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March 2009

3/7/2009

Fritiof Fryxell

Scott and cousin Rich Rush have just posted a wikipedia article on Fritiof Fryxell, a relative by marriage. Fryxell was "an American geologist and mountain climber, best known for his research and writing on the Teton Range of Wyoming. Upon the establishment of Grand Teton National Park in 1929, he was named the park’s first naturalist, a position he held for six summers. He was also an accomplished biographer, publishing works on several artists and explorers of the American West."


Albuquerque Remembered

A 2006 book turned up on book.google.com that mentions a little about Sam's tenure as Albuquerque's second (it depends on who you count) marshal.


Van Cise Looking Good

Monday the Denver City Council will be giving a "first read" to the following bill:

For an ordinance naming the detention center building located at 490 West Colfax Avenue as the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center.
WHEREAS, Philip Van Cise and L. John Simonet share a legacy of outstanding achievements in the criminal justice system; and
WHEREAS, Philip Van Cise, a remarkable Denver District Attorney from 1921 to 1925 who prosecuted the Lou Blonger Bunko Gang, achieving a 100% conviction rate, Van Cise is credited with breaking the back of organized crime in the City and the Ku Klux Klan upon completion of an extensive and dangerous undercover investigation of Klan activities; Van Cise contributed to many other legal endeavors including developing a judicial merit system to remove politics from judicial appointments; and
WHEREAS, L. John Simonet served as director of corrections for the City and County of Denver for 18 years during which he established a new culture of professionalism at the City and County detention facilities, initiating the first treatment and education programs, like the GED to help inmates transition successfully back into the community, and modeled the humane treatment of all inmates, earning the respect of sheriffs who worked under him and all who worked with him; and
WHEREAS, the Denver Revised Municipal Code (Section 2-275) vests in City Council the authority to name public buildings, and in accordance with the ordinance, the new detention center at 14th and Elati streets was duly posted offering the public an opportunity to submit petitions for naming of the detention facility; a petition containing not less than 100 signatures was received proposing that the detention center be named for Philip Van Cise, and a separate petition containing not less than 100 signatures was received proposing that the detention center be named for L. John Simonet; and
WHEREAS, the City Council has determined that Philip Van Cise and L. John Simonet are outstanding persons who have been influential in the cultural, political, economical, or social life of the community.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER.
SECTION 1. The detention center located at 490 West Colfax Avenue shall henceforth be known as the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center.

-CJ


3/16/2009

Death of Harry Waldorf

Though Lou is not known to have gunned anyone down, he does bear the guilt of several deaths — and Scott just found yet another body, a young locomotive engineer from Kansas named Harry Waldorf

In a play oft repeated in their early Denver days, Waldorf lost some $400 — probably in a crooked poker game — and was then induced to write a bad check to cover his losses. The shame was too much, and he took his own life.

The article is also of interest in that Lou is being openly referred to as king of the bunco men as early as 1906.

Emporia (Kansas) Gazette, August 6, 1906

DROVE KANSAN TO SUICIDE
Denver Bunco Men Forced Harry Waldorf to Sign a Check
Denver, Aug. 6—The motive for the suicide of Harry B. Waldorf, of Newton, Kan., who killed himself in Denver last June, has been revealed, and if reports made to the Denver police are true the young man was another victim of a gang of "bunco" men who infest Denver. Waldorf, after being cheated out of his money, was induced to sign a check on a Kansas bank which he knew was not good. Fearing exposure and the shame it might bring his father, he committed suicide.
Investigation into the death of Waldorf, who was a young locomotive fireman of Newton, made by private detectives in the employ of the dead man's parents, has brought the attention of the Denver police evidence which is said to show conclusively that Waldorf was beaten out of $400 in cash and a new revolver and forced to sign checks on the state bank of Newton for money he did not pssess. A check payable to L. H. Blonger recently was returned from the state bank of Newton, on which it was drawn, marked "short." This gave the police and detectived their clew and subsequent evidence which is said to connect Blonger and the "bunco ring" of Denver with Waldorf's death was ferreted out.
Lou Blonger, known as the king of the bunco steerers, denies ever knowing young Waldorf and says he merely tried to cash the check for a friend.

-CJ


Sam and Lou's Excellent Adventure

Shipping news listed on a new LOC site indicates Sam, Lou and their spouses traveled to Honolulu for the Christmas holidays in 1907.

-CJ


3/17/2009

IT'S OFFICIAL!

Presenting the VAN CISE-SIMONET DETENTION CENTER

Denver Justice Center

And We Helped!

-CJ


3/18/2009

That's Not an Outrage...Now That's an Outrage

AIG paid $165 millions in bonuses, and suddenly "outrage" is in the wind. It's been years since we had a good outrage. But don't forget the granddaddy of them all, the Tarsney Outrage.

Good times.

-SJ


3/21/2009

Notorious Blonger Bros.

Here's a new one. Though we have occasionally called Sam and Lou the notorious Blonger Bros., here's the first such reference we've found in the news, and it's relatively early — 1910.

From the Salt Lake Herald-Republican comes an article about Walter Perry, accused of convincing his bride, sixteen-year-old Gladys Whitney, to rob a jeweler of $12,000 in diamonds.

Perry, it was said, had been "a member of the notorious Blonger gang at Denver."

-CJ


3/25/2009

Dewey Bailey

According to In the Shadow of the Klan: When the KKK Ruled Denver: 1920-1926, by Phil Goodstein, Lou's good friend Dewey Bailey — mayor of Denver at the time of Lou's arrest — carried a few other distinctions, previously unknown to us.

Bailey was United States Marshal for Colorado from 1897 to 1915, a post undoubtedly useful to Lou for many years. As a matter of fact, we had previously been told Lou was shielded from prosecution in the Council Bluffs, Iowa trial of the Maybray gang in 1910 in part by the presence in the courtroom of a US Marshal. Bailey makes a great candidate for that honor.

Bailey was noted by Goodstein as having turned a blind eye to both prostitution and bootlegging after the advent of Prohibition. Mayor Speer appointed Bailey Manager of Safety (police) in 1916, and was then handily elected mayor in 1919 as a Republican promising bipartisanship.

It was, in fact, Bailey's loose rein on Denver morals that helped pave the way for the "reform" promised by the Denver Klan as it took shape in the early Twenties. And the arrest of the Bunko Gang in many ways heralded their ascendance — despite DA Van Cise's clear opposition to everything for which they stood.

-CJ


3/28/2009

Wikipedia

Scott has debuted an expanded version of Lou's bio on wikipedia.

-CJ


3/29/2009

Tom Bliss

We just heard from Tom Bliss, whose grandfather Chuck Lounsbury was editor of the Rocky Mountain News and wrote editorials about crime. Tom's uncle, Rugg Williams, was promoted to Denver's police chief in 1921, his sixty-two year tenure noted as the longest on any municipal police force in the country.

-CJ


Yet another definition of Blonger

1. blonger
A blogger spreading discreditable news about his fellow bloggers - out of pure envy of course.
A blonger is like a war/power monger. Perhaps he can't help himself. Suffers from some kind of personality disorder.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=blonger

-SJ


March 2009


 

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