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About The Columbus journal. (Columbus, Neb.) 1874-1911 | View Entire Issue (Oct. 26, 1911)
Columbus Tribune -Journal
The Tribune Printing Company
Admitted at the Postofflce at Columbus, Nebr., as second class matter
ALBERT J. MASON. Editor.
MJXiLARD & BINNET. Business Manager.
CHESTER J. MASON. Circulation Manager.
Kstlee to Sabaerffeera.
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For Judges of the Supreme Court
Charles B. Letton.
Francis G. Hamer.
William B. Rose.
For Regents of State University
Victor G. Lyford.
Frank L. Haller.
For Railway Commissioner Thomas L. Hall.
For County Treasurer Daniel Schram.
For Clerk of District Court Christian M. Gruenther.
For County Clerk John S. Hayes.
For County Judge T. DeWitt Robison.
For County Superintendent Gideon Braun.
For County Surveyor F. W. Edwards.
Anent the County Superintendent
Some of the democratic papers last week, in speak
ing of the candidates for county superintendent, appear
to think that there is only one man in Platte county that
could under any stretch of imagination be considered fit
for this office. We giant that the schools have been
well taken care of in the past, during the administra
tions of Superintendents Leavy and Rothleitner, and we
might also add Superintendents Cramer, Tedrow, Mont
crief, C. A. Speice and others who have held the position,
as well as Mr. Lecron.
Even some men who are accredited being above tiny
tricks do funny things sometimes. In his paper last week
Mr. Gruenther, who, by the way is on both tickets, al
lowed his zeal for the democratic part to run away with
him, and suggests that the county superintendent's office
should be nonpartisan, and therefore republicans and de
mocrats alike should support the democratic candidate.
In view of the fact that Mr. Gruenther received and ac
cepted a place on the republican ticket, this action at
his time, comes with particularly bad grace. He should
at least preserve a showing of neutrality as between the
candidates on the county ticket.
As regards the competency of Mr. Braun, the fol
lowing letter has been received at this office from a
prominent teacher of this county, who for several years
has worked with him and knows his qualifications.
Columbus, Nebraska, October 24, 1911.
To the Editor of The Tribune-Journal :
Since the public schools of Platte county
have long enjoyed the distinction of being
among the best in the state, and that the peo
ple have always been in the habit of selecting
the very hest material for county superintend
ent, I will say for Mr. Braun that he has been
raised under the wing of Platte county super
intendents. His work as a teacher has been
under Superintendents Leavy and Lecron, and
his entire life, from kindergarten to teacher has
been under the supervision of Platte county's
school administrations. So, if their adminis
trations were of such value, he who has been
connected with the public schools of Platte
county through all these years, ought certainly
be best qualified to take charge of the work
begun by them. The present superintendent
was new in the county when called to the super
intendency, and then never got into touch with
the real problems facing him the rural schools.
There are also some who have expressed
doubt that Mr. Braun has strength enough, on
account of his age, to defend the school laws
and not be swayed by the arguments of inter
ested persons. There are few men in the coun
ty who would be harder to influence than he,
after he had studied the question at stake and
prepared to render a decision accordingly.
Very truly yours,
A PLATTE COUNTY TEACHER.
We would much prefer to have given the name of
the author of the above letter, but were requested by the
writer not to do so, for reasons which we consider good
and sufficient. No fairminded person, however, can take
exception to the arguments presented by our correspondent.
Now, Brothers, Be Fair.
Some of the leading spirits of the Democratic cam
paign boosters, in their fear that Daniel Schram may
carry the election as county treasurer, have started the
story of his being a standpatter. We do not know
whether he is a standpatter in the generally accepted
meaning of th term or not. We cannot, for the life of us
see what Risible connetion that would have with the com
petency or integrety of any man when it comes to a
question of taking care of public funds for a county.
There are one or two things that should command some
attention. One is the fact that Daniel Schram has
made good in his private business career. Having made
good, not only in the matter of accumulating a com
petency, but also in creating a good reputation as a
business man, he will have no trouble in procuring the
necessary bonds for the position of county treasurer,
which some people would find a difficult undertaking.
That he has the confidence of the business interests of
Columbus and Platte county in general, is attested by the
fact that he started his business carrer with a small bank,
and with his efforts the institution has grown until at
this time it is credited with assets of more than a half
million dollars. If he is a good man with whom to place
your individual funds, is he not equally safe to place in
charge of public?
