Buchanan History – Berrien History

Buchanan History from Blogger Jennifer Gardner

by Rebecka Hoyt, Editor & Photographer

Jennifer Gardner, is a history writer who resides in Berrien County. Recently, she started a blog on Berrien History. In future issues of The Buchanan Chronicle, she will be contributing some Buchanan history from her blog. This article that we have chosen for this issue is about a historic crime that happened in Buchanan. Keep Reading Below!

The Buchanan Slayer: 1937 Berrien Murder of the Year

Writing and Photo shared by Berrien Jen (Jennifer Gardner) from her Berrien History blog

“In the early morning hours of November 3, 1937, 27-year-old Morgan Riley and an unknown driver stopped off at D’s Cafe in Buchanan, Michigan. After a night of drinking they ate and had coffee, and Riley engaged in a conversation with Ernest Mangold, manager of the restaurant, inquiring where he could have body work done on his gray Chrysler Coupe. Mangold later told the press that the car looked like it’d been in an accident. The car, which he noticed had an Illinois license plate, had severely dented up fenders. After leaving D’s, the two men made their way to the High Grade Oil Company on South Portage Road (now Red Bud Trail), opposite to the Michigan Central Railroad Depot. They intended to get gas and rob the station. But things didn’t go off as planned.

“What most of the 1937 papers fail to mention is that four years prior, that same gas station was robbed when the same attendant – a 24-year-old named Herman Reinke – thwarted another pair of robbers on October 19. In 1933, a gang of five or six area young men (a couple were later released) were hitting local stations in a robbery spree. Robbing the High Grade Oil Company that day were Edward Pastryk, 22, of New Troy and Chester Bak, 23, of Bridgman. With a gang of a few more men (including Edward’s brother, Albert) they held up a total of five gas stations, and stole a sum of $137 (about half – or a little more than half, depending on which publication you read – came from High Grade Oil).

“The gang of thieves had robbed stations in Niles, Three Oaks, Bridgman, and Buchanan. Pastryk and Bak got away from High Grade on October 19, but not before Herman Reinke, the gas station attendant, wounded Edward in the leg with a bullet as Pastryk escaped to the train station nearby. Reinke was a key witness at their trial, despite being in a serious car accident himself before testifying. Pastryk and Bak were found guilty and sentenced to 5-15 years for armed robbery. Pastryk later denied being hit in the leg by Reinke’s bullet.


Finish reading the full article here!

Continuing reading more from Berrien Jen’s History blog here.

Berrien Jen is a local historian writing and researching about the History of Berrien County MI; she will at times submit Buchanan-specific blog articles to be featured in The Buchanan Chronicle.

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