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Gangster Diaries

From Madison to Maine, Brady Gang
left terror in its wake

Dalhover followed a troubled path
to Indiana’s electric chair

January
2019 Cover

(January 2019) – Mary Ann Lohrig Plummer vividly remembers her first introduction to the Brady Gang. It was 1983. The hearse pulled to a stop at Fairmont Cemetery in Madison, Ind. She helped her mother out of the vehicle. They started walking toward the burial site for her father, Harold Lohrig. Her mother, Eva Lohrig, looked over at a nearby tombstone and said, “Your Dad will be buried up here with the Dalhover Gang.”
Plummer read the lettering on that tombstone: Rhuel James Dalhover. Years later, she remembered the incident and did some research about Dalhover. In the process, she found a story that is part of Madison’s history.
Plummer’s father, Harold Lohrig, served as Madison Fire Chief and Building Inspector during the 1960s. Born in 1905, Lohrig had been a young man during the “Golden Age of Bank Robberies,” which made villains like John Dillinger to become known as “public enemies.”
Bank robberies and organized crime increased during the 1920s and 1930s. The crime waves forced J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the Bureau of Investigation, to create a more professional operation. Hoover instituted rigorous training for agents, the first fingerprint file and the first forensic laboratory. The organization name was changed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935.

Photos provided

These mug shots show what Rhuel James Dalhover looked like in his early years (above) and after he was captured in 1937 (below).

Hoover coined the term “Public Enemy” to refer to criminals already charged with crimes. Dillinger was the first to be named, “Public Enemy No. 1.” It was only a few years after Dillinger’s death, in 1934, that Dalhover and the Brady Gang earned that moniker. 
Robberies during that era often coincided with economic desperation. The desperation of being down to his last three cents contributed to his decision to finally agree to join Al Brady, a car thief and robber.
“I came back to my farm in Madison, Ind., after serving a term for bootlegging,” Dalhover said. “Nothing was left. I only had three cents in my pocket. Brady, who was visiting on the neighborhood farm of his guardian, had been after me to join him. I finally yielded, and we robbed a southern Indiana bank of $18.”
Dalhover’s statement was reported in the Hammond (Ind.) Times Newspaper, dated Nov. 16, 1938, two days before his execution for the murder of an Indiana State Trooper. 
Dalhover wasn’t an innocent farm boy when he joined Brady on their first robbery together. Dalhover was born in 1906, the youngest of five children. By the time Dalhover was 11, he had already spent time in the Plainfield reform school for robbing a grocery store with his brother, George. After 16 months there, they were released in December 1916. They joined their mother, Bertha Weathers Dalhover, in Cincinnati.
Next, the family relocated to Kentucky. By 1920, Dalhover finished grammar school. He returned to Cincinnati, where he found a job working at the National Biscuit Co. plant. He worked there for the next two years. Arizona was Dalhover’s next destination. He traveled to Douglas, Ariz., with another brother. He worked at various jobs for two years. In 1924, he returned to Madison to work with his father, Andrew Dalhover, a local cabinetmaker. After a year in Madison, Dalhover returned to Cincinnati, where he found a job at the Standard Service Co. In Cincinnati, he met Anna Day Moore. They were married in December 1925.

Photo by Sharyn Whitman

The gravestone of Rhuel James Madison is pictured. It is located in Fairmont Cemetery on the Madison, Ind., hilltop.

