Obituary: Mrs. William Allan Gardner
Buffalo Evening News Feb. 28, 1958  Pg. 32

Mrs. Edith Sidway Gardner, whose family has played a prominent part in the growth of Buffalo since its earliest days died Thursday (Feb. 27, 1958) in her home at Harbour Island in the Bahamas.  She was 86.
 
Mrs. Gardner's great-grandmother Margaret St. John owned a home in downtown Buffalo that was one of the few left standing after the British burned Buffalo in 1813.
 
Her Grandfather, Eldridge Gerry Spaulding, was a member of Congress during the Civil War and authored the Greenback Currency Bill that helped finance the Union forces.  He was prominent in business in Buffalo.
 
A native of this city, Mrs. Gardner resided for many years on a 52 acre estate at 4430 Main St. which is now the Campus Manor, Snyder.
 
Her daughter, Mrs. John L Carson Jr., resided next door.  The Carlson home was the scene of the famous Carson jewel robbery the evening of Nov. 14, 1929, when seven armed men entered during a dinner party and escaped with an estimated $400,000 in jewels and furs.[SEE BELOW]
 
Mrs. Gardner's son, William Hamilton Gardner, was knocked down by the gunman.
 
With her husband, who died in the Bahamas in 1942, Mrs. Gardner was active in local sports circles in her youth.  Mr. Gardner, the president of the old Buffalo Stock Exchange, was city golf champion in 1909.  Mrs. Gardner held the women's title in the 1920's and was second ranked tennis player as a girl.
 
Mrs. Gardner attended Buffalo Seminary and was a member of the Graduates Association.  She took an active interest in social and committee work for Trinity Episcopal Church throughout her life.

Surviving are her son, William now of Williamsville; her daughter, Mrs. Carson, now of Ft., Pierce; four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Buffalo Courier Express - Nov. 15, 1929, Pgs. 1 & 3

Masked Men Carry Off Jewels; Guests say Loss $400,000 - Raid John L Carson Jr., residence during dinner to eighteen for engaged couple take valuables at revolver points.

ALL SEVEN ROBBERS ESCAPE
Victims at first think holdup is joke and woman is kicked as she snatches handkerchief from face of gunman.


Eighteen social registerites were held up and robbed by seven armed bandits at the home of John L Carson Jr., in Snyder, at 8:00 o'clock last night and stripped of jewelry and an estimated value of more than $400, 000.

The victims of the robbery were Mr. and Mrs. Carson, Mr. and Mrs. Ray Alan Van Clief, Mr. and Mrs. William Hamilton Gardner, Mr. and Mrs. Gibson Gardner, Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Metz, Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Keating, Mr. and Mrs. Reginald William, Miss Eleanor Cameron, Courtland Van Clief, Miss Pauline Breustedt and Clarence Sidway Jr.

The heaviest loss was suffered, so a guest who asked that his name be withheld, told The Courier Express by Mrs. Ray Van Clief, from whose neck one of the bandits tore a triple string of matched pearls, worth, so the guest said between $250, 000 and $300,00. Not only did the bandits, all of whom were masked, unceremoniously rip jewelry from the guest at the party, but they stole from an upper room the evening coats owned by the women guests.

The dinner at the Carson home was being held in honor of Courtland Van Clief and Miss Cameron, who are to be married November 20th. The guests were seated at seven small tables in the dining room. The third course had just been put on the table, when two men, both wearing handkerchiefs for masks and with their gray overcoat collars upturned further to prevent identification, stepped into the dining room from the living room. "Stick up your hands," one of the men shouted, "and stand up." As he was issuing the command three other bandits, similar masked stepped into the dining room from the kitchen. Two others were seen to start upstairs.

The first two men who entered - they came in through a French window - from the rear of the house - each had two revolvers. The three bandits who came in from the kitchen each had one revolver. Everyone of the eighteen guest thought the Wild West entrance of the men was a practical joke being played by friends. All started laughing. W. Hamilton Gardner well known broker and golfer jumped up and walked over to the man who appeared to be the bandit leader. He reached out and grabbed the bandit's revolver or at least he started to grab it. "That's a nice revolver you have there" Gardner laughing told the robber. One of the other bandits stepped up to Gardner, knocked him down and kicked him under the table.

About the time this drama was being re-enacted, Mrs. Gibson Gardner stepped up to another bandit, and playfully pulled down his mask. She expected to see the face of one of her husband's friends under the mask. The bandit whose mask she pulled down promptly knocked her down and kicked her under the table. His muddy shoe left an imprint on her evening gown. When Mrs. Gardner rolled under the table she realized that a robbery was taking place and had the presence of mind to remove her diamond ring, a wedding ring and a bracelet and put them in her stocking.

