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Thorough and Comprehensive Expose 

of Criminal Practices of all 

Grades and Classes. 












G. IV. Carleton & Co., Publishers. 







Stereotyped by 




THIS work is what it purports to be. For over 
thirty years I have been engaged in the active duties 
of a detective, and during that period I have ac 
quired a comparatively thorough knowledge of the 
modes of operation adopted by the various classes of 
criminals who prey upon humanity. Being of the 
opinion that much loss and trouble might be pre 
vented, if the entire community was enlightened 
upon these matters, I have prepared this work for 
the purpose of placing within the reach of every one, 
that information which is, or ought to be, a guarantee 
of security. In the hope that what I have written 
may be of service to my fellow beings in every walk 
of life, and that the experiences given, may convince 
the dishonestly inclined of the utter futility of the 
success of criminal actions, this volume is sent forth. 


CHICAGO, February, 1884. 



"Mr. Charles W. Pontez is the Man who 
Check, and I will prove it." 

stole this 
. 40 

Coming from the Bank. .... 

The Pickpocket on the Street Car. . . -45 

Robbery in a Jewelry Store. . . . . 65 

A "Boodle" Victim. . .... 77 

An Unwelcome Visitor. . . . . .96 

A Bank Sneak. . . . . . . 113 

" Turning" a Victim. ..... 124 

In the Palace Car. . . . . . . 155 

A Wolf in Sheep s Clothing. .... 173 

Singular Performance in an Opera House. . . 277 

Burglars and Dynamite. ..... 280 

An Amateur Forger. ..... 345 

"Randall Grasped one of the Arriving Passengers by 

the Hand." . . . . . .377 

"Three Detectives Advanced and Demanded their Sur 
render." . . .... 378 

A Costly Conversation. . . . . .411 

The Arrest of George McDonnell .... 417 

A Struggle in the Dark. .... 

A Counterfeiter Surprised. 
An Unexpected Apparition. 
A Fight for Liberty. 
"The Tallest of these Two 
Blank Key to !" 

Men is the One I Sold the 




I Demand your Surrender for the Robbery of the Ex 

press Company. ..... 601 

Right, Captain, I ve Got Him." . . .613 








Refugees from England, Stealing only Portable and 
Valuable Articles. A Stolen Bank Check at a Wed 
ding. Experts at Pocket-Picking. Robberies at 
Funerals. Theater and Church Thieves. . . 27 


The First Career of the Professional Criminal. Going 
in Mobs. Waylaying Bank Depositors. The Man 
Who is Ever on the Watch and Cannot be Robbed. 
Slang Terms. Railroad Car Thieves. Stealing 
the Diamond Stud. Watch and Chain. Purses and 
Pocket-books. Street Car Thieves. The Female 
Thief. . 36 


A House to let. Store-rooms for Plunder. Making their 
Keys. Packing the Goods. Removal by Express 



Wagon. Through the Skylight. Selling by Sam 
ple. The Jewelry Store. The " Note Racket." 
Guarding the Keys. . . . . -55 


Cupidity Greater than Judgment. The Sawdust Swin 
dler. " A Boss Racket." Preparing a Circular. 
Verdant Green. "Kin yer tell me whar I can 
find Mr. Sharp?" A Dramatic Agency. The 
" Crooked Stuff. "Five Dollars Worth of Jewelry. 
Good Money for Bad. Sawdust, C. O. D. . . 70 


The Hotel Proprietor as a Sufferer. Night Watchmen. 
Safety-locks and Chain Bolts. The Modus Operand! 
of the Professional Hotel Thief. An Ingenius Kit 
of Tools. Preparations and Precautions. The 
Cracksman at Work. Bar-Keys, Widdies, Nippers 
and Cut Wires. Entering the sleeping guest s apart 
ment. A unique contrivance for doctoring the locks 
of an unoccupied room. Precautions that every 
guest should use. The dapper Traveling Salesman. 82 


An apparent Gentleman. His Noiseless Footstep. A 
Bag for Booty. Skeleton Keys. Entrance to the 
Bank Vault. Co-operation of his Stalls. A Prefer 
ence for Country Banks. Engaging the Bank 
Officials. Inside of a Bank. Interviewing the Presi 
dent and Cashier. Buying Drafts and claiming 
Shorts. Arguments and Re-counts. A Queer Step- 
ladder. A stray note Dropped on the Floor. Done 
Up in Brown Paper. Safe Deposit Companies. 
Gaining Admission to the Vaults. Mingling with 
the Depositors. Warning Advice to Safe Deposit 
Companies and Customers. Daring and Successful 



Robbery by Sneak Thieves in New York. The office 
of James H. Bloodgood. $250,000 Carried Off. A 
Hunt for the Thieves. Watchful surveillance. Shad 
owing a Suspected Rendezvous. A Dashing 
Woman. My Detectives on the Track. Off for 
Baltimore and Petersburgh. The Strategy of Rob 
ert Pinkerton. Arrest and Recovery of the Bonds. 
Recovery of $51,000, Government Bonds, for the 
National Bank of Courtland, N. Y. . . 106 


The Thief and His Companion. An Attractive Female. 
Slumbering Passengers. An Innocent Accom 
plice. Searching for the Thief. Mr. Potter loses 
some Diamonds. Mr. Bangs on the Trail. Remark 
able Discovery. Advice to Travelers. . . . 152 


Mississippi River Thieves. Preliminary Arrangements. 
The " Weeding " Process. Stop Thief ! " Excuse 
my mistake, I thought this was my room." First- 
class and Second-class Thieves. Smooth tongues and 
fair faces. The Middle-aged Clergyman. Victim 
ized Gamblers. ..... 164 


House Breaking as a Fine Art. A Quotation from 
Dickens. The English and American Professionals 
Contrasted. Preparations and Places. A Kit of 
Tools. Gaining an Entrance. The Jointed Key. 
Large Footprints. Servants as Accomplices. 
" Over the Garden Wall." . . . .175 


A Social Leper. The Confidence Man about Town. A 
Confidence Man Confidenced." Purchasing Wit- 



nesses. The Medical Charlatan and his Merchant 
Dupe. A Pretty Law-breaker. The Blackmailer s 
End. ....... 190 


Bank Burglars. Locating their Mark. Burglars and 
Dynamite. Brokers who open a Bank. The Oyster 
Dealer. The Dentist. The Shoemaker. The Bar 
ber. Inside Work. The Cashier as a Burglar s As 
sistant. Methods, Tools and Implements of the 
Burglar. A Would-be Burglar Trapped. . .256 


Draft Raising. An Amateur Forger. A Clever 
Forgery. Reminiscences of Expert Forgers. The 
King of Forgers. Corporations floated by Forged 
Securities. Wild-Cat Insurance Companies. A 
Forger of Many Experiences. The Bank of Eng 
land Forgers. A Forger of two Continents. . .338 


Queer Coins and Laws of Ancient Nations. A Counter 
feiter of Millions. A Genius among Counterfeiters. 
A Hero of Balaklava as a Counterfeiter. A 
Prince among Counterfeiters. A Thrilling Exist 
ence. Lesser Lights. A Trio of Criminal Artists. 442 


The Robbery of Express Companies. Two Notable Ac 
knowledgments of my Services. A Bold Express 
Robbery. Clever Detective Work. . . . 567 


IN the preparation of the present work I have en 
deavored to carry into effect an idea I have en 
tertained for several years. A purpose long consid 
ered, and the execution of which has occupied much 
of my time, has at length assumed definite shape and 
tangible form. 

The knowledge which the general public acquires 
of the transactions of the criminal classes is, at the 
best, but meagre and unsatisfying. Fragmentary 
newspaper items an abstract report of important 
trials, and, at times, costly personal experiences, have 
been the only means by which the reading public have 
been informed of the operations of a class of people 
whose numbers are enormous, and whose depreda 
tions are of daily occurrence. If the total amount of 
the dishonest appropriations of a single year could be 
ascertained, the sum would be appalling and almost 
incredible, and yet, as widespread as are the opera- 


tions of the criminal, as universal his existence, and 
as fabulous the amount of which the public are annu 
ally plundered, the large majority of the sufferers to 
day, are in ignorance of the manner in which their 
goods and valuables have disappeared. A bank, 
strong and seemingly impregnable, is entered between 
twilight and dawn. Vaults that were guaranteed to 
withstand any efforts that might be made against them, 
have in an incredibly short space of time, yielded to 
the skill of the burglar, and hundreds of thousands of 
dollars have been successfully carried away before 
suspicion is aroused, or an alarm sounded. Stores 
and dwellings have: been broken into, under the very 
eyes of expert watchmen, and, despite every ingenious 
safeguard and protection, the midnight robbers have 
effected their escape with the property of their un 
conscious victims. 

In broad daylight banks, moneyed institutions and 
financial firms, have been defrauded of vast sums of 
money by the expert forger, the sneak-thief, and the 
counterfeiter. Individuals of all classes have fallen 
victims to the horde of dishonest men and women 
who infest our communities and yet the public are 
unaware of the means employed to effect their ruin, 
or the modes by which their disasters were accom 

This information I now propose to give, in the 


hope that by a wide-spread publication of the meth 
ods and plans of the criminal, I may be able to 
restrict his operations, impede his efforts, and prevent 
his disastrous successes. 

Prompt and energetic detection has done much to 
prevent the spread of crime, and to limit the radius 
of criminal operations. A robbery of an Express 
Company by a professional .thief, is now no longer 
attempted ; and by my efforts in the detection of the 
criminals who made these corporations their victims 
for many years, this result has principally been ac 
complished. It is true, the battle was a long, fierce 
and costly one, but in the end, the burglars and 
thieves were compelled to yield the detectives were 
the conquerors, the robbers were sent to prison, and 
the result is that the express companies to-day enjoy 
an almost thorough immunity from depredation. 

This is also the case with the larger banking in 
stitutions. A vigorous process of detection and an 
unrelenting administration of justice, have awed the 
more ambitious of the criminal fraternity and secured 
enforced protection for the mammoth financial institu 
tions of the country. 

While this is true to a great and satisfying extent, 
it is also certain that the number of criminals of all 
grades has increased to wonderful proportions, and 
their modes of working and plans of operations have 


reached a degree of scientific perfection never before 

During my career as a detective, which has ex 
tended over a period of more than thirty-six years, I 
have been engaged in active association with crime 
and criminals of every grade and condition. From the 
most skillful operator to the mere tyro in dishonest 
practices, they have all come within the scope of my ex 
perience, and as a natural consequence, I have become 
familiar, not only with their manner of working, but 
with their various movements and associates. 
~~ During this extended period, crime in all its 
branches as well as the modes of detection, have made 
rapid strides, and both have developed into a science 
as complex and far-reaching as any that now engross 
i the philosopher and the specialist. The detective 
himself has undergone a complete metamorphosis. 
The time was when a halo of romance was thrown 
around the disreputable " mouchard " of the Parisian 
Corps detectif when the " Bow street runner " of 
London and the " shadow " of the American police 
were the ideal detectives of the age in which they 
lived. All these have passed away, however, and to 
day the American detective stands out in pure relief 
from all such associations. His calling has become a 
profession, and himself an intelligent, keen sighted 
and accomplished gentleman, relying upon his own 


high moral character, his superior intelligence and his 
indefatigable energy for the success which he has at 

The reason and necessity for this advancement are 
evident. Crime itself has become more scientific, and 
its ranks are filled by men, who in honorable callings 
would have achieved both fame and fortune. Among 
the criminal classes to-day are to be found men of 
powerful minds, of strong will, and of educational 
advantages which, if correctly applied would have en 
abled them to make their mark in the professional and 
business circles of the community. Unfortunately, 
however, their great talents are prostituted to base 
uses. The greed of gain, the desire to possess them 
selves of the property of others, without the labor 
required for honest accumulation, have led them to 
adopt the nature of the vulture and to prey unscru 
pulously upon the community at large. 

One of the great questions which presents itself 
for solution to the criminal is, how to accomplish their 
objects, and yet succeed in shrouding themselves from 
detection. Success in crime, which is immediately 
followed by detection, would be, but an unprofitable 
and unsatisfactory experiment, and hence the best 
energies of the intelligent criminal are devoted to the 
achievement of success in such a manner as to baffle 
the detective, and secure immunity from punishment. 


To prevent this, therefore, the detective must also be 
advanced. He must be possessed of a mind which is 
the equal, and, if possible, the superior of his antag 
onist. He must be endowed with a clear, honest 
and comprehensive understanding which will enable 
him to fathom the depths of criminal science, and a 
force of will and vigor of body necessary to overcome 
the nature and the dispositions of the men with whom 
he has to contend. 

In addition to this he must appear the careless, 
ordinary individual, particularly to those upon whom 
he is to operate. Assimilating, as far as possible, 
with the individuals who are destined to feel the force 
of his authority, and by appearing to know but little, 
acquire all the information possible to gather from 
every conceivable source, and in the least curious or 
inquisitorial manner. 

Possessed of an ability to adapt himself to every 
association in which he may find himself, and at the 
same time prolific in resources, he must be prepared at 
all times when emergencies arise which require quick 
conceptions and ready subterfuges. To-day, his asso 
ciates may be of the lowest orders of humanity, and 
to-morrow he mingles with the best elements of the 
social community. He must at all times be upon his 
guard, ever ready to take advantage of the most 
trifling circumstances, and yet, with an outward 


demeanor that dispels suspicion and invites the fullest 

The profession of the detective is, at once, an 
honorable and highly useful one.j For practical bene- 
fits few professions excel it.J He is an officer of jus 
tice, and must himself be pure and above reproach. 
The public safety and the perfect fulfillment of his 
calling require this ; and where the detective is found 
to possess these qualifications, success invariably 
attends his operations. The great essential is to pre 
vent his identity from becoming known, even among 
his associates of respectable character, and when he 
fails to do this ; when the nature of his calling is dis 
covered and made known, his usefulness to the pro 
fession is at an end, and failure, certain and inevitable 
is the result. 

Understanding all this, I have always instructed 
my men fully upon this point, and very rarely has it 
occurred that the operative has been discovered by 
any action of his own. Through every grade of 
criminal practice my men have penetrated, and the 
result of their investigations have been fully and 
regularly reported to me. 

I have thus been enabled to make the criminal 
and his works my especial study. I have endeavored 
to penetrate into the mysteries of his operations and 
to discover his methods of working. I have examined 


carefully into the most minute particulars, and have 
learned much that has been useful to me in prosecut 
ing my profession as a detective. By this system of 
minute examination I have become familiar with the 
modes and practices of the men who have success 
fully broken into bank vaults that were considered 
inpregnable ; with the skillful handiwork of the forger 
and the counterfeiter, and with the numerous devices 
of the criminal in every branch of his vocation, and I 
have been enabled to keep pace even with their 
increasing knowledge and enlarged facilities. 

The information which I have thus obtained I 
now propose to divulge to the public, believing that 
it is to their best interests that they should be made 
acquainted with the manifold schemes by which the 
expert criminal seeks to possess himself unlawfully of 
their valuables and money. The knowledge thus 
given may enable many to successfully guard them 
selves against the attacks of the burglar and the thief, 
and they will be benefited to the extent that security 
is attained. 

It has frequently been a matter of surprise to me 
to note the almost universal ignorance which pervades 
the financial and commercial communities with refer 
ence to the workings of the men, who daily make 
them the victims of their wiles and misdirected skill. 
I have, therefore, felt it to be my duty to inform them 


as fully as I am able, of the plans by which the dis 
honest prey upon the thrifty and the fortunate. For 
the enlightenment of this class of people there 
fore, and in order to open their eyes to the many 
ingenious devices of the counterfeiter, the burglar, 
and the chameleon-hued thief, I have devoted myself 
to the preparation of recitals which follow. 

Not alone to this, class do I address myself, but to 
those whose business it is to detect crime, and to seek 
for the criminal in his place of hiding; for the detec 
tives everywhere, and for the police authorities of the 
land, have I labored, and, I trust, not in vain. 

The broad field of crime embraces so many vari 
eties, and yet with the classifications so distinctly 
marked, that my labor has been considerably les 
sened in this particular, but in my endeavors to give 
nought but the facts, and those as exhaustive and 
comprehensive as possible, I have avoided, and I 
trust neglected, nothing that would contribute to its 
thoroughness both as to research and description. 

I have followed the counterfeiter through all the 
ramifications of his truly scientific operations. From 
the time when, with a plenitude of State Banks, 
each with their own issue of notes, when the task of 
counterfeiting was comparatively an easy one to the 
present day when the government stands forth in all 
the majesty of a note printer, and with every safe- 


guard against successful imitation every point in his 
manipulation of genuine paper and in his artistic sub 
stitutions have been explained with a fulness and 
truthfulness which, while they must be comprehen 
sive, rely for confirmation upon the experiences of 

Of burglary in its manifold forms, I have been 
equally explicit. In this connection I have given not 
only my own experience, but the statements, revela 
tions and admissions of the criminals themselves. In 
many cases the materials have been furnished by men 
whom I have arrested, some of whom have reformed, 
and are now leading honest lives, and others who are 
to-day inmates of prisons. Evidence of this charac 
ter must not be doubted, and the inner workings of 
the burglar s profession, as told by the experienced 
cracksmen themselves, must prove of interest to all. 

It is, perhaps, a matter not to be exultant about, 
but, during my life as a detective, I have, for various 
reasons of a politic nature, become intimately ac 
quainted with the men whom I was most anxious to 
apprehend, mingling with them in their ordinary 
walks, entirely unsuspected, until the time for action 
arrived and arrests were necessary. It has always 
been a matter of regret to me to contemplate the evil 
results of criminal practices, and in many instances 
I have interested myself in behalf of these men, and 


frequently, I am happy to state, with such success 
that they have been won from their evil ways, and 
and have afterwards lived an honorable life, and en 
gaged in useful and remunerative pursuits. 

Every branch of crime has been thoroughly 
treated ; the modes and manners, the devices and 
expedients, the preparations and preliminaries, and 
finally, the nicety and skill with which the eventual 
operation is performed. It must not be imagined 
that the process by which a burglar enters your 
counting-house or store, or by which the counterfeiter 
and the forger succeed in inimitable imitations is sim 
ply the result of a few hours labor, for such is rarely, 
if ever, the case. Often days and weeks, and in 
many cases months, elapse before sufficient perfection 
is reached to warrant the attempted execution. 

Of the many departments of crime, the most suc 
cessful, and the branch which contains the largest 
number of practitioners, is that of pocket-picking, 
and so dexterous has the thief become, that active, 
wide-awake men have been robbed without being able 
to recall a single circumstance under which the deed 
might have been committed. 

Men, experienced travelers, too, have retired to bed 
in elegant apartments in first-class hotels, and in the 
morning have been astounded at the fact that, not 
withstanding their precautions with lock and key, 


with bolt and bar, the stealthy thief had entered their 
chambers, and while they peacefully slept had plun 
dered them of their jewelry and their money. 

To the operations of that fraternity who prac 
tice the " Confidence Game," I have given considera 
ble attention, and their numerous expedients to fleece 
the unwary, are given in detail. This is one of the 
most dangerous classes which infest the community, 
and without a knowledge of their schemes, many as 
tute business men have been successfully duped, and 
have lost considerable sums of money. 

The shop-lifter, too ; that bane of the merchant 
and the tradesman, receive their meed of attention, 
and their modes of proceeding are fully and compre 
hensively explained. The steamboat and sleeping- 
car thieves, those who prey so successfully upon the 
traveling public, and who in so many instances escape 
detection or even suspicion, have been treated by a 
master hand, and much of the material here used is 
from the pen of one of the most successful operators 
in this branch of crime, who is at the present time an 
inmate of an eastern prison. 

The entire school of crime has been thoroughly 
searched, and the best and most reliable experiences 
only have been given. The work of " prentice 
hands" has been deemed unworthy a place, and I 


have dealt solely with the adept, the skillful and the 

As I have previously stated, the ignorance of 
those engaged in commercial and financial pursuits, 
has been one of the main impelling reasons for the 
preparation of this work, and I trust that by afford 
ing a knowledge of the modes of criminal working, I 
may be of service to my fellow men. " An ounce of ~\ 
prevention is worth a pound of cure," is an adage as 
truthful as it is ancient, and by pointing out the dan 
gers that lie in the paths of the merchant, the 
banker and the private man of fortune, I may enable 
them to take such precautions as will render a suc 
cessful attempt upon them an impossibility. 



Refugees from England. Stealing only Portable and Valuable 
Articles. A Stolen Bank Check at a Wedding. Experts 
at Pocket-picking. Robberies at Funerals. Theatre and 
Church Thieves. 

AMONG all classes of people, it will be found 
that every one has a particular way of doing 
things, and that their every action is bound to bear 
some resemblance to each other, both in character 
and method ; and this peculiarity applies with equal 
force to those who live dishonest lives, and who com 
mit unlawful deeds. A knowledge of these peculiar 
ities, which is only gained by long experience, is of 
great service to detectives in their efforts to bring 
criminals to justice. There are numerous ways, of 
course, in which a murder, a burglary or a theft may 
be committed, and a thorough detective will always 
carefully study every case that comes before him, in 
order to determine at the outset, exactly by what 
means and in what manner the deed itself was per 
formed. Then, if the developments are such as to 



directly indicate the handiwork of the professional 
criminal, he will call to mind, among the number of 
criminals who have been brought to his knowledge, 
some one of the many, whose work in the past has 
shown any marked similarity to the case under inves 

There are very few thieves indeed, who work in 
all fashions and in all places. The large majority of 
them make themselves familiar with a particular mode 
of working, and then carry on their operations among 
a certain class of people. 

It is an unquestionable fact that there is a fine 
art in roguery as there is in the honest callings of the 
world, and men in this branch of labor, soon discover 
their peculiar fitness or adaptability for certain grades 
of work, just as in the trades and professions, individ 
uals develop certain gifts which lead to prominence, 
fortune and success. A man may commence the 
career of a thief by simply stealing, but he soon dis 
covers that there are certain places where he can steal 
more easily, and certain means by which his stealings 
can be conducted more safely. There are also local 
ities where he can find more to steal than others, and 
where the property to be purloined can be carried 
away with fewer chances of detection. 

As a matter of course the intelligent thief selects 
these in his future operations, and this leads to the 


creation of certain fancies about their work which 
cling to them for long periods of time. They grow 
to forming affections for certain places and certain 
people, and having a sort of pride in their operations, 
all these influences contribute to keep him in a cer- 
tian well-defined routine, which is of vast importance 
to the detective and materially facilitates his in 

By this means certain well-defined classifications 
have come to be acknowledged and understood by all 
men engaged iu the honorable profession of unearth 
ing crime and bringing criminals to justice. So 
clearly are these classifications defined that it would 
be a comparatively easy matter to compile an ex 
tensive list of the crooked people who have either 
fallen into, or deliberately chosen and consistently 
followed their own peculiar lines of work. 

It must not be supposed that the life of the 
detective is confined to the chase for daring murderers 
and desperate burglars ; on the contrary, much of 
their time is devoted to the pursuit of other game 
who if they do not excite as much general attention, 
are fully as dangerous and quite as difficult to entrap. 

There is a class of criminals in active practice at 
the present time, who display exceeding ingenuity 
and artistic skill in other operations, and my labors 
in the present instance would be incomplete without 


devoting a short space to their description. They are 
very appropriately denominated "Society Thieves," 
and their presence is to be found through all the 
gradations of modern society, but owing to the reluc 
tance of their victims to acquire publicity by a public 
prosecution, the general community learns but little 
of the movements of the society thief, and that little 
so incompletely and unsatisfactorily, that no adequate 
idea is gained of the extent and manner of their 
operations. Detectives are constantly hearing of 
them however, and so numerous and audacious has 
this class of criminals become, that the presence 
of a detective is as necessary at any social event of 
any importance, as the guests themselves. If the 
gathering is an unusually large one as many as half a 
dozen detectives are an absolute necessity. 

The society thief is invariably a man or woman 
with more social standing than means to support it, 
and of late years they have been largely made up from 
the ranks of the needy but pretentious adventurers, 
whom English society has purged itself of, and who, 
having sought a refuge in America, are preying upon 
our wealthy and intellectual social circles. 

The social gathering which offers the best oppor 
tunities for peculations is the wedding in high life, 
and the wedding thief, as a general thing, has matters 
entirely his own way. His first and greatest difficulty, 


however, is in gaining admission, but not unfrequently, 
strange as it may seem, he holds a position in society 
which enables him to enter by invitation. Sometimes 
he enters upon the pretext of being a newspaper re 
porter, and as society is very anxious to appear in the 
papers, he is cordially received and sometimes he is 
obliged to sneak in. Once in, however, his course is 
easy, and he takes his choice of overcoats, hats, and 
other wearing apparel without the slightest opposition. 
He carefully inspects the numerous and costly pre 
sents, with a view of ascertaining which of the most 
valuable of the smaller articles will please him the 
best, and then, when unobserved, he slips them into 
his pocket or under his coat. At other times they 
merely watch for an opportunity to slip out of the 
crowd, upon some pretext or another, and then work 
at their ease in the deserted rooms in the other por 
tions of the house. In some cases, whole houses 
have been thoroughly pillaged by them while dancing 
was in progress in the lower rooms. 

These thieves steal only portable and valuable 
articles, and generally work alone, but frequently a 
husband and wife will engage in the business together, 
and in this way greater freedom and less liability to 
detection is the result. It is a matter of fact that 
not long since a very respectably dressed and exceed 
ingly agreeable man and wife were detected in steal- 


ing some valuable trinkets presented to the little 
daughter of the host at a birthday party, and it was 
afterwards discovered that while the father and mother 
were engaged in this robbery, their son was dancing 
in the parlor with the young lady who was being 

Among the numerous presents exhibited at a 
fashionable wedding in New York City lately, was a 
check from the father of the bride to the happy couple, 
for ten thousand dollars. During the reception 
which followed the ceremony, a daring thief abstracted 
the genuine check and substituted in its place a well- 
executed counterfeit and forgery. The thief received 
the money for the check at the bank on which it was 
drawn, and the forgery was not discovered until some 
days afterwards, when the young husband of the bride 
attempted to realize upon the bounty of his father-in- 
law. Every effort was made to discover this daring 
thief, but so long a time had elapsed that it was im 
possible to fasten suspicion upon anyone, and the 
search was at length abandoned. 

The more public the wedding the better the op 
portunity of the thieves, and when the ceremony is 
solemnized in church, there is always a lavish display 
of costly jewelry which furnishes a rich harvest to the 
dexterous practitioner. Ladies and gentlemen don 
their best garments to honor such events, and, as a 


general rule, wear their most expensive articles of 
jewelry. The society thief is usually an excellent 
hand at picking a pocket, and a ready wielder of the 
" palm nippers," which are used to snip off jewels 
from the ears and persons of those who wear them. 
As a rule he is accompanied by an accomplice, to 
whom he passes whatever articles he secures, and 
should he be arrested, no criminating object is found 
upon his person, and it is difficult to make a case 
against him. 

Strange and unnatural as it may seem, stealing at 
funerals occurs so frequently that it has come to be 
recognized by detectives as a distinct branch of the 
predatory profession, and is generally practiced by a 
male or female professional thief. These funeral 
thieves keep fully posted about the wealthy funerals 
that take place from time to time, and are generally 
present where any opportunity is presented to ply 
their vocation. They steal anything in the house of 
mourning, from mantel ornaments to jewelry, and 
generally without incurring much risk of detection. 
The publicity which is usually given to funerals, and 
the privileges which are extended to any one who has 
ever known the deceased, to come and take a last 
look at him, render access to many houses easy, 
which would otherwise be closely barred against their 
intention. The funeral thief thus readily passes for 


an outside friend of the dead person, and is afforded 
the liberty of the house, which he never fails to utilize 
if there is anything to be stolen. 

Perhaps the meanest sort of thief who adopts any 
special line, is the one who robs children. This is 
called the " Kinchin lay," and is generally practiced 
by women, though there are many men, who are found 
following this despicable calling. Their process of 
operation consists simply in robbing children on their 
way to the stores to which they have been sent by 
their parents to make purchases and it is to the 
credit of the American thieves that they are very 
rarely found guilty of following so mean a vocation. 
It was introduced into this country from England, 
but thanks to the vigilance of the officers, the thieves 
who practice the " Kinchin lay," are arrested so fre 
quently, that it is fast growing into disfavor, and it 
is hoped, will soon cease altogether. 

There is another class of thieves, mostly juveniles, 
who are known as theatre thieves. They perpetually 
haunt the doors of play-houses, and pickpockets in 
discriminately amid the ingoing and the outgoing 
rush. Church thieves are also recognized as an in 
dependent branch of criminality, and there are others 
who make railway-depots the scene of their battles 
against society and honesty. 

The street-car thief is another criminal who im- 


presses himself frequently upon the public, but he is 
not so numerous as he used to be, for the conductors 
and spotters have learned to know and to guard 
against him. 

As a general rule, those who engage in these forms 
of petty thieving alluded to, either go unpunished or 
escape with light penalties, owing to the fact that 
their victims are indisposed to incur the publicity of 
appearing as a witness in a police court trial, against 
them. The detectives, however, know a vast number 
of them and are fully acquainted with their peculiar 
methods of operating. When called upon in any 
particular case, they, as I have stated before, ascer 
tain when and where the robbery occurred, and, as 
nearly as possible, the circumstances under which it 
was accomplished. This much obtained, it is the ex 
ception, when they are not able to get at once so far 
toward detecting the offenders as to suspect some 
particular person or persons of being the guilty one 
and the result invariably justifies the original suspicion. 

Thus it will be seen, that by carefully studying the 
peculiarities even of the small criminals, and from a 
thorough knowledge of their various classifications 
the detective is enabled, in a short time, to conduct 
important investigations to speedy and correct con 
clusions, which would be impossible with persons un 
skilled in all the minutiae of their profession. 


The First Career of the Professional Criminal. Going in 
Mobs. Waylaying Bank Depositors. The Man Who is 
Ever on the Watch and Cannot be Robbed. Slang Terms. 
Railroad Car Thieves. Stealing the Diamond Stud. 

Watch and Chain. Purses and Pocket-books. Street Car 

Thieves. The Female Thief. 

IF we trace the career of the professional criminal 
to its incipiency, it will almost invariably be 
found that the first plunge into the vortex of crime 
has been that of pocket-picking. Among the alarm 
ing number of professional thieves of all grades in 
the country to-day, it would be difficult to find one 
who had not at the commencement of his dishonest 
experience, been engaged in picking the pockets of 
the innocent and the unsuspecting. It is equally 
true also that of all the departments of crime as now 
practiced, there is not one which contains a larger 
number of adept operators than that of pickpockets. 
In almost every crowded assembly they will assuredly 
be found. They follow the circuits of the racing 


season ; they are hangers on about the traveling cir 
cus ; and are to be found at the theatres, and in the 
church. At mass meetings, at merry makings and 
even at funerals, this pestilent thief obtrudes him 
self, and dismay and loss inevitably follow his appear 

The grades of this class of criminals are exceed 
ingly numerous, and range from the ragged urchin 
who steals a pocket-handkerchief to the expert pro 
fessional who can with ease and safety remove a well 
filled wallet from the inside coat pocket of his hap 
less victim. The intermediate grades are well de 
fined, and vary according to the skillfulness and dar 
ing of the thieves themselves. In this branch of crime 
women as well as men are active workers, and many 
of the female thieves are as successful as the men, in 
the ease and grace with which they relieve the unsus 
pecting of their valuables. There are some male 
thieves who confine their operations entirely to 
ladies, and there are others who could not be induced 
to rob a lady under any circumstances whatever. The 
female thieves operate indiscriminately, although they 
are more successful with ladies than with gentlemen. 
In the accepted language of the thief, those who op 
erate on men are termed " Bloke-buzzers," while 
those who make ladies their special victims receive 
the euphonious appellation of " Moll-buzzers." 


A description of the means resorted to by the fra 
ternity of pickpockets may prove both interesting and 
instructive, and as I have had a large experience with 
all classes of this community, I will endeavor to de 
scribe their operations for the benefit of suffering hu 

In order to give due prominence even to question 
able merit, I will begin by detailing the operations of 
the more ambitious of the male pickpockets, those 
who frequent the localities where the large banking 
institutions are situated, and endeavor to rob those 
who are entering or leaving the banks. For the ac 
complishment of success in work of this nature, four 
men usually travel together, who are generally called 
"a mob." The man who is to do the actual stealing 
is called the " tool," or " hook," and the others are 
known as " stalls." 

After selecting their victim or " mark," who is 
engaged in drawing a large sum of money from the 
bank, one of the number will take up his position in 
side of the bank, where he can watch every movement 
of the man who is to be robbed. This is done in or 
der to ascertain exactly where the money is placed, 
so that no delay may ensue in locating the desired 
"plunder." Having acquired the necessary informa 
tion, the "stall" will inform his companions on the 
sidewalk in which pocket the money is secured, and 


they then proceed to business ; as a general rule, a 
man who draws several packages of bills from a bank, 
will place them in his inside coat pocket, and in this 
instance we will assume that the person who has ex 
cited the cupidity of the thieves, has placed his 
money in the inside pocket on the right side of the 
coat. He emerges from the bank, reaches the side 
walk, and proceeds upon his way. The thieves follow 
him within easy distance, but will not make any at 
tempt to accomplish their purpose unless they notice 
that he is about to enter a crowded thoroughfare, a 
car, a narrow street, or through a hallway into a build 
ing. If in a crowd or narrow street the thieves will, 
without any preliminary notice whatever, act as fol 
lows : Two of the " stalls" will immediately manage 
to get in front of the man and these men are called 
"front stalls "-this is done for the purpose of stop 
ping him or blocking his way for a moment when the 
time arrives. The "tool" or "hook" will also get 
slightly ahead of the man, and when the moment for 
action arrives a slight cough will bring the two "front 
stalls" to a stand-still. This, of course, impedes the 
progress of the victim. Quick as a flash, and yet with 
an ease of motion that attracts no particular atten 
tion, the " tool " turns sideways, almost facing the 
man, but upon his right side. The "tool" usually 
carries a coat upon his arm for the purpose of covering 


his hand ; with the concealed hand he will work under 
the man s coat, and taking the wallet or package by 
the top, will raise it straight up, until it is entirely clear 
of the pocket ; then drawing it under his own coat, 
the robbery is complete. During this operation, 
which requires but a few seconds, the " stall " behind 
the man is pushing and shoving him repeatedly on 
the left side, as if with the intention of getting past 
him. The left side being furthest from where the 
money is concealed, answers two purposes : it not 
only serves to prevent the man from feeling or de 
tecting the easy sliding motion of the wallet as it is 
being drawn out of his pocket on the other side, and 
it at the same time helps to turn the man more to 
ward the " tool " or " hook," so that his work is ren 
dered easier. While this operation is going on the 
two " front stalls" have not betrayed the slightest in 
terest in the proceedings, and from all appearances are 
entirely ignorant of the fact that a man is being delib 
erately robbed behind them. They have not so much 
as turned their heads, and consequently do not know 
when the operation is completed, so that they may 
stand aside and let che victim pass. In order to over 
come this, the pickpockets have adopted certain 
words or signals, which are thoroughly understood 
by the craft, and these signals are given by the " tool " 
or "hook." If he is rather slow about getting to the 


wallet or the money, and he notices that the front men 
are getting somewhat uneasy, he calls out " stick !" 
This means that in a few seconds he will be successful, 
and that they are to stay in their respective positions. 
After he has secured the wallet he will chirp like a 
bird, or will utter the word " lam !" This means to let 
the man go, and to get out of the way as soon as 
possible. This word is also used in case the money 
cannot be taken, and further attempts are useless. 

It sometimes happens that it is somewhat difficult 
to get the wallet or package out of the pocket, and 
if any unusual force is used in withdrawing it, the 
man will feel it, and give an alarm. In cases of this 
kind, the " tool," when he has the wallet in his fingers 
and ready to be drawn out, will cry, " Rouse !" At 
this signal all of the " stalls " give the man a general 
push at the same time, and during the confusion of 
the moment, the " tool " deftly pulls out the wallet 
and decamps. 

While the detailing of this operation has taken 
some time, the operation itself is performed in a few 
seconds, and in almost every instance, without at 
tracting the attention or exciting the suspicion of the 
individual who is so ruthlessly despoiled of his money. 

As a general rule a merchant who goes himself, or 
sends his clerk to the bank to make a deposit, places 
the money and checks lengthwise in his bank book, 


which is generally shorter than the notes, and allows 
them to project beyond the edges of the book. The 
book is then placed in the inside pocket and so car 
ried to the bank. A man is usually suspicious and 
careful when he is intrusted with a large sum of 
money and the thieves have therefore to be very 
careful in their manipulations. When a gentleman 
thus engaged, is subjected to a crowding or pushing 
from others, he naturally places his hand upon the 
book, which contains his money, in order to be as 
sured of its safety. The thieves are perfectly aware 
of this, and when the opportunity offers they simply 
seize the ends of the bills which extend beyond the 
book, and by a quick and dexterous motion extract 
the money and leave the book remaining in the 
pocket. As a natural result, when the suspicious de 
positor by feeling upon the outside, finds his book 
safely bestowed within, he gives no thought to the 
fact that he has been robbed and does not discover 
his misfortune until he reaches the bank. This pro 
cess is called by the thieves " weeding." 

There are some people who imagine that it is an 
impossibility for a thief to rob them, and they arc) 
ever on the alert. These people place their bank 
book and money in the outside pocket of their sack- 
coat, and by keeping their hand upon the book imag 
ine that a robbery is impossible. The thieves, how- 


ever, know better than this, and their mode of pro- 
ceeeding is as follows : 

They patiently bide their time until the man 
reaches the door of the bank, which must be opened 
to admit him one man will then step immediately 
in front of him, or a little to the left and then stop 
right in front of the doorway pretending to look at a 
paper, or, to count some money which he has in his 
hands the consequence is, that instead of pushing 
the man aside so he can use his left hand to open the 
door the victim will, unthinkingly, reach out his right 
hand which had hitherto guarded his pocket, and 
pull open the door the " stall" immediately moves a 
trifle more to the front for a second, and then turns 
away that second, however, is enough, for while the 
victim and his " stall" are thus engaged, the pick 
pocket has quietly taken out the money and 
decamped. This in thieves, vernacular is called a 
" tale trick," and bank messengers have frequently 
been robbed in this manner. 

Should the money be carried in the pockets of the 
pantaloons, the methods are, of course, different. 
This style of robbery is much more difficult, and as 
a general thing is not so remunerative as stealing 
from men who are either going to or returning from 
the bank. The thieves who follow this branch of 
their calling are as a class more rude and rough in 


their appearance and nature, and their actions, while 
at work, are more abrupt and harsh. 

This kind of robbery is generally practiced on the 
cars (called " rattlers") or in a crowd and if upon 
the cars is performed on the platforms or in the door 
ways of these crowded vehicles. 

It may be as well to state that among thieves cer 
tain terms are used to represent articles which other 
wise have proper names. A pocket-book is called 
" leather" ; a wallet " a pittman" or " pitt" ; a 
pocket is called a " kick" ; hands are termed 
" dukes" ; a handkerchief a " wipe," and a hat is 
dubbed a "tile." 

The thieves of this latter class will generally select 
for their victim (which they call a " mark") an 
elderly man, or one who appears to hail from the 
country, The first are usually more feeble and not 
supposed to be as sharp as a young man while the 
countryman is supposed to carry more ready money 
about with him than a person belonging to the city. 

The pickpockets board a street car and take 
their positions on the rear platform always being 
careful to select a car which is already crowded. 
For the purpose of illustration we will assume that 
there is an individual on the platform, who looks as if 
he might have some money in his pocket-book. 
The first thing to be done is to ascertain in which 


pocket the money is carried, and to do this the 
thief lightly runs his hand across the front of both 
pockets of the " mark" and this operation of feeling 
for a pocket-book is called " fanning." Should the 
pocket-book be found in the left pocket, the " tool" 
will say to his companions "left kick," and this will 
inform them all where the money is located. The 
"stalls" then surround the "mark," and the "tool" 
begins to work. With his hand covered with a 
coat over his arm, he inserts the two first fingers 
of his right hand, just beyond the first joint into 
the victim s pocket, with the inside of the fingers 
against the pocket lining farthest from the body. 
First bending one finger and then the other, he 

o o 

draws the pocket up little by little, which is known 
as " reefing," until the pocket-book is drawn up 
within reach. The moment he is able to take hold 
of the pocket-book called "tapping," he quietly 
calls out " Rouse ! " the victim receives a rough push 
from the stalls and out comes the pocket-book, 
which is at once passed to one of the stalls. This 
is done to guard against accidental discovery, for 
should the victim miss his money and accuse the 
" tool" of the theft, he will not find the book 
upon him, and that is generally sufficient to enable 
him to get off. The " stall" requires to be in 
formed when the pocket-book is taken, and he 


waits for the " tool" to whisper " collar this !" or 
to chirp like a bird, when he knows that he is to 
receive the money, and that the robbery has been 
successfully ended. 

