Rev. Edgar F. Wheeler 21 Chicken Thieves

In the 1930’s, in the midst of the depression years, chicken thieves became a threat to farmers who raised chicIn the 1930’s, in the midst of the depression years, chicken thieves became a threat to farmers who raised chickens. The thieving became so rampant that the victimized farmers set about to foil or catch the criminals.

Dad rigged up a warning system that would arouse us at night if a thief was raiding the chicken house, for the crime was always carried out stealthily in the middle of the night. He placed a hinged board at the leading edge of the roost. “Fastened on the back side were metal wired clips that would contact another metal clip fastened to the roost. If contact was made, a warning signal would sound in the house. In addition, the door had a device that would set off the alarm when the door was opened.

One rainy, windy night the alarm sounded about 2:00 o’clock. Dad got us boys up and a plan was laid to circulate around the chicken house area to try to locate the thief or thieves. Dad himself was armed with a double-barreled 12-gauge shotgun. I wandered in the wrong direction and ran onto Dad with his gun. He was ready for action and fortunately discovered in time that it was I. Dad reprimanded me for not following orders and said, “I might have shot you!”

Clearly we had interrupted the offenders. Some distance from the chicken house we found a gunny sack of chickens ready to be picked up. We got in the car and drove down the road to see if there was a car waiting to pick up the loot. A mile east of home we ran across a romancing couple parked along the road. Dad pulled up alongside them and shined a light on them. I remember how terrified the girl looked facing an angry farmer at this time of night. I suspect that their courting habits may have changed after that episode.

At any rate, we did not find the culprits, though we did recover at least some of the chickens. About this time a close neighbor accosted tIn the 1930’s, in the midst of the depression years, chicken thieves became a threat to farmers who raised chickens. The thieving became so rampant that the victimized farmers set about to foil or catch the criminals.

Dad rigged up a warning system that would arouse us at night if a thief was raiding the chicken house, for the crime was always carried out stealthily in the middle of the night. He placed a hinged board at the leading edge of the roost. “Fastened on the back side were metal wired clips that would contact another metal clip fastened to the roost. If contact was made, a warning signal would sound in the house. In addition, the door had a device that would set off the alarm when the door was opened.

One rainy, windy night the alarm sounded about 2:00 o’clock. Dad got us boys up and a plan was laid to circulate around the chicken house area to try to locate the thief or thieves. Dad himself was armed with a double-barreled 12-gauge shotgun. I wandered in the wrong direction and ran onto Dad with his gun. He was ready for action and fortunately discovered in time that it was I. Dad reprimanded me for not following orders and said, “I might have shot you!”

Clearly we had interrupted the offenders. Some distance from the chicken house we found a gunny sack of chickens ready to be picked up. We got in the car and drove down the road to see if there was a car waiting to pick up the loot. A mile east of home we ran across a romancing couple parked along the road. Dad pulled up alongside them and shined a light on them. I remember how terrified the girl looked facing an angry farmer at this time of night. I suspect that their courting habits may have changed after that episode.

At any rate, we did not find the culprits, though we did recover at least some of the chickens. About this time a close neighbor accosted the culprit who was raiding his chicken house, who ran right up against the muzzle of the farmer’s shotgun. Fortunately for him, the farmer was so startled that he did not fire. The result would have been almost certain death. The guilty party escaped. It appears that the thieving involved too much danger to be pursued for very long. It was notable that other prisoners were said to regard chicken thieves as “the very lowest” of criminals. Was it because it lacked the glamour of rustling livestock, for instance? Or was it considered such a lowly crime to risk imprisonment? I was never near enough to those in such a circumstance to get “the inside story”. For us on the farm it was one of the factors we had to face–and not without some element of surprise. Life on the farm was not as mundane as some people suspect.

The culprit who was raiding his chicken house, who ran right up against the muzzle of the farmer’s shotgun. Fortunately for him, the farmer was so startled that he did not fire. The result would have been almost certain death. The guilty party escaped. It appears that the thieving involved too much danger to be pursued for very long. It was notable that other prisoners were said to regard chicken thieves as “the very lowest” of criminals. Was it because it lacked the glamour of rustling livestock, for instance? Or was it considered such a lowly crime to risk imprisonment? I was never near enough to those in such a circumstance to get “the inside story”. For us on the farm it was one of the factors we had to face–and not without some element of surprise. Life on the farm was not as mundane as some people suspect.
kens. The thieving became so rampant that the victimized farmers set about to foil or catch the criminals.

Dad rigged up a warning system that would arouse us at night if a thief was raiding the chicken house, for the crime was always carried out stealthily in the middle of the night. He placed a hinged board at the leading edge of the roost. “Fastened on the back side were metal wired clips that would contact another metal clip fastened to the roost. If contact was made, a warning signal would sound in the house. In addition, the door had a device that would set off the alarm when the door was opened.

One rainy, windy night the alarm sounded about 2:00 o’clock. Dad got us boys up and a plan was laid to circulate around the chicken house area to try to locate the thief or thieves. Dad himself was armed with a double-barreled 12-gauge shotgun. I wandered in the wrong direction and ran onto Dad with his gun. He was ready for action and fortunately discovered in time that it was I. Dad reprimanded me for not following orders and said, “I might have shot you!”

Clearly we had interrupted the offenders. Some distance from the chicken house we found a gunny sack of chickens ready to be picked up. We got in the car and drove down the road to see if there was a car waiting to pick up the loot. A mile east of home we ran across a romancing couple parked along the road. Dad pulled up alongside them and shined a light on them. I remember how terrified the girl looked facing an angry farmer at this time of night. I suspect that their courting habits may have changed after that episode.

At any rate, we did not find the culprits, though we did recover at least some of the chickens. About this time a close neighbor accosted the culprit who was raiding his chicken house, who ran right up against the muzzle of the farmer’s shotgun. Fortunately for him, the farmer was so startled that he did not fire. The result would have been almost certain death. The guilty party escaped. It appears that the thieving involved too much danger to be pursued for very long. It was notable that other prisoners were said to regard chicken thieves as “the very lowest” of criminals. Was it because it lacked the glamour of rustling livestock, for instance? Or was it considered such a lowly crime to risk imprisonment? I was never near enough to those in such a circumstance to get “the inside story”. For us on the farm it was one of the factors we had to face–and not without some element of surprise. Life on the farm was not as mundane as some people suspect.

Next Chapter: https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/rev-edgar-f-wheeler-22-a-sleuth-in-the-family/

Return to Table of Contents: https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/memoires-of-rev-edgar-f-wheeler-table-of-contents/

 

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s