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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

Wed., Jan. 2, 2013

From our archives, 100 years ago

Arthur Beck, one of the most notorious robbers in Spokane history, was recaptured in Chehalis, Wash., six months after he escaped from a Fargo, N.D., prison.

He was first captured in 1911 in his Lidgerwood Park-area home after a furious gunbattle and hand-to-hand combat. He had “a criminal record that read like a dime novel,” and was wanted on warrants from St. Paul, Minn., to Spokane. His trial created headlines when three wives showed up, each claiming to be the lawful one. 

He was sent to prison in North Dakota but escaped in 1912 after sawing through a bar and knocking a guard senseless. 

He assumed the name Tom Smith, and got up to his usual tricks in Tacoma and Chehalis. He was sneaking into railroad cars as they were about to leave the city, dumping butter out by the tracks, and then coming back to collect it and sell it.

From the vaudeville beat: Lily Langtry, the famous British singer and actress, was performing at the Orpheum in Spokane in a play called “The Test.” She was notorious in her younger days as a mistress to royalty, but according to the Spokane Daily Chronicle, she was occupying her time between shows in Spokane by making “long tramps over Cannon Hill for fresh air and exercise.”

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