Historical Details

Joss, Violet: Mixes With Thieves; Forces Them to Drop Liquor

Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 02/03/1922


Third attempt within two weeks to steal booze in custody of Sheriff Chris Joss frustrated when woman puts scare in "hootch" bandits; crooks not caught.

Our usually quiet city was greatly stirred up Tuesday evening, when a pair of thieves attempted to make a getaway with some of the liquor now in the hands of Sheriff Chris Joss. It was during the absence of the sheriff that this bold holdup took place and through the heroic efforts of Mrs. Joss the thieves were forced to drop the stolen goods and flee.

While sitting at a table reading about seven o'clock, two men quietly opened the back door to the sheriff's apartments over the jail, rushed in and threw a towel over Mrs. Joss' head before she could get a look at them as her back was towards the door when the men entered.

She doesn't think the men were masked. After tying the towel tightly, they forced her to go to the basement with them, where a large quantity of booze has been stored. One man held while the other evidently tried to get a barrel of liquor from the top of the pile, but it must have been too heavy for he gave it up and they left, taking two cases of champagne.

They then ordered Mrs. Joss to get them the key to open the downstairs door, but she made them believe that Sheriff Joss and Deputy Sheriff Hughes had the keys. They proceeded to go back up stairs and as they reached the top floor, the men tore her apron from her, ripping it into strips, with which they tied her to the bedroom door knobs, rushing away with their booty.

It was only the work of a second for Mrs. Joss to free herself, tear off the towel, grab a gun and run to the door just as the men were rounding the north corner of the court house. She shot and they dropped the champagne. Then running to the phone she called the Niobrara garage, where the sheriff had gone on an errand, and told him to come at once. She then went back to guard the stolen goods for fear they thieves might return and get it.

Mrs. Joss thinks the bandits made their getaway in a car but is not certain.

This is the third attempt in the last two weeks to get this booze. The other two times the robbers tried to break in through the basement, but were either frightened away a gave it up as fruitless.

Mrs. Joss' arms are black and blue  from struggling and one eye is black from her efforts to keep them from putting the towel over her head. The experience has caused her to suffer a nervous breakdown and on Wednesday her condition was serious.

It is always her custom to keep all doors locked, But Mr. Joss had just left the house and even while reading Mrs. Joss was conscious of someone coming up the outside stairs but thinking it was Chris coming back for something, didn't look to see. She certainly deserves credit for her bravery and presence of mind.

The liquor was in the estate of Peter Peterson and has been stored in the jail since the dry law went into effect. However, at the last session of district court Judge William Riner rendered a decision, giving it to Mrs. Martha Peterson, the widow, and it is supposed the parties trying to get it knew this and thinking she would soon dispose of it, have kept up the persistent attempts to get some of it. 

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Joss, Christian (12/19/1876 - 10/04/1947) View Record
Obituary Joss, Kathryn (04/15/1880 - 07/19/1964) View Record
Historical Niobrara County Jail View Record