On the night of the 29th of last December some person took two loads of wheat, or about 200 bushels, valued at a little over $600, from the bins of
Wm. Ollerof Avilla-tp. and brought the wheat to Coldwater for the purpose of marketing same. One load was unloaded and a check for same was written. The unloading of the other wagon was intercepted, as the theft of wheat had been discovered. Robert Bratcher and his brother, John were suspected of being the guilty parties, consequently they were placed under arrest and the date of their preliminary trial was set for January 3. But the day before their trial they made their getaway, going in Mrs. Robt. Bratcher's Allen car. It was known at the time that they were headed southward through Oklahoma.
Search for them was made, but it was not until a little over a week ago that a clue as to their whereabouts was obtained. It was learned that they were in or near Shamrock, Texas, the information concerning them having come through the receipt of a package of silks from one of the young men by some party in the county. It was suspicion by the officials here that the package came from one of the Bratcher boys. Accordingly, on Tuesday evening of last week Sheriff L D. Haydock and Undersheriff George Williams drove to Woodward, Okla., and there took the train for Amarillo, Texas, and from there they branched out in the direction of the town of Shamrock, about 75 miles nearly east of Amarillo, where the young men were supposed to be.
Soon after driving into Shamrock they located Robert and placed him under arrest. He had been working for a while in a store in that town. John, it was learned, was working in a restaurant in the town, but was out in the country that evening. The following morning he, too, was arrested, and the two prisoners were brought to Coldwater, arriving here about 10 o'clock p.m. on Saturday. The boys still had the Allen car, and it also was brought back to this city.
Upon their arrival here the young men were placed in the county jail, where they are still kept awaiting their preliminary trail. Judge J. T. Maris, in whose court the case was started, has been in Wichita with his sick wife, and it is necessary to await his return, or an order from him transferring the case to some other court. As soon as that can be arranged, the preliminary trial will be held. It is understood that the young men have expressed to the officials a desire to plead guilty and to make no defense. If they do so, Judge Day will be summoned for the purpose of accepting the plea in district court and to impose the sentence.
The whole affair is an unfortunate one in the lives of these young men. It seems that, in a moment of temptation, they yielded to the impulse to take that which did not belong to them and to try to appropriate it to their own gain. When the deed was committed they were doubtless sorry for their mis-step, but they have been apprehended and the law should take its course and the guilty punished as legally provided. It is again demonstrated that it is not a very easy matter for any one to commit crime and not be apprehended sooner or later. Their experience in this case will no doubt prove to them, and ought to prove to others, a valuable lesson.
It is learned from the boys that they have spent practically all the time since the first of the year in various counties in Texas, working on a ranch or at whatever they could find to do. Robert is about 27 years and John about 20 years of age. While in Texas they went by the name of "Bradshaw."
The Western Star, July 2, 1920.
"Judge L. M. Day of Greensburg came to Coldwater last Saturday afternoon and held a brief session of district court. Robert and John Bratcher, who were arrested nearly six months ago on the charge of grand larceny (the theft of two loads of wheat) and who forfeited their bonds and were recently re-arrested, appeared for trial, having their preliminary examination. Each plead guilty to the charge and sentence was imposed by Judge Day. Robert was given five years in the state penitentiary and John five years in the state reformatory. Judge Day heard the statement of the young men and then before pronouncing sentence gave each of the young men a good talk, closing with a statement of his decision to parole them, the parole in each case to extend through a period of two years. Robert and John are thus thrown upon their honor and their own conduct from month to month. If they "make good," as their friends now hope and expect they will do, they will escape a term in prison. They are given six months in which to pay all expenses in the prosecution of the case, including the forfeiture bond of $500 each at the time the preliminary hearing was first set. Both young men were then given their liberty.
The divorce which was granted Mrs. Betha Bratcher from her husband Robert Bratcher, at the May term of district court, was annulled by Judge Day."
-- Excerpts from IN DISTRICT COURT, The Western Star, July 2, 1920.
Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!
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