Some interested political adversaries of Mr. Schram
are industriously circulating the story that, if elected he
will make of the office a personal matter, and place mem
bers of his family in office as deputies. This is false,
and notwithstanding the fact that last week we branded
it so, on the authority of Mr. Schram himself, they have
been very busy during the past week, in their insistence
that Mr. Schram was to man his office with members of
Some of his opponents have raised the cry that the
democratic nominee is one of the people, rich in good
name and citizenship, and possesses a score of other equally
desirable qualities; but not in a single one of these things
does he surpass Mr. Schram. Moreover he bases his
claim to the office on the fact that he has been a bene
ficiary of the indulgence of Platte county taxpayers for
Old Sam Housten, when elected governor of Texas,
was approached by a man who had been warden of the
state penitenitary for many years, and who had opposed
the election of Houston. "Well," said the governor,
"you say you have been in the penitentiary during all
these years and that jou have faithfully performed all
the duties assigned to you?" "Yes, sir." "Then, if that
s the case, I guess it is about time to pardon you out."
The office of county treasurer or any other official
position is not intended as a charitable institution. It
business proposition. We heartily endorse
TWO INTERESTING COUNTY OFFICIALS' LETTERS
plea made by the democratic campaign manager: "Let
us show by our votes that in Platte county the people es
teem a man for his personal worth alone, regardless of the
size of his bank account.'"
There is another candidate on the republican county
ticket, for whom very little has been said in connection
with the county campaign. He is a man who appears
to have the friendship of a considerable number of Platte
county people, and is recognized as having some measure
of influence even among some democrats. His nomina
tion on the republican ticket was the result of breaking
off a tie with another good republican, and now that he
has the nomination, of course every republican in the
county will be pleased to give him their vote, and, if
necessary, to get out and work for him at the polls. He
has held a county office before, and thus enjoys consider
able acquaintance among the voters. He has built up a
reputation as an auctioneer, but has no time to sell
such little things as horses and automobiles; nothing less
than selling a farm at auction will go with him. He is
also a newspaper man, and as such has the sympathy of
his brothers in the den, and is entitled to that of others.
Nearly every one in the county has heard of him, and
some outside. More than this, we have the pledge of
even the editors of the Columbus Telegram and the Hum
phrey Democrat, that if elected, he will make a good
official. Let all the republicans, and as many democrats
as he can rally to his support, vote for him. He wants
to be clerk of the district court, and his name is C. M.
One of. the most remarkable political letters ever penned
was placed on exhibition among the records of the county board
last Friday. It was penned by, or perhaps more correctly, for,
Judge Ratterman, and is certainly an able document, in that it
bears the earmarks of being the work of a past master in the
art of using language to conceal the real thoughts of the author.
In order that our readers may understand thoroughly the
conditions, we reproduce entire, both the report of the county
attorney and the reply of Judge Ratterman, as they appear on
To the Honorable Board of Supervisors The report as presented by Mr. Mc-
of Platte County : Elf resh is as follows:
Gentlemen: Through the columns "To the Honorable board of Super-
of a newspaper it appears that the visors of Platte County, Nebraska,
county attorney has made a report to "Dear Sirs:
your honorable body, alleging that "Beg toj report that pursuant to
there remains uncollected of the in- motion passed by this board, I have
heritance tax due the county the sum checked over the probate records of the
of $4,000,00. " County Judge, and find that no pro-
The order directing the county at- ceedings were had to collect the inher-
torney to check over the records of my itance tax provided by statute in a
office to ascertain the amount of such great number of estates subject to
tax uncollected was made last March, such tax, and from my investigation
For some reason no steps were taken would estimate the amount of such
to comply with this order until about tax remaining uncollected to be about
ten days ago, although from the time $4,000. These estates having been
the order was made I repeatedly ap- closed, it will entail considerable trou-
plied to the county attorney for coun- ble and cost to collect the same, and
sel and suggestions with respect to the am of the opinion that by reason of
collection of this tax, but each time lapse of time and removal of heirs it
was turned away without advice or will be impossible to collect a great
suggestion. portion thereof. I find that one estate
The impression conveyed by his re- has been closed during the year 1911
port is that the county has lost $40.- subject to this tax without any steps
000 of inheritance tax through some having been taken for the collection
fault of mine. This report is grossly thereof. The statute makes it the
unfair to me. duty of the County Judge to take the
In the first place permit me to say necessary steps to have this tax ascer-
to your honorable body that there is tained and collected in all estate
no such amount of uncollected inheri- which appear subject to such tax. In
tance tax due the county. Some of order to avoid any additional costs and
the estates from which inheritance to insure the collection of such tax,
tax is collectible are still in process hereafter I would recommend that
of settlement. I have collected in the this Board instruct the County Judge
past few years almost $2,000, and not to close any pending or future es-
when the record is finally made up I tates without having first collected
have no reason to believe that there such tax, if any be due.
will be a dollar of this tax uncollect- Respectfully submitted,
ed if each county officer does his duty C. N. McELFRESH,
in the matter. County Attorney.
