Thursday, June 13, 2013

Twin Falls County Sheriff Howard Van Ausdeln [otd 6/13]

Twin Falls County Sheriff Howard C. Van Ausdeln was born June 13, 1868 in Crawford County, Kansas, in the southeast corner of the state. He farmed and ran stock in Kansas until he was about thirty years old, when he moved to Utah.
H. C. Van Ausdeln. H. T. French photo.
Howard acquired a ranch in the Bear River Valley near the town of Garland. He also engaged in real estate and ran a meat market in town. For a time, Van Ausdeln served as a Justice of the Peace.

In 1903, about the time construction started on Milner Dam, Van Ausdeln began to consider prospects in Idaho. Three years later, and a year after Twin Falls got train service, he decided to make the move. He sold off his holdings in Utah and moved his family to the new town of Filer, about seven miles west of Twin Falls. Howard invested heavily in land around the area as well as in Twin Falls.

In addition to irrigated farm land, Van Ausdeln bought a ranch nearby and soon began shipping large consignments of cattle and other stock from the railroad station at Filer. He also raised grain, which he fed to his stock. It's possible that he also shipped a surplus to outside markets.

In 1907, the state legislature created Twin Falls County, with “Twin” as the county seat. Three years later, Van Ausdeln became the third sheriff of Twin Falls County. He was the second elected sheriff, the first having been appointed. Howard ran for the office when the previous sheriff chose to run for County Assessor.

Although Howard had no law enforcement experience, his business skills helped the department expand along with the explosive growth of the town and county. Under his direction, "the department became one of the most efficient in the state of Idaho," and he was elected for a second term.

Howard had been a member of the Filer School Board, but resigned when he was elected sheriff. He then moved his family into Twin Falls, where he had growing commercial investments. He continued to operate the Filer ranch and was also partner in some property in the foothills southeast of Hollister.

In January 1921, Van Ausdeln returned to law enforcement as a Deputy to the elected Twin Falls County Sheriff. He spent most of his time cracking down on moonshiners and bootleggers trying to evade Prohibition. Month after month, the newspapers displayed headlines about raids all around the county.

During his time as Deputy, Howard observed the 1921 extradition, trial, and murder conviction of serial poisoner “Lady Bluebeard,” Lyda (Trueblood) Southard [blog, Sept 25].
Train serving Twin Falls area. Twin Falls Public Library.

In September 1922, Nevada officials requested Van Ausdeln’s help in tracking murder suspect Sylva Van Eaton. Van Eaton had shot his ex-girlfriend to death after she spurned him. He also severely wounded her mother, who was trying to protect the girl. The shooter first escaped into the rugged country along the border near today’s Jackpot, Nevada. A week later, he appeared near Rock Creek, Idaho.

Finally, authorities found a suicide note and evidence that suggested he had drowned himself in the Salmon Falls Reservoir. His body was never recovered, however, and some locals believed he had perpetrated a scam and successfully fled the country. Soon after, Howard returned to private life.

Early in 1933, Howard suffered a bad bout of the flu. He never fully recovered and passed away in a Los Angeles hospital in June 1933.
References: [French]
“Former Sheriff Dies,” The Buhl Herald, June 6, 1933.
Jim Gentry, In the Middle and On the Edge, College of Southern Idaho (2003).
“History of the Twin Falls County Sheriff,” Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office.

No comments:

Post a Comment