Glendale Mill Office Robbery
$18,000 Taken
Story furnished by Clarence Crocker


As had been the custom for many years, the mill Superintendent went to the mill office early on Friday morning, February 27, 1948 to make arrangements to pay the first and second shift workers. The money had been brought from the Citizens and Southern National Bank in Spartanburg and had been prepared in small sealed manila envelopes, placed in small trays according to departments and placed in the company safe by the Paymaster on the evening of the 26th. 

 

Pay Envelope

The employee’s name and total amount of earnings were written on the front of every envelope along with the applicable deductions such as house rent, tax, S.S., insurance, company store charges, church contributions, charity, etc. Small bills, none over twenty dollars and change were used to pay the employees.

 

This particular Friday morning was different from all others. When Bernard White, Mill Superintendent arrived at the office, he found the safe open and the money missing. Sometime Thursday night, February 26, or early Friday morning, the 27th, a thief or thieves had entered the office, knocked the safe combination knob off, punched out the mechanism and ripped the door open and had taken all the money. 



The Spartanburg County Sheriff, B. B. Brockman was notified. He, county Detectives George Pruette and Jess Murph came immediately to the mill office. Will Quinn, mill and village policeman, was there also. 

(Mr. Quinn)

In an article written by Mike Guthrie and printed in the Spartanburg Herald on Saturday, February 28, 1948, it was stated that the trays of money had been loaded in a wastebasket taken from the office to cart away the loot. Merchants were asked to be on the look-out for persons with unusual amounts of small denomination bills. 

It was the opinion of all concerned parties that the robbery had been well planned and executed perhaps by several persons having at least one car. The mill night watchman had made his regular rounds punching the time clocks and had seen nothing unusual. The Sheriff suggested that it would have taken only a few minutes for an experienced robber to do the entire job. 


Mr. L. D. DeLoach, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Glendale Mills, also felt that the robber or robbers got in quickly, worked fast and got out fast. It was his opinion that it was the work of a professional safe cracker expert or experts. 

Since evidence of a recent robbery at the Saxon Mill Store and the Fingerville Mill plant as well as others in North Carolina and Georgia showed that there might be a connection, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, The Treasury Department Agents, The North Carolina State Police along with the Spartanburg Sheriff’s office joined in the investigation. At that time the robbery was considered to be among the largest in local history. Bulletins concerning the robberies were circulated throughout the southern states. After a suspect had been identified and Police were advised that he had lived and worked in Glendale, the house in which it was said that he had lived was immediately put under surveillance. Incidentally, the house was within sight of the mill office. 

Having been advised that Tennessee police were holding the suspect, Sheriff B. B. Brockman, County Police Chief, O. L. Brady, State Constable J. Marion Langston and a Postal Inspector went to Kingsport, Tennessee on Monday afternoon April 5. On Tuesday afternoon April 6, 1948, Sheriff Brockman, while still in Tennessee, announced to the Spartanburg Journal through Detective George Pruette in Spartanburg that a suspect, Claude Manis alias Hugh G Manis, had been arrested and charged with the robbery at Glendale Mills and the Saxon Mill Store. He stated that two warrants had been signed before Magistrate Esten C. Taylor and served on Manis who was being held in the Tennessee jail. 

The Newspaper account written by Glen W. Naves stated that the first warrant charged him with taking $18,000.00, more or less, from Glendale Mills. The Second warrant charged him with taking $2200.00 more or less, from the Saxon Mill Store. Detective Pruette stated that officers had been informed that Manis had lived in Spartanburg county for some time and had lived in Glendale, working in the mill for a short while. 

Shortly after the robbery, the company began to pay the employees by check as opposed to cash. Arrangement was made at the Glendale Mill Store to cash the employee’s check when requested. Cash was brought from the bank on Friday and Saturday mornings by armed guards for this express purpose. 

According to court records, copies (19 pages) of which I have at hand, indicate that Manis appeared in the Spartanburg General Session Court which convened on the fourth Monday of July 1948 where he was charged in the Glendale Case with three indictments; Housebreaking, Larceny and Receiving stolen goods. A panel of twenty seven jurors was drawn of which five were excused by the State and ten were excused by the Defendant. Sheriff B.B. Brockman presented the case against the defendant as he had found it along with the testimony of Mr. T. M. Howe and his wife, Mrs. Annie Howe, employees of Glendale Mills. They testified that they saw a man parked near the office about 10;20 the night of the robbery and identified Manis from a photo which was shown to them. They later testified that he was the same man they saw the night of the robbery when confronted by him after his arrest. 

He was found guilty by the jury on the first and second counts and not guilty on the third count. Signed by C. M. Pearson, Foreman. The judgment of the court read; “The sentence of the Court is that you, Claude Manis alias Hugh S. Manis be confined upon the public works of Spartanburg County or in the State Penitentiary at hard labor for a period of fifteen years.” Signed by T. S. Sease , Presiding Judges July 29, 1948. 

The lawyers for the defendant, Attorneys Sam M. Burts, C. Yates Brown and Thomas Whiteside moved that the Judge give a directed “Not Guilty” verdict on all accounts but was denied. They then made the motion for a new trial which was also denied. Notice of intention to appeal to the State Supreme Court was filed immediately with Samuel R. Watt, Solicitor of the 7th Judicial Circuit, consenting. 

A six page appeal was filed January 12, 1949 before the S.C. Supreme Court by the aforesaid attorneys for Claude Manis alias Hugh S. Manis . Pointing out that the respondent has relied entirely on circumstantial evidence and while crediting the testimony of Mr. and Mrs. Howe with all sincerity was “dubious” at best. It was suggested that the word of a $500 reward might have influenced them in that they did not notify anyone of their sighting for some time after the robbery. After strong emphasis on the lack of “proof” the judgment of the Supreme Court was; “the judgment of the lower court is reversed and the case remanded for entry of judgment for the appellant; and unless there are other charges pending against him, it is ordered that he be discharged from custody. Copy of judgment filed by E. W. Miller, Clerk of Court, Spartanburg County, January 24, 1949. 

Unfortunately for Manis another warrant had been filed in Spartanburg County against him on a like charge which was pending trial preventing his release. On January 24, 1949, same day as the Supreme Courts judgment, C. Yates Brown, the Attorney for Manis, filed motion before the Spartanburg General Sessions court that Manis be granted bail. The court ordered that he be released from custody under bail of fifteen hundred, ($1500.00) This writer having no further interest in the case against Manis sought no further information regarding the defendant. 

Footnote; Following the fire which destroyed the Mill Plant and all outer buildings except the Mill Office, the Mill Office and other property was donated by the owner to Wofford College, Spartanburg, S. C. They have done a magnificent work of restoration of the building and preservation of the grounds. This writer would like to commend and express appreciation for their help in making Glendale a point of interest once again.

 



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