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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago: Angry mob of loggers seeks camp cook

A gang of loggers were angrily seeking the camp cook, suspected of sprinkling their Sunday dinners with concentrated lye. (Spokesman-Review archives)
A gang of loggers were angrily seeking the camp cook, suspected of sprinkling their Sunday dinners with concentrated lye. (Spokesman-Review archives)

About 80 angry loggers – some of them recovering from brutal stomachaches – formed a lynching party to track down and punish the camp cook.

The cook at Bear Creek, above Troy, Idaho, was apparently disgruntled for some reason. He prepared a Sunday chicken dinner for the 80 loggers and abruptly resigned and walked out of the camp.

The unsuspecting loggers ate the chicken. They were soon taken sick, “some violently so.”

A doctor at the hospital at Bovill, Idaho, treated the men and examined the leftover chicken. He discovered it had been “sprinkled with concentrated lye.”

The poisoned men – at least those who had recovered sufficiently – immediately formed a search party.

No trace of the cook was found. The authorities had now taken over the search.

From the draft beat: The Spokane County sheriff was startled when he came across a draft board questionnaire in which Robert Carl Lewis of Medical Lake listed his occupation as “expert bank robber.”

The sheriff immediately looked into the situation, since someone had robbed the First National Bank of Medical Lake of $14,000 a few months earlier.

As it turned out, Lewis had been telling the truth. He was currently serving time in an Arkansas prison for robbing an Arkansas bank. It was possible that he also robbed the Medical Lake bank, since it happened just after he filled out the questionnaire and just before he was caught and jailed for the Arkansas robbery. The sheriff was investigating further.

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