Lee Leander Dellage

Bienfait, Saskatchewan, Canada

Please Note- all the info below, are from ALLEGED Charges and Crimes, stemming from Rum Running Booze from Saskatchewan to the US in the 1920's. I have no physical proof Mr. Dellage, Lacoste and Auld, were involved in this activity, other than newspaper articles, and history books, from the time. You can make up your own mind, if they were guilty or not. I do know Lee Dellage was ACQUITTED of the murder described below.

Lee Dellage was arrested and charged with the murder of Sam Bronfman's brother-in-law, Paul Matoff
In the CPR Station Telegrapher's office on Oct 4,1922 in Bienfait.

Lee Dellage and Mae Eva Loveland Wedding Photo
Courtesy his Great-Granddaughter, Jan 2019
This is the first, and only photo I have seen of Lee Dellage, other than the grainy newspaper one below

Lee Leander Dellage
b- Feb 2, 1886 in New Haven, Iowa, USA
d- Jan 15, 1988, in a Nursing Home, in Long Lake, Hennepin, Minnesota, age 102!
buried in Flaxton Cemetery, Burke Co. ND

Lee's Father- Louis Azarie Dellage
b- Jan 17, 1846 in St. Isaac, Quebec, Canada
baptized Louis Azarie Delage, 1846, Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire, St-Hyacinthe, Québec
d- Nov 25, 1915 in New Haven, Mitchell, Iowa USA
buried- Sacred Heart Cemetery, Osage, Mitchell County, Iowa, USA
Married twice, Ellen McHugh first Jan 14, 1866, she died in early 1879
Married Mary Ellen Morrisie (alt- Morrissey) Nov 9, 1879 at New Haven, Mitchell, Iowa

Lee's Mother- Mary Ellen Morrisie
b- Feb 2, 1854 in Dodge Co., Wisconsin, USA
d- Nov 8, 1920 in Osage, Mitchell Co., Iowa, USA

Grandfather- Louis Delage

Wife #1-
Mae Eva Dellage, nee Loveland
b- Oct 13, 1892 in Forest City, Winnebago, Iowa
(shown age 27 in 1920 census, born in Iowa)
(age 9 in 1900 census, born in Iowa)
d- July 13, 1923 in Flaxton ND
note- tree on ancestry has different dates, places etc. which I think is wrong
buried in Flaxton Cemetery, Burke Co. ND

Father- Edward Martin Loveland
b- Oct 5, 1840 in Schroon, Essex Co., New York
d- July 23, 1923 in Lignite, Burke, ND
Mother- Evaline “Eva” Alvira Loveland, nee Jenks
b- Aug 12, 1852 in Chestertown, Warren Co., New York
d- 1918, buried in Flaxton Cemetery, Flaxton, ND

Mae's 5 older siblings were born in Johnsburg, New York
Between 1889-1892 the family moved to Iowa

Lee and Mae had 3 children:
2 daughters and 1 son
Mayme “Arliene” Dellage- b- Oct 12, 1912 in ND
Wilmar “Bill” Louis Dellage b- Mar 14, 1915 in ND
Ellen Joan Dellage- b- Apr 12, 1921 in Lignite, Dale, ND

While in jail in Regina, his first wife Mae Eva Loveland, and daughter Arliene Dellage contacted typhoid fever, from a travelling farmhand, at Lignite ND.
The daughter survived after being in a coma for many months. When she came out of her coma she had lost her hearing in her right ear, and had to learn to walk again.
She learned her mother died after she came out of her coma.
Lee had 2 other sick children and a dying father-in-law at the time. This was all ca July 1923

