IAGenWeb Project - Allamakee co. Li'l Bits

The Van Gorder Family

~compiled by Reid R. Johnson & S. Ferrall

The large family of Levi D. Van Gorder removed to Iowa from Wisconsin about 1868, and lived in/around Franklin twp. for many years. Levi was the father of 16 children - five by his first wife Jennie Pace, and eleven by his second wife Susan Cox.

The 1870 US census, Monona twp., Clayton co. enumerates Levi (37) & Sue (35) with children, Peter (15), Jason (14), Asa (12), Mary (10), Jane (7), Frank (5) and Burleigh (2).

Hattie was born after the census, in 1870 and died in 1877.

The 1880 US census, Franklin twp., Allamakee co. enumerates Levi (48) & Sue (40) with children, Mary (20), Jane (17), Frank (13), Burleigh (12), Henry (8), Levi Jr. (5), Hayes (3), Sankey (2), Syrenus (10 months) and Levi's elderly mother, Hannah, age 77.

Three other children were born after 1880: Hardie in 1881, Charles in 1883 and Pearl in 1885.

Although several of the Van Gorder children died young - Jane, Burleigh and Levi Jr. in 1880 and Pearl in 1886 - the others grew to adulthood on the Cherry Valley farm, married, had their own families. For the most part, they lead quiet, law-abiding and productive lives until their deaths.

..... but tragedy and deceit also found it's way into the Van Gorder family. Below are some of the Van Gorder stories, and the brothers who turned the lives of their good family upside down.



Frank VanGorder Shoots a Deputy Sheriff and Two Others in Michigan

The following dispatch from Iron Mountain, Mich., to last Friday's Minneapolis Tribune, will be read with surprise and interest by people in this section, most of whom are acquainted with the principal actor in the tragedy, who is a son of the late L.D. VanGorder, and was born and reared on the farm near Cherry Valley, a few miles east of this city:

"Early Thursday morning, just after midnight, Frank Van Gorder, keeper of a disorderly place six miles from here, quarreled with Deputy Sheriff Lawrence, pulled a gun and shot the officer in the leg. Van Gorder then started to run, the deputy returning fire. Van Gorder stopped and fired into a crowd of about forty people who had suddenly collected. John Hannan, a son of Supervisor Hannan, was hit in the shoulder. John Salchert, an opera house employe, who was returning home, was shot in the chest. He died an hour later. Van Gorder was caught at Quinne and brought here."
~Postville Review, July 10, 1903



Frank Van Gorder's Trial Ends

Frank Van Gorder, the prisoner, was the last witness and the straighforward manner in which he gave his replies to questions made a fine impression. He related with minutest detail the story of his visit to this city on July 1.

Concerning his actions in Lawrence Brother's saloon, Van Gorder made many references to the presence of Jean Valencourt, who is at present out of the city. From these references it would seen that Valencourt might have made a most important witness could he have been found. Among other things, Van Gorder asserted that just before they went out on the sidewalk, Joe Lawrence had said to him: "You ___ ___ ___, I'll give you a hammering before you get out of here" Van Gorder maintained that he shot in self-defense, firing the first shot only as Lawrence, in a pugilistic attitude, approached him. Van Gorder also claimed that he did not shoot to kill, but merely to cripple Lawrence. When they reached the sidewalk Van Gorder claimed that he said to Lawrence: "Joe, I didn't come here for fight," whereupon Lawrence replied, "I'll give it to you anyway." -Iron Mountain Gazette

Prosecuting Attorney Cook made his closing address. It was an earnest effort, devoid of attempted eloquence, in which he endeavored to show that Van Gorder, on the night of the tragedy premeditatedly and with malice aforethought, went down Hughitt street for the express purpose of killing Joseph Lawrence. Mr. Cook also challenged the veracity of the evidence given by the prisoner Van Gorder while on the stand.

Attorney W.H. Hurley for the defense followed, and made a strong argument on behalf of the prisoner, showing conclusively from his standpoint that Van Gorder, while guilty of a murder, acted in self-defense. Attorney Fairchild, the senior counsel for the defense, spoke for a period of at least one hour and twenty minutes. His masterful address, had for its main theme the plea of self defense.

