Marshfield, November 1903: The long con
A Shiocton man initiates a series of sham deals with Marshfield area residents
By Kris Leonhardt
When the 20-year-old left his hometown of Shiocton, he was headed for Antigo. He had a carload of cabbage and plans to unload the product for his supplier before returning to his hometown.
A simple task for sure, but when the young man discovered a method for earning a few extra dollars, his plan took a whole new avenue that would lead him on a seven-day spending spree that left Marshfield in a tither.
When Albert Barker entered Marshfield, he first set his sights on the for sale sign of the Prochnow fruit store. Using 30 bushels of onions he had in tow and $15, Barker entered into a contract with Mr. Prochnow.
From there he interested C.C. Fuller in a horse he claimed ownership of near Appleton. Barker traded the horse with a noble bloodline for two lots Fuller owned on the east side of Marshfield.
When Barker then came upon a handsome team of horses owned by a Greenwood man, he offered up the mortgage on the two lots he had engaged in with Fuller as well as his remaining onions.
From there Barker bought a horse for $75 from the O.C. Mills livery and another for $75 from Dr. Powell. He used those horses, which he valued at $200, to purchase a house and lot from Louis Hartl, promising him to pay another $1,000 in 30 days.
Barker did not stop there. Taking the team that he obtained from the Greenwood man, he then engaged in an exchange with Jacob Sturm in which he received two other horses and $100 cash. In addition he bought another team from Sturm, paying $75 down.
The charade would have continued were it not for Fuller when he went to pick up his horse near Appleton only to find out that it was owned by Barker’s uncle, who was not willing to sell. When Fuller went to reclaim his Marshfield lots, he found that they now belonged to the Greenwood man.
As authorities in Marshfield began to look the situation over, the number of merchants, realtors, and horse traders Barker had conned grew to an unbelievable number, with his largest transaction involving a large tract of timberland and the equipment to harvest it.
As they investigated Barker’s transactions, his trail led to Antigo, where Barker had fleeced his cabbage customers and tried to buy a hotel.
With his son in quite a predicament, Barker’s father arrived in Marshfield and made good on his son’s dubious dealings.