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The Baker City Herald on August 28, 1901 describes Mr. Coon's infamous occupation carried on at the Speake's ranch at the mouth of Hibbard Creek:

"What is regarded by the secret service men of the treasury department and the government officials as being one of the most dangerous dens of counterfeiters in the United States, was raided yesterday by United States Marshal, Al A. Roberts of Portland and an agent of the United States Treasury Department. The place where the spurious money was turned Out was located on the Snake River, on the Speake's Ranch, fifteen miles below Huntington in Baker County. E.R. Coon is the leading spirit and he was caught red handed. He made a complete confession and gave to the officers one of the most complete plants for making counterfeit coin that is in existence. Coon was arrested and together with "Bud" Butts, a 19-year-old boy, who is supposed to be an accomplice, was brought to the county jail last night and locked up. "Bud" Butts, the younger of the two prisoners, is a cigarette smoking idiot, who is apparently very proud of the distinction he has made.

When the officers went to the ranch yesterday and made the arrest, Coon had in his pocket a $5.00 counterfeit coin and a 50-cent silver counterfeit coin. Neither coin was a good imitation. Coon claimed that both coins were passed to him by business houses in Huntington. He was first asked if he was ever in trouble with the law. He said no, but later admitted that he had been sent up for a term of two years from Wasco County in the early '90s for circulating a counterfeit gold coin. He then broke down and made a full confession. From a recess under the window in the ranch house, he brought forth his plant which consisted of a full set of dies made from aluminum and brass bronze for the manufacture of the $5.00 gold pieces. He had been making silver half dollars in a plaster of paris mold but the coin was crude and he broke up the mold. He had broken one of the dies in making the last imperfect coin that he had in his possession and had another in construction. Coon is a mechanic and machinist of no mean ability and his handiwork can scarcely be surpassed. In only one particular was his plant imperfect and that is he needed a hydraulic engine for pressure on the dies. He had plans and diagrams for this in his effects. It has long been known by bankers and money experts that the surest way to detect spurious coin is by reading, which is the corrugated rim of the coin. Coon's die for the reading is absolutely perfect, as is also his milling dies. The officers took besides his dies of bronze a lot of crucibles and lathes and bellows, bringing away about thirty pounds of paraphernalia.

Coon did small business as silversmith and machinist, and used this legitimate enterprise as a cloak to cover his counterfeiting. He could fix clocks and guns for the neighbors and had a well equipped shop on the ranch. His $5.00 coin which was his specialty, was made of about one-half gold and the remainder of baser metal. The coins have the proper weight and their appearances would deceive even the elect.

One of the most curious features of the affair is, that Coon got the gold he used in his mint from a placer digging on the ranch and it is not known whether he purchased any bullion or not. For the past five years he has been living at his ranch and was presumably a hired man or a renter and he may have been plying his trade all the while.

Marshal Roberts said this was the biggest and most important haul that he had ever assisted in making. Frequently United States officers would capture some crazy 'dope' fiend who was attempting to make a crude kind of counterfeit in plaster of paris molds, but Coon is of a species of criminals that is rare and very dangerous. In fact he is such an expert mechanic, that should his skill and industry have been applied to legitimate persuits he would have made a fortune long ago.

Dee Wright, an undercover agent for the Department of Justice under John Minto, claimed to be responsible for breaking up Elza Coon's gang of counterfeiters on Snake River. Wright drifted into the Connor Creek area in 1900 and got a job as a hired hand to F.B. Morgan owner of the Morgan Ranch on Morgan Creek which had previously been called Marshall Creek for the Marshall ranch. It was 12 miles north of Huntington, and he was hired to break outlaw horses. As well as this assignment to the counterfeit job, Wright was working secretly with the livestock association to apprehend horse thieves who were using a private ferry to cross stolen horses over the Snake River into Idaho. After 10 months he finally located the man who was making the counterfeit $5.00 gold pieces. After enough evidence had been secured for a conviction and the hidden molds were finally located, John Minto was notified and he with W.S. Bell of Seattle came and arrested Elza Coon and seized his molds and a quantity of counterfeit gold pieces.

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