Probably the story I've been asked about most since I started researching my family is the "gypsy story." The Price "boys" had quite a reputation in Clarke County for being eccentric (or is the word "odd"?) and their meeting with the gypsies enhanced that reputation. On February 6, 1933, Ed and Archie made the front page of the Des Moines Sunday Register! Here is their story.
The "boys" tell their story. Ed (left) and Archie (right)
A Picture of the Gypsies
"HOCUS POCUS" USED TO FOOL TWO FARMERS
$869 Seized From Prisoners
by Staff Writer.
Three gaily dressed gypsy women, a gypsy youth and a baby were in jail here Saturday night accused by officers of robbing two bachelor farmers of $685 in cash earlier in the day.
The youth gave his name as Pete Zeko, 20, Chicago, Ill., and said he was a nephew of Steve Zeko, also of Chicago, who, Pete says, is a "Gypsy King."
Eighteen $20 Bills
The brothers, Archie and Edward Price, who live on a 500-acre farm four miles west of Osceola with two other bachelor brothers identified the gypsies as the party who robbed them at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
The group denied the robbery, but Sheriff Floyd McQuern of Clarke county said they had $869 when arrested, including 18 $20 bills, the same denomination as those lost by one of the Price brothers.
The gypsies, driving a comparatively new auto with Illinois license plates were arrested by Sheriff Roscoe Sinco of Decatur county shortly before noon 14 miles east of Leon.
Sheriff Sinco said the women were feverishly hiding currency in a mattress in the car when he hatled them and approached the car. He brought the group to Osceola Saturday afternoon.
Still somewhat astounded by the hocus pocus with which the gypsy women took their cash, Edward Price gave a spirited description Saturday night of the robbery technique.
"We were finishing up the morning chores- we have a lot of feeding to do, you know," Price said." Their car stopped down there by the gate. I was feeding the sheep, and Archie was tending the pigs.
"One of the women leaned out and motioned for me to come over. I went to their car, and they asked where Bert Johnson lives.
"He is a neighbor, lives down south of here, and I told them how to get there. By that time another of the gypsy women had called Archie to the other side of the car.
"Then the woman I was talking to started talking about reading my palm and stuff. She grabbed my hand and tapped my pockets. I know now she was finding out where the money was.
"I had a wallet up here in this watch pocket of my overalls, with the pocket buttoned. I thought of being robbed, so every now and then I felt of the wallet, and it was always there. You know I lost $1,600 in bank failures and since then I have been carrying it with me. Now I think it's going back in the bank."
About that time, Bert, that's another brother, yelled over from the barn: 'Get away from those gypsy women; they'lol rob you.'
"But I didn't hear him.
"The gypsy woman kept on talking and once she crossed her hands in front of my face. Right then she may have had somethng in her hands thta stupefied me. I don't know, but she might have had!
"I had my eye on Archie most of the time, because I thought they might try to rob him.
"Well, pretty soon they left, and I tapped my wallet again to see that it was still there.
Go Over Hill
"Just as the car went over the top of the hill Archie yelled: "They got my money!"
"I thought he would fall over dead! They had taken $380 from him.
"They didn't get mine,'" I told him. "then I decided I should look and be sure.
"I opened my wallet and --darned if it wasn't empty!
"They had taken $300 from it and another in my lower pants pocket, which had contained $5, also was flat.
"That woman had unbuttoned that top pocket, emptied the wallet, put it back empty and buttoned up the pocket--and I didn't know a thing about it.
We called Sheriff McQuern right awya," Price concluded with a sigh.
Officers throughout southern Iowa were notified. Sheriff Sinco said he had a hunch the gypsies might be heading for Missouri and he drove out toward Lineville, Ia., where he overtook the Zeko car.
The Price brothers gave profuse praise of the quick work by the officers.
Clarke County Attorney, H. E. Stubblefield said he probably will file a grand larceny charge against the gypsies Monday.
The gypsy women gave their names as Rachael John, Annie John and Lena Miller. The baby, said to be the 11-month old son of Mrs. John, is named Walter. He was crying in the jail saturday evening.
All of the gypsies are related, they said.
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