Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Trouble With The Bookkeeper

Ernest Rother, late book-keeper in the grocery store of Von der Ahe, of the St. Louis Base Ball Club, was arrested in (Columbus, Ohio) to-day on a telegram from the Chief of Police of St. Louis, asking that he be detained on a charge of embezzlement. Rother waived all formalities of a requisition, and left with an officer this evening on his return to St. Louis. He states that he does not know what the special charges can be against him, though there is nothing wrong with his accounts or books, and he can make the matter clear when he arrives. He thinks the arrest was made through the connivance of his enemies.

Rother was on his way to Germany. While in (Columbus) he sent for James Williams, late manager of the St. Louis Club, who visited him at the prison and heard his story of the alleged outrage.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 1, 1884

Ernest Rother, late book-keeper and cashier for Chris Von der Ahe, arrived in the city yesterday morning from Columbus in charge of an officer under charge of embezzlement. The prisoner was placed in the holdover to await further developments, where he was interviewed in reference to the charge by a Globe-Democrat reporter yesterday. According to his statement he had been in Mr. Von der Ahe's employ a little over two years, handling in the mean time about $150,000. The books and accounts of both the grocery and Base Ball Park were kept by him. Sometimes the account overran and sometimes it was short, but Rother says he is positive that it was not out of balance more than ten times during his service. The greatest shortage was $100; he does not remember what the largest surplus was...

The difficulty which induced him to quit Von der Ahe originated in his employer opening a letter addressed to him by a lady friend. When he went away he said he parted on the best of terms with his employer, who promised to keep his situation open for him. The first intimation he had of any trouble was at Columbus, where he was spending a short visit with James Williams. When Williams showed him a telegram from Von der Ahe, accusing him of stealing, he told him he would take the next train back to St. Louis. The train was two hours late, otherwise he would have arrived here without an officer Tuesday night. As it was, he was placed under arrest when he went to get his trunks rechecked, and readily consented to come on without requisition. Said he: "If I am $2,000 short in my accounts, I do not know it."
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 2, 1884


Richard Hershberger said...

Interesting material, in the "character of Chris" category. I hope there was some follow-up. In the meantime, what was Von der Ahe doing reading other people's mail?

Jeffrey Kittel said...

I couldn't find anything about what became of the bookkeeper, if the charges were dropped or whatnot. When he was arrested in Columbus, he was on his way to Germany. Tough to say if he was fleeing the country or going to get his wife who was still living in the old country. He had sent several hundred dollars to the wife in the last year so that, combined with leaving StL abruptly, makes him look a bit guilty.