Precisely at nine minutes after three o'clock this afternoon, the jury in the case of the People versus Frank Van Gorder for murder, retired, after having been duly charged as to their duty by Circuit Court Judge Stone. In his charge to the jury, Judge Stone laid particular stress upon the definitions of the various degrees of the crime of murder. He also explained at length the significance of malice implied, stating that if the prisoner, Van Gorder, entertained malice against Lawrence, and in shooting chanced inadvertently to kill Salchert, the malice if any, should be considered as transferred to the victim.
~Postville Review, January 22, 1904

Under instructions from the mayor, a police officer has been especially assigned to keep vigilant watch in the neighborhood of the residence of Prosecuting Attorney Cook at Iron Mountain. It is reported that since the recent conviction of Frank Van Gorder for manslaughter, Mr. Cook has become alarmed, remembering the attempt to dynamite the home of Justice Miller after the prisoner was first held for trial in the circuit court, and that it was at his request that precautions for his safety have been taken. ~Ironwood Times, Ironwood, Michigan, January 16, 1904

It is unknown if Frank served any time for the murder, but it is very likely that he did go to prison.

Members of the VanGorder families received news last week of the death of Frank VanGorder at his home at Superior, Wis. His demise was due to a heart attack. Deceased was a son of the late Mr. and Mrs. L. D. VanGorder and was born on a farm northeast of Hardin 71 years ago. He left Allamakee when a young man and for years resided at Iron Mountain, Mich. Superior had been his home for about twenty years. Surviving are his widow, five brothers and a half sister, namely; Henry of Post township; Sankey and Charles of Jefferson township; Hardie of Waukon; and Hayes; and Mrs. Mary Coon of McGregor. Burial took place at Superior on Wednesday last. ~Waukon Democrat, as reprinted in the Postville Herald, Nov. 26, 1936



Hardie VanGorder Shot Down By a Robber

Hardie VanGorder, who was reared at Forest Mills and conducted a blacksmith shop here in Waukon a number of years ago, narrowly escaped death at the hands of a holdup man on Monday evening of last week at his home in Kinney, in the iron regions of Minnesota. As he and his wife approached a dark place in the street, someone hailed them with "we want that money," which was followed by a shot that struck Hardie in the left leg just below the groin. He nearly bled to death before assistance reached him and the doctors told him had the bullet pierced a half inch higher it would have been fatal. He writes that he is doing fine and is out of danger, and that the officers are making every effort to nab the fellow who did the shooting. The bullet was of 38-calibre. Hardie's numerous friends about here will rejoice over his narrow escape. - Waukon Democrat
~as reprinted in the Postville Review, Friday, October 22, 1915



Anson S. Geesey Murdered

A.S. Geesey of Albia was killed by an unknown assassin in his back yard Sunday, November 17. His son-in-law, Hayes Van Gorder is charged with the crime. Investigation showed that the murdered man had been shot in the abdomen. Death came before the injured man could tell who did the shooting. Letters found in Geesey's pocket threw suspicion on his son-in-law. According to reports, Van Gorder gained possession of six or seven hundred dollars worth of certificates of deposit and cashed them. Geesey had brought action in the federal court against him and he was summoned to appear that this term of court. Van Gorder's home is at Poplar Bluffs, Mo., and he has been lodged in jail there with evidence pointing strongly to his guilt.
~Adams County Free Press, Corning, Iowa, December 7, 1918

Anson S. Geesey is buried in Oakland cemetery, Waukon. Obituary



The VanGorder Murder Trial

The trial of Hayes Van Gorder, whom W.S. Hart and two other attorneys are defending at Albia, this state, on charge of taking the life of A.S. Geesey, his father-in-law, on November 17, last, will come to a close this week. Harvey Miner, returned from there Saturday where he had appeared as a character witness for the defendant. He says the trial has arounsed tremendous interest in that section and that the big court room is packed daily. He says further that Attorney Hart has the opposing counsel constantly alert owing to the vigor and tact with which he is conducting the defense. He is not at his best either, because of a severe cold.

All of the testimony against defendant is circumstantial and opinion was quite divided as to his guilt, Mr. Miner says so far as he learned while there. Mrs. VanGorder [nee Effie Geesey] and her four children are attending the trial and she has an eight months old baby in her arms. She took the stand in her husband's behalf and made a very good witness for the defense. The defendant was on the stand two days and this was a summary of his testimony as given in the Albia paper:

"The defendant, Hayes Van Gorder, went on the stand and gave his movements from the time he was 17 years old to the present. He was born and raised on a farm in Allamakee county, Iowa, and taught one term of school before he was 17 years old. After securing a common school education, he taught school in Allamakee and Floyd counties before coming to Monroe county. His wife taught school before and after they were married.

