State of Nebraska - Genealogy Trails







      Sale Of Liquor To Indians

      Case in Federal Court Involves Root of Reservation Problems

      Saloon Men Charged with Conspiracy

      Homer Liquor Dealers Accused of Paying Commission to Bootleggers Who Dealt Directly with the Red Man

        The trial of Sherman Ennis and Ed Lockhart, saloonist of Homer, Nebraska on the charge of conspiring with Frank Orr and other alleged bootleggers for the sale of liquor to Indians on the Winnebago Reservation, was begun before Judge Munger in the United States district court yesterday.  The contention of the government is that evidence will be forthcoming to show that a commission of 10 cents per pint for whisky and 5 cents per bottle of beer was to be paid the bootleggers for what liquor they succeeded in selling to the Indians, and in some instances the commission on whisky went higher. The average amount exacted from the Indians for the pints of whisky was all the way from 75 cents up to any amount that they could be persuaded to pay.

        The government will further undertake to show that ‘bull pens’ or enclosures were built at the rear of all saloons, whereby the Indians were secure from observation and could indulge their orgies without interruption. The fences of these pens were so high and closely built that they could not be looked over by the ordinary street passer.

        Attorneys for the defense propose to show that there was no conspiracy between the defendant saloonist and bootleggers to supply Indians with liquor and that the so called ‘bull pens’ were erected pursuant to the direction of the village board of trustees as ‘nuisance enclosures’ at the rear of all licensed saloons and were for no other purpose.

        Testimony Already Taken

        The first witness for the government was S. B. Barnes, chairman of the village board of trustees of Homer. His testimony bore particularly upon the granting of a license to the defendants during the years 1903 and 1904 for selling liquor in the village of Homer.

        W. S. Mansfeld, justice of the peace and former member of the village board, testified relative to a barn on his premises overlooking the ‘bull pen,’ and that he had seen numbers of Indians in the pen at divers times, and that its main entrance was by a rear door of the saloon, and an exit was in the alley at the rear of the saloon. This particular bull pen was about 15x20 feet in size. He testified further to having seen ‘Featherlegs’ on one occasion in January, 1904, pass some been from the saloon out to the bull pen, evidently to Indians gathered in the pen. He did not see any exchange of money for the beer, either in its purchase or sale.

        Saw Indian Buy Whisky

        George O. Holbrook, a cattleman of Onawa, Ia., who was a frequent visitor to Homer during the year 1903, testified that he was in the saloon of Luikhart and Ennis on two or three occasions, and that at one time he saw a pint bottle of whisky sold to an Indian by the bartender, for which the Indian paid 60 cents. The Indian called for the whisky, paid for it and was taken into a little side room, and as he came out the witness saw the bottle of whisky in the Indian’s hand as he was putting it into his pocket. He stood right beside the Indian when the sale was made. On another occasion the witness saw liquor bought at the bar by bootleggers in bottles and immediately taken out into the bull pen and turned over to Indians. He noticed also at different times that many of the Indians who were in the bull pens were under the influence of liquor, and that drunken Indians were constantly going and coming out of the bull pens of Homer.

        Mr. Holbrook was subjected to a rigid cross examination by W. S. Summers, but his evidence was not shaken in the least.

        The next witness was Frank Orr, a bootlegger, who was indicted< jointly with Luikhart and Ennis for conspiracy and who has since pleaded guilty in the indictment and is now awaiting sentence in the Douglas county jail.

        Attorney Summers for the defense objected to the testimony of this witness on the ground that he was a party defendant to the case now on trial and was consequently an incompetent witness. The court overruled the objection, and the examination of the witness was proceeded with.

        Orr Tells of the Conspiracy

        The evidence of Orr was in effect that he first became acquainted with Luikhart and Ennis at Homer in the year 1906. In the summer of that year he entered into an agreement with Luikhart and Ennis to sell liquor to the Indians for them at commission. He described the bull pens at the rear of the saloons as places especially devoted for the Indians’ us in which to buy liquor and to get drunk in. He frequently sold liquor to both Winnebago and Omaha Indians. There was a side room to the saloon, where the whisky was kept in barrels, and many of the sales were made in this room, at least most of the whisky came from this room, and was delivered by him to the Indians out in the bull pen. Speaking of his talk with Ennis , he said:

        “Ennis asked me to sell whisky for him to the Indians as well as beer. I told him I would. He said he would pay me 10 cents for each pint of whisky or alcohol I sold to the Indians; 45 cents for each half gallon and 60 cents for each gallon, and 5 cents for each quart bottle of beer. I went to work on those terms. I would go out and make the kicker with the Indians who were in the bull pen, get their money, bring it in and pay it over to Ennis or Luikhart, and they would pay me my commission and then give me the liquor and I would take it out and give it to the Indians. My contract with Luikhart was the same as with Ennis, and I did the same business for him. I continued in this business off and on until April, 1904”

        The witness then gave the name of several Indians to whom he had sold liquor under this arrangement. Among them were Joe Johnson, Henry Hardy, Henry Decorah, Louis Grayhair, Prosper Armell, James Yellowback and others who named he could not recall.

        Use of the Bull Pen

        Witness also arranged with other Indians to steer Indians up to the bull pen that he might sell liquor to them. Luikhart had told him to pay the steering committee of Indians for their services in whisky.

        I was to try to sell to all the Indians these others brought to the bull pen, continued the witness. I worked for Luikhart and Ennis after the saloon was burned out in January, 1904, up to April, and then I went away for a while and came back and went to work again on the same terms September 1, 1904. All the sales I made were made in the bull pen. The Indians always came into the bull pen by the alley way. My commissions were paid to me sometimes by Ennis and sometimes by Luikhart. I was arrested on September 21, 1904. That same day I had sold liquor to Indians, Prosper Armell and Jim Yellowback were two of the Indians who brought Indians to the bull pen for me to sell liquor to. I was told to always give Yellowback and Armell liquor whenever they came to town. Sometimes I gave them a pint and sometimes a half gallon of whisky or alcohol, whichever they wanted. They were not required to pay for it; the liquor was given to them by order of Luikhart, for whom I was working at the time I was arrested.

        Orr was still on the stand when the 5 o’clock hour for adjournment came.

        The Trial was then continued over until Monday morning at 9 o’clock. The witnesses were directed to remain in town until Monday, when the hearing will be resumed. There are upward of thirty witnesses to be examined.

        Federal Court Notes

        All the members of the petit jury not engaged in the trial of the saloon conspiracy cases have been discharged and returned to their homes yesterday.

        Deputy Marshal John Sides came down from Dakota City Thursday with several additional witnesses in the saloon conspiracy cases.

        The Omaha Bee
        February 18, 1905