A Victorian Era Criminal Leads Police on a High Speed Bicycle Chase

Diana Belchase here: Criminals, police, and bicycles? Mimi Matthews once again regales us with a funny story about mayhem in New Jersey as the law tries to keep up with the newest technology of the 19th Century.

Enjoy!

Welcome guest blogger, Mimi Matthews:

In September of 1896, British newspapers reported the remarkable use of a bicycle in a New Jersey murder case.  The case involved two men who had both emigrated to America from London in the early 1890s.  One of these men was a farmer named Mr. Haggett who settled down with his family on a farm near Somerville.  The other man was a fellow named Mr. Clossen who Haggett employed as a farm laborer.  Sometime in 1896, Haggett caught Clossen stealing.  In consequence, he not only fired him from his job, but also refused to pay him the thirty dollars in wages that Clossen believed he was owed.

Angered over the loss of his job and the withholding of his wages, Clossen mounted his bicycle and pedaled out to Haggett’s farm. He knocked on the front door and asked to see Haggett. When Haggett came to the door, Clossen pulled out a revolver and fired three shots, killing Haggett instantly. According to the 5 September 1896 edition of the Blackburn Standard:

“The murderer then jumped on his bicycle and fled.”

Haggett’s wife was at home and, when she saw what Clossen had done to her husband, she screamed out to some carpenters who were building a house nearby.  The carpenters had pedaled to work on their bicycles and, at Mrs. Haggett’s urging, they hopped back on their bikes and sped off in pursuit of Clossen.  Some men on horseback also joined in the chase, but the bicycles quickly outdistanced them.

Once apprised of the crime, the local Sheriff made straight for his own bicycle. … Continue reading by clicking HERE

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