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Looking back: Moonshine arrests, Idahoan rescued at sea and former police chief pleads not guilty to embezzling

Looking Back

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EAST IDAHO — is looking back in time at what life was like during this week in history.

This week is Nov. 8 to Nov. 14.


RIGBY — A father and son were arrested after police discovered they were making moonshine in their home, The Rigby Star reported on Nov. 12, 1914.

William A. Glover, who worked in the secret service department of the U.S. Treasury, and Sheriff Harrop arrested Peter Swenson and his son, Henry.

“(They) also seized a quantity of stuff that was rapidly approaching that stage where it could be put on the market,” the paper explained.

Glover took Peter to Idaho Falls, where he had a hearing before a United States commissioner and was “bound over to appear before the next session of the United States court for this district.”

The paper said, “in the absence of a bond, he (Peter) will remain in jail.” Henry was released from custody after spending four days in jail.

Peter’s other son, James Swenson, was already in the Idaho Falls jail, charged with circulating counterfeit money.

It was thought that Peter was also engaged in the manufacture of “spurious silver” in Arizona, where he previously lived.

“After arriving here from the south some weeks since he evidently came to the conclusion that there was an opening in Idaho for ‘moonshine’ and he switched from counterfeiting to that business,” The Rigby Star said.


ST. ANTHONY — A man was on his way to St. Anthony when his car collided with a deer, the Idaho State Journal said on Nov. 9, 1949.

Clarence Ard of Fremont County had spent two days “tramping the mountains and canyons” hunting for a whitetail. The paper said he was tired and out of supplies so he returned home. The next night when he was driving a “big buck deer landed practically inside the car.”

“Ard jumped from the car, cut the deer’s throat, snapped on his deer tag and brought home the bacon,” the Idaho State Journal wrote.

Between the deer’s hoofs and roadside rocks, $360 was done in damage, according to the paper.

“It doesn’t always take a high-powered rifle to get your deer in Fremont County,” the paper said. “Sometimes an auto will do the trick — although the latter is likely to cost more than a rifle bullet.”


FORT HALL — An eastern Idaho man survived a ship fire and explosion followed by over 30 hours in an open lifeboat in “rough seas,” according to the Idaho State Journal.

Fort Hall local Walter R. Wilson was an assistant cook on the ship that was India-bound. He, along with other seamen, were rescued in the North Pacific on Nov. 8, 1951.

“The coast guard said revised reports on the Tuesday disaster at sea were that one man was killed in the explosion and fire on the American government-owned freighter; 30 have been rescued; five are missing and presumed drowned,” the paper reads.

Four of the missing died from a lifeboat that flipped over in the sea while “rescue operations were underway and safety seemed almost within the men’s reach.”

The last known survivors were found drifting in their lifeboat about 330 miles from Cape Flattery at 3 a.m., the Idaho State Journal reported. The Cape is the northwesternmost tip of the United States.

“All we’re in good condition despite their 35-hour ordeal of tossing like corks on the rough sea,” the paper added.


LAVA — A former Lava Hot Springs chief of police pleaded not guilty to three charges of embezzlement by a public officer.

The Idaho State Journal said on Nov. 8, 1977, that John C. Burris appeared before Sixth District Judge George Hargraves and entered his plea stemming from three separate incidents in 1975. He allegedly sold firearms belonging to the city of Lava to individuals in return for cash or payment from indebtedness, the paper explained.

The criminal complaint charges that Burris, who was then employed as acting chief of police in Lava, sold a Smith and Wesson .38 caliber revolver to a man in Aberdeen for $50, a Colt .38 caliber revolver to a man for “forgiveness of a debt” and a Colt .38 revolver to an American Falls man for $60.

“In his defense, Burris contends that he had received permission from Lava Mayor Buddy Campbell to sell at least one of the weapons,” the Idaho State Journal said. “Campbell denies that such permission was granted.”