William Henry Fabian, “Burglary”, October 3 1947

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The Government bought 450 million bushels of grain from the 1947 harvest to send abroad as part of its $400 million Greek-Turkish aid programme, aimed at stopping both countries going Communist. The policy prompted the John S Brown feed company of New Castle to insert the following notice in the small ads section every week for a year:

“TURKEY and GREASE get the GRAVY—$400,000,000 worth. What do we get? We get the highest grain prices in 27 years. Hundreds of thousands of tons of grain being shipped abroad, fast depleting our surplus stocks, thus sky-rocketing prices. Now as never before you must buy the feed that gives you most for your dollar. ‘Our Quality’ feeds do just that. Scientifically made, you get real dollar value. Feed ‘Our Quality’ feeds. Your neighbor does.”

At half past five in the morning of October 3, 1947, a patrolman noticed that there had been a break-in at the feed company’s grain store on East Washington street. He telephoned for assistance and the building was surrounded. William Fabian, an ex-employee of the company, was found hiding on the second floor and it emerged that he had removed five bags of corn from the warehouse before the police arrived. He was found guilty of burglary, fined $1 and costs and sentenced to eighteen months to three years in the Western penitentiary.

Grain prices peaked that month. The same paper that reported the grain store robbery contained a story about the first drop in the price of corn since the war. By the time that William was released from jail, grain would once again be too cheap to risk going to prison for.

Postscript: William Henry Fabian appears to be no relation to the William Fabian who burgled houses in 1942.

Sources: New Castle News (21 March 1947, classified ads; 20 May 1947, “Fund Calls Respite Seen”; Oct 3 1947; “Police Arrest Man in Store”, “Break In Prices In Grain Market”; Nov 15, 1947, “Sentence Court”)

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