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Mysterious Neighbor Carries Stolen Mail in Suitcase

One rainy night in 1912 the Stratton family’s neighbor in West Medford, Ore., Wells Lounsbury, came to their door with a suitcase.  He said he had walked from Central Point but hadn’t found his family at home.
Stratton informed him that Mrs. Lounsbury had moved to the Medford Hotel because she was frightened at home alone.  Lounsbury said he would walk there, and refused Stratton’s offer to keep the suitcase.

The following spring, a journalist came to tell Stratton that Lounsbury had been arrested and accused of robbing a train.  Stratton couldn’t believe that the very nice Lounsbury, a graduate of Harvard or Yale, son of a judge, and a wonderful father, could be a train robber.

Apparently Lounsbury, who had worked as a postman, had committed several quiet, nonviolent robberies, stealing mail and putting it in a suitcase.  His wife maintained that if Lounsbury was guilty it would be because he had suffered a head injury in a train accident.  Stratton traveled to Kansas to be a character witness, but to no avail.

Lounsbury was found guilty and never returned to his wife and sons in Medford.

Source: Leach, Lorena Stratton, interviewed by Nora Henry January 1985. Southern Oregon Historical Society oral history, OH 371B; "Found Guilty." News Review, 17 Jan. 1913 [Roseburg, Ore.].

Pat Harper is the archivist for the Southern Oregon Historical Society, where she digitizes records, manages websites and learns more about regional history from the SOHS volunteers. After receiving her Master’s Degree in library science from the University of Illinois in 1980, Harper worked as a reference librarian, then as a library administrator. From 1994 to 2005, she was the Siskiyou County library director and lived in the country near Hornbrook, California.