In some cases, particularly among persons from 
the country, the travelers have heard remarkable 
stories about the picking of pockets, and have made 
up their minds that such a fate shall not befall them. 
To make sure of this they invariably travel about 
with their hands in their pockets and on top their 
purses. This careful and watchful traveler gets 
on a street car, and the pickpockets at once select 
him as their " mark." He is immediately pressed 
and hemmed in by the gang, and the hand that is not 
religiously guarding the treasure in his pocket is kept 
back by the shoulder of one of the stalls.. A quiet 
command " tile him !" is given, and the countryman s 
hat is shoved forward from behind. The countryman 
not being able to use his other arm, pulls his hand 
out of his pocket and secures his hat. As soon as 
this is done, one of the " stalls " gets into position, 
and places his shoulder under the countryman s arm, 
thus preventing him for a moment from again placing 
his hand in his pocket. In a second the " tool " is at 
work, and in another moment the gentleman from the 
country finds plenty of room on the platform, for the 


thieves have left, and with them has disappeared his 
carefully guarded pocket-book. 

When all the seats in a street car are occupied, a 
pickpocket will occasionally enter and take up a 
standing position in front of some gentleman who 
has his coat open. Hanging by one hand to the 
strap suspended from the roof of the car, and with a 
coat thrown over his other arm, he will attempt a 
robbery swaying about with the motion of the car, 
he manages it so, that his coat will come directly 
under the chin of the seated passenger, and under 
cover of that, he will extract a pocket-book from the 
inside pocket of the man, who has no suspicion of 
what is going on. Diamond studs of great value 
have frequently been taken from the bosoms of un 
suspecting passengers under the cover of a coat or 
newspaper, which the standing pickpocket manages 
to place under the chin of his victim, apparently 
caused by the motion of the car. If a diamond stud 
with a screw is to be taken, the thief after covering 
the stud with his coat or newspaper, will gently take 
hold of the screw with his thumb and forefinger, and 
draw the bosom of the shirt away from the body of 
the victim the thumb nail is then inserted immedi 
ately back of the head of the screw and then with a 
firm twist or turn of the hand, the screw will come 
out. No matter how difficult this operation appears 


under ordinary circumstances, it will invariably yield 
to the application of the thumb under the setting of 
the stone. Should the diamond be set with a flat 
back instead of a screw, it is impossible to detach it 
from the bosom, and the thief will instantly desist 
from further efforts to remove it. A diamond pin is 
unfastened in the natural way and then raised up 
straight. A pin or screw stud is generally called a 
" prop," by the thieves. 

Should the pickpockets attempt to work upon a 
railroad train, they generally select their victim in 
advance, by watching at the ticket office and noticing 
a prospective passenger who exhibits a large amount 
of money. Should no favorable opportunity occur to 
rob him while he is getting on the car, the thieves 
will wait until he is quietly seated, when one of their 
number will approach him, and in a voice or author 
ity inquire : 

" Where is your ticket for ?" 

The passenger, supposing his questioner to be a 
railroad official, will at once inform him, when the 
thief will reply : 

" Then you must take the next car," indicating 
either the car in front or in the rear, at the same time 
picking up the traveler s valise, with a view of assist 
ing him in effecting the change, and calling out : 

" Come on, sir !" 


The man follows obediently, and the mob is wait 
ing for him on the platform. As soon as he appears 
he is at once jammed in, and robbed. Their previ 
ous knowledge of the location of his money, renders 
their task a neasy and rapid one, and the robbery is 
effected in a flash. 

The stealing of watches is most extensively prac 
ticed, and an expert thief can perform this operation 
in a second. It does not matter where the man may 
be, or under what circumstances he maybe placed, so 
that he is standing still, or sitting down. The thief 
stands partly in front of his victim, and either under 
the cover of a coat or newspaper, or by placing his left 
hand under his victim s right arm, he seizes the chain 
and gently raises the watch up straight. When it is 
entirely out of the pocket, it rests in the palm of the 
hand, the ring of the watch between the first finger 
and the thumb. By pressing the thumb in one direc 
tion and the finger in an opposite manner, the ring is 
forced out of the watch, and then the chain is dropped 
easily, and the thief makes his escape 

Both watch and chain, however, are frequently 
taken, but this operation requires a few seconds more 
time. The bar or hook of the chain must first be 
taken out of the button-hole, and then taking the 
chain in his hand, the thief draws the watch up 


straight, out of the pocket, without attracting the least 

This operation is a very simple and safe one for 
the expert thief, but it is not a very profitable one, for 
the reason, that he seldom receives more than one 
fourth of the value of the watch, from the dishonest 
pawnbroker who deals in stolen goods. The chain, 
if a gold one, is generally sold for its weight, and 
brings a uniform price. 

In the slang of the professional, a watch is denom 
inated a super "a chain is a <( slang" and the 
men who twist the rings or steal the watches are 
called "super twisters." 

I will now refer to the operations of the pick 
pockets who operate upon ladies who, as I have be 
fore stated, are called " Moll-buzzers." 

As a rule the men who steal the pocket-books and 
purses of ladies, wear a sack-coat. In winter they 
operate through their overcoat pockets and in sum 
mer through the pockets of an ordinary sack-coat. 
In order to understand thoroughly what is meant 
by operating through the pockets, a few words of 
explanation are necessary. It must be borne in mind 
that the lining in the coat of a pick-pocket is never 
sewed fast to the cloth at the bottom, underneath the 
pocket, this is always left open. The thief then rips 
open one side of the pocket at the top, and this en- 


ables him to thrust his hand right through, between 
the pocket and the cloth, to the bottom of the coat 
and out beneath. In the pocket proper he always 
carries a handkerchief, which is often of great ser 
vice to him. 

Thus much by way of preliminary, we will detail 
the further progress of the operation. The scene is 
an ordinary street car, and the seats are all occupied. 
The thief enters and at once takes up his position 
immediately in front of a lady, with one hand he 
grasps the strap hanging from the roof, and the other 
hand is seemingly thrust into his coat-pocket. I say 
seemingly, for really the hand of the thief is thrust 
through his coat, the end of which is resting carelessly 
on the pocket of the lady. With the hand which is 
pushed through his coat, the thief quietly pulls up the 
edge of theoverskirt worn by the lady, little by little, 
so that he can reach the pocket. Having reached the 
pocket, the next move is to try the " reefing" process 
already mentioned, and then catching hold of the 
pocket-book, he draws it up into his own pocket and 
then steps away. Should the lady, by any chance, 
feel the motion of the man s fingers about her person, 
the thief quickly draws his hand up out of his pocket, 
and taking out his pocket-handkerchief, wipes his face 
with that very necessary article, in the most natural 
manner possible. This action, seemingly so matter- 


of-fact and easy, at once satisfies the lady that she 
must have been mistaken, and that the man before 
her could not have been attempting to pick her pocket, 
while he had his hand in his own. 

This kind of work is also done on the platforms 
of the cars, while the lady is entering or leaving the 
car, only in such cases the "tool" has a "stall," who 
manages to place himself in the way of the lady, so- 
as to keep her in proper position for the minute that 
is required to effect the robbery. 

Sometimes the thief will seat himself beside the 
lady in the cars, and then he places his left side to 
ward her. Taking out a newspaper, he will pretend 
to read, but he is merely spreading it upon his lap to 
cover the hand that is performing the work of dex 
terous theft. 

A large number of ladies, having heard of these 
pickpockets, have become so suspicious that the mo 
ment a person, who has been sitting beside them, 
gets up to leave the car, they will at once feel on the 
outside of their dresses to discover if their pocket- 
books are safe. Thieves who are expert, know this 
full well, and so proficient have they become, that 
with two fingers they can open the pocket-book while 
it is safely within the pocket, and with the first finger 
bent like a hook, will clean out the contents, and 
leave the pocket-book apparently undisturbed ; this 


operation is called " weeding a leather," and the dex 
terity and ease with which it is done, is simply aston 

Notwithstanding many statements to the con 
trary, an expert thief will rarely cut a dress or coat 
in order to obtain the money of his victim; this is 
not considered professional, and is universally con 

Many ladies carry their money in hand-bags and 
cabbes, which are now so fashionable, and this fact 
affords rare opportunities to the observant and saga 
cious thief. In order to be successful in this, they 
simply resort to the old method of covering the bag, 
so that it can be opened, the pocket-book taken out, 
and the bag reclosed. 

This style of robbery occurs every day, and the 
favorite position for this work is in front of the large 
show windows of prominent dry goods firms, where 
the ladies congregate to study what is new, and to 
admire the beautiful and tempting displays. 

Of the female pickpockets, they are generally of 
English nationality, with a slight sprinkling of Irish 
and American, but for the most part they are of the 
vulgar and abandoned class. They usually operate 
from under their shawl or cloak, and frequently with 
one of these garments thrown over their arm. They 
confine their operations principally to ladies, and 


work in a similar manner to the men. They are gen 
erally exceedingly clever manipulators, and, of course, 
have much better opportunities to ply their trade 
among their own sex, than men could possibly have. 

The handkerchief thief, or " wipe lifter," is the 
lowest grade of pocket picking and is practiced only 
by boys or young beginners. It is generally the first 
step taken toward the attainment of dexterity and 
experience ; and is the beginning of a career which 
inevitably leads to a prison. 

I have thus attempted to give a general idea of 
the operations of the professional pickpocket, though 
I am aware that there are numerous other devices 
practiced, a description of which would only tire the 
reader. The modus operandi of the expert thief have 
only been given, and after the revelations here made, 
the public may take warning, and by being constantly 
on their guard will insure themselves from ever be 
coming the victims of the army of light-fingered 
gentry which infest every city of the civilized globe. 


A House to let. Store-rooms for Plunder. Making their Keys. 
Packing the Goods. Removal by Express Wagon. Through 
the Skylight. Selling by Sample. The Jewelry Store. The 
" Note Racket." Guarding the Keys. 

THE men who rob stores, either by day or night, 
do not belong to any distinct class of crim 
inals. Store-robbing may be resorted to by any man 
or body of men, whose experience in other criminal 
undertakings has given them that courage, foresight, 
and knowledge essential for such undertakings. 
None the less, however, their work must be per 
formed as carefully and systematically as any other, 
in order to procure success and profitable remunera 

The risks to be assumed, and the dangers to be 
overcome are also much greater than in any other 
branches of criminal practice. The stores that are 
usually considered as worth the effort of entering are 
generally located upon the principal business streets 



of the city, whose avenues are brilliantly lighted and 
patrolled by policemen whose presence is considered 
a synonym for safety. 

A thorough knowledge of the approaches to the 
building, a careful watch upon all persons connected 
with the store, and a strict espionage upon the move 
ments of the patrolmen, are the first requisites for 
successful work, and even when these have been put 
into operation, the main features of the robbery have 
not been attempted, and success is far from being as 

Let me give some practical hints of the move 
ments of these thieves, a study of which on the part 
of our merchants and business men, may save them 
from serious and irreparable losses in the future. In 
my opinion, safety can be as successfully conserved 
by laying bare the movements and modes of operation 
of the thief, as by tracing him to his hiding place and 
securing his imprisonment after his offenses have 
been committed. Acting upon this opinion, I will 
describe the modus operandi of the store robbers, as 
far as they have become known to me, in the hope 
that these relations may be of service to those who 
are generally made their victims. 

This class of robbers, if they thoroughly under 
stand their business, always work in gangs of two, 
three, or four in number, in order that their opera- 


tions may be quickly conducted, and that the move 
ments of the police may be carefully watched while 
they are at work. The first thing to be done upon 
locating in a large town or city, is to select the place 
upon which they design to work. Every care and 
precaution is taken in this particular, and when they 
finally decide upon a store to be robbed, they are 
fully posted with regard to everything that pertains 
to the business and personal habits of all connected 
with the establishment. 

Their next move is to discover a house to let, and 
they prefer to secure one as close to the scene of 
their contemplated operations as possible. The most 
polite and suave of their number is usually selected 
as the spokesman and negotiator, who introduces him 
self to the owner of the premises as a stranger from a 
distance, who designs locating in the city, and intends 
to send for his wife and children when he has secured 
a home for their habitation. His story is straightfor 
ward and plausible ; his appearance inspires confi 
dence, and paying a month s rent in advance, he 
receives the key of the house, with the view of pre 
paring it for the reception of his family. At the ex 
piration of a few days, this man again calls upon the 
landlord, and showing him a telegram which may be 
either genuine or bogus, purporting to have been sent 
by the wife of the burglar, and which contains the in- 



telligence that she cannot come at present, owing to 
the serious illness of some of the children, which pre 
vents their being moved at this time. This is done 
to allay any suspicions which the landlord might en 
tertain should the house remain empty without 
explanation. The burglar then informs the landlord 
that he will keep the house for the month for which 
he has paid his rent, hoping by that time that his wife 
will be able to come, as agreed upon. 

This explanation satisfies the landlord, who will 
not trouble himself further about his tenant. By this 
means the thieves have secured a safe store-room for 
a month s plunder, and the main part of the prelimi 
nary work is then considered accomplished. 

Not more than one place is entered under any 
circumstances during a single night, and this rule is 
adhered to strenuously, however great may be the 

Having located their object of attack, and being 
fully posted with regard to the means of reaching 
that object, no time is lost in getting to work. All 
robbers of this class prefer to effect an entrance from 
the rear, as it is considered far more safe than the 
front. A brace and bit and a couple of ordinary jim 
mies are all the tools needed for this purpose, and a 
door or window is speedily opened, and the passage 
into the store effected. 


Failing to find a rear entrance, however, the 
thieves do not hesitate to enter by the front, although 
the danger and difficulty of such a proceeding is con 
siderably increased. In the first place they attempt 
to fit a key to the front door from their own stock in 
trade, or the use of a skeleton. Should this prove a 
failure, they bend their efforts toward obtaining an 
impression from the genuine key in use by the owners 
of the premises. At first thought this would seem an 
exceedingly difficult operation ; but the thieves rarely 
experience any trouble in effecting this object. They 
usually watch for the opening of the store in the 
morning, and as soon as the clerk enters the store 
two of the thieves follow him in. One of them states 
that he is in a great hurry to get some small article 
which is kept in the stock, and the clerk, to be accom 
modating, lays his keys down on the counter or desk, 
and proceeds to wait upon his customer. If they are 
laid upon the counter, the confederate obtains an im 
pression of them in a moment, with the lump of wax 
which he carries in his pocket, handy for the purpose, 
and the question is settled at once. Sometimes, how 
ever, the clerk places his keys upon the desk in the 
office, and to get at them there, is not so easy a matter. 
The thief is prepared with an expedient, however, 
and the confederate politely asks permission to ad 
dress a few letters, which he is anxious to mail as soon 


as possible. This innocent request is usually granted 
readily, and with his impression wax all ready, he ac 
complishes the work almost in the twinkling of an 
eye. The next move is to procure a blank key at a 
hardware store, and form the impression obtained ; a 
perfect fac simile is made in a few hours. Having 
overcome this obstacle to their admittance, the thieves 
are now ready for work. 

In effecting their entrance and removing their 
plunder from the store, the thieves are guided en 
tirely by circumstances. Sometimes they commence 
early in the evening, sometimes at midnight, and at 
others it frequently occurs that they do not remove 
anything until the break of day, 

If they are compelled to work the store from the 
front, thieves are exceedingly cautious in their every 
action. Awaiting a favorable opportunity, when the 
coast is clear, two of the gang will quickly and noise 
lessly enter, and at once lock the door upon the in 
side. Selecting their plunder from the most valuable 
stock in the store, they pack the goods carefully for 
removal, and then await developments from the out 
side. When they are ready to come out, they gener 
ally put a small piece of white paper under the front 
door, so as to inform the " crow " as the outside 
watcher is called that they have finished their work 
and are anxious to leave. This " crow " is constant- 


ly on the alert, and never approaches the door until 
he has located the policeman or watchman. If there 
is no danger of the speedy return of the patrolman 
the signal is given, the door is opened, and they pre 
pare to remove their plunder. 

If the goods can be taken away early in the even 
ing, or at daylight in the morning, one of the gang 
engages an express-wagon, which, by paying a good 
price, he secures the privilege of driving himself. If, 
however, the goods cannot be taken until near mid 
night, a public hack is necessary for the purpose. 
One of the thieves " fixes " the driver and takes his 
place upon the box, and is thus prepared to act for 
the best interests of his " pals." As soon as the streets 
are deserted, the "crow" gives the signal, the hack is 
driven up to the front of the store, the goods are 
brought out and deposited therein, and in a twinkling 
they are all driving away from the spot. Very fre 
quently, however, two or more loads of goods are 
taken away in a single night from the same store, and 
the hack returns with as much safety, as though the 
errand of its occupants was a perfectly safe and legiti 
mate one. 

Where the entrance is obtained from the rear, the 
thieves feel more safe, and although they may have 
longer work, they infinitely prefer that method of 
operation. Their point of attack is the back door, 


and they generally succeed without much difficulty in 
turning the lock, either with a skeleton-key, or with 
the nippers if the key has been left in the lock, which 
is usually the case. On most rear doors, however, 
they find that a bar has been placed across the open 
ing, which holds the two doors tightly in position, 
This obstacle is easily overcome, and with their brace 
and bit they set to work. Some burglars use what is 
called the " extension bit, "which is capable of boring 
a hole of from three to seven inches, and with this 
instrument a hole is bored through the door, large 
enough to admit the arm of a man. The burglar then 
thrusts his arm through the hole thus made, and the 
bar is lifted and removed without the least difficulty 
or delay. In case, however, that they have the 
ordinary tools, they use a one-inch bit, and bore a suc 
cession of holes close together, in this wise. 


o o 

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And thus, though somewhat longer in its opera 
tion, the same result is achieved. 

There are other modes of entry into stores where 
it is found that there is a vacant story above, or chan 
ces for entrance through skylights all of which are 
carefully noted by the party who makes the prelimi 
nary survey of the premises, and the burglars come 
prepared for such emergencies as they reasonably 
expect from his reports. With a vacant second or 
third story, an entrance may be effected by one of 
the thieves secreting himself during the day, or enter 
ing by means of the elevators and trap-doors and 
these are by no means unusual occurrences. 

The stores usually selected by these robbers are 
those which contain articles of value. Silks and laces 
arc always eagerly sought for, and a first-class hard 
ware store is no mean prey. The finer grades of 
cutlery and razors are articles that always bring good 
prices. A good hardware store is almost as good as a 
jewelry store, and the risk from detection and inside 
watchmen not half so great, while the goods can be 
readily and safely disposed of. 

The goods obtained by these robberies are at once 
removed to the rented house of the burglars, and no 
attempt is made to dispose of them for several days. 
When the first alarm however has subsided, one 
member of the gang takes a sample of each article 


and seeking out the receiver, or dealer in stolen 
goods, displays them, and inquires how much he will 
pay for the quantity they have on hand. By these 
means they invariably realize much better prices for 
their plunder than they would by bringing the goods 
in bulk, for they are thus enabled to bring the 
"fence" to terms, without affording him the oppor 
tunity of giving them away, and securing the goods 
for himself. 

As the thief has taken the precaution to carry 
only samples of his wares, he is enabled to go from 
one receiver to another and in a large city, there are 
a number of men, and women too, who deal exclu 
sively and extensively in stolen goods until he has 
received an offer that is satisfactory. Failing to do 
this in a day or two, the goods are then shipped to a 
distant city, where they can readily be sold for much 
better prices, as the danger of identification and 
recovery is far less. 

The store robbers frequently practice a little 
sneak thieving on their journeys of preliminary 
examination, and jewelry stores are usually selected 
for their purpose, particularly if they discover that 
the nightly precautions are too great to permit of 
their being safely robbed after they have been closed 
for the day. Their manner of working in this con 
nection is as follows : All jewelry stores, as a rule, 


are fitted up with tall show-cases, which are arranged 
against the wall, behind the cases on the counters. 
In these cases the silver-ware and larger articles are 
kept for display. The counters are generally short, 
arranged in rows with passage ways between them, 
and on these the cases containing watches and the 
smaller articles of jewelry are tastefully exhibited on 
small trays. The thieves enter the store and one of 
them, securing the attention of a clerk, walks deliber 
ately behind the counter, and pointing to some article 
of silver-ware in the case against the wall, engages the 
clerk in bargaining for its sale ; while thus engaged 
he stands between the counter and the clerk, who is 
obliged to turn his back to the counters in order to 
face his supposed customer. While this is going on 
his attention is entirely diverted from the other thief, 
who seizes the first favorable opportunity to transfer 
some of the most valuable articles in the counter 
cases to his own pockets and to pass quietly out of 
the store unsuspected. In some cases, however, there 
are two lines of counters and cases on opposite sides 
of the store, and under such circumstances the clerk 
must be taken to a place at the upright cases directly 
opposite to the articles that are intended to be stolen. 
For this operation two men are required to work 
upon the clerk, while the third man does the stealing. 
One of the thieves does the talking with the unsus- 


picious clerk, while the second one, ostensibly reading 
a newspaper, completely conceals the actions of the 
third confederate while he is robbing the cases upon 
the counter. 

There is another system of robbing wholesale 
houses, which in many instances has been remarkably 
successful. This is called the " note-racket," and is 
exceedingly simple. The thieves wait upon the out 
side until they learn that a certain member of the 
firm has gone out to lunch, or upon some business er 
rand which is easily ascertained by watching the 
premises and then one of the thieves will enter the 
store and ask for the absent merchant. Of course he 
is answered that the gentleman inquired for is not in ; 
whereupon the thief will express his deep regret and, 
as he has important business elsewhere, it is impos 
sible for him to wait, but if he can procure a sheet of 
paper and an envelope, he will write a note and leave 
it. The desired articles are furnished him, and deliber 
ately walking up to a desk, which he believes con 
tains the money for daily use, he commences to write. 
His confederate now enters, and beckoning to the 
man nearest to the desk, engages him in conversation 
upon some matter pertaining to their business. The 
thief at the desk then quickly draws his skeleton keys 
from his pocket, unlocks the drawer, and with one 
deft motion cleans it out, then relocking the drawer, 


he comes toward the clerk, tearing up his note as he 
does so, and saying that he has reconsidered the 
matter and will call again in an hour or two. He 
then quietly walks out of the store and disappears, 
and his companion follows him as speedily as he can, 
without exciting suspicion. The dismay of the clerk 
when he finds that the gentlemanly inquirer has robbed 
his desk under his very nose, can be better imagined 
than described. 

The operations which I have here detailed, have 
occurred quite frequently and in many cases the losers 
have been utterly at a loss to account for the mysteri 
ous disappearance of their cash. 

In the latter case it will be seen that the utmost 
carefulness is necessary in dealing with all visitors 
who invade the office of a store, and that in no case 
should a stranger be allowed to come in close prox 
imity with the desks where money or any valuables 
are kept. It is impossible to discriminate against vis 
itors, for the most innocent appearing man is gener 
ally apt to be the thief, and hence a general rule of 
exclusion should be enforced. 

In order to guard against the former class, those 
who come in the silence and darkness of midnight, 
many precautions are necessary and constant vigilance 
is required. It is essentially important that especial 
notice should be taken of any stranger who may call, 


no matter under what pretext the call is made, at the 
time the stores or the safes are being opened or closed. 
If the person who has the keyes in his possession is 
addressed, and his attention requested, let him at 
once slip the keys into his pocket, instead of laying 
them down upon a counter or desk. Care must be 
taken that the thieves do not get even a good look at 
these keys, as a good look to some robbers is as ser 
viceable as a wax impression. 

Whoever is entrusted with the keys to the store 
or safe at night, should so guard them that they can 
not be found while he is asleep for in many instances 
the thieves have effected an entrance into the sleep 
ing-rooms of trusted employees, and have either stolen 
the keys, or have taken wax impressions of them for 
future use, while their custodian was slumbering un 
consciously upon his couch. 

One of the best preventives against store robberies 
is to have a good light burning in the store all the 
evening, and the windows unobscured, so that all 
passers-by may have a full view of the entire interior; 
and in case employees sleep in the store, have the 
doors bolted at a point more than one foot above or 
below the lock. 

As danger is always to be apprehended from the 
surroundings, the cellar or the floor above the store 
should never be rented to strangers of whose respect- 


ability you are not fully advised, and a constant watch 
fulness should be maintained for suspicious occupants 
of the buildings upon either side. Increased care is 
necessary whenever any of the adjoining buildings are 

By a careful observance of these precautionary 
directions the dangers from robbery are materially 
lessened, and perfect immunity may thus be secured. 


Cupidity greater than Judgment. The Sawdust Swindler. 
" A Boss Racket^ Preparing a Circular. Verdant Green. 
"Kin yer tell me whar I can find Mr. Sharp ? A 
Dramatic Agency. The " Crooked Stuff." Five Dollars 
Worth of Jewelry. Good Money for Bad. Sawdust, 
C. O. D. 

THIS is one of the most successful of the many 
schemes resorted to by confidence men to 
fleece their unwary but equally unscrupulous victims. 
It is safer than almost any other system of swindling, 
because it is practiced upon men, whose cupidity over 
comes their judgment, and who in their desire to 
swindle others, become the dupes themselves. For 
this reason the "sawdust swindler" invariably escapes 
punishment, as in order to arrest these men the vic 
tims are compelled to acknowledge their own dishon 
esty. As a natural consequence the swindled cus 
tomers of these sharpers prefer to quietly submit to 
their losses rather than to advertise themselves in the 
doubtful light which would follow any attempt to 
punish the offenders. 


To use the language of one of the most success 
ful operators at this game, it is " the boss racket of 
the whole confidence business." It is, in fact, the 
best, the cleverest and the most remunerative of all 
the swindles in the profession, and a short descrip 
tion of the manner in which it is operated, will not be 
out of place in a volume of this character. 

In the first place, it is necessary to prepare a cir 
cular, or an address, which will catch the eye and ex 
cite the greed of the victims, and for this purpose, 
the following is a fair sample of the first epistolary 
attack : 


Dear Sir : 

No doubt you will think it strange how I obtained 
your name and address. It was as follows : My 
confidential agent who passed through your town not 
long since, gave it to me. He said he thought you 
were a man who was in a position to handle my 
goods in safety, and I concluded to write to you ; if 
I have made a mistake, do me no harm and let mat 
ters drop. My motto is, never harm a man who is 
willing to prove himself your friend. My business is 
not exactly legitimate, but the green articles I deal 
in are safe and profitable to handle. The sizes are 
ones, twos, fives, and tens. Do you understand ? I 
cannot be plainer until I know you mean business, 
and if you conclude to answer this letter, I will send 
you full particulars and terms, and will endeavor to 


satisfy you on every point, so that if you are my 
friend, I will prove a true and lasting one to you, be 
the trade for $i or $1,000. Remember, I do not 
want money in advance, as I do not transact business 
in that way. I want simply to convince you that I 
am just as I tell you, a friend to a friend. 
Yours in confidence, 

This circular is neatly printed on good paper and 
may be dated from any city in which the swindlers 
are temporarily located. By traveling through the 
country and making minute inquiries about the inhab 
itants, they are enabled to discover the men to whom 
a circular of this kind would prove an attractive bait. 
It is not often that they make a mistake, and hence 
their business is very profitable ; and as I have said, 
comparatively safe. The name signed at the bottom 
of the circular is a fictitious one, and the address 
given is that of a saloon whose reputation is some 
what questionable. We will describe the operation 
of these men in narrative form, in order to more 
fully show the manner of its working. 

Mr. Verdant Green, who is pretty smart at a 
horse trade, and is generally ready to dicker with 
anybody and for anything, receives one of these cir 
culars, and the latent spark of dishonesty lurking 
within him, is fired in an instant. He realizes the 


necessity of caution, however, and he addresses the 
parties who have written to him, a cautious letter of 
inquiry. What are the green articles which they 
mention ?" " What uses are they intended for, and 
how does the opportunity present itself for making any 
money ?" The reply to this is a direct invitation for 
Mr. Green to come on in person, and to see for him 
self what the possibilities for making a fortune are. 

The result is that Mr. Verdant Green, attired in 
his best clothes, soon after makes his appearance in 
the city, and seeks out the particular saloon to which 
he has been directed. 

He notices that the name over the doorway is 
not the same to which he was directed, and he looks 
again at the address and finds that he is to direct 
"in the care of Mr. Sharp." This reassures him 
and entering the saloon he approaches the spruce 
looking bar-tender. 

"Kin yer tell me whar I kin find Mr. Sharp?" 

The actions of the bar-tender upon this inquiry 
being made, are an amusing study. He scratches his 
head, looks puzzled, and mutters, apparently to him 
self : 

" Sharp ! Sharp Mr. Sharp No er, I don t 
know any Sharp." 

Then he calls out to some men who are playing 
cards in the back room : 



" Heigh Jack ! Did you happen fur to know any 
party named Sharp around yer ?" 

A grand chorus of " Nos," from the back room is 
the response, and Jack, who is one of the confederates, 
makes his appearance in the doorway, and critically 
examines the rural visitor. The examination being 
apparently satisfactory, Jack approaches the stranger, 
and in an oily tone, addresses him. 

" Did you want to see Mr. Sharp ? Well, he used 
to hang around here, but he s moved away moved 
away let me see more n two months ago, I reckon. 
B lieve he s gone out o town somewhere." 

Mr. Verdant Green s face lengthens considerably 
at this announcement, and he sadly takes his depart 
ure, in a confused state of mind. He wonders where 
Mr. Sharp could have gone, and cannot understand 
how the letter he received only three days ago, could 
possibly direct him to a location from which the 
writer had moved away two months before. 

While he is thus abstractedly reasoning out this 
strange complication, somebody comes softly up be 
hind him and slaps him heartily on the back Turn 
ing hastily around Mr. Green sees the glib-tongued, 
suave-mannered "steerer" who seizes him by the 
hand and says : 

" Excuse me, sir, but er ain t you the gentle 
man as was lookin fur Mr. Sharp ?" 


"Jes so, I am," replies Mr. Verdant Green, while 
his face brightens up perceptibly, "mebbe yer kin 
tell me whar ter find him ?" 

" Right you are !" exclaims the steerer. " If you 
want ter do business on the dead square, and no 
funny work, do you mind ! I m the one as can take 
you to Mr. Sharp. In fact Mr. Green, that s your 
name, I see, takin the liberty to look over your 
shoulder at that ere letter in fact, Mr. Green, old 
boy, I m goin right there now. Come alongand let s 
take a drink." 

Nothing loth, Mr. Green accompanies his new 
companion back to the saloon they had just left, and 
after draining their glasses, they start for the location 
of Mr. Sharp. 

The quarters of Mr. Sharp are a small office with 
the blinds drawn down over the glass panes in the 
door, and a lot of fancy lithographs stuck up in the 
window. Over the door there is a small tin sign, 
with the very deceptive legend " Dramatic Agency," 
printed on it in white paint. 

The steerer gives a peculiar knock at the door, 
which is opened cautiously a few inches, and an eye 
appears in the aperture. A voice calls out, 

" All right !" 

And then the door is opened and Mr. Green finds 


himself within the sanctuary of the saw-dust man, 
and is introduced to Mr. Sharp. 

Mr. Sharp at once insinuates himself into the good 
opinion of Mr. Green, and being a jovial, good 
natured fellow, Mr. Sharp orders up a bottle of spirits 
and some good cigars. Having been introduced by 
the steerer with a quiet wink, Mr. Sharp is thus in 
formed that the visitor is all right, and he begins 
business at once. 

" Well Mr. Green, my friend here tells me you 
want some of our stock. Would you like to look at 
the green articles ?" 

Mr. Green signifies his willingness, and Sharp, 
without any further delay, dives down into his 
trousers pockets, and draws out a large roll of bills. 
They are of all denominations, from one dollar up to 
twenty, and are bright, fresh, crisp and clean. 

It is perhaps unnecessary to state that these notes 
are genuine money, and have been obtained from the 
Sub-Treasury, only the day before, in exchange for 
old bills. As a matter of course their appearance is 
such as to deceive even the most expert judges, and 
no doubt would be entertained of their genuineness. 

Mr. Green s eyes are distended to their utmost 
extent at this exhibition, and Mr. Sharp, spreading 
out some of the bills on the desk, says in a business 
like, matter-of-fact way : 


"There s some of the crooked stuff. Sell it to 
you for thirty cents on the dollar. Twenty-five 
down, and the other five after the stuff is delivered. 
We flatter ourselves that these goods are pretty well 
done, Just pick em up and see what you think of 

Mr. Green picks them up, one after another, and 
examines them critically. He is perfectly astonished. 
Pulling out some bills from his own pocket, he places 
them beside the supposed counterfeits, and finds to 
his amazement, that the likeness is perfect in every 
particular and detail. At length, unable to control 
himself, he blurts out : 

"Well, by Gosh! if this don t beat ennything I 
ever seed ! By the great horn-spoon, they re es like 
es two peas." 

" Well, rather/ remarks Mr. Sharp, compla 
cently ; and then to urge the trade, he adds, with se 
ductive persuasiveness, "you ll find we re the right 
sort to deal with, my friend. We don t take any 
advantage of our customers, never. If you have any 
doubt about the " chromos " being negotiable and all 
right anywhere on the Continent, why, we ll just go 
out and try them. Put em to a practical test, you 
know, and that ll settle it." 

" Oh, tain t needful, I guess, stranger," returns 
Green, rather indecisively. 


" Oh, yes, but we d rather have the worth of our 
goods proved," says Mr. Sharp, determined to clinch 
his prospective sale. " So, if you please, we ll just 
step into the street, and go to any store you like, and 
buy something. If you don t get your change out of 
the chromos without any fuss or foolin , why, the 
bargain s off, and you needn t have anything more to 
do with us." 

This offer seems very fair and very inviting, and 
without further ado the party sally forth. A jewelry . 
store is most naturally the objective of the rural 
stranger, as he desires to purchase something for his 
lady-love at home. Entering the store, and looking 
over the glittering display, a pair of earrings strikes 
the fancy of Mr. Verdant Green, and after critically 
examining them, Mr. Sharp inquires : 

" Well, what do you say, Green, will these suit 
you ?" 

Mr. Green signifies his satisfaction, and there 
upon Mr. Sharp takes out his roll of notes, and in 
quires of the store keeper, in a careless tone : 

" How much ?" 

" Five dollars," is the reply. 

" Well, that s reasonable enough," answers Mr. 
Sharp. "Just take it out of this." 

Mr. Green now watches the jeweler with the keen 
est interest ; but everything appears to be all right. 


For the storekeeper, after glancing at the money a 
moment, places it in the drawer, and hands over the 
change without a question. 

This settles the matter for Mr. Verdant Green, 
and when they at last reach the sidewalk, he gazes 
with a puzzled expression, first at the jewelry in his 
hand and then at the confidence man, who stands 
smilingly beside him. At length, in tones of pro 
found mystification : 

" Wall, I ll be gull darned, stranger, ef you don t 
beat the circus juggler all holler !" 

It will be borne in mind that the money- which 
Mr. Sharp has passed upon the jeweler was a genu 
ine ten dollar Government note, and hence, no diffi 
culty or opposition was to be apprehended ; but to 
the credulous Mr. Green, who believes the note to be 
counterfeit, the result seems simply wonderful. At 
this juncture, when the victim has been wound up to 
the proper pitch of unutterable astonishment, the 
confidence man says, suggestively : 

"Well, now, you have come on to buy the chro- 
mos, you see how they work ; how much do you 
want ?" 

In almost every case the victim will want from two 
to five hundred dollars worth of the stuff, and will so 
state, and after that the "saw-dust racket" is put in 
to operation. 


Sometimes the money is handed over in a roll, and 
in that case a roll of waste paper, with a few counter 
feits on the outside, and then a genuine note for a 
wrapper is neatly put on, and when the victim has the 
,roll safely stowed away in his pocket, the parties qui 
etly drop him, and leave him to discover the decep 
tion at his leisure. Of course he is required to pay 
his own good money in advance of receiving the 
"green articles," and having received this, Mr. Sharp 
has no further use for Mr. Green. 

At another time, when the amount purchased is 
large, the sharpers secure an old carpet bag, and stuff 
ing it with green paper, they hand it to the poor vic 
tim to carry. Two of the gang accompany him on his 
way to the depot, and no opportunity is allowed him 
to gaze inside of the valise until he is on the train, 
and by that time the swindlers have fled safely away 
in the distance. 

Sometimes the order given is quite large, and in 
that case the the swindlers arrange it to send the goods 
by express, C. O. D. This meets with the approval 
of Mr. Green, and he unhesitatingly advances the 
twenty-five per cent., with the understanding that the 
balance is to be paid when the goods are received. In 
this case it may be taken as a certainty that the box 
which in due time is received by the expectant Mr. 


Green, contains nothing more valuable than a superior 
article of pure and simple saw-dust. 

The feelings of the rustic would-be swindler may 
be imagined, when he sees the interior of the box so 
carefully sent to him, and realizes that he has paid his 
percentage, and the express charges also, for the 
proud privilege of writing himself down as one of the 
largest sized simpletons which this modern age pro 

It is needless to add that no exposure follows this 
disappointing and exasperating discovery, as Mr. 
Green would be compelled to divulge his own in 
tended rascality before he could proceed against the 
mythical firm of B. Sharp & Co. In this manner the 
game is successfully worked, and the victims continue 
to add to the profits of the " Boodle Swindlers." 



The Hotel Proprietor as a Sufferer. Night Watchmen. Safety- 
locks and Chain Bolts. The Modus Operandi of the profes 
sional Hotel Thief. An ingenious kit of tools. Preparations 
and precautions. The Cracksman at work. Bar-Keys, Wid- 
dies, Nippers and Cut Wires. Entering the sleeping guest s 
apartment. A unique contrivance for doctoring the locks of 
an unoccupied room. Precautions that every hotel guest should 
use. The Dapper Traveling Salesman. 

PROBABLY no more prevalent or more popular 
branch of dishonesty exists at the present time 
than the robbery of hotels. From the first-class and 
aristocratic hostelries of the larger cities, to the well- 
kept and respectable inns and taverns of country vil 
lages and towns, the expert thieves select their 
victims, and their operations are, it is to be regretted, 
almost universally successful. Wherever travelers 
with money about their persons are to be found, there 
also will appear the professional thief ready to relieve 
them of the valuable possessions. Whenever any un 
usual excitement prevails in a particular locality which 


attracts a large number of visitors, the thief invaria 
bly follows, and, in most cases, reaps an abundant 
harvest. Fairs and horse-races, conventions and ex 
positions, generally cause an influx of strangers to the 
city or town in which they are held, and the hotels 
are, in consequence, filled to overflowing. All of the 
visitors at times like these, are amply supplied with 
ready money, and these gentry fall easy victims to 
the midnight robber who enters their sleeping rooms, 
and while the inmates are peacefully slumbering, rifle 
their pockets, and even search the beds whereon they 
are lying. These thieves do not, however, restrict 
their operations to the times of excitement and over 
crowding of hotels, but upon ordinary occasions, 
when the public houses are occupied by the general 
class of the traveling public, their depredations are 
carried on with impunity, and with a degree of suc 
cess that is absolutely startling. Almost daily the 
hotel-keepers of the larger cities are compelled to 
make restitution for losses which have occurred to 
their guests, who retired to their rooms in fancied 
security, and awoke in the morning to find them 
selves completely stripped of their money and every 
article of value of which they were possessed. 

For several years past, the hotel proprietors all 
over the country have been made to suffer for the 
appalling number of robberies which have taken 


place in their respective establishments. Hundreds 
of these cases occur which are never made public, and 
which are never placed in the hands of the police or 
detectives for investigation, for the proprietors invari 
ably prefer to arrange matters with their guests and 
to reimburse them for their losses, rather than give 
publicity to a robbery which would have the effect of 
injuring their reputation and frightening away their 
customers. Every possible precaution has been 
taken by the proprietors of these establishments, to 
prevent the depredations of these midnight marau 
ders, but the evil has simply been abated not abol 
ished. Private officers, watchmen and detectives have 
been placed on every floor assigned for sleeping 
rooms, and yet, despite their safeguards, robbers con 
tinue to gain access to the chambers, and unconscious 
guests are despoiled, almost under the very eyes of 
those who have been constituted the guardians of 
their safety. 

All first class hotels, in addition to the mainte 
nance of a corps of wakeful and alert watchmen upon 
the outside of the chambers, have also placed safe 
guards within the rooms. Every door is provided 
with a double lock that is, a lock which can only be 
locked from the inside of the room and cannot be 
reached from the outside, as the key-hole does not 
extend through the door. The ordinary lock upon 


the outside serves to admit the guesf co the apart 
ment assigned to him, and when once in, he locks his 
door from the inside with a lock that only operates 
upon the inner side of the door. These appliances 
form within themselves two distinct locks, one of 
which may be locked upon both sides, and the other 
only from the inside. Chain bolts, another ingenious 
contrivance, have also been put on many of the doors, 
and yet, with all these provisions against the entrance 
of the thief, the occupants of these rooms awake in 
the morning to find that they have been robbed dur 
ing the night, and their doors show no evidence to 
the inexpert observer, of having been tampered with 
in any particular. To those unacquainted with the 
ingenious workings of the professional hotel thief, 
this discovery is startling and inexplicable, but to 
those who have studied the modes and operations of 
this class of criminals, the manner in which an 
entrance has been effected, and the means used to 
accomplish their object, the solution is as plain as the 
sun at noon-day. 