Wife #2-
Mildred Mae Hoffman, nee Hodges
Lee remarried Mildred Mae Hoffman, Dec 6, 1924 in Crosby ND.
b- May 7, 1903, Tuscola, Tuscola County, Michigan
d- Dec 13, 1924 Kenmare, Ward Co., ND
shown age 19 in 1923 attending Minot Normal School
But a newspaper article Dec 17, 1924 says it was Marguerite Hoffman.
Her mother had died earlier per this article, and she was adopted by a family in Williston ND
This same article claimed her father was C. O Hoffman, living in Canada.
Then another article says her name was Mildred A. Hoffman, and her mother Rose Hoffman, was fighting Lee Dellage, for her Life Insurance Policy
Then I find a family tree that says she was adopted by the Hoffman family, her adopted father- John W. Hoffman adopted mother- Rose A. Hoffman
They were indeed living in Williston ND in 1920.
Her real surname was Hodges. Her real birth father- James Schuyler Hodges, birth mother- Emma White
Lee and Mildred Mae, were married for only one week, they were returning from a dance (basketball game in one article), Dec 13, 1924, in the early hours of a Saturday morning, from Columbus, on the state highway between Columbus and Lignite ND. Lee and his new wife were in the front seat, and 2 other Lignite ladies in the back seat.
One article says 6 in the car, 3 in front seat injured, and 3 in back no injuries.
Virginia Chaussiee who worked at the Dellage farm was in the front seat, and suffered Severe bruising per the article with 6 people in the car.
Two horses that were running loose, ran in front of the car. The car on the icy road, with the brakes applied, slid and overturned into the ditch.
Mrs. Dellage's neck was broken, and Lee suffered broken ribs. He was taken to the Kenmare hospital.
Mrs. Dellage was from Williston, ND., and was a teacher at Lignite ND School.
Dillage took the Lincoln National Insurance Co. to Court for a life insurance policy his new wife had.
She had applied to change her beneficiary to Lee, on Dec 10, 1924, but died before the policy could be changed. Another Hoffman, (father? brother?) was the beneficiary.
as we see above it was her adopted mother.
The policy was for $1500 but had double indemnity for accidental death, and minus a premium fee, was for $2,965.75
It was issued in Nov 1924

Wife #3-
Jean Marie Morris
b- July 9, 1910 in New Rockford, Eddy, ND, USA
d- June 24, 1987 in Avenal, Kings, California
they married Aug 16, 1933 in Scobey, Daniels Co., Montana, US
daughter of Edward Marton Morris and Mary Yuetzel
They had 1 daughter

In July 1935 a Mrs. Lee Dellage was charged with illegal liquor at Lignite ND, while her husband was serving his sentence in Leavenworth.
She had 28 pints of whiskey, and 19 gallons of alcohol all untaxed was found.
She divorced Lee while he was serving time for the Wool Smuggling charge.

Correction for photos above- May 2020- The 2 photos submitted to you by my daughter in January 2020 were misidentified. The couple holding her at age 1 is Jack M. Dellage and his wife, Norma Stanfield Dellage. Jack was a half-brother of Lee Dellage; they are my daughter's great, great Aunt and Uncle and the photograph was taken in the backyard of my parents home in Eugene, Oregon in 1966. Lee Dellage by this time was in a nursing home in Minnesota where he resided until his death at age 102.
2 Photos above submitted by Lee's Great-Grandaughter Jan 7, 2020

Over the years of searching history on this man, I have seen spellings of Dillage, Dillege, Dilledge, and Dellage in various newspaper accounts, and history books.
1900 US census says Leo Dellage, but only place this appears
I have tried to record what I think is the true story. what I find amazing, NONE of these books, newspapers, etc, even had his name spelled correct.
That should have been the easy part!
But this man's real name was Lee Leander Dellage verified by his Great-Granddaughter as well
Trust me it is Dellage! or Délâge if you want to go to his French Canadian origin!

1910 Lee Dellage was living in Vale, Burke Co. ND

From his Great-Granddaughter- “From what my grandmother told me, Lee was a mailman for a while as a young man and would deliver the mail to the house where Mae lived with her parents. She taught at the local school. It got so that she would go out to meet him when he brought the mail and they struck up a relationship through those interactions. From what my grandmother has told me and the letters I've read from her mother to Lee, they were very much in love”

I have found numerous newspaper articles that showed Lee was indeed a Rural Mailman.

I have found other Dellage family names buried in Flaxton Cemetery, Burke Co ND, Mae Eva Dellage, Mildred Dellage, and Mildred Mae Dellage

In the mid 1920's Lee Dellage owned and managed a semi professional Baseball team, called “Dellage's Cubans”, based in Lignite ND.

