Swindler Turns Jackson County into Sucker County

Jan 1, 2016

In the spring of 1893, Jackson County, Ore., earned the sobriquet of “Sucker County” after William Gooch arrived in Jacksonville to promote the Economy Flour Bin as a marvelous invention.  Gooch guaranteed the metal bin with a sifter at the bottom was water, insect and rodent proof.  He didn’t mention foolproof.

Gooch sold 400 bins in three weeks at $5.60 each.  Then he offered exclusive territorial rights for $400 to promote the bins in other counties.  Some 100 local farmers and businessmen jumped at the chance and headed out to sell flour bins.  Gooch pocketed a quick $40,000.  When Central Point News reporter J. K. Roberts questioned the sale of territories in an editorial, a Gooch associate beat him up and bit one of his fingers.  Roberts nearly died of blood poisoning.  Gooch kept right on selling bins and territorial rights.

In June the Gooch family and associates skipped town.  Territorial salesmen who directly contacted the bin’s manufacturer discovered Gooch was a petty hustler and the company would not honor their orders.

The incensed Jacksonville Democratic Times said that thousands of dollars were “wrung from the citizens of this county by W. J. Gooch, the Kentucky bunko sharp.”

Source: "The Flour Bin Trouble." Southern Oregon History Revised. Ed. Ben Truwe. N.p., 2015. Web. 18 Dec. 2015. <http://id.mind.net/~truwe/tina/economy%20flour%20bin.html>