Milwaukee, WI Newhall House Fire, Jan 1883 - Scheller Arrested




MILWAUKEE, Jan. 16.---There was very great excitement this afternoon when the arrest of George Scheller, the owner of the Newhall bar and until recently a clerk at the house, was made public. The warrant for Scheller's arrest was issued Sunday, as was telegraphed to THE TIMES on that day. The warrant is worded as follows, and was served late this afternoon:

"John Hannifin, being duly sworn, complains to the Municipal Court of Milwaukee County that George Scheller, (alias,) on the 10th day of January, A. D. 1883, as the said City of Milwaukee, in said county, at about the hour of 3 o'clock of the night time of that day, then and there with force and arms in a certain dwelling-house there situated, known as the Newhall House, of which he, the above named George Scheller (alias) was there and then the tenant, then and there feloniously, willfully, and maliciously did set fire to , and the said house then, and by the kindling of such fire, did feloniously, willfully and maliciously burn and consume, contrary to the statute in such case made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the State of Wisconsin, as said deponent verily believed, and prays that the said George Scheller (alias) may be arrested and dealt with according to law."

The news of Scheller's arrest spread over the city like wildfire, and for fear that angry crowds would do him bodily harm he was incarcerated behind the bars of the County Jail, thought to be the safest place. Sheriff Bently issued orders that no one should be allowed to see him, and immediately left the office to escape the bother of dozens who had already assembled and begun making requests to see him. Reporters were likewise excluded but it was said by the jail officers that Scheller refused to talk to them.

At 3:30 o'clock a messenger went for W. H. Ebbitts, Scheller's counsel, who called at the jail and was refused admittance. After persisting he was allowed to go to the upper corridor, where Scheller is confined. "I hope to God, Scheller, that you are not guilty of this thing, " said Mr. Ebbitts, and Scheller replied, "I am not, but I would rather be in here if they suspect me, for it is safer than on the street." With this short conversation ended the interview, and Mr. Ebbitts left, after promising to look the matter up and call again tomorrow morning. Scheller called on Mr. Ebbitts yesterday and paid him a retainer to commence suit for criminal libel for the two papers who charged him with crookedness concerning the fire. Three messengers had arrived by the jail by 4 o'clock and reported excited knots on the streets with talk of lynching. It is feared there will be trouble when it becomes generally known that Scheller is in custody on the awful charge and the Police and Sheriff's are prepared to defend him to the last. An extra guard will be kept at the jail. The morning a reporter saw Scheller standing near the ruins, abstractly gazing at the wreck. He was told that there was talk of a warrant being sworn out for his arrest. The news startled him, and he said that such surely could not be the case.

"I would rather drop dead than to be so accused," he said, and if his appearance indicated anything he was telling the truth. There was talk that Scheller had set his house on fire at North Point, when it burned, two years ago. It was afterward clearly proved that he was not at home at the time of the fire. Scheller has always borne a good reputation, but his unfortunate connection with the Mascotte Saloon, in Market-street, caused many people to lose respect for him. He ran the saloon, a place of low repute, contrary to the wish of all of his friends as well as everybody in its vicinity. Scheller is about 33 years old, is married, and has a small family. Late tonight everything is quiet, and there are now no fears of lynching, although a strong guard is at the jail. Scheller will be taken into court tomorrow.

The New York Times, New York, NY 17 Jan 1883