In 1926, Dalhover started working with his wife’s grandfather, making “moonshine” whiskey. After a few months, he and his brother, George, were caught with a truck full of moonshine in Union, Ky. The young men were immediately jailed. They received sentences of 100 days of jail time and a fine of $100 each.
After only three weeks in jail, they broke out. They returned to Cincinnati. Quickly, they headed to Madison. They got a car and started back to Arizona before they could be found. They got as far as Roswell, N.M., when their car broke down.
The easy solution was to steal another car to continue their escape. However, they were captured and sentenced to 18 to 24 months in the New Mexico State Penitentiary. During that time, they were also convicted of assault with intent to kill. That conviction was the result of their previous jailbreak in Kentucky.
They served a two-year sentence in the Kentucky State Reformatory at Frankfort. 
By 1929, Dalhover was finally released from prison. Again, he returned to Cincinnati. He worked various jobs and resumed his moonshine business. He moved the moonshine business to New Richmond, Ohio, a small river town. He would work various jobs for short periods of time but always continued the moonshine business.
By summer 1932, he returned to Madison, where he rejoined his father in the cabinet business. He still continued his moonshine business. A year later, he was able to focus entirely on his growing moonshine trade. He earned enough to purchase a small farm near Hanover, Ind. He moved the moonshine operation to his farm.

Photo courtesy of Richard Shaw

The front page of the Bangor Daily News announcing the shootout.

Dalhover first met Brady in 1935 when Brady visited a friend at a farm near Dalhover’s location. Dalhover learned that Brady could bring yeast from Indianapolis. Dalhover was having difficulty securing enough yeast to make moonshine. For a short time, Brady provided perfect solution to the yeast shortage. Within a few months, Dalhover’s farm was raided and his equipment destroyed.
Again, he was sentenced to a fine and jail time. This time, it was 60 days in the Indiana State Farm at Greencastle, plus a $500 fine. After release from prison in September 1935, he returned to his Hanover farm. Again, Brady visited him there. Again, Brady tried to recruit Dalhover to join him in his crime sprees in Indianapolis. Again, Dalhover refused to go with Brady.
The next time Brady came to Hanover he was driving a stolen car. Finally, Brady did convince Dalhover to join him. Together, they robbed a movie theater in Crothersville, Ind. They retrieved only $18 from that robbery. The next weekend, they decided to try a grocery store in Sellersburg, Ind. This was more successful; the total take was $190.
Dalhover’s farm continued to serve as their base. By the end of 1935, they had recruited both Clarence Lee Shaffer Jr. and Charles Geiseking to join them. Sometimes the gang worked together. Other times, Brady and Dalhover worked together, while Shaffer and Geiseking branched out on separate robberies. They were using a stolen Ford Coupe. However, bigger jobs required a bigger vehicle.
In January 1936, Brady and Dalhover held up a man and woman driving a Buick sedan in Anderson, Ind. Brady securely hid this stolen vehicle in a garage in Indianapolis. It was to be used solely as a get-away car. In February 1936, they were suspected of killing Frank Levy, a policeman from Anderson. Levy had surprised them while they were sleeping in a parked car. They were able to escape, undetected.  

Going on a crime spree

Photo courtesy of Richard Shaw

This Bangor Daily News photo shows FBI officers holding the many guns taken from the Brady Gang following the shootout.

