August 1, 1907




Represented to R. A. Long That He
Would Give Him a Write-Up
in a Magazine and Was
Given a Check
for $750.
Oliver Smith, a Man of Many Names
Brought From Denver to Answer the
Charge of Victimizing R. A. Long.

Oliver Smith, alias H. O. Lee, alias Benton Smith, alias O. B. Smith, alias S. H. Peabody, alias James T. Ridgeway, said to be one of the cleverst swindlers and forgers in the United States, was brought to Kansas City yesterday by Detective Thomas McAnany, after waiving extradition.
Smith is wanted here to answer a sort of confidence game he is said to have worked upon many wealthy men all over the country. He represente dto Mr. Long that he was James T. Ridgeway, treasurer of the Ridgeway Publishing Company, publishers of Everybody's magazine. He contracted for an illustrated article, of which Mr. Long was to be the subject, to be printed in that periodical at an early date. In payment, Mr. Long gave him his check for $750 drawn on the National Bank of Commerce, which Smith indorsed as "James T. Ridgeway, Treasurer," and cashed through the Bankers' Trust Compay. Mr. Long later became suspicious fo the man and ordered the check cancelled, but not until Smith had obtained most of the money and gone to Denver.
Smith is said to have worked this game upon scores of wealthy men all over the country. His plan seems to have been to represent himself as the agent for a large publication, to which he obtains subscriptions, asking amounts that varied as the means fo the intended victim were small or great. He is supposed to have carried a list with him containing the names of the prominent men of the city he intended to work, and from these to have culledo ut the prospects that bade fair to be the best "picking." When arrested in Denver he was occupying a suxurious suite of rooms at the largest hotel there. He made no resistance to arrest when the Denver detectives found him, but quietly admitted his identity and acknowledged the transaction with Mr. Long in Kansas City. He is said also to have acknowledged to the chief of the Denver police that he had planned to swindle some of the leading capitalists of that city.
In his trunk were found memoranda of the men he intended to victimize, forged letters of introduction bearing the signature of W. H. Moore, head of the Rock Island railroad, and George F. Baker, an Eastern banker, and letters of indorsement purporting to be written by men like John D. Rockerfeller, J. Pierpont Morgan, Elihu Root, and others. The forgeries were clever and likely to deceive even those familiar with the handwriting of the originals. In his room at the Denver hotel were found eight different kinds of ink with which he is said to have forged countless names.

It seems that the man's favorite game was to enter a city, select his victims, present his bogus credentials and attempt to secure subscriptions for magazine articles. Of adroit address, and armed with his forged letters of introduction, he was able to impose upon the cleverest businessmen, and relied largely upon their reluctance to tell the story to get him out of danger. In Denver he is said to have presented himself as representing the New York Herald Publishing Association, Syndicate of Fifty Representative Newspapers, Temple H. Hamilton, treasurer, and the "Men of the Time," from "Everybody's," S. H. Peabody, secretary. In Kansas City he passed as James T. Ridgeway, treasurer of the Ridgeway Publishing Company. It was under the last title that he obtained the check from R. A. Long.
Among the past victims of the man are said to be Melville E. Stone, manager of the Associated Press, General Russell A. Alger, and Jesse Seligman, the New York banker. He is said to have served time in Sing Sing and the Minnesota and Ohio state penitentiaries for forgery. After his arrest in Denver he confessed his identity to Chief of Police Delaney and freely admitted that he was the notorious swindler and forger. In the Kansas City prison yesterday, however, he repudiated his interviews in the Denver papers and declared that he was not guilty of the gorgeries named. He admitted getting the money from Mr. Long, but claimed that he had made a bona fide contract and that he had signed his own name to the check given him in payment. Asked why he had given his name as Smith both here and at denver he said he was drunk and registered at the Savoy and Albany hotels in the two cities through a prank. He contradicted himself several times in his statements ot the newspaper reporters, however, and practically admitted everything he had been charged with.

An interesting light was thrown upon his method of working by a memorandum list found among his possessions, containing names of leading capitalists of Denver and remarks upon the best means of getting at them. Names only of important business men were selected and these were labeled with a running fire of comment that indicated his thorough familiarity with the personal charactaristics of each.
While in this city he was accompanied by a woman he says was his wife, who has disappeared since the news of his arrest in Denver.
"Our agency is well acquainted with this man, whom we consider one of the cleverest criminals in the United States, said John A. Gustafson, assistant superintendent of the local Pinkerton office, "and our records are full of accounts of his misdeeds. He began his operations as an expert 'write-up man,' as we term the swindlers who use his peculiar method of operation, in New York in 1902. From there he went to Philadelphia in 1903, and pulled off one deal that netted him $10,000. From there he went to Cleveland, O., where he was caught uttering a forged check, and was given eight months in the county workhouse. In the fall of 1903 he was caught trying to work General Russel A. Alger on the write-up game in Detroit, Mich. After he got out of prison in Michigan he pulled off another little affair in New York, which got him a sentence in Sing Sing. He was liberated from there a few months ago, to turn up here in Kansas City at his old game."

That he is no ordinary swindler, the manner Smith "listed" his Denver victims is hsown in the following memoranda taken from his pocket when he was approached by the Denver police:
Senator Walsh -- Telephone him to his country place and then go out. Has a secretary who is a tough one.
Senator Guggenheim -- Just elected United States senator. Will make a splurge.
A. D. Parker -- Vice president Colorado & Southern. Is reputed to be worth $15,000,000, all made in mining. He has the distinciton of being the only man that grub staked a miner for twenty years, who after a number of years of hard luck finally won out. A great deal has been written about him in newspapers in this conneciton.
J. J. Hentry -- Again on his feet promoting sugar beet factories. Likes publicity.
E. J. Wilcox -- President of railroad and mining companies. Was at one time a minister and is probably worth $5,000,000. Is a good fellow and likes publicity.
John F. Campion -- Mining man' probably stands the highest of any man in the mining game in Colorado. Worth about $5,000,000. Does not care particularly about publicity, but has had several steel plates and is known to subscribe to everything. Always winters at Los Angeles, where he is a heavy investor and associates with millionaires of the East.
Thomas F. Daly -- Insurance president, good fellow; has made a million in a few years in insurance and mining.
Otto Mears -- Railroad and mining. Well known character in Colorado. Has the title "Pathfinder of the San Juan." Dont think he has over $500,000.
J. A. Thatcher -- President of bank; a good fellow and worth about $5,000,000.