When Gibson Gardner saw his wife knocked down he started toward the bandit who had attacked her. Another bandit stepped over and struck him on the head. He went down. The guest then realized that they were facing five desperadoes - the other two were upstairs - and remained quiet. The bandit leader - he was short and stocky - then commanded the guests and two maids who were in the room to line up around the wall.

While three bandits kept revolvers leveled, two others started ripping jewelry from the women, Earrings, rings, bar pins and necklaces were quickly removed. When Mrs. Gibson Gardner was reached, the searching bandits pulled from her ears a pair of earrings. She said the earrings were not expensive, but the jewelry she saved by putting it in her stocking is. After the women's jewelry was removed, two bandits then started searching the men. Although everyone at the dinner was reluctant to tell of what happened, it was said that a set of diamond studs was removed from Ray Van Clief shirt and that $80 was taken from his pockets. It is understood also that other male guests had lost money.

As soon as all victims were searched the leader commanded everyone to be on the floor and remain quiet for five minutes. Again his order was obeyed. Some of the guest could see the two bandits who were working upstairs leaving by the front door with a load of expensive fur coats and wraps. The seven bandits were not in the house ten minutes, but they had everyone, with the exception of two children, herded into the dining room so that no one could reach the telephone to summon aid.

W. Hamilton Gardner lived in a house adjacent to the Carson home. Servants in his house heard the commotion and sensing trouble, notified Williamsville police. As soon as the robbers left, the sheriff's office and Buffalo police were notified. As far as could be ascertained, no one saw the seven bandits escape and it is not known if they made their getaway in an automobile or on foot. The Carson home is set back from Main Street about two miles beyond the city line. The roadway leading into the house was dark and it is possible the robbers drove in and out without being seen. Williamsville police arrived a few minutes after the bandits left. Under Sheriff William Cramer and deputy sheriffs were on the scene a few minutes later. Reporters were admitted to the house and although the robbery was readily admitted, nearly all the guest refused to discuss their losses.

The estimate of the value of the Van Clief necklace was given to The Courier Express by one of the socially prominent guests. The same guest said that Mrs. Metz was stripped of jewelry worth $65,000. Her loss included diamond rings a wrist watch, set with diamonds and a diamond bar pin. Mrs. Keating is reported to have lost a pin and wrist worth $2,500. According to the Courier - Express informant, Mrs. Van Clief and Mrs. Metz suffered the greatest losses, but added that none of the other women, with the exception of Mrs. Gibson Gardner escaped.

The only bandit whose face was seen was the one from whom Mrs. Gibson Gardner pulled the mask. She said he was a rough-looking young man with a flat nose. She is certain she can identify him if she sees him again. It is reported that the loss to the guest is entirely covered by insurance. All took the holdup good naturedly and after it was all over there was no sign of hysteria on the part of anyone.

Although the guest voiced the opinion the bandits were amateurs, police think otherwise. Several similar robbers have occurred throughout the county during the last few months and it is believed the gang who perpetrated the holdup is the same that committed a $68,000 robbery in St. Louis last month. The fact that the bandit from whom W. Hamilton Gardner attempted to take the revolver did not become excited and shoot Mr. Gardner is another factor in the police deduction that the job as the work of high-class bandits. There is some dispute as to weather or not the robbers wore gloves. Some of the guests say they did; others say they did not. In any event, gloves or no gloves, no fingerprints could be found.

Footprints were found in the soft earth just under the French window and leading to the driveway. Other footprints led from the driveway to the kitchen door. Although the robbers left no apparent tangible clues, it is probable they will have considerable difficulty in disposing of the Van Clief necklace and the other expensive jewelry they stole. A nation-wide search for the seven men will be underway today.

--------------------
Offer Reward $5,000 Each Alive; $10,000 for remains of Each

A price of $70,000 has been placed on the heads of the participants in the daring Carson residence holdup by Frank H Baird, predominate Buffalonian and uncle of Miss Cameron in whose honor the dinner party was being held. Miss Cameron is stopping at the Baird home in Delaware avenue. "I will pay $5,000 for the arrest and identification of each of the robbers," Mr. Baird announced through the Courier-Express. "Realizing the danger confronting the authorities in dealing with dope fiends of this character, I will pay $10,000 for the identification of each of the bandits bodies," he continued. Victims of the robbery were apparently under the impression that the bandits were narcotic drug fiends.

 


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