It is my purpose to fully explain the modus 
operandi of these expert thieves and to so fully 
inform the traveling public upon these matters, that 
if proper precautions are taken, and a rigid scrutiny 
of their doors and locks is made before retiring, an 


entry will be prevented and a successful robbery 
will be impossible. 

Let us first consider the tools used by a first-class 
hotel thief, after which we will describe their uses 
and his manner of working with them. In the first 
place, it must be remembered, that this class of 
thieves is composed of exceedingly sharp and intelli 
gent men, who are thoroughly alive to every circum 
stance whether of a favorable nature or otherwise. 
They are experienced in the use of tools and will 
handle a brace and bit with all the dexterity of the 
educated artisan. They are seldom caught napping, 
and are far better posted as to the whereabouts of 
the watchmen, than that worthy is of their proximity. 
From external appearances no one would think of 
suspecting the well-dressed, gentlemanly looking 
individual, who registers himself with a quiet and 
unassuming air, and whose tone and conversation 
bespeak both travel and education. In the reading 
room and at the dining table he is the dignified, yet 
affable gentleman of business, and his deportment is 
at all times unobtrusive and polite. He never 
dresses in the gaudy colors, or in the height of 
fashion, but his apparel is usually chosen with the 
utmost good taste, and a quiet style that stamps him 
as a gentleman of refined tastes. 

His tools, which are generally of the finest quality 


of tempered steel, consist of a " bar-key," a set of 
six bits of various sizes, and arranged for either stem 
or tumbler locks ; a small drill ; a file ; a " sectional 
stem" or what is called the "widdy" ; several pieces 
of wire, and a pair of nippers. These are all the 
articles he needs, and frequently but a few of these 
are required, and their particular uses will be fully 
explained in their proper order. These implements 
do not occupy much room in the traveling satchel of 
the nomadic thief, and are frequently carried about 
his person. There is another article which might be 
mentioned, which, although forming no part of the 
tools, is of a very important nature, and that is a 
piece of white putty or pigment. 

Armed with these instruments, and qualified by a 
long system of training, the hotel-thief is now fully 
prepared to set out on his travels. His plan of opera 
tion is as follows : Hotel-thieves almost invariably 
travel in pairs, though their companionship is never 
manifested in public, and to all observers they are as 
distant and uncommunicative as the utmost strangers. 
They generally manage, however, to secure their 
rooms upon the same floor, and, if possible, without 
attracting undue attention, within close proximity of 
each other. Once established in their apartments, 
the work of active operation at once begins. The 
habits of the guests upon the floor they occupy are 


carefully studied, and they soon ascertain which of 
the chambers are unoccupied. These preparatory 
steps are always taken during the day. Having dis 
covered the numbers of the vacant rooms, they make 
a thorough examination of the locks upon their own 
doors, as it is reasonably certain that every other door 
upon the same floor will be similarly secured. Hav 
ing acquired this knowledge, they are ready to work. 
One of the men is set to see that the coast is clear, 
while the other quickly effects an entrance into one 
of the empty rooms. His tools are taken in with 
him. If there is only a single lock to contend with, 
the work is soon done the "bar-key" with its appro 
priate bit opens the door readily from the outside, 
and no further arrangements are necessary for that 

Where there is a bolt on the inside of the door, 
a hole is bored through the door from the inside im 
mediately over the handle or knob, for the introduc 
tion of the " sectional stem," and then this hole is 
carefully puttied up and the small spot in the door is 
colored with a quick-drying material of the same 
color. Ascertaining that the corridor is empty, by a 
series of signals with his partner who is on the watch, 
the thief comes cautiously out, and covers up the 
hole on the outside in the same manner. In this 
way, provided they are not interrupted, all the vacant 


rooms on this floor are fixed, awaiting the influx of 
visitors in the evening. 

Where the doors are fastened with double locks, 
the mode of " fixing " is different, and requires more 
time and labor. In the first place, entrance is obtained 
by the use of the invaluable " bar-key "and then 
locking himself in the thief commences work upon the 
inside lock, the key of which is always in its place. 
This key is taken out of the lock, and a hole is 
drilled directly through the back plate of the lock and 
the door ; this hole must be large enough to admit of 
the introduction of a fine pair of nippers for turning 
the key. The hole is then bored for the manipula 
tion of the bolt, and then all is puttied up and painted 
over as before. 

There is another mode of " fixing " the inside lock, 
which is frequently resorted to, but which is not so 
generally successful as the one above mentioned, and 
that is simply to bore a large gimlet hole through 
the lock-plate and the door, and then to file a slot in 
the end of the key, like that in the head of a screw. 
By this means a large puttied hole on the outside of 
the door is avoided, and a small, sharp edged brad 
awl inserted into the hole, will catch upon the slot in 
the end of the key, which can then be turned like a 
screw-driver and screw. Particular attention is al 
ways paid to the location of the bolts and locks and 


the position of the bed in the room, so that no delay 
may be caused by a difficulty in locating the sleeper 
immediately by the uncertain light which comes 
through the transom over, the door, from the dimly- 
burning gas in the halls. 

These preparations being duly made, and from 
half a dozen to a score of rooms put in proper condi 
tion to be entered, the thieves patiently bide their time 
until evening. The registers are carefully watched in 
order to ascertain which of the rooms they have 
" fixed," are to be occupied, and an estimate is made, 
if it is possible to do so, of the individuals who have 
been assigned to them, with the view of selecting 
those from whom the richest harvest may be reaped. 

The next precaution, and this is of paramount im 
portance, is to carefully study the habits of the detec 
tives or watchmen who perform their duties during the 
night For this purpose the thieves are often com 
pelled to delay their operations for two or three nights 
1 in order to become thoroughly familiarized with the 
movements of these guardians of the persons and 
property of the guests of the hotel. 

Before detailing the manner in which robberies of 
this character are usually effected, we will describe 
the nature and the uses of the tools and implements, 
which form the stock in trade of an expert professional 
hotel thief. 


The key and bits which these cracksmen use are of 
peculiar construction. They consist of a straight steel 
key-bar with bits which can be inserted at will, and 
they can be used either upon any ordinary stem lock or 
tumbler lock with perfect ease. The files, drills, 
awls, etc. are of the usual pattern, but are made of fine 
steel and highly tempered. The "sectional stem" is 
an instrument of great peculiarities and is a very use 
ful tool in the hands of an expert workman. It is 
made of fine steel or iron and consists of two pieces 
of metal, one of which is about eight inches long, and 
the other about two inches, and iS about as thick as a 
small brad-awl. These two pieces are joined together 
with a screw or rivet, which not being tight allows 
the foremost end to drop down when the joint has 
passed through the door. A piece of fine strong cord 
is fastened to the end of this stem, which on being 
pulled, draws the end down until it is at right angles 
with the piece to which it is attached, and by retain- 
ing the tension of the string, the instrument is kept in 
proper position for work. On the other end of this 
instrument is fastened a knob or ball, which enables 
the operator, by simply turning it, to work the point 
at the other end. This "sectional stem," is used for 
slipping the bolts on the inside of a door, and the 
manner of working it is as follows : the stem, both 
parts perfectly straight, is inserted into the hole drilled 

9 2 


through the door over the bolt, the string is then 
pulled, which causes the end piece of the stem to 
drop down, thus forming an L, and then, when the 
handle of the bolt is touched, by simply turning the 
knob or handle, it is slipped as easily as though the 
operation was performed from the inside. 

The bar-key" is a very important instrument, 
and from the nature of its construction, in the hands 
of an expert manipulator, will open any ordinary door 



from the outside, without any previous preparation. 
It consists of the bar and handle of an ordinary key, 
with a slot in the end of it, into which may be inserted 
the bits, which are especially designed for the locks of 
the general hotel doors, and a screw which secures 
these bits in their places. 

By the above arrangement, it will be seen that 
bits of different kinds and shapes may be inserted into 
the bar, and the key of the rooms occupied by the 
thieves, will at once show them the nature of the bit 
which they will require in order to work upon the 
others. T and L bits are made in such variety that 
they will open any door not furnished with tumbler 
locks, and when tumbler locks are used, the necessary 
bits to open these doors can be readily procured or 
manufactured by the thief himself. 

The "widdy " is a small piece of bent wire with a 
string attached, forming a sort of bow. 

With this simple instrument running through a 
keyhole, if the bolt is below the lock ; or a gimlet 



hole made for the purpose, if above the lock, a burg 
lar can throw back any mortise, spring or sliding bolt 


now in use, no matter in what position it is, or how 
the knob may be placed. In addition to this, the 
"widdy" will operate the finest night-latch in exist 
ence, and for a variety of purposes it is one of the 
most useful of articles. 

The pieces of bent wire are usually shaped as fol 
lows : 

The first is used to throw back sliding-bolts, 
when the knob is turned up, the other is used when 
the knob is turned down. Four sizes of this wire are 
usually carried, so that if the first will not catch the 
bolt, the next is used, and so on. The advantage of 
this is, that the necessity of boring more than one 


gimlet hole in the door is thus avoided. The 
"widdy," however, will dispense with the use of 
these wires, as that instrument will perform its work 
anywhere. These wire instruments are usually made 
of umbrella wire, and can be readily fashioned into 
shape by a thief who understands his business, and 
the use of tools when made. 

When everything is ready for the operation, and 
the guests are all sleeping soundly in their beds, the 
thieves begin their work. If the corridors are de 
serted, their labors are easy, and their entrance into 
the chambers of the sleepers is easily effected, with 
out risk and in a short space of time. If, however, 
there is a watchman on duty, a careful espionage is 
maintained upon his movements, and should he leave 
his post for a few minutes, sufficient time is given to 
the thieves in which to work. Five minutes is fre 
quently all the time an expert thief occupies in 
:" working" a single room. Armed with his bar- 
key," his nippers and the "sectional stem," he sallies 

forth while his companion unobservedly maintains a 
close watch upon all the surroundings, and stands 
prepared to give prompt warning in case of danger. 


If the sleeper to be operated upon has left the 
key in the outer lock, the nippers are used, and in a 
twinkling, that part of the difficulty is over, and the 
key is turned so quickly and noiselessly that no one 
would be aware of what was going on. If, however, 
there is an inner or double lock, and a bolt on the 
door, the putty from the drilled hole is quickly re 
moved, the nippers are inserted, and in case the in 
side key has been prepared by filing, as I have men 
tioned before, the sharp awl is used, and fitting into 
the slot in the end of the key, turns it readily. Then 
the "sectional stem," the "widdy," or the bent wire 
is inserted through the hole over the bolt, the string 
is pulled, and with an easy turn of the wrist, the bolt 
is thrown back, and every obstacle to the entrance of 
the thief is removed. 

Should the door, however, be fastened with the 
ordinary chain bolts, the manner of working them is 
as follows : The door is opened sufficiently to allow 
the burglar to put his arm on the inside and measure 
from the edge of the door to the edge of the plate. 
This, of course, is where no previous preparations 
have been made, but when the thief has properly 
"faked" the room, as he calls it that is, "fixed" it 
for his entrance in the evening, the hole is already 
bored in its proper place. Through the hole thus 
made, a thin wire about the thickness of a silk thread 


is passed, and then, with the door opened, the wire is 
carried by the hand and passed through the eye of 
the " dog " on the inside. To the end of this wire a 
button is attached. The door is then closed and the 
wire is gently pulled, which draws the chain back to 
the opening in the end of the plate and it falls out. 
All impediments are now removed, and turning the 
knob softly, the door is opened and the thief noise 
lessly enters the room. The first thing to be done is 
to replace the plugs in the holes in the door. This is 
done in an instant, and then the thief, maintaining a 
stooping posture, springs for the clothing of the un 
suspecting occupant. The reasons for adopting this 
stooping position or falling upon the knees is obvi 
ous, as every person in bed on being awakened sud 
denly, will naturally look up and not down. His 
movements are as rapid as the flash of the lightning, 
and as noiseless as the Indian on the trail. If he is 
successful in finding a good roll of money or a wallet 
he goes no further, but if only loose change is found, 
his next point of attack is the bed. Should the vest 
be missing, the thief knows that this garment has been 
placed under the pillow. Experience has taught him 
many things, and one glance at the arrangement of 
the bed sheet will tell him whether the sleeper has 
placed his valuables under the mattress or under his 
pillow. If the sheet is disturbed and is hanging 


down, near the centre of the bed, he knows to a cer 
tainty that the mattress conceals what he desires, as 
the chamber-maids invariably tuck the sheets in un 
der the mattress ; but if, on the contrary, the sheets 
are all snug and tucked under, he knows that his 
plunder is under the head of his victim. A few deft 
movements in either direction and the thief has se 
cured the property, whether the same is placed under 
mattress or pillow. His exit is then made as stealth 
ily as his entrance, and closing the door carefully be 
hind him, he plugs up the door upon the outside. 

In many cases, the thieves are sufficiently con 
siderate to lock the door behind them, and their 
manner of proceeding is thus explained. After secur 
ing their booty the key is returned to the keyhole. 
Around the knob of the bolt, a silk thread is looped, 
and the ends brought through the crevice in the door 
to the outside. Pulling the thread, shoots the bolt 
back into its sheath, then one end of the thread is 
dropped and is drawn through the crevice and re 
moved. The key is then caught from the outside by 
the nippers and on being turned leaves the door 
bolted and locked, as the victims left them before 


Where there is but the ordinary lock and bolt, 
the entrance is frequently effected without disturbing 
or defacing the door in the least, the "widdy" is 


inserted through the keyhole and works the lock 
without any previous drilling, and thus the chances 
of detection are considerably reduced. 

When the sleeper awakes in the morning, and to 
his dismay discovers that he has been robbed, his 
first movement is to examine the fastenings of his 
door. Finding nothing suspicious about them, he 
is perfectly dumbfounded and utterly at a loss to 
account for what has taken place, and even should he 
find that everything is unlocked, and the door un- 
defaced, he naturally concludes, with a sinking heart, 
that he failed to take proper precautions before retir 
ing, and reports so at the office. As this is a very 
common occurrence, the guest is solemnly cautioned 
to be more careful in the future, and by all means to 
deposit his valuables with the clerk before going to 

How a thief can extract articles from under a 
mattress or pillow without awaking a sleeper, has 
been a continual mystery to most people. The mode 
of operation adopted by the thief is generally to bare 
the right arm to the shoulder, and then holding 
either mattress or pillow with the left hand, lifting it 
gently and with a steady motion, and then gently 
inserting the bare arm, pull forth whatever may be 
found concealed there. 

The victims of hotel thieves are designated by 


the very delicate title of " patients," and the usual 
patient manner in which they submit to the operations 
of the skillful robber amply justifies the application of 
the term. 

If a thief is disturbed or discovered he does not 
make any further attempt that evening, but quietly 
makes his escape to his room. Should he however, 
be successful, he rarely exceeds three rooms in one 
night, being generally content with what he has, and 
not caring to further increase the chances of his| 

It sometimes happens, though I am glad to state, 
very rarely, that the persons who have been employed 
to guard the guests of a hotel from the visits of 
these nightly plunderers, are composed of pliable 
material, and the bestowal of a ten or twenty dollar 
bill upon one of these gentlemen will ensure his ab 
sence during the time the thief desires to work. It 
has not infrequently happened that thieves have 
remained unsuspected and in continued operation for 
a week in a single hotel, although that is generally 
the longest time in which thieves have confined their 
depredations to one place. In order to cover himself 
more completely for an extended period like this, the 
thief with brazen assurance will make a loud com 
plaint at the office of having been robbed himself. 

When entering a room, the thief is always dressed 


in soft woollen clothing, and wears woollen;Stjocklng.> 
upon his feet. The noise made by the rustling of a 
muslin or linen shirt, when everything is hushed and 
still, is often sufficiently loud or harsh to awaken 
people, particularly ladies, from a sound and comfort 
able slumber. Hence it is that the thief will invari 
ably wear a woollen shirt when he attempts to purloin 
the valuables of his sleeping victims. 

There is a certain class of hotel thieves who 
confine their operations to the time usually de 
nominated the " sporting season." They follow the 
trotting horses and racers, and make the circuit of 
county fairs, base-ball games and such other exhibi 
tions and entertainments calculated to draw large 
crowds. They generally arrive in a city or town two 
or three days in advance of the day on which these 
events occur, and then, by active work are enabled to 
find plenty of empty rooms to " doctor," before the 
tide of visitors sets in and the hotels are filled. 

In a number of instances, the process of boring 
the doors has been obviated where there are tran 
soms over the doors of the rooms to be operated 
upon, and sufficient time is not given to prepare the 
locks for the midnight visit. The instrument used 
in this case, is rather a unique contrivance, which 
any one, whether a mechanic or not, can construct 
without difficulty. It consists of two pieces of thin, 


g W06d, 0jie. of which is about three feet long 
and the other about eight inches. One end of each 
of these two pieces are joined together with a screw, 
but are sufficiently loose to enable them to be turned 
around readily. On the end of the smaller piece there 
are nailed three small strips of wood, one at the end, 
and one on each side, which forms a sort of box, open 
at one end, as in the figure here shown. 

In using this instrument, two men operate to 
gether. One of them places himself before the door, 
while the lightest one mounts upon his shoulders, and 
opening the transom fully, inserts his arm and hand, 
which contains the implement above described. He 
manipulates this instrument so that the boxed end of 
the stick will reach the handle of the key, which is 
then inclosed by the three raised sides of the stick. 
By pushing downward upon the long end of the stick, 
the box attachment is made to turn, and this, as a 
natural consequence, turns the key along with it, pre 
cisely after the manner of working a crank. The bolt 
is then shot back, with the aid of this stick, and in an 
incredibly short space of time, the door yields to their 
efforts, and the slumbering guest is at the mercy of 

HO TEL TH1E VES. 1 03 

the thieves. This plan has many advantages, as it 
leaves no traces of tampering with locks or keys, and 
the door is never defaced ; but it has counterbalanc 
ing objections in requiring two men before the door, 
in the increased liability to detection and in the ina 
bility to work the locks as quickly as with the nip 
pers, the awl, or the " sectional stem." 

The operations of the hotel thief have thus been 
fully given, in the hope that the traveling public 
may take the warnings given, and guard against dan 
ger in the future. To the guest at the hotel, I would 
say, always examine the door of your room before re 
tiring, and look carefully at the keys and the tran 
soms. Never take a large amount of money or valu 
able jewelry to your rooms, but leave them with the 
clerk of the hotel, who will place them in the safe. 
This plan not only serves as a protection against the 
thieves, but compels the hotel proprietor to assume 
the responsibility of their safe keeping, and to make 
restitution in case of loss. 

In this connection, and while laying bare the oper 
ations of the professional hotel thief, I may mention 
another specimen, which generally does not figure 
in court reports, and is seldom represented in the 
prisons of the country. I allude to the dapper, 
little traveling salesman, whose ideas of life are very 
high, and whose salary is correspondingly low. This 

T 04 no rnr, THTE VES. 

latter fact, however, would never be suspected. He 
wears the latest and the most stylish clothing ; from 
the crown of his lustrous tile, to the pointed toe of his 
irreproachable gaiters, he appears to the well-to-do, 
blazt man about town. He carries samples of value, 
and his jewelry is generally of the first quality, while 
his limited supply of diamonds is all of the finest and 
purest. This young gentleman arrives in the city, 
he makes his sales to the trade, perhaps also makes 
some collections ; and during the times not occupied 
with his business, which are many, he is having a 
glorious good time. A sojourn of a week will enable 
him to spend his moderate salary for three months. 
What then ? Why, means must be devised to reim 
burse the depleted exchequer. But how ? Ah, that 
is very easy. On the morning following some expen 
sive orgie, the dashing young gentleman makes 
his appearance before the hotel proprietor in woeful 
plight. His eyes are wild, his dress disordered. 
What has occasioned this wonderful metamorpho 
sis ? The answer is soon given the young man has 
been robbed ! On the evening before, he retired to 
his room quite early. In the morning he awoke, 
only to find that his room had been entered ; his 
clothing searched ; his jewels and all his money, 
amounting to several hundred dollars, carried off by 
the reckless thieves. - His story seems plausible. He 


is a gentleman. He represents a good house. 
What then ? Why, the proprietor, to prevent the 
news of the robbery from being made public, and 
thereby injuring the reputation of the house, makes 
good the alleged loss, and pays to the poor victim a 
sufficient sum to reimburse him for all his losses. The 
young man departs downcast but grateful, and at the 
next city he extracts his jewelry from its hiding-place, 
and with a replenished pocket-book, he fully enjoys 
himself upon the proceeds of the robbery, which it is 
needless to add, he committed himself. 

This young dandy is seldom discovered, seldom 
punished, but he is as much a professional criminal 
as the man whose actions and operations I have 
described in the fore part of this chapter. 


An Apparent Gentleman. His noiseless footstep. A Bag for 
Booty. Skeleton Keys. Entrance to the Bank Vault. Co-op 
eration of his Stalls. A Preference for Country Banks. En 
gaging the Bank Officials. Inside of a Bank. Interviewing 
the President and Cashier. Buying Drafts and Claiming 
Shorts. Arguments and Re-counts. A Queer Stepladder. A 
Stray Note Dropped on the Floor. Done Up in Broivn 
Paper. Safe Deposit Companies. Gaining Admission to the 
Vaults. Mingling with the Depositors. Warning Advice to 
Safe Deposit Companies and Customers. Daring and Success 
ful Robbery by Sneak Thieves in New York. The office of 
James H. Bloodgood. $250,000 Carried off. A Hunt for 
the Thieves. Watchful Surveillance. Shadowing a Suspected 
Rendezvous. A Dashing Woman. My Detectives on the 
Track. Off for Baltimore and Petersburgh. The Strategy 
of Robert Pinkerton. Arrest and Recovery of the Bonds. Re 
covery i?/ $5 1,000, Government Bonds, for the National Bank 
of Courtland, N. Y. 

AMONG all the numerous branches, or depart 
ments of crime, there is not one so pernicious, 
and perhaps so uniformly successful, as that of sneak 
thieving. With noiseless, cat-like step the sneak will 
crawl to his prey, and without leaving a single trace 
of his presence, will escape unobserved, with large 



sums of money, under the very eyes of watchful and 
alert business men, whose duty it is to guard the 
treasures intrusted to their keeping. No trade or 
profession is exempt from the visits of these sneaking 
thieves, who penetrate through all the ramifications 
of both business and social life, and ply their voca 
tions in the broad light of day. Unlike the burglar, 
the sneak-thief does not await the coming of night, 
and under the cover of the darkness pursue his des 
perate calling. He needs not to be assured that his 
victims are sleeping to ensure his safety in his un 
dertakings ; his fields of operations are always among 
the active, the wakeful and the bustling. No dark 
lantern and ponderous " jimmy," no giant powder or 
diamond drill form the implements of the trade of 
the sneak-thief ; for the doors of wealth are always 
opened to him without force or violence, and the 
money and valuables which he takes, are placed with 
in his easy reach. 

The proselytes of this branch of crime range from 
the boy and girl in their teens, who rob unsuspecting 
merchants of small articles of merchandise, to the full- 
grown man who enters a bank during the bustle and 
activity of business and steals thousands r dollars. 

In the larger and more ambitious operations of 
the sneak thief, success requires the association of 
three or four men, who thoroughly understand their 


business, and who by appearance and education are 
fully qualified for the delicate duties which devolve 
upon them. This association, as in the case of other 
combinations to defraud, is called a " mob," with their 
stalls," and with the man who does the actual steal 
ing, who is called the "sneak." The "stalls," for the 
most part, are men of fine appearance, who dress well, 
and are possessed of more than an ordinary amount 
of educational advantages. They are well posted in 
general business matters, and can converse intelligent 
ly upon the intricate questions connected with banks 
and banking. Never loud in their appearance or con 
versation, their entrance into a banking institution 
occasions no surprise or suspicion, and cashiers and 
clerks afford them desired information with as much 
consideration and politeness as they bestow upon 
their well known and responsible depositors. The 
" sneak," however, need not be so well favored, al 
though he frequently is as much of an apparent gen 
tleman as his associates. 

Before describing the movements of this class of 
criminals it may be as well to mention a few of the 
articles which are considered essential for successful 
operation. The most important thing is that the 
"sneak" shall be supplied with a pair of shoes or 
slippers that will make no noise a creaking shoe be 
ing considered as a sure producer of detection with 

SN&AK THfEVlNG. 169 

little or no heel, and frequently with felt soles. The 
foot-coverings of the sneak thief are as noiseless as 
though he walked in his stockings. The low heel is 
a wise precaution, for almost every bank vault has an 
iron step or a bar on the floor, against which the doors 
close, and there would be great danger in striking 
against this if the heels were high. The slightest 
noise in the direction of the bank vault is certain to 
attract attention, and then detection is sure to follow. 
The "sneak" must also be provided with a large bag 
in which to conceal his booty ; this is generally made 
of black flannel or muslin, and is furnished with a 
drawing string in the top, much after the fashion of 
the bags usually carried by lawyers. This bag is 
large enough to hold one or more tin boxes such as 
are usually found in the vaults of banks, and in which 
valuable papers, bonds, and money are kept. Some 
times the pockets in the coat worn by the "sneak," 
will extend around the entire inside lining, which 
makes the inner lining of the coat one immense 
pocket. This is used when the bag has been neglected, 
or where a sudden opportunity occurs to perpetrate a 
robbery, for which no previous preparations were 

Skeleton keys of all patterns are carried by the 
sneak, so that if time allows he can readily open the 
tin boxes in the vaults, without the dangerous and 


troublesome task of removing the entire box, and at 
the same time delaying the period of discovery of the 

For the purpose of illustration we will select a 
bank in which, as is frequently the case, during busi 
ness hours the vault doors are open and the strong 
boxes are unlocked. The vault, we will assume, is at 
the rear end of the banking room, and the clerks, as 
they stand at their desks facing the customers, have 
their backs towards the vault. Should this be the 
case and it frequently is so there is generally a 
passage way or small gate at the end of the desks by 
which the clerks enter, and through which also the 
" sneak" can readily work his way. This is one of 
the most simple operations for the " sneak," and in 
which he is almost uniformly successful. One or two 
of the "stalls," will enter the bank, and in the most 
business-like manner possible engage the clerk in 
conversation upon some question of banking business. 
They either want some information about opening an 
account, or drawing a draft and it is a very easy 
matter to prolong a conversation of this character 
sufficiently long to enable the " sneak " to crawl, on 
hands and knees, into the vault, and to hastily pick 
up all that he can conveniently carry away, and then 
to make his way again to the front of the bank. Of 
course this style of robbery is generally attempted in 

SNEAK TH1E VI NG. 1 1 1 

country banks, where there are but few clerks, and 
where the number of customers is small ; but the num 
ber of such banks is far greater than the well guarded 
city banks with their army of clerks, and stalwart 
watchmen and therefore are more generally selected 
by the watchful thieves. 

It may be as well to state that of late years, it has 
become almost impossible to rob a well appointed 
and well guarded city bank. Every precaution has 
been taken, and every safeguard adopted which 
experience and sagacity can suggest, and every bank 
of any prominence has one or more strong limbed 
and alert policemen who are on duty about the 
interior during the entire time that the bank is open 
for business. The thieves, however, are as well 
posted on these particulars as the banks themselves, 
and therefore, they do not attempt the impossible 
task of robbing these institutions, but confine their 
operations to the more fruitful fields of country banks 
and those of the smaller cities. 

Now, should the vault in the bank be so arranged 
being placed at the end of the counter and at the 
side of the cashier that any person entering it would 
be instantly discovered by the cashier, the " stall " 
then takes a prominent part in the transaction. 
Entering the bank, he addresses the cashier, and 
engages him in the calculation of the interest due 


upon a draft which he has in his possession, or con 
sults him about the collection of some coupons, induc 
ing him by degrees, to perform the necessary task of 
figuring up the possible results. The " stall" is 
meanwhile so placing himself, that the back of the 
cashier will be turned toward the open door of the 
vault. With a natural desire to see what the cashier 
is doing, he will turn the paper in one direction or 
the other, so that that gentleman will be obliged to 
shift his position in order to accommodate his visitor. 
The ignorance of the visitor is quite surprising, 
and the questions asked are propounded in such an 
affable, insinuating manner, that the good-natured 
cashier, all unconscious of what is transpiring behind 
him, will exert himself to the utmost in order to fully 
enlighten his gentlemanly but decidedly ignorant 

When the cashier has been sufficiently engaged, 
and has been turned around to the proper point of 
obliquity, the " sneak" will stealthily steal into the 
vault, and in a few minutes will emerge with all the 
available resources of the bank, concealed beneath 
his coat. 

Not only is the vault a point of attack, but very 
often there are large amounts of notes piled up on 
tables or counters behind the railings which surround 
the cashier or clerk, and if these can be safely taken 


the labor of the " sneak " is made much more easy and 
more profitable than if he is required to enter the 

Now let us suppose that the bank is duly opened 
for business the vault doors are open and the clerks 
are at their desks ; that they would not be able to 
see any one who entered or left the vault, and that 
the only way to get behind the counter is through 
the room of the president, which is in the rear of the 
building. Of course the president will of necessity 
perceive any person who comes into his room, 
whether to engage him in conversation or to pass 
through into the banking room in front. To the 
uninitiated it would seem an impossible task to pass 
this watchful officer unseen, but to the professional 
sneak thieves it is very easy of accomplishment. 
Their plan of operations to effect their object is as 
follows : Two of the " stalls " will enter the Presi 
dent s room for the purpose of consulting him upon 
some matters of financial import. If that officer is 
sitting in such a position as to control the entrance 
to his rooms, this is all the better for the success of 
the enterprise. One of the " stalls " advances to the 
desk of the president, and announces the nature of 
his business, while the other will quietly take a seat, 
and draw from his pocket a newspaper and then 
opening it fully, will hold it, under the pretense of 


reading, in such a position as to entirely screen the 
view of the front door of the president s room. This 
will enable the "sneak" to enter the room ; then the 
"stall" will quietly change his position so as to cover 
the doorway leading into the banking room, and 
behind the counters. It will be noticed that the 
" sneak " is shielded by the newspaper from the 
moment it is opened, until it covers the door which 
leads to the vault. Once past the door, he quickly 
glides into the banking room. If notes are handy 
he takes these, but if necessary he enters the vault 
and loads himself with all that is valuable within his 
reach. When he has completed his operation, the 
same manipulation of the newspaper is gone through, 
and again under its complete cover the " sneak" 
makes his escape. This whole operation does not 
occupy more than three or four minutes time, and 
this is generally the longest period that is required for 
successful work. Once the "sneak" has taken his 
departure, the interview with the president is quickly 
concluded, and the two "stalls," after politely thank 
ing that officer for his kindness and courtesy, grace 
fully withdraw. 

Another very frequent and successful method,* 
where the above arrangement cannot be safely carried 
out, is for one of the " stalls " to procure a carriage, 
and driving up to the door of the bank, request the 


president to come out and transact some business with 
an invalid who cannot leave the vehicle. In such cases 
the name of the president or cashier is first obtained, 
and being addressed by his proper name when the 
request is preferred, the financial officer is entirely 
unsuspicious of danger, and energes from the bank to 
await the orders of his invalid caller. Clerks and 
cashiers have also been called out in this way, during 
the dinner-hour, when they would be left alone in 
charge of the bank. Of course the " sneak " is on 
hand, and while the president or cashier is engaged 
in conversation on the sidewalk, he quietly enters and 
robs the bank. At other times the " stall "will ap 
proach a pigeon-hole of one of the desks in front and 
request to speak to the president, who is in his room 
in the rear, and that gentleman, being thus called 
suddenly, upon the impulse of the moment, will an 
swer the summons and thus leave the way open for 
the hiding sneak. 

Clerks whose positions are such as to prevent the 
entrance of the sneak to the vaults have very often 
been called by name to some pigeon-hole in the desk 
opposite to him, and there held long enough for 
the thief to accomplish his purpose. The manner in 
which the " stalls " acquire the names of the employees 
of a bank is at once simple and unique. They pre 
sent themselves at one of the pigeon-holes at a dis- 


tance from the clerk whom they desire to call, and 
pointing out the individual desired, inquire : 

" What is the name of that young gentleman op 
posite? He looks very much like an old friend of 


The clerk thus questioned, without bestowing 
any thought upon the matter, will at once convey the 
desired information, upon which the " stall ." ac 
knowledges his error, and craving pardon for troubling 
him, withdraws at once. The information thus ac 
quired is conveyed to another stall, and shortly after 
ward this confederate enters, and going directly up to 
the further pigeon-hole, calls the name of the clerk 
in a very decided tone of interest and acquaintance. 

It is the first and governing principle of the 
" sneak," not to allow himself to be seen by any one, 
for if any employee of the bank has noticed his pres 
ence, he will naturally feel uneasy and suspicious be 
cause he is aware of the fact that there is a strange 
man in such a part of the building, and his move 
ments cannot be watched. To overcome this dif 
ficulty therefore the "sneak" enters the bank first 
and endeavors to get a good position where he will 
not be noticed and then he will sit or stand ap 
parently engaged in some intricate financial problem 
with paper and pencil. Sometimes he enters the 
president s room, which may be empty at the time 


and if discovered before his confederates enter, he 
will excuse himself by saying that he is either waiting 
to see the president, or is expecting his mother or 
sister to come for the purpose of making a deposit of 
money, or to invest in some securities for which the 
bank is an agent. At other times he will enter the 
President s room with one of the " stalls," and then 
trust to the adroitness of his companion, in engaging 
the attention of the president, long enough for him 
to get into the vault quietly, get what is convenient 
to his hands, and return without his absence bring 

At other times, particularly in a country bank, 
where there is but one man in charge of the bank at 
noon-time, and the position of this man is such that 
he can see any person who may enter, the two 
"stalls " will enter the bank, and while one of them 
is engaging the clerk by changing a large note, or 
in answering some question of a financial nature, the 
other will hold up a newspaper, and under the cover 
of this the " sneak " will make his entrance, and walk 
ing quietly as far as the counter, crouch down in a 
stooping position, and thus sneak towards his work, 
without his presence being known or even suspected. 

The above modes of operation are among those 
most frequently used by the sneak thieves in robbing 
banks whose vaults, and the doors to their money 


departments are opened during the day. There are 
also many thieves who will gain access into vaults 
and behind doors, when what are known as "sneak" 
or " day doors " are placed on the vaults and kept 
locked during the day. The entrances to the interi 
or of the bank that is, that portion of the building 
reserved for the clerks are frequently supplied with 
doors which are always locked ; and every clerk and 
messenger who passes through this doorway is re 
quired to unlock this door before he can be admitted. 
In such cases all the employees are provided with keys 
that will unlock this door, or there is a spring latch 
upon it which can be worked from either side. The 
"sneak," under such circumstances, will place himself 
near to this door and wait until some one comes, who 
unlocks the door to obtain an entrance. As a rule 
the locks on this door are spring locks, and as soon 
as the clerk has passed in he will shut the door vio 
lently behind him, which will insure its locking with 
out further attention on his part. But the sneak 
thief is there, and as the door bangs to, he inserts 
a wallet or a wedge of wood between the frame 
and the door, and this prevents its locking. To 
enter through this door is the work of a moment, 
and with the " stalls" at work in front the rest of 
the story is soon told, and in a few moments he 


emerges again with his booty concealed about his 
person, and no one suspicious of his presence. 

The " stalls " have numerous expedients to resort 
to, all of which answer admirably the purpose for 
which they are designed. Sometimes they will enter 
the bank and engage the teller or cashier in the 
purchase of a draft for a certain amount, then hand 
over the money, part of which is in small bills. Upon 
being counted, the amount will be found to be short 
three or four dollars, and this will give occasion for 
an argument and a re-count in order to discover the 
missing money, and while this is being done, the ob 
ject is accomplished, and the robbery is effected. 
Again, at times a government bond is purchased, or 
gold is asked for paper money, or change will be re 
quested for a large note by a man who has one of 
his hands in a bandage, who will request the cashier 
or clerk to place the money for him in the inside 
pocket of his coat and then to button the coat 
over the concealed money ; all these things occupy 
time, and attract the attention of the bank officer 
both of which are valuable to the "sneak" who is in 
tent upon securing the funds of the bank, and in 
which he is generally successful. 

Sometimes the thieves notice a pile of money on 
the counter of the receiving or paying teller and close 
to the pigeon hole through which those officers trans- 


act their business. The toiler is generally stationed 
directly behind this pigeon hole, so that there is no 
chance for the thieves to get the money without 
being seen. The main object to be achieved therefore 
is to get the teller away from that pigeon hole, if only 
for a moment. To call the teller outside to a carriage 
would simply cause him to lock the wicket at the 
pigeon hole and thus spoil the chances of robbery 
completely ; to call him away to any distance would 
also result in the same thing. Now enters the stall 
with his suavity and ingenuity. We will assume that 
the money is near the receiving teller s window and 
that no one is near either the window of the paying 
or receiving tellers. The " stall " will take from his 
pocket a genuine ten or twenty dollar United States 
note and, stepping to the window of the paying teller, 
address that official about as follows : 

" I have just been over to the U. S. Treasury, 
and they told me that this note is a counterfeit and 
it being such a good genuine-looking note, I thought 
I would just step in and let you and the receiving 
teller take a good look at it." The paying teller takes 
the note, and surprised at the genuineness of its 
appearance, calls the receiving teller over to examine it. 

As the receiving teller leaves his position, the 
"sneak," who has been preparing himself by purchas 
ing a soap box at some neighboring grocery, now 


proceeds to perform his duty. The "sneak/ 1 who 
has wrapped the box in newspapers, has been standing 
at a desk outside, busily engaged in counting some 
money. No sooner, however, has the paying teller 
answered the call of his associate, than the "sneak" 
noiselessly carries the box to the counter, and setting 
it on the floor, leaps upon it and in a twinkling has 
taken all the money within his reach which he can 
readily grasp. Stepping down as quickly, he walks 
out of the door carrying his box along witji him. He 
does this in order to leave nothing behind him which 
would give a clue to the officers, who would seek out 
the grocer who sold the box, and thus obtain a descrip 
tion of the individual who purchased it. 

Sometimes the money is placed a short distance 
from the window, too far away to be reached by the 
hand, and in that case a cane and sometimes two 
joined together with a screw, with an iron hook at 
the end, is used. It is astonishing how successfully 
the thieves have worked an operation of this kind, 
and frequently hours have elapsed before the loss is 
discovered, and then too late to determine how the 
money disappeared or by whom it was taken. 

The above recitals detail fully the operations of 
sneak thieves upon the vaults and money of banking 
institutions, and we. will now consider their modes of 
operating upon individuals, 



Gentlemen who transact business with banks, 
safe deposit companies and other financial institu 
tions of the country are especial object of attack from 
the sneak thieves. The manner in which this frater 
nity operate upon a gentleman, who is either making 
a deposit or drawing a check at a bank, is at once 
simple and generally successful, and many sharp 
business men, who have deemed themselves proof 
against the advances of the wary thief, have been 
robbed of large sums of money by a process which 
would seem to be almost impracticable. 

In the thieves parlance this operation is termed 
a " turn trick," and consists in the clever act of turn 
ing a man away from his money, in order to enable 
the thief to make off with it. 

To illustrate : a man receives a check for a cer 
tain sum of money, and for the purpose of receiving 
notes for the oblong piece of writing which represents 
the amount to which he is entitled, he goes to the 
bank, and presenting his check to the teller, requests 
the money. The obliging official Counts out the 
required number of notes to satisfy the claim of the 
gentleman, and politely hands them over to the wait 
ing claimant. It is but natural that the receiver of 
the money should re-count it, in order to be assured 
that no mistake has been made, and that he has 
received all that he was entitled to. In all well 


regulated banks, desks are provided for this purpose, 
and the gentleman carries his money over to the desk 
and proceeds to verify the count of the bank officer. 
Of course the thieves have watched this transaction 
very carefully, and when the gentleman lays his money 
upon the desk, they are prepared for action. We will 
assume that the gentleman has received five thousand 
dollars in ten dollar bills, and that they are in pack 
ages of five hundred dollars each. Placing the money 
in front of him, he takes one of the packages in his 
hand and proceeds to count. This is the thieves 
opportunity. The "sneak " immediately takes his 
position behind the man, and in such a manner that 
he will not be seen on either side, the " stall " then 
appears, and dropping a ten dollar bill upon the floor 
on the opposite side from where the money is lying, 
and about three feet in the rear of the man at the 
desk, politely touches the man upon the shoulder 
and inquires : " Is that money yours, sir ?" and then 
walks away. The man will instinctively turn round, 
and seeing the note upon the floor, with no one near 
to claim it, and impressed with the fact that he must 
have dropped it, will stoop to pick it up. As he 
turns around, the sneak who has been carefully 
watching his movements steps toward the money, 
and as the gentleman stoops, he raises about three- 
fourths of the pile of money, and at once makes his 


way rapidly out of the bank. He does not take all 
of the money, for the reason that if the man was to 
notice the entire disappearance of his funds, he would 
immediately rush for the door and seize the first man 
going out. If, however, he finds part of his money 
remaining, he may not at first glance notice any 
diminution of it, or if he does, he will naturally desire 
to see how much is gone, and that second look has 
occupied time enough to permit the thief to gain the 
street, and he is out of sight in a second. 

