“The National Board of Fire Underwriters has offered a reward of $500 for the apprehension and conviction of the parties responsible for the burning of the Lakeside brewery plant at Auburn, N. Y., Sept. 14, 1904. The plant is owned by the Bartels Brewing Co., of Syracuse, N. Y., and was bought for $16,500. The insurance was $50,000, but the secretary of the firm states that considerable improvements were made since the purchase. The fire was extinguished before it had gained much headway. Concerning the alleged incendiary attempt, it is stated that barrels of kerosene and gasoline had been emptied on the floors, that holes had been chopped through the latter through which ropes saturated with oil dangled down, and that benzene in open receptacles stood around. The gas was turned on all over the building. A local politician, who had worked at the Lakeside plant, is sought after in connection with the affair.”
This was an article as reported in the AMERICAN BREWERS’ REVIEW IN 1904. I found it interesting and did a little research. Who did the deed? Why? Was the culprit caught? The National Board of Fire Underwriters no longer exists as it was absorbed by the Insurance Services Organization in 1971. No records could be obtained from them. My first obstacle in gathering information was the name of the brewery. As it turns out, the original report had the brewery’s name wrong. It was Lake Shore Brewery instead of Lakeside. The Cayuga County Historian’s Office was most helpful in providing the information via digital newspaper articles.
Syracuse Telegram 5/9/1905
CHAIN OF CIRCUMSTANCES INVOLVES THE WELL KNOWN BREWER IN ITS MESHES – Dippold confesses “I speak in demand of a speedy trial. I want this matter disposed off at once. I am, innocent of the charge and have no knowledge of the facts upon which it is based.” —Herman Bartels at Auburn. Herman Bartels was principal owner of the old Lake Shore brewery plant at Auburn. His company bought it under a forced sale. John Dippold, ward politician in Syracuse, was in Mr. Bartels’ employ and he strangely disappeared the day subsequent to the fire. The Lake Shore brewery was not a paying property. A major part of the building had been unoccupied some time. The insurance upon the building was larger than the price paid for it and that upon the stock greater than the value warranted. Insurance companies canceled all policies held upon the property just after the building was found filled with headless barrels of oil, cans of benzine and benzine soaked rope. Underwriters are said to have made a thorough inquiry into the case at the time. John Dippold was missing nearly eight months. The police of several cities hunted high and low for him and finally Pinkerton sleuths were brought into the chase. Prominent city officials, both in Syracuse and Auburn, are deeply interested in the case. In Dippold’s confession there are said to be some startling disclosures.
Syracuse Telegram 5/15/1905
DID BARTELS MEET DIPPOLD AT CAMILLUS? It was stated this morning by persons professionally Interested in the sensational arson case that the little village of Camillus, lying six miles west of this city, would furnish some of the most Important witnesses when Herman Bartels is brought to trial. The prosecution is quietly but determinedly working to obtain some evidence to bear out the statement of John Dlppold, who swore that Mr. Bartels, Mr. Martin L. Whittig and William O’Hara were implicated in the plot to burn the Lake Shore malt house. Fear is expressed by those engaged by the prosecution that Whittig will be able to avoid the net of the Cayuga county police, and it will be Impossible to bring about a conviction if there are no witnesses to bear out Dlppold’s statement. Dippold in his confession declared that after the discovery of the attempt to burn the brewery and when he was avoiding the police he met the brewer at Camillus by appointment and at that time received some cast off clothing, along with Instructions to clear out at once. Dlppold, it is said, has turned over to the Auburn authorities a coat which he alleges he received In Camillus. The claim was made this morning that there will be several witnesses called who saw Dlppold in Camillus. The Auburn police are also in possession of some letters which he received while traveling about the country to keep out of the reach of the authorities. Dlppold was about this morning calling upon relatives, whom he had not seen since he skipped out. He is in a perfectly contented frame of mind apparently, as is Mrs. Dlppold, and ready to testify whenever called. When seen by a Telegram reporter this morning, Mrs. Dippold said: “We don’t care to have anything more said in the newspapers. We can prove our stories when the time comes.” It is evident from this remark that Mrs. Dippold expects to be called to corroborate some of her husband’s statements. It is understood that much of the expenseof collecting evidence is being met by Insurance companies.
Syracuse Telegram 5/15/1905
Two insurance companies have been busy for the past week investigating the fires which occurred last fall in Liverpool, and an attempt has been made to connect the origin of two of them at least with the attempted arson of the Lake Shore brewery at Auburn. The investigation has been carried on by paid sleuths of the law, assisted by two local officers, one of whom has become identified with the case by his efforts to apprehend John Dippold and Martin L. Whittig. There were several attempts made last fall to burn the town hall at Liverpool. Several other buildings were set afire and one building burned. Rumors were frequently heard which traced the origin of the fires to a saloon or hotel in the little hamlet. The remarks were nothing but rumors until the confession of John Dippold in regard to the Lake Shore brewery laid bare the deepest arson plot ever known to Onondaga or Cayuga counties. Since that time the net has been drawn closely about the Liverpool fires to discover, if possible, their origin. The Liverpool inhabitants are divided as to opinion. Some say it was a local firebug, and others speak of the saloon and remark that there may have been some connection between the attempted blaze at Auburn and the many attempted fires at Liverpool. The investigation is still on today, and no statements could be secured from those connected with the work of the insurance companies.
