Category Archives: William B. Schwartz

Criminal Ancestry

I wrote another post for the website last week. Some of you may be familiar with the story of Roscoe’s great uncle William B. Schwartz. I used William as an example of an ancestor with a criminal past and some of the records needed to discover these fascinating stories.

This week I submitted an article on using land records in your research. Stay tuned!

A Final Resting Place

In December 1915, William B. Schwartz died. He was buried on 16 December 1915. I am currently in the process of ordering William’s death certificate and the burial records from Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. Mary Victoria died a few years later in 1918. Both are buried in unmarked graves, in adjoining plots, at Crown Hill Cemetery. I have been unable thus far to find an obituary for William. Perhaps once I have a definite death date for William, I may be able to have better luck finding an obituary.

I have tracked down two personal court cases in which William B. Schwartz was involved. The first case was from 1901 in which he was the plaintiff; the second was from 1906 in which he was the defendant. I will begin transcribing and posting from these two cases this week.

I will  post more information as I discover it, but at this point, what I have of William B. Schwartz’s story has been told. I still haven’t made up my mind whether he was truly a scoundrel or a man caught up in life’s misfortunes.

You can visit William B. Schwartz’s memorial at Find A Grave.

©Deborah Sweeney, 2014.


The Warden’s Reply

Schwartz, W. B. - 1915-03-05Letter transcription:

United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Kansas
Carbon Copy for the Files

March 5, 1915

Mr. James A. Refferty,
Bureau of Investigation,
N. Y. City,

Dear Sir:

In reply to your letter of the 3d instant regarding the correspondence of William B. Schwartz while in this institution, I beg to advise that he received no communications from Julius Hochfelder. On June 18, 1906, however Schwartz received a letter from his brother H. A. Schwartz, Loudenville, Ohio. This may possibly be the H. Swarts you have reference to.





Letter from Warden, R. W. McClaughry, to Jas. A. Rafferty, Chief of Bureau of Investigations, 5 March 1915, William B. Schwartz, Prisoner no. 5476; Inmate Case Files, U. S. Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Kansas, 1895-1931, Record Group 129; National Archives at Kansas City, Missouri.

Bureau of Investigation

Schwartz, W. B. - 1915-03-03Letter transcription:

Municipal Civil Service Commision
Of the City of New York
Municipal Building
Centre & Chambers Sts.
Bureau of Investigation
New York, March 3, 1915

Federal Prison,
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.


William B. Swarts (Schwartz), of Indianapolis, Ind., was convicted of counterfeiting, xxxxx November 26, 1906, and sentenced to serve five years in Leavenworth Prison.

Will you kindly advise the Bureau if your records show whether a Julius Hochfelder, or H. Swarts communicated in any way with the prisoner while under your care.

I am anxious to obtain this information and would appreciated the courtesy of an early reply.


Jas A. Rafferty
Chief of Bureau of Investigation

Recd. H. A. Schwartz, Bro.
From Loudonville Oh.
June 18-1906


Letter from Chief of Bureau of Investigation, Jas. A. Rafferty, to Warden, R. W. McClaughry, 3 March 1915, William B. Schwartz, Prisoner no. 5476; Inmate Case Files, U. S. Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Kansas, 1895-1931, Record Group 129; National Archives at Kansas City, Missouri.

Chief Postal Inspector

Schwartz, W. B. - 1910-08-23 Letter from Chief InspectorLetter transcription:

William B. Schwartz, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Post Office Department
Office of the Chief Inspector
Case 15887-E
August 23, 1910

Mr. R. W. McClaughry,
Warden, United States Penitentiary,
Leavenworth, Kansas.


Receipt is acknowledged of your letter dated August 15, 1910, with inclosures, alleging use of the mails for fraudulent purposes by William B. Schwartz, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Your letter and the papers accompanying it will be referred to a post office inspector for investigation, and such action will be taken as the facts warrant.


R. S. Sharp

Chief Inspector


Letter from Chief Post Office Inspector, Robert S. Sharp, to Warden, R. W. McClaughry, 23 August 1910, William B. Schwartz, Prisoner no. 5476; Inmate Case Files, U. S. Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Kansas, 1895-1931, Record Group 129; National Archives at Kansas City, Missouri.

Indianapolis, 1914

Schwartz, W. B. - Indianapolis directory, 1914

The address is different, and the intial B. has been dropped from the name in the 1914 directory, but I believe it is the same W. B. Schwartz. How many William Schwartz, lawyer, can there be in Indianapolis in 1914?


“U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989,” digital image, ( : accessed 6 May 2014), Indianapolis (1914), Wm Schwartz.

Indianapolis 1913

Schwartz, W. B. - Indianapolis directory, 1913

By the end of 1913, Roberta married Ralph H. Edwards. William continued to work as a lawyer.


“U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989,” digital image, ( : accessed 5 May 2014), Indianapolis (1913), Wm B. Schwartz and Roberta V. Schwartz.

Indianapolis Resident 1912

Schwartz, W. B. - Indianapolis directory, 1912

In 1912, William still advertised himself as a lawyer. A few lines above, William’s youngest daughter, Roberta V., was listed as a cashier for H. P. Wasson & Co.


“U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989,” digital image, ( : accessed 5 May 2014), Indianapolis (1912), Wm B. Schwartz and Roberta V. Schwartz.