The dropping of a bill is not the only means re 
sorted to by the " stall," to attract the attention of 
the man to be robbed. Sometimes he will have a 
check drawn upon another bank ; he will then ap 
proach the individual who is counting his money, and 
holding out the check, will inquire in the blandest 
tones : 

11 Can you tell me where I will go to find this 
bank ?" 

The gentleman thus addressed will naturally turn 
to see upon what bank the check is drawn, and as he 
does so, the " stall " will step- back a short distance, 
which will require the man to turn almost completely 
around in order to read the check, and while he is 
doing this, the "sneak " makes off with bis money. 

Another method is to suddenly accost a man who 
is counting money, with the inquiry as to which 


pigeon hole he will have to call at, in order to obtain 
a draft, thus causing the man to turn around in 
order to point out the particular window at which 
the inquirer is to call. Some men, out of a pure 
desire to be of service to their fellows, have been 
known, on the impulse of the moment, to leave their 
money, and walk partly across the banking-room in 
order to point out the exact window to the doubtful 
inquirer. It is needless to add that this evidence of 
politeness is sadly repaid by the thieves, and that 
upon his return, he finds, to his dismay, that his 
money has entirely disappeared. 

The next individuals who receive the attentions of 
the sneak thieves are the depositors at a bank, and in 
many cases they have been successful in robbing a 
man in full view of half a dozen waiting depositors 
without any one perceiving the transaction. The 
manner in which this is done is generally as follows : 
A depositor on entering a bank will remove his bank 
book from his pocket, and take his place in the line 
of waiting depositors. At a number of banking in 
stitutions the receiving-teller, after receiving each de 
posit makes an entry in his book kept for the pur 
pose, and which is generally near his elbow, on the 
desk. And this entry is frequently made after he has 
returned the bank-book to the depositor whose 
money he has taken. As soon as a depositor re- 


ceives his book from the teller, he withdraws from 
the window and makes way for the gentleman behind 
him, who immediately steps forward and places his 
book in the pigeon hole, awaiting his turn to be at 
tended to. 

This is what the "sneak" has been waiting for, 
and should the teller pause before taking the book of 
the new-comer, to make some entry into his own 
book, he attempts a robbery. The stall" drops a 
bill on the floor and calls the gentleman s attention 
to it, and as he stoops to pick it up, the "sneak" 
steps up and in a flash makes off with the book which 
is lying in the pigeon hole, and with its entire con 
tents. The depositor, turning back to where he left 
book and money, will naturally come to the conclu 
sion that the receiving-teller has the book, and no ex 
posure is made until the teller requests the book of 
the surprised depositor. This style of robbery when 
cleverly executed has caused many a quarrel between 
depositors and receiving tellers for as soon as the 
teller has finished his entry in his own book, he will 
reach up for that of the next depositor, and not see 
ing it, will request that gentleman to hand it to him. 
The depositor will insist upon having passed it over, 
and the teller upon not having received it, and the 
controversy waxes warm in consequence. Meanwhile 
the thieves have made good their escape, and are 


probably regaling themselves upon the proceeds of 
their dishonesty. 

There have also been many instances where 
young men, having been sent to the bank for money, 
and having received it in notes, not in packages, have 
been "turned "by a bill on the floor, and the thief 
has stolen the larger portion of the money already 
counted ; the young man returned to his counting, and 
remembering the amount at which he stopped, has 
kept right on from the uncounted pile before him, 
and, finding the total correct, placed the money in his 
pocket, and returned to his place of business. 

When the employer, however, attempts to verify 
the account, he finds a very large shortage in the 
amount. The young man is positive that he counted 
the money correctly, and is certain that he could not 
have been robbed, as he kept his hand upon the 
money all the way from the bank. The young man, 
however, has forgotten the note he found upon the 
floor. The employer revolves the matter in his mind, 
becomes suspicious, and sometimes he has the young 
man arrested, hoping thereby to induce him to make 
a full confession, and restore the money of the steal 
ing of which he is entirely innocent. 

Another phase of sneak thieving is in the bank, 
when the gentleman who receives the money upon a 
check, requests the obliging teller to wrap the amount 


up in a parcel for him. The teller complies with the 
request, and makes the usual neat package wrapped in 
brown paper. The " sneak/ who has been watching 
every movement, and is fully prepared for an emer 
gency like this, draws from his pocket a piece of 
wrapping paper of exactly the same color, and with 
the aid of a few old newspapers, soon constructs a 
package precisely similar to the one handed by the 
teller to the gentleman at the window. Should this 
gentleman by any accident, or for any purpose, set 
this package down for a single moment, the watchful 
" stall " and " sneak" are upon him, and ere one can 
realize it, the victim has been successfully " turned," 
and the "sneak" has replaced the bundle of money 
by the package of newspapers, and decamped. The 
reason for the substitution of a similar package is 
quite plain ; for should the man miss the package, 
and find it entirely gone, he would immediately cause 
the arrest of both the thieves before they could get 
away; but by the means of a "dummy" package, 
men have been known to carry the valueless bundles 
of waste paper for miles, and never discover their mis 
take until reaching their destination. 



ANOTHER prolific source of profit to the sneak 
thieves, but rather more delicate and difficult 
of accomplishment than those recited above, is the 
robbery of individuals whose valuable securities are 
deposited in the vaults of those estimable and respon 
sible institutions known as " Safe Deposit Com 
panies." In all the large cities there exists one or 
more of these substantial edifices whose strong vaults 
are carefully guarded, and where the man of means 
may securely place his valuable papers and securities 
for a nominal sum. The value of these institutions 
to people of wealth cannot be over-estimated, and 
the security they afford is well worth the small sum 
which is annually charged for the use of their vaults. 
The vaults of these institutions are filled with 
innumerable compartments or small safes in which 
the individuals deposit their securities, and each 
depositor is furnished with a key which will unlock 
the particular safe which has been assigned to his use. 
One or more sturdy and reliable officers are con 
stantly on duty in these vaults, and as the deposi 
tors make frequent visits to their strong boxes these 
athletic guardians soon become familiar with the 


faces of their customers. Every safeguard is thrown 
around the property entrusted to the keeping of these 
Safe Deposit Companies, and it would seem almost 
an impossibility for any dishonest person to obtain 
admission to their vaults, and far more incredible 
that they should succeed in their efforts of robbery. 

Yet notwithstanding the many precautions that 
have been taken, the crafty thieves have not only 
obtained access to these vaults, but in several 
instances they have succeeded in robbing unsuspect 
ing depositors in a manner, which was both simple 
and reckless in the extreme. It is therefore a warn 
ing to both the companies and their depositors, that 
the following expose of the movements of the sneak 
thieves is made. 

In all these large institutions a room furnished 
with a number of small individual desks is set apart 
for the use and accommodation of their patrons, and 
the depositor, after receiving his strong box from the 
vaults, can take his treasures to one of these desks 
and there cut off his coupons or extract such securi 
ties as he may need for immediate use. 

In order to reach this room, a depositor must 
pass an officer who is stationed at the gate leading to 
this apartment, and who will not permit any one to 
enter with whom he is unacquainted or with whose 
face he is unfamiliar. It would seem to be there- 


fore, a most difficult task for the thief or thieves 
to obtain an entrance into these apartments, and 
it would appear as an act of foolhardy daring for 
my dishonest person to make the attempt. Such 
tdmissions, however, have been gained, and, I regret 
*o say, successful robberies have been perpetrated 
within the closely guarded walls of these very cham 

Among the large number of depositors of these 
institutions, there are many whose visits to the vaults 
are not very frequent, and sometimes two, or perhaps 
three months may elapse between their visits ; as a 
consequence of this, the. gate-keeper is sometimes 
unable to recall his face immediately, and deeming it 
impossible that anyone not fully entitled to enter, 
should present himself, he simply asks the applicant 
if he is a depositor, and being answered in a confident 
affirmative, he allows him to enter without further 
questioning. This is particularly apt to be the case 
if he has recently stopped a depositor, who was deter 
mined to satisfy him of his right to enter. The offi 
cer has a certain amount of pride in his ability to 
remember faces, and rather than confess his ignorance, 
will sometimes allow individuals to pass him without 
opposition. The " sneak" knows this, and sometimes 
will put himself in the way of the officer so as to be 
seen by him, but without attempting to enter, and 


apparently engaged in business with the company 
of another nature. 

About the time, however, that coupons are be 
coming due, and the number of visitors is consider 
ably increased, the " sneak," accompanied by a " stall," 
will present himself at the gate, and in a matter of 
fact manner will request admission. In his hand he 
carries a number of huge formidable looking envel 
opes of various colors, and he greets the gace-keeper 
with an affable nod and a smile of recognition, that at 
once disarms suspicion, and without the slightest dif 
ficulty he is admitted to the room reserved for the 
accommodation of depositors. The " sneak " and 
" stall," once inside of the room, proceed immediately 
to an unoccupied desk, and spreading their papers 
out, indulge in an earnest conversation, apparently 
upon some matters of business. Sometimes they will 
be engaged in looking over and assorting some papers. 
This is continued until they notice one of the regular 
depositors with his tin box open before him, perhaps 
engaged in cutting the coupons from some of the 
securities which the box contains. Carefully watch 
ing this gentleman, they will ascertain whether the 
securities he is handling are of a negotiable charac 
ter particularly if they are Government bonds, 
which are great favorites with the thieving fraternity. 
Satisfying themselves upon this point they will ap- 


proach him, the " stall " upon some ingenious pretext 
will then attract his attention or " turn " him away 
from his box, and while this is being done the sneak 
reaches over and quietly secures a package or two 
from the box and quickly starts for the door. If the 
victim has already examined the package taken, he 
may close his box and return it to the vault without 
noticing his loss. Should this be the case, his sur 
prise when next he has occasion to use these bonds 
may be better imagined than described. On discover 
ing his loss at this late day, it will be impossible for 
him to remember the trifling circumstance of a 
stranger asking him a question several months before, 
and the result is that he will fall back upon the bank, 
and will be ready to swear that his box has been 
robbed since he used it the last time, and he will be 
absolutely positive that the bonds were in the box 
when he last put it away. Safe Deposit Companies 
have been known to cover such losses, rather than suf 
fer the publicity and injury that would follow an al 
legation that their vaults were unsafe or that boxes 
intrusted to their keeping had been tampered with by 
dishonest persons. 

In some cases, in order to avoid danger and loss 
in this manner, the companies have arranged small 
private apartments in their buildings, where a deposi 
tor can be perfectly alone, and can lock himself in 


while engaged in handling his valuable property, or 
in detaching the coupons from his securities. 

From the above it will be seen that the utmost 
care is necessary to be observed by a person who 
avails himself of the conveniences of a Safe Deposit 
Company and by instantly suspecting any one who 
approaches them while engaged with their strong 
boxes, losses may be prevented and a successful rob 
bery completely frustrated. 

In appearance the sneak mob resemble a party of 
respectable business men, and their manner of con 
ducting themselves fully tends to confirm a belief in 
their respectability. They are always well dressed, 
but plainly and neatly so, and they never wear loud 
or decided colors or a profusion of jewelry. Never, 
if they can avoid it, do they come together while 
they are engaged at work and this is done in 
order that in case of any accident or the arrest of any 
one of the party, no connection will be discovered 
between him and his companions, which would lead 
to their arrest as associates. While working in the 
banks they assume an air of business activity, and 
either carry in their hands, bundles of papers and 
envelopes, or a small number of notes which they are 
apparently engaged in counting. While engaged in 
conversation with any person upon whom they are 
operating, should they notice that the party is suspi- 


cious or afraid of them, they upon the presentation of 
the first opportunity bow to the first fine-looking busi 
ness man who may be near to them. The gentleman 
thus addressed will naturally return the bow from the 
mere impulse of politeness, and the party who may 
be watching the thief will thus be thrown completely 
off his guard thinking as a matter of course, that if 
he is on such well-defined speaking terms with Mr. 
Money-bags or Mr. Good-credit he must, of neces 
sity, be above suspicion himself. 

As a rule, the members of a "sneak mob " room in 
first-class hotels, and always in separate apartments. 
They invariably travel first-class, though they never 
appear to be flush of money nor act in any manner 
that will attract undue attention. 

The above covers the general operations of the 
sneak thief, and his companions or stalls. A business 
man in his communications with banks and bankers, 
should always be upon his guard, and ever alert 
to the advances of those well-dressed sneaks whose 
general appearance and genuine air of business men 
are well calculated to deceive even the most careful. 
Do not stop to pick up notes that may be found upon 
the floor of a banking house, and never suffer your 
eyes to lose their vigilant watch upon the money you 
may be engaged in counting. If these instructions 


are remembered and followed, the sneak thief will soon 
find his gains decreasing and his occupation gone. 

To illustrate more particularly the practical modes 
of operation by this class of criminals, in another 
direction, I will relate the incidents of a daring and 
successful robbery, by sneak thieves, which took place 
in the city of New York during the month of January, 
1878, an account of which may prove interesting. 

Mr. James H. Bloodgood was a large and exten 
sive dealer in stocks, bonds and real estate, and in 
addition to this, was intrusted with the charge and 
management of numerous estates of wealthy decedents. 
His office was in one of the most active and bustling 
business portions of the city, within easy distance of 
the various exchanges and banks, and in a building 
occupied by a number of prominent men and business 
firms engaged in monetary transactions on a large 
scale. The interior of his office was furnished in a 
luxurious and expensive manner, with walnut furni 
ture, velvet carpets and a general tastefulness of 
arrangement that gave evidence of both wealth and 
refinement. Two large and handsome burglar-proof 
safes, of the most recent invention, occupied positions 


in this office and contained many articles of commer 
cial value and financial worth. 

On the day on which the robbery occurred, Mr. 
Bloodgood and his confidential clerk were both busily 
engaged at their respective duties. The elder gentle 
man had just returned from a visit to the Safe 
Deposit Company, and had withdrawn about $60,000 
worth of State bonds for the purpose of removing the 
coupons and collecting the interest which was then 
due. While he was thus engaged in detaching these 
coupons, a stranger entered the office and requested 
permission to consult a directory of the city, in order 
to ascertain the address of a gentleman whom he was 
desirous of finding. Mr. Bloodgood politely handed 
him the book, and after an examination of a few min 
utes, the stranger expressed his thanks and withdrew. 

Shortly after this episode, the clerk was des 
patched upon some errand, and during his absence 
another strange visitor came into the office, and 
inquired the value of a piece of property, which had 
been advertised for sale by Mr. Bloodgood. While 
this man was engaging Mr. Bloodgood in conversation 
regarding the merits of the property in question, that 
gentleman noticed that another person had entered 
the office, whose movements appeared to be suspicious. 

The State bonds were at that time lying exposed 
upon a desk in the front part of the room, and Mr. 


Bloodgood, imagining danger, gazed scrutinizingly at 
the new-comer, who, seeing that his movements were 
observed, stood still, apparently unconscious of the 
suspicions he had awakened. After a prolonged con 
versation about the terms of the sale of the property, 
the two strangers left together, and Mr. Bloodgood, 
finding that they were companions, thought no more 
of the singular actions of his visitor. The clerk 
returned soon after this, and Mr. Bloodgood then left 
his office to procure his lunch without mentioning the 
matter to the young man. 

Within a few minutes after the departure of Mr. 
Bloodgood, a gentleman, whom the clerk instantly 
recognized as the individual who had previously in 
quired for the directory, came in and informed the 
young man that there was a lame gentleman in a car 
riage in front of the building who was desirous of see 
ing Mr. Bloodgood. After questioning the man, and 
learning from him that the business of the crippled 
caller was urgent, and that he was in a hurry, the 
clerk stated that he would go down and attend to his 
wants. He turned to get his hat from where it was 
hanging upon the wall, and as he did so the man went 
out through the door and disappeared. The clerk 
closed and locked the door of the office after him, and 
descended to the street, where he found a pale-faced 
gentleman in a carriage, who appeared to recognize 


him, and called to him to approach the window of the 
vehicle in which he was seated. The stranger ex 
plained that he desired to make a purchase of another 
piece of property owned by Mr. Bloodgood, and as 
he appeared to be perfectly posted as to its location, 
size and marketable value, the clerk suspected noth 
ing, and their colloquy was quite prolonged. Finally, 
the invalid, having concluded all the arrangements that 
were considered necessary at that time, requested the 
clerk to mention the matter fully to Mr. Bloodgood 
when he returned, and then, putting his head out of 
the window, he directed the coachman to drive on. 

As the clerk returned to his office he met the man 
who had conveyed the message to him coming down 
the stairs, but, thinking nothing of this, he continued 
his ascent, and arrived at the door of the office. Here 
he was confronted with a scene of confusion which at 
once filled him with alarm. The door of the office 
had been forcibly broken ; the doors of the safes, 
which were always unlocked during the day, were 
standing wide open, and their contents scattered 
promiscuously about the floor. Hastily entering the 
room he discovered, to his further dismay, that the 
$60,000 worth of bonds were missing, and that the 
safes had been rifled of their valuable contents. In 
stantly his suspicions fell upon the man whom he had 
met on the stairs, and the lame man who had called 


him to the carriage, and giving a loud alarm he rushed 
frantically down the stairs in the hope of overtaking 
them before they had succeeded in getting away. He 
was too late, however. The carriage was standing a 
few doors from the office, but the invalid and his ac 
complice had disappeared. The driver, on being 
questioned, stated that he knew nothing of the man, 
except that he had been engaged to drive him to this 
locality, and that he had left the carriage a few min 
utes before, stating that he would shortly return. 

Disconsolately the clerk made his way back to the 
despoiled office, where he was soon rejoined by Mr. 
Bloodgood, who had returned from his lunch in bliss 
ful ignorance of what had transpired during his ab 
sence. A hurried examination was at once made, and 
the result proved that bonds and securities amounting 
to nearly two hundred and fifty thousand dollars had 
been carried off by the daring thieves. 

In a state of excitement bordering almost upon 
frenzy, Mr. Bloodgood rushed to my Agency, and 
hurriedly detailed the facts above related, and re 
quested that the most active measures should be im 
mediately taken to discover the thieves and, if possi 
ble, to rescue the stolen property. 

Anxious that no time should be wasted in getting 
to work, Robert visited the office of Mr. Bloodgood, 
and made a careful examination of the place. From 


what could be discovered, and further information 
that was given, it was evident that the work had 
been performed by a gang of expert sneak thieves, 
who had laid their plans with a skill which bespoke 
the ingenious and daring professional. 

Prior to this occurrence I had received informa 
tion of the arrival of several professional thieves of 
this particular character, and as many of these men 
were known to me from previous experience, it was 
resolved to look them up at once. Operatives were 
immediately despatched to the localities which this 
class of thieves usually frequented, and Mr. George 
A. Bangs and my son Robert, made every prepara 
tion for a vigorous prosecution of our search. 

Both Mr. Blooclgoocl and his clerk were fortu 
nately able to give accurate descriptions of the men 
who had entered the office, and the clerk distinctly 
remembered the features of the alleged lame man 
with whom he had conversed while the robbery was 
being perpetrated. The hackman was also found, 
and his description of the man he had conveyed to 
Mr. Bloodgood s office agreed perfectly with that al 
ready given, and from all accounts which could be 
gained, I felt reasonably sure of the indentification of 
the two men, if I could succeed in reaching them. 
These descriptions, however, and the knowledge I 
had previously gained, of the arrival of a certain 


party of thieves, some of whom were known to me, 
were all the clues that I possessed on which to build 
a plan of detection, but I resolved to push the mat 
ter with the utmost boldness, and eventually unearth 
the scoundrels if it was possible to do so. 

There is a peculiar feature about professional 
sneak thieves, which is perhaps not generally known. 
They, as I have already intimated, form themselves 
into organized bands or gangs, and as a general rule 
establish their resting headquarters in New York or 
some other large city. From this point they travel 
throughout the country, ever on the alert for oppor 
tunities for stealing where violence is not necessary 
in order to effect their objects. These bands or 
gangs seldom exceed five men in membership, who con 
stitute one of their number as a leader, and by whose 
name they are generally known. The commands of 
this temporarily constituted leader must be implicitly 
obeyed when they are at work, but in all other re 
spects a perfectly equal copartnership exists be 
tween them, and the spoils are divided in a fair and 
equitable manner. A number of these gangs had 
been seen in New York immediately prior to this 
robbery, and the investigations of my men during 
the three days that followed this event, proved con 
clusively that one of them had mysteriously disap 
peared from the city. A comparison of their des- 


criptions fully confirmed our previous suspicion, and 
speculation soon resolved itself into a certainty. 

The band who had thus disappeared, was known 
to be composed of four men, who had been con 
nected together and had been engaged in thieving 
practices for a number of years, and some of whom 
had on more than one occasion suffered imprison 
ment. The names of these suspected men were* 
Henry Miles, James Dougherty, William Shields and 
Joseph Bennett, but their numerous aliases were in 
genious and often euphonious. 

Having decided definitely that these parties were 
the guilty ones, plans were at once set on foot which 
were believed would prove the most efficacious, in 
leading to the acquirement of reliable information of 
their whereabouts, and ultimately to their capture. 

Full publicity had been given to the fact of the 
robbery, and the financial circles of the country had 
been furnished with a list of the securities stolen, and 
duly warned against negotiating any of them, in case 
they should be offered for sale ; and having thus 
taken means to stop any disposition being made of 
the bonds, and to apprehend any one attempting to 
sell them, we commenced our search for the criminals. 

Our only preliminary course under the circum 
stances was to inaugurate a vigorous and diversified 
system of shadowing. Every person known to have 


been in communication with these suspected parties 
was placed under the watchful surveillance of my 
operatives men in almost every conceivable garb, 
visited the haunts of the criminal classes which infest 
a great city, and all who were recognized as previous 
associates of the robbers were closely watched by 
expert detectives, whose movements excited no sus 
picion, but who followed them through all their daily 
and nightly wanderings. 

There was one man who was known to have been 
formerly a member of this particular band, and it was 
supposed that he might still be in communication 
with them. This man was named Edward Marston, 
and he was naturally made a special object of espion 
age by my watchful men. 

After a guarded but persistent inquiry it was 
learned that Edward Marston had ostensibly given 
up the criminal life he had led for so many years and 
was now living in retirement with his family, in some 
respectable section of the city, the exact location of 
which could not at first be discovered. After a time, 
however, he was met upon the street by one of my 
men, and being stealthily followed was seen to enter 
a neat brown-stone residence in upper New York- 
being a portion of the city occupied almost exclu 
sively by people of unquestioned respectability. His 
dwelling-place being thus fortunately ascertained, a 


watch was placed upon the premises and every one 
seen to enter or leave the house was shadowed 
by persistent detectives. 

In the meantime, I had not been idle in other 
directions. All the police authorities in the various 
cities in the country had been communicated with ; 
the suspected parties had been fully described, and 
they were requested to acquaint me of the fact, 
should any of them make their appearance in these 
localities, but as yet nothing had been heard from 
them from any quarter. Their escape and disappear 
ance appeared to be as complete as it had been rapid. 

After shadowing the residence of Edward Marston 
for nearly two weeks, our efforts were rewarded by 
the appearance of an individual who was destined to 
prove of great value to us, in the pursuit in which we 
were now engaged. This individual was none other 
than the reputed wife of Joseph Bennett, one of the 
suspected thieves. She was a dashing and beautiful 1 
young woman, and it was alleged had frequently 
assisted her husband in his nefarious work. This 
woman received a great deal of attention in a very 
quiet way from my men, and not many days elapsed 
before their vigilance was rewarded. From her 
actions it was evident that she was contemplating a 
journey. On one of her shopping excursions, she 
purchased a trunk which was sent to her place of 


residence, and at various times she made other pur 
chases which indicated that she was preparing to leave 
the city. At length, on one bright sunny morning in 
April, Mrs. Bennett left her home in a carriage, on 
the top of which safely reposed the trunk which had 
been noticed by the detectives ; and at a short dis 
tance behind her followed a gentlemanly looking 
fellow, whose occupation would not have been sus 
pected, but who designed traveling by the same train 
that carried the dashing beauty, if it was possible to 
do so. 

The lady drove to the ticket office of one of the 
railways, and the detective approached as near as 
possible in order to learn her destination. He was 
able to hear her inquire for a ticket to Baltimore, 
and he immediately purchased a diminutive piece of 
card-board which entitled him to travel to the same 
city. Following the lady into the train, the detective 
seated himself in the coach behind the one occupied 
by Mrs. Bennett, through the windows of which he 
could plainly keep her in view, and at the same time 
escape being seen by her. 

No event of any importance transpired until the 
city of Baltimore was reached, and here Mrs. Bennett 
was met at the depot, by a man who was apparently 
awaiting her arrival, and who appeared to be well 
acquainted with her. They talked earnestly together 


for a few minutes, and then, making arrangements for 
the transfer of the lady s baggage, they proceeded to 
the Washington depot, where a ticket was procured 
for Petersburg, Virginia, and the detective, following 
her example, found himself again a traveler in com 
pany with the wife of the suspected thief. 

Without accident or delay the city of Petersburg 
was reached, and the detective had the satisfaction of 
seeing the lady safely deposited at Jarrett s Hotel, 
before making any attempt at domiciling himself. 
Having entirely escaped the notice of Mrs. Bennett, 
and having attracted no unusual attention to himself, 
the operative at length decided to secure quarters 
under the same roof with the lady, and thus be 
enabled to note more particularly whatever transpired. 

The next day the wisdom of our pursuit was proven, 
for the lady was then joined by her husband, and the 
operative immediately telegraphed this important fact 
to my New York Agency, Upon receipt of this 
intelligence, Robert, in company with another opera 
tive, set out to join the parties at Petersburg. The 
papers necessary to effect the arrest of the parties 
were duly procured, and my son and his associate 
arrived at Petersburg fully authorized and determined 
to act decidedly in the matter, should occasion war 
rant it. 

At the depot they were met by the operative, who 


conveyed the gratifying intelligence that Henry Miles 
and James Dougherty had also arrived, and were 
now the guests of the same hotel with Mr. and Mrs. 
Bennett To avoid a premature recognition, Robert 
located himself in a portion of the city, some distance 
from the hotel, and arranged for prompt communica 
tion in case Mr. Shields, the remaining member of the 
band, should make his appearance, or if the others 
evinced any disposition to leave the city. 

This question was fully arid satisfactorily decided 
on the following morning, when William Shields, 
looking as rosy and innocent as a child, arrived in 
town and proceeded directly to the Hotel, where 
he was assigned a room in close proximity to the 
others who had preceded him. 

The time for decisive action had now arrived, and 
after dark that evening, Robert procured the services 
of two members of the city police, and repaired to the 
hotel, directing the men to approach the premises 
singly, in order to avoid creating any curiosity or 
alarm. It was nine o clock when they reached their 
destination, and one of my operatives who had been 
constantly on the alert, informed Robert that the 
entire party were now in the room occupied by 
Bennett and his wife, and were evidently having a 
very pleasant time. 

Noiselessly the men ascended the stairs, and on 


arriving at the door of the room, Robert knocked 
sharply for admittance. The men were arranged 
directly behind him, in order to follow him in at 
once. So assured did the occupants feel of their im 
munity from pursuit, that without delay or inquiry, 
Shields sprang to the door, and quickly unlocking it, 
stood gazing in stupefied astonishment at the scene 
which met his view. 

Directing one of the men to secure him, Robert 
pushed forward and entered the room followed 
closely by the others. The party were all assembled, 
and from appearances, had been engaged in a friendly 
game of cards, while a decanter of liquor and sev 
eral glasses were arranged upon another small table 
in the room. 

Bennett uttered an oath and sprang to his feet, 
as if with the intention of offering some resistance 
to the unwelcome intruders ; but a glance at his two 
companions, who had already been secured, warned 
him that any attempt of that kind, would be as un 
availing as it might be dangerous. The officers be 
fore him were fearless and determined, and finding 
how fruitless his efforts would be, he quietly sub 
mitted and allowed himself to be secured. 

The advent of the officers was a complete surprise 
to the baffled thieves, for until their unexpected 
entrance, they had no suspicion that their hiding- 


place was known, or, in fact, that they had been con 
nected with the robbery at all. 

All their baggage was at once secured, and the 
entire party were marched to the jail to await an in 
vestigation. Robert and the Chief of Police then 
made an examination of the effects of the prisoners, 
and their search was soon rewarded with the most 
gratifying success. In the bottom of the trunk, which 
Mrs. Bennett had brought with her, was found a larje 

o o 

tin box securely locked, and on forcing the lid, the 
officers were delighted to find every identical se 
curity that had been taken from Mr. Bloodgood s 
office. Not a single bond was missing, and the re 
covery was a matter of sincere congratulation to the 
men who had thus run the thieves to earth. Nor 
was this all, for after removing the bonds and papers 
of Mr. Bloodgood, they found another package neatly 
inclosed in an oil-skin wrapper, and marked in rough 
characters, with the words : " This is another lot of 
stuff." Upon opening this package, the detectives 
discovered the evidences of another large robbery, for 
its contents consisted of $51,000 in United States 

Of course no further evidence was required of the 
guilt of the prisoners, and on the following day, they 
were conveyed to New York City where they were 
duly committed to await their trial. 


Inquiries in regard to the United States bonds, so 
unexpectedly discovered, led to the revelation that 
the National Bank of Courtland, New York, had been 
robbed in the month of July preceding the theft of 
Mr. Bloodgood s securities, and a list of the stolen 
bonds corresponded fully with those found in the 
strong box at Petersburg. They were immediately 
returned to the Bank officers, who were profusely 
grateful for their recovery, all hopes of which had 
long ago been abandoned. 

The trial of the thieves took place in due time, 
and after a full hearing, the parties were convicted 
and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. That 
prison discipline will be at all beneficial to them, I have 
grave doubts, and I shall not be surprised if at some 
time in the future, I am called upon to pursue them 
for similar crimes, and I sincerely hope with similar 

Mr. Bloodgood s gratitude was unbounded, and 
his joy at the recovery of his lost securities was unre 
strained, and I am of the firm opinion that never 
again in his buiness career, will he be indiscreet 
enough to allow valuable papers to be exposed in his 
office so recklessly as to tempt the cupidity of inquir 
ing strangers. 


The Thief and His Companion. An Attractive Female. Slum 
bering Passengers. An Innocent Accomplice. Searching for 
the Thief. Mr. Potter Loses some Diamonds. Mr. Bangs on 
the Trail. A Remarkable Discovery. A dvice to Travelers. 

TIME and again, and at intervals too frequent for 
the public safety, come the reports of rob 
beries committed upon the various railways through 
out the country, and in every instance they have been 
perpetrated upon the famous palace cars, which are 
now so extensively patronized by that portion of the 
public who are able to afford the luxury of their supe 
rior appointments. In my own experience, I have 
had a number of such cases reported to me, and in my 
perusal of the journals of the day, I have found the 
records of many more. For the benefit, therefore, of 
those who have occasion to make long journeys, and, 
perhaps, carry large sums of money about their per 
sons, I will detail the methods of the expert thieves, 
whose operations have heretofore been only too suc- 


cessful, and whose detection at the time has seemed 
to be a matter of impossibility. 

The thief who commits these acts of robbery is 
generally accompanied by his wife, or a female com 
panion, although during their journey no one would 
suspect an intimacy, or even an acquaintance between 
them, so studiously do they avoid each other. 

Their mode of proceeding is about as follows: 

In every case the thief and his companion endeav 
or to secure the forward sleeper, or the one immedi 
ately behind the passenger coaches, and they never 
engage a berth at the ticket office in advance. The 
reasons for this are obvious. In the first place, they 
would thus incur the risk of being assigned to the 
rear coach ; but what is of more importance, there 
would be the imminent possibility of their being sep 
arated, and it is utterly essential to the proper work 
ing of their scheme, that both the man and the 
woman should be assigned to the same car. 

The first consideration is for the female compan 
ion of the thief to inquire of the conductor whether 
she can secure the state-room for herself, or failing in 
that, an entire section is the last" resort. Should she 
be successful in this, she informs her companion of 
the fact by a prearranged signal, and he then secures 
a berth for himself in the same car. Thus far suc 
cessful, but little remains to be done until the pas- 


sengers have retired. In the meantime, however, the 
lady being alone, and, as is generally the case, young 
and attractive looking, becomes the object of consid 
erable solicitude and politeness from the conductor, 
who, like all of his sex, has a tender feeling for unpro 
tected beauty. To this gentleman, however, she is but 
distantly polite, and a few slight evidences of her con 
tempt for him are sufficient to convince him that his 
attentions in that quarter are distasteful, and he there 
fore leaves her alone. 

To the colored porter of the car, however, she is 
graciousness itself, and he, being but human, soon suc 
cumbs to the sweet smiles that are so lavishly be 
stowed upon him by the pretty and unprotected 
woman, who seems to rely so implicitly upon him. 

While the lady is thus deporting herself with the 
conductor and the porter, the male thief has not been 
idle. He has made a careful estimate of his fellow- 
passengers, and has satisfied himself as to which of 
them are the most profitable objects of attack. 

As the night advances, the passengers become fa 
tigued, and soon the porter is busily engaged in making 
up the berths for the night. During this operation the 
thief neglects no opportunity to carefully observe, 
if possible, the movements of those around him, in 
preparing themselves for slumber. He, however, re 
tires with the others, and soon all is perfect quietness, 


broken only by the labored breathing of the sleeping 

The time is now fast approaching for active work, 
and the female prepares to play her part with becom 
ing tact. The conductor has already retired, and 
only the porter is awake, engaged in one of the mani 
fold duties of his position. In a few moments he 
hears his name gently called, and he knows that the 
voice is that of his interesting and gracious lady-pas 
senger. Leaving his work he hastens to her, when 
the lady, slipping a generous fee into his hand, com 
plains of a sudden and distressing headache and re 
quests him to bring a cooling glass of water ; when he 
returns with the desired beverage, she invites him 
into the room, and in a piteous tone of suffering, re 
quests him to moisten her handkerchief with the 
water, and press it to her aching temples. Only too 
willing to be of service, the gentle-hearted porter 
complies with her entreaties, and for twenty minutes 
or half an hour, he is engaged in his kindly ministra 
tions. This is the opportunity for which the thief 
has been watching, and the moment that the porter 
steps into the section occupied by the lady, he com 
mences his operations. As he steps from his berth 
it would be impossible to recognize the smoothly 
shaven, and ministerial looking individual who had 
retired a short time before. In his stead there 


emerges from the flowing curtains a man wearing a 
large and bushy beard, which entirely conceals the 
lower part of his face, and with a large slouch hat, 
which gives him a brigandish appearance very dif 
ferent from the meekness of his previous deportment. 
He is fully dressed, and upon his feet are a pair of 
cloth slippers. His right coat-sleeve is rolled up as 
far as it can be done, and thus prepared, he springs 
for the couch of his first victim. 

As a general thing he finds the pocket-book or 
roll of money under the pillow, and in that case his 
success is of easy accomplishment, a few deft move 
ments and the property of the unconscious owner has 
changed hands completely and effectually. Many trav 
elers, however, retire to their berths, without remov 
ing their clothes, but if they are sound sleepers they 
can be robbed as easily and successfully as a person 
who disrobes provided they are not lying on the side 
on which they carry their funds. A few seconds will 
serve to enable a thief to ascertain the location of the 
valuables of a sleeper, and if they are unattainable, 
he does not waste any time upon that victim but im 
mediately seeks another. 

Should, however, a person who is being robbed, 
awaken, and the thief has calculated fully upon such 
a misfortune, his actions are as methodical as if no 
danger was to be apprehended. Affording the aroused 


sleeper an opportunity for a full view of his disguised 
face, the thief at once springs for the front platform. 
Here he quickly throws off his whiskers and slouch 
hat, and enters the passenger coach ahead in his nat 
ural state, with smooth face and a fine silk traveling 
cap, which he has worn under the slouch hat all the 
time. Proceeding to the smoking car, he coolly 
lights his cigar, and while he is enjoying the fragrant 
weed the alarm is being sounded. The porter and 
the aroused sleeper are both hurriedly questioned by 
the startled conductor. 

"Did you obtain a fair look at him?" is almost 
the invariable question. 

" Yes, and I would know him among a thousand," 
is the almost equally invariable reply. 

They both agree upon their description of the 
black whiskered robber, and a journey is at once 
made through the forward cars, for the purpose of 
identifying the bold marauder. While this search is 
going on, the thief, throwing away his cigar, leaves the 
smoking car and goes back to bed, passing the 
searching party on his way, and without a suspicion 
of his identity being entertained for a moment. 

When the thief and his companion purchase their 
tickets for the trip, they usually do so with the view 
of leaving the train at some large town or city, about 
daylight on the following morning. Preserving their 


appearance of being utter strangers to each other, 
they proceed to different hotels, and when night 
again arrives they are once more upon the road, pre 
pared to operate as circumstances shall provide. 

The mode described above is about the genera- 
plan adopted by the expert thief for the robbery of 
the passengers on the sleeping cars, although occa 
sionally a man will be found who operates entirely 
alone, and without any assistance whatever. This in 
dividual generally watches the ticket offices closely 
and should he notice a well-filled wallet in the hands 
of some prospective passenger, who is likely to prove a 
good mark, he immediately engages passage on the 
same train and in the same car with him. When all 
have retired for the night, the thief carefully watches 
the actions of the porter, while he is engaged in brush 
ing the shoes of the passengers, and if a favorable 
opportunity occurs, his work is accomplished in a 
flash, and the other passengers are left entirely unmo 
lested. Should the porter be too watchful while at 
work, the thief will patiently wait until the sable 
guardian is caught " cat-napping," and then his ob 
ject is quickly accomplished. The thief who operates 
alone, observes the same precautions with regard to 
disguises as detailed above, and his mode of proceed 
ing is similar in case of the awakening of his victim. 

Sometimes, however, the sleeping cars are made to 


bear the burdens of the wrongs of others, and robberies 
which never occurred are alleged to have taken place 
while the poor victim was asleep. A few years ago 
a case of this nature was reported to me, in which the 
amount involved was quite considerable. From the 
statements made to me at the time, it appeared that a 
young and highly respected gentleman, was the victim 
of the car thieves to the extent of nearly fifteen thou 
sand dollars. This young gentleman had been 
engaged for a long time with a prominent jewelry 
house in New York, and his especial branch of busi 
ness was the sale of diamonds and other precious stones 
to the trade throughout the Western country. In 
the pursuit of his vocation he frequently carried with 
him valuable gems, which aggregated in value many 
thousands of dollars. Careful and responsible to a 
remarkable degree, he enjoyed the fullest confidence 
of his employers, and no accident or misfortune ever 
befell him until the event which I am about to relate. 
Mr. Potter, for that was the young gentleman s name, 
had been upon one extended and very successful trip 
to the west, and having finished up his business, in an 
entirely satisfactory manner, was returning to New 
York, with the balance of his valuable samples, which 
were worth fully fifteen thousand dollars. The 
journey had been made in safety and without accidents 
until on the morning just before his arrival in New 


York, and upon the New York Central Railroad. Mr. 
Potter had arisen after a refreshing night s slumber, 
and made his toilet, when on reaching under his pillow 
for his vest, in which he carried his valuable stock- 
he was horrified to find that this article of his wearing 
apparel was missing. He had placed it there before 
retiring and now it was not to be found. The thief, 
whoever he was, had made thorough work of his rob 
bery this time, and had not only carried off the valu 
able booty, but the clothing as well. Mr. Potter s 
consternation and agony were unmistakable, and 
after a hurried but thorough search of the train, which 
it is needless to say was unsuccessful, the young man 
hastened to the establishment of his employers and 
in tearful tones, related the story of his great mis 

Prompt measures were at once resolved upon, and 
Mr. Potter was immediately conducted to my agency 
by the two gentlemen. Here he again related his 
experience, and the recital in no wise differed from 
his previous relation. By request he made his state 
ment in writing, and although fearfully agitated, he 
was enabled to declare on paper the occurrences 
exactly as they had been detailed before. Mr. Potter s 
employers were questioned, and they both united in 
expressing the utmost confidence in the young man, 
and were very urgent in their request for a thorough 


and vigorous investigation into the matter at as early 
a day as possible. 

Before evening every employee and passenger on 
the sleeping car which carried young Mr. Potter to 
New York, had been interviewed, and their state 
ments obtained in writing, and ere Mr. Bangs closed 
his eyes in slumber that evening, he had evolved a 
plan of detection, which he was fully prepared to put 
into operation on the following morning. The re 
sult is soon detailed. Within a week it was demon 
strated beyond doubt or question that the irreproach 
able and highly respected Mr. Potter had gambled 
away his valuable stock, in a single evening, in 
one of the prominent western towns, which he 
had been required to visit. Piece after piece, and 
stone after stone, had been staked at the gaming 
table and lost, and when morning dawned, he was a 
ruined man and a thief. Instead of acknowledging 
his crime, his mind was active in inventing expedi 
ents to escape the penalty of his dishonesty, and the 
story of the sleeping car robbery was the result. It 
was not successful, however, and on being confronted 
with the evidences of his guilt, the miserable man 
broke down and confessed everything. In less than 
a fortnight most of these stolen valuables had been 
returned to their owners, and the dishonest young 
salesman was suing for mercy at the hands of the 


trusting gentlemen whose confidence he had so meanly 
abused, and upon whose credulity he had so wan 
tonly impose. The above is only one of many cases 
in which the guilty have attempted to screen them 
selves from the consequences of their crimes by 
charging others with the deeds they themselves have 
committed, and it is but the truth to say that in al 
most every case detection has followed, and the really 
guilty have been brought to punishment. 