Syracuse Telegram 5/1905
INDICT BARTELS AND O’HARA Indictments for arson, third degree in the alleged attempt to burn the old Lake Shore brewery property at Auburn last September, the Cayuga county grand jury today against Herman Bartels, sr., and William O’Hara. saloonkeeper, of this city.
RELENTLESS PURSUIT Upon the best of authority, however, It is stated today that Whittig is to be relentlessly pursued, and that sooner or later he will be caught. The insurance companies, It is said, are satisfied that there has been a deep laid plot for the wholesale burning of buildings for Insurance, and that neither time, expense nor pains should be spared to make examples of those figuring in the present case. Indignation in the matter runs high in Auburn at the present time. The whole community is aroused. This applies in a measure to Syracuse, and local insurance men are going over their books and figuring up how many suspicious saloon fires there have been in this city in the past few years. Mr. Bartels has his friends who side with him. And, on the contrary, there are others whose feeling toward him is bitter. It is stated that in the grist of evidence in the case presented to the Cayuga county grand jury Information was given to the effect that in a fire of suspicious origin here not long ago, a two year old child was burned to death. Other things were told of an equally serious nature.
No indictment was found against Mrs. Martin L.. Whittlg. whose husband’s present whereabouts are unknown. It was just before noon when the jury finished its session of eight days and reported to the court. Mr. Bartels and Mr. O’Hara heard the news quickly at a hotel, and at once went to the court house to learn what time court, would reconvene that they might furnish bail. A Geneva brewer. Nester, who is a friend of Mr. Bartels, and who has been in Auburn with the two men since early this morning, reported that he would sign their bonds for or any amount the court might specify. A question I asked about the city was when bench warrants are likely to be Issued. PROSECUTION RUSHED. It has been with clocklike precision that the sensational case has been rushed by the prosecution, and the findings of the grand jury are not exactly surprising to those who have followed the train of events in the affair since Tuesday. It was not until yesterday morning— or late Tuesday evening—that the case was presented to the grand jury, which was then finishing its labors. The latter was taken up immediately, and it is said the prosecution did not present all of its evidence, but just enough to ensure the finding of bills. There has been talk in Auburn today that Mayor Thomas M. Osborn, who personally paid the private detectives who traced and arrested John Dlppold, has another detective on the tail of Martin Whittig and that he may be arrested soon. A Telegram representative questioned the mayor about the case today, and he said: “You will remember that last fall the district attorney’s office and I had a controversy in regard to whose duty It was to investigate the attempted fire— whether it was that of the police department, or the district attorney’s office. The attempt to burn the brewery was a conspiracy in which thousands of dollars worth of property might have been burned and many lives endangered. I was interested in the matter, and when I saw that the district attorney’s office was content to let the matter drop I employed the private detectives, paying them personally.” “Is it true that you have a detective after Whittig?” the mayor was asked. “It is not,” was the reply.
New York Press 5/12/1909
HERMAN BARTELS, SR , FREE. Wealthy Brewer Leaves Prison with Plans for a Big Consolidation. SYRACUSE. N. Y., May 11.—Herman Bartels. Sr., millionaire brewer, was released from the Auburn State prison today and he returned at once to his home in this city. He was in the prison for fourteen months and nine days. He said that in his cell he had worked out a plan for the consolidation of brewing interests in Central and Northern New York and that he expected to execute it with little difficulty. Bartels also came out of prison with plans drafted by himself for the remodeling of his malt house in Auburn. He was arrested on May 1, 1906 on a charge of attempted arson. It was alleged he attempted to burn his Lake Shore Brewery, in Auburn, and on April 28. 1908, he was convicted on the charge. He was released on bail and three days later failed to appear in court to receive sentence. On October 30, 1906, the $6,000 bond was forfeited. On May 3, 1907, he was arrested at Niagara Falls, Ontario, on an Indictment for perjury. Extradition proceedings still, were pending on July 4, 1907 when he escaped from Toronto Jail. Twelve days later he was recaptured. He pleaded guilty to Jail breaking, and a Canadian Judge imposed a sentence of three months’ imprisonment. Bartels served the full time and In November, 1907, was extradited. On March 2, 1908, he was sentenced in Auburn to not less than fourteen months and not more than nineteen months In Auburn prison. On his arrival in his home in the exclusive quarter of this city, Bartels readily consented to an interview. He assorted that before he left prison he had opened negotiations with the heads of several large brewing corporations with a view of a big consolidation.