Leon Reporter, Leon, Iowa
Thursday, April 28, l904
'Des Moines Police Rescue Two Girls of Lamoni, Who were Lured into a Disreputable House.'
A thundering "No" point-blank from the lines of a maiden saved two young and innocent Lamoni (Iowa) girls yesterday afternoon from a life of shame in an East Court Avenue resort, to which they had been enticed by promise of remunerative and honorable work. Alluring statements, pretty speeches and a promise of gold in return for "light work" brought pretty MYRTLE TALMAN and her no less beautiful sister, ANNA, to Des Moines last evening from Lamoni, southern Iowa, city of Christian homes. Reared by a mother who is a devout member of the Latter Day Saints Church, the two girls trusted implicitly JOHN and EMMA DICKERHOFF, who are now under arrest, charged with enticing the innocent maidens into a house of ill fame.
The story of deception is concisely told by the older MISS TALMAN, who was taken under the sheltering wing of Chief of Police Jones this morning. The frightened young woman says:
"ANNA and I are the daughters of MRS. MARGARET TALMAN of Lamoni, Iowa. Our mother is a member of the Latter Day Saints Church and a good woman, and she has reared us to respect the right. We are poor and have been compelled to work out as domestics to earn a living. I worked for some time for prominent people in Mt. Ayr. My sister has a friend who was married to MRS. DICKERHOFF's brother, a man named DRISCO, who formerly resided in Des Moines. MRS. DRISCO told us some time ago that MR. DICKERHOFF procured employment for young girls in Des Moines and we wrote to him to see what he could offer. He answered immediately that he had been taken in by several girls; that he had spent money for railroad fare and that the girls would not come. He said he was in need of a couple of good girls and that he would come after us at once. So we prepared to come to Des Moines."
"We were offered good wages. My sister was to get $3 per week and her board and I was to receive $l per day. When I asked what sort of work I was to do, MR. DICKERHOFF said it would be something easy and that I would have plenty of opportunity to rest and read and that I might go out often to theatres and for buggy rides."
"We believed implicitly in MR. DICKERHOFF and came with him, arriving in Des Moines last evening at 6:l0."
"I didn't like the looks of things when we were ushered into the house at 3l4 East Court Avenue," said the young lady. "There were two girls sitting in the front room very gaudily dressed. I had no idea what a bad resort looked like, but a feeling came over me that at least MR. and MRS. DICKERHOFF must have some very loose associates. We were given a nice supper and told that we need not go to work until the next day. Every few minutes men came into the front room and talked with the girls there. The men bought cigars, and sister and I agreed that there was probably nothing wrong. We thought that the fellows just dropped in to get a smoke.
"Well, after supper there seemed to be nothing to do. We wanted to help do up the supper dishes, but MRS. DICKERHOFF said that the '------' would do that. About 8 o'clock, MRS. DICKERHOFF came in and asked us girls if we didn't want to go to the theatre. Of course we did. We began to feel happier. This going to a theatre was the first fulfillment of the promise that had been held out to us to get us to come to Des Moines. We went to the Mirror and enjoyed the show so much that we forgot that we were in a strange town and surrounded by things that seemed so strange. But after the show the girl who went with us stopped on the side-walk and talked to several men. Three men followed us down to the house. The woman who escorted us drew back and talked to one of the men. The other two came on behind, following us girls. As we had not been introduced to them we did not talk to them."
"Arriving at the house we were admitted. The men followed, to buy cigars, as I supposed. MRS. DICKERHOFF, to our surprise, asked them into the parlor and everyone sat around the centertable asking about the show."
"One man asked me if there was any beer for sale in the house. I answered that I was a stranger and had little to do with the house; that I had just come up from the country to work. The man laughed at the other two boys and winked his eye in a wicked way."
"The awful truth did not dawn upon me until after the girl who had taken us to the show ran up stairs with one of the men. MRS. DICKERHOFF told my sister that she should go with another man and the last fellow grabbed me by the arm and said: 'Come along my beauty.'
" I went hesitatingly up stairs. At the top of the stairs I met MRS. DICKERHOFF."
"I demanded to know what kind of a house I was in."
"MRS. DICKERHOFF said not to get fussy; that I was expected to make the evening pleasant for the young man and that I ought to forget being a country girl and understand that now I was in a city."
"That was enough for me," said MISS TALMAN this morning. "I made up my mind that sister and I must get out of that house at once. I ran down to the lower floor calling to my sister to come after me. To my surprise I found that she had already pinned on her wraps and was hunting me.
We gathered our wraps together as quickly as possible and left the house."
Out upon an unknown street at almost the midnight hour, friendless and alone, her maiden modesty insulted and her better feelings aroused to the highest pitch, MISS TALMAN struck bravely for liberty from the yoke of shame which would have been fastened upon her. Not knowing that she had traversed the worst quarter of the city, MISS TALMAN and her sister ran west on Court Avenue to Second and then because the girls espied some man following them they ran north to Walnut Street and proceeded to cross over to West Des Moines.
"I had no idea where we were going except that we were making for the main part of the city," said MISS TALMAN. I knew that we were going somewhere near the big station where we had gotten off the train."
The man who had been following us, coming faster and faster, caught us as we reached the bridge. We had almost run to get away from him. To our surprise he stopped us and said: I beg pardon girls, but I saw you with that old hag and I feared you were being taken to a bad place. Can I help you any? I have a wife and child and am an honorable man and will help you if you will permit it.
"Deceived once, could we trust again? That was the thought which came to me but there was nothing to do but place ourselves in charge of this man who protested that he would be honorable. I asked him what he would do and he said he would send us to his home in Valley Junction or to a good boarding house. He gave his name as Bert Flint. We have reason to bless the minute we met that man. He was kind and good to us. At the street car station he put us on the last car to Valley Junction and away we whizzed through the dark, not knowing what we might find at the end of the line. Sister cried a bit but I said that she might as well be brave as I was certain that the last man was an honorable one and that in Valley Junction we would find friends."
"And so we did. We could not find Mrs. Flint, but we found some nice people at Young's boarding house and they took us in for the night. This morning we told our story to Deputy Marshal Peterson and he told us that we must prosecute thesse people; that unless we do they will go on deceiving other girls. He said that the police had been trying to catch several East Court Avenue folks for just this kind of business. We have been treated kindly by Chief Jones who let us write to mamma. And we used his oak polished desk and he gave us a stamp. We promised to stay until after the trial so that we can send that awful man to the penitentiary. The chief says if that man is found guilty he will get a long sentence in the penitentiary."
Immediately the facts in the case as related became known to the officers of the Humane Society; the young ladies were promised a position in some good home. They were fortified with recommendations and letters upon their person showed that the older girl is honorably engaged, to marry a Mt. Ayr man.
"We do not care to live in the city," said MISS TALMAN. "We will go home as soon as the trial is over. I had hoped we would be able to make a lot of money to help poor mother. We can make fair wages working near Lamoni and we can be sure that we will be treated as decent girls. I know some good men down there who would make an awful row if they knew how we had been treated."
Information was filed in Judge Mathis' court charging MR. and MRS. DICKERHOFF with enticing girls of chaste character into a house of ill fame. Bonds of $500 each were furnished by Himan Levich. The trial has been sent down for next Monday afternoon. Police Officers Crawford and Yeager, who pulled the house on East Court Avenue, brought in a number of inmates who were fined $l0 each and discharged.
The police this afternoon assisted MISSES MYRTLE and ANNA TALMAN to find their aunt, MRS. ANNA HELPHRERY of this city, and a cousin MRS. GRACE BURMEISTER.
--DES MOINES CAPITAL, April 23.
Copied by Nancee(McMurtrey)Seifert
"With permission from the Leon Journal Reporter"
April 29, 2003
*Note: Several places in the article, the girls' last name was spelled TOLMAN -- so I'm not sure which is correct.
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