It is not the less true, however, that expert thieves 
find in the numerous and handsomely appointed pal 
ace cars, a bountiful field for their work, and the trav 
eler under all circumstances must needs be very care 
ful in the disposition of his valuables and money 
when he retires. Should a thief be discovered in 
the act, be assured that the smooth-faced man, who 
has only been in the smoking car, knows more about 
it than he cares to tell, and if there is an interesting 
invalid lady on the train, experience will certainly 
prove her complicity in the crime. 

In case of a robbery being discovered, therefore, 
in the morning, watch the passengers who leave the 
train early, and see if a gentleman whose clerical ap 
pearance would disarm suspicion, and a well dressed 
lady, who has claimed the kindly ministrations of the 
porter during the night, are not among the number. 
If so, rest assured that this delectable couple know 


more about your missing valuables than any other 
living human being. The conductors and porters of 
the palace cars are, as a rule, I am glad to say, hon 
est and above suspicion, and the thieves must be 
looked for elsewhere. 

If the traveler, therefore, will take due precau 
tions before retiring, or failing in that, will, if a suf 
ferer, follow the directions I have given above, rob 
beries will become few indeed, and the perpetrators 
can be readily detected, and promptly punished. 


Mississippi River Thieves. Preliminary Arrangements. The 
" Weeding " Process. Stop Thief !" Excuse my Mistake, I 
thought this was my Room." First Class and Second Class 
Thieves. Smooth Tongues and Fair Faces. The Middle- 
Aged Clergyman. Victimized Gamblers. 

THE traveling public of all kinds and classes 
seem to have been selected by the thief as 
fair victims, and every mode of travel is associated 
with more or less danger, from the presence of these 
dishonest experts. Upon the high seas, in the rail 
way carnage, and upon the palatial boats that ply 
the waters of our large navigable rivers, the thief is 
invariably found, and his operations are untiring. 
Many unsuspicious voyagers have been made the 
victims of this lawless fraternity, and upon discover 
ing their losses, are unable to recall a single individual, 
upon whom their suspicions would fall, with any 
reasonable degree of certainty. Men, also experi 
enced travelers, who have taken every legitimate pre 
caution against robbery, have been victimized as 
readily and successfully as their more unsophisticated 


neighbors, and have been equally at a loss to identify 
the thief, or to point out the individual who might be 
suspected of the crime. 

The numerous vessels that ply upon the waters of 
the Mississippi River, have perhaps afforded a more 
bountiful harvest to the thieves than any others, and 
for that reason have been more generally selected 
by the experts. Voyagers are numerous, and in the 
main they are disposed to carry large sums about 
their persons, consequently the thief usually finds a 
passage upon one of these boats a fruitful source of 

It seems almost incredible, the degree of immu 
nity from detection which these pilferers enjoy, yet 
it rarely happens that one of them is apprehended, 
and then, it is principally because his countenance 
has become familiar to the officers, and his pre 
vious presence on the boat has generally been fol 
lowed by losses to the other passengers. 

The steamboat-thief usually travels and operates 
alone, as from the nature of his business, he requires 
no assistance, and the presence of a partner might 
only lead to suspicion. He is generally a person of 
good address and apparently a well-to-do gentlemen 
who may be traveling either for business or pleasure. 
He is polite in his deportment, suave in his manners, 
and from his appearance and actions would never be 


supposed to be the villain he really is. As most of 
these boats are provided with watchmen, the first 
difficulty experienced by the thief is to secure either 
the absence or the obliquity of these officials. As is 
generally the case, however, he finds but little diffi 
culty in accomplishing his purpose in this direction. 
The men usually employed in such positions are. as a 
class, of exceedingly extravagant habits, and their pay 
is entirely inadequate to enable them to gratify their 
expensive taste and to maintain their luxurious 
notions of living. As a consequence of this, the thief 
usually finds that a wise bestowal of a twenty or fifty 
dollar bill is often productive of wonderful results. 

It must be noted, however, that there are many 
honorable exceptions to this rule, and that a majority 
of the officers, are men of the most sterling honor and 
unimpeachable integrity, whose silence or temporary 
absence could not be purchased at any price, or 
under any circumstances. It is unfortunate however, 
that there are numerous exceptions to this rule. 

Prior to commencing his work, the thief has several 
important preliminaries to arrange, before he can rely 
upon successful operations. One of these the " fix 
ing " of the watchmen I have mentioned. He must 
also observe the passengers carefully, in order to as 
certain who among the number, will most certainly 
prove the most remunerative " marks " or objects of 


attack. He is enabled to do this very easily and very 
satisfactorily on the average boat. 

Stationing himself within close proximity to 
the clerk s office, he can safely watch every pas 
senger who purchases a ticket or secures a state 
room. From the personal appearance, and from 
the display which the purchaser makes of his 
money, added to the long experience of the thief, he 
is thus enabled to discover not only the individual 
to be robbed with advantage, but also the number of 
the state-room he is to occupy. The keys to these 
rooms are usually hung upon an ornamental rack, 
arranged for the purpose, and in full view of the 
observant passenger. By these means the victim is 
both " marked " and located. 

As the locks to these state-rooms are mere pre 
tenses, in fact, which simply ensure privacy and not 
safety, the thief requires but a single instrument to 
assist him in his work. This instrument is a pair of 
the indispensable nippers and it frequently happens 
that the use of this implement is unnecessary. Most 
of the passengers have a deep-seated dread of fire, 
while on ship-board, and many of them leave their 
doors unlocked, so that in case of an alarm, no im 
pediment will prevent them from reaching the deck 
at the earliest possible moment. 

Having determined which of the passengers he 


will operate upon, the thief occupies his time in polite 
conversation or in reading until the time for retir 
ing arrives. The most experienced and expert opera 
tors generally commence their work at about one 
o clock in the morning. He removes all his super 
fluous articles of clothing, retaining only a woolen 
undershirt and his pantaloons. The reasons for this 
are two-fold in the first place he is enabled to move 
about readily and without making the slightest noise, 
and in the second place, if any of the officers or waiters 
should observe him coming out of a state-room, they 
would naturally imagine that he was in search of the 
water-closet, and pay no attention to him, and he in 
variably seeks that locality, if he attracts the notice of 
officials. It will be remembered that these state 
rooms have two doors, one of which opens into the 
cabin or saloon, and the other upon the outside into 
the passage-way which extends around the railing or 
gunwale of the boat. If the thief is working upon the 
same side of the boat on which his own state-room is 
situated, he always enters and leaves from the out 
side door and never under any circumstances from the 
inside or cabin. The labor of the steamboat thief is 
much lightened from the fact that passengers have 
but one place to hide their money, and that is under 
their pillows. They cannot put it under their mat 
tress as in hotel-apartments, for the reason that the 


berths are furnished with but a single mattress which 
rests upon springs. This the thief regards as an evi 
dence of great consideration and kindness on the part 
of the Boat Company, and his gratitude is so great 
that he never attempts to rob any of the officers. 

Obtaining an entrance into a state-room through 
the open door, or by the aid of his nippers, he at once 
places upon his face a crape mask which entirely con 
ceals his features, without interfering in the least with 
the clearness of his vision. A hurried examination is 
made of the clothing, and then if nothing is found, he 
carefully and swiftly inserts his bare arm under the 
pillow, and silently draws forth the coveted wallet. 
A first-class thief of this branch of the profession will 
never take jewelry under any circumstances. Securing 
the wallet he makes his way on the outside to his own 
state-room, and then applies what is known as the 
"weeding" process. " Weeding" consists in extract 
ing all the large bills from the wallet, and substituting 
small ones with which he is always supplied so 
that the bulk will be about the same as it was before. 
Hastily returning to the victim s state-room, he replaces 
the wallet, and then seeks for other prey all of which 
are treated in a similar manner until prudence calls a 
halt. The advantage of this "weeding" operation is, 
that passengers usually carry sufficient small change 
in their pockets to defray the expenses incidental to 


their trips, and rinding their wallet or pocket book 
apparently in the same condition as they left it their 
loss is seldom discovered until they leave the boat, 
and then, as a matter of course, the thief has vanished 
to parts unknown, and the poor victim is utterly 
unable to account for the strange metamorphosis which 
has taken place in his money. 

Should the loss, however, be discovered before the 
landing of the boat, and an alarm sounded, the thief 
himself is among the loudest to proclaim his own loss, 
and to demand restitution from the officers or the 
immediate apprehension oi the unscrupulous appro- 
priator of his money. 

The reason for putting on the crape mask, after 
the thief enters the state-room of his victim, is that in 
case he finds the occupant awake, he immediately 
steps back, and begging the gentleman s pardon, says 
that he was just returning from the water-closet, and 
has made a mistake in the room. If this excuse is 
received in good part by the disturbed passenger, all 
is well and he continues in his work never, however, 
troubling that party again during the night. If, on the 
contrary, the wakeful voyager is suspicious, the thief 
stops his labors at once, immediately retires to bed, 
and he will leave the boat at the first landing that is 
made. It will be seen therefore that the excuse of 
mistaking the room for his own would prove a very 


absurd one, if the person making it, presented himself 
with a crape mask upon his face. 

The rapidity and expertness of these thieves are 
remarkable, and frequently but a few seconds are 
required to relieve a sleeper of his money pouch, and 
in a half hour s active work, a thief can rob a dozen 
rooms and effect all the changes and returns that are 
necessary to secure him from suspicion or detection. 
It is a matter of fact, however, that none but the most 
expert professionals adopt this line of operation. 
Many cases have been reported to me in which the 
despoiled traveler did not discover his loss until he 
had reached his destination, and frequently his home 
and consequently, but little publicity was given to 
the robbery. This, it is needless to say, is much to 
the advantage of both the successful thief and the 
corrupt watchman, for in case of immediate discovery 
an investigation would be made, the result of which 
would be disastrous to the individual whose duty it 
was to be on the alert, and to preserve the safety of 
the sleeping voyagers. 

There are, however, a few river thieves who may 
be regarded as second-rate operators, and these in- 
dividvals will rob a passenger of everything in sight; 
money, jewelry, papers, and anything that purports to 
be of value ; but never nfrt"or nr > 1 i-n take anything fr^m 


under the pillows of their victims from their lack of suf 
ficient nerve, and the necessary amount of experience. 

Should a first-class thief discover one of this latter 
character on a boat, and he is quick to do so, he at 
once approaches him, and firmly cautions him against 
carrying on his depredations while on the trip, and 
then, with a burst of generosity, will bestow upon him 
a sum of money, and promise more when the trip is 
over, and the work is done. This caution is always 
accepted, and by this means he prevents the mistakes 
of an inexpert operator, whose detection would be 
compromising to himself, and secures the privilege of 
monopolizing all the fat wallets which may be within 
the range of his operations. 

In order, therefore, to be secure from the depreda 
tions of these marauders, I would warn all passengers 
upon the river boats, to carefully secure their money 
and valuables about their persons, and to lock their 
doors carefully when retiring. In these days of de 
pravity and wickedness it is dangerous to trust to any 
ideas of assured safety, and the necessity for caution 
in making traveling acquaintances is always immi 
nent. The smoothest tongue, and the fairest face 
may belong to the most desperate criminal, and an 
intimacy is sure to result in disaster. 

I remember a case which occurred some years ago, 
when gambling was much practiced upon these boats, 


and when large sums of money were frequently won 
and lost upon a single night. Upon the occasion I 
refer to, there were three noted gamblers upon the 
boat, and during the evening these men succeeded in 
each winning a considerable amount of money from 
their unsuspecting fellow passengers. On the boat 
was a middle-aged clergyman, whose smoothly- 
shaven face and sanctimonious air proclaimed him to 
be one of the most orthodox of religious teachers. In 
quiet but decided tones he condemned the practice of 
gambling, and with solemn words of warning he en 
deavored to induce his companions to desist from 
indulging in the vices and hazards of play, all to no 
avail, however. The fascination was too great to 
be overcome, and with a sad face the holy man with 
drew from the cabin, and sought communion with his 
thoughts on deck. When midnight arrived, however, 
and the games were closed, many of the passengers, 
whose whitened faces and glassy eyes betokened loss 
and remorse, were inclined to wish that they had lis 
tened to the admonitions of the warning clergyman. 
In the morning there was a loud alarm, and a hue and 
cry that rivalled bedlam with its confusion. The 
winning- gamblers were wild and furious ; oaths and 

o o 

imprecations broke from their lips in an incessant tor 
rent, and dire vengeance was threatened upon some 
one whose actions had caused this strange uproar. 


Inquiry developed the fact that during the night the 
state-rooms of the successful gamblers had been en 
tered. They had drank deeply, and therefore slept 
soundly, and when they awoke in the morning, they 
discovered to their dismay that their enormous win 
nings of the night before, together with their own 
money, had disappeared. An investigation followed, 
and then it transpired that the solemn faced clergy 
man had left the boat just about daylight, and had 
left behind him in his state-room the following epistle : 

" To the children of the Evil One : Beware of 
the vices of gambling ; for if you earn the wages of 
sin, the Christian minister will levy the toll of the 

This, no doubt, fully explained the cause of the 
disappearance of the money, and the departure of the 
robber. The clerical looking monitor had decamped 
with nearly fourteen thousand dollars, and, so far as 
I know, was never apprehended. 



House Breaking as a Fine Art. A Quotation from Dickens. The 
English and American Professional Contrasted, Preparations 
and Places A Kit of Tools. Gaining an Entrance. The 
Jointed Key. Large Footprints. Servants as Accomplices. 
" Over the Garden Wall" 

AMONG the numerous branches of crimimal 
practice in existence at the present day, there 
is one that seems destined never to die out or to fall 
into disuse, as long as humanity abide in habitations. 
From the very first inception of crime, this particular 
class, viz : the house burglars and midnight robbers, 
have existed, and their operations reach all classes of 
the community. Anyone, be they of high or low 
degree, who may unfortunately possess anything 
worth stealing, is liable to the unexpected and unwel 
come visits of the house-breaker and the burglar. 
Locks and chains, bolts and bars, alike are of no 



avail in preventing the entrance of these midnight 
robbers. When darkness and silence are brooding 
over the city when happy families have composed 
themselves for the peaceful slumbers which a day of 
toil has earned, the cracksman sallies forth, and 
while a world is wrapt in dreams, he noiselessly pur 
sues his ignoble calling. Silently he plunders his 
-unconscious victims, and then stealing away he leaves 
to the light and sunshine of another day the disco very 
of his visit and the losses which have followed his 

Dickens has immortalized a Bill Sykes and a 
Toby Crackitt, and through his wonderful genius we 
have learned much of the social life of this class of 
criminals, and it is a lamentable fact that these two 
characters are not isolated instances or mere crea 
tures of the imagination. Every city is swarming 
with a horde of these reckless men who live by plun 
dering their unfortunate neighbors in the darkness of 
the night. 

Sleeping or carousing during the day, when 
honest men are toiling for the rewards of their labor, 
and the sustenance of life these desperate prowlers 
crawl from their lairs when the midnight bells are 
tolling, and like the wolves of the forest seek their 

To prevent the depredations of these thieves 


seems to be almost impossible, and incessant vigi 
lance and prompt punishments when detected have 
proven to be the only safeguards against their suc 
cessful operations. While therefore, I am unable to 
prescribe the infallible ounce of prevention, I may 
at least suggest the homely pound of cure, and by 
acquainting the public with the mode of operation of 
these criminals, I may serve to promote the detection 
of the offenders by showing how their depredations 
are committed. 

Romance and tradition have for a long period of 
time, accredited the cracksmen with being the most 
expert in their profession, but the experiences of late 
years have dispelled this delusion, and English and 
American detectives alike, have conceded that for 
perfect and ingenious work the American house 
breaker is far more expert and daring than his trans 
atlantic competitor. This distinction is by no means 
an honorable one, but that it is justly deserved, the 
records and detective experiences of both countries 
abundantly prove. 

The English burglar spends more time in watch 
ing and locating the policemen and watchmen upon 
the outside of the premises he designs to enter, and 
in getting his numerous and superfluous tools ready 
for manipulation, than the American would require to 
effect an entrance and rob an entire house. The 


English thief, like his more honest compatriot, is 
slow, methodical, and above all, a devotee to rule and 
precision. The American, on the contrary, only con 
siders the quickest practical way of securing his 
object and adopts it at once. The Briton invariably 
travels with his gang of three and often four mem 
bers, while the Yankee in any case never requires, 
and will not accept the services of more than a single 
partner. The case has yet to be recorded where an 
English cracksman ever attempted a midnight rob 
bery alone and unassisted, but the instances are 
numerous where an American burglar has repeatedly 
effected hazardous operations without aid or help 
from any one. These, of course, are cases in which 
the most expert or the most reckless have distin 
guished themselves, but as a general rule the Ameri 
can house-breakers travel in couples and their work 
is usually quickly, cleverly and thoroughly executed. 
Of late years, through the vigilance of the police 
and detective authorities, the residents of large and 
populous cities have rarely been troubled by these 
unwelcome visitors, but those of the larger towns and 
villages are perpetual sufferers from their unexpected 
incursions. American burglars of the advanced type 
of the present day, have been known to deliberately 
plan a complete tour of burglaries, and. their track 
could be legibly traced from New York to Chicago, 


and the more ambitious and thriving villages of the 
far West. It must not be imagined that these are 
mere random selections, or the result of ignorant 
guess work. On the contrary, every house that has 
been entered along the route has been carefully 
examined in advance, and the preliminaries arranged 
with a nice regard for successful and fruitful results. 
The usual plan of these knights of darkness, who 
decide to work their way through the country, is to 
delegate one of their number to travel in advance, and 
by stopping a day or two in each place, and mak 
ing ingenious inquiries from the keepers of saloons, 
hotel clerks and others, gain a complete knowledge 
of the wealth and habits of the most prominent resi 
dents of the localities in which he may rest. Obtain 
ing this necessary information, this advance agent 
awaits the arrival of his partners, and when they ap 
pear upon the scene he points out to them the most 
available objects of attack, acquaints them with the 
details he has acquired, and then leaves the town 
himself, upon the next train. The reason for this is 
that should the mysterious appearance and questions 
of this man lead to his being suspected, should he be 
hunted down in the event of a pursuit, he can readily 
prove that at the time the robbery was committed, 
he was far distant from the scene, and quietly enjoy 
ing himself at a hotel in an entirely different locality. 


Under these circumstances it would be impossible to 
connect him with the crime, and his innocence is 
clearly established. 

Another consideration of importance to the 
thieves, is to select a town where a railroad train will 
pass through during the early hours of the morning, 
as this enables them to get safely away, frequently 
before the robbery is discovered, and certainly before 
suspicion attaches to them. As they are not burdened 
with any amount of superfluous tools or baggage, 
and never carry away any stolen articles but money, 
bonds or valuable jewelry, their appearance would 
not be noticeable and their baggage would be light. 

If the burglars are about to attempt operations 
upon a place, about which they have received no 
definite information, and are in ignorance of the 
general character and wealth of their victims, they 
usually select some first-class block, and if there is 
an empty house in the vicinity, they will enter this, 
and then from the rear of this building operate upon 
their chosen mark from the back entrance. If, how 
ever, the houses are all occupied, which is generally 
the case, they will endeavor to secure a furnished 
room or board and lodging in some part of the block 
in question, and if they succeed in this, they make it 
a rule never to attempt to rob any of the inmates of 
the house in which they may be domiciled, no 


matter how great the temptation, for this would at 
once lay them open to suspicion. 

The tools which are used by an expert American 
house-breaker are very few, and consist of a very 
light and ingeniously constructed folding ladder, 
about thirteen feet long, which can be folded up to 
the length of two feet, and readily packed in an 
ordinary trunk or valise, two small jimmies, a pair 
of nippers, a small gimlet, a set of small bureau picks, 
a joint$4 k@y, a thin glaze knife, some common 
matches and a few yards of strong twine. Thus 
equipped, he is prepared to plunder an entire town, 
if sufficient time is afforded him. 

If the burglars have secured lodgings in the block, 
they generally commence operations as early as 
possible after the inmates have retired to rest. The 
man who is to enter the building dresses himself in 
soft woolen clothes, they making little or no noise 
in the apartment of the sleepers upon whom he 
intends to work. It has been demonstrated that in 
the stillness o midnight or the early hours of the 
mo-rning, the rustling noise made by a starched white 
shirt has frequently aroused the sleeper, particularly 
if a female, from a sound slumber, and has often led 
to detection. On entering the house the burglar 
immediately discards his shoes and operates in his 
stocking feet. 


After thus preparing themselves, the thief to 
whom has been delegated the performance of the 
outside work, quietly leaves his room, and sneaking 
down stairs opens the back door. Ascertaining that 
the coast is clear, he gives the signal to his compan 
ion, who, taking his folding ladder and other tools 
with him, also descends to the yard of the premises 
they occupy. 

Preferring to work as far away from their own 
quarters as possible, they scale several intervening 
fences or light walls, until they reach the desired 
house, and then commence their work upon the back 
door. If this door is not bolted an entrance is effect 
ed in a moment, but if it is thus secured, they have 
recourse to the window and if that can be readily 
opened with the glaze knife, they gain admittance to 
the house as quickly as they could do had they used 
their nippers upon the lock of the door. 

If the window, however, is tight or swollen, and 
the glaze knife cannot be used, and if the wind is 
favorable, they noiselessly raise their folding ladder 
to the sill of the window upon the next floor. This 
occupies but a few minutes, and as these windows are 
seldom fastened, many of them not being supplied 
with any fastenings whatever, they speedily effect an 
entrance. As soon as they have entered the build 
ing in this manner, the thief makes his way down stairs 


and quietly unfastens the front parlor window and 
shutters. This is done in order to deceive the inmates 
of the house and the police authorities, for when 
an examination takes place, they invariably arrive at 
the conclusion that the robbers must have gained 
an entrance from the front never for a moment 
suspecting any of their neighbors, as the back door 
and rear part of the house is always found intact. 

His next move is to unbolt the back door, and if 
the fences can be scaled easily or there is an alley 
way in the rear of the house, he folds up his ladder 
and sends it back to their lodgings by the outside 
worker. As soon as the outside man has returned 
the ladder safely to his quarters, he hurries back, and 
is then stationed at the front door on the inside. 
Drawing the bolts, he stands with the key in his hand 
ready for an alarm. Should this be given by the in 
side thief while he is at work up stairs, his companion 
instantly unlocks the front door and throws it open, 
and then quickly and noiselessly springs for the back 
door. Opening this door, and stepping into the yard 
he inserts his nippers over the key from the outside, 
and when his disturbed partner appears and passes 
out, he closes the door gently and locks it from the 
outside with the nippers". They then sneak away 
and return to bed as quietly and easily as though 
nothing unusual had occurred. 


If a policeman is attracted by the alarm and 
makes an investigation, on finding the front door 
open he naturally infers that the burglars have es 
caped by that means of exit, and in this view he is 
sustained by the inmates of the house who have found 
the back doors and windows securely locked and 

After a thief has entered a house and commenced 
to work, the first and most important question is to 
discover where the valuables are kept. As the front 
sleeping-room upon the second floor is usually occu 
pied by the head of the family, this is generally the 
first point of attack. If the door is simply locked, 
the nippers are brought into play and the key is 
turned as softly as though operated upon the other 
side, and the door is opened. Sometimes the door is 
fastened with a bolt and then the jointed key" is 
used. This instrument is shaped and formed as 
follows : 


A represents the stock B the inside lever C the 
joint and D is a wire attached to the end of the 
lever to draw it down when inside the door. 

Obtaining the location of the holt a hole is bored 
through the cloor, sufficiently large to admit the key. 
The joint then having passed through the door, the 
wire is drawn and the lever is thus brought to a right 
angle with the stock of the key, and directly against 
the handle of the bolt. A " simple twist of the wrist " 
is all that is necessary and the bolt is shot back. 

Some people, however, have this doors fastened 
with a bolt and chain, a staple being fastened in the 
door post to hold the end of the chain and the other 
end of the chain being placed in a slide, which is 
fastened upon the inside of the door. This chain 
admits of the door being opened a certain distance, 
but not sufficiently wide to permit a man to enter. 
The burglar s methods of overcoming this obstacle, are 
simple and invariably successful. He simply opens 
the door wide enough for him to obtain the location 
of the bolt, and then boring a small gimlet hole over 
the spot a strong thin wire is inserted through the 
hole and attached to the knob of the slide. The door 
is then closed and a gentle pull upon the wire draws 
the chain from the slide and it drops down, thus allow 
ing free and uninterrupted entrance to the ingenious 


Once in the room the clothing of the gentleman 
of the house is carefully searched. Bureau drawers 
are noiselessly opened by the aid of lockpicks, and 
pillows are carefully examined for hidden valuables. 
Thus from one room to another, the thief makes his 
tour of the inviting portions of the house, and when 
he has finished his investigations, he joins his "pal" 
at the front door. 

They then take their departure by the back door, 
which they carefully lock behind them, and should 
time permit they will make an attempt upon another 
house in the same locality. 

Sometimes in working on houses, that are sur- 


rounded by soft and yielding ground, in which the 
shoes they wear would make an impression which 
might lead to detection, they wear extraordinarily 
large shoes, and after getting a short distance from 
the spot, throw them into a neighboring well. As a 
general thing, should the footmarks be noticed, suspi 
cion falls upon some negro, as a white man would 
scarcely wear such mammoth foot covers as those 
whose impressions are left in the ground. 

The devices resorted to by the house breaker are 
both numerous and ingenious and vary from the ideas 
given above, as the necessity of the emergency requires. 
Sometimes their entrance is effected through the 
scuttle in the roof, which they are enabled to reach 


by securing an unoccupied house in the vicinity, and 
then by crawling over the roofs of the intervening 
houses, reach their points of attack without attracting 
the attention of any one upon the street. In these 
cases, as in all others, measures are at once taken to 
provide a means of escape, and before operations are 
commenced, the front door and other points of egress 
are carefully prepared for their departure. In case of 
detection while at work, the thief will never retire 
through the roof, but will endeavor to mislead both 
the police and the inmates of the house, by opening 
the front door and escaping at the rear. 

Back windows are frequently pried open with the 
aid of the strong and ingeniously constructed "jimmy," 
and in some cases the burglar obtains admission to a 
house in the daytime and conceals himself in some 
unoccupied room until the family have retired, when 
he issues from his place of hiding and ransacks the 
premises. Dishonest servant-girls too, have proven 
of valuable assistance to these thieves, and through 
their efforts, burglars have gained an entrance into 
premises which otherwise would have resisted their 
most persistent efforts. It has frequently been devel 
oped that these girls have been the wives, mistresses 
and relatives of the thieves, and that they have 
engaged service for no other purpose than to further 
the efforts of the men with whom they were associ- 


ated. to plunder the families who have employed 

Of course there are innumerable other methods 
adopted by this fraternity of dishonest men and 
women, and their processes vary according to the 
skill and ability of the parties engaging in the work. 
From boys in their teens to men whose hairs are 
whitened with age, the ranks of the house-breakers 
are filled, and their efforts against the public safety 
are unceasing. 


I have thus described the general mode of work 
ing of the expert house-breaker of the present day, 
although much of their success depends upon the 
quick and noiseless movements of the thief himself, 
which are impossible of description and must be left 
to the imagination of the reader. To be able to pick 
a lock, to open a bureau drawer and rifle its con 
tents, to search beneath the pillow of a sleeping vic 
tim, are all points of the profession upon \vhich I 
cannot dilate intelligently, but that these men are 
constantly plying their vocations is fully proven by the 
records of our daily journals. 

To house-keepers, therefore, I say, do not neg 
lect the proper safe-guards before retiring for the 
night, and in case of detecting robbers in your house, 
do not search for your thief from the front door, be 
cause you find it open, or upon the street ; but rather 


seek the rear of your premises, and the chances are 
largely in favor of finding the disturbers of your sleep 
and the plunderers of your home, engaged in the at 
tempt of scaling your fence and escaping by that 
means, to their convenient hiding-place in the imme 
diate vicinity. 


A social Leper. The Confidence man about Town. A Confidence 
man " Confide need" Purchasing Witnesses. The Medical 
Charlatan and his Merchant Dupe. A Pretty Law-breaker. 
The Blackmailer s End. 

OF all the criminals of which I have attempted to 
write, the most insidious and pernicious are 
the confidence man or woman and the blackmailer. 
The confidence operator of which I shall speak first, 
is one of t :ose insinuating personages who approach 
unsuspicious people in their daily walks, and some 
times at their places of business, and who by artfully 
identifying themselves with their personal affairs and 
business arrangements endeavor to so win their con 
fidence that they may impose upon their credulity to 
their own dishonest profit. 

The confidence game is generally practiced in 
large cities, and upon verdant looking strangers, 
whose manners and attire evince the easy-going and 
susceptible victim, though occasionally he will be 

! y > } 


found traveling through the country, and imposing 
upon the honest and industrious farmers and coun 
try store-keepers. One of the latest dodges of the 
confidence man has been recently brought to light, in 
which it was found that several wealthy farmers had 
been defrauded by the \viles of this fraudulent prac 
titioner. The operator, in this instance, was a fine 
looking and clerical appearing old gentleman, who 
traveled through several counties in Illinois, and who 
pretended to be engaged in buying sheep from the 
breeders in that section of the country. In addition 
to this occupation, the venerable old swindler an 
nounced himself as a warm advocate of certain need 
ful reforms of a public nature, in which all good citi 
zens ought to be interested. He carried with him a 
number of petitions addressed to the legislature of 
the state, requesting them, among other things, to re 
duce taxation, and the salaries of public officers, and 
one to tax church property the same as other real 
estate. As may be imagined, he obtained numerous 
signatures to such important documents, and, in 
many instances, he succeeded in deftly transforming 
the simple petition, which the public-spirited farmer 
had duly signed, into a promissory note for a moder 
ate sum of money, on which the signature of the 
farmer could not be disputed, from any doubt of its 
genuineness. These notes would then be transferred 


to innocent purchasers, whose knowledge of the 
makers of the notes, was such that they willingly re 
ceived their promises to pay, and loaned their money 
without a moment s hesitation. By this little scheme 
the daring swindler realized several thousand dollars 
before his operations were detected, and by that time 
the smooth-tongued confidence man had disappeared 
effectually from the neighborhood and all search for 
him proved fruitless. 


CRIME, I regret to say, is not entirely confined to 
the male portion of humanity. It is true that a 
woman does not often make a successful burglar or 


bank-robber. She is scarcely, if ever, discovered in 
attempts at forgery or garroting, but there are many 
other phases of criminality in which she figures 
prominently, and with as much effrontery as a man. 
I am reluctant to confess it, but her fair fingers have 
more than once been bathed in blood, and even when 
not an active participant in murder, how many times 
has she appeared if not as a conspiring abettor, at 
least as the primary and impelling cause. A visit to 
our prisons will convince the most doubtful, of the 


truth of this statement, and there will be found num 
bers of the so-called " fair sex " who have lived long 
lives of sin and shame. 

Her favorite occupation, when criminally inclined, 
seems to be that of the sneak thief, the pick-pocket, 
the confidence woman, and the blackmailer the last 
being one of the most pernicious of criminal practices, 
and it will be found that, like the criminal man, the 
criminal woman preys upon humanity with all the 
rapacity of the vulture. 

One of this latter class lately came under my 
observation, and her experiences I will relate here. 
For genuine romantic deviltry, and unscrupulousness, 
her equal is very rare, and yet she pursued her way so 
quietly, that few, except those immediately concerned 
in her movements, were aware even of her existence. 
Helen Graham was the name she assumed, and she 
was truly a beautiful woman. Her eyes, which were 
large and of the color of the hazel, beamed with a 
bright softness that won the hearts of those around 
her. Her fair face was crowned with a wealth of hair, 
and her cheeks flushed with the ruddy hue of health 
and beauty. Her voice was low and musically sweet 
and plaintive, while her language and address were 
full of that refinement which only education can give. 
Her slight but graceful figure, was draped with a 
quiet taste that was at once becoming and attractive, 



and in fact, to all outward appearances Helen Gra 
ham was a lovely woman, who might have gathered 
around her hosts of friends and admirers, and shone 
in the most brilliant circles of refined society. 

And yet despite all these advantages and attrac 
tions, this beautiful woman, at the time I write of her, 
was arraigned as a criminal, and was compelled to 
answer for a crime which she had committed. Her 
eyes were filled with tears, and in a sobbing voice she 
entered her plea of " not guilty." As she sank back into 
her seat, and buried her face in her handkerchief, she 
was the object of universal sympathy. She was ac- 
cussed of assaulting a prominent and respectable 
citizen of New York, in a manner which might have 
resulted in serious consequence. She had thrown 
into his face a package of cayenne pepper, and when 
arrested for this offense, had openly accused the as 
saulted man of insulting her by making indecent pro 
posals to her. 

As may be imagined a charge of this character 
urged against a gentleman whose high honor and re 
spectability had been above reproach, had the effect 
of injuring him to a great degree, not only in his busi 
ness, but among his social acquaintances. Friends 
were estranged from him, and he was regarded with 
disfavor by many who had heretofore courted his 
friendship and admired his sterling qualities. His 


only defensive course, therefore, was to cause the ar 
rest of his fair assailant, the maintenance of his own 
character required it, and the preservation of his good 
name rendered it a necessity. 

Howard Ingalls was the name of the gentleman 
who thus appeared as the accuser of the beautiful 
prisoner, who had excited the admiration and the 
sympathy of those who had gathered to hear the 
particulars of her trial. As this gentleman arose to 
give his testimony, it was noticed that his face wore a 
careworn look, which bespoke the great mental suf 
fering which the vile charges of this woman had occa 
sioned him. 

In a frank, honest manner, Mr. Ingalls related his 
story. The young lady had called upon him at his 
office and had asked him for a situation, at the same 
time relating a pitiful story of her necessities. Some 
thing in her manner, however, led him to doubt the 
truthfulness of her relations, and he offered her no 
encouragement. A short time after this visit, two 
strange men called upon him, and impudently accus 
ing him of assaulting the lady, demanded a written 
apology and the sum of five hundred dollars. These 
proposals were indignantly refused, and the intruders 
were ordered away. A few days succeeding this 
event, a boy entered Mr. Ingalls office and informed 
him that a lady desired to speak with him upon the 


sidewalk. Following the boy to the street, the 
gentleman found himself confronted by Helen 
Graham, accompanied by two men who were entire 
strangers to him. One of these men handed her a 
package of red pepper, which without a word, she 
deliberately threw in his face, occasioning him severe 
pain and temporarily blinding him. He had immedi 
ately caused her arrest, when she openly accused him 
of attempts upon her virtue, which she had indignantly 

While Mr. Ingalls was relating his story, the fair 
prisoner was visibly affected, her face flushed and the 
tears welled up in her eyes, which a moment ago, were 
flashing with indignation. All of this was not lost 
upon the spectators who imagined that these emotions 
were the outgrowth of outraged honor and womanly 

After the testimony of Mr. Ingalls had been duly 
given, the judge requested the prisoner to take the 
stand, addressing her, to the surprise of all, by the 
name of Mary Freeland. As she heard this name, 
the fair girl started nervously and placing her tremb 
ling hands upon the railing in front of her, slowly 
rose to her feet. She gazed appealingly around, as 
if beseeching some one to assist her in reaching the 
witness box, and her counsel with an air of sincere 


concern, offered her his arm, on which she leaned 
heavily, and slowly approached the stand. 

With great precision, and in a sweet low voice, 
she narrated her account of the assault, and the 
circumstances which, she alleged, had led to the com 
mission of the act. No one to have looked upon 
that fair face, and those truthful speaking eyes, would 
have doubted for a moment the correctness of her 
story, or would have refused their sympathy for the 
unfortunate lady who appeared so tearful and so 

Utterly ignoring the evidence of Mr. Ingalls, to 
which she had just listened, she told her version of 
the story. She testified, that she had seen an adver 
tisement in a morning paper, signed "artist," and 
being in need of employment, she had answered it, 
receiving in reply a note signed " H. Ingalls," request 
ing an interview at his place of business, the locality 
of which was given. 

Agreeably to this request, she had called at the 
designated place, and while there she was grossly 
insulted by the plaintiff, who had made improper 
proposals to her, and had attempted to compel her to 
submit to his vile purposes. Resisting him with all 
her strength, she struck him in the face, and escaped 
into the street, Burning with anger and seeking to 
revenge this insult, she had thrown the pepper into 


the eyes of the man who had attempted to outrage 
her honor. 

During this recital Mr. Ingalls betrayed marked 
symptoms of nervousness and mental excitement, 
which to those around him, appeared to be evidences 
of his guilt, and frowning looks from all quarters 
were directed towards him. Circumstances seemed 
to be decidedly against him, and the sweet-faced girl, 
apparently so pure and so friendless, had won the 
sympathy, and imposed upon the credulity of those 
about her. 

It seemed to them but natural that, resenting the 
outrage which had been attempted upon her, she 
would have been justified in punishing her insulter in 
any manner that suggested itself to her mind. 
Matters looked very dark for Mr. Ingalls, and as he 
attempted to approach nearer to the witness, in 
order to hear more distinctly her low and faltering 
tones, he was rudely repulsed by a brawny policeman 
who had been completely won over to the cause of 
the lovely defendant. Indeed at the close of her 
direct testimony, it seemed that instead of convicting 
the girl of a crime, Mr. Ingalls might be compelled 
to exchange places with her, and might be required 
to make financial reparation for the indignities he 
had put upon her. 

But the defendant had bided his time he had 


not been idle during the period which had elapsed 
between the arrest of the girl and the day of her 
trial. Trusty detectives had been engaged in search 
ing for her antecedents, and their efforts had not 
been fruitless. Sustained by the consciousness of 
his own innocence, and determined to defend his own 
reputation, Mr. Ingalls had urged the officers to the 
completion of their task, and the results were now 
about to be made manifest. 

As the last words fell from the lips of the weep 
ing defendant, Mr. Ingalls boldly pushed past the 
interposing policeman, and advancing to the judge s 
seat, drew from his pocket a roll of manuscript, 
and handing it to one of the magistrates, politely 
requested his perusal of the contents. 

The magistrate received the document and 
glanced carelessly at it, but as he read he appeared 
to grow more interested, and with a hurried whisper 
to his judicial brother, he finished his reading and 
passed it to him. These movements were not 
entirely lost upon the fair defendant, and a strange 
frightened expression came into her eyes as she 
fixed them intently upon the judge. Having con 
cluded his reading, that official raised his eyes 
from the paper, and with a sternness of manner 
very different from his previous considerate treat 
ment of her, he began as rigid an examination as 


has ever been witnessed in special sessions. Under 
the trying ordeal the guilty woman cowered in her 
shame the mask was torn from the fair face, and 
she stood revealed as a beautiful fiend, whose 
seductive wiles had been the ruin of many who 
had been led by the witching spell of her charms 
into the abyss of moral destruction. 

The document was an extraordinary one indeed, 
and it was no wonder that Mary Freeland, with her 
numerous aliases, quailed and trembled beneath the 
searching questions of the magistrate. Her true his 
tory was now laid bare. Helen Graham, it was shown, 
was of English parentage, and was now, despite her 
youthful appearance, past thirty years of age. 
Being the daughter of poor parents, she was com 
pelled to labor for a livelihood, but disliking the 
drudgery of her life, and preferring her own plea 
sures, she ran away from home at an early age, 
and making her way to London, engaged herself 
as a bar-maid in one of the largest tippling houses 
of that city. 

Being possessed of great beauty, and with a capti 
vating manner, she received a great deal of attention 
from the gentlemen who frequented the place, and 
among the number was a well-to-do wine merchant, 
who conceived such a regard for the girl, that he 
induced her to leave her place of employment, and 


accept his bounty. Eagerly accepting this glittering 
offer, the bewitching little bar-maid was soon estab 
lished in palatial apartments and speedily began to 
ape the manners and tastes of a woman of fashion. 

From this intimacy a child was born, which is 
still living under the care of his reputed father. 
Becoming tired at last of the attentions of her middle- 
aged lover, she formed the acquaintance of a young 
and handsome fellow who was engaged as a messenger 
for a prominent London bank. Their intimacy was 
carried on without detection for some time, but at 
length, fearing the jealousy of the wine merchant, the 
fair Helen robbed him of a check for two thousand 
pounds which Henry Rothby, the bank messenger, 
succeeded in having honored, and the guilty couple 
fled to Great Yarmouth, where they lived as man and 
wife for two years, during which time another child 
was born which, however, lived but a few months. 

