Thursday, April 1, 2010

Oh, those Ricklefs boys, they never learn...

Boy, this story just gets more and more interesting! So, here's what else I've discovered about the Ricklefs brothers, John and Charles, my great-great grandmother's brothers, since I last wrote...

In 1907, when John Ricklefs was first arrested, he went by the alias Henry Young. In 1916, he was charged with two robberies. On trial for the first, his brother, Charles, took the stand and unexpectedly admitted that it was he, and not John, who had committed the crime. Whether that was true or he was taking the fall for his older brother, John was off the hook and Charles was sent to Sing Sing. Of course, this also freed up John to go on trial for the second crime, that of the last post, where he was acquitted on a technicalities.

Fast forward 22 years, where Charles "Dutch" Ricklefs (where did that nickname come from?), now 41, has been arrested with five other men for holding up the Mattituck National Bank, out on the North Fork of Long Island. Apparently, their bank heist was successful, and the bandits (as the papers labeled them - also called them a gang) got away with the loot, because one of them bought a fancy new car and that was how he was caught. Dutch was arrested in Bedford, Massachusetts. Up till now, I didn't know the outcome of that story, but after being held on $50,000 bail, Dutch Ricklefs was sentenced to serve 15 to 30 years in Sing Sing.

Either Ricklefs was just plain dumb, never learned his lessons, or really, really loved prison.

But this is how I discovered more to that story - with a name like Ricklefs, you gotta cover your bases. Unless you're looking for a name like Jones or Smith (and even then, you can never rule out typos), you have to assume different spellings for a name. Some search engines will give you the option to do a soundex search (which I don't always love - I think it casts the net *too* wide), others will let you replace the end of a word with * ... so typing "Ric*" will turn up, among others, Ricklef, Rickleff, Rickleffs, Ricklefs, Richlef, Richleff, Richleffs, and Richlefs. Or you can just do those searches by hand, which is what I did, finding stories about the Ricklefs brothers under all those names (I've also seen Rickleefs and Ricleff).

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