"He testified that while they resided in Minnesota, Mr. Geesey lived with them about half the time and the remainder of the time he lived with his son, George Geesey, in the same neighborhood. His first school work in Monroe county was near Hayden Chapel where he got $45 per month; that he afterward accepted the Buxton school at $65 per month; quit teaching school and embarked in the restaurant business in Albia; found that work too hard for his wife and he disposed of it and secured the Hocking school and afterward took a position under the civil service in the Albia postoffice where he was employed in various departments.

"He testified that while Mr. Geesey was living with them they had in their employ a Mrs. McDaniels; that Mrs. VanGorder's father and the woman had become infatuated and their actions were scandalous; Mrs. VanGorder complained about it and he told her to dismiss Mrs. McDaniels which she did. This so enraged the old man that he knocked his daughter down, which brought on sickness and a miscarriage; that afterward he went to Fred Townsend and wanted him to bring a suit for $5,000 damages. Mr. Townsend discouraged him and then he went to John F. Abeggien where he met the same fate. He wrote to Mrs. Cooper, sister of Mrs. Geesey, and related the circumstances to her and said he was going to sue his father-in-law for damages; that she replied and requested him not to do it.

"Capt. Hart asked him if he had this letter. He said that W.B. Griffin got it with other letters he took from him at the time he was arrested.

"VanGorder's testimony was resumed. He said Mr. Geesey and he got together and settled their differences by his father-in-law promising to pay him $1,000; that the old man had been in the habit of visiting the neighboring towns and remaining two or three days; that before leaving Albia he had written an order for him to the postmaster at Moulton requesting his mail be sent to Popular Bluff, Mo.; that a short time afterward they moved to that place but Mr. Geesey did not go with them; that a lot of letters were forwarded to that place for him and he tied them in a bunch and forwarded them to Albia. He identified the letter he had written to the Moulton postmaster. He also identified drafts and certificates of deposit he claimed Mr. Geesey had sent to him to liquidate the damage his wife had sustained when he knocked her down.

"He identified three drafts that he had rec'd from A.S. Geesey. One draft for $554 was received at Popular Bluff, and he took it to the bank and the cashier refused to cash it because it did not have Geesey's endorsement. He testified that he sent it to Mr. Geesey explaining why payment was not made and he returned it to him properly endorsed and the cashier honored it; he also identified a letter that he had written to Mr. Geesey. This was one of the three drafts of the $1,000 Mr. Geesey had promised to give him in settlement of the damage his wife sustained when she was knocked down by her father.

"He stated that when he went to Popular Bluff in 1916 that office was being investigated for some irregularities; that two investigations were made in 1917, and one in 1918 when all the employes except the girls were under suspicion and were investigated. In explaining where he was on November 17, he stated that he left Popular Bluff Nov. 16 for Corydon [illegible words] Mr. Jackley; that he went to St. Louis and took the train for Moberly, Mo., and after talking to the ticket agent he found that he would not be able to return to Popular Bluff Monday, the day he informed the postmaster he would return; that he decided not to go on to Corydon by way of Moravia, but returned to St. Louis Nov. 17 and thence to Popular Bluff.

"He said he received the telegram from Humeston notifying him that his father-in-law had been murdered; that he read the telegram about 11 a.m. Nov. 18; that before he received the telegram Inspector Kane asked him if he knew the whereabouts of Mr. Geesey and he replied the last information he had he was in Montana; he stated that he was placed under arrest by Marshal Nance on Nov. 19th, charged with the murder of Geesey. He denied being in Albia in 1918 before or after the murder of Mr. Geesey."

Henry Van Gorder, a brother of Hayes, returned Saturday noon from Albia, where he had been the past three weeks in attendance at the trial and informs the Herald that after 36 hours deliberation the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter. It is presumed the case will be carried to the supreme court. - Waukon Democrat
~as reprinted in the Postville Herald, April 4, 1919


Hayes VanGorder


Hayes VanGorder, aka Ed Faith, In Bad Again

Hayes Van Gorder, formerly of this county, who was recently convicted and sentenced to eight years imprisonment on the charge of killing his father-in-law, A.S. Geesey, at Albia, this state, has fairly astounded his relatives and everybody else by committing crime by the wholesale against the government, which will doubtless deprive him of his freedom for an almost endless term of years, says the Waukon Democrat.