Henry Rothby and his mistress sailed away from 
the shores of old England and arrived, in February 
1879, at Montreal in Canada. In that city, they 
engaged board with the family of a respectable gentle 
man who was living with his wife and five children, in 
comfort and contentment. Very soon, however, the 
spell -of the siren was cast over this happy home, and 
one morning the weeping wife awakened to the fact 
that her husband had eloped with the beautiful and 


demure Mrs. Rothby, whom she had received into 
her household with all the friendliness and affection 
of a sister. 

The guilty pair made their way to Cleveland, 
Ohio, where they lived together a few months, when 
Helen, becoming tired of her new lover, left him one 
evening and went to live again with Henry Rothby, 
who had been in communication with her, and who 
was now residing at Patchogue on Long Island. 
Here they remained until September, when they 
departed in company. Rothby finally left his mistress 
in New York City, and returned to England. Helen, 
however, preferred to remain in the United States, 
and after the departure of her lover she engaged her 
self in the service of a prominent banker of New 
York. She did not remain in this position but a few 
days, as attempting her seductive wiles upon her 
employer, who was a man of honor, her immodest 
advances were met with a prompt discharge and a 
speedy ejection from the home she had attempted to 

Thus thrown upon her own resources, she formed 
the acquaintance of several men of doubtful character, 
and a few days after her discharge from the banker s 
family, two rough-looking individuals called upon that 
gentleman, and in a threatening manner demanded a 
large sum of money from him, accusing him of having 


acted in an improper manner with his recently dis 
charged domestic, and threatening exposure in case 
of refusal. Their proposition was met by the angry 
banker in such a vigorous manner that the two visitors 
were forcibly ejected from the premises, and landed 
very unceremoniously upon the sidewalk. 

Nothing further was heard of this matter, and the 
fair but frail Helen disappeared entirely for a time. 
In the early part of 1880, however, a pale but beauti 
ful young girl, applied for a situation at the residence 
of a wealthy broker at Mont Clair, N. J. She related 
a pitiful story of needs and sufferings. How she had 
left her home in England to escape the commands of 
her parents, who insisted upon her marriage with a 
man who was distasteful to her. How the vessel in 
which she took passage, had been wrecked, and she 
had lost everything and was now in abject want. 
Her story, told so simply and with such an ingenuous 
air of truthfulness, excited the sympathy of the lady 
to whom she applied, who immediately gave her em 
ployment and a home. 

Here she remained but a short time when she dis 
appeared very mysteriously under circumstances that 
rather tended to impeach her integrity. From this 
time she appeared to have led a reckless and aban 
doned life, having as many husbands as there were 
months in the year, and carrying on a system of 


blackmailing that seemed to be quite profitable, and 
effectually evaded detection. At several places 
where she had lived with the various men who were 
introduced as her husband, she had been requested to 
leave on account of her vile and unladylike behavior. 
She was a sort of moral free-booter, no grade of 
society being too high and no degradation too low, 
for the operation of her hellish designs. Affecting a 
modesty and a virtue that were unimpeachable, she 
would be admitted into select social circles, and soon 
she would commit some act of glaring immorality 
which would bring upon her the loathing and con 
tempt of her associates. Discovered in this, she 
would disappear temporarily, until again brought to 
the surface by some new revelation of wickedness and 
debauchery with which she was intimately connected. 

Her entire history was shown to be one of crime 
and immoral practices, and unable to refute the terri 
ble accusations, the stricken woman acknowledged her 
guilt and sued for mercy. The trial was soon com 
pleted, and this designing and unprincipled woman 
was sentenced to a term of imprisonment, during 
which it was hoped some lessons of improvement 
would be inculcated. 

With a sobbing cry, the young woman received 
the edict of the court, and then turning to a young 
man who had hitherto escaped attention, she raised 


her hands appealingly to him, but with a look of 
loathing he turned from her, and she was conducted 

The vindication of Howard Ingalls was complete, 
and friends who had doubted his story before, and 
who had avoided him, now pressed forward to con 
gratulate him upon the happy termination of his ag 
gravating trial. 

There is a sequel to this story, however, which is 
worthy of relation. After the policeman had con 
ducted the prisoner to her cell, the young man to 
whom she had appealed requested to speak to the 
judge, who was busily engaged in gathering up his 
papers. The magistrate inclined his head to listen 
and the young man related his story. He was the 
son of wealthy parents who resided in a western city, 
where he was also engaged in business. Some time 

o o 

previous to this occurrence, while on a business visit 
to New York he had met the fair Helen Graham, who 
came to him with a sorrowful story of want and dis 
tress. He had been first attracted by the pensive 
beauty of the girl, and had provided for her wants. A 
growing intimacy had ripened into love, and entirely 
unconscious of the charges against her, he had offered 
her his hand in marriage, and they had been united 
only the day before the arrest. 

The revelations of the trial had been a dreadful 


awakening to him, and now realizing the position in 
which he was placed, he sought the aid of the justice 
to release him from the bonds which bound him to 
the guilty woman who had just been condemned to 
suffer for her sins. 

In due time the necessary papers were procured, 
the marriage was declared null and void, and Henry 
Gadsby returned to his western home a wiser man 
and, it is to be hoped, a happier one. 


THE ways of the confidence man and woman, and 
the ingenious tricks they resort to, are as numerous 
as the planets, and frequently, as brilliant, and in the 
space 1 have allotted to this particular phase of crim 
inal practice, I can only expect to give a few of the 
many incidents that have come under my notice. To 
attempt a full description would require a volume as 
extensive as the present one, and the reading, though 
entertaining, might prove tiresome from its very 
length. I will, however, give a few illustrations, in 
order to show the workings of this class of ingen 
ious criminals, and to afford the reader a somewhat 
comprehensive idea of their operations. 


Of course, the most common, and, strange to say, 
one of the most successful schemes, is that of watch 
ing either at railroad depots or hotels, for the genial 
and unsuspecting farmer or country merchant, whose 
well filled purse and general air of rusticity warrants 
a belief in his innocence and gulibility. The first 
move, therefore, is for one of the confidence men to 
approach the stranger, and with a frank and hearty 
salutation, to claim an acquaintance. 

" Why, Mr. Harris, how do you do and when did 
you leave Pumptown ?" ejaculates the confidence man, 
as he grasps the hand of the astonished stranger. 

"You must be mistaken, sir," he replies, " my name 
is not Harris, and I don t live in Pumptown." 

" Well, I declare, sir. I beg your pardon, but you 
are the exact image of my friend, Squire Harris, and 
I thought I could not be mistaken. I am sorry to 
have spoken to you as I did, and I beg you to excuse 

A further conversation ensues, in which the 
stranger and his victim adjourn to the bar, and over 
their drinks the victim informs his new found friend 
that his name is Mr. John Bell, and that he lives in 
Wellsville, and has come up to town for the first time 
in five years. After many protestations of good will 
and amiability the couple separate, and the stranger 
sees no more of the smooth-spoken gentleman who 


addressed him as Mr. Harris. During the course of 
the day, however, Mr. Bell strolls out through the 
crowded thoroughfares of the city, and while he is 
carelessly looking around him, he is approached by 
another man, whose manners are quite agreeable, and 
whose genial face is beaming with smiles. 

" How do you do, Mr. Bell ? I am glad to see you. 
What brings you to town ?" 

Of course Mr. Bell does not at first recognize his 
new friend, and upon asking for the desired informa 
tion, the stranger tells him that his name is Marshall, 
and that he keeps a store at Waterstown, a few miles 
distant from Wellsville, and has met Mr. Bell several 
times in his native town. A few deft inquiries about 
people and localities which completely impose on Mr. 
Bell, and in a few minutes afterwards, the two men are 
laughing and talking like old friends. 

This is the entering wedge, and after that any 
scheme that may be devised is put into operation. 
Sometimes Mr. Marshall has bought a lot of goods, 
and the firm from whom he has made purchases re 
quire more cash than he has with him, and Mr. Bell 
is appealed to, to help his friend out until they return 
home. Sometimes Mr. Marshall has shipped a lot of 
goods to Chicago, but, not having cash enough to pay 
the freight, is very indignant, and exceedingly annoy 
ed because the railroad company decline to accept his 


check in payment. Mr. Bell is then appealed to to 
cash a check for his neighbor, who offers his individ 
ual paper as a guarantee of his credibility. In other 
cases, the unsuspecting Mr. Bell may be lured into a 
gambling saloon, and under the excitement of the mo 
ment, may be tempted to venture his money on the 
uncertain chances of the game, which, it is needless to 
say, invariably results in loss and ruin to the rustic 
victim, and in some extreme instances Mr. Bell may 
be led to some secluded spot, drugged and robbed, 
and when his consciousness returns, he is unable to 
tell where and how he came to his present position. 

These are a few of the many means put into prac 
tice by the ordinary confidence man, and I regret to 
say they are generally successful. 


" BANCO," as it is now called " bunko," is another 
form of the confidence swindle, and first made its ap 
pearance at New Orleans in 1869. This game con 
sists in " roping in " or inducing an unsuspicious vic 
tim, with plenty of money, and then fleecing him of 
all his ready cash and as much more as can be ob 
tained from him. A little reminiscence that occurred 


a few years ago may not be out of place here as 
showing that sometimes 

" The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft aglee." 

A party of sharp and notorious gamblers and 
bunko men were seated in a handsomely furnished 
saloon where games of chance were the order of the 
day, when one of their number rushed into the room 

" Boys, I have just had an introduction to the 
richest planter in the Red River country. His name 
is Col. Oliver, and I understand he has sold his cot 
ton and deposited the proceeds, about $15,000, with 
a banker here. Now get ready for a big game, and I will 
land him here in an hour or two. He does not carry 
any ready money, but his paper is as good as gold." 

The game that was intended to be played upon 
the stranger was a lottery scheme, which was to be 
termed the Royal Havana Lottery, with drawings 
now going on. At ten o clock that evening, the 
"steerer" made his appearance, accompanied by a 
large swarthy planter, who was finely dressed, and 
who wore in his shirt bosom a diamond stud of large 

After going through the usual preliminary inqui 
ries, the " steerer " produced his ticket for the lottery 
which had drawn $80, and the gold was duly 
counted out to him, when he immediately purchased 


two more tickets for the present drawing. Col. Oli 
ver received one of these tickets from the steerer, 
and after being instructed in the manner of play 
ing, he entered fully into the spirit of the game, 
which unfortunately went steadily against him until 
he had lost nearly $8,000. The Colonel took his 
losses good naturedly, however, saying that he had 
taken the chances and might have won. He how 
ever, requested the gamblers to hold his drafts until 
morning, so that he could get the money for them 
from his broker, as he did not wish that gentleman to 
think he would gamble so heavily. This promise 
was readily given, and the gamblers treated their 
victim to a bounteous and luxurious supper, in which 
the finest brands of champagne and the most deli 
cately flavored cigars furnished a fitting conclusion. 
After this the party separated and Col. Oliver re 
turned to his hotel. Meeting some friends there he 
entered the wine room, and while there, his former 
friends, the gamblers, who, flushed with success, were 
having a glorious time, also entered the room. 

Saluting his new found friend as Col. Oliver, the 
leader of the gamblers invited the party to join him 
in a bottle of wine. While they were drinking, one 
af the gentlemen approached the gambler, and in a 
loud voice exclaimed : 


" Major, I think you have made a slight mistake 
about Col. Oliver." 

" How can that be ?" inquired the gambler. 

"Why," replied the other, "instead of being Col. 
Oliver, he is no other person than Detective William 
Pinkerton from Chicago." 

This was enough, and without another word the 
discomfited gamblers handed the drafts, which were 
utterly worthless, back to William, and slowly and 
quietly drifted out of the hotel. Their little confi 
dence game did not work that time, and ever after 
wards they were more careful how they entertained 
rich planters from the Red River country. 


THERE was another case in which the intended 
victim was a robust and wealthy Scotchman who was 
traveling in America for pleasure, and who tempora 
rily stopped at one of the prominent Chicago hotels. 
This gentleman s name was James Templeton, and 
he came from Glasgow. While sauntering about the 
office of the hotel one evening, Mr. Templeton was 
approached by a dapper little fellow, in a Scotch tweed 
suit, with a dainty umbrella under his arm and a single 


glass in his eye. This young man approached the 
elderly gentleman, and politely introduced himself as 
Master Robert Campbell of Glasgow, a son of Camp 
bell, one of the famous ship-builders of that city. 
The old gentleman was exceedingly glad to meet with 
a fellow countryman, and they were soon chatting 
pleasantly together. A walk was soon proposed and 
shortly afterwards our two Scotch friends found them 
selves in a large saloon, where no less an individual 
than " Canada Bill," an old time swindler, was en 
gaged in throwing the "monte" cards for an au 
dience, all of whom were perfectly acquainted with 
his little game, and were in fact " cappers" for him. 
"Canada Bill" was losing money very rapidly when 
the strangers entered, and Mr. Templeton, after 
watching the game for awhile turned to the pretended 
Mr. Campbell, and expressed his opinion that the 
poor, old blind man was being deliberately robbed. 
Young Campbell, however, paid no attention to this, 
and a few minutes afterwards he commenced to play 
himself. He soon lost a small sum of money and in 
duced his elderly companion to wager a small amount 
which was soon pocketed by Canada Bill. Campbell 
then wanted to play for more money, and Bill said he 
would bet $1,000, and nothing less that no one could 
pick up the "Jack," In the midst of the parley which 
ensued, Mr. Templeton unceremoniously seized young 


Mr. Campbell by the collar of his coat, and the seat 
of his trousers, and deliberately carried him out into 
the street. After carefully depositing the youth upon 
the sidewalk, he said, " Campbell, my boy, I say, I ve 
saved you from being robbed and murdered. You 
were in a den of thieves. What would your poor ould 
father say if he saw you gambling with sharpers. 
But, Campbell," and here his voice dropped, " the 
poor, old, blind man was not sic a dum fool as he 
looked to be." 

The honesty and the indignation of the old Scotch 
man were too much, and the pretended Master Camp 
bell, who was no other than a regular " steerer " for 
Canada Bill," and who had dressed himself as a 
Scotchman for the sole purpose of fleecing his warm 
hearted friend Mr. Templeton, was compelled to 
swallow his disappointment and look for other game. 


THE following incident which is perfectly true in 
all its details, will show how even the most astute 
confidence men are sometimes over-reached and in 
the end find themselves the victims of their own 


During the month of August, 1883, an ordinary 
looking man, respectably arrayed, and wearing a 
broad brimed hat and gold bowed spectacles arrived 
in New York City, and registered himself at a fash 
ionable hotel in Broadway, as B. Ashley, of Abilene, 
Kansas. The stranger had just arrived in town by 
the Western express from Chicago, on the Erie road. 
His garments had been procured from a ready-made 
clothing store in Abilene, which gave him rather a 
rustic appearance, while his face and hands were 
brownly tanned from exposure. He walked with that 
peculiar parenthetical gait which indicates a long time 
spent in the saddle, and his bearing in other respects 
indicated the wild western borderman. Mr. Ashley 
soon developed other tendencies of the prairie type ; 
he insisted upon going out for exercise every morn 
ing shortly after day-break on horseback, and upon 
these occasions he employed his own rawhide bridle, 
and his well-worn Mexican saddle, which formed part 
of his luggage. His accent was a peculiar blending 
of English and western types of speech ; his eyes 
were weak, and he frequently consulted an eminent 
oculist in New York, preparatory, as he stated, to 
placing himself under the care of a prominent Lon 
don specialist, after he had concluded his affairs in 
New York, and arrived upon the other side of the 


Mr. Ashley appeared to have very little occupa 
tion beyond horseback riding at unearthly hours in 
the morning ; visiting his medical adviser in the after 
noon, and lounging about the immense and richly 
ornamental rotunda of the hotel in the evening. He 
was bountifully supplied with cash and he expended 
it with considerable liberality. He smoked a great 
deal, but drank little, because his physician had abso 
lutely forbidden him to do so, on account of its effect 
upon his patient s eyes. 

Many people about the hotel drank at Mr. Ash 
ley s expense, but he himself seldom indulged in 
more harmful beverages than lemonade or some well- 
known medicinal spring water. 

One day Mr. Ashley strolled through the lobby of 
the hotel in the company of a young man, whose face 
is well known to the regular promenaders of Broad 
way. This young man is always faultlessly dressed 
and smooth shaven. He has prominent features, and 
peculiarly thin and compressed lips ; he lives hand 
somely, and always has plenty of money. With this 
new-found companion Mr. Ashley, the weak-eyed 
child of the guileless west, occupied a seat in the 
bar-room for some time. Upon this occasion Mr. 
Ashley departed from his usual custom, and assisted 
in the absorption of a liberal quantity of champagne. 
After a time thus spent, the Broadway friend arose 


and took his departure, and Mr. Ashley sauntered 
again through the office of the hotel. As he did so, 
one of the clerks motioned for him to approach the 

11 Mr. Ashley, how long has it been since you were 
in New York before ?" inquired the clerk. 

" Nearly eight years," answered that gentleman. 
" Never was here afore and never since until now." 

" Do you know the person who has just left 
you ?" 

" Yes, met him two nights ago at the Madison 
Square. I couldn t buy a seat and he offered me 
one of his. Said his friend hadn t come, and he 
would be glad to accommodate a stranger. So we 
sat together. Seems to be a nice sort of a chap, 
don t he ?" 

" I have no doubt of that," responded the clerk, 
with a slight air of superior knowledge, not unblended 
with sarcasm. " That young man in fact, that nice 
sort of a chap, is Hungry Joe, one of the most 
celebrated confidence operators in America." 

" You don t say," drawled the western man slowly, 
and with some little indication of astonishment. 
" Well, I m darned." 

He went thoughtfully away. That night the 
young man with the thin lips and the handsome 



clothes called for Mr. Ashley after dinner, and as 
they came through the office, the occidental inno 
cent pulled out a large pocket-book filled to reple 
tion with money, and taking about $500 from its 
recesses he deposited the wallet, with the balance of 
its contents, in the hotel safe. His companion watched 
this proceeding with a pensive face, but a gleaming 
eye, and then the two went out together. Mr. Ash 
ley returned just in time to take his morning ride on 
horseback, and then retired to bed, where he re 
mained until four o clock in the afternoon. That 
evening he drew $200 from his wallet, and left the 

"You are fully warned," observed the clerk, as he 
handed over the amount, "and it is your own fault if 
you lose any money to Hungry Joe. " 

" Correct," responded Mr. Ashley, stuffing the 
bills into his pocket. 

His next appearance in the hotel was shortly after 
midnight, and this time he put $300 away in his wal 
let, with the declaration that " New York sharps 
might be pretty stiff on bunko, but they were a little 
behind tTie time on draw poker. In my country," he 
added, " two deuces and a bowie knife will open a 
Jack pot every time." 

Mr. Ashley passed several days after this, in quiet 


and seclusion, and a full week rolled past before he 
drifted out again with his companion of the com 
pressed lips. The next day he drew a round $1,000 
from the safe, and seemed very much annoyed when 
the clerk smiled a broad and knowing smile. 

" No game ever fazed me," said Mr. Ashley, dog 
gedly, "and a man who can hold up his end with cow 
boys isn t going to be bested by any broadcloth bri 
gade that was ever hatched." 

There was a lull of eight or ten days, and then 
Mr. Ashley drew another $1,000, and a couple of 
days after that he drew $850 more. That afternoon 
he went for a drive with his gentlemanly companion. 
His face was clouded with sadness all the morning, 
but it was noticed that he appeared somewhat brighter 
on his return from the drive. That evening " Hungry 
Joe," and two of his well known Broadway compan 
ions spent several hours in earnest conversation with 
Mr. Ashley. That gentleman s weak eyes made it 
necessary for him to wear his broad hat well down 
over his forehead, and when the three young men 
went away, the merest shadow of a smile played 
about the corners of the mouth of the western man. 
From the table at which they had sat, the three young 
fellows went direct to a telegraph office, where they 
sent the following dispatch : 



" Do you know Benjamin Ashley, cattle raiser ? 
Telegraph full particulars, my expense. 

" R. DICKSON, Brower House, 

New York." 

The reply to this communication was evidently 
satisfactory in all respects, and within two days Mr. 
Ashley received in his rooms at the hotel, a visit from 
the three confidence operators and a lawyer, who is 
more or less celebrated in the metropolis. After an 
hour or more had elapsed, the chief porter of the hotel 
was called into the room, and requested to sign his 
name as a witness to the signature of Mr. Ashley. 
This was done, the porter receiving $5 for his trouble, 
and a sum of money was counted out and paid to Mr. 
Ashley by the young man with the thin lips. 

That night the western cattle raiser deposited 
$14,000 cool cash in the safe of the hotel. 

Two days afterwards he took passage on a Guion 
steamer for Liverpool, having explained to the hotel 
clerk that he had sold a half interest in his Kansas 
cattle ranch to his friends, and that " Hungry Joe," 
as he was called, was going to retire from city life. 

Mr. Ashley was accompanied to the pier by his 
enthusiastic New York acquaintances, who toasted 
him in the finest champagne, and adorned his state- 


room with many delicacies, including a rich basket of 
flowers, in which che word " farewell " was artistically 
arranged, and altogether the departure of the cattle 
raiser, was accompanied by every mark of tender 
regard and esteem. 

About twelve days had elapsed since the departure 
of Mr. Ashley, when a tall man arrived at the same 
hotel, in a carriage that was loaded down with trunks, 
steamer chairs and other appliances of ocean travel. 
Walking into the office he signed his name in large 
English characters: "Benjamin Ashley, Esq., London." 
The clerk looked up hurriedly, as if to apologize 
for not recognizing his guest, then looked surprised, 
muttered a hasty word or two, and assigned the 
stranger to a room all in a confused and preoccupied 

There was apparently another Benjamin Ashley. 
This man was tall and slender, well dressed and pale. 
But he spoke with a slightly Americanized accent, 
not unlike that of the other Benjamin Ashley. The 
clerk was sorely puzzled, and that evening he took 
especial care to have the stranger s full name and 
address inserted among the list of prominent arrivals 
in all the daily papers. 

The clerk went on duty early next day, and as he 
fully expected, one of his first callers was the thin 
lipped "Hungry Joe," who asked to have his name 


sent up to Mr. Ashley s room. Word was returned 
that Mr. Ashley would see the gentleman in the 
drawing room, and thither the clerk followed the 
confidence man. "Hungry Joe" was sitting in a 
large arm chair, when the tall man from London 
entered the apartment, and not recognizing his old 
friend, paid no attention to the new comer. The 
Englishman, however, seeing no one else excepting 
the clerk, advanced courteously and said. 

" Did you wish to see me ? I am Mr. Ashley." 

" Eh !" said " Hungry Joe," with a start, " you re 
not Mr. Benjamin Ashley ?" 

" Precisely." 

" Not of Kansas ?" 

" Yes sir, of Abilene, Kansas. How can I serve 
you ?" 

The thin lips of the expert confidence man were 
white by this time, and they were more firmly com 
pressed than ever. He regarded the tall English 
man in a dazed manner for a few minutes, and then 
he asked, 

" Do you own a large cattle ranch twenty-five 
miles south of Abilene ?" 

" I believe I do. Why do you ask ?" 

" Been to Europe to have your eyes doctored ?" 

Yes, sir," answered Mr. Ashley, with, some sur 
prise, " I have been abroad for four months. But 


my young friend, these questions are rather odd. 
Please explain yourself." 

"Odd," echoed the Broadway man. "Well, I 
should think they were. If you are Benjamin Ash 
ley, and you do own that ranch, the cleverest man 
in the country has given me a pretty bad deal, that s 
all. Why, it ain t two weeks ago that me and two 
friends bought a half-interest in that ranch, and by 
God, the man who sold us, stopped in this same 
hotel !" 

Mr. Ashley seemed rather astonished, and after a 
full explanation had been made, the following partic 
ulars were learned. The supposed Benjamin Ashley 
had lost $3,250 at cards to " Hungry Joe" and his 
companions. This man had represented himself as 
the owner of the Ashley ranch, and was on his way 
to Europe to e treated for his eyes. Mr. Ashley 
had desired to make certain expenditures while in 
Europe, but his losses at cards would prevent his 
doing so, unless he could dispose of an interest in 
his ranch. The men had then telegraphed to the 
Postmaster who had replied, giving details of the 
property which was valued at about $50,000, and 
further stated that Mr. Ashley had gone abroad for 
medical treatment. Thus far all was satisfactory, 
the pretended Mr. Ashley produced deeds to estab 
lish his ownership, and thinking they had a chance to 


get $25,000 worth of material for $14,000, the three 
sharpers had clubbed together and raised the neces 
sary amount. 

" Really," observed Mr. Ashley, when all the ex 
planations had been fully made, " I am very sorry for 
you, but you have evidently been made a victim of. 
For my part, I shall have no difficulty in proving my 
identity, and as for your friend, the bogus, Mr. Ash 
ley, he is probably one of my cowboys named Harry 
Barnes, whose description tallies precisely with what 
you have told me of the man." 

"Well, sir," burst in the defrauded confidence 
operator, " that cuss has gone off to Europe with my 
money, hang him ! And what s worse, he went off 
full of my champagne, and smelling of my basket of 
flowers. He s a d d swindler, that s what he is." 

Swearing and complaints were of no avail, how 
ever, and " Hungry Joe," with all his skill and suc 
cess was compelled to acknowledge that he had been 
completely duped by a western cowboy. 



IT is scarcely possible to place a limit upon the 
acting of unscrupulous men and women when in des 
perate straits to obtain money. I know of a case in 
which a woman deliberately hired herself to furnish 
a rich married woman, who was desirous of obtaining 
a divorce from her husband, with such evidence as 
would be sufficient to warrant any court in Christen 
dom in granting the application, notwithstanding the 
fact that the husband so far as known, had led an 
unblemished life. The gentleman was a wealthy real 
estate owner, and being older than his wife, the lady 
had grown tired of his company, and desired to wed 
a younger man, who had captivated her affections. 
She had attempted previously to obtain a divorce and 
alimony on the ground of adultery, but failing to 
produce testimony to support this allegation the case 
was summarily dismissed by the judge before whom 
the case was tried. Then it was that the wife endea 
vored to purchase the testimony, without which it 
would be impossible for her to carry out her designs. 
A so-called private detective was called in, and 
through his influence, the woman was secured who 
agreed to furnish the required evidence. Dressing 
herself in plain black clothing, and with mourning 
jewelry, this woman called upon the husband, at his 


place of business, representing herself to be a wealthy 
widow who was desirous of disposing of some prop 
erty. This led to a second visit and being a woman 
of prepossessing appearance she soon won the regard 
of the unsuspecting husband, who gave her the best 
advice as to the transaction she had sought his opinion 
upon. At length a plan was duly arranged, and at the 
proper moment the wife, accompanied by witnesses, 
burst into her husband s private office, to find the 
hired accomplice, with her arms around the neck ofj 
the astonished and unsuspicious man, who vainly tried 
to extricate himself from this damaging combination 
of circumstances. In this case the husband was 
entirely guiltless of wrong-doing, but the evidence was 
too strong the divorce was granted with liberal 
alimony, and four months afterwards, the designing 
and degraded wife, who had paid $1,000 for this manu 
factured testimony, was married to this young man 
who had ingratiated himself into her favor. As a 
truthful evidence of the utter depravity of human 
nature, this incident is sufficiently suggestive, and it 
was with considerable elation that I afterwards learned 
that the second husband of this woman ran away from 
her in a short time, taking with him several thousand 
dollars which she had fraudulently obtained from the 
man whom she had so basely deceived in the first 




ONE of the strangest and perhaps the most in 
genious and protracted "cases of blackmailing came 
under my notice a few years ago. The parties were 
an unscrupulous medical charlatan, a designing 
woman, and a reputable merchant, who in a moment, 
of weakness succumbed to the wiles and seductive 
charms of the immoral temptress. 

Mr. Samuel Wilkins was a merchant of high stand 
ing in the commercial world, and mingled in the first 
circles of society in a western city. A middle-aged 
man of family, whose wife was interested in many 
acts of charity and benevolence, and whose children 
were reared amid the comforts and restraints of a 
well ordered home. Mr. Wilkins was a fine-looking 
gentleman, a good liver, a hearty, whole-souled com 
panion, and thus far no breath of scandal had ever 
touched himself or his home. 

Mr. Wilkins had frequent occasions to visit New 
York, in order to purchase goods for his large estab 
lishment, and to transact numerous other matters of 
business connected with the proper management of 
his large commercial interests. While in that city he 


invariably made his headquarters at one of the prom 
inent hotels, where he soon became known to the reg 
ular guests of this high toned hostelry. On several 
occasions while stopping at this hotel, Mr. Wilkins 
had noticed a lady of prepossessing appearance, who 
seemed to be alone and unattended. After repeated 
accidental meetings in the corridors and dining room 
of the hotel, an acquaintance, polite and deferential 
at first, sprang up between them. This intercourse 
soon led to quiet social chats in the parlor, during 
which the demure maiden informed Mr. Wilkins that 
her name was Mary Curtis, and that her parents, who 
were in comfortable circumstances, resided in a dis 
tant part of the state, where she might also enjoy 
the comforts of a home, but preferring the bustle and 
gaiety of the city, she had come to New York, and 
was engaged as a music teacher by several of the 
aristocratic families of the metropolis. A mutual af 
fection soon ripened between the western merchant 
and the fair music teacher, and during Mr. Wilkins 
frequent visits to New York, he escorted the young 
lady to the theatre, opera and to little recherche sup 
pers, which appeared to be exceedingly enjoyable to 
them both. Mr. Wilkins also made several presents 
to his new-found friend, which gradually increased in 
value, until expensive articles of wearing apparel 
were accepted with the same delightful grace and 


freedom as a bouquet of flowers or a box at the 

The natural and inevitable result of such an inti 
macy was that the seductive and charming Mary Cur 
tis after a time accepted the protection and bounty 
of her wealthy admirer, and notwithstanding her per 
fect knowledge that he was a married man of family, 
she left the hotel and occupied the apartments which 
were selected and arranged for her by her middle- 
ao^ed but infatuated admirer. 


Mary was supplied with a liberal allowance of 
money, and every wish expressed by her was grati 
fied by the enraptured merchant, who seemed to 
have completely lost his senses over the ravishing 
beauty, who constituted the charm of his existence, 
while he was engaged away from home. Day by day 
the demands of his pretty mistress became more ex 
acting, and during his absences from her, which were 
inevitably long, the mails were burdened with her let 
ters, in which some new caprice would require an ad 
ditional outlay on the part of her married admirer. 

Mr. Wilkins finally became annoyed at these fre 
quent demands for money, and resolved to break off 
an alliance which was both dangerous to his standing 
in the church and society, should it ever become 
known, and extremely costly in a financial sense. On 
the occasion, therefore, of his next visit to New York, 


he determined to communicate his resolution to the 
young woman ; but when he arrived he learned from 
the trembling lips of the young lady that she was in 
that peculiar condition in which another life than her 
own was struggling for existence, and that she feared 
she was about to become a mother. 

This information fell upon the surprised merchant 
as the death-knell of his intentions of separating 
from the girl, and his hopes of avoiding further ex 
pensive outlays in her behalf. With many blushes 
and copious floods of tears the frightened Mary re 
counted her fears and forebodings, and her piteous 
appeals to her protector were so genuine and heart 
rending, that Mr. Wilkins, instead of effecting a re 
lease from his present entanglements, only found 
himself more deeply and hopelessly involved. 

Shortly after this he had occasion to make a sud 
den visit to New York on an imperative matter of 
business, and he arrived in the city without having 
given Mary any intimation of his coming. On re 
pairing to the house unannounced, he was surprised 
to find, calmly seated in her apartments, a tall, hand 
some gentleman who appeared to be making himself 
perfectly at home, and who exhibited marked evi 
dences of confusion at this unexpected meeting. 

Mary was the most composed of the three, and 
without the slightest trace of excitement, introduced 


the stranger to Mr. Wilkins as Dr. Philip Bristow, a 
medical gentleman whom she had engaged to attend 
her in her approaching accouchement, and who had 
simply made a professional call upon her. 

Dr. Philip Bristow was a man above six feet in 
height, with broad shoulders and a commanding 
figure. His hair was long and black, and was worn 
in graceful curls, and his long, flowing mustache was 
of the same color ; his eyes were dark and piercing, 
and his complexion was clear, though dark. Alto 
gether the doctor was a very handsome man, with a 
fine careless air of bravado about him, which im 
pressed one with mingled feelings of admiration and 

The doctor expressed himself as highly gratified 
to meet the husband of his very interesting lady- 
patient, and after a few words of amiable courtesy, 
he took his leave. 

Although somewhat suspicious of this strange 
visitor, Mr. Wilkins forebore to make any remark 
concerning his presence, and Mary, fully assured, 
devoted herself to the entertainment of her unex 
pected friend with a grace and charm which could not 
fail to have its effect. 

Thus matters continued until the time arrived, 
and Mary was duly delivered of a bright, healthy boy. 
The information of this interesting event was con- 


veyed to Mr. Wilkins by the urbane doctor by letter, 
as Mr. Wilkins was compelled to remain in Chicago, 
during the progress of this important addition to his 
cares and anxieties in New York. 

When Mr. Wilkins next visited Mary he was sur 
prised to find her looking very rosy and healthy for a 
new mother, and though still confined to her bed, 
she evinced an animation of spirits scarcely in accord 
with her weakened condition. The baby was 
brought into the room, in the arms of its nurse, and 
to Mr. Wilkins experienced eyes appeared to be a 
remarkably robust and well-grown youngster for the 
limited time he had been favored with existence. 

He began to grow more suspicious and alarmed, 
and when the handsome doctor called in the course of 
the day, and presented a bill for $350 for his serv 
ices, his suspicions were confirmed, and his alarm 
increased. He, however, held his peace, and with 
many professions of thankfulness, he paid the doc 
tor s claim, and made further arrangements for the 
care and welfare of the mother and her babe. 

On his return home, however, Mr. Wilkins sought 
his legal adviser, an old and valued friend and com 
panion, and he related to him without evasion or con 
cealment the details of the whole affair. The attorney, 
who was also a man of the world, at once gave the 
opinion that this was one of the most decided, but 


delicately operated cases of blackmail that had come 
under his notice, and advised Mr. Wilkins to extricate 
himself as soon as possijble from the toils of this 
designing woman and her unscrupulous physician, who 
in the opinion of the astute attorney, was nothing 
more or less than her paramour, and fellow con 

Mr. Sandford, the attorney, being a warm friend 
of mine, applied to me for assistance, and as I was 
well acquainted with Mr. Wilkins, and fully coincided 
in the opinion that he had fallen into the hands of 
sharpers, I agreed to undertake the matter and to 
secure his release from further demands if possible. 

I at once set about the performance of my task, 
and ere many days I was in a position to fully gain 
all the information I desired. The doctor was care 
fully watched, and he was found to be one of the most 
notorious of those scoundrelly physicians who make 
a specialty of treating diseases peculiar to women, 
and who was a noted and unscurpulous abortionist. 
The house of Mary Curtis was also well shadowed, 
and it was found that, notwithstanding the fact of her 
recent motherhood, she received almost daily visits 
Irom this disinterested doctor, who always remained 
all night when making his daily professional calls. 

Satisfied of the undue intimacy existing between 
Dr. Philip Bristow and Mr. Wilkins fair and lovely 


Mary, my next move was to ascertain full particulars 
about the child, and with the assistance of an intelligent 
female operative, who gained the confidence of the 
nurse of the frail Mary, I learned enough to convince 
me that the child which had been imposed upon Mr. 
Wilkins, as his offspring, had been procured from 
some foundling asylum, for the propose of deceiving 
that gentleman, and strengthening the hold of these 
backmailers upon their victim, who fearing the conse 
quences of an exposure of his relations with Mary 
Curtis would be willing to submit to any demands 
upon his purse in order to insure secrecy. 

Nor was I wrong in my convictions, and at last I 
was armed with sufficient proofs of the fact that Dr. 
Bristow and Mary Curtis had lived together as man 
and wife before she made the acquaintance of Mr. 
Wilkins, and I had learned enough of this pseudo 
doctor to know that he had been connected with 
similar experiments in other cities. The fact of the 
baby having been taken from a foundling s home, was 
also proven beyond doubt, and at last, having ob 
tained all the information I desired, Mr. Wilkins was 
instructed to peremptorily refuse to pay any further 
demands which might be made upon him from that 
quarter. This he did emphatically and without any 
unnecessary waste of words, and his refusal was met 
by a threat from the doctor to bring suit against 


him, and to inform his wife and family of his connec 
tion with Mary Curtis. 

At this state of affairs, I came to the rescue in 
person, and boldly entering the doctor s office, I 
demanded an interview with the debased quack. Our 
conversation was very short, and as may be imagined 
directly to the point. I informed the weak-kneed 
braggart that I was in possession of the facts of his 
early history, and if he persisted in hounding Mr. 
Wilkins, he would find himself in prison for a graver 
charge than blackmail, and with a sure promise of 
conviction and punishment. The medical fraud soon 
discovered that his dance was over, and after signing 
a paper, in which he acknowledged the whole scheme 
to be one of fraud and deception, and promising to 
leave the city with his equally guilty mistress, I took 
my departure. 

A few days after this, the doctor disappeared 
mysteriously and the apartments of Mary Curtis 
were vacated. The child was returned to the Found 
ling s home, and Mr. Wilkins was relieved from any 
further demands from this unprincipled pair of black 
mailers. The lesson was not lost upon him, and 
after a frank and manly explanation to his wife, he 
settled himself down to a life of simple and happy 
virtue and content. 

Of Dr. Bristow and Mary Curtis, I have heard at 


frequent intervals, but they have kept out of my way 
too carefully to incur another visit from me, which if 
ever repeated, would be to fully carry out the threat 
I made to them on the occasion of my first call upon 
the charlatan doctor and the blackmailing abortionist. 


SOPHIE LEWIS was a beautiful girl when I first 
met her. Her hair was of raven blackness and curled 

gracefully around her broad low white forehead, 

beneath which her lustrous eyes gleamed with a soft 
brightness that was bewitching. Her bright-red lips 
and pearly teeth gave an additional charm to a face 
that was unmistakably beautiful. 

The manner of my first introduction to her occur 
red under circumstances at once peculiar and not very 
creditable to the lady. Several years ago many of 
the principal dry-goods merchants of the city of Chi 
cago were largely victimized by a numerous coterie 
of shop-lifters who for a long time effectually eluded 
their vigilance. Every day articles would disappear, 
and in the most unaccountable manner. Clerks and 
" floor-walkers " were watchful and vigilant, but in 
spite of their utmost endeavors the closing of the 


stores at night would reveal the fact that during the 
day articles had been stolen which were more or less 
valuable, and in a manner which entirely escaped detec 
tion. The continued success of these thieves alarmed 
the merchants, and at length finding no diminution 
in the operations of these light fingered individuals, 
my agency was applied to by several of the most 
prominent of the mercantile community. I accord 
ingly placed in each one of their stores watchful 
operatives in the capacities of clerks, salesmen and 
floor-walkers, who were instructed to be ever on the 
alert for the detection of these pestilent thieves. 

In one of the largest of these establishments, that 
of Brown, Armstrong & Co., I placed my son Will 
iam A. Pinkerton, feeling fully confident that under 
his surveillance any attempt at shop-lifting would be 
met by instant detection and prompt punishment. 

One day shortly after his appearance in the store, 
he noticed a handsomely dressed young lady who 
awakened an instinctive suspicion in his mind. Why, 
he could not tell, but as she swept past him in flowing 
robes, the idea flashed through his mind that this lady 
required watching, and he quietly and unobservedly 
kept her in view. j 

The object of this unaccountable suspicion was a 
tall, well-formed young lady of about twenty years of 
age. Her hair was black and waving, and her dark 


eyes were full of expression, and a vivacity that was 
captivating, while the rich color mantled her cheek 
giving to the otherwise pale face a sweetness that was 
bewitching. Her apparel was of the richest material 
and of the most fashionable design, sparkling dia 
monds were suspended from her small shell-like ears 
and glistened brightly upon her taper-fingers. 

Certainly not one who would ordinarily be accused 
of shop-lifting, but William could not overcome the 
suspicions which impressed him so forcibly as his eyes 
rested upon her for the first time. A beautiful in 
genuous face is not always a sure index of the purity 
and honor of the possessor, and very often in my ex 
perience it has only been the outward sham which 
covered a base and degraded heart. 

This woman wore an article of apparel called a 
" dolman," a loose mantle with wide flowing sleeves, 
which was made of the finest quality of silk. As 
William followed her carelessly around the store, he 
noticed several times that as she would inquire the 
prices of the various articles displayed upon the 
counters, those wide sleeves would invariably cover a 
large amount of space which was filled with numerous 
articles of value openly exposed for sale. In her 
hand the lady carried a goodly sized and very hand 
some shopping reticule of unique design, and the 
watchful detective was confident that several times in 


her wanderings about the store he noticed a suspi 
cious movement of this embroidered receptacle. 

A closer scrutiny rendered the conviction certain, 
and as the lady, having concluded her visit, turned to 
leave the store, William stepped in front of her. 
Politely removing his hat he addressed her : 

" I am very sorry, madam, but I am afraid you 
will be required to accompany me." 