From his Great-Granddaughter:
“In addition to the baseball team, he also owned a racehorse at one point that he “gave” to his son Bill (which is what they called him–real name Wilmar), and Bill was responsible for getting him trained and to the races, etc. Apparently the horse did quite well and some rivals tried to poison him before one of the races, so Bill took to sleeping in his stall nights before races. ” “Great-Grandpa Lee also organized dances at his barn, hiring musicians and charging everyone an entrance fee. His sisters would make sandwiches all morning for it, and people would come from all over. ” “My grandmother and mother both spoke of him very fondly, and while I got the impression that he could be gruff sometimes, he also had quite a bit of charisma and charm. According to my grandmother, he was the man to go to if you had a problem, and quite a few people in town came to him for loans or for taking care of some situation or other.”

He was known as a Farmer and Carpenter in the area.

Per his great-granddaughter, Lee was an alcoholic, and after a series of strokes, he became harder to deal with, and her grandmother had to place Lee in a nursing home. This explains why he died in Minnesota.

In the book “Grass Roots” by Heather Robertson, Lee Dellage is described as “Small and Wiry”. Jimmy LaCoste as “a big blond Frenchman with a broken nose”.
She writes Dellage had a high powered Cadillac car. In this book she says the booze was found in a straw pile just as Jimmy LaCoste told the police.
Investigating Dellage's farm they found more booze.

Per a newspaper article, James LaCoste, (Bio below) the truck driver, who worked with Dellage, and was his friend, admitted the story he told at Matoff's coroner's inquest,
of the hijacking of the whiskey truck, and Dellage's automobile was false. LaCoste claimed Dellage told him to tell this story.
He admitted he told this story to Sergeant Worgan of the Provincial Police on his return to Bienfait.
LaCoste said he told Dellage he was crazy telling such a story, as Dellage just told him Matoff was killed.
LaCoste stuck to his story to shield Dellage from Federal Officers in the USA. LcCoste claimed they hid the whiskey in a straw pile near Lignite ND.
LaCoste said they were assisted by a man named Martinson, after the truck got stuck in a ditch.
On LaCoste's return to Bienfait he told the police, he would lead them to Dellage's farm. When he got to a town 6 miles south of Bienfait (Roche Percee?)
he sped up, and lost the police, to warn Dellage to not stick to the hijacking story now the truth was out.

Then this story in the LA paper, and St Paul paper, Lucky Tommy O'Connor was believed to have been located today in the neighbourhood of the Canadian border
between St. Paul, Minn., and Winnipeg, Can. The escaped murderer (from a Chicago jail), was said to have been recognized, as the leader of a gang of hijackers,
who shot and killed Paul Matoff, wealthy rum runner, and later held up a liquor caravan, robbed the man in charge of $6000 and drove off with the contents of a ten-ton truck. another story, another suspect, It seemed a lot of crimes were blamed on this fellow while he was on the run for many years.

Lee Dellage was tried for murder at the Court of King's Bench, in Estevan, starting Mar 21, 1923, he was acquitted afternoon of Mar 22, 1923
the jury deliberated for 3 hours. Trial lasted 2 days. Justice Bigelow presided, and made a statement to Dellage that he knew more than the evidence proved,
and stated the murder was due to a conspiracy to violate Canadian and American Liquor laws.
The judge then made a statement to Dellage blaming him for his illegal activities, then is quoted as saying “I believe you had a distinct part in it”.
pretty strong statement for a judge to a man acquitted. He was then taken into custody for his robbery trial the next morning.
starting Mar 23, 1923 he was tried for robbery, but was acquitted Mar 24, 1923 on a hung jury.
At this trial his wife and 2 children attended sitting behind the lawyers table. One of these was Lee Dellage Jr., age 5 or 6.
and what was written, a chubby 2 year old girl. Evidence from a guard at the Regina jail was ruled inadmissible.
Supposedly Dellage told the guard damaging admissions. the trial was in the old City Hall Auditorium, which was used as a Court House for years.
He was then up for trial again on the robbery charge. This trial started Oct 11, 1923. It was to last 2 days.
Robbery charge was based on $6,000.00 stolen from Matoff, as well as Matoff's Diamond Stick Pin.
His lawyer N. R. Craig KC of Moose Jaw applied for his bail. He was committed to stand trial Oct 9, 1923 and again bail was refused.
He would have spent over a year in jail, waiting for bail. His lawyer W.W. Lynd then applied again with Judge Farrell this time.