He was caught red-handed near St. Paul several days ago at forging postal orders on a huge sale, doing it while he was out on $7,000 bail furnished by his brothers pending an appeal for a new trial which his attorney, W.S. Hart, was confident of securing for him.

VanGorder is now in jail at St. Paul and the rascality that he has attempted and partially carried out will unquestionably prevent his securing another trial on the murder charge. He was here on a visit only a few weeks ago and met many acquaintances of his former days. His mental balance will now be a matter of conjecture, as his last escapede is reviewed. The following account of it is from the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

"When Hayes VanGorder of Poplar Bluff, Mo., alias Ed Faith of nowhere in particular, was taken into custody and confined in the Ramsey county jail late Saturday by Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal S.J. Pieha, one of the most far reaching forgery schemes of postal history was halted, in the opinion of Rush D. Simmons, postoffice inspector in charge of the St. Paul district.

Van Gorder is alleged to have stolen 200 money orders from the Poplar Bluff postoffice, 120 of which he is alleged to have filled in with forged signatures and sent for collection to about half as many different places throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and North Dakota. All of the forged money orders were for $100. It is thougth that he intended to use the remaining eighty in South Dakota. The total figure he intended to obtain is $20,000.

He has admitted the sending of 120 money orders, it is said, and he confessed to Inspectors H.E. Scriver and W.H. Switzer that the $400 found on him represents the profits on money orders on which he had collected. It is not thought that he had collected much more than that amount before captured at Buffalo Lake Friday night.

VanGorder is also wanted in Iowa for murder. He was found guilty of manslaughter at Albia, Iowa, and was released on $7,000 bail after appealing successfully to the supreme court. He insisted that he is innocent of the murder. It is charged that he used his father-in-law as an unsuspecting aid in the theft of funds while employed at the Popular Bluff postoffice. When he was threatened with exposure, he is alleged to have killed his father-in-law, who would have been a strong witness against him.

VanGorder was captured at Buffalo Lake Friday night. His capture came as the result of deductions made by Mr. Simmons after several reports had come to his office from postoffices throughout the state of the flood of $100 money orders, all made out to Ed Faith. The money in every case was to be sent to some other city. Many of the postoffices received two of the orders. When VanGorder was captured the net was also drawing in on him from other directions. The postoffice inspector in charge at Chicago had sent inspectors out to investigate several orders for $100 to Ed Faith received by Wisconsin offices. The 200 money orders stolen disappeared from Poplar Bluff office November 10, 1917. At that time it was thought that they were lost, but notices of the numbers on them were sent all over the country.

Friday E.W. Rebstock, postmaster at Buffalo Lake, called up with the information that Faith was in town. He was told to arrest him, which he and the town marshal did just as Faith was boarding a freight train. He was removed to Renville county jail at Olivia soon after by Sheriff Sunde. Inspectors Schriver and Switzer were sent out from St. Paul and they brought him to St. Paul. The recovered $200 in currency and a $200 draft from him, as well as the eighty blank money orders he had not yet sent out.

VanGorder did not begin his alleged forging until this week. He intended to devote next week to visiting the towns he had specified to the postoffices and pick up the mail in those places for Ed Faith, it is alleged. He was in St. Paul Thursday, and postmarks on the envelopes sent about the state indicate that most of them were sent from this city. VanGorder named sixty-two of the postoffices to the inspector to which he sent orders.

He is a man about 40 years old, heavy set and retiring in manner. He has a wife and four children at Popular Bluff. He taught rural school near Albert Lea from 1903 to 1907. The preliminary hearing has been set for July 22 (sic). If found guilty he could be sentenced for five years for each of the orfers he sent out, not taking into account the theft of the blank orders in the first place.
~Postville Herald, Friday, August 8, 1919

Ruth Van Gorder, 2 year old daughter of Hayes Van Gorder, at Waukon, will recover after eating bread on which rat poison had been spread. ~Oxford Ledger, Oxford, Iowa, April 7, 1921

Ruth Elaine Van Gorder died in 1923 and is buried in Oakland Main cemetery, Waukon.


Van Gorder Gets Rehearing in Murder Case

Des Moines, Oct 16 - Hayes Van Gorder, Albia, Iowa, charged with the slaying of his father-in-law, A.S Geesey, Albia, and convicted of manslaughter in connection with the crime won his appeal in the Iowa supreme court today.

