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HomeAmerican HistoryBen Brotherson's Bank Scheme - New York Almanack

Ben Brotherson’s Bank Scheme – New York Almanack

New York Herald, March 24, 1858Around 1800, Philip and Catharine Brotherson arrived in Blue Corners on the western fringe of Charlton in Saratoga County. Over the subsequent 40 years, their 5 youngsters grew to maturity, the final being Benjamin Kissam Brotherson, born in 1819.

At the age of sixteen, Benjamin was employed as a clerk for the dry items service provider James Winne in Albany, New York. During his time in Albany, he was referred to as an upstanding younger man of fine ethical character. Three years later, in 1838, he moved to the metropolis of New York and took a job at Union Bank, the place he would work for the subsequent twenty years.

Over time the financial institution managers got here to have the utmost confidence on this younger man and progressively moved him into roles of better duty. This confidence was not diminished once they discovered him usually sought out to pay again small private money owed that he at all times gave the impression to be accumulating. Benjamin lived what was outwardly a frugal life in a boarding home in Greenwich Village.

In 1855, now 36 years previous and with years of regular employment underneath his belt, Benjamin will need to have lastly felt able to take a spouse. That August he married 25-12 months-previous Anna Frances Robinson. Two years later Anna gave delivery to a daughter, whom they named Adrian Francis. Unbeknownst to anybody however Benjamin and his spouse, for over ten years he had been stealing tens of 1000’s of {dollars} from the financial institution and hiding the theft via false entries within the ledgers he saved as a head teller.

It was solely via the curiosity of a New York detective by the title of Joseph Keefe that questions had been raised finally revealing Benjamin’s theft. While visiting one Blakeman’s playing home, Detective Keefe seen the financial institution worker taking part in and dropping giant sums at a faro desk. Bolstered by his suspicions, he saved watch over a number of weeks as Benjamin, who was recognized there as “Bob of the Union Bank,” guess and misplaced tens of 1000’s of {dollars} at varied video games of probability.

After cautious consideration, he approached the financial institution president with this discovery. The information was first met with disbelief {that a} lengthy-time and extremely trusted worker was concerned in such questionable conduct. After a couple of days of deliberation throughout the financial institution management, it was determined to carefully observe their worker for something that might level to his dishonesty.

The elevated scrutiny was shortly noticed by Brotherson and complaining of a toothache, he left for lunch early and by no means returned. An examination of his books revealed that over the earlier ten years he had taken as a lot as $140,000 from the financial institution. Soon after a warrant for his arrest was issued it was reported that he had left the town on a ship headed to Panama in Central America (then thought of the quickest path to California).

When questioned, his spouse Anna was very cooperative with investigators, even giving away proof of her husband’s guilt that was printed within the Auburn Weekly American on March 17, 1858:

“Brotherson’s wife converses freely regarding it, and stated to the lawyer who called upon her, that some years ago, previous to her marriage, Brotherson told her that there was a defalcation in the Union Bank of $100,000, and asked her if she would marry him, knowing this fact. She consented and has faithfully kept his secret, but she says that it has worried him night and day and that he has repeatedly resolved to make a confession to the President but could not make sufficient courage. She says that B. asked for his pistol when he left, but seeing his excitement, she refused to let him have it, and he went away without it, telling her that she would not see him again for many years.”

The investigation into Benjamin’s actions led the financial institution to Benjamin’s good friend, Jacob Mott, a rich Wall Street inventory dealer. The scheme utilized by the 2 in eradicating the funds from the financial institution was shortly revealed and reported within the March 18, 1858, version of the Litchfield Enquirer:

“Mr. Mott would make his deposits with the Receiving Teller; the Teller’s minutes were handed to Mr. Brotherson, who, instead of recording them correctly, would enter to Mr. Mott’s credit perhaps twice that sum, and Mr. Mott drew his checks upon the Bank accordingly.”

The cash taken with the assistance of Mott was solely a part of what had been eliminated over the ten years that the thefts had been happening, as Jacob Mott had opened an account on the financial institution solely two years earlier than the invention. Surprisingly, after the preliminary experiences of the theft and arrest of Mott, the matter appeared to have been dropped with no experiences of the end result within the weeks that adopted.

At first, the financial institution introduced that they might not pursue Brotherson, citing the truth that the funds had already been spent on playing and he would haven’t any means of constructing restitution. However, they shortly modified their thoughts and on March twenty fourth of 1858, the financial institution introduced a one-thousand-greenback reward for his apprehension. The reward was by no means paid.

Illustration: A reward announcement within the New York Herald, March twenty fourth, 1858.

This essay is offered by the Saratoga County History Roundtable and the Saratoga County History Center. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

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