This Day in History: November 17th, 1924

This Day in History: November 17th, 1924

Attack Made Upon John Sanchev Near Milltown Church

Three unmasked bandits held up John Sanchev, aged forty-two years, of 1164 Ohio Avenue, Trenton, in front of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Milltown, at 10:15 o’clock last night while he was on his way to board a Trenton Street Line trolley for his home. Before the bandits were able to carry out the robbery, they were frightened away by the cries of their victim. Sanchev was mercilessly beaten by the bandits who rained blows upon his face and body, and when he was found by William Huff and Howard DeHart, two young Milltown men, his face was badly battered.

Huff and DeHart went in pursuit of the bandits but they escaped, one taking to the fields and shaking off his pursuers and the other two boarding a westbound Trenton trolley car. Sanchev was taken to the office of Justice of the Peace Joseph A. Headley of Milltown where he told his story of the assault and attempted robbery. Sanchev had reached the church, which is but a short distance from the Trenton trolley junction, when three men came upon him from the rear and, without explanation, began striking him. He tried his best to ward off the blows but they came so fast and furious that he was soon overpowered. Sanchev, who rifled his clothes, called for help and DeHart and Huff came to his rescue. The highwaymen made a hasty retreat.

When brought before Justice Headley, Sanchev stated that he had been visiting at the home of Mrs. Catherine Plassia and that he was in search of employment in Milltown. He was returning to his home in Trenton when the assault took place. He stated that he had $10 in his wallet at the time of the holdup which the bandits overlooked in searching him.

The police of Milltown and the state police made an investigation soon after the robbery was reported but did not find any trace of the bandits. Edward Beecher and William Beecher, Milltown marshals, joined the state troopers in searching for the bandits. The Trenton police were also notified to watch the incoming trolleys, but the men probably alighted before reaching Trenton, as no trace of them was found on any of the trolleys reaching Trenton before midnight.

Sanchev stated he believed the holdup men to be Frenchmen. When they left him in his dazed condition, Sanchev stated that he heard one of the men address the other as “Tenoff.” Sanchev went back to the home of Mrs. Plassia after having his injuries treated, and this morning he left for his home. Sanchev is a married man.

This Day in History: November 11th, 1921

This Day in History: November 11th, 1921


Steve Bagonye Held Up and Robbed Near His Home Last Evening Hunt Underway For South River Men Who Are Suspected of Crime.

MILLTOWN, Nov. 11 – The Milltown police authorities, working in conjunction with the South River police, are endeavoring today to effect the arrest of two men, believed to be South River residents, who are wanted on a charge of having held up and robbed Steve Bagonye of Washington Avenue, this place. The victim is about fifty-five years of age and is the father of Dr. Eugene Bagonye, pastor of the First Spiritualist Church of Milltown.

Mr. Bagonye is employed at the Michelin tire plant and was on his way home about 5:15 o’clock yesterday afternoon when he was stopped at a point on Washington Avenue, near his home, by a stranger who asked for the courtesy of a match. As Mr. Bagonye came to a stop, another man sprang from some nearby bushes and placed his hand over the Milltown man’s mouth, his companion going through his pockets at the same time. The thieves got Mr. Bagonye’s pay envelope, containing $22, his penknife, and a bunch of keys.

Freeing himself, Mr. Bagonye screamed for help, whereupon the strangers knocked him down and one stamped upon his neck, while the other jumped on the ribs of the fallen man. After administering a thorough beating to him, the men ran away, leaving their victim nearly unconscious along the roadway. He was found in this condition a little later by a neighbor, who happened along and was assisted to his home.

This morning Mr. Bagonye had recovered sufficiently to give a fairly accurate description of his assailants and neighbors said they knew one of the men to be a resident of Washington Heights, South River. This information was conveyed to Chairman Dorn of the Milltown police committee, who summoned Marshals Beecher and Lins, and all three officials left at once for South River, where they enlisted the aid of Police Chief Ebberwein of that place.

Early this afternoon, a hunt for the South River man, believed to be one of Mr. Bagonye’s assailants, was underway, but with what success is not known.

This Day in History: September 14th, 1907

This Day in History: September 14th, 1907


Vice-President Emile Fontaine’s residence on Main Street, Milltown, was burglarized last evening. The thief made off with jewelry and money, managing to escape without being detected.

Mr. Fontaine is the vice-president of the Michelin Tire Company and resides in the recently purchased Sine residence by Dr. Ferdinand Riva. The family retired at 10 p.m. The nurse and interpreter, Miss Anlee Holohan, was partially awakened by someone passing through her room before dawn. She also heard noises downstairs but, as she had asked the cook to wake her early, she didn’t pay much attention to it.