Having procured a bigger car, the gang’s next focus was getting bigger guns. In a bar in Kentucky, they completed a transaction with an Ohio police officer to purchase a confiscated machine gun and ammunition. (The officer was later removed from the police force.) They started looking for bigger opportunities. The new targets were jewelry stores.
In spring 1936, they stole about $8,000 worth of jewelry from a store in Greenville, Ohio, and another $6,000 of jewelry from the Kay Jewelry Store in Lima, Ohio. These jobs were followed by attacks on two grocery stores. The first was such a small take that they proceeded to a second Ohio location. During this robbery, there were about 35 customers in the store. Brady was surprised by an employee who came up from the basement. The young man, Edward Lindsay, was immediately shot and shoved back into the basement.
The spree of robberies continued in April 1936. They implemented a second attack on the Kay Jewelry Store in Lima, Ohio. Four pillowcases were filled with stolen jewelry. This time, an encounter with the police resulted in a gunshot wound to Geiseking. By the time the gang escaped to Indianapolis, they decided Geiseking needed medical attention. They found a doctor and told him a bogus tale about Geiseking being shot by a jealous husband. The doctor was not deceived. He notified the police as soon as the gang left his home.
Meanwhile, the three remaining gang members decided to return to the doctor’s home to ensure his silence. They were met by the Indianapolis police. In the resulting shoot-out, Sgt. Richard Rivers was fatally wounded. Again, the gang was able to escape. 
Within a month, all three men – Brady, Dalhover and Shaffer – were captured. They were returned to Indianapolis to stand trial for the murder of Sgt. Rivers. While being held in the jail in Hancock County, again they escaped. They assaulted the sheriff, took the sheriff’s gun and drove away in a stolen car.
The Brady Gang was in the crosshairs of the FBI by October 1936. They were wanted for murder and for transporting stolen jewelry across state lines. The FBI had gained tremendous popularity as a result of the successful elimination of notorious gangsters like Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd. Dillinger had operated with bravado, but he rarely shot individuals unless he was trapped.
Dillinger was known to say, “The few dollars you lose today will give you stories to tell your grandkids. This is a big moment in your life – don’t make it your last.” On the other hand, the Brady Gang liked powerful weapons and didn’t hesitate to use them. 
Now the subject of a manhunt, the Brady Gang developed a plan to relocate quietly on the East Coast in 1936. They settled in Baltimore using assumed names. Brady became Edward Maxwell, Dalhover became Herbert Schwartz, and Shaffer became George Riley. During this period of time, they often ate at a local diner. Shaffer started dating an 18-year old waitress named Minnie Raimondo. Soon, she started inviting the whole gang for dinner at her mother’s home. There, Dalhover met Minnie’s sister, Mary.
Within a few weeks, Shaffer married Minnie, and Dalhover married Mary on Nov. 30, 1936. (Dalhover had left his wife and two children back in Indiana.) They continued to drive back to the Midwest to rob banks whenever money was needed. Each time they returned to Baltimore, they resumed their quiet family lives. They told their wives that they had business out of town. They were especially careful during robberies. They changed cars and license plates. They burned discarded vehicles so they could not be traced. They also continued to expand their arsenal of weapons, including rifles and more machine guns.

Shootout with a trooper

Photo provided

Pictured above is the electric chair where Rhuel James Dalhover died in 1938 in Michigan City, Ind.

