Select Page

On this day in Sioux Falls History, we wish Happy Birthday to one of Sioux Falls more intresting early citizens, Cyrus Walts. I don’t believe Cyrus Walts is as well a known name in present day Sioux Falls, as some of the other men and women from his time. He came to town in 1870 with his uncle, and was a store keeper for a short time. When his uncle was made the post master, whether out of nepotism or the sheer lack of able bodied men and women in the area at the time, he made Cyrus the Deputy Post Master. He would also go on to be an alderman and the clerk of courts, but it is during his time as deputy post master that a situation occurred that stirred the rumor mill of Sioux Falls society with vigor and left a lifelong impression on Cyrus!

Because of his job and the duties it required, federal investigators were sent to Sioux Falls to arrest Cyrus Walts on federal mail tampering charges! Multiple reports had been made from individuals in the region that registered envelopes carrying cash had come up completely missing or “light” a few bucks here and there! In their investigation, the federal detectives discovered the money was always accounted for up to Sioux Falls, but then went missing sometime between arriving here and being delivered. As the one in-charge of handling registered envelopes it was Walts on the chopping block, and the federal investigators came to town, cleavers in hand!

Walts declared he had nothing to do with it and swore that he could provided proof of his innocence. He said that dealing with registered envelopes always made him nervous, so whenever they came in, he had two men who worked in neighboring shops come over and observe him counting, recording, and sealing all of the registered envelopes. The investigators interviewed the two men and while they thought Walts’ evidence sufficient to keep him from being arrested… they still suspected him of being involved.

Almost a year later the detectives still hadn’t crack the case. In a last ditch effort, one of them decided to send some of his own money through registered mail and track it, before sealing it in the envelope though, he put special markings on it so he could identify it later.

He then followed the mail, first to Sioux Falls and Walts and then on the stagecoach out of Sioux Falls. The coach always traveled a little ways outside of town, and always stopped at the same little town where the driver went to the same little restaurant for dinner, before driving through the night. Seeing the coach stop and the driver going in to eat, the detective decided to have dinner as well, while he kept an eye on the stagecoach driver. He quickly ate and paid so that he would be ready to go as soon as the driver got ready to leave, but… to his surprise, when the young man who was waiting on him brought back his change from his meal ticket, the detective received some of his marked bills back as change!

The same marked bills that were supposed to be resting safely inside the stage coach in a registered envelope! Upon closer investigation it was the son of the restaurant owner who had been stealing money from registered mail envelopes on the stage coach when the driver stopped in once a week! He had been lining his pockets this way for over a year, dating back to the first complaints the federal government received! He would carefully open the envelopes, remove the valuables, use an adhesive concoction to “re-seal” them, and then replace the envelopes on the stage coach. When the mail was eventually delivered intended receiver would tear or cut off the tampered end of the envelope when they opened it,and in so doing they would destroy any evidence of his tampering!