The inheritance tax law is new and Dated, October 10, 1911.
subject to many different and contact
ing interpretations. There is one es
tate where the interests of the heirs
was very confining and the settlement
of the estate troublesome. In this es
tate the tax has not as yet been col
lected, but nearly all the heirs can be
reached, and furthermore, under the
law, the tax follows the land, and by
proper procedure the county will
colllect every dollar of this tax.
I would therefore respectfully ask
your honorable body to appoint a com
mittee to go into this matter in a business-like
and non-partisan manner,
and thereby afford me as well as the
county attorney, an opportunity to be
heard, and to present the facts fully
and fairly, to the end that the tax
payers may be advised of the true
condition of affairs.
Now, Mr. Voter, read those two communications carefully,
and see which on would naturally come nearer to the facts in
the case. In the case of the county attorney, it is made plain
that he was working under the direct instructions of the county
board, to whose orders he is subject The board had reason to
believe that the trust imposed in the county judge had not been
kept in good faith. Their instructions to the county attorney
were to investigate and report the result of his investigations,
which was done in the above letter. He asserts that in the cases and meditate on the food for thought contained therein.
in which the estates have been closed, that the collection of the
tax must necessarily entail considerable trouble and expense a
fact which every school boy knows. As to his definition of the
meaning of the statutes, it is a clean-cut statement of facts as
they appear on the law books of the state. As to his recom
mendation to the board to take steps to see that the tax is col
lected in future cases, there was nothing else that could be done,
and the board realized this by unanimously passing the resolu
tion suggested by one of their own number, in accordance with
Now, let us look at the reply of the county judge.
In the very first sentence he tries to discredit the record by
alluding to the report as a newspaper story. Well, so it was;
but it was born of the records on file with the county clerk.
Throughout the entire article may be heard the wail of des
pairthe grasping of the drowning man at the straw of a false
sense of injured innocence. We hearken to the cry of it being
done for political purposes. Suppose, however, that the county
attorney had presented his report prior to the August primaries,
at which the county judge was a candidate against three others
of his own political faith, then we would have heard the cry
that he was interfering between candidates for political pur
poses. Or, suppose that he had withheld his report until after
the election, then it might have been charged that he had kept
it back for political purposes.
The county judge weeps because the inheritance tax law is
"new"; it was a law when he became county judge ten years ago,
and if a judge whom we are told on excellent authority is
"among the first in point of knowledge of the probate law,"
could not determine the provisions of a law with which he. has
to deal with as much frequency as this one, in ten years, then,
in the name of Heaven, when would he?
The county judge asks plaintively to have a committee
appointed to go into the matter "that the taxpayers may be
advised of the true conditions of affairs." Good, as far as it
goes. But wny aia ne wait umu ine last aay 01 ine last session
before election? Did he not know that this report had been fil
ed ten days prior to the time his letter was filed, and that the
board was to meet again soon, and thus give him an opportunity
of carrying the results of this second investigation before the
public? HE KNEW HE DARED NOT ASK IT, but now puts
on a bold front, knowing the board would not meet again until
The friends of the county judge charge that the county
attorney waited until the closing days of a political campaign.
The absurdity of this statement is so apparent that it serves but
one purpose that of calling attention to the fact that it gives
the man in question a full month in which to refute them, and
could had he so desired, have had the results of the investiga
tion made public before the election.
The county judge says, "When the record is finally made
up and the estates closed I have no reason to believe there will
be a dollar of this tax uncollected if each officer does his duty
in the matter." As a matter of fact and of law, the county
judge is the sole officer charged by the statutes with the over
seeing of the collection of this tax. The county attorney has
nothing whatever to do with any estate unless asked for official
advice, or when, as in the present instance, the interests of the
public are jeopardized by delinquency. He may see no reason
to believe but that this tax will be collected, but that is beside
the question, for he is evidently talking of estates that have as
yet not been closed. But what of those estates which have
been closed without the tax being collected, and upon which the
county attorney based his report?
In another column we publish two letters one from the
county attorney to the county judge, and one from the county
attorney to the editor of the leading newspaper advocate of the
cause of the county judge, which, by the way, is also the great
est beneficiary of the present administration. Read them.
Read them again. Read them thrice, digest them thoroughly
Reports from over the district seem to grow brigh
ter every day for Colonel Elliott for congress. People
are coming to realize more and more each day the fact
that the farmers of Nebraska have suffered long enough
from the misrepresentations of democratic congressmen,
and are not particularly inclined to turn the reins over
to Dan V. Stephens. The appearance of certain demo
cratic leaders on the arm of a notorious individual at the
Norfolk convention, who had robbed many poor men of
this county and then sought refuge in the bankruptcy
court, sickened numerous men who would otherwise
have been supporters of Mr. Stephens. Moreover, there
are still some democrats in the district who have not
forgotten the ungracious action of Mr. Stephens in sup
porting one candidate for the nomination three years
ago, at the expense of another, and who insist that
what was true at that time must be equally true now.
