Frank Smith’s $105 story

Published 9:45 am Thursday, May 8, 2014

Believe it or not, Frank Smith’s $105 story was worth every penny.
The curious tale of the 35-year-old and how he mysteriously arrived in Vicksburg appeared April 28, 1916, in The Wichita (Kan.) Daily Eagle.
In the fall of 1915, Smith said, he was engaged to be married to a Wichita woman and went into town to purchase a suit just two hours before the wedding. There, he met a stranger who introduced himself as A.T. Wilson of Newton, Kan.
Wilson had a check for $160 that needed to be cashed, and Smith agreed to make the trade. The sum might seem paltry by 2014 standards, but adjusted for inflation it’s more than $2,450.
In exchange for cashing the $160 check, Wilson gave Smith six black cigars.
Smith put half the check in the bank, and with a few hours to kill before his wedding, lit one of the cigars.
“Shortly thereafter, the lights of the world went out — to Smith,” The Eagle wrote.
Smith claimed he woke up in Vicksburg a few days later, having no memory of the more than 660-mile journey.
While in Vicksburg, Smith said, he got a job and married an heiress who needed a husband otherwise she would lose her fortune. Warren County marriage records list no Frank Smith being married here in 1915 or 1916.
“A few days later, Smith says he found that the effects of the mysterious smoke was causing his teeth to fall out. He went into a drug store and asked the druggist for something to stop the flow of blood. The druggist gave him some black medicine, which he took,” The Eagle wrote.
After taking the medicine, Smith claimed, he passed out and woke up sometime in January or February 1916 in the Warren County Jail charged with drunkenness.
While in jail, Smith rather than asking his new bride to bail him out sent a letter to his bank in Kansas asking them to send his $80.
That’s when the bank discovered the check Smith took from the stranger had bounced, leaving Smith owing $105.
Deputies from Kansas came to take him home and put him behind bars there.
“Smith told his story over and over again. Prisoners in the jail laughed at him, and many lawyers considered him mentally unbalanced,” The Eagle wrote.
A young attorney named Clarence Sowers finally took the case and reportedly found that most of Smith’s statements were true even the marriage in Vicksburg, The Eagle reported.
He pleaded guilty to obtaining money under false pretense and agreed to pay back the $105 and was let out of jail.
Smith would say the moral of the story is not to take a check and black cigars from a stranger. I say it’s if you concoct a story that is just crazy enough someone is bound to believe it.

Josh Edwards is a reporter and can be reached by email at or by phone at 601-636-4545

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