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               “Baron” Molitor

                        The following is on file in the Rogers City, MI  Library
       as received from the University Library Ann Arbor, Michigan on 20 Oct 1959:  


A short time before the murder of Albert Molitor a story was published to the effect that Molitor’s mother was a Lady in Waiting in the court of the old King William of Wurtemburg and that the King was his father.  His mother was afterwards married to Capt. Molitor and Albert was given a good education.  On reaching manhood, he was installed in the engineers  corp of the war department at Ludwigsburg and while working as a draftsman was detected making plans of the great fortress of Uhlan.

He was arrested, but after a long trial was allowed to go free if he would migrate to the United States, which he promptly did.

He joined the U.S. Army, served through the rebellion (Civil War) with distinction of Gen Sigels staff and after the war obtained a position in the department of Great Lakes survey in Detroit.

It was while on the Lake Survey that Molitor located the stands of valuable pine timber in Presque isle part of Alpena County and quickly seeing the natural advantages of the region about Crawford’s Quarry, but having no money of his own, he interested W.E. Rogers in the enterprise, and with his aid proceeded to carry out his plans.

He tried to buy some land from the Crawford’s of Detroit at Crawford’s Quarry which was 2 miles SE of the present site of Rogers City where there was a natural harbor and which was a very good site for a town, but the Crawford family would not sell.

Molitor, a man rarely frustrated, succeeded in 1871, in buying the fractional 40 acres of land 2 miles Northwest of Crawford’s Quarry where Rogers City now stands and with Roger’s assistance he laid out a town, built a sawmill and dock, sent men into the virgin pinewoods and was rapidly making Rogers City, a prosperous place.

He advertised the region in glowing terms in letters to German papers, and thus brought a great number of German settlers. This accounts for the fact that the German language was heard here exclusively for several years in stores and church and even at public school and other meetings.

Molitor was instrumental in the separation of Presque Isle Township from Alpena County to form the new county: Presque Isle.  He ran all the industries in the village and most of the men depended on him for their employment.

In winter, all provisions had to be brought from Alpena some 45 miles away by sled and this required capital which none but Molitor possessed.  If a man resisted his control, he could get neither work nor food and simply had to leave.

Molitor dominated the elections, had himself elected treasurer, county clerk or super-visor at will, his men were put into Justices chairs and he also selected the Village Council.

But with all of Molitor’s energy Wm. E. Rogers, his backer, lost money, and after about two years he withdrew and this left Molitor alone to carry out his plans.  

 Wm. E. Rogers Gravesite

Molitor caused the county to issue bonds for $30,000 for roads, bridges and school houses.  A reaction set in among the newcomers when the interest became due and taxes began to increase, especially on the property of men who had come to the new county to build homes and engage in various forms of business.

Molitor either kept no books of the county finances or destroyed them, so that no accurate accounts of his dealings with the county affairs could be found.

Indignation meetings were secretly held and one morning a committee was sent to demand of him the books of the county.  Molitor told the committee to go to “a warmer climate [hell] and then walked into the mob gathered before his store, facing their guns and revolvers with head erect and flashing eyes.  One of the committee spoke and said,  “Molitor, give up those books or we’ll hang you,” at this time producing a rope “Go ahead with your hanging” he laughingly replied, but the men dared not carry out their purpose.  Then Molitor had a table brought out and set in the middle of the street with his dinner served to him, eating with good appetite, he invited others to join him.  At nightfall Molitor still refusing to give up the books, the mob disappeared.

This was the situation until the night of 23 August 1875 when the shooting occurred.

The shooting of Molitor occurred upon the evening of 23 August 1875.  Molitor was sitting in his office which was a shed-like building attached to his store at the foot of Michigan Avenue.  He was looking over his books, when a gun was fired through the  window and Molitor dropped to the floor with 7 buck shots in his back and side.  A clerk, Edward Sullivan, who was in the office with Molitor, sprang to his assistance and received a load of shot in the neck.

Sullivan lived for 3 days, but died as he was being taken to the steamer on his way home.  Molitor was taken by steamer to Harper Hospital in Detroit where he died two weeks after being shot.

Apparently not much was done by the authorities to investigate the shooting at this time, in fact, there is no record of any investigation.

Many of the townspeople rejoiced at the demise of the tyrant who had ruled their lives, but some of Molitor’s friends sent a telegram to Gov. Bagley asking for the state militia to keep order.  The Adjutant General made a person visit to Rogers City to investigate, but by the time he finally arrived tension had eased and the matter was dropped.

<>As time passed Herman Hoeft became the power in the community but he never used the tactics of dictator and ruler Molitor.  Many stories were told behind closed doors but the murder was never discussed openly and to all appearances the matter was dropped until fifteen years later. 

            This is as written in the RC Centennial book.  

