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100 years ago in the Inland Northwest: Business partner tells of death threats in fraudulent bonds trial

Jay Hough recalled threats made against him by John Milholland as part of a fraudulent bond scheme on April 19, 1921.  (S-R archives)
Jay Hough recalled threats made against him by John Milholland as part of a fraudulent bond scheme on April 19, 1921. (S-R archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

“You yellow cur, I have a good notion to kill you now.”

That’s what John Milholland told Jay Hough, his business partner, when he grabbed him by the throat and ordered him to sign more fraudulent bonds.

At least, that’s what Hough told the court during his trial on charges of defrauding a Kellogg mining man of nearly $400,000. Milholland’s account of the story was absent, since Milholland had shot himself when police came to arrest him.

Hough said he participated in the scheme only under duress from the unbalanced and often violent Milholland. After Milholland grabbed him by the throat, Hough got free and ran to the door and found it locked.

“You can’t get away from me,” said Milholland. “I’ll have to have some more bonds signed and you have got to do it.”

Then, in Hough’s account, Milholland pulled a gun and ordered him to sign the bonds or he would kill Hough and Hough’s in-laws, who Milholland hated for some reason.

This was only one of several threatening episodes recounted by Hough.

And Hough said he wasn’t the only person who had been attacked by Milholland. He said Milholland tried to kill his own wife at Hayden Lake.

Hough was caught in Milholland’s web as soon as he had signed the first fraudulent bond. After that, Milholland told him that, legally, “it wouldn’t make any difference if he signed a few thousand more.”

From the gusher beat: South Hill residents were gripped by a case of oil mania after a family on Southeast Boulevard reported several gallons of “heavy oil containing a high percentage of gasoline” had seeped into their basement.

Rumors swirled through the neighborhood that they were all sitting on a vast, lucrative oil deposit. The price of land in the area immediately jumped.

“There is no doubt but they have struck oil and struck it rich,” said one neighbor.

However, the family later debunked that story. They said the oil had apparently leaked from a nearby gas station.

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