AND NOW YOU KNOW — Attempted chloroforming of 2 teachers, an arrested bootlegger, 1 night 100 years ago

Published 12:22 am Friday, May 6, 2022

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Early on the morning of May 10, 1923, there was an attempt to chloroform two schoolteachers, the Misses Fannie and Mattie Callahan.

The crime occurred at 1103 Orange Avenue, the home of Lawrence Downey, where the two single ladies resided.

According to the Orange Daily Leader, “Sometime near 3:30 o’clock this morning (May 10) two men entered their room and attempted to chloroform them in an apparent effort to carry out their designs.”

Miss Fannie Callahan told Chief of Police D.V. Denman she was awakened when one of the men touched her shoulder.

She said she looked up into the face of a “burly man” standing over her. Crying out, she woke her sister and then saw that man and another smaller man jump through a window near her bed. The cries of the two women woke Mr. Downey, who came running into their room. Mr. Downey then called Chief Denman.

On arriving at the home, Chief Denman found on each woman’s pillow a handkerchief saturated with chloroform sufficient to have had the desired effect of rendering the ladies unconscious had the ladies not awakened. He also saw evidence that indicated where the two men had made their escape through the window of the bedroom.

The room was semi-darkened but the two teachers were able to give Chief Denman a fair description of the two men. There were also other clues that were expected to aid in the identification of the two invaders.

Also, that night, Elmer Dunlap of Orange was being held in the jail in Port Arthur awaiting transfer to the Jefferson County jail in Beaumont.

Dunlap had been arrested by Deputy Sheriff J.M. Foote of Jefferson County late Thursday (May 10) afternoon on the charge of transporting liquor.

Since the passage of the Volstead Act in 1920, the sale and/or transporting of liquor had been illegal in the United States. A formal complaint had been made at noon Friday morning (May 11).

Dunlap and three other men had been overtaken in a Ford touring car in Port Arthur about 6:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

In the car the officer found one and one-half cases of blended whiskey. According to Port Arthur Police Chief M.B, Word, Dunlap claimed ownership of the whiskey.

The other three men were released, Dunlap and his car were being held pending the disposition of the case against him.

Dunlap reportedly told Chief Ward and Deputy Sheriff Foote that he was an Orange County deputy sheriff. Orange County Sheriff J.W. Helton denied that Dunlap had ever held a commission as a deputy sheriff.

“Dunlap is not now or ever was a deputy sheriff, so far as I know,” Sheriff Helton stated.

“And now you know”

— Written by Mike Louviere