Declaring the evidence on which Van Gorder was convicted purely circumstantial and insufficient, the court reversed the decision of District Judge D.M. Anderson of Monroe county and ordered a new trial.

"We can regard the verdict of man slaughter as only a reflection of the jury's reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty of the slaying of Geesey though it may have believed that he was guilty of forgery." Justice Evans noted in the opinion.

Charges that Van Gorder, former school teacher and post office employee, had forced remittances on Geesey's account, caused a feud between the two men and attempts to collect the amount from Van Gorder was made only a few days before the shooting of Geesey on November 17, 1918. Alleged irregularities in the post office involving Van Gorder also were being investigated about that time. Van Gorder was then a resident of Poplar Bluffs, Missouri.
~Oelwein Daily Register, October 16, 1923

It is unknown if Hayes was retried for the murder of his father-in-law but it is doubtful, since he was already in Federal Prison for his federal crimes.



Van Gorder Using the Alias O.E. Overn is Nabbed

Postmaster Keith Gray of this city proved himself something of a sleuth on Tuesday when he was instrumental in the arrest of Hayes Van Gorder, alias O.E. Overn, who was wanted by the federal authorities for forging stolen money orders and impersonating a post office inspector over in Wisconsin.
~Postville Herald, April 17, 1924

Federal Officers Take Van Gorder Into Custody

Deputy U.S. Marshall Fred Gilmore came from Dubuque Saturday, and accompanied by Sheriff Davis, returned with Hayes Van Gorder, in jail here for a few days, who was apprehended at Postville last week for his recent foolhardy attempt at defying the mail laws by impersonating an inspector, etc., says the Waukon Democrat.

He was taken from there to Sioux City for appearance before Judge Scott of the federal bench, who was expected to remand him to the custody of the federal officials at Madison, Wis., where his trial will be held. Van Gorder is held on three offenses, that of using the mail to defraud, forgery, and of transmitting forged money orders through the mails.

There was quite a coincidence in Marshal Gilmore's assuming charge of Van Gorder. He had seen him once on the occasion of an official visit two years ago to the federal prison at Leavenworth, Kansas. The Democrat's publisher happened to be the marshal's aide on the trip and while there Van Gorder was brought to the warden's office for a short chat. It was never suspected of course, that Mr. Gilmore would be required two years later to bring him into custody.
~Postville Herald, May 1, 1924

Narrow Escape By Fire of Van Gorder Family

A fire in Minneapolis Christmas evening nearly took the lives of Mrs. Hayes Van Gorder and family who resided here in Waukon for several years. An apartment in that city took fire and a rapid spread of the flames trapped all of its occupants. An account of the fire follows:

Mrs. Mary Van Gorder, 55 years old, suffering from diphtheria, was quarantined on the third floor with her family. As she tried to dress herself hurriedly, the smoke started seeping through the floor. Her daughter, Mrs. Nellie Haley, carred out her 8 months old baby, Juanita, while a second daughter, Miss Blanche Van Gorder, also was rescued by firemen.

As Mrs. Van Gorder opened the door of her room to follow her daughters, she found the hall chocked with smoke. She was overcome and collapsed and was rescued by Henry Voight, who had rushed into the burning building. the family was taken to the General hospital, where they were again placed under quarantine.

H.J. Haley, husband of Mrs. Haley, who arrived on the scene after the family had been taken away, spent a frenzied half hour in the belief that they were burned to death. He finally learned that they had been taken to the hospital.

This lady, Mrs. Hayes Van Gorder, a daughter of Anson Geesey, formerly of Jefferson township, has gone thru more trials and tribulations than God Almighty ever intended, and Waukon folks who read the above trust her sufferings are at an end. - Waukon Democrat
~as reprinted in the Postville Herald, January 14, 1926


Postmaster Keith Gray left Tuesday night for Cape Girardeau, Mo., in response to federal summons by telephone as witness in a case against Hayes Van Gorder, a former resident of this locality. As will be remembered, Keith was responsible for the picking up of Van Gorder here several years ago on a federal charge.
~Postville Herald, October 14, 1926



A Sioux City dispatch to the Des Moines Register-Tribune says that Hayes Van Gorder, 55 years old, a prisoner in the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, went on trial in federal court there on a charge of raising postal money orders. Van Gorder, a very capable Allamakee young man, whose inclinations as he grew into mature manhood were positively opposite to those of his forebears. It has brought him and others a heap of trouble, and is resulting in a good life's career wasted. Too bad indeed.
~Waukon Democrat, June 1927