Oct 11, 1923 the trial resumed in Estevan.

He was let out of jail to attend his first wife's funeral on $40,000 bail.
He paid $20,000, and bondsmen, Albert C. (Al) Rodgers from Estevan, and Maurice J. Hawkinson from Bienfait each covered $10,000.
Al Rodgers ran a Boozorium in Bienfait, Maurice Hawkinson owned the Bienfait Coal Mine. His name appears below for Jimmy Lacoste's bail as well.

He owned large farms near Lignite. Was well known as a Rum Runner from that era. The night Paul Matoff was killed he was buying a shipment of liquor,
with the help of Jimmy LaCoste, who was an associate of his, and who also was charged with Matoff's murder, and robbery, and who was also acquitted.

The 100 bags of liquor were found and identified in Minot ND according to one source, even though Lacoste said it was in a straw pile.

In July 1921 Matoff gave evidence on the stand as Assistant Manager of the Liquor Exporters Ltd, who had a warehouse in Gainsborough.
4 Americans from Omaha Nebraska were charged with robbery of the Warehouse. Arthur Henshaw, Leroy Compton, A.B. Shelton, and Axel Pearson.
They supposedly wrote a bad cheque for liquor under the name of H. D. Myers. Later they allegedly broke into the warehouse after a liquor buy,
and stole other cases of liquor. Did these fellows come back for revenge?

Another theory Paul Matoff was paid back for an allegedly load of watered down booze, sold to US Bootleggers.

Matoff supposedly testified against other American Hijackers, who were convicted of hijacking a car load of Bronfman Booze.

The murder weapon, a sawed off shotgun was never found. A shotgun, similar to this one, was found years later, under the floor boards in the Alex Ronyk Pool Hall.
It was sent to the RCMP, but they were not able to identify it as the murder weapon.

Living to be 102, it would have been neat to interview this man and record his story, good and bad.

I found these articles in various newspapers which shows he just couldn't quit smuggling from Canada.
Now who would have thought about smuggling Wool? I have never ever heard of that!
Wool was 8 cents a pound in Canada and 25 cents a pound in US. He was caught with 1 ton! approx 2,000 pounds, or $500 worth
In those days a lot of money, and he made a profit. How many trips did he make before getting caught? we will never know

July 8, 1933
Wool Smuggling Article, July 8, 1933
He got 4 years sentence to a Federal Prison, and a $1,000 fine, by Judge Andrew Miller in Minot ND, the maximum fine allowed.
The Judge claimed there was “Wholesale Perjury” on behalf of the Defendant.
Judge L. J. Palca Jr. Chief of Defense Council, made a plea to consider “ That Dellage is not all that bad”
Sept 14, 1933 Lee Dellage and Omar Loveland were indicted and released on bond, for smuggling 4,400 pounds of wool into Minot from Canada
I know his wife's brother was Oamr Loveland, not sure if this was him or not.

Jan 26, 1935
More of the wool smuggling case and business, Jan 26, 1935
Now this is a dandy as it mentions the farm where they stored the wool. Turns out it was Charlie Vaughn's farm barn south of Estevan
His story is on my Estevan souris Valley page.
His farm was considered a special photo op for the area. turns out it was sued for more than photos.
I had heard rumors of rum running at this farm, and now this.

Jan 19, 1940
This is the only other picture I have seen of him, and here he is going to jail for Grand Larceny of Cattle, Jan 19, 1940

June 23, 1941
He served hard time at Leavenworth for the Wool Smuggling, June 23, 1941

Legitimate Business Man?
Dec 31, 1952
In 1952 he was involved in a “legitimate” Soil Conditioning Program for farmers.
Some articles say this was a scam program, so not too sure about that.

Raised Dogs?

I have always said, if a man likes Dogs, he is a good guy.
Here in 1932 Lee Dellage is raising Wolf Hounds, and selling 4 of them to Heavy Weight Champion of the World, Jack Dempsey.

Lee's son Wilmer (alt Wilmar) (alt Bill) was a reknowned boxer in North Dakota in 1934, so possibly knew Dempsey from that connection?