On May 24, 1937, they drove to Goodland, Ind. They had developed a plan to rob the Goodland State Bank. They checked out the local roads, ensuring a quick escape. Again, they were careful not to attract attention. They traveled to a campground in Illinois to spend the night. On May 25, the gang returned to Goodland State Bank. The successful robbery  brought them more than $2,500.
About 15 miles into their escape, they saw an Indiana State Police car in front of them. They were able to turn around to evade the police car. The state trooper also turned around to follow the gang. At the first crossroads, the gang pulled into a parking lot behind a church.
Dalhover and Shaffer took their rifles, and Brady took the machine gun. They got out of the car. They waited there for the police car. The police car slowed at the intersection. Indiana State Trooper Paul Minneman opened his door and looked down at the tire tracks in the dirt. Just then, the gang took their shots. Minneman was killed, and his partner, Cass County Deputy Sheriff Elmer Craig, was wounded.
The intersection where Minneman was murdered is now the site of an Indiana Historical Marker, located on the northwest corner of State Rd. 16 and County Rd. 1450E. It is adjacent to the United Methodist Church, a half mile west of the Cass-White County Line. The marker, erected in 1992 by the Indiana Historical Bureau, the State Police Alliance and David Morrison, reads: “Site of gun battle May 25, 1937, with infamous Brady Gang after bank robbery in Goodland. Minneman (1904-1937), died from his wounds, the first trooper to be killed by criminals’ bullets since formation of Indiana State Police in 1933.”
Lindsey Beckley, Outreach Manager of the Indiana Historical Bureau, clarified that statement. She said that Minneman was the first officer to be killed by criminals’ bullets. However, the first Indiana State Trooper to die in the line of duty was Eugene Teague. (Teague died in 1933. He was caught in the crossfire of a gun battle between Dillinger Gang member Edward Shouse and Illinois police officers working with Teague.)
After the Brady Gang killed Minneman, Dalhover stripped both troopers of their weapons, belt, holster and handcuffs. The gang left the scene of the murder. Quickly, they returned to their quiet life in Baltimore.
In August, 1937, funds were again running low. The gang started to leave Baltimore for another crime spree. This time, their suspicious behavior in a stolen vehicle, caught the attention of two Baltimore police officers in a squad car. A chase and gun battle ensued. The squad car was disabled by the gang’s sharp-shooting. Once again, the gang escaped. 
But this time, everything was different. This time, Identification Orders, including a photo with a description of the gang members were distributed to banks, filling stations and many other places. The FBI offered a $500 reward for information about them. A $1,500 reward was offered for their capture. The gang still needed money, so now they traveled far and wide. They would hit a bank. Immediately, they would escape to a completely different location.
Within a few months, they had hit New Orleans, Buffalo, N.Y., Milwaukee and Nashville, Tenn. They also decided it was time to find a new town where they could settle quietly. They chose Bridgeport, Conn.
The last gunfight
While living in an apartment in Bridgeport, the gang learned that guns and ammunition for hunters were readily available in Maine.
Always looking for more weapons, they decided to drive to the Dakin sporting goods store in Bangor, Maine.  On that trip in September 1937, they purchased .45 caliber automatic pistols, .32 caliber Colt automatics and ammunition. Dalhover also special-ordered additional weapons and clips. The store owner noticed that they did not appear to be hunters. He reported the information to the local police.
A few weeks later, the gang returned to pick up their order. They placed another special order of guns and ammunition. This time, Dalhover also ordered a Thompson submachine gun. It was definitely not a hunting firearm. The description of the men and the weapon ordered were conveyed to the State Police Headquar-ters, which  relayed the tip to the FBI. 
The FBI promptly came to the store with photos of the gang members. Dalhover was described as a man who wore white Arrow shirts, had a one-inch scar at his right temple and a nervous habit of biting his fingernails. He always wore a hat, never a cap. He smoked Lucky Strike cigarettes. Dalhover was immediately identified as the individual who ordered the guns. Members of the FBI began to quietly infiltrate the town of Bangor. Two agents were placed in the store. One agent was trained to be a sales clerk. Other agents found surveillance locations across the street. 
On Oct. 12, 1937, the gang returned to Bangor. They were driving a Buick with Ohio license plates. They parked just down the street from the store. Brady stayed in the back seat of the vehicle. Dalhover and Shaffer entered the store. Shaffer stayed near the front of the store, while Dalhover walked through the store to pick up his order. Dalhover was quietly captured, handcuffed and removed from the store. Just then, Shaffer opened fire and wounded one of the agents outside. Another agent inside the store ran to the front and shot Shaffer as he ran out into the street. 
Meanwhile, two other agents approached Brady from behind his parked car. With guns drawn, the FBI agents ordered him out of the car. Brady slid out of the car, saying, “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot, I’ll get out.” However, he suddenly burst out, pulled his gun and fired at the agents. They returned fire. Brady died on the spot. Ironically, the gun Brady pulled out was the same gun they had stripped from Trooper Minneman’s body back in Indiana. In all, 35 weapons were confiscated from the gang, including automatic pistols, revolvers, machine guns, rifles, automatic rifles and shotguns. It was not their robberies that trapped them. It was their quest for more and bigger weapons that was their downfall.
Richard Shaw, local editor, author and historian in Bangor, Maine, grew up hearing stories of the Brady Gang. On that fateful day, Frances Duran, a 23-year old student, was on her way to a small commercial school downtown. Shaw said, “Just as the trolley she and her boyfriend were riding in rounded the curve (about a block from the shootout scene), the streetcar lurched to a stop and the passengers were told that they could get out and check out the scene on Central Street. Always eager to be where the action was, Duran hurried to the corner and joined the group of onlookers. She was fascinated with the slicked-back hair of Brady and Shaffer, their shiny shoes, and nicely tailored clothing, as they lay dead on the cobbled street.”
Frances Duran was Shaw’s mother. Shaw said his father recalls hearing gunshots but did not see the actual crime scene.

Condemned to die

Photo provided

Erected in 1992, this Indiana Historical Marker pays tribute to Indiana State Trooper Paul Minneman, who was gunned down in a May 25, 1937, shootout with the Brady Gang in Goodland, Ind. The marker is located next to a United Methodist Church in White County, Ind.  Minneman was the first trooper to be killed by criminals' bullets since formation of Indiana State Police in 1933.

The tragic event put an end to the robberies and murders committed by the Brady gang. Shaw has continued to compile information and local stories related to the Brady Gang. He played the part of Brady in a 2007 re-enactment of the final day for the Brady Gang. One of the purposes of that re-enactment was to clarify details of the story while local witnesses were still alive. Walter Walsh, an FBI sharpshooter who was injured in the original gun battle, traveled from Arlington, Va., for the event. Walsh was 100 years old in 2007, the oldest living FBI agent. The killing of Brady and Shaffer also served as the inspiration for the book, “It,” by Stephen King, a Bangor resident and author.
Dalhover was returned to Indiana for trial. He was found guilty of murdering Minneman. Dalhover was sentenced to die. His mother pressed an appeal through the courts, all the way to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. According to a report in the Hammond Times Newspaper, dated Nov. 16, 1938, “Dalhover had suggested that he be allowed to become a human guinea pig. He offered to be used for experiments with deadly germs until he expiated with his life his violation of federal statutes. When his offer was refused by Indiana authorities, his mother went to Washington and made inquiries as to how she should proceed in furthering her son’s plea.”
After the appeal was denied, Rhuel James Dalhover died in the electric chair at the Indiana State Penitentiary in Michigan City, Ind., on Nov. 18, 1938. One of the witnesses to the execution was Trooper Minneman’s father, Richard Minneman. At the time of his death, Dalhover had two sons, ages 8 and 12, who lived in Madison with Dalhover’s mother. A third infant son, lived in Baltimore with his mother, Dalhover’s second wife. Dalhover’s body was returned to Madison for a private funeral and burial. He was buried in Madison’s Fairmont Cemetery. 

Photo courtesy of the
Bangor (Maine) Historical Society

A large crowd gathers on Central Street in Bangor, Maine, on May 25, 1937, following the G-Man shootout with the Brady Gang. Rhuel James Dalhover was the only survivor of the gunfight. He was arrested, tried and later executed in the electric chair in Michigan City, Ind.

According to Katherine Gould, curator of Cultural History at the Indiana State Museum, the electric chair was used for capital punishment in Indiana from 1913 through 1995. This electric chair had been constructed by re-using the wood from the original gallows. The electric chair was replaced by lethal injection in 1995. That original chair is part of a collection of artifacts now on display at the New Castle Prison and Museum.  
The media frenzy during the FBI’s pursuit and capture of notorious criminals stimulated the imagination of Hollywood producers. Exciting movies of crime, lavish lifestyles, and daring gangsters’ escapades were popular. One of the first was Warner Bros., “G-Men.” The Motion Picture Code of 1934 provided an exemption from the anti-gangster rules so studios could portray government activity in fighting crime.

The 1973 movie, “Dillinger,” was one of the last of that era of gangster movies. Hoover wrote a paragraph that he planned to read personally at the end of the Dillinger movie. But Hoover died on May 2, 1972, before the movie was completed. His words were read by an actor at the end of the movie. Hoover’s statement ended with these words, “I don’t sanction any Hollywood glamorization of these vermin. This type of romantic mendacity can only lead young people further astray than they are already, and I want no part of it.”

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