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Mail Tribune 100, April 16, 1921

The following news items were drawn from the archives of the Mail Tribune 100 years ago

April 16, 1921


Former Bank President Now Witness in Grants Pass, Keeps Up Cheerful Demeanor — Shows Interest in Owen — Jury is Selected.

His head is shaven clean in accordance with state prison rules, W. H. Johnson, former cashier of the defunct Bank of Jacksonville, held as a witness in the civil action of the state banking board by F. S. Bramwell against Ben M. Collins, Grants Pass auto dealer, chatted in the Josephine county jail Friday afternoon. A ten-year sentence in the penitentiary has not changed the philosophical former bank head. He is apparently as light hearted as a high school boy.

Johnson was seated at a table in the Josephine county jail with two boys, held for minor offenses ... when the interviewer called.

“How are you?” he was asked.

“Fine! Never felt better and had less?” was the brisk reply, as he walked to the iron door.

“Is there anything you want,” further queried the interviewer.

“I want my three meals that I am entitled to. I only get two in here. I’m entitled to three. If they are going to make me work, I want my three meals a day. I’m going to ask Roberts about it when I see him.”

“Is Owen still out and stopping at the best hotels? I told them he would talk Charlie out of something, and I was right. He’s a slick one when it comes to anything like that. It would tickle me if he would walk away from Charlie. It surprised me when they got him as far as Medford.” Johnson was apparently highly interested in the court proceedings involving Owen.

Johnson was brought into court, as a witness against Ben Collins, in the civil action, and his entrance attracted considerable attention from the spectators. He took a seat at the counsel table for the plaintiff, and sharpening a lead pencil commenced to figure, going through a bundle of old checks, to be used as exhibits in the case.

Mrs. Johnson came from Jacksonville to see her husband, and held several conversations with him.

Johnson was told that friends were talking of preparing a petition for his release from the state prison.

“That’s all right, but why start so late,” asked Johnson. “After they get a man in jail, they want to get him out, and that’s hard to do.”

Selection of a jury in the civil action in which Ben M. Collins is defendant and the state bank board plaintiff was begun before Judge F. M. Calkins Friday afternoon at Grants Pass. The first three jurors examined had lived in Josephine county for over 20 years. The defense was represented by Attorneys Gus Newbury of Medford and Jesse Johnson of Grants Pass, and the plaintiff by Attorney George M. Roberts of this city.

The civil suit is an outgrowth of the failure of the Bank of Jacksonville for the collection of two promissory notes; one for $265, dated April 5, 1915, and for the collection of a second promissory note dated February 21, 1919, and an alleged overdraft of $1,179.80, a total of $2,262.80.

— Alissa Corman; acorman@rosebudmedia.com