A dispatch from Danville, Ill., appearing in the Chicago Tribune one day last week states that Hayes Van Gorder was brought to that city from federal prison at Leavenworth, Kansas, upon his own request that he might plead guilty to a charge held against him there. He expressed his desire to have a clean slate when released from the federal prison at the completion of his present term. He entered his plea of guilty to cashing forged money orders, and the judge extended his sentence fifteen years, whereupon Van Gorder wanted to withdraw his plea, but was denied the privilege.
~Waukon Republican and Standard, September 1927



Hayes Van Gorder, Sentenced Here in 1926 Forges Order for Own Release

Hayes Van Gorder, who wrote in federal court in Cape Girardeau two years ago, one chapter in his amazing criminal record, today was enroute to his cell in Leavenworth prison, after the revelation that he had forged his way and that of another from the nation's largest prison.

It was through copying signatures on an order issued to the Cape Girardeau Federal Court that Van Gorder is credited with securing his release. Van Gorder was tried in federal court in Cape Girardeau Oct. 14, 1926, on a charge that he stole mail box keys from the post office at Popular Bluff. An attorney for him was appointed and a jury convicted him. Judge C.B. Faris fixed his punishment at five years' imprisonment.

Van Gorder, after he went to prison, perfected his own appeal and secured a reversal of the case, the appeals court holding that the evidence was insufficient. However, he had other terms to complete in prison which kept him there.

The escape from prison of Van Gorder and C. Von Esch, his companion, accomplished March 2, through forged court orders, was revealed when Van Gorder was recognized by postal inspectors at Kansas City, who knew he was supposed to be in the Leavenworth prison. They learned that he and Von Esch had been released on a writ of habeas corpus and three documents purporting to be orders from the United States Circuit Court at Topeka, Kan. Prison authorities received the fake documents through the mail.

Van Gorder obtained the documents from the clerk of the district court at Topeka last month when he applied for two certified copies of a writ of habeas corpus on which he was to be taken to Cape Girardeau for trial on charges of postal theft. The forger altered one of the copies changing the case number from 79 to 179 and the date from Feb. 8 to Feb. 28. He then obtained a blank letterhead with the government watermark and wrote a letter purporting to have been written by the U.S. Marshal at Topeka attesting that the copies of the writ and the orders were true copies of documents on file in the Federal District Court. Apparently the documents were mailed to the prison officials by an outside accomplice or slipped into the mail by a convict employed to sort and open letters.
~The Southeast Missourian, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, March 20, 1929


Charles B. Van Gorder Files Bankruptcy

Voluntary petition in bankruptcy has been filed by Charles B. Van Gorder, Jefferson township, who claims he has no assets against liabilities amounting to $5,648.85, says the Waukon Democrat.
~Postville Herald, May 29, 1930

Waukon Man Found Shot in Head, Dead

Waukon, Ia. - The frozen body of Charles Van Gorder, 65, with a wound in the head and a shotgun laying alongside, was found Monday in his one-room home here. Authorities said he apparently had been dead about three weeks. The door to the house where he lived alone was barricaded and on the front was a sign, "Do Not Disturb."
~Burlington Hawk-Eye Gazette, Burlington, Iowa, February 1, 1954



Slick Forger Worked Many - Hayes Van Gorder Duped Post Office Authorities in Many States

Convicted by a jury of forgoing his way out of the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, at a trial in court at Topeka, Kansas last week, Hayes Van Gorder had five years added to the long term which he must serve before his many sentences expire.

After less than fifteen minutes deliberation, the jury decided that the writ of habeas corpus which opened the prison gates for the 54 year old convicted forger March 2, 1929, was his own handwork and not that of officials.

Judge Richard J. Hopkins, of the United States district court, sentenced Van Gorder to five years on each of two counts, the sentences to run concurrently, and after the expiration of his present terms for mail order forgery convictions which his record shows aggregate approximately twenty years.

Van Gorder's record, as it appears on the files of the United States district attorney, discloses he is now serving sentences on commitments from federal courts in Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Illinois and Kansas, all for forging money orders.

Hayes Van Gorder, in his numerous successful efforts to make money easily, visited the Le Mars post office about two years ago and victimized Postmaster R.C. Edmonds and his assistants at the local post office here.