When the cook came downstairs at 6 o’clock this morning, she was startled to find the kitchen door wide open with the doormat in place, and the window screen on the steps. It was evident that the thief had entered through the window.

A thorough search of the house had been conducted, but some items were overlooked. One hundred dollars belonging to Miss Holohan had disappeared.

Clothing Stolen from His Room
Superintendent Fontaine noticed early this morning that his clothing was missing from his room but found it at the top of the stairs. His silver watch and chain, purchased in Paris, were gone. A silver dollar had been taken from his vest pocket, along with some loose change.

Mrs. Fontaine discovered a small decorative platter halfway down the stairs, and her silver watch, along with a fine long gold chain for her neck, was missing. The chain was valued at $32 in Paris. An old gold watch of English make and a gold brooch, both belonging to Miss Holohan, were also taken. These items held significant sentimental value for her.

It was clear that the thief had moved silently through the house and taken great care not to disturb anyone further.

At half-past six this morning, Superintendent Fontaine called Justice Headley to conduct an investigation in his home. Naturally, the family was highly alarmed but relieved that no more had been stolen.

It seems that there has been recent prowling by thieves in this area of Milltown, likely taking advantage of the darkness resulting from malfunctioning electric lights.

Thief Spotted Multiple Times
Mrs. Frederic Bauries spotted a man near her kitchen door at 1 o’clock one morning. He disappeared immediately. She had also noticed someone prowling around Justice Headley’s property around midnight on another occasion.

On a separate occasion, she frightened off a man attempting to enter her neighbor Charles Sevenhair’s window.

The same thief proceeded to David Nevius’ house and woke him up around 5 o’clock this morning. The thief was seen searching through Mr. Nevius’ trouser pockets. Mr. Nevius attempted to confront the thief but had trouble loading a cartridge into his gun, allowing the thief to escape. The thief managed to steal some money during this encounter.

This Day in History: July 10th, 1926

This Day in History: July 10th, 1926

Milltown National Bank 1924 - North Main Street


Bitzberger and Another Caught After Sawing Prison Bars


Harry Bitzberger, who attempted the robbery of the First National Bank of Milltown in 1921 and was sent to prison, made his second Attempt to escape yesterday with James Ayres, another dangerous criminal, but the try was foiled by prison deputy, According to prison officials it was evidently the intention of the prisoners to attack one of the guards on duty in the wing in which they were confined. The guards are locked Inside the wing and the keys are kept inside the centre.” Principal Keeper Joseph Hoff said last night it would have been impossible for the two prisoners to have even gotten outside of the wing. Bitzberger has finished his term for the Milltown bank robbery and is now serving a term of from six years and eight months to ten years for an attempted post office robbery. Ayres is serving a term of from fourteen to twenty-two years.

First Attempt

Last March Bitzberger attempted to escape by sawing four bars of his cell while confined to No. A Wing. It was shortly after 2 o’clock in the morning that a deputy found the bars had been sawed, and upon investigation discovered that Bitzberger had some extra clothing in his cell besides an improvised ladder made from material he had stolen from the printing establishment where hewas then employed. He was then placed in solitary confinement in one of the old cells in Old South Hall. With the heavy wooden door protecting him from the sight of the deputies on duty, he found time to make another attempt to escape. Twisting one of the iron legs from his bed he und it as a tool to dig through the stone floor. It was his object to dig a hole leading to the lavatory pipes and following this course to the “centre.” Keeper Hoff then had him transferred to what is known as “douhis solitary” in No. 7 Wing. Ayres sawed the bars of his cell, but the discovery was made before he had gotten into the wing. He, too, was placed in No. 7 Wing. The two prisoners occupied cells some distance apart on the third tier. There are 350 convicts in that wing.

Used Steel Bit

Bitzenberger used a small steel hit to remove the bolts holding the bars in place. The piece he removed was just about large enough for the convict to squeeze through. In the rear of the cells is an air shaft leading to the roof. There are no ventilators in the roof, all the openings having been cemented up some time ago by Keeper Hoff. Bitzberger ripped the small wooden stand apart in his cell and wrapped pieces of clothing around two of the legs. It is believed that be was to pass one of these improvised blackjacks to his pal if they had to fight their way out of the wing All the cells in No. 7 Wing are surrounded by heavy outer bars and convicts would have to also saw through these bars before they could reach the corridor of the wing.

