Nov 23, 1908 "Bat" Nelson Escapes Jail by Ruse at Dogfight

Pins Star on coat When dog Fight Is Raided and Mingles With the Officers

Chicago - After two bull terriers had torn one another for 58 minutes and had been prevented from rushing into the death grapple by Lightweight Champion Nelson, trustees of the village of Burnham, with a dozen armed deputies at their backs, broke into the saloon in which the fight was held.

The 500 spectators jumped to their feet and a wild rush for the doors and windows followed.  Several shots were fired into the air by the deputes, but they could not stop the stampede.  Though the fight hall was in the second floor of the building, scores of men did not hesitate to drop from the windows one fugitive suffering a broken leg.  He was helped into a waiting buggy by companions and was driven rapidly away.

Other men at the ringside made up for the most part of "followers" of sport from Chicago, formed flying wedges and charged trustees and deputes in approved football style (old rules), and broke through the ring of the officers guarding the exits.  Then began the helterskelter flight from the village, some getting away in carriages, a few in automobiles and a regular army by foot.

The trustees and deputies, however, did manage to capture nine men, including the proprietors of the saloon, W.C. (Buck) McCormick and J.J. Doyle.  They were trundled into a waiting patrol wagon and taken to the West Hammond police station.

Champion Battling Nelson escaped the same fate by what his ring followers might call a neat exhibition of ring generalship.  When the scramble began the Battler bethought himself of a deputy's star presented to him by an admirer in Mexico last year.  Pinning this to his coat he mingled with the raiders and finally slipped from the place unobserved.  A warrant for his arrest, however, is said to have been issued.

According to the village trustees, Burnham has been a center for championship dog fights in the last few months, and today's affair was a climax.  The dogs, a white bull terrier and a brindle, owned by M.J. Murphy and Pat Conroy of the stockyards district, had been matched for a heavy purse, and there was considerable betting on the result.  Shortly before 4 o'clock in the afternoon sentinels posted by the trustees observed groups of men working their way toward the saloon, and by 5 o'clock it was estimated that there were nearly 600 persons in the building.  Then the doors were closed and the fight began.  For nearly an hour ht ebattle continued.

Finally, after 56 minutes of this terrific work, the battle was halted for a minute.  But the owners had bet $500 on the result, and both insisted that the fight go on.  Time was called and the brindle rushed at the white terrier which waited the attack in his corner.  The terrier secured what appeared to be a fatal grip and slowly forced his opponent to the floor.  Still no sign of mercy from the corner of either owner.

But Champion Nelson, thought backing the losing dog heavily, decided to end matters.  He had fought many gruelling battles himself and grimly had taken terrible beltings, but he could nto stand that dog fight.  The pugilist jumped on the stage and insisted that the referee separate the dogs.  Just as he did so the raiders broke in and the stampede began.  When the owner of the defeated dog started to drag him from the canvas the half dying brute turned on the man and fastened his teeth in his leg.

The trustee who led the raid said las night that the willage board had determined to end the dog fighting in that district.

"Such a fight as that which occurred today is a disgrace to the comunity." he said, "and the authorities will see that all the prisoners are punished to the limit."

The San Francisco Call., San Francisco, CA, Nobember 23, 1908, p. 11