollock that he would not have broken into the store where the postoffice was had he known it was a postoffice.

"You would rather have broken the state than the federal laws, would you?" the court remarked, adding, dryly, "Either is wrong."


James A. Pope, editor of the Art Book, who was arrested a month ago on a complaint of a rival in business in St. Louis, got off handsomely. Pope had sent out printed post cards saying that he still owned the copyright to his journal, and that the issues being turned out by his rivals were false. He classified somebody as a "hunchback," and for that got into trouble. He would have gone to jail for the intervening nine weeks, having no bondsmen here, only for friends his tough-luck story made for him. As it turned out, District Attorney Van Valkenburgh took his personal recognizance and let him go. Yesterday the art editor, who is about 20 years of age, turned up "to take my medicine, as I said I would," he said. Judge Pollock heard his story and at the conclusion said:

"Have you $1 and the costs of this case?"

"I have not, sir," replied the editor, showing how dull business in the art journal business is just at present.

"Then if I fine you $1 you will have to go to jail, will you?" the court asked next.

"Yes, sir," the editor-prisoner replied.

"Then it will not do to try to collect it. The punishment will be a fine of $1 and costs, collectible upon execution," and slam went the judge's docket and another case was taken up. Pope did not know what was up, so he took his seat near one of the deputy marshals, supposing it was jail again in view of the fact that he had not the dollar and costs. While in the middle of the next case Judge Pollock caught sight of the little art editor's long curly hair and had to order him to freedom.

"You can get out, Pope," the court said. "That fine against you is collectible upon execution."

It took two lawyers and a deputy to explain this to Pope, who could scarcely believe all his good luck was real.

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March 6, 1908


It's Harder to Become a Voter Now
Than It Used to Be.

For the first time since Kansas City has been a political center, the approach of an election is not causing a riffle in the naturalization offices. Ordinarily at this time there would be from one to a score of foreigners naturalized every day, and so many of them sometimes that the naturalizing officer would have to hold court at night, but on the wall of the clerk of the United States district court there is a little slip of paper pasted, on it being the names of only seven persons. These are of two Germans, two Russians, an Italian, Irishman, and Roumanian, being all that are now taking out their final papers. The list of applicants for first papers has only twelve names on it, though it covers the work of a month.

"And they do not take kindly to it," said the clerk of the district court. "So many of them are disgusted when they find they cannot vote at the next election, nor even at the next presidential election."

There is no national law relating to the qualifications for voting. The laws of the various states are accepted by the United States. In Missouri first papers must be a year old before they are votable. Kansas is kinder to the foreigner and he can vote there sooner.

The new naturalization law bristles with bayonets for the foreigner who takes out papers for anything but the highest possible motives, and while it would be possible for him to take them out in Kansas City now and, by moving across to Kansas City, Kas., vote there for the next president, if the naturalization officer suspected a trick in this there would be trouble right off for the foreigner. He would be sure to have his papers cancelled and himself barred from taking the out again, and he might land in a federal prison."

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