Deputy Game Warden Meister was walking along North Center Street in Cumberland on a sunny day in May 1900 when he saw a large ham of venison hanging outside Louis Neubeiser’s butcher’s shop, and he knew that he had to have it.
Not that the guard is hungry. Venison broke the law, and it was Meister’s sworn duty to enforce it. “It is illegal for a trader or other person to be found with game in their possession after January 1,” according to the Cumberland Evening Times.
So the ever watchful Meister took the venison and left. He drove through town and carried the venison to Judge Turner’s office to have a warrant sworn against Neubeiser.
“The judge quickly told the prefect that he had exceeded his duties; that it was his business to issue a search warrant and that he better take the meat and put it where he got it,” the Cumberland Evening Times reported.
Judge Turner told Meister that he misunderstood the law. While venison could not be killed and sold out of season, if it had been killed legally it could be sold at any time.
Not satisfied, Meister left the office with the confiscated venison slung over his shoulder, heading to the courthouse where he planned to show the venison to the grand jury. His intention was to have Neubeiser indicted by the grand jury.
Neubeiser caught up to Meister as he walked and told the game warden the same thing Judge Turner had told him.
Meister asked Neubeiser what to do with the meat.
“Pay me for this. It’s worth $3.60,” Neubeiser told him. That equates to around $185 today.
Heartbroken, Meister admitted he didn’t have that much money on him. He said he would pay Neubeiser later. Butcher said he’d better or Neubeiser would swear a warrant against the game warden.
Meister also found that his mishandling of the situation made him the butt of jokes among his friends for weeks.
Neubeiser was not a man to joke around with. He was one of Cumberland’s oldest butchers, having opened his first stall in 1880. His family had emigrated to Cumberland from Germany.
When Neubeiser was of working age, he got a job at the local brickyards and rolling mill. He followed the work in Pennsylvania for a few years, but eventually returned to Cumberland and became a butcher. His store was located in the old City Hall building until he opened a store on North Center Street.
He had another run-in with law enforcement trying to trick him in 1909. Sheriff William Hodel was accused of “swearing on his accounts, with reference to provisions and the like purchased for the jail,” according to the Evening Times. Essentially, the sheriff had created fake books to cover up the misappropriation of prison accounts. The state called dozens of witnesses against him, including Neubeiser.
The sheriff was acquitted in the first trial, but the state’s attorney planned to try him again on similar charges. Instead, the sheriff chose to retire, citing health reasons.
That summer, perhaps upset by what the sheriff had done, Neubeiser announced that he would run for the vacant sheriff seat as a Democrat. It was his first attempt at public office, and he lost.
Neubeiser died in 1911 at the age of 56 from “the consequences of a general collapse”. He is survived by his wife and seven children and is buried at SS. Peter and Paul cemetery.