Incidentally, some of these same men are asking how it
comes that he has the ostensible support of the men whom
he took pains to throw down in 1908., and declare that
if he would betray one man at one time, he might be'ex
pected to betary another at another time if the occasion
Have you read those McElfresh letters?
Do you suppose the judges will explain?
A good housewife will sweep down the cobwebs oc
casionally. Let Platte county try it for a experiment.
No long time service in a county office has ever had
the opportunity of turning the heads of any of the can
didates on the republican ticket.
Democrats are pleading that one of their men has
broken in the new treasurers to their work for the past
dozen years. Dan Schram won't need any breaking in.
Nobody ever accused Judge Robison of failing eith
er of collection of what was due the county, or of turning
in the marriage ceremony fees.
John Hayes seems to be making a hit with those
voters with whom he comes in contact. John is all right
and the voters are coming to find it out.
Ratterman says he is not short $4000, but fails to
say just what the correct aomunt is. Awful, if McEl
fresh gave him the benefit of a few dollars.
Gideon Braun in the county superintendent's office
will look like he was made to order for the place. His
entire training being for the benefit of teachers and school
boards who will have to deal with that office, make him
Below we reproduce two letters
from County Attorney McElfresh, one
in reply to County Judge Ratterman,
and the other in reply to an editorial
which appeared in the Telegram of last
week. Both letters are published at
the special request of the County At
torney, in explanation of his action,
as well as in answer to the attack
made upon him and published last
week, in the guise of an official com
munication. We desire to call parti
cular attention to these letters, and
In the issue of your paper of
October 20th, 1911, and in an edi
torial by you under the head of "A
Boomerang", you have sought to dis
credit me in the eves of the nublie be.
cause of my report to the County I comes to trying
Board regarding the failure of the
County Judge to collect the inherit
ance tax ax provided by law. I will
not say that the article was "pro
ceeded by prayer", but do not hesitate
in saying that it was concluded by a
denial of the facts to the public and
that your editorial in ine main is a
beg of you to consider carefuly the seething distortion of truth.
contents of them. The letters speak m You beine a beneficiary of the
the past. The case of "Political
Spoils" vs. "The Public Good" has
often been tried in the supreme court
of your conscience and the plaintiff
has invariably m-evailed. When it
me in your court I
Columbus, Nebr., Oct. 23, 1911.
Mr. Edgar Howard,
Editor of the Columbus Telegram,
office of the County Judge one can
readily follow your inclinations with
out surprise, and I am frank to state
that your positon regarding a vital
matter with the public is in keeping
must apply for a change of venue from
the biased, prejudiced mind of politic
al chicanery to the honest mind of
I believe I have the matter in such
shape that I can in one hour's time
convince any citizen of this countv
tnat l am correct in my report and
can convince you in less time if you
are open to conviction. Will you not
devote one hour of your time with me
and publish the truth?
A professional politician or ward
heeler generally views a situation
from a political standpoint, especially
with the policy you have pursued in J when the situation savors of a profit
at the expense of the public. If I
had completed my investigation and
filed my reports prior to the August
Primaries you would have raised the
same bellow. If it had been filed
after election some one would have ac
cused me of shielding the facts for
political purposes. Following your
logic, no time would have been the
I have long reached the conclusion
that truth should prevail as far us
possible in public affairs and that de
ceit and fraud practiced upon an un
suspecting public, whether by a pub
lic official or newspaper, is of equal
degree to criminal offence. What
views if any, have you on this mat
ter? Do you believe that deception should
be practiced against the people in or
der not to injure the candidacy of an
aspirant to public office? Or do you
believe that the public should know
the facts except when it might effect
e dividends of your business?
Misery loves company, and it ap
pears to me that because of your at
tempt to injure a candidate in the
Senatorial campaign last fall by ques
tionable practices you wish to drag me
in on a level with yourself because of
an official report based on facts made
to the Board at its request. If any
boomerang has been hurled, you have
hurled it by an ingeni us endeavor to
obscur the facts and deceive the pub
lic, ana no doubt in due season it will
return to pierce that seeming sancti
monious halo as did the boomerang
hurled by you a year ago.
I was elected to the office of county
attorney, not to satisfy the whims
and caprices of any newspaper or poli
tician, but to represent the people as
a whole. In an honest endeavor to
serve them and to save them some
thousands of dollar, I ought to have
your support, rather than your dis
approval. If you had desired to use
your paper for the public good youwould
have made some little investigation
before flying to the relief of a politi
cal patron in an editorial calculated
to deceive the public and debase an
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