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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in the Inland Northwest: Republic train agent testifies against Ferry County sheriff in bootlegging case

On this day 100 years ago, R.F. Carpenter, the Great Northern railroad station in Republic, testified against the Ferry County sheriff and other men in a highly publicized bootlegging case.  (S-R archives)
On this day 100 years ago, R.F. Carpenter, the Great Northern railroad station in Republic, testified against the Ferry County sheriff and other men in a highly publicized bootlegging case. (S-R archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

R.F. Carpenter, the Great Northern railroad station agent at Republic, turned state’s evidence and testified that he accepted bribes from two rum-runners – and he did so at the urging of Ferry County Sheriff Thomas Barker.

This was the most damaging testimony in the federal trial in which the sheriff and two other Ferry County men were charged with aiding and abetting bootleggers.

Carpenter was the man who was supposed to check trunks and baggage coming down from Canada to see if they contained smuggled liquor. He said the sheriff once paid him a visit at the depot and made some incriminating comments.

“He (Barker) said there might be some men along with trunks and that they might offer me some money, and that he could see no objections to my taking it,” testified Carpenter. “I suggested to Mr. Barker that the trunks might contain whisky. He said they might. Then I asked him how much money he thought the men would offer me. He said they should offer $20 or $25.”

About three weeks later, these men showed up and offered Carpenter $25. He took it.

Carpenter was later offered immunity if he would turn state’s evidence. He took it.

From the reservation beat: Large numbers of people were expected to file applications for land on the Colville Indian Reservation in a few days, when it would be “thrown open for filing to the general public.”

Former service members had already been given priority and a few had already filed. But now a “great number of cattle and sheep men,” from all across the country, were expected to file.

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