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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

100 years ago in Spokane: Mining magnate ducks the law

James Callahan, determined to avoide a summons, ducked a stakeout by Montana deputy sheriffs and slipped back to Spokane. (Nathanael Massey / The Spokesman-Review)
James Callahan, determined to avoide a summons, ducked a stakeout by Montana deputy sheriffs and slipped back to Spokane. (Nathanael Massey / The Spokesman-Review)

James Callahan, millionaire mine owner and Wallace resident, cleverly escaped an all-night vigil by a squad of three deputy sheriffs in Missoula.

The deputies were attempting to serve a summons on Callahan on a $200,000 lawsuit. Clifford Merritt, an aggrieved ex-husband, was suing Callahan for stealing the affections of his wife. Merritt claimed that Callahan had offered his wife a million dollars to leave Merritt and run off with him.

Callahan vehemently denied the charges and was determined not to allow the summons to be served on him. He went to Missoula and camped out in the house of a friend. Deputies took up a vigil outside the house, but Callahan vowed to stay inside until the deputies gave up and left.

The deputies stayed outside all night in freezing temperatures. Only the next morning did they realize that Callahan had snuck out and was already in Spokane, giving interviews to reporters.

He told reporters that there was no truth to the allegations that he had alienated the affections of Merritt’s wife. She had divorced Merritt three years before and married Callahan only the previous year.

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