Van Gorder presented a postal money order at the office window apparently made payable from the Spencer post office for $60. Van Gorder, on presenting the order, showed lodge cards, a union card, and a bank book to prove his identity, and the order was paid. Later it was discovered that the order had been raised from six to sixty dollars and the local post office was stung for the amount. An examination of the order showed that the forger had clipped a cipher from a money order stub book and had pasted it next to the numeral 6 in order to make it appear that the order had been issued for $60.

Several months after his appearance here Van Gorder was arrested in Wisconsin when he represented himself to be a postal inspector and asked a postmaster to give him a [remainer of article is cut off here]
~LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, April 22, 1930

Tries Ruse to Gain Freedom Again

LEAVENWORTH, KAS., Sept, 2 -(AP) Hayes Van Gorder, serving 30 to 40 years from St. Louis for fraud in the use of the mails, attempted to escape from the federal penitentiary here today by having a forged writ demanding his presence in Duluth, Minn., sent to Warden H. B. White. The warden said the purported writ bore the forged signature of Judge,William A. Grant of the Minnesota federal district court. White became suspicious and telegraphed the court clerk, who replied that the writ was spurious. Van Gorder was taken to an isolation cell and searched. Guards found on him two longknives, two handcuff keys, an imitation pistol made of wood with a piece of metal pipe for a barrel, pepper and finely ground tobacco, a razor blade and 50 cents in change. It is believed Van Gorder intended to use the pepper and tobacco to blind the guards in whose charge he would have been placed. The department of justice was notified by Warden White and will undertake an investigation of the manner in which the writ was delivered to the warden. White said he could not explain how the paper got in his mail. Van Gorder escaped from the penitentiary March 2, 1929, on a forged writ of habeas corpus and three court orders purported to have been from the United States Circuit Court of Appeals at Topeka. The documents were mailed to the prison and officials released Van Gorder and C. Von Esch, whose liberation also was planned by Van Gorder.
~Jefferson City Post-Tribune, Jefferson City, Missouri, September 2, 1930

The second attempt of Hayes Van Gorder to escape from the federal penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., with forged documents, was made Tuesday, an Associated Press dispatch states. Van Gorder had issued a spurious writ demanding his presence in federal court at Duluth, Minn. Prison attendants said the purported writ received by Warden B. Thomas bore a return stamp of the federal court at Duluth and the forged signature of Federal Judge William A. Cant. Warden White recalled Van Gorger's escape in March, 1929, and telegraphed the Minnesota court officials. Later he learned that Van Gorder was not wanted there.

Van Gorder is 54 years old and is serving sentences aggregating 31 years for forging postal money orders. He was convicted in Sioux City in 1927 of raising two postal money orders from $7 to $70. He was sentences to serve five years in the federal prison. The swindler presented the raised money orders to Mrs. Hazel Kragness, still an employe of the government. Her suspicions became aroused and resulted later in Van Gorder's arrest. His familiarity with the postal money orders system aided him in committing the crime. He gained knowledge of the system while he was postmaster at Poplar Bluff, Mo. many years ago. He was discharged from the postal service.
~Sioux City Journal, September 4, 1930


Hayes Van Gorder was incarcerated at Leavenworth U.S. Penitentiary, Kansas on October 16, 1919, inmate #14535, to serve a twenty-eight-year term for forging government documents and using the mails to defraud. While at Leavenworth, Hayes earned a reputation as a writ writer and helped other inmates with the legal briefs. He was transfered to Alcatraz U.S. Penitentiary in California on August 22, 1934, inmate #87. He did not do well in Alcatraz, becoming depressed and keeping to himself. He had memory problems and "outbursts". Van Gorder was admitted for observation to the hospital ward in September 1936. In July 1937, he was declared to be "of unsound mind" and was transferred to the Springfield Medical Center for Federal prisoners, Springfield, Missouri. He died of cancer on April 19, 1938 and was buried in the East Lawn Cemetery, Springfield, MO.
~Alcatraz: The Gangster Years, by David Ward, 2009, pages 143-144 - sources cited by Mr. Ward in the book include Hayes Van Gorder's federal prison file.
~Leavenorth, U.S. Penitentiary, Inmate Case files index, 1895-1936 (Ancestry.com)
~Alcatraz Prisoner Index 1934-1963 (Ancestry.com)


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