Wholesale robbery occurs in 1922 Cleveland

JSSP Keith Norman Column Sig

The Jamestown Alert called the case “wholesale robbery” and it all started at Cleveland in May 1922. The story involves forensic investigations, a chase and finally, a shootout.

It would seem a couple of young men in their early 20s from Logan County decided to travel north to Cleveland to supplement their income with a little theft.

And because they were traveling quite a distance, they decided to make it worth their while and rob three businesses on a Wednesday night.

The Motor Inn of Cleveland was one of the places robbed. Ward Pomeroy and Herman Ahlen, owners of the motel, were the first to discover the robbery and took up the pursuit on their own.

Pomeroy and Ahlen were aided by a “peculiar tire tread” in tracking the suspects back to Logan County and right to their farm about 15 miles southwest of Streeter.


The dirt roads of the day, a lack of other traffic and some rain made the tracking of the suspect car through the mud possible. I don’t think you could follow a car based on tire tread across dozens of miles today.

Sometime late Thursday, Pomeroy and Ahlen, now joined by Logan County Sheriff Balger, confronted the thieves at their farm. The men admitted the crime and then attempted to escape.

There may have been a short foot pursuit and the two thieves were found behind a rock pile. One surrendered while the other “pulled his revolver.”

One of the Cleveland pursuers had a shotgun and, according to the newspaper reports, both fired at the same time.

The thief took a load of shotgun pellets to the head but survived. Overnight, the wounded man and the man who had surrendered were transported to the Stutsman County Jail and held in cells.

The Friday evening edition of The Jamestown Alert noted the wounded man had not regained unconsciousness but was still held in his cell.

The paper also noted all the stolen property had been recovered. About $200 worth of “tires, oil, spark plugs, accessories and a shotgun had been taken from the Motor Inn, Runners Oil Station and Ed Weber Hardware.

Family of the thieves said they had intended to take their stolen property and flee to Minnesota for a new life.


Both faced charges and apparently entered guilty pleas although the newspaper reports don’t seem to follow up on the case.

Times have changed. Roads are better and it would be impossible to track a car for miles based on even the most unique tire tread.

And wounded and unconscious suspects aren’t commonly held in jail cells waiting for their recovery.

But most notably, I’m not sure any of the small towns of Stutsman County currently have enough businesses for any sort of wholesale robbery type cases any longer.

Author Keith Norman can be reached at

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