Andrew Banks was a German preacher, lawyer, crank - well educated in the German Gymnasium.  He was the first Probate Judge of Presue Isle County.   He took advantage of his superior education over the uneducated fellow countrymen.  He held a great influence in the operation of Presque Isle County.  He had a falling out with Albert Molitor [the main person in the development of Rogers City and Presque Isle County].  He was a strong Herman Hoeft partisan in the lawsuit after Molitor was murdered on 23 Aug 1875 in Rogers City. 

Early in 1875, a lawsuit between Albert Molitor and Herman Hoeft was in progress, and it appeared from testimony that Herman Hoeft was getting the worst of it.  Feeling ran high in Rogers City both between Molitor and Hoeft and their partisans. 

Andrew Banks, being a strong supporter of Herman Hoeft, gathered together a number of men having serious complaints against Molitor, some under subterfuge and some with threats.  These men met at what is known as Reinke's Hill, five miles west of Rogers City, where Andrew Banks told them the purpose of the meeting and swore them to secrecy on pain of death.  A few of the men present expressed they didn't want to be involved in the killing.  These were silenced by threats that if they did not do what was decided there, they would be killed also.  A meeting three days hence was arranged for, and the men departed. 

On the second meeting, 23 Aug 1875, the men were given guns, one was sent ahead to reconnoiter the situation and Andrew Banks built his alibi as he said that he would be the first to be suspected.  He gave one of the men a pair of his boots to wear with some markings that were well known.  The man was to wear them to "mix up the officers".  Banks then went visiting with some neighbors.  The remaining members of the group rode into town and shot Albert Molitor through the window of his office,killing a young clerk, Edward Sullivan.  Molitor lived to be taken to the Detroit Harper Hospital on a Lake Steamer. He died on 18 September 1875. 

On 30 June 1891, nearly sixteen years later, William Repke, an early settler, made a full confession.  His confession implicated the following men who, with himself were, he said present at the murder: August Grossman, August Fuhrman, Henry Jacobs, Carl Vogler, Stephan Rieger, Friedrich Sorgenfrei, Gottlieb Mende, Carl Weisengart, Ferdinand Bruder, John Bruder, August Barabas, and Frederick Tulgetske.  These men were the principals and Andrew E. Banks and Herman Hoeft, by inference, were the instigators.  On the following morning, with the exception of the Bruders and Barabas and Tulgetske both of whom had died by this time, were under arrest and quickly remanded for trial.  Neither Banks nor Hoeft were arrested.  Both were absent at the  time of the crime and no direct evidence was ever given to show that Hoeft even knew that any plot was being hatched.  Banks was clearly charged in later testimony with having masterminded the entire affair.    Because an impartial jury could not be impaneled in Rogers City, a change of venue was secured and the trials all took place in Alpena.  All five men - August Grossman,August Fuhrman, Carl Vogler, Henry Jacobs, and William Repke were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment at Jackson Prison.  Had not William Repke appealed to the Supreme Court, making it necessary for a transcript of the record in the lower court, nothing really authentic would be available today to base a history of the Molitor Murder Case. 

<>Repke applied for pardon in 1898, but was not granted one until 1 Jan 1901 - the first day of Gov. A. T.  Bliss's tenure.

August Fuhrmann was granted a pardon by Governor Hazen S. Pingree on 28 Jan 1897. 
It is not known when the remaining 3 were pardoned. 
  susan "at"4grove.com

It appears now that is was very unfortunate that Andrew Banks was neither charged with a share in the crime nor, at least subpoenaed as a witness.  It is almost certain that some very interesting testimony would have been obtained.  He really was the villain of the case, if there was one.  The matter of his exchange of boots, brought out in the trial, should have been sufficient to arouse interest and questions.  Banks certainly, on the basis of evidence given at the trials, had a large part in the instigation ofthe trial and the execution of Albert Molitor. 

The men who were convicted did not have the advantage of a quality education.  Their language was German, and were at a disadvantage when the trial was held.  Communication between the English jury, attorneys, lawyers, and judge was a definite disadvantage to these German speaking men on trial. 

Andrew led the funeral service for his wife at the burial spot - the Moltke township Cemetery - Felax Road.  Shortly afterward Andrew disappeared from Presque Isle County.  He by-passed $400 he had in the Cheboygan Bank - a large sum in those days.  He was last seen on a train in Chicago*.  

More about Molitor


Rich
*I am not sure if you are the one who put the article on this web site or not. In one part of the story it is mentioned that Andrew Banks left the county shortly after the death of his wife. He did leave the county but his wife died in 1889 and he didn't leave until after the marriage of his son, Adoph to Ida Rieger on March 17, 1900. The story in our family is that he left town with a possible family member from Cheboygan and went to Buffalo, New York to buy a business. Word came back several months later that he was killed in a train accident somewhere in Ohio. This information was provided
by two of his grandchildren. Just thought I would give you the version I heard. 

Jody Banks Doran (a great-granddaughter of Andrew Banks)
bjdoran at voyager.net

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