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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in the Inland Northwest: The widow of a fraud suspect painted him in a new light when she took the stand

 (S-R archives)
(S-R archives)

Mrs. John B. Milholland caused a sensation when she took the stand in the Jay Hough fraud trial.

She defended her late husband, partially undercutting Hough’s assertion that he participated in the fraud only because his business partner, Milholland, was unstable, violent and threatening.

“Mr. Milholland had a nice disposition,” his wife said. “I lived with him for six years and never threatened to get a divorce.”

She also attempted to refute the claims of another witness that Milholland once tried to kill her. She said that on that occasion in Hayden Lake, Milholland demanded admission to her room and she refused.

“Mr. Milholland was drunk and we had a discussion, but he never laid hands on me,” she said. “… I probably was very angry and much annoyed, and I may have said that he acted like a beast.”

But he never harmed her, she said, and he was “kind and affectionate on all occasions except when drinking.”

“Before Mr. Milholland killed himself, he told me that although Hough forged the bonds he was equally responsible,” she said, in an interview with The Spokesman-Review. “(He) said that he could not live and face his best friend, Jim Callahan (the victim of the fraud), who had done so much for him.”

From the oil gusher beat: Dreams of oil riches on the South Hill were quashed when it was determined that the oil that seeped into a basement was apparently from a leaky nearby gas station.

The price of land in the area had briefly jumped on rumors that a vast oil deposit was about to make everyone rich.

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