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Drinking Evidence


An unusual case of missing evidence occurred in Cando on this day in 1904. The story begins a few weeks earlier in Bisbee, North Dakota, when a blind pig, operated by a father and son by the name of Gilmer, was broken up by the authorities there. The father and son were brought to the jail in Cando until their case could be heard in the courts. While waiting for the pig case to come up on the court docket, Clerk of Court Peck, in charge of court records and evidence, requested Professor Ladd of the North Dakota Agricultural College to perform an analysis on a quart of moonshine that had been taken as evidence in the raid on the Gilmer’s blind pig.

Professor Ladd conducted his analysis on the bottle and traveled to Cando at the request of Clerk Peck. The professor was to give testimony as to the alcoholic content of the beverage, but, as the court was busy with other cases, the Gilmer pig case never came up for trial. Ladd was forced to return home to take care of other business until court could be reconvened at the beginning of the new term on January 18. Since the Gilmer case would not be heard until after the winter break, Peck was in charge of holding onto the court’s evidence. He placed the bottle into his office vault, and went into another room to enter the bottle and Ladd’s analysis into the court’s records as exhibit A.

While Peck was away, the court’s janitor, Paul Gransaulky, came into his office to tidy up. Gransaulky saw the bottle sitting on a shelf in the vault, and thought that “…he’d go in and take a look at it”. Moments later, Deputy Henderson walked by Peck’s office and saw the janitor drinking the evidence, a tag reading “Exhibit A” still dangling from the bottle. He went into see Peck and “…asked him if he knew that the janitor was drinking that stuff in the vault”. Peck, outraged, dashed to his office to find the bottle completely empty. Upon questioning, Gransaulky denied drinking the entire quart of whiskey, but when confronted by the deputy, who had seen him drinking from the bottle, he finally confessed to drinking the evidence. Fortunately for the Gilmers, since the evidence was destroyed, it could not be used in the case against them when court reconvened on January 18.


The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican (Evening ed.). January 6, 1904: p. 12.

--Jayme L. Job