Sunday, June 8, 2008

Charles E. Olyer Pollyanna of Rum Trails

My Ancestor Charles Erwin Olyer born 2 Aug 1904 at Lyon Mountain, New York, to Henry Lewise Olyer, bn 15 Feb 1846, at Lyon Mountain, died 16 sep 1938 and Jessie Estelle Kingston Sweeney bn 22 May 1864 Northern New York, died July 1932 at Dannamora,Clinton Co. N.Y.

Now Charles was really not a big time bootlegger,but rather a young guy, with the opportunity and means to fill a demand, created by the 18th Amendment of 1920. He lived just about 50 miles from the St Lawrence river, on the other side of which was all the Alcoholic beverages you could think of. So the supply was good, and to the south lay Albany and Schenectady- a never ending demand. How many trips he and his friend Francis Hall made we will never know-but a few were interrupted and those are a mater of record.
On or about 5 Apr 1923 according to the "Adirondack Record Newspaper " Francis Hall and Charles E. Olyer were pulled over and found to have 291 bottles of Canadian "India Pale Ale"
this was a special high alcohol content beer with distinct hops flavor.
They were arrested at Sable Forks and gave there address as
Saranac Lake,New York. and placed on a $1,000 bail, the 291
bottles confiscated along with the Ford Touring car they were
Before the month was up, on 27 Apr 1923 Charles only 19 years old,was jailed for fighting with Michael Ryan, on streets of Saranac. So his $1,000, bail bond was violated and he spent 30 days incarcerated.

His luck is not to good on 21 Sep 1923 he is arrested with his buddy Frances Hale and a girl
Elsie Brewster, who was with Hale, Olyer was fined $150, and Hale $1,000.

30 Nov 1923, the Ford Touring car was sold from the post office building at public auction by deputy U.S Marshal George Andress for $45.00 to a local man.

Everything is quiet on the rum Trail until Easter Sunday 19 Apr 1927, breaking the calm of a perfect Easter morning , in the Adirondacks, a volley of shots are fired, after a fleeing bootlegger south of Malone, shortly after break of day. This was followed by the high speed pursuit and capture of Charles E. Olyer,Pollyanna of the rum trails, who gave his address as Saranac Lake. He was captured near Malone by Officers Scruton, Bixby, Woods, and Murry . Another lost load
of Alcky, and another automobile.

7 Dec 1928 Lake Placid News, Charles Olyer Saranac Lake
What might have proved to be a serious accident occured at 12:10
yesterday morning when a Nash Sedan, owned by the Maple Taxi
service of Saranac Lake and driven by Charles Olyer , age 24 of 22
Dorsey st. crashed through the guard rail at the bridge by
Kennedy's corner and hung suspended by the rear axle. Olyer, who was alone in the car at the time, was taken into custody by chief Black and Officer Crossett of the local force and lodged in the local jail on a charge of driving a motor vehicle while being intoxicated.
He was arraigned yesterday morning before Justice of the Peace W.E.Wikoff and fined $30., given a sentence of six months in the Onondaga County Penitentiary, at Syracuse. Olyer, it appears was driving along Station street at such a high rate of speed that the big car failed to make the turn at Kennedy's corners and crashed thro the bridge. It is a miracle that car and driver were not hurled to the river below. Olyer was not hurt and the car was reported as damaged only slightly.

I thought the 6 months was a little much but on the 14th of Dec the judge suspended the sentence, I imagine the judge was pretty familiar with Charley and his first reaction was to teach him a lesson.

Charley continued to run the Maple Taxi company, and with the repeal of the prohibition amendment dec of 1933, his side business ended, he passed away 7 sep 1938 and was interned in Pine Ridge Cemetery.

To round out the story he had a brother who was a Narcotics agent and two cousins that worked for immigration, and two brothers who were also bootleggers-wonder if they all talked shop when thy got together? These will be covered in future post.


Robert Campbell said...

What a terrific smuggler story, well done! Dumpdiggers spent this day writing about a distant ancestor who was a Pharmacist here in Toronto after finding a bottle on which his name (and mine) appear in the embossing.

Distressing Delilah said...

Hey pop, great post!

Rosebud Collection said...

My father use to tell me about all the bootleggers home..My grandfather owned a shipyard and was offered a lot of money to drop the stuff off there..he wouldn't do it..He said, "It is a foolish law, but it is the law"..Many people home, got rich, breaking that law..Enjoyed your blog, as usual..