The Caddo Oklahoma Star
November 20, 1874
Have you purchased a ticket in the Texas Gift Concert Association? If not, do so at once before it is too late. Call on the local agent in this place who will furnish you with full information. $50,000 is worth trying for and either of the other Gifts would certainly be acceptable.
From a report by the Postmaster General to the Congress, 1880, on “use of the mails for lottery purposes”. (Report requested in 1879.)
The Texas Gift Concert Association, Denison, Tex.
One of the most successful of all the swindles which the records of the department disclose was perpetrated three years ago under the name of the Texas Gift Concert Association of Denison, Tex.
The receipts of the managers of the scheme are estimated at about $100,000, the greater part of which sum was divided between them as profits. So skillful were they in working the matter to a success, that they secured vouchers for their respectability and honesty of intention from nearly all the business men and firms of Denison, and these form a part of the records in the case.
The report of the special agent of the department who was chiefly instrumental in bringing to light the nature of the fraud which was being perpetrated is as follows:
Saint Louis, Mo. September 13, 1875.
Sir: In compliance with your instructions of the 1st instant, I have the honor to report that I have made another visit to Denison, Tex., for the purpose of investigating the workings of the “Texas Gift Concert Association” located at that place. On a former visit, by your order on the 1st of June last, I found that a "drawing " had been only a day or two before, and the swindle at that time had not been developed sufficiently to enable me to discover the amount of money paid to the ticket-holders or given to the city of Denison, as promised in their circulars and advertisements. The whole business was so carefully guarded from outside scrutiny and investigation, and the concern had so many followers and advocates, that I then found it impossible to develop any points upon which to hang an affidavit, except to the general fact that the concern was conducted in violation of the constitution and laws of the State.
Even on this second occasion I should probably have been baffled had not the thieves fallen out among themselves over a division of the spoils. In this investigation I traveled many miles and examined a great number of witnesses. Without going into all the details I will give the salient points of complaints against this institution, which I can substantiate if called upon to do so in any further controversy. I have confidently determined that the Texas Gift Association is false and fraudulent, to which I make affidavit as herewith, for the following reasons:
Pending the first "drawing" of this concern the managers advertised that $50,000 had been by them deposited in the First National Bank of Denison for the protection of the ticket-holders. This was false. Only $300 or $400 were at any time on deposit with that bank in behalf of this association, and on the day of the drawing only 75 cents were to their credit. On the contrary, there was a written agreement made by and between the parties in this concern, that all money coming to them from the sale of tickets should be equally divided among them every night. The advertisements sent out to the public stated that the profits of this enterprise would be given to the city of Denison for public improvements. The sum promised was not less than $15,0u0. The actual amount expended for such purposes was less than $1,800. The number of tickets or coupons offered for sale was 500,000. After one postponement it was determined to have a drawing on May 31, 1875. It was then announced that only 70 per cent, of the tickets had been sold, or 350,000 at $1 each, coupons. This drawing was a farce and fiction. No such amount of money as stated had ever been received from the public for tickets sold. Consequently a drawing upon that basis could not have been made. The facts are that only about $100,000 were ever received by them and the drawing was only a delusion and a blind. An examination of tickets sold showed that none were given out in consecutive numbers. For instance, one person purchased six tickets which were numbered 54, 56, 58. 60, 62, and 64. Even numbers were sold and odd numbers held by the managers. When the drawing was had tags were placed in the wheel representing unsold tickets and the prizes announced for them, which plan would enable the managers to manipulate the cash at their pleasure: to give out the prizes or withhold them at will. No names were called at the drawing, and when the list of those who had drawn prizes was published it was noticed that the numbers did not correspond with those published at the time of the drawing. Of course some money had to be given to ticket-holders to make a show. But the capital prize was awarded (70 per cent, of $50,000) to a confederate of the managers, who, I am advised, received $500 for his services. In all, I believe, about three or four thousand dollars were disbursed to the public, leaving a very snug little sum to divide among the managers of this swindle. I “interviewed” men to whom the managers of this association confessed that the affair was gotten up to "beat the people."
I think that the association in their "second grand distribution," which is announced to be for the benefit of the orders of Masonry and Odd-Fellowship, are using names to their certificates without authority. The claim on their circulars that they have deposited a fund with certain treasurers of the order to build a "temple" (!) is false. No such fund has ever been deposited for this or any other purpose. The managers of this swindle are about to issue a circular announcing another "postponement," to enable them to still further defraud the public. The few Masons and Old-Fellows who had committed themselves to this scheme have withdrawn their support and have so announced to the public.
In the Grayson County court there are ten indictments against the managers of this lottery awaiting trial. I append herewith a statement of Edward Perry, esq., vice-president of the First National Bank of Denison; also a statement of James Leonard, esq., treasurer of Texas Gift Concert Association; also a statement from some of the business men of Denison; also a card from Masons and Odd-Fellows. In conclusion, I respectfully recommend that the “Texas Gift Concert Association” be forbidden the use of the United States mails for the circulation of their documents or the reception of money-orders or registered letters.
WARREN P. EDGERTON, Special Agent Post-Office Department.
D. Haynes, Esq., Acting Superintendent Money-Order System, Post-Office Department,