Henry Goll was the son of Friederich Goll who immigrated from the Baden region of Germany in 1849 and Maria Elisabetha Schwamb who immigrated from Köngenheim in Mainz-Bingen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany between 1847 and 1850 with her family. He was the 7th of 10 children and became an assistant cashier at the first National Bank of Milwaukee. The president of the bank was Frank Bigelow who became infamous for his role in looting the bank. Henry Goll became a correspondent for First National Bank in 1890 and married Wilhelmina Bliss in 1892. Together they had 2 children Frank Bigelow Goll named after his boss, and Elizabeth Chapman Goll.
Henry Goll found that his boss Frank Bigelow had taken money from First National Bank and rather than turn him in he told him he needed to replace the money. Before Frank Bigelow was able to replace the money the bank caught Bigelow and Henry Goll was implicated in the crime for aiding and abetting. He spent time in prison and when he returned to his family after serving over five years of a ten year sentence he returned home a broken man the rest of his life.
The newspaper articles from 1905 to 1906 indicate the Henry G. Goll falsified the bank records to cover the thefts of Frank Bigelow which were over a million dollars. When the missing money was discovered Frank Bigelow surrendered without a fight while Henry Goll fled on April 25th 1905. Henry Goll was apprehended in Chicago on May 3, 1905. He was tracked down and brought back to Milwaukee for trial. His defense at the trial was that he was following orders and that he would have lost his position as cashier at First National Bank of Milwaukee had he not gone along with Frank Bigelow who was the President of the bank. Shortly before the trial was to begin Henry Goll's three attorneys quit and although the press felt it was because of money the attorneys denied it. This almost certainly was a big setback to his defence.
There was never any evidence that Henry Goll got any of the money but he was given the same 10 year sentence as Frank Bigelow who got the benefit of the money a good portion of which he used to help his son Gordon. The attorneys for Henry Goll appealed the decision but all appeals were denied including an appeal to President Howard Taft in 1910. In October 1911 Goll was parolled from prison several months after Frank Bigelow had been parolled. He did not actually leave prison until January 1912. It is not hard to see how this would have left Henry Goll a bitter and broken man.
The story told to the family by by Henry Goll does not reconcile the fact that Goll falsified documents to cover for Frank Bigelow. It is hard to reconcile the two versions of the story unless Goll agreed to falsify documents until Frank Bigelow could return the money. If this was the case it was a bad and unfortunate decision. This scandal cost Goll over five years of his life in prison and put a mark on his good name. The details of this crime recently appeared in the book "50 Wisconsin Crimes of the Century" by Marv Balousek published in 1997.
After serving his sentence Henry Goll returned to his family and help cared for them. He never married again and his sister Lily who was a widow helped care for his children and then his grandchildren. Henry Goll worked as a manager and then as a bookkeeper in a restaurant. He died on 19 July 1940 and was laid to rest in Forest Home Cemetery. Henry Goll appears to me a man who was put in a tough position and made a few errors showing loyalty to a man unworthy of his trust. His punishment for his share in the scandal seems rather unfair in comparison to the punishment given to Frank Bigelow who actually took the money. May Henry Goll rest in peace.
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