The beautiful face paled before the searching eyes 
of the determined detective, and her lips attempted 
an angry reply. 

"What do you mean, sir?" she inquired, in a 
faltering voice. 

"Only this, madam," replied William. "I think 
you have stolen goods in that satchel, and a search is 
necessary to disprove the accusation." 

The pallor had left her face now, and a bright 
scarlet tinged her cheeks, her eyes flashed an angry 
gaze at the man before her. 

" How dare you speak so to me ?" came in quick 
utterances from the scornful lips. " Stand aside at 
once and let me pass !" 

The air of command and dignity was most per 
fectly assumed, and the innocent look of her eyes 
might have deceived many ; but William had been 
too well skilled in matters of deceptive appearances 
to be disturbed in the least by the bewitching display 


of anger on the part of the lady before him. Still 
maintaining his placid demeanor, he said : 

" Madam, you may take your choice, you will 
either accompany me, or I will call an officer at once 
and place you in custody ; but this mysterious satchel 
of yours must be examined." 

As he spoke he reached out his hand and took 
from the unresisting arm of the lady the reticule 
which she carried. Finding her efforts unavailing, 
the lady recovered her composure and signified her 
inclination to accompany my son. 

"You will find that the best plan," said William, 
as he offered her his arm ; " you will thus avoid the 
mortification of a public exposure." 

Requesting one of the gentlemen who composed 
the firm to accompany them, the trio quietly left the 
store, and after a short walk arrived at my Agency, 
where the fair lady was conducted into a private 
office, and where she breathlessly awaited the result 
of the investigation. 

As was expected, the reticule contained several 
articles that had undoubtedly been stolen from the 
store in which she was detected, and, although of 
comparatively trifling value, the fact of her guilt was 
plainly demonstrated to the wondering merchant who 
stood by. 

No sooner had the stolen goods been discovered 


than the merchant s manner underwent a remarkable 
change. Assuming an appearance of anger he 
addressed the lady in the most abusive terms, and 
finally, to the utter amazement of my son, he con 
cluded by demanding of the discomfited lady the 
sum of three hundred dollars in order to compro 
mise the matter, and to save her the exposure of a 
public trial. 

This novel and unexpected turn of affairs was a 
complete surprise to William, and so exasperated did 
he become at this attempt to blackmail an unfor 
tunate woman by a man of supposed respectability 
and business reputation, that rising to his feet and 
pointing to the recovered articles, he said : 

" Mr. - , there are the goods that have been 
recovered ; take them and leave this office ; we have 
nothing to do with transactions such as you pro 
pose !" and then walking to the door he threw it 
wide open, then turning to the lady " Madam, we 
have nothing further to do with this matter, and you 
are at liberty to depart at once." 

Before the astonished merchant could recover 
himself sufficiently to utter a word the woman had 
disappeared, and William had entered an adjoining 
room, leaving the discomfited blackmailer to find his 
way out as best he could. 

The beauty of this sinful woman piqued the 



curiosity of my son and he determined to learn her 
history, and not long afterwards he was successful in 
acquiring all the information he desired in relation to 
her career and antecedents. The young woman was 
found to be one Sophie Lewis, a daughter of one of 
the most noted thieves of the day. She had been 
reared in an atmosphere of crime from her infancy, 
and had been a thief almost from the cradle. Her 
beauty had been a safeguard to her, and very often 
when detected in petty pilferings, her beautiful plead 
ing, tear-filled eyes had saved her from the punish 
ment which would have certainly overtaken one less 
favored by nature. 

This was her first appearance in Chicago, and 
consequently her first introduction to the detective, 
who, although being perfectly conversant with the 
history of the father, did not until now know of the 
existence of this beautiful but dishonest daughter. 

Shortly after this the beautiful Jewess, for such 
she was proven to be, became acquainted with a 
noted bank burglar and desperado named Ned Little. 
Her handsome face attracted the admiration of this 
lawless man, and after a short but loving courtship 
they were married. By this union five children were 
born, and the mother endeavored to bring them up 
in an honorable manner. Every attention was paid 
to their edacation, and they never knew the preca- 


rious calling of their father who practiced his profes 
sion with unremitting ardor, and who accumulated 
quite a large sum of money. 

At last Ned Little getting into difficulty fled with 
his wife and family to Canada where he would be safe 
from the officers of the United States, and here he 
established himself in a fine villa and lived in magnifi 
cent style for a number of years. Tiring at length 
of the uneventful life he was leading, he left his 
Canadian home and began again the life of crime 
which he had led before. It would have been better 
for him if he had been contented to remain where he 
was, for very soon after this, becoming identified with 
several thieving operations, he fell into the hands of 
the officers of the law and was arrested on Long 
Island upon a charge of bank-robbery. Upon being 
searched a package of ten thousand dollars was found 
upon his person, which was recognized as having 
been stolen some months previously from one Mike 
Murray, a New York sporting man, who identifying 
his property was rejoiced to have returned to him a 
sum of money, the recovery of which he had long 
since abandoned all hope. Little was placed upon 
trial for his offenses and being duly committed was 
sentenced to a long term of imprisonment. 

Sophie Little, the wife of the imprisoned burglar, 
from this time began a course of living which soon 


resulted in her downfall. She had pre\iously con 
tracted the habit of opium-eating, and very soon after 
this became a slave to the pernicious drug and to the 
use of morphine. 

Leaving her children to the care of friends and in 
educational institutions, this woman, who still retained 
many traces of her former beauty, became connected 
with several gangs of sneak thieves and traveled 
over the country in their company. Her part in these 
transactions was what is known as a * call out," and 
the duty which devolved upon her was as follows : 

The bank to be operated upon would be selected, 
generally in some country town where but few clerks 
were employed and where, during certain hours in the 
day, the office would be frequently left to the care of 
a single official. At that time a party would drive up 
to the front of the building in a carriage and would 
request the clerk to step out to the sidewalk, as the 
lady was an invalid and could not leave the vehicle. 
The unsuspecting clerk would comply with the request, 
when he would be immediately engaged in a conversa 
tion upon matters of business by the party who had 
requested his presence, and while thus engrossed, the 
rest of the gang, or whoever had been deputed to do 
so, would sneak into the bank and take any package 
of money that could be easily reached and make their 
escape ; after which the clerk would be dismissed by 


his entertaining invalid customer, and the party would 
make off with their booty. 

For some time she continued this mode of living, 
and during the two or three years that followed her 
husband s imprisonment she had been associated with 
the most of the prominent gangs of sneak thieves in 
the country, with whom she managed to successfully 
escape detection and to maintain herself and her 

She soon, however, became morally bad, and the 
next information that was received of her was to the 
effect that, abandoning her old profession, she had 
adopted the nefarious calling of a blackmailer, and 
had on more than one occasion been successful in 
fleecing gentlemen of standing and supposed respect 
ability of various sums of money. The first case 
that came to my notice occurred in Cincinnati, Ohio, 
where by her beauty and captivating manners she 
had completely won the affections of a prominent 
merchant of that city. This man was married and the 
father of an interesting family, but so thoroughly had 
the wily adventuress wormed herself into his affec 
tions, that the man, forgetting the ties which bound 
him to his home, careless of the duties which he owed 
to society, yielded himself to an infatuation he seemed 
unable to control. The result of this intrigue was 
that the merchant was lured into a chamber in the 


Grand Hotel, where this tempting siren resided, and 
then having disrobed, the unprincipled woman secured 
his clothes and impudently demanded the sum of ten 
thousand dollars, or failing to recover this, she threat 
ened to alarm the house, when he would be discovered 
and his reputation ruined. 

Finding it impossible to escape- the snare into 
which he had fallen, the deluded man compromised 
with this depraved woman by agreeing to give her a 
check for five thousand dollars, which she accepted, 
and receiving this she permitted him to depart a 
poorer and a wiser man. When the designing 
woman presented the check for payment she was 
exceedingly surprised to find that her dupe had 
anticipated her, that payment had been stopped, and 
she was promptly arrested. 

This was a turn in the tide, very unexpected to 
the adventuress, and learning that the merchant had 
succeeded in obtaining damaging information of her 
previous history, she was very glad to accept the 
terms he offered her and to leave the city at once. 

Again she was heard from in Boston, where she 
was more successful, and where a pious member of 
an orthodox church, whose voice was loudest in the 
tabernacle, and whose virtue was believed to be 
impregnable, succumbed to the bewitching glances of 
the seductive temptress and was glad to escape a 


scene of exposure by paying her a goodly sum of 

After this adventure she returned to the west and 
lived for a long time in Detroit, where she again took 
up the business of a shop-lifter ; but being detected, 
was arrested in that city and held for trial. Several 
influential gentlemen, however, at this time, out of 
sympathy for the five children, which this woman still 
maintained, interested themselves in her behalf, and 
under a promise of reform, she was allowed her 

Reform was impossible with a woman of her 
temperament ; her appetite for excitement and 
wickedness remained unabated, and she continued 
the use of the drugs which had originally led to her 
degrading practices. For a time, however, she dis 
appeared from the notice of the public, and but little 
was heard from her, but at length she came to the 
surface again, and in a more disgusting light than 
ever before. 

In the month of September, 1879, a rather pre 
possessing female, apparently on the friendly side of 
forty, made her appearance in the city of Jackson, 
Michigan, in the role of a wealthy widow \vho was 
desirous of investing in real estate in that vicinity. 
She took up her quarters at a prominent hotel in the 
city, where she registered herself under the name of 


Mrs. Kate Larungie, and represented herself as but 
recently from the South. 

She soon made the acquaintance of a prominent 
real estate broker, who at that time was quite 
wealthy, but who has since, owing to a succession of 
reverses, become impoverished. One day while she 
was walking along the main street with this gentle 
man, a buggy containing a gentleman of about fifty 
years of age, and his wife passed them, and saluta 
tions passed between the two gentlemen. The oc 
cupant of the carriage was a Mr. Alvin Pat ton, a 
man of considerable means, and who despite his 
years, was regarded as a rather gay old boy. The 
comely form of Mrs. Larungie, and her stylish ap 
pearance, at once attracted the attention of Mr. 
Patton, and he lost no time in inquiring from his 
friend the name of the lady who so much interested 
him. The information was accorded him, and also 
the fact that the lady was desirous of purchasing real 
estate. As Patton was an extensive owner of pro 
perty, he invited the agent to bring the interesting 
widow to his house, which he did, and the acquaint 
ance thus begun soon ripened into an intercourse 
scarcely in accord with the strictest ideas of morality. 

Mr. Patton s wife shortly after this departed for 
the South for the benefit of her health, and solitude 
reigned in the large mansion. The gay husband 


grew lonesome, and pined for the distractions of 
female society, and on the second evening after the 
departure of the unsuspecting wife, the dashing 
southern widow was admitted, under the cover of 
darkness, into the lonely residence of the disconsolate 
Patton. From that time forth, the sacred precincts 
of a respectable home were transformed into a Satur- 
naiian realm, with the dashing and depraved widow 
as priestess over the nocturnal orgies. Patton in 
vited two friends of the same " buckish " tendencies, 
and over cards and wine the hours passed away upon 
the wings of pleasure. What transpired within the 
walls of that reputable home would scarcely be a 
revelation for ears polite. The spell of the enchant 
ress was upon them, and it was afterward testified 
that, heated with wine, these men would remove the 
drapery from the form of the lascivious widow, and 
hold high carnival in the presence of her unvailed 
charms. The woman, though apparently entering 
with hearty zest into these disgusting scenes, was 
simply playing a part, and never for a moment lost 
sight of her object ; but unfortunately for the success 
of her schemes, she was too precipitate in her de 
mands. On the fifth morning after these events had 
commenced, the widow demanded a sum of money 
from the owner of the house, and he, being of a 
miserly disposition, declined to accede to her request, 


This was the signal for a scene of violence as unex 
pected as it was disastrous. The irate widow, seiz 
ing a large conch shell that lay conveniently near, 
dashed it through an expensive mirror, shattering it 
into a hundred pieces, and her temper gaining fury 
from the first ebullition, she became unmanageable. 
Curtains, luxurious furniture, and articles of expen 
sive ornamentation were soon strewn about the room 
in a state of dilapidation and confusion that was ap 
palling. The feelings of the surprised Mr. Patton 
may well be imagined, and summoning up all his 
strength and fortitude, the lady found herself upon 
the sidewalk. An attorney was immediately sent for, 
and Kate accompanied him to his office, where she 
divulged to him her demand for money and the events 
that had followed. She engaged his services in a 
suit to be commenced against Patton, at the same 
time accusing him of attempting to take her life with 
a revolver. 

On the following morning the unscrupulous wom 
an again repaired to the Patton mansion, and grasp 
ing the bell-knob rang a summons loud and long. 
The owner of the premises was within, but remem 
bering the experiences of the preceding day, he de 
clined to respond and for fully half an hour the undis 
mayed widow pulled at the unoffending bell, and 
rained its tintinnabulations into the old man s ears. 


Of course this proceeding attracted a crowd and the 
sidewalk was soon filled with pedestrians who enjoyed 
the scene immensely. At length, finding her efforts 
at the bell unavailing she began to try the windows, 
and finding one unfastened she raised it quickly and 
sprang into the room, boldly confronting the fright 
ened Patton, who cowered trembling into a corner. 
Without a word, she rushed into the bedroom, and 
hastily removing her outer clothing, jumped into the 
bed. This was too much for the cowardly man to 
endure, and he immediately dispatched a servant to 
the house of one of his friends to come to his assist 
ance. This friend was one of the two who had par 
ticipated in the festivities before matters assumed 
such a warlike attitude, and he hastened at once to 
relieve the anxiety of the poor victim who had 
besought his aid. 


Arriving at the house, the woman protested that 
she had been there all night, and made an attempt to 
repeat her demolishing operations of the day before. 
This the new-comer would not permit, and being a 
man of stalwart proportions, and of considerable 
nerve, he informed the woman that he would brain 
her with his cane if she attempted any further efforts 
of that kind. Finding that he was in earnest she de 
sisted, and a policeman was finally sent for, who con 
ducted the discomfited woman to jail. 


A trial followed, in which the disgusting details of 
their illicit meetings were brought to light, and now a 
shadow is resting upon the homes of these men, who, 
until the advent of this dangerous creature were re 
garded as respectable and high-toned ; and the 
woman, who was none other than Sophie Little, in 
stead of receiving the money she demanded, found 
herself an inmate of a prison. 

How long she remained in jail is not known, but 
it is believed that her pardon was urged by the very 
men whom she had attempted to bleed, and she finally 
returned to Detroit, where she conducted herself 
more quietly than she had done for some time pre 

In January, 1881, she became the mother of a 
child, and, considering the fact that her husband had 
been in prison for several years, and is still in durance 
vile, the matter occasioned some comment. The 
woman, immediately after her recovery, began again 
a systematic course of attempted blackmail, and more 
than one prominent citizen of Detroit was threatened 
with exposure as the father of her child, unless he 
responded liberally to her demands for money. But 
by this time she had become too well known to suc 
ceed in her demands, or to work any harm in case of 
refusal, and the " morphine maniac," as she was now 
generally called, found herself defeated at all points 


in her pernicious attempts to injure the reputations of 
respectable men. 

At length, becoming exasperated at her lack of 
success, or acting under the influence of her favorite 
drug, she attempted to take the life of a respectable 
citizen of the latter named city. Mr. Harding is a 
quiet mannered, reputable gentleman, who has always 
been regarded with favor by every one with whom he 
was acquainted, and the attack upon him was a sur 
prise to many. 

The circumstances attending this occurrence ap 
peared to be as follows: During the month of March 
Mr. Harding had arrived at his office in the morning, 
and was engaged in transacting some business with 
three gentleman who had called for that purpose, 
when a lady, heavily vailed, entered, and asked to see 
Mr. Harding. That gentleman informed the lady 
that he would be disengaged presently, and requested 
her to take a seat, which she did. After the business 
which had occupied his attention had been satisfacto 
rily disposed of, the three gentlemen withdrew, and 
Mr. Harding turned his attention to the lady, who 
still sat heavily vailed in his office. 

As the door closed upon the retreating figures of 
the three men, the woman arose suddenly to her feet, 
and, throwing aside her vail, addressed him in a loud, 
excited voice : 


" Henry Harding, are you prepared to make re 
paration for the wrong you have done me?" 

" I do not know what you mean," said Mr. Hard 
ing, utterly surprised at the demand so suddenly made 
upon him. 

" You know very well what I mean," answered the 
woman, glaring fiercely at him. 

" Indeed, madame, I do not," quickly replied Mr. 

Without another word, the tigress drew from 
under her cloak a large revolver, and pointing it di 
rectly in his face, pulled the trigger. The gentleman 
was too quick, however, for the excited woman, and, 
throwing up her arm, the ball was lodged in the ceil 
ing. Instantly she was disarmed, and a policeman 
was sent for, into whose custody she was remanded, 
and by him she was conducted away. 

She had evidently made a very bad selection in 
her choice of a victim this time, and all the vile 
charges she urged against Mr. Harding were utterly 
disproved by reliable witnesses, and at last the un 
fortunate and wicked woman will be allowed the nec 
essary time for reflection and reformation under the 
correctionary influences of a loss of liberty and strict 
prison discipline. 

What her future career may be it is impossible to 
say, but for her children who will be dependent upon 


the attention of strangers, and whose parents are 
both inmates of prisons, a feeling of profound sympa 
thy exists, which may eventually lead them into the 
right paths and conduce to lives of morality. 

I have thus attempted to relate several of the 
general features of the operations of the confidence 
man, the bunko steerer and the blackmailer, and 
have selected those in which the least objectionable 
revelations were made. There are many cases in 
which the disclosures are too immoral for recital any 
where, and particularly in a work of this character. I 
trust, however, in these revelations that I have given 
an adequate idea of the extensive work of a class of 
people who may be said to live by their wits, and by 
the prostitution of talents which would have been 
more valuable if correctly employed. The existence 
of these people is at all times precarious. Success 
ful to-day, but to-morrow defeated, improverished 
and in the clutches of the law, they finally drift along 
the swift current of immorality until they reach a 
miserable end. Too low and too small for great 
criminals, they have been content with petty crimes 
and base practices, and in the end the prison or 
the river are the last resorts of those who, not hav 
ing the courage to lead good and honorable lives, 

o o o 

they slink out of existence by the cowardly methods 
of the drunkard and the suicide. 



Bank Burglars. Locating their Mark. Burglars and Dynamite. 
Brokers who open a Bank. The Oyster Dealer. The 
Dentist. The Shoemaker. The Barber. Inside Work. The 
Cashier as a Burglar s Assistant. Methods, Tools and Imple 
ments of the Burglar. A Would-be Burglar Trapped. 

IN attempting a description of the methods which 
have from time to time been adopted by the 
burglar, I approach a wide field for investigation a 
field so varied and comprehensive, that to perform 
my labor satisfactorily, involves a task not easy of 
accomplishment. It may be said that ever since 
man attempted to put safeguards around his posses 
sions ; from the time that the thrifty and the cautious 
took the first measures to secure their valuables from 
unlawful appropriation, the burglar has existed. At 
first it must be admitted the precautions taken to se- 


cure safety, were both primative and meagre, and the 
methods of the thief did not of necessity, evince any 
indications of either merit or ingenuity. They were 
intended simply to break down the weak barriers 
which existed between the wealth of their victims, 
and their own desires to appropriate the property of 
another, and were in the main, successful. Experi 
ence however, is a stern and unyielding preceptor, 
and after each successful robbery, the honest mind 
was taxed to produce a newer and a better means of 
defense than the last had been. Not mere ingenuity 
alone would now suffice, for the thief became as in 
genious as the protector, and despite many curious, 
and apparently efficient efforts at security, the burg 
lar invariably succeeded in his object, and safely de 
spoiled those who had sought to prevent his depreda 
tions by ingenious devices. 

Science and invention now came into play, 
strength and security were believed to be synonymous 
terms, and stone and iron and steel were fashioned 
into various unique designs to resist the operations 
of the daring and irrepressible thieves. Vaults and 
safes of numerous patterns and of infinite variety 
were manufactured, and used for the protection of 
valuable and perishable property, from the devasta 
tions of fire, as well as from the operations of the dis 
honestly inclined. It is a lamentable fact, however, 


which must be admitted, that the thief kept pace with 
the skillful manufacturer, and that no sooner was 
some novel invention brought into general use, than 
the cracksmen had succeeded in discovering its 
weakest point, and after a short well-directed effort, 
obtained an entrance, and robbery was once more 
successful. Ponderous and imposing safes that seem 
ingly would defy the attempts of a legion of burglars 
were opened with the ease of inserting one s latch-key 
into one s own front-door, and morning revealed the 
visit of the burglar, the broken safe, and the expas- 
perating absence of the valuables it had contained. 

Incited to renewed efforts by the continued suc 
cess of these desperate marauders, and resolved to 
perfect something that would resist their assaults, the 
numerous manufacturers applied themselves anew to 
the task, and each year witnessed some new invention 
or improvement, destined only to yield in the end to 
the increased knowledge and superior implements of 
the thief. It seemed that the skill of the burglar was 
equal to all emergencies, and in many cases, entrances 
were effected through parts of these strong boxes, 
which the manufacturers had entirely overlooked in 
their eager desire to make doubly secure the natural 
approaches to their contents. Strong bolts were made 
that were set into weak fastenings, and heavy im 
penetrable doors were attached to the safes by hinges, 


which were utterly inadequate to resist the force that 
was brought to bear upon them. 

It is impossible to trace the various and almost 
numberless improvements, which have been made in 
the manufacture of fire and burglar-proof safes and 
vaults. How from cast and wrought iron-plates we 
have advanced to the chilled-iron, the steel, the frank- 
linite, and the crossed bars within the lining, until it 
w r as hoped that honesty had at last triumphed. But 
the hope was a delusive one, and after the expended 
labor and skill of years, we have heard the confession 
made that the best thing even now that modern 
manufacturers can successfully claim is, that they have 
at last perfected a safe that will resist the efforts of 
the most expert burglar sufficiently long to prevent 
them from effecting an entrance in a single night. The 
claim is not, therefore, that their safes and vaults are 
absolutely impregnable, but that their powers of re 
sistance are so great, that it would be impossible to 
open them by any means until the coming of daylight, 
and the increasing chances of detection, would compel 
the thieves to abandon their task uncompleted. 

It is idle to decry, or to affect a contempt for the 
skill of the expert burglar, for experience has demon 
strated beyond question that he is possessed of more 
than ordinary mechanical knowledge, and that his 
energy and patience are phenomenal. Nor is there 


any reason why this should not be so. The burglar 
is trained to his vocation by the hardest discipline 
known to man. From his earliest and most primitive 
efforts, until he has mastered all the intricate and dif 
ficult points of his questionable profession there are 
ever present before him two startling alternatives. 
The somber walls of a prison and a long term of servi 
tude, in case of failure, and in the event of success, the 
possession of fabulous amounts of money, with which 
to gratify his every wish and desire. 

Is it not to be expected, when by the labor of a 
few hours, a thief may win for himself many thou 
sands of dollars, that he will bend every effort and 
devote every faculty of his being, to the accomplish 
ment of his purpose ? Criminal history contains 
many episodes in which the daring thieves have suc 
cessfully carried away in a single night, money and 
valuable securities which have aggregated to several 
hundreds of thousands of dollars, and when we con 
sider the latent desire for the possession of money, 
which is inherent in every disposition, and the 
comparative ease and safety with which trained 
burglars commit their depredations, it is not a 
matter of wonder, that long hours and sharpened 
intellects should be devoted to the task of seeking 


the easier, and the more effectual means of accom- 
splishing an object, the result of which are fraught 


with so much pleasure or pain, and which are 
attended with unbounded enjoyment or long years of 
suffering and unavailing regret behind iron bars. 

When we consider the desperate hazard of the 
burglar, we can readily understand how careful, and 
how thorough must be the work which he attempts 
to clo, and how much study and skill have been 
applied to the tasks which he has set himself to 

I have found as many mechanical enthusiasts 
among the fraternity of burglars, as will be discovered 
amid the throng of legitimate workmen, and no 
inventor ever labored more assiduously to perfect a 
laudable object, than have these desperate men 
devoted themselves to the discovery of the means to 
controvert their efforts and to render their inventions 
valueless and of no avail. In many cases, I have 
known expert professional burglars, who have 
expended hundreds of dollars in the purchase 
of one of these perfected and patented safes, 
for no other purpose than the endeavor to cir 
cumvent its promised safety by a careful examina 
tion of its various parts, and of numberless 
experiments, while secure from interruption or 
discovery. So exceedingly proficient have many 
of them become in the art of safe-opening, that 
I have known of more than one instance where 


burglars have been taken from their prison cells to 
open safes and vaults whose owners have forgotten 
the complicated combinations, by which it was 
safely locked at a previous time. This, too, after 
experienced workmen in the honest walks of life had 
expended their energies and resources in the futile 
effort to open the safe, without demolishing the 
costly works which had rendered security thus pos 
sible. In every case the burglars succeeded in mas 
tering 1 the combination after the labor of an hour or 


two, and to the surprise of the incredulous specta 
tors, the ponderous doors were thrown open without 
the slightest violence or injury to the safes. 

When, therefore, dishonest men have attained to 
such mechanical excellence, it behooves every one who 
desires the safety of their valuable property to be 
doubly alert, and ever on their guard against the in 
vasion of their premises by men who are as daring and 
unscrupulous, as they are skillful and ingenious. Of 
course the cases mentioned above are rare, but that 
they occur is beyond doubt, and every succeeding 
year but adds to the increasing knowledge of the 
criminal, and makes absolute protection a matter al 
most impossible of attainment. 

It must not be supposed that the robbery of a 
bank vault is in every instance but the work of a 
single night, in which the thieves locate their premi- 


ses, effect their entrance, demolish the safe and carry 
off their booty, ere the sun comes peeping over the 
hills, for such is not and has never been the case. 

Indeed, investigation has always shown that weeks, 
and frequently months, have elapsed between the con 
ception of the plot, and the actual robbery. Exami 
nations after a robbery has been committed, reveal 
startling facts, and in almost every case traces will be 
found, which prove beyond question that the thieves 
were as thoroughly acquainted with every movement 
of the bank officials, and with every portion of the de 
spoiled premises as the occupants themselves, and in 
many instances there are unmistakable indications of 
the actual presence of the burglars, before the at 
tempt was made to begin the active labor of breaking 
into the vaults. 

As my object is to seek to avert future disaster by 
timely warnings, I shall endeavor to detail the various 
movements of the burglars from the time the idea of 
robbery is first entertained until the crime is commit 
ted, and the booty has been carried off. An active ser 
vice of more than thirty years among this class of crim 
inals enables me to speak from actual experience, and 
I shall detail only such facts as that experience has 
brought to my knowledge. If I shall be instrumental 
in creating a more vigilant spirit among those who of 
fer tempting inducements to the skillful burglar, and 


if my warnings shall result in either decreasing the 
number of such crimes committed, or in hastening the 
discovery and apprehension of the criminals them 
selves, I shall feel amply repaid for the labor I have 
performed, and for the time I have devoted to this 

In personal appearance and manner, the expert 
burglar offers no warning note to the suspicious 
banker or merchant, and he may converse for a long 
time with one of this class without for an instant sus 
pecting his calling, or being aware that the courteous 
and affable gentleman who is addressing him is at that 
very moment engaged in a watchful scrutiny, or in 
laying the ground for a robbery, which may not only 
impoverish the institution he represents, but impair 
its financial credit for all time. Instead of the vulgar, 
low-browed and sinister looking thief, who figures so 
extensively in police courts and quarter sessions trials, 
we have to deal with the gentlemanly and intelligent, 
the scientific and calculating man of the world. Many 
of these men have married into eminently respectable 
families, and have maintained a status in society which 
forbade the harboring of the faintest suspicion against 
their honor, or the slightest doubt of their standing 
in the communities in which they resided. 

One of the most noted of this fraternity was be 
lieved for years to be connected with the Secret Ser- 


vice of the United States Government, and this be 
lief was entertained, not only by his social companions, 
but by the young and beautiful lady to whom he was 
married, and by all of her high-toned relatives. It 
was not until the vigilance of the detectives under my 
guidance had traced this gentlemanly burglar to his 
aristocratic haunts and surroundings, that the revela 
tion was made of his true character, and the humilia 
tion and disgrace which followed this discovery, 
involved several of the most eminent families in a 
metropolitan city. It must, therefore, be understood, 
that expert and professional bank robbers are a dis 
tinct and exclusive fraternity, and under no circum 
stances are to be classed with dishonest practitioners 
in the lower grades of crime. They stand unrivalled 
among their associates, and rarely, if ever, stoop to 
any robbery below that of a bank. 

Their ruling ambition is to perform their work in 
the most skillful and perplexing manner possible, and 
next to securing a startling amount of money and val 
uables, their especial pride is in leaving behind them 
indisputable evidences of their dexterity and skill in 
the calling which they have adopted, and which they 
prosecute so profitably. 

In the years that have passed, marked improve 
ments have been made in the tools and implements 
of these cracksmen, They no longer burden them* 


selves with the heavy, massive, and unwieldy tools 
and appliances of former times, or those which even 
now are in use by the English burglar, but substitute 
for them small and ingenious, but powerful imple 
ments of their own design, and frequently of their 
own manufacture. Not the least important among 
these are the simple lamp and blow-pipe for destroy 
ing the temper of the metals upon which they oper 
ate, and which science has taught these gentry to 
dexterously use, to soften the hardened metals which 
heretofore had occasioned so much trouble, and 
necessitated such a vast amount of labor. The small 
and highly tempered drills, which silently but surely, 
gnaw their way into the very heart of a safe and 
that wonderful invention, the diamond drill, which 
has been proven on several occasions to be more than 
a match for the hardest metals of modern manufac 
ture. Then, too, there are the air-pump ; the copper 
sledge-hammers and mallets with their coatings of 
leather, whose tremendous blows are scarcely heard ; 
and the all-powerful " Jack-screw," which is capable 
of a pressure of tons. These and many other like 
improved and finished tools, of which I shall speak 
more definitely hereafter, comprise the implements of 
the burglar of the present day, and in practiced hands 
render powerful assistance in their nefarious opera 


That so many gigantic robberies should have oc 
curred in the past, and in many instances, without 
the slightest clew to the perpetrators, evinces, to say 
the least, a decided lack of that caution which should 
characterize all careful custodians of the finances 
of others. In some cases, it was shown that the 
work of the burglars had been going on, night 
after night, for weeks; that during the dark hours, 
while the world was sleeping, the thieves were 
digging their way, step by step, to the hidden treas 
ures ; and while apparently secure from intrusion or 
interruption in an adjoining building, they removed 
heavy walls of masonry, and at last entered the 
vaults, and escaped with their plunder before any 
one, even the watchmen upon the premises, were 
aware of their presence. It may seem incredible, 
but the instances are not few where this very state of 
affairs existed. 

The devices and expedients of the burglars are 
almost inexhaustible, and in the pages which follow I 
will attempt to describe some of the most important 
of them. No particular mode of operation will an 
swer for all cases, and the robbers evince a fertility of 
resource and a ready adaptiveness to circumstances, 
which, while they produce humiliation and loss, can 
not fail to excite admiration from an artistic point of 


We will now attempt to detail, as fully as is possi 
ble under the circumstances, the plans of operation 
of this most dangerous class of criminals the 


One of the first things which the burglars consider, 
is the choice or location of their object of attack. 
Great care is necessary in such inspection, as from 
the correctness of these investigations, the sole hope 
of success depends. In this selection various impor 
tant points are fully and deliberately discussed The 
approaches to the bank building are carefully exam 
ined, and the peculiar construction and location of 
the vaults are thoroughly learned from frequent vis 
its to the interior of the bank by men, who, while ap 
parently engaged in transacting some trifling busi 
ness, or asking some question of a financial nature, 
are covertly taking notes of everything connected 
with the general arrangement of matters inside. If 
the building is occupied by other tenants, this fact is 
noted, and a general knowledge of the habits and 
vocations of these people is soon obtained. Adjoin 
ing buildings also receive their share of thorough 
examination, and when the advance guard of the burg- 


lars have finished their observations they are as fully 
informed of everything connected with the bank, as 
are the officers themselves. Especial attention is 
paid to the question of how the bank is watched after 
nightfall ; whether the watchers remain within the 
building, or patrol the outside ; and also to discover 
at what time the watchmen are relieved, or leave the 
bank in the morning. 

Approaches from the rear, at the sides, or through 
the roof, are also carefully noted, and when all these 
facts have been acquired, the burglars are prepared 
to decide the important question as to whether the 
attempt is practicable or had best be abandoned. 
Many times, after devoting weeks to these prelimi 
nary examinations, the thieves have come to the con 
clusion that the difficulties in the way of success are 
too great to be overcome, within a limited time and 
without detection, and have consequently decided to 
seek some easier and more accessible object of attack. 
A large number of our bankers are in entire ignor 
ance of the fact, that their institutions have been 
carefully examined, and that plans to rob them had 
at one time, been seriously entertained. 

Of late years the banks in the larger cities, have 
been studiously ignored, even by the most expert 
professionals, because of the extreme difficulty of 
effecting an entrance, and the increased chances of 


detection. But even in such cases, evidences have 
been obtained which sustain the belief that this 
avoidance was only determined upon after the prem 
ises had been thoroughly and systematically ex 
amined. Banks in the less populous cities, and in 
the larger towns therefore receive the attention of 
these experienced cracksmen, and every care and 
precaution are necessary to guard against their 

One of the methods resorted to by some of the 
more expert of this class of burglars, and where 
heavy robberies are contemplated, is to ascertain, by 
watching the residence of the cashier, and then to 
gain an entrance to his sleeping apartment by the 
measures restorted to by house-breakers or hotel 
thieves. By this means wax impressions of the keys 
to the bank building, the vault and the safe, have 
been obtained while the cashier slumbered on peace 
fully, and entirely unconscious of the presence of the 
burglar at his bedside. From these wax impressions 
exact duplicates are made, and the burglar is then 
ready for successful operation whenever the proper 
opportunity arrives to secure the greatest amount of 

Where this plan has been found impracticable, 
the cashier s house has been invaded by a number of 
burglars in the still hour of the night, and the entire 


housenold have been bound and gagged almost 
before they were conscious of what was transpiring 
around them. The cashier was then compelled, 
upon threats to murder him in case of refusal, to 
deliver up the keys to the bank, and in some cases, 
to reveal the combination by which the vaults were 
opened. Leaving one or two of their number to 
guard the prisoners the rest of the gang would hasten 
to the bank, and in a short time, the robbery would 
be successfully accomplished, and the burglars would 
effect their escape, before an alarm could be sounded. 

In committing these robberies, the burglars exhibit 
as much reckless daring as mechanical ingenuity; and 
their exploits, in many instances, rival the imagina 
tions of the romancer and the novelist. 

In making their preliminary examinations of the 
banks throughout the country, the burglars have a 
very simple, but effective way of ascertaining whether 
there is a night watchman inside of the bank, with 
out subjecting themselves to the danger and risk of 
being noticed in watching the premises for this pur 
pose. The device consists of putting a small wedge 
between the door and the casing of the outer door, 
in the evening after the bank is closed, and by observ 
ing whether this wedge remains in its place until the 
bank is opened for business in the morning. This 
proof is deemed conclusive, as on any one opening 


the door, the wedge would fall to the ground, and 
thus show that some one had entered or left the 
building after it had been closed the night before. 


HAVING properly located their " mark," or the bank 
which from examination promises the most satisfac 
tory results, with the least comparative danger of 
detection, these prospectors of crime notify their 
companions, who then meet to discuss the means of 
carrying out their designs of robbery. These being 
fully decided upon, the active work is begun, and in 
order to set forth their manner of working I have 
selected several well known cases in which the modes 
of these daring burglars are fully shown. 


A PROMINENT bank in Elmira, N.Y., was selected, 
upon one occasion, by a band of the most reckless 
and expert burglars, with which this country has ever 
been infested, and they resolved to enter the vault 
and carry off whatever property it contained. 

The bank was located in the Opera House build- 


ing and the apartments directly over the banking- 
room were occupied as the assembly rooms of the 
Young Men s Christian Association of the City, and 
one of these rooms was found to be located directly 
over the vault of the bank. Here then was the point 
of attack but a careful examination of the premises 
disclosed the existence of an obstacle which had not 
been taken into consideration. This room was entered 
through an iron door, which was secured by a lock of 
peculiar construction and with the workings of which 
the burglars were entirely unacquainted. It would 
have been a comparatively easy task to destroy the 
lock and effect their entrance by force, but as their 
labor would occupy several nights, and they would be 
required to open this lock upon each visit, the break 
ing of the lock was not to be considered for a moment. 
Nothing daunted, however, the burglars discovered 
the residence of the secretary of the association, and 
one evening they broke into his house, and without 
disturbing the sleeping occupants, searched his pock 
ets, and other receptacles in the hope of finding the 
keys, and thus obtain a wax impression of them. 
This, however, failed signally, as the secretary, from 
habitual caution, had hidden his keys under the carpet 
in his room, and the burglars were unable to discover 
them. They accordingly quietly made their exit from 
the premises, and on the following morning the secre- 


tary was greatly surprised to notice unmistakable evi 
dences of a burglarious entry into his room, and con 
siderably more so to find that nothing had been car 
ried away. 

The burglars now hit upon the expedient of form 
ing the acquaintance of some one engaged in the 
manufacture of vaults and safes, who would be fully 
posted on the subject of patent locks, and whom 
they could make use of for their purposes. By care 
ful inquiries, they succeeded at length, in finding a 
man who was engaged in the business, and by 
devious and tempting ways they began their 
approaches. In the end their promises of reward 
proved too glittering for his virtue, and he finally 
consented to aid them. This much accomplished, 
the rest proved an easy matter. A note from the 
city in which the burglars were located was written 
to the firm with whom the man was engaged, making 
inquiries about their safes, and this man was sent to 
Elmira, to look after the interests of the firm in that 
city. Upon his arrival, he was met by several of the 
burglars, and their plans were soon completed. It 
was arranged that a small wad of paper should be 
inserted into the lock of the iron door during the 
night, so that it would be impossible to open it in the 
morning. This plan resulted, as it was expected it 
would. The safe-man had caused his presence in 


the town to be generally known, and, on the follow 
ing day, as soon as it was discovered that the lock 
would not work, he was sought out and requested to 
examine it, and, if possible, to repair it. This was 
just what was desired, and while making a pretense 
of repairing the lock he obtained impressions of the 
key. These, in due time, he furnished to the 
burglars and the difficulty of approaching the vault 
of the bank was thus cleared away. 

The active labor upon the vault was then begun. 
The burglars located themselves in the suburbs of 
the city, and every night the gang repaired to the 
Y. M. C. A. rooms, and taking up the flooring con 
tinued their work. Night after night they labored, 
carefully replacing the floor after each visit ; ton 
after ton of stones were removed and carried up to 
the roof of the opera house in baskets. There were 
three or four feet of solid masonry to be dug through, 
some of the stones weighing fully a ton. Then a 
layer of railroad iron was to be overcome, and after 
that a plate of steel, an inch and a-half in thickness. 

After weeks of patient and untiring labor, the 
burglars succeeded in working their way without 
detection, through all these obstructions but the last 
plate of steel, and were contemplating with satisfac 
tion the successful end of their labors. Just at this 
time, however, the president of the bank had occa- 


sion to go into the vault in the evening, and he 
noticed with surprise, a thin layer of white clust upon 
the floor. At once suspecting that something was 
wrong, he notified an officer, and an investigation 
was instituted. The alarm was sounded to the 
thieves, and all succeeded in making their escape 
except one of their number, who was arrested at the 
door, just as he was coming out. This was one of 
the most fortunate frustrations of a robbery known, 
for had they succeeded in their laborious enterprise, 
they would have secured over two hundred thousand 
dollars in greenbacks, and six millions of dollars in 
bonds. As it was, weeks of labor and toil were 
wasted, and the robbery from which such rich results 
were anticipated was a failure, while the defeated and 
disheartened burglars left all their valuable tools 
behind them when they fled. As an illustration of 
the patient and untiring energy of these burglars, 
this incident is fully convincing. 

Undismayed, and with a courage worthy of a bet 
ter cause, this same band of burglars were soon at 
work upon a bank in a different part of the country. 
This time they selected Quincy, Illinois, as their 
point of attack, and the same mode of operation was 
resorted to. Obtaining access to a room in the bank 
building, and directly over the vault, they commenced 
their work. Every night they took up the flooring, 


and continued their attacks upon the top of the 
vault. After patiently working for several weeks 
they at last, reached the safes, and two of their 
number descended into the vault. Here an air-pump 
was applied, and powder was forced through the 
crevices of the doors of the smaller safes, which were 
exploded without danger or discovery, and the thieves 
carried away with them one hundred and twenty 
thousand dollars in money, and over seven hundred 
thousand dollars in valuable securities. 