Found by Kenney

Deputy Lloyd of Lamberton street, Trenton, was making his daily inspection of the cells yesterday when he discovered the bars sawed and the piece of plate removed from the rear of the ether cell. When Deputy Kenney entered the cells both convicts remarked that they “had been caught this time.” The matter was reported to Keeper Hoff and Bitzberger was removed to a cell in Old South Hall. Ayres was placed in another cell in a different part of the wing, where he had been in solitary confinement for many months. The repairs to the two cells were made at once. Bitzberger was received at the prison on January 14, 1921, and was paroled on December 19, 1924 When he left the prison he told Keeper Hoff that he was going “Straight.” Following a visit to his wife at Lancaster, Pa, he returned to New Jersey and became complicated in the robbery of A postoffice at Hackensack.

On May 1925, he was returned to the prison to serve a long term. He has also served time in the government penitentiary at Leavenworth. When the two cells were search yesterday a steel bit was found in the one occupied by Bitzberger, but the brace could not be located. All steel saw was found in Ayres cell.  

This Day in History: June 29th, 1910

This Day in History: June 29th, 1910


MILLTOWN, June 29-On Sunday evening two young boys broke into the grocery store of Frank Boice, took six dollars of fireworks and escaped through a window. The boys were later apprehended and most of the fireworks were found. Mr. Boice did not bring charges against them but the boys were taught a lesson by the use of a paddle and other means.

This Day in History: March 23rd, 1920

This Day in History: March 23rd, 1920

Location of MIlltown National Bank 1917 - 1924


MILLTOWN, March 23. – About might months ago the people of this Community were all stirred up over the continued attempts at robbery by a band of slick men, but hardly considered professionals. Now it leaks out again that a crew has been making preliminary plans for a “good haul” in Milltown. This story did not leak out until Saturday, after it was discovered that a crew of four navy deserters had been discharged from the Michelin Tire factory of this place for bad conduct.

The four men in question have seen prolonging their stay in Milltown now for about five weeks, and going under the name of “navy men from Atlanta, Ga.” The four men gave a hard luck story when they endeavored to secure work at the local plant, and the superintendent employed them because he needed help at the time. Everything in connection with their work went off very smoothly until last week, when was necessary to discharge them or their disturbance.

At the quarters where they were staying they had rung up a two weeks’ bill, and two of the men skipped before the proprietor could realize what had happened, but he went to the Michelin company and forced the other two men to square up before they left the grounds.

Now comes the report that these men were suspicion as likely thieves, as three places reported men attempting to enter the homes during the past week. It may be that the people are only excited over the matter, but they waited too long for their confession. However, is a known fact that they tried to borrow some tools from a local party, claiming they wanted to go South River and steal a suit of clothes, as they were “dead broke.”


A head-on collision was the fate of John Falk, driving one of his cars home from Princeton on Saturday night, where he had been on a business trip.

The accident happened at about 8 o’clock, on the road between Cranbury and Dayton, and was the result of a big army truck bound for Princeton crashing head-on into his machine.

Mr. Falk was driving the car at the time, and Mr. Elbe, his partner, was in the front with him when they endeavored to pass the big truck. They successfully passed the first one, and least expected an- other so close behind, but following was another truck being towed home by the first one. Both the army machines were without lights, and the second was partly in the middle of the road, and as a result when Mr. Falk passed the first, the second was so close and farther out that it crashed right into his ear and did considerable damage. Both army trucks were without lights, and the lieutenant took Mr. Falk and Mr. Elbe back to Princeton, where they signed a paper in order to receive the expenses for the dam- aged car, as the lieutenant admit- ted they were at fault, and gave as the reason for no lights that they expected to reach Princeton before dark.

Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.

The Chamber of Commerce will get back on the job again on Wednesday night, and a live meeting is expected to ensue. The Commerce men are elated over the possibility of their annexation project going through, because it seems now that everyone concerned in the annexation of this ground is perfectly satisfied, and when it comes up before the voters in April it is expected to pass easily.

The Commerce board will start out anew now, and endeavor to push over a few more such improvement ideas, and as they have a number of New ideas on the table, it is desired that a full attendance be had on Wednesday. The meeting will be held in Red Men’s Hall, and open to all whether members or not.

Personal Mention.

The young child of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Christ was christened on Sunday afternoon by Rev. L. S. Hammond, pastor of the Methodist Church. Frank Becza has purchased an Oakland touring car from Milltown’s new repair shop agency, Messrs. Falk & Elbe.

Prayer and praise service will be. held this evening at the Methodist Church.

Frank Becza has purchased an Oakland touring car from Milltown’s new repair shop agency, Messrs. Falk & Elbe.

Mrs. Edward Brown is a recent acquisition to the choir of the Methodist Church. Mrs. Brown, formerly Miss Florence Hardy of New Brunswick, was a former member of Pitman Church choir.