Evidence given during the trial in Estevan, included:

“After the killing, a cheque signed by Lee Dellage, on a North Dakota Bank, was found in the pockets of the murdered man”- Corporal John Molyneux, S.P.P. Estevan

“A large diamond and setting was wretched from a stick pin worn by Matoff”- Harry Zellickson, manager of the Bienfait Boozorium
(note some records say a diamond ring, which he also wore) I think his name might have been Zelickson, with one l. he was a farm boy from near Hirsch,
and they did have a farm near Hirsch, and there is a Zelickson buried in the Hirsch Jewish Cemetery.
Harry was an assistant of Matoff in Liquor shipments.
An Abe Zellickson also gave evidence.

“The money, which Dellage and Matoff were counting at the time of the holdup, could not have been taken, without entering the CPR ticket office.
The glass in the window though broken, was in such a state that it was evident no man had thrust his arm through. whoever took the money, and Matoff's diamond,
must have obtained entry through the door of the office”- Corporal John Molyneux- S.P.P. Estevan

We were some miles from Bienfait when Dellage told me Matoff was killed. He said that the robbers had taken everything he had, leaving him clean.
We took the liquor contained in the truck, and Dellage's Cadillac across the line, and I and a man named Martinson unloaded the truck,
concealing the liquor in a straw stack beside the road, between Columbus and Lignite, ND
Dellage told me to tell the authorities on the Canadian side, that Hijackers had held us up on the way down, securing the liquor and stealing Dellage's car“-
James LaCoste

“Dellage had been quite an extensive dealer with the Dominion Distributors, the firm of which Matoff was agent. On one occasion he bought 115 cases of rye, taking delivery in installments”- W. H. Reid, Regina Manager, Dominion Distributors.

“After the murder, a car, presumed to contain the bandit gang, which held up the CPR station at Bienfait where Matoff was killed, passed a police car on the road to Frobisher, Police officers tried to stop this car, shots were exchanged, without result”- Sergeant Leonard Harry Worgan, S.P.P. Weyburn.

An old admission by Dellage, not previously told, that he moved Matoff's body after he was shot. this evidence was given by Corporal Molyneux

March trial Colin Rawcliffe, express agent at Bienfait, gave evidence Dellage was the only person with Matoff, at the time of the Murder and robbery.
He testified that he, Matoff and Dellage were in the ticket office with Matoff counting the money, when the glass was broken and the shotgun was fired.
Rawcliffe claimed he ran to the living rooms upstairs, when he returned, Dellage was holding Matoff's head in his lap.
June 1, 1922 a provincial edict came down closing the Liquor warehouses in the southern part of the Province.
Rawcliffe admitted it was still going on. Judge Bigelow presided. Lacoste was on the stand and admitted he transported the liquor across the border since 1920,
when the warehouse was set up. So he effectively admitted under oath to be a rum runner.

Detective Sergeant W. Mortimer gave evidence they found large liquor caches on Dellages farm, and on Mr. A. Martinson's farm. (remember the helper above?)
Inspections were made with US federal enforcement Officer, N.C. Upton, from Oct 13 to 15.
On the Dellage farm an underground chamber near his barn, contained 22 one gallon containers of alcohol.
18 sacks of 7 year old rye, 2 sacks of Scotch, and other intoxicants.
At the Martinson farm near Lignite, 13 one gallon containers, 6 sacks of rye, 2 sacks of scotch and other liquor was found.
In a straw stack near the high road to Columbus ND, they found 18 sacks of 7 year old rye, 2 sacks Simpsons White Seal, 4 sacks Martel Cognac,
10 cases of gin, a sack of port, and one case of cocktails. It's location was described by Lacoste.
In every case the bottled liquors were purported to come from Bronfman's Dominion Distributors, Regina
Customs vouchers were attached to the gin cases. According to the manager Mr. Reid, it was an unusually large order the night Matoff was killed.
It was consigned to a A. Lamont, Minot ND.

One interesting item they brought up, and I think the most important piece of evidence, Dellage was there when Matoff was shot, standing almost beside him,
but somehow didn't see what happened to the diamond pin that was on Matoff's body?

He was standing next to Matoff, but not shot. Another vehicle was identified following Dellage's car into Bienfait. Who was in that car?

He left the station for a brief moment, time enough, to signal someone else. Did he?

When 2 strangers were seen on the platform, Dellage assured Matoff they were just harvesters.

