Refrigerators are Rifled Saturday

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: April 17, 1905

Refrigerators are Rifled Saturday

William Matt and Ryan Residences Were Visited in Early Morning.

Somebody Had a Good Dinner

Thieves Helped Themselves to Chickens, Pies, Radishes, Onions and Numerous Other Tempting Dishes That They Found Under Cover.

If your refrigerators are outside, bring them in. If the back door is unlocked proceed to lock it at nights, because it is no longer the bitter winter time, when you are not supposed to have anything in them, nor it is likely that the Hungry Henry’s (sic) can have their brains clouded with delicious visions of spring chicken, fresh vegetables such as radishes and onions, and pass by untempted. See to your refrigerators.

Saturday night several homes in the the (sic) vicinity of third avenue north, and Eighth street were visited by thieves, and as a result several families awoke to greet a provisionless Sunday.

The William Matt residence seemed to have suffered the most daring burgulary (sic), as the thieves entered the back hall, where the refrigerator stood and having hauled it to the light which was beginning to dawn, rifled it of everything it contained. There was chicken, two of them and many other delectable dishes for use the next day.

The occurrence was not discovered until the next morning when Mrs. Matt opened the ice box to get some meat for breakfast and soon afterwards when they inquired about the neighborhood it was found that a less successful attempt was made at the Ryan home on Eighth street.

Mrs. Ryan stated that about three o’clock in the morning she had heard the noise on the porch and began moving about in the house so that they would hear her. They did and she saw them run in the direction of the Matt home. They had only been at her home a short time, as they carried away only radishes and onions and there were many other things which might have tempted them had they had time to find them.

Another refrigerator in the neighborhood was opened but nothing taken, the burgulars (sic) evidently lacking one bad trait, that of exceeding hoggishness, but whatever they did not take did not prevent them from having a feast worthy of a bountifully spread board, all day Sunday.

No doubt a carnival of the Knights of Tie Passes was held in the woods near town Sunday and was void of the formalities of civilization, while it revelled (sic) in its conveniences, and the toast proposed by the manly knights was probably a unanimous echo of “the jug of wine, a loaf of bread and wilderness” theory.

(Editor’s note: “Knights of Tie Passes” must be a colloquialism for hoboes, although my Google search turned up nothing. A refrigerator in 1905 would have been a true “ice box” – a cabinet in which ice kept food cool. There would be no need to keep it in the kitchen, necessarily, and if kept on a porch it would be easy prey for outsiders.)

From the 1908 and 1909 Fort Dodge city directories:

William and Lydia Matt lived at 14 N. 15th St. in 1908 and 525 1/2 Central Ave. in 1909. He was an engineer for Fort Dodge Auto Co. While his employment didn’t change during those two years, they moved, which leads me to think they had moved between this incident in 1905 and 1908. The Webster County Genealogical Society has the 1889-1890, 1898, 1908 and 1909 directories, but nothing between 1898 and 1908.

Mrs. Stella M Ryan and two men, probably her grown sons, lived at 135 N. Eighth St. In 1908, Frank P. Ryan was a clerk and in 1909 he was a checker for the Illinois Central Railroad. In 1908, George J. Ryan was a clerk for the ICRR and in 1909, he was a student at Tobin College.

More ice box thefts occurred in different neighborhoods in this time period. You can search for refrigerator in the search box at upper right.

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