The following news items were drawn from the archives of the Mail Tribune 100 years ago.
Jan. 30, 1919
BOOT-LEGGER OWNING BOOZE AUTO CAPTURED
One of two bootleggers who shipped out by freight train from Medford last Friday night a large automobile loaded with whiskey over which was a camouflage of canvas and prospector’s tools, was captured at Corvallis Monday. He is claimed to be one of a professional gang of bootleggers long wanted by the authorities. It is not known what has become of the other man concerned in shipping the car from Medford.
“The end of a long chase after an alleged bootlegger said to be one of a gang operating in Washington and Oregon came yesterday afternoon when Harry Merrill and George Fagan, a rooming house keeper of Bremerton, was arrested in this city,” says the Corvallis Times Gazette, “by Federal Detective Ralph Jones.”
“Merrill was turned over to Deputy Sheriff Taylor, lodged in the county bastile, and then Hones hurried to Albany, where he picked up a big Studebaker six, shipped from California by freight in the name of Fagan, and therein uncovered no less than 200 quarts of good old California booze hidden beneath the seats and under bedding.
“This morning Jones drove the big machine over from Albany, picked up his find of yesterday and away they went for Portland and a lot of trouble for Merrill if Jones is correct. He said he had been on the track of Merrill for some time in the attempt to break up a gang of liquor operators, bad check workers and all round worthless men, one of whom had recently landed in the Portland jail and the third member of which would certainly be landed by today. There was no explanation of why Merrill came to Corvallis or how Jones knew that he was here, but Hones knew his man when he saw him and promptly bagged his game.
“Merrill is a man of 25 or 30 and has a wife and two children at Bremerton. Sheriff Gelletly had conversation over the phone last night with officials at Portland and they were urgent that every care be taken to see that Merrill did not get away, as it was alleged that he certainly was one of the fellows they were most anxious to get hold of. If the sheriff could have had that Studebaker car he would have agreed to keep Merrill forever, and more than the sheriff were charmed with it, for it was one of the finest ever seen in Corvallis.
“There is some suggestion that Merrill or Fagan may be more or less of a victim of higher ups, but doubtless the facts will be forthcoming shortly, and Jones intimated that it would be interesting reading for those interested in law and order.”