A ROBBERY was at one time attempted upon a lead 
ing bank in Covington, Ky., and which but for the 
excessive caution of the burglars, would have re 
sulted in serious loss to the bank and the community. 
This bank, as in the case of the one at Elmira, was 
located in the Opera House Building, and by an ex 
amination, it was found that the vault was directly 
under the auditorium. The burglars fitted a key 
to the door of the building, so that they would gain 
uninterrupted access to it, and every night the orches 
tra seats were removed, the flooring taken up, and work 
was continued upon the masonry which constituted 


the top covering of the vault. This was safely and 
expeditiously taken off, and the descent was made into 
the vault. Here they charged the inner safes with 
powder and glycerine, and the explosion which fol 
lowed was a terrific one. So great was the concus 
sion that resulted from this, that the entire ceiling of 
the banking room was torn off, and fell to the floor 
with a crash, filling the room with a dense shower of 
bricks, dust and mortar. The watchers, who had 
been stationed outside, becoming alarmed at the 
noise, at once gave the signal for flight, and the men, 
fearful of their safety, beat a precipitate retreat. In 
those vaults and almost within their grasp, were four 
hundred thousand dollars in greenbacks, and a million 
and a half dollars in good marketable securities. 

The chagrin and disappointment of the burglars 
may be imagined, when they ascertained that their 
alarm had been a needless one, and that the dis 
covery of the attempted robbery did not occur until 
the bank was opened on the following morning. 

It may seem strange and almost incredible that 
such things could take place in a city, guarded by 
night patrolmen, and where safeguards are in exist 
ence for the protection of persons and property, but 
that they have occurred is proven, and that they may 
occur again at any time in the future, is by no means 
impossible. It, therefore, behooves every one con- 


nected with an institution of this character, to main 
tain the strictest watchfulness, and to neglect no pre 
caution which tends to conserve safety and protection. 


PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania, was the scene of a dar 
ing and successful robbery a few years ago. The 
bank was a one story-brick building, with a tin roof, 
and failing to secure any base of operation from ad 
joining buildings, and there being no apartments 
above, it was resolved by the burglars to make an 
entry through the roof of the bank building itself. 
On the first night, the robbers ascended to the roof, 
from the rear of the building, the tin covering was 
carefully cut and taken up and the boards of the roof 
directly over the vault were removed. After finishing 
their labors for that night, the boards were replaced, 
the tin laid down, and the joints cemented with a 
heavy application of red putty. So carefully and com 
pletely was this done, that although a terrific storm 
of rain and sleet occurred on the next day, the roof 
showed no indications of leaking, and no suspicions 
were awakened in the minds of the bank officials. 

The next evening, the tin and boards were again 
removed, and work was resumed upon the vault. A 


layer of bricks was removed, and then the roof was 
replaced as before. This work was carried on faith 
fully until the night of the burglary, which occurred 
about ten days after operations had been commenced. 
As usual, two men went into the vault, while the 
others were stationed outside to watch. Inside of the 
vault were three chilled-iron safes and a burglar-alarm 
of most approved pattern. It was necessary to resort 
to their old method of explosion, and in this narrow 
room, with only a man-hole opening in the top, these 
daring robbers inserted dynamite, with the aid of an 
air pump, into the crevices of the doors. One explo 
sion after another followed, and at last they succeeded 
in opening one of the safes which contained only 
about five hundred dollars in currency and about sixty 
thousand dollars in bonds. No less than twelve ex 
plosions took place in this small vault, and during all 
this time, the men remained to face the danger. The. 
last report was a terrific one, and again the watchers 
gave the alarm. A retreat was thus rendered neces 
sary, and the two men staggered out of the place, 
deathly pale, their clothes saturated with water, their 
lungs filled with the noxious gases, and themselves 
scarcely able to speak or walk. The bonds which 
they carried away, were afterwards compromised" 
back to the bank, but the amount which the thieves 
realized, was comparatively insignificant. 



IN the City of Baltimore, not many years ago, a 
bank located in the busiest portion of the town, was 
successfully entered and robbed by an adroit gang of 
burglars who devoted more than a month to the task 
of effecting an entrance into the vault. The lower 
floor of the building adjoining the bank was vacant, 
and for rent ; and one day, a very gentlemanly look 
ing business man applied to the agent of the prem 
ises, and expressed his desire to lease the unoccupied 
premises. He exhibited letters from prominent mer 
chants to insure his responsibility, and on being in 
formed of the rental exacted, made no objection to 
the figure mentioned. He was questioned as to the 
nature of the business which he designed to carry 
on, and he informed the agent, with a bland smile, 
that his partners and himself designed to transact a 
brokerage business, and might eventually " open a 
bank." The sarcasm of the latter intention was not 
apparent until the bank in the adjoining premises had 
been successfully " opened," and the burglars had es 
caped. The offices were duly furnished and arranged 
for business, and during the business hours of the day, 
one or two clerks could be seen behind the desks with 
ponderous account books open before them, and they 
busily engaged in making entries therein. Numer- 


ous packages and boxes were received and delivered 
at this place, and every indication of legitimate busi 
ness was apparent to the casual visitors and passers- 
by. In the back part of this office there was erected 
a glass partition which cut off the rear of the room, 
and divided it into two offices. In this back part the 
work upon the vaults of the bank was done. A large 
hole was cut through the wall of the building, direct 
ly opposite where the vaults were located, and, night 
after night, these burglars labored assiduously at 
their task. Every morning the bricks and mortar, 
which accumulated over night, was either packed in 
boxes and shipped away, or carried into the cellar, 
and piled up in regular order; and the hole in the 
wall was covered by a large hanging map of the 
United States, which served the double purpose of 
concealment and ornamentation. At length the 
bricks and stones were all removed, and nothing but 
the iron lining of the vault stood between the thieves 
and the object of their desires. On Saturday night 
work was begun upon this iron lining. It is a notice 
able fact that the final work of all these bank robber 
ies is generally performed between Saturday night 
and Monday morning, as the thieves thus have more 
than thirty-six hours for uninterrupted work. With 
their drills the burglars bored a succession of holes 
in a line about a foot and a half square, and before 


many hours they had succeeded in making an open 
ing sufficiently large to admit of the entrance of a 
man into the vault. This much accomplished, the 
rest was easy, and although there was a watchman in 
side of the bank, the burglars succeeded in opening 
the inner safes, and numerous tin boxes belonging to 
special depositors, and making good their escape 
with over a quarter of a million of dollars in money 
and valuable securities which could be readily negoti 
ated. This robbery was not suspected until on the 
following Monday morning, when the cashier on 
opening the vault, was surprised to find the daylight 
shining through from the hole in the wall, and the en 
tire contents in utter confusion and disorder. 

An examination quickly followed, and resulted in 
the discovery of the manner in which the entrance 
had been effected, and also in disclosing the fact that 
the gentlemanly neighbors had succeeded in their in 
tentions of " opening a bank," and had disappeared 
entirely from the scene of action. 



A DECENT looking man, some years since, called 
upon the cashier of a large bank, in a seaport town, 
with a view of renting the cellar and basement under 
neath the bank, representing to him that he wished 
to open an oyster store ; that he had some means to 
invest in the business, and thought he could make it 
pay if anybody could. He also stated that he intended 
to be particular about his customers selling oysters 
by the quart only. After some further conversation, 
the cashier granted him the use of the cellar, and the 
place was fitted up and opened in due time as a first- 
class oyster store the best only were kept, which 
were brought there in large quantities and quickly 
disposed of. Two men, strangers in the city, were 
employed and kept constantly at work opening the 
bi-valves. They were quiet, inoffensive, and indus 
trious looking men, whose calloused hands betokened 
hard labor. Besides these an industrious lad, also a 
stranger, peddled, and delivered the oysters to cus 
tomers, and the business went on prosperously. The 
banker and cashier, of course, had no time to pay any 
special attention to their tenants, supposing every 
thing to be right. The rent was regularly paid 
monthly, and that was all they expected. This state 
of affairs continued on for some seven months ; the 


oysters being received and disposed of with great 
regularity, until one fine morning the banker woke up 
to learn that the bank had been entered moneys, 
securities, and all were gone a " clean job." The 
vault was " burglar proof " the safe "the very best" 
but our honest oyster-men had silently worked their 
way up into both, commencing below and going 
through the bottom of the vault. Indeed, they had it 
all their own way, and had taken their time, as well 
as the contents of the vault, which they reached with 
out much trouble. The banker was, of course, horri 
fied to learn that the vault and safe were not "burglar 


NOT long since the cashier of a bank in a large 
town, was called upon by a very respectable looking 
man representing himself as a dentist, in search of an 
office. Having noticed one over the bank, which he 
considered desirable for the purposes of his business, 
he proposed to rent the same, and the price being 
mutually satisfactory, the dentist took possession and 
fitted up the interior in a handsome manner. His 
business did not thrive so prosperously as he had 
imagined but he consoled himself with the remark, 
that " commencing business is always up-hill work, 


but patience will compel success in the end." He 
proved himself to be a first class operator, however, 
and several of the bank clerks submitted themselves 
to his artistic manipulations to their entire satisfaction. 
During these operations, the dentist won their good 
opinions, and at the same time adroitly elicited some 
valuable information concerning the vaults of the 
bank. The dentist was occasionally visited by 
friends, who, by a singular coincidence, always came 
in the evening. These friends evinced a fondness for 
card-playing, and evidently played late, as the ever- 
watchful policeman had, on several occasions, observed 
them leaving the dentist s quarters at very early hours 
in the morning. No attention was paid to this, how 
ever, and the dentist struggled along for a consider 
able length of time. At last one May morning, about 
six months from the time the dentist started in busi 
ness, the bank was opened as usual in the morning, 
but the door of the vault sternuously resisted all 
efforts to unlock it. An expert was immediately sent 
for, who soon demonstrated the weakness of the vault 
and safe. 

The secret was out as well as the money and valu 
ables which the vault contained. The ceiling of the 
vault was torn out, and the debris had been carefully 
carried away, by the dentist s card-playing companions. 
The respectable and struggling tooth extractor and his 


confederates had done their work successfully. Cop 
per-headed mallets, chisels, blow-pipes, and drills had 
mastered the "invulnerable steel burglar-proof safe," 
a little powder had finished the work, and the immense 
treasures were reached and successfully carried away 
by the burglars, who had succeeded in pulling, not only 
the teeth but the wool over the eyes of the unsus 
pecting bank people. 


A COUNTRY banker, having a room to rent over his 
bank, put up a notice to that effect, and before many 
days received a call from a shoemaker, who desired to 
ply his vocation in that particular locality. The 
banker being satisfied, the shoemaker obtained pos 
session, fitted up the room as a work shop, engaged 
three journeymen and a boy, set them to work mak 
ing shoes, and from the industrious appearance of 
the establishment, our worthy cobbler seemed to have 
plenty to do. 

The bank below was solid and substantial, with a 
good reputation for soundness and security against 
burglars. The safe was a large one, in which the 
banker placed all his valuables, as well as all his con 
fidence. The bank was guarded at night by one of 
the clerks, a relative of the banker, who slept therein. 


Subsequent to the advent of the new tenant, this 
young clerk formed the acquaintance of a dashing, 
jolly young fellow a new-comer in town, with plenty 
of money, who dressed in style, and in fact just the 
kind of a man "for a fellar to have a good time 
with." He made a great deal of the young clerk, 
took him out riding, treated him right royally, and 
soon won the young man s good will and confidence. 
One Saturday evening, several months after the 
shoemaker s first appearance, the young clerk was in 
vited out riding by his now bosom friend and com 
panion. They drove out into the country a short dis 
tance, to spend the evening with a number of youn^ 
ladies, of whom the clerk was very fond. Here they 
remained, and the time passed away so swiftly and 
agreeably that it was two o clock Sunday morning 
before they thought of going back. After their re 
turn, their horse was put up, and a " night-cap " in 
dulged in, when the clerk invited his friend to sleep 
with him in the bank. As it was so late, or rather so 
early, of course the invitation was accepted, and both 
being tired out, slept apparently very sound, because 
the clerk subsequently remarked that "he heard no 
noise during the night." It was late in the morning 
when they got up; went out, took an "eye-opener" 
breakfasted together, and then separated for the day. 
As it was Sunday the bank was not opened for busi-. 


ness, and the clerk did not remain there during the 
day, and only returned late at night to retire, seeing 
then, nothing in appearance wrong with the safe. 

On the following morning, however, the banker 
found a difficulty in opening the safe, and he sent for 
the village blacksmith and a locksmith, who, after 
working until four o clock in the afternoon, succeeded 
in effecting an entrance, when lo ! and behold, the 
entire back of the safe was found ripped open and 
torn out. The stairway leading to the cobbler s room 
ran along and behind the safe, and a hole cut from 
the stairway (carefully concealed during the day), 
gave the thieves a fine opportunity for working the 
safe itself effectually, at the same time completely hid 
ing their tools and implements, and ultimately gave 
them admittance to the cash. Strange to relate, no 
one ever thought of going up stairs and looking for 
the shoemaker, until lono after the robbery was dis 
covered, and then all traces of him had been obliter 
ated. The young clerk is still puzzled to know why 
his genial, good-hearted friend should have disap 
peared at the same time as the cobbler and his com 
pany did. 



A NEW Bank in a Southern city, situated under a 
! new hotel, owned by the Banker, had adjoining it, a 
small building, which had been unoccupied for several 
months. The Bank vault, which was adjacent to this 
building, was new, well built, and contained a large 
safe of the most approved construction, and warranted 
" burglar proof." The cashier was one day approached 
by quite a respectable looking person, who expressed 
a desire to rent the vacant building with a view to 
opening it as a first-class barber shop. He was in 
formed that a barber shop had already been opened 
in the hotel, and the chance of success for another one 
so near, was small. The enterprising stranger, how 
ever, said he feared no opposition, that he had before 
this done a successful business under less favorable 
circumstances ; that he intended keeping expenses 
down ; would sleep in the shop, would employ only 
two or three assistants to commence with, and with a 
well fitted-up place, good barbers, and sufficient time 
to establish himself, he did not fear the result. Every 
thing seeming satisfactory, the building was placed at 
the disposition of our soidisani barber, who lost no 
time in fitting it up regardless of cost. The opening 
was a grand success ; plate mirrors reflected on all 


sides ; luxurious chairs invited customers, and atten 
tive barbers soon attracted a lively patronage. The 
rent was always promptly paid, and the Banker con 
gratulated himself upon having secured a good and 
harmless tenant. Bye and bye the boss barber in 
duced two of his brothers to visit him. They were 
dashing, well dressed young fellows, not remarkable 
for any family likeness, and evidently not barbers, but 
moved about town a great deal, transacting a little 
business at the Exchange now and then, and appar 
ently undecided as to what business they would fol 
low. They seemed well behaved young men, too 
always at home early in the evening, and never known 
to be out late at night. Not a very long time after 
this, an old and very intimate friend of the barber s 
also came to town, and took board at a hotel nearly 
opposite the Bank. He was a frequent visitor at the 
barber s, and being such a warm personal friend, was 
always invited into the back room, where he passed 
the greater part of his time. 

All this time the Bank was supposed to be well 
guarded at night by two men, whose business it was 
to keep one another awake and frighten away burg 
lars. The weather being very warm, these two men 
would occasionally sit at the open door of the Bank, 
seeing no danger in that, as there was no other en 
trance. In a short time the barber s friend from 


across the way made the acquaintance of these men, 
and would occasionally go over and sit with them of 
an evening, chatting, joking, and making himself gen 
erally agreeable. These visits, in time, became more 
frequent, until finally the watchmen looked for him 
regularly. He would entertain them with racy anec-* 
dotes, comic songs, amusing stories, etc., always given 
in a very loud voice, and he was " such good company " 
that they invariably regretted his departure. Thus 
matters progressed for months, until, one Monday 
morning the barber s shop failed to open at the usual 
time. The watchmen at the Bank wondered at this, 
and took another turn around the Bank before the arri 
val of the clerks, but saw nothing else unusual. The 
cashier arrived at the customary hour, and proceeded 
to unlock the vault, when, of course, the same diffi 
culty arose that has been mentioned before, and the 
same steps were taken to force it open. In short, 
" the Bank was robbed." An examination disclosed 
the fact that the front of the vault was intact, but the 
part of it adjoining the barber s shop had been 
pierced, and the back part of the massive safe torn 
out. The work had been done so silently that the two 
watchmen had failed to hear anything, and the work 
had been completed by Saturday night so far that 
nothing but the lining of the safe (left by the thieves 
to throw off suspicion) remained to be removed. 



This, of course, was only the work of a few minutes, 
and thus was perpetrated one of the heaviest bank 
robberies that ever occurred in the South. The 
thieves, with their large booty, had taken an early 
train on Saturday night, and by the time the robbery 
was discovered, on Monday morning, they were near 
New York, and beyond capture. 


THE various robberies which I have described 
were actual occurrences, in which the thieves oper 
ated in accordance with the movements I have de 
tailed, and despite every imagined precaution, the 
banks awoke to the sudden and disheartening revela 
tion that irretrievable loss and ruin were the results 
of the burglars visits. 

The above cases are but a few of the many that 
have occurred, and I have given these but. to show 
the general manner of working from the outside of 

o o 

the bank. 

I will now proceed to detail their movements and 
operations, when approaches from the outside and 
from adjoining buildings are impossible, where their 
labors must necessarily be performed within the bank 


building proper, and also their operations upon the 
safes within the vaults. It is in these operations that 
the burglars display that mechanical skill and ingen 
uity which have rendered them so dangerous to the 
banking communities and to safe manufacturers 
generally, throughout the country. 

From my own experience with some of the most 
noted of this profession, I am able to give such partic 
ulars of their modes of working, as will fully disclose 
many of their transactions which heretofore have 
seemed to be almost inexplicable. I will also en 
deavor to explain their various tools and implements 
and the manner in which they are used. 

In gaining an entrance into a bank from the front 
numerous devices are resorted to, according to the 
necessities of the case, though in the majority of 
instances, the burglars prefer to work upon the vaults 
from the outside. Where, however, the bank is un 
protected to a great extent, or the outside watchman 
can be overpowered, the entrance is made into the 
bank building from the entrance, and the attack is 
made upon the front part of the vaults and safes. 
Two instances which have occurred during my ex 
perience will serve to show their manner of over 
coming any human obstacles to their success. 



IN one of the eastern cities, there was located a 
bank which excited the cupidity of the burglars, and 
they resolved to attempt the robbery by as bold a 
manner as has ever been chronicled. One of their 
number, fully disguised as a policeman, called at the 
bank one afternoon, just before the bank was closed 
for the evening, and requested to see the cashier. 
On being presented to that officer, he informed him 
that the lieutenant of police of that district, had re 
ceived positive information that an attempt would be 
made to rob the bank on that or the following even 
ing, and that in order to frustrate this attempt, and 
capture the thieves, he desired the privilege of send 
ing down four of his men, who would be placed inside 
of the bank building, to assist the regular bank watch 
men. The cashier was greatly alarmed at the intel 
ligence, and at once consulted with the president 
upon the important matter, and between them, they 
resolved to adopt the suggestion of the officer of 
police. It was then quickly arranged that the four 
men should enter the building singly, in order that 
no suspicion might be awakened, and that all of 
the men should be safely lodged within the bank 
before six o clock. Particular stress was laid upon 


the necessity of keeping the matter entirely secret 
from every one connected with the bank, except the 
two officers who had been consulted, and the watch 
men who were to receive the assistance so much 
desired. The cashier desired to remain within the 
building during the night in order that he might wit 
ness the capture of the burglars, and the policeman 
said he would submit this request to the lieutenant 
and return with his answer ; after the lapse of an hour, 
he again made his appearance, and stated that upon 
reporting the wishes of the cashier to the lieutenant, 
that officer had considered the matter fully, but was 
strongly opposed to such a proceeding, and advised 
the president, cashier and clerks to go to their homes 
as usual, so that if any one was watching on the out 
side, this fact would be duly noticed and the burglars 
would take no alarm. He assured the officers, 
that there was no danger of failure, as the police 
were ahead of the thieves, and were perfectly ac 
quainted with their movements and intentions, and 
that as the bank was one of the heaviest in the 
country every precaution ought to be taken not only 
to save the bank from loss, but to secure these 
dangerous and desperate men, and bring them swift 
ly to justice. Recognizing the force of these argu 
ments, the officers of the bank expressed their willing 
ness to abide by the wise suggestions of the policeman, 


and requested that the four men be sent and disposed 
of as the lieutenant should deem best. 

When the two watchmen made their appearance 
that evening, they were directed by the president, to 
admit the four policemen who would arrive, one at a 
time and to abide by their instructions. At the ap 
pointed time a policeman strolled carelessly along 
and found one of the watchmen at the door, and he was 
cordially received and admitted. This same proceed 
ing was repeated until the four knights of the locust 
were safely admitted to the bank, and all were quite 
elated at having escaped the notice of any one upon 
the outside. These guardians of the law were a 
formidable looking body of men and were well-armed, 
each being equipped with a brace of massive revolvers. 
They acted with extreme caution, talked knowingly 
and evidently fully understanding their business. 

The time was passed in pleasant conversation un 
til about eight o clock when one of the men remarked 
that he was thirsty, and would like to have a drop of 
beer, at the same time proposing to go and procure 
enough for the party, and inviting one of the watch 
men to accompany him. The watchman cheerfully 
assented to this, and the door was carefully closed 
after them, one of the remaining officers stationing 
himself at the door to await their return and admit 
them. The other two policemen and the watchman 


then walked back towards the president s room, when 
suddenly the tallest and most powerful of the police 
men seized the unsuspecting watchman from behind, 
while the other forced a gag into his mouth, and in a 
moment, he was bound hand and foot, and thrown 
upon the floor, while a blow from an iron jimmy soon 
reduced him to a state of insensibility. Removing 
him to an obscure corner the pseudo-officers returned 
to the front-door to await the return of the other. 
As they entered, and the watchman was walking to 
ward the rear part of the building he was dealt a stun- 
ing blow upon the head, and fell like a log at the feet 
of the men who thus were perfect masters of the situa 

The burglars, for such they were, had now no 
opposition to fear from any one, and after admitting 
two of their confederates, who were anxiously wait 
ing in an adjoining alley way, with all their necessary 
tools and implements, they began to work in earnest. 
The entire gang were experts in the use of the pecul 
iar tools of their criminal profession, and before many 
hours, with the aid of blow-pipes, drills, copper-mal 
lets and jimmies, the immense safes were ripped open, 
their contents exposed, and moneys, bonds and securi 
ties were extracted to the value of nearly three mill 
ions of dollars. Hastily packing their valuable booty 
into the satchels which they had prepared for the 


purpose, the burglars left the bank, and their uncon 
scious victims, and ere daylight dawned they were far 
upon their way from the scene of their burglarious 

It was not until the arrival of the cashier that the- 
injured and manacled watchmen were released, and 
the robbery was discovered. The story was soon 
told however, and the bank officials with rueful faces, 
realized how utterly and ruinously they had been 
deceived. The whole plan and story was an ingen 
ious fabrication, and the burglars were, as may be 
inferred, bogus policemen, who had procured their 
uniforms from a convenient tailor and who played 
their parts to perfection. 


AN Eastern bank, located in a pleasant interior 
town, was honored a few years ago, by a visit from 
two celebrated and gentlemanly burglars, who drove 
into the town with a handsome carriage and two 
dashing horses., They stopped at the best hotel in 
the place, and remained in the locality several days, 
during which time they transacted some trifling busi 
ness at the bank, changing some large bills and 


indulging in pleasant conversation with the cashier 
and clerks who regarded them as very agreeable per 
sons indeed. This was not all that they did how 
ever, for during the evenings they quietly watched 
the cashier when he started from the bank, and fol 
lowing him cautiously they ascertained where he lived, 
and carefully studied the approaches to the house. 
The next followed the clerks to their respective 
habitations, and among other things, they learned 
that the bank was unoccupied at night. The town 
itself was not a large one, although several extensive 
manufactories were in operation there, and it was 
ascertained that the inhabitants were orderly and 
regular in their habits and usually retired at an early 
hour. It was also learned that the few saloons were 
closed at eleven o clock, so that the town at midnight 
was as silent as the churchyard in its vicinity. In 
addition to this, the gratifying information was 
gained, that there were no policemen in the town 
at all, and that no opposition was to be met with 
from any of the authorities. All these facts were 
carefully and cautiously gleaned by the observant 
burglars, and after they had satisfied themselves upon 
all these important points, they took their departure, 
and drove away. 

Not long after this visit however, on a dark and 
stormy night, the cashier was rudely awakened from 


his slumbers, and as he started up he was amazed to 
find himself surrounded by a number of men, all of 
whom were completely masked and disguised. The 
leader of the gang ordered him to dress, after which 
they bound and gagged him, threatening all the 
while to murder him if he made the slightest sound, 
and enforcing their threats by presenting their 
cocked revolvers at his head. His wife, who was in 
an adjoining room with a sick child, the servant girl, 
and two other inmates of the house were also visited 
by members of the gang and quietly secured. 
Returning to the cashier, a demand was made upon 
him for the keys of the bank and vaults. Refusing 
at first to comply, the muzzles of their pistols were 
placed against his head, and he reluctantly yielded to 
their commands, and the keys were surrendered. 
The leader, who addressed his men by number 
instead of by name, then directed two of the band to 
remain in the house to guard their prisoners, while 
the rest of the gang hurried out to pay their respects 
to the bank. A short time elapsed, when one of 
their number returned, and ordered the cashier to 
accompany them bound and gagged as he was, he 
was compelled to walk to the bank, and on arriving 
there he was required to open the vaults and safes 
with his own trembling hands, after which he was 
sent back to the house under guard. The entire con- 


tents of the safes were soon transferred to the posses 
sion of these daring and desperate burglars, and 
every article of value was taken. They, then, after 
carefully locking the safes and the doors of the bank, 
returned to the house of the cashier, and replaced 
the keys in his pockets. Leaving the entire family 
terrified and firmly bound, and notifying them that if 
they attempted to go out or raise an alarm, they 
would be killed by some of their number on the out 
side, the party took their departure, and made good 
their escape before pursuit was begun in the 

These two cases illustrate a few of the methods 
by which the thieves gain an entrance into some of 
the banks, and thus succeed in their designs of rob 
bery. In other cases false keys, which have been 
previously obtained form wax impressions, conven 
ient windows and doors in the rear, form the avenues 
of entrance to these midnight plunderers. 



In all cases of robbery, it is necessary to have 
some one of their number conveniently and safely 
stationed on the outside, who is to give the alarm in 
case of danger. The usual method of arranging 
this very necessary matter is for the burglars to 
secure a room on the opposite side of the street, as 
near to the bank to be operated upon as possible, and 
this room is generally on the second or third floor, 
and in the front of the building. When the night 
arrives for active work, the confederate is stationed 
in this room, from the window of which he drops a 
fine strong cord. This cord is then taken by the 
robbers and carried across to the second story window 
of the bank, and then continued through to the 
point where the work upon the safe is to be done. 
After the burglars have entered the building, either 
by false keys or any prearranged mode, if the string 
is in the second story, a hole is bored through the 
floor and ceiling, and thus let down into the spot 
where the men are at work. One of the burglars 
then fastens the end of this string to his hand or arm, 
and the slightest pull from the other end is the signal 


of danger and the men then make their escape as 
best they can. This is the plan generally adopted by 
the burglars, and it has worked successfully in almost 
every instance. 

In attempting to open a safe, there are several 
modes which may be adopted according to the neces 
sities of the case wedging, drilling, the use of the 
screw, or by blowing with powder. This latter 
plan, however, is but seldom used of late years by 
professional burglars, as the noise of the explosion is 
apt to be heard outside and thus give the party 
away. The most approved plan is to open the safe 
with the least noise, and to do this the door of the 
safe must be forced. This operation requires tools 
that are both strong and fine, and they must be 
manipulated by men who understand how to use 
them. One of the most ingenious and forcible of 


these contrivances I will attempt to describe at 
length. This instrument consists of a plate of steel 
ten inches long, eight inches wide, aud about one 
half an inch in thickness, in which are fastened two 
upright pieces of steel which are to act as the support 
for the upright brace. 


This bed-plate is screwed securely fo the floor in 
front of the door of the safe, by six large screws. 
The box in the center, as I have stated before, is the 
" slot " which is to receive the upright post or brace. 
This brace is of peculiar construction and is made 
entirely of steel. It is 3 feet 6 inches long, about 4 
inches wide and an inch thick, with an extra piece of 
steel of the same thickness, and about 4 inches square 
fastened to the top. In the center of this brace there 
is an opening about an inch wide and nearly a foot 
long. The following diagram will afford a correct 
idea of this brace. 

The foot of this upright is placed in the "slot" in 
the box in the base and then tightly bolted through, 
the center hole B fitting snugly in the box. In order, 
however, to make this more firm and to brace it for 
the pressure it is required to sustain, another smaller 
plate is screwed to the floor behind E and a strong 



brace is fitted into this and rests under the shoulder 
formed by the additional piece of steel upon the top C. 
When set up the brace with its various component 
parts presents the following appearance. 

From these comparatively light materials, the burg 
lars have now constructed a brace that is capable of 

resisting the pressure of tons. In the above cut it 
will be noticed that there is another attachment, which 


is a box-slide, also made of steel, the face of which is 
provided with a number of counter-sunk centers. 
This box is arranged so that it will slide up or down 
upon the upright brace at will and can be fastened to 
its place with a screw (E 2). With this brace duly 
placed in its position the burglar is now ready to com 
mence work upon the door of the safe. 

The next implement is the feed-screw drill, which 
resembles the following figure. 

One end of this drill is placed against the sliding 
box upon the brace, and the other, which holds the 
drill, is adjusted to the spot where the hole is intended 
to be drilled into the door of the safe. H shows the 
feed screw of the drill, which as the drill cuts into the 
iron at G, extends the length of the brace, and thus 
keeps the drill in its position. With this drill, it is 
claimed, that an inch hole can be bored through the 
best wrought iron safe door in ten minutes. 

After this hole has been successfully bored, the 
upright is then unshipped from its first position, and 
instead of a brace it must now perform the duty of a 

3 o8 


lever. For this purpose a steel screw with a peculiar 
notch in the head of it, is used. 

The upright is then placed horizontally across the 
front of the safe ; the head of the screw is inserted in 
to the hole bored into the door and wedged tightly 
in, the shoulder being on the inside of the door plate. 
The thread of the screw is then passed through the 
opening in the center of the upright, and is made se 
cure with a nut upon the outside. This fastens the 
upright, or lever, as it has now become, tightly to the 
safe door. By this operation the double or shoulder 
end of the upright is brought into position near to 
the lock of the safe. In this end, it will be noticed, 
there is an inch hole K, with a screw thread worked 
into it; into this hole therefore a strong steel screw, 
an inch in diameter, with a strong square head is in 
serted, and this screw is then turned by means of a 
stout steel wrench. 

The screw being placed so as to bear directly upon 
the. side of the safe door, and the wrench being turned 


by two strong men, it is thus pressed against the door 
with terrific and unrelenting force, and something 
must inevitably give way inside, and this is generally 
one of the bolts. 

Sometimes, however, the bolts hold too strongly, 
and though they may be loosened, the door will only be 
opened perhaps not more than half an inch. This af 
fords an opportunity for the introduction of another 
powerful instrument in the hands of the burglar, 
namely, the " compound jimmy." This is an imple 
ment made of fine tempered steel, and in two sections, 
each section about two and one-half feet long, and 
generally of one and one-half to two inches thick, 
square, and tapering to an edge at the end. 

- ---L 

With this instrument, supplemented by the com 
bined strength of two muscular men, the door is soon 
forced open, and the property of the bank is at the 
mercy of the plunderers. 

The operations detailed above are such as are used 
on safes and vaults with but a single door. If in a 


vault, this method simply overcomes the outer door, 
and the burglar will find that he has not yet reached 
the treasure, for that is contained generally in an iron 


chest inside of the vault. The tools which previously 
were so efficacious are now found to be too heavy for 
this new task, but the burglars are prepared for this 
emergency, and lose no time in renewing their work. 
- ? A small number of steel wedges are now produced, 
and starting in one corner they proceed to drive them 
in, with muffled copper hammers, within a few inches 
of each other. Ten or twelve of these wedges are in 
serted in this manner, taking care to drive each of the 
upper ones as the lower one widens the breach, and 
loosens their power. When the wedges have pro 
duced an opening large enough to introduce the " com 
pound jimmy," that instrument is inserted, and the 
doors yield to the pressure that is brought to bear 
upon them. There is no resisting this terrific force, 
and the contents of the safe are soon exposed. 

Thers is another method which has been put into 
practice upon single-door safes with a great deal of 
success, and which has frequently caused suspicion 
to rest upon some innocent young clerk in the em 
ploy of the bank. The operation is simple and only 
requires correct calculation. 

All safes are supposed to have three bolts, one at 
the top, one at the bottom, and one at the center, 
but all are connected by one bar, and as a conse 
quence, if one bolt is knocked out, the others share 
the same fate, and are rendered useless. The plan 


therefore is for the burglar to calculate the position 
of the center bolt, and the point at which this bolt 
would come out upon the outside and then to drill a 
hole in the manner above described directly opposite 
this point. When the hole has been drilled through 
to the edge of the bolt, they insert a steel punch, and 
then with a good strong blow or two with a heavy ham 
mer the bolts are completely demoralized. The safe 
is then opened, the money extracted, the safe closed, 
the hole in the side plugged up, and no one is able to 
tell without a thorough examination just how the 
work was done. 

Several modes of blowing a safe with powder 
have been used, but the easiest and more general one 
is to drill a hole into the lock, and then force powder 
through this hole and explode it, which would result 
in the destruction of the lock and the removal of 
all obstacles. 

In this process very frequently gun-cotton and 
and nitre-glycerine have been used as the explosives, 
and an ingenious sort of syringe is used for this pur 


Another method of " blowing" a safe with pow 
der is to putty up all the crevices of the safe com 
pactly except two points. At one of these points 
the air pump is applied, which exhausts the air within 
the safe, and at the other point the powder is drawn 
in by the force of the suction, caused by the pumping 
out of the air at the other outlet. By this means the 
doors of safes have been forced literally from their 
hinges by the effects of the explosion. 

It has also been a practice to draw the temper of 
hardened irons with the ordinary blow pipe, consist 
ing of a spirit lamp and a tube, such as jewelers use. 

This is quickly clone, after which the safe may be 
drilled with a common steel drill. 

Astute burglars make a practice of thoroughly ac 
quainting themselves with all the particulars of the 
construction of safes, as well as of their locks, and 
many safes have been opened by drilling out all the 
riveting of the inner lining, and of the bolts and 


lock which fasten the same to the outer shell of the 
door, the position of these rivets being obtained by 
exact measurement from the outside. 

Some safes are so constructed as to give no re 
ceptacle for powder or blasting material, excepting 
in certain apertures of the lock, but so well ac 
quainted with their peculiar internal arrangements do 
the thieves become, that they are able by measure 
ment from the outside, to know exactly where to 
place their drills. 

The most obstinate safes have been made to yield 
to the ordinary jack-screw, which is applier n two 
ways, either by drilling a hole in the door, generally 
about three quarters of an inch in diameter, then with 
a screw tap, cutting a thread for a slightly tapering 
screw, which by a lever is made to fit tightly into the 
hole. An attachment is then made with the screw 
and jack, the latter being supported by a rough frame, 
and held from the safe by timbers placed against the 
jambs, when the shell of the door is pulled out by 
main force, breaking the rivets. 

The other method of using the jack-screw is to 
force the door inward, breaking it into pieces that are 
easily removed by the "jimmy." 

When an abutment for the jack-screw cannot be 
obtained by placing timbers against a solid partition 
or other object, a brace is obtained by securing one 


end of a long timber to the floor, and blocking up the 
other end, so as to be in a position, central to the door 
of the safe. Against this and the door, the jack is 

A great many fire proof safes throughout the 
country have been opened simply by the pick and 
jimmy. With safes that are manufactured of ordinary 
plate iron, all that is necessary is, first with several 
well directed blows with a pick to make an aperture 
just sufficient to receive the sharp end of the jimmy 
in one corner of the panel, then with the jimmy the 
iron is ripped and torn out the whole length of the 
panel, thus exposing the filling the latter is picked 
out in a few moments the bent end of the jimmy is 
then inserted behind the bolt, and the same pried 
back by main force, breaking the wards in the lock. 
This operation has frequently been performed in from 
15 to 20 minutes. 

Thieves have adopted a good many ingenious 
ways of picking locks, and some of them have 
attained a delicacy of feeling, by which they have 
been able to determine with fine instruments the exact 
distance it was necessary to raise each tumbler ; but 
of later years many of the locks have been specially 
constructed with the view of foiling anything of this 


kind. Tumbler-locks requiring large keys have been 
opened by forcing around in them a blank steel key, 
breaking the wards and forcing back the bolt. 

The combination of some locks, it is claimed, can 
be ascertained by filling each of the apertures, to 
receive the pivots, with wooden pins, excepting one, 
in which a small particle of fulminating powder is 
exploded. Then by withdrawing the pins the exact 
length of the wards is determined by the amount of 
discoloration on these pins. 

The combination of the dial lock can be found by 
placing under the back of the dials a small peculiarly 
manufactured ratchet, so that at every reverse motion 
of the knob, a small puncture is made on the plate 
upon which it moves, or upon a disc of paper especi 
ally secured to it for the purpose of receiving these 
impressions or punctures. 

A celebrated burglar in getting at the contents of 
the vault and safes of a noted bank had two of these 
combination dial locks to open, and did all his work 
in one night. 

In all cases of bank robberies, the final work is 
generally done between Saturday night and Sunday 
morning. The tools used by professional bank thieves 
are those commonly used by mechanics excepting 
the jimmy, which for the heavier work is made in 
several sections to be screwed together when required 


for use being then about the size of the ordinary 
crow bar. 


AN " ounce of prevention " is very often " worth 
a pound of cure," it is said, and events frequently! 
justify the assertion. The following narrative of an 
accidental discovery and its subsequent benefit to the 
banking community of a thriving city, fully proves 
the correctness of that theory, and also furnishes ad 
ditional support to one of the maxims of my agency 
that " The eye of the detective must never sleep." 

During the latter part of the year 1876, my son, 
William A. Pinkerton, was engaged in Chicago upon 
an operation which required him to temporarily con 
sort with a number of professional thieves and burg 
lars, and in the course of which he made numerous 
acquaintances among that fraternity. One day while 
he was in company with several of these " Knights 
of the Jimmy," at a saloon which was noted as a re 
sort for this class of people, a letter carrier entered 
with a letter in his hand, and addressing the pro 
prietor, said : 


" I have a letter here for Tip Carroll/ directed in 
your care." 

It was well known among the frequenters of the 
place that " Tip Carroll," who was a notorious con 
fidence man and general thief, had some time previous 
had an altercation with the proprietor of the saloon, 
which had resulted in engendering an enmity between 
the two men which promised to be lasting. 

As the carrier threw the letter down upon the 
bar, the saloon keeper uttered an oath to the effect 
that Mr. Carroll might depart to Plutonian spheres 
before he would attend to the delivery of the epistle 
to him. 

He tore open the envelope, and was about to 
read the contents when William interposed, and 
good-naturedly remarked : 

" Never mind, Tom ; I ll see that Tip gets his 

11 Take it, then," said Tom. " I don t intend to 
bother with the infernal thing," and he tossed the 
letter over to William, who placed it in his pocket. 

William thought no more of the matter until 
evening, when on returning to the agency, he remem 
bered the events of the morning and drew Mr. Car 
roll s letter from his pocket. As he did so, an irre 
sistible curiosity to know the contents took posses 
sion of him. He very well knew the character and 


the associates of the man to whom the letter was ad 
dressed, and he felt reasonably sure that a perusal of 
the missive would be of advantage to him in a pro 
fessional way. He felt convinced that the cause of 
justice would sanction such a proceeding, and the 
sequel fully proved that he was correct. At length, 
satisfying all mental scruples, he drew the letter from 
its inclosure and read as follows : 

" DALLAS, TEXAS, Nov. i, 1876. 

" DEAR SIR : I wish you would send me your 
address so that a letter could reach you without any 
person seeing it. I have some important business 
with you. " Address, 

" P. O. Box, 

" Dallas, Texas." 

Feeling confident that something of a " crooked" 
nature was implied by this communication, William 
laid the letter before me on the following morning, 
and requested my opinion and advice upon the mat 
ter. Very little consideration convinced me that the 
surmises of William were well grounded, and I re 
solved to ascertain further particulars about " Busi 
ness," and the nature of the " business " which he had 
with Mr. Carroll. I, therefore, directed William to 
reply to the letter in a cramped disguised hand to 


purposely misspell his words, and to request " Busi 
ness " to direct his response to Peter Carroll, to the 
number of one of my post-office boxes in the city. 

This was done, the letter simply containing the 
name of Peter Carroll and the number of the P. O. 
Box to which the communication should be directed. 
In about ten days after this, a letter was received with 
the Dallas P. O. mark upon it and addressed to * Peter 
Carroll, P. O. Box, Chicago, 111.," and a perusal of 
its contents fully justified the motive which had led 
to the opening of the first letter. 

This epistle read as follows : 

DALLAS, NOV. 12, 1876