Ernest McDole, “Burglary”, 16 January 1941

comments 6

The police spent almost a week hiding upstairs in the grain storehouse on Hugh Martin’s farm, fifteen miles south of New Castle in Big Beaver township, in the hope that the thieves who had taken a hundred bushels of corn would return for more. It was the middle of January. Freezing mist filled the valleys. Deep snow covered the hills. The officers were not permitted to light a fire to warm themselves.

On the fourth night, the officers heard someone unlocking the door. They gave the thieves enough time to sack some grain then came down the stairs. They found two full fourteen-bushel sacks of grain and two men whose forms they could only dimly make out. One man, Ernest McDole, surrendered, but the other ran out of the door into the night. Deputy Sheriff George Dean—who had a farm of his own in Slippery Rock township—fired both barrels of his shotgun after him, then fired six bullets from his pistol. A car started up and drove off. A torchlight search later showed blood splashed on the snow.

In the county jail, Ernest said two men had been with him, one waiting in the car, but that he did not know their names and had never seen them before they had driven up to his house in eastern Ohio, twenty-four miles from the farm, and asked him if he wanted to make a couple of dollars. It was an obvious lie, and of only limited help to his accomplices. A week after Ernest’s arrest, Albert White and Ernest Tuttle, the latter with buckshot wounds peppering the backs of his legs, were taken into custody. All entered pleas of guilty. Within the week, Albert White was caught in the act of sawing through the bolt on his cell door with a saw that had been smuggled into the jail by Dorothy Hardman—“a good-looking young woman, married, with three children”—who asked for leniency as she had acted out of love.

Ernest McDole was fined $1 and given from two to four years in the Western penitentiary. Ernest Tuttle, who had co-operated with the police, received a $1 fine and only eight months in the workhouse. Albert White, the ringleader, was given three to six years in the Western penitentiary. Dorothy Hardman was released from custody after spending a month in the county jail awaiting trial.

Ernest worked at the Crucible Steel plant in Midland. He died on Christmas morning, 1981, at the age of sixty-five.

Sources: New Castle News (17 Jan 1941, “Deputies Trap Man In House”; 18 Jan 1941, “On Court House Hill”; 23 Jan 1941, “On Court House Hill”; 3 March 1941, “Enter Pleas To Burglary Charge”; 8 March 1941, “Charge Woman Took Saws To Jail Prisoner”; 5 April 1941, “Granary Robbers Are Sentenced”; 25 October 1943, “Former Sheriff Ingham Named To Take Post”).


  1. johnny says

    nice story. Too bad pics of the rest of the gang weren’t available.
    sure would like to check out what happened to the young lady with the three kids.

    imagine the kids growing up and asking, ‘remember when mom got caught trying to break out that fellow from jail?’ that’s a great conversation starter…

    as always, i enjoy your unique website.

    • As you can imagine, I searched extra hard for any mention of the further adventures of Dorothy Hardman but had no luck whatsoever. You’d think someone who would smuggle a saw into a jail would get into all kinds of scrapes, but if she did, they didn’t get in the papers…

  2. Brandon McDole says

    Ernest McDole was my grandfather. He died early Christmas morning in 1981, I was 2 years old.
    Thank you for sharing this article.

    • Thanks for writing, Brandon. I’m glad you came across the story. Do you have any other information about your grandfather, like what his job was?

  3. Karen H says

    I just saw this article. Ernest McDole was my uncle. Never heard the family mention this and we spent a lot of time together. Ernest worked at Crucible Steel in Midland, PA.

    • Hi Karen – thanks for the information about his job. I can understand why someone might not want anyone to talk about their having been to prison, but, then again, it seems a pity to have to hide a piece of your life story like that (especially if, (not to condone theft or anything) the crime isn’t really a terrible one).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s