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Guest Column: Historical men behaving badly

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Randy Evans

While conducting research at the Sarnia Library recently I came across a trio of stories from Sarnia-Lambton’s colourful past and thought readers might enjoy them.

1 – Auchtung the Kaiser:

In 1916 Canada asked U.S. authorities to extradite one Albert C. Kaltschmidt of Detroit to stand charges that, as a German agent, he conspired with others to blow up the Sarnia railway tunnel beneath the St. Clair River.

The Americans refused on the basis that, unlike Canada, the U.S. was then a neutral nation and not at war with Germany.

However, when the U.S. declared war on Germany in April of 1917 Kaltschmidt and his gang found themselves in different circumstances, specifically in a Detroit courtroom facing trial.

Evidence was presented that U.S. Justice agents had infiltrated the Prussian plotters. Proof was tendered that, after receiving money from Germany, Herr Kaltschmidt actually took an undercover agent into the Sarnia tunnel to explain how a dynamite-laden wagon would be lowered into the tunnel and set off with a clock detonator.

For the next four years the German agent would call Leavenworth Penitentiary his residence, and two fellow conspirators joined him for two years.

2 – Hop Heads:

In October of 1920 Sarnia police conducted a raid at a local opium house.

Faced with the seized narcotics, scales and cash, the defendant “Hop Heads” entered a guilty plea and fines were imposed.

The normal “time to pay” was not required. It was reported the fines were paid on the spot.

3 – Reverend – Say it ain’t so:

On Dec. 27, 1930, much to the disbelief of his Watford Presbyterian flock, Reverend Samuel Williams entered a guilty plea to bigamy charges in regard to his marriage to one Mary Andrews.

Proof was tendered to the court that the Reverend had lied by saying his first wife in England was dead.  Apparently wife number one was hail and hardy enough to receive from the Minister some jewelry and $2,000 expropriated from the no doubt bewildered Miss Andrews.

In an attempt to explain himself, Rev. Williams indicated that, after arriving from England, he found himself lonely and therefore vulnerable to the charms of Miss Andrews and the congregation’s pressure to legitimize their relationship.

After a week in Sarnia Jail the defrocked minister was banished from the area and the pulpit.

Fortunately, as dazed as the Watford faithful were, emergency arrangements had been put in place for a replacement man of the cloth to conduct the upcoming Sunday service.

Randy Evans is a local history buff




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