It was an unusually large shipment. The murder and robbery didn't happen until the truck and car were loaded.

Dellage told Rawcliffe to not go out on the platform or he might get shot.
If there were eye witnesses, like Rawcliffe and Dellage, why were they not killed by the killer?

Well his Great Grandaughter sent me this version of the story, which I think explains it all. Especially answers the question why Dellage was not shot.
Rawcliffe must have been told to not say a word by Dellage is my guess, but here is her story
“My grandmother was quite open about the fact that her father was a bootlegger (and also smuggled wool and some other goods from Canada) and used to chuckle about how when she and Bill heard their father's car tearing up the road with the horn blaring, they knew to put all the liquor bottles in the stairs, which had hollow compartments for storage, because the police were close behind. When I asked her more closely about the murder charge toward the end of her life, she shared some interesting details that may or may not be true (could just be what her father told her) and may or may not line up with what you know about the case. She didn't give many details about exactly what happened, but she did mention that there was to be an exchange of $6,000 and a big shipment of liquor at the train station and something “went wrong” (maybe the holdup??). What my grandmother claimed is that Lee had one of his nephews with him and that this nephew got spooked/jumpy in the confusion and accidentally shot Matoff. According to my grandmother, Grandpa Lee considered Matoff a good friend and was grieved by his death, but he didn't want his young nephew to go to prison, so he covered for him and told him to take off and keep quiet.” Now an accidental shooting, to me, explains the whole thing. The holdup guys would have panicked and left thinking they would get blamed. The nephew was long gone. Lacoste wouldn't rat on the young guy. Lee would have went to jail to cover for him. Blood is truly thicker than water!

b- Feb 1, 1896 in Cheneville, Quebec
d- Feb 23, 1929
buried in Estevan City Cemetery
enlisted in WWI, July 13, 1918 in Regina, single, RC, farmer, 5ft 8in tall. address Bienfait PO.
Military svc #- LC-466124, Reg #- 3355285
Father- Alfred Lacoste, age 47 in 1906
Mother- Meline Lacoste, age 44 in 1906
sister- Albertine Lacoste, age 16 in 1906
brother- Wilfred Lacoste, age 12 in 1906
brother- Raphael Lacoste, age 8 in 1906
all born in Quebec, in 1906 living on Section 14, Township 2, Range 7, W2

Jim Lacoste Married ca 1922, Marie? Lacoste, nee ? possibly age 19 in 1921 but not verified

In 1902 the families left Saint-André-Avellin, Québec
His father Alfred Lacoste actually owned the farm I was raised on south of Bienfait.

Gent (Dr. Sherman) Farm, 1 Mile south of Bienfait, Photo taken Nov 1927

My brother Wayne seen bottles of liquor behind the water cistern in our house in the 1950's,
and this would explain where it came from. Our farm was in a good location for rum running.

Jimmy Lacoste owned an auto repair garage in Bienfait.

Nov 22, 1922 Jimmy Lacoste was cleared of the murder charge, at the preliminary hearing held before Provincial Police
Magistrate J. C. Martin. The charges preferred by the Crown, were withdrawn by the Attorney General's Department.
Announced by W. M. Rose, KC, one of the Crown Prosecutors. He had no previous charges. He was also recently married, only a few months earlier.
He was bound over as a witness in the trial of Lee Dellage. Magistrate Martin assigned bail of $10,000. Half was paid by Mr. Lacoste,
$2500 each by Charles (Charlie) Vaughn, Estevan, and Maurice Hawkinson, Bienfait. We have seen Mr. Hawkinson's name appear above.

Sept 10, 1924 he was shot and seriously injured in St. Mary's Hospital, in Minneapolis MN
2 stories, one he was shot by a police officer there escaping with a car load full of liquor and failing to stop.
other he had a roll over and suffered injuries to his head.
He sent a telegram to Lee Dellage who forwarded it to Jimmy's parents. Jimmy's wife was in Vancouver at the time, and she was called to his bedside, but obviously he lived for a few more years.

Both Dellage and Lacoste were asked to pose for pictures and both refused, so reason no pictures exist I guess.

Anyway, I repeat, these guys were all found NOT Guilty of the Matoff murder.


  • Last modified: 2020/05/25 19:14
  • by dlgent