Dillinger items in exhibit

By Patricia Ann Speelman - pspeelman@aimmedianetwork.com

SIDNEY — Items from Shelby County’s brush with gangster crime will be on exhibit here, Saturday, during a presentation about Chicago’s St. Valentine’s Day massacre.

The Shelby County Historical Society and Tactical Solutions Firearms and Accessories, of Pasco, have teamed to sponsor a presentation in the Sidney American Legion hall, 1265 Fourth Ave., at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. about the famous February shoot-out.

Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart has loaned several objects from his personal collection of crime memorabilia to enhance the exhibit.

While the touring display and talk by Lt. Mike Kline, of St. Joseph, Michigan, will focus on the massacre, Lenhart’s historical items concern the gangster, John Dillinger, who, in 1933 spent seven hours in the Shelby County jail in Sidney.

Dillinger and his gang had robbed a bank in Bluffton in August of that year. In September, he was apprehended at his girlfriend’s house in Dayton. The Montgomery County sheriff moved Dillinger to Sidney where the Allen County sheriff picked him up and took him to Lima to await trial.

In early October, three members of the gang killed the sheriff in Lima and broke Dillinger out of jail. Several months later, Dillinger and the others were arrested in Texas and eventually stood trail in Lima.

Lenhart has a wanted poster, a badge worn by an Allen County deputy, original photographs of the trial and a confession by one of the gang members, Harry Pierpont, who drove the get-away car when the Allen County sheriff was murdered.

“When I was sheriff 20 years ago, we had something else here,” Lenhart said, Wednesday. “When I returned as sheriff, it was gone. The booking register is missing.”

The register would have Dillinger’s signature in it as he was signed into the jail.

“I think it’s a neat part of the history of our area,” Lenhart said, “a real gangster in our area.”

Saturday’s programs have no admission fee; however, donations will be accepted at the door to benefit the American Legion and the historical society.

By Patricia Ann Speelman


Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.