Thursday, September 22, 2016

Lamborn, Guest, and the Bunco Steerers

The location of Chandler Lamborn's farm
In the last post we saw two articles telling tales of attempted swindling aimed at MCH resident David E. Eastburn. These occurred in July and November of 1888, with the earlier article referencing another successful ploy targeting a different MCH farmer. Since the bunco steerers (gosh I love that term) failed with Eastburn, it was unclear as to what exactly their plan was. But now, thanks to the research ability of Donna Peters (contributor of the first articles), we not only have a detailed account of the heretofore briefly mentioned incident, we have another story that appears to involve the same con artists. And although the new incident didn't take place in Mill Creek Hundred, it does end up having connections both to Mill Creek Hundred and (sort of) myself.

We'll get to the new story in a moment, but first let's catch up and find out exactly what happened to Chandler Lamborn. All we knew from the Eastburn article was that three days after failing with him, the swindlers succeeded in taking $500 from Lamborn. They left the area soon thereafter. The article below gives a detailed account of just what went down that day. It appeared the same day as the Eastburn article, July 14,1888, but in a different paper, the Wilmington Every Evening. It was all a complex scheme to get the 71 year old Lamborn to gather a substantial amount of money together so that they could steal it, literally, right out of his hands.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Attempted Scamming of David Eastburn

David E. Eastburn
It's an unfortunate fact of life that as adults in the world today, we're (hopefully) all very aware of the existence of con artists. Nowadays they can approach you in many ways, whether it's via phone calls (usually during dinner), emails from important-sounding foreigners, or their frightening-sounding presidential campaign commercials. In the 19th Century, however, they mostly had to do it the hard way -- in person. I'm sure there were things like fraudulent newspaper ads then, too, but in 1888 if someone wanted to separate you from your money or possessions, they usually had to do it face to face.

One consequence of this is that the con artists and criminals of the time had to pick their prospective targets more carefully. Unlike today's scammers who can blast out to thousands or millions their claims of fast riches, unlikely enhancements, or impractical walls, the cons of yesteryear had to spend time on their marks. Therefore, they'd want to find someone worth targeting. And in 1888, apparently someone (or someones) thought that Mill Creek Hundred's David Eastburn was a worthwhile target. Two separate newspaper articles from that year (graciously supplied by Donna Peters) detail shady interactions with him.