Washington, IN Courthouse Fire, Oct 1891

Set The Court House on Fire.

Four Men, Including an Officer, Arrested at Washington, Ind., for Arson.

Washington, Ind., Oct. 14.-This city has witnessed the most exciting scenes in the history to-day. Detectives have been at work on the Court House fire, and up to this hour have arrested four persons supposed to be connected with the fire.

Samuel Harbine, a day laborer here, was arrested last night, charged with complicity in the burning of the records. After being arrested Harbine confessed the crime and implicated several prominent people in it, and as a result Auditor James H. Lavelle and I.B. Hawes, a prominent citizen of Steele township, were arrested this morning and place din jail; also a man by the name of Basil Ledgerwood. The officers are now out after Michael Lavelle, a brother of the auditor.

Harbine's story is that Lavelle hired him to burn the court house for $500, only $5 of which he has been paid. It is reported that Ledgerwood is also anxious to turn State's evidence. He claims to have been given a house and lot for his part in the crime. Auditor Lavelle's bondsmen, becoming frightened at the turn affairs were taking, required him to turn all his property over to them yesterday.

Lavelle has been Auditor of the county for eight years and the fact that the people had confidence in him makes his arrest and accusation of the court house fire the sensation of the hour. From present circumstances it is supposed he is short in his accounts, but no one knows the amount. Experts are now at work on his books.

Hawes lives on a farm of 500 acres, owned by him, and is in good circumstances. He was brought in at the muzzle of a Winchester.

The four persons in jail were taken before Judge Hefron this morning. They waived a preliminary bail and Lavelle's and Hawes' were fixed at $5,000 each, and Harbine's and Ledgerwood's at $2,000 each. They are still in jail, not having given bond.

A special says that Ledgerwood and Harbine have pleaded guilty in court. Sentence was suspended by Judge Hefron, as they will be used as witnesses.

The Daily Inter Ocean, Chicago, IL 15 Oct 1891