Curious Events

Schwartz, W. B. - 1910-08-15 Letter from Warden, p. 1August 15, 1910.

To the Chief Post-Office Inspector,

Washington, D. C.

Sir: –

December 14, 1906 I received into this penitentiary one William B. Schwartz, sent from Indianapolis, Indiana by the United States District Court of Indiana to be imprisoned four years in this institution for counterfeiting. He was discharged on expiration of sentence December 25, 1909, and he returned to Indianapolis. Since that time he has tried to get into correspondence with a number of prisoners here who are supposed to have some money and to secure fees from them.

Not long ago, the Department of Justice had occasion to make investigation of some contraband correspondence that was going on between some of the guards of this prison and outside parties, connected with an attempt to smuggle morphine and other drugs in for the use of the prisoners. One of the prisoners in our charge is one named James Manuel, who has some money in the hands of banking institutions in Oklahoma from whence he was sent. One or two of the guards got him to sign checks on this bank account, which they succeeded in collecting and for which they brought in contraband articles to him. The investigation connected with these cases brought out the facts that a prisoner named James Albert Rhodes #6252 was carrying on this correspondence through a guard who was promptly dismissed.

Schwartz, W. B. - 1910-08-15 Letter from Warden, p. 2[page 2]

Chief P.O.I. #2.-

Rhodes’ active partner on the outside was a woman known as Nellie Dove, or Nellie Cain, who had been a partner with Rhodes in some counterfeiting operations in Colorado; had been convicted with him in the United States Court and had served a sentence of one year and a half, or such a matter, in the State Prison of Colorado as a United States Prisoner, while Rhodes was sent for the same offense for five years to this prison. As soon as she was released she sought to get into communication with Rhodes, with whom she is very much infatuated.

In investigating the case, we found among her papers the enclosed two letters, – one written to her on July 6th by William B. Schwartz from Indianapolis. This is the same Schwartz that was here in prison; also one written to her July 14th, both having for their object the release of “Bert”, who is Rhodes above mentioned. They We also found two letters written to James Manuel, and these two letters are signed by Schwartz under the name of Geo. Manuel. It seems that Schwartz had been carrying on a contraband correspondence with Manuel through one of the guards who were discharged, and also getting money out of Manuel in various ways, and it had probably occurred to Schwartz that Mrs. Dove would be a good hand to operate through, consequently you will notice in the enclosed letters that he is conferring with her about Manuel. She wrote another letter to Manuel and was making quite free with him in the correspondence line when she discovered that Manuel was a black negro, there-upon, her ardor somewhat cooled and the deal is substantially broken up; but it has occurred to me that a careful inspection by officers of your Department, assisted by these letters, might

Schwartz, W. B. - 1910-08-15 Letter from Warden, p. 3[page 3]

Chief P.O.I. #3.-

show that Schwartz in using the mails for fraudulent purposes, and put a stop to his career in that line, as it seems one penitentiary sentence has not been sufficient to cure him.

I submit them therefore for your consideration, asking that if you do not find anything in the matter worthy of further investigation, that you will return these letters to me as I wish to keep them in the files for possible future use. There is no doubt that Schwartz is a thorough paced scoundrel and will be using every opportunity to practice fraud wherever it will bring him money.

I will be glad to co-operate with your officers and furnish them any further evidence that we may come across in progress of the investigation which is now being made by the Department of Justice.


Encls. 4.-


Letter from Warden R. W. McClaughry to Chief Post Office Inspector, 15 August 1910, William B. Schwartz, Prisoner no. 5476; Inmate Case Files, U. S. Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Kansas, 1895-1931, Record Group 129; National Archives at Kansas City, Missouri.


Letter from Record Clerk

Schwartz, W. B. - 1910-01-11 Letter from Record ClerkCOPY

Jan. 11, 1910.
Major R. W. McClaughrey,
Warden, U. S. Penitentiary,
Leavenworth, Kansas,

Sir: –

Referring to Mr. R. V. LaDow’s letter of the 8th., inst., asking for information as to how William B. Schwartz, #5476, was discharged on Dec. 25th., 1909, instead of Jan. 9th., or later, I have to say that I find in figuring the date of sentence the clerk at the time took the date the Commitment was certified to (Dec. 11, 1906) instead of the date of the sentence Nov. 27th., 1906.

The mistake was discovered and corrected but evidently no corrected card was sent to the Superintendent of Prisons.

Previous to the ruling of the Attorney General, (July 1, 1906) that in the absence of any expression in the Commitment as to when the term of imprisonment shall begin, that is be construed to begin on the day of arrival at the Penitentiary, the time as figured from the date of sentence.

Having been sentenced Nov. 27th., 1906 for (4) four years, his full time would expire Nov. 26th., 1910. His good time term, Dec. 25th., 1909.

As to the $10.00, fine will say that as the prisoner was not commited by the Court, this Institution could not hold him for the payment of said fine.

Very respectfully,

Record Clerk

Letter from the Record Clerk to Warden Robert W. McClaughry, 11 January 1910, William B. Schwartz, Prisoner no. 5476; Inmate Case Files, U. S. Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Kansas, 1895-1931, Record Group 129; National Archives at Kansas City, Missouri