THE OREGONIAN, APRIL 24, 1901
THE VANCOUVER TRAGEDY
Much Sorrow Expressed for the Dead Bankers
Depositors have Faith in Receiving Most of Their Moneyâ€”No Statement from Examiner Maxwell
VANCOUVER, Wash., April 23â€”The funeral of the late E.L. Canby was held at the family residence, in this city, at 11:30 this morning, and after brief but touching services at the residence, the remains were taken to Portland for Internment at Riverview cemetery. The pallbearers were: Frank Marshall, L.B. Clough, Dr. A.B. Eastham, E.M. Rands, A. Chumasero, and George Stevenson.
The tragic death of Mr. Canby and his late associate has softened the censure which was heard on every hand when the first news of the bank failure shocked the people of this city, and many of those who are supposed to be the heaviest losers through the failure of the bank have nothing but kind words and expressions of sorrow for the dead men. Bank Examiner Maxwell is religiously guarding the secrets of the bank and refuses to discuss any phase of the matter touching on the parts of condition of the institution. There are rumors that the single item of 10,000 which was the direct cause of his action in closing the bank is the only actual shortage directly traceable to the two men. The examiner will neither affirm nor deny the rumor, but states that it will be several days yet before he can make a tangible statement of the condition of the bank.
L.M. Hidden, one of the directors and a large depositor, said today: “I do not believe that either Brown or Canby actually ever stole one dollar from the bank. I believe it will be found when this investigation is over that whatever shortages are discovered occurred at differing times during the past ten years, commencing with the boom times of 1889 and 1890. These amounts, which in my opinion, represent private investments, or something of the nature, made during those times by one or both of the officers implicated were carried along on the books in one item, representing, it may be, cash in a reserve bank or something of that kind. I think the entry dated January 19th, 1901, discovered by the examiner was simply the last entry made of the item. I believe the bank to be in comparatively good shape and that the depositors will receive 100 cents on every dollar deposited. I was present when the February statement, the last one issued, and which was published in the Oregonian, was made up. I helped count the money, examine the notes and other securities, and I do not see how this statement can fail to be correct.”
Other directors seen take the same view of the situation as Mr. Hidden. There are, on the other hand, others, of course, who believe affairs are in even worse condition than yet reported, and are prepared for the worst that can happen.
Four deeds were placed on record in the Auditor’s office today, which have some bearing in the bank’s affairs. These deeds are each for a consideration of one dollar, and convey the property named therein to the First National Bank, in fee simple, with the proviso that in case the grantor shall hereafter pay any and all indebtedness owing by that grantor to the bank, then the conveyance shall be void. The amount of indebtedness owing is not stated in any of the instruments and no time limit is stated when such indebtedness shall be paid. The deeds were given by L.B. Clough, and cover certain property on Main Street, Vancouver, dated November 15th, 1899; E.L. Canby, covering his fine residence property, on Main and 12th Streets, this city, dated December 11, 1899; A.W. Hidden, 38.50 acres of land one mile north of town, dated November 21, 1899, and L.M. Hidden, one and one half acres river frontage in the city of Vancouver; dated December 11th, 1899. When asked for an explanation why these deeds were given at that time, L.B. Clough and L.M. Hidden, the only persons who could be seen, stated that the transfers were made at the time the capital stock of the bank was reduced for the purpose of indemnifying the bank against loss for monies owing from the parties. The value of the property in each case was considered more than ample to cover all indebtedness.
Almost without exception, the friends of Canby and Brown refuse to believe them guilty of diverting the funds for their own use in a criminal matter. They explain that the false entries were made on the books to ease over some bad transactions years ago. The bank was struggling under a load that made it rather “wobbly” as far back as 1893 and weathered the financial gales of the era with the greatest difficulty. Both of the men had a natural pride which it is believed by their friends sometimes prevented them from making confidants of their associates regarding transactions where bad judgment caused the loss for which the bank, and not the men, were really responsible. Their friends now state that in their opinion a number of entries were made at different times for this purpose and that the $10,000 item was a â€œlumpingâ€ of these sums.
The action of the examiner in closing the bank is not criticized, but there is considerable censure for his failure to notify someone of the terrible mental condition of the two men when they left the bank. The examiner admits that he expected to hear the report of Canby’s revolver when he went out of the room back of the main department of the bank, and also stated that the terrific strain they were laboring under showed plainly in their faces. In spite of these warning signs, he failed to tell Ed Brown, a brother of the dead president, who was in the bank at the time, to look after them, as he feared they would kill themselves. The friends of the dead men state that, knowing as he did that one of the men had made an unmistakable attempt to take his life, the examiner should have taken immediate steps to have the men seized and taken care of.
Many of the depositors who have great faith in Brown and Canby profess to believe that there will be no loss and that the $10,000 item is the only shortage that will be found. If thorough investigation should prove this to be correct, there will be still more than inclination among them to censure the examiner, as either of the men could have raised $10,000 with but little difficulty, and perhaps averted the trouble. Corroborative of the belief of some who assert that greater shortages will come to light is the statement to the examiner to the effect that the men refused his offer to call in the directors, and stated to him that it would be impossible for him to fix the matter up. Some assert that the men were too proud to acknowledge their disgrace to their friends by asking for even the comparatively small amount known to be involved and it was for this reason that they refused to consider the examiner’s suggestion.
Whatever may be the result of the examination of the books of the bank, it is certain that for the present there is an inclination among most of the depositors and among the businessmen of Vancouver who were most affected to suspend judgment as to the degree of criminality.