New York Times, August 27, 1912, page 18:
'COL.' C. C. WILSON IS DEAD IN PRISON
Skyrocket Financier Who Ruined United Wireless Company Succumbs in Atlanta Penitentiary.
WAS IN NEW YORK RECENTLY
Bankruptcy Proceedings Against Him Will Be Continued--Seized with Uraemic Poisoning.
Special to The New York Times.
ATLANTA, Ga., Aug. 26.--Christopher Columbus Wilson of New York, former President of the United Wireless Company, who was serving a three-year term in the Federal Prison here on a fraud charge, died suddenly late last night in the prison hospital
The body is being held in prison to await orders from the widow, the young stenographer whom "Col." Wilson married in New York the very day he was indicted.
When Wilson was stricken he had just finished writing a letter to a daughter by a former marriage, and was sitting in an easy chair in the library smoking a cigar. Suddenly one of the other prisoners to whom had been granted the use of the library cried out that something was wrong with Wilson. Guards rushed to the prisoner and saw at once that his condition was serious. He was taken to the prison hospital, where the prison physician diagnosed his illness as uraemic poisoning. In a short time Wilson was dead.
The end came in the same room and within a few feet of the bed which Charles W. Morse occupied so many weeks, apparently dying, before he was removed to the Fort McPherson Hospital and there paroled.
"Col." Wilson, who was 67 years old, had served a third of his term and was eligible for a parole. He had told several friends that he was confident his name would appear on the next parole list, and he expressed this hope in the letter to his daughter. One of "Wireless" Wilson's last acts was to aid Keeper Shea of the Federal Prison, who lost his position through favors to Wilson on a recent trip to New York. Through Congressman Beall of Texas Wilson obtained a good place for Shea in Texas.
Christopher Columbus Wilson, by his intimates sometimes called "the Colonel," was 67 years old. He was born in Mississippi and lived his boyhood days in Texas, where, later, he became a farmer. Then he migrated to Colorado, where he dabbled in mining stocks and later became a banker. Then he came to New York, where he became in the course of events President of the United Wireless Telegraph Company, for the swindling of which concern he was, in July, 1910, arrested and indicted. He was convicted in due course and sentenced to three years in the Georgia prison.
Only a few weeks ago "Col." Wilson found himself again in the limelight of publicity. He had been brought from Atlanta to New York to testify before United States Commissioner Alexander in the involuntary bankruptcy proceedings instituted against him. Every one at the time, except a few who knew the "Colonel" well, had the idea that he was being kept in the Federal section of the Tombs. But the "Colonel" was not in the Tombs. Just about the time that Wilson arrived in New York Commissioner Alexander was injured in an accident and the Wilson hearing had to be postponed until the Commissioner recovered. That accident to Commissioner Alexander, it now turns out, proved to be the means of giving to the convict his last bit of freedom. Keeper C. J. Shea had brought the "Colonel" to New York from Atlanta. Shea's orders did not, so it is said, specify that Shea was to keep his man in prison. Shea took the order literally, and Wilson, looking as prosperous as he did in the days when the United Wireless under him was booming, was seen thereafter for several weeks at different times at Coney Island, at Spring Valley, N. Y., at a boarding house in the Bronx, at a Broadway hotel or two in this city, and also in the downtown business district where he had ended his business career in disgrace.
On July 20 last Wilson's last vacation came to an end. The newspapers had found out all about the good times he was having while Commissioner Alexander was recuperating and the story was printed in full. Then something happened. Wilson was produced by Shea and the night of July 20 he occupied a cell in the Tombs. A few days later he was returned to Atlanta. Shea, the keeper, was called upon to explain to Attorney General Wickersham what he meant by permitting the liberties Wilson enjoyed in New York. The inquiry resulted in the dismissal of the guard.
On July 15, 1910, Post Office Inspectors swooped down upon the United Wireless offices at 42 Broadway and arrested Wilson and Samuel S. Bogart, the First Vice President of the company. They were charged with being concerned in a gigantic scheme to defraud investors. When the prisoners were arraigned before Commissioner Shields that afternoon, Assistant United States District Attorney Stevenson, who appeared for the Government, announced that the swindling scheme involved more than $1,000,000. On the same day, at Mahopac Falls, William W. Tompkins, who handled the stock and advertising business of the concern, was arrested.
Later the Government agents arrested Francis X. Butler, the general counsel; W. A. Diboll, the treasurer, and George H. Parker, the Western fiscal agent and a Director of the company. All of these men were indicted and tried and all but Bogart, who pleaded guilty and is said to have aided the Government, were sentenced to prison, Butler and Parker to two years each in Atlanta prison, and the other two to one year each in the New York penitentiary.
On Aug. 3, 1910, less than three weeks after his arrest, Wilson was indicted by the Federal Grand Jury. On the same day he married his second wife. She was Miss Stella Lewis, who had been his stenographer. The "Colonel" was out on bail and he took his bride to the Waldorf-Astoria and later to Long Beach.
Mrs. Wilson is now the mother of a son, and she maintains the Wilson home at Spring Valley, where recently she entertained her prisoner-husband.
In May, 1911, the trial of the wireless men began before Judge Martin in the Federal Building. On May 30 the jury returned verdicts of guilty against Wilson, Parker, Butler, Diboll, and Tompkins. Wilson fought for a stay, but on Aug. 10 of last year the United States Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against him, and shortly thereafter he began serving his term in Atlanta.
Saul S. Myers, trustee in bankruptcy of Wilson, said yesterday that the death of a bankrupt did not abate the proceedings, but that the proceedings continued as if the bankrupt had not died. He pointed out that Section 8 of the present Bankruptcy act provided as follows:
The death or insanity of a bankrupt shall not abate the proceedings, but the same shall be conducted and concluded in the same manner so far as possible, as though he had not died or become insane.
This means, explained Mr. Myers, that the examination of Wilson having been concluded before his death, the examination of witnesses would go right on with a view of locating the property which it is alleged Wilson hid from the creditors and stockholders of the United Wireless Company.