Evansville’s 1916 Election Fraud

There were accusations of voter fraud by both parties during Evansville’s 1916 election. Indictments were filed against 42 defendants, including Chief of Police Edgar Schmitt, motorcycle officer Ben Bartlett, saloonkeeper Dick Pennington, Jim Boner, and newly appointed detective Ernest Tidrington—the only black detective connected with the Evansville Police Department at the time. U.S. District Court case #418 (Sallie et al), charging violation of the election laws, was filed on February 14, 1917.

Each defendant (who was not released on their own recognizance) was required to post bond. What’s interesting is who posted those bonds—a who’s who list of Evansville’s elites including Mayor Bosse; Gus C Meyer, Vice-President of the Evansville Brewing Association and Sterling Products Co; Francis J. Reitz, President of City National Bank; Henry J. Karges, President of the Board of Public Safety and Treasurer of the New Vendome Hotel; Jacob Hartz, Manager of cigar and tobacco shops in the McCurdy and New Vendome Hotels; Henry Korff, Manager of the Bosse Coal Co; John Wimberg, Clerk of the Board of Public Safety; William Elmendorf, City Comptroller; and John Nolan, Postmaster of Evansville.