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December 2008


The Maiden Papers

Most interesting news from brother Jeff. A few days ago he found reference to the papers of Robert Maiden, part of the collection at the Denver Public Library.

Maiden was working for the Federal Narcotics' Bureau in Kansas City when Van Cise recruited him to assist in the Blonger gang investigation. Maiden worked with Andy Koehn and A.B. Cooper in surveilling the gang, and the collection contains notes, newspaper articles and other items related to the case.

I spent the day at the library going through the Maiden papers and scrapbook - great stuff. Unfortunately it's from the manuscript section, so no photos allowed. I'm having copies made of a few pages from the papers (mostly mug shots of Lou, Duff, French)...

The Scrapbook is huge - about 22" square and 4" thick. It's mostly newspaper clippings from the Post, News and Times about the trial...


A few chestnuts:

Le Journal des Con-con Hommes

Yes, that's right: The Journal of Con-con Men. During the trial, Lou's attorney requested the return of this, Lou's personal journal, "written in the flowing hand of Lou Blonger," but Van Cise refused. Where the heck can it be? What a find it would be, up there with Sam's badge and gun!

The Articles

Jeff found numerous clippings from the Denver papers, and a few cartoons. This is a quote from a Rocky Mountain News front page article by Van Cise, 3/29/1923:

The American jury system has been on trial, and has stood the test. Justice may be slow; but she is sure. Lou Blonger has been a sinister influence in our political life for thirty-five years, and his men have always escaped the hands of justice. Today Denver has a new reputation among denizens of the underworld, and professional criminals will give her a wide berth. Secure in our homes and our firesides, we may now build for a real prosperity of the future.

Notes and Papers

Jeff also found numerous legal papers of various kinds, including the court stenographer's transcript of the trial, annotated with witness names in the margin and including a list of exhibits entered into evidence; a list of the fake stock exchange locations; The Detective, a newsletter, including wanted posters of Denver confidence men; a national trade journal for police officers, including the bunco gang with a request for any info about their previous criminal records, and an interesting article about the need for a federal investigative organization; a comprehensive list of all of the con men in Denver (hundreds); Van Cise's own notes including 6-7 pages from Van Cise's personal surveillance notebook; Jackie French's police record; a list of Denver top cops; Memorandum Outline of Opening Statement in Conspiracy case, a 74-page typed document, describing the charges against the gang, glossary of con terminology, an example bunk, outline of the physical evidence, etc.; a comprehensive document describing the DA's case against Blonger's gang; George Reamey's testimony against his former associates; and many photos, mug shots, surveillance notes, testimony and more.

One document even describes the gang's turf: "Their (the steerers) job was to find a sucker and in doing this they covered 17th Street from the Union Depot to Broadway; 16th Street from Daniels and Fisher's to Broadway; the Civic Center and State Capitol grounds and any other place in Denver where they thought tourists or strangers in the city might be found." The Justice Center, as it happens, is basically adjacent to the Civic Center/State Capitol area.


Finally, these poems, by Nick Carter, were published at the time of the trial.

(In This Case No Apologies Are Necessary, Except to the Poor Public.)

Little Boy Lou, come blow your horn,
The sheep's near the statehouse, as sure as you're born!
Where's the little boy that looks after the sheep?
There in the courtroom fast asleep!

Hush-a-bye, bunkie on the tree top!
The evidence maketh your cradle to rock;
When the jury comes in the cradle will fall,
And down will come bunkie cradle and all!

There was a man in our town,
And he was Phil Van Cise;
He rounded up some funny men
And caught 'em by surprise,
And when he found he had 'em locked
Inside the jail-house door,
He jumped into a hotel room
And rounded up some more.

Little Bo-Bunk had lost her sheep,
And she's just mad as fury;
But that's all right, they'll come to court,
And wag their TALES to the jury!

Hey, diddle, diddle!
The bunks and Judge Riddle,
The sheep jumped over the moon.
The defendants laughed
To see such sport-
But some of 'em laughed too soon!

Simple Simon met a con man
Strolling o'er the lea;
Said Simple Simon to the con man,
"Make some dough for me."
Says the con man to our Simon,
"Show me first your money."
Says Simple Simon to the con man,
"Mercy, ain't you funny?"

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of braid;
Four-and-twenty blackbirds
Caught in a raid.
When the raid was over
They all began to sing:
"Whatcha got us in for?
We ain't done a-thing."

There was an old con man who lived in a shoe;
He had so many helpers he didn't know what to do.
He tried to catch minnows, got caught by a whale,
And he and his helpers all landed in jail.

Tuff, he was a con man; Tuff he was a thief,
Tuff, he came to Denver and stole a piece of beef.
The colonel went to Tuff's house; Tuff, he was in bed,
The colonel took the evidence and broke Tuffy's head!

The King of Bunk went up the hill,
With twenty or more men;
The King of Bunk came down the hill
And headed for the pen.



The Maiden Papers

Jeff has sent along some more materials, including surveillance notes kept by detective Maiden, and papers relating to the bunko gang arrests. Of particular interest — we finally know Louis H. Blonger's middle name, Herbert. This item also indicates Lou was arrested in 1898, and twice in 1901, the former for assault and battery. That bears scrutiny.

Lou rap sheet


Matilda Coxe Stevenson

A little digging indicates the "Blonger property" bought in 1908 by renowned ethnologist Matilda Coxe Stevenson is located near San Ildefonso, west of Santa Fe. That's a stone's throw from Lake Cochiti, so we're thinking it was Joe's. Joe travelled to the area in 1894 after silver and gold were found there.

Date: 1894-03-12; Paper: Santa Fe Daily New Mexican

The Cochiti Boom (News Article)
Joe Blonger, formerly of Cerrillos, who has been prospecting for a year in Colorado and Nevada, left here for Cochiti this morning.



Van Cise Video

Check out the video we posted on YouTube in support of the Van Cise campaign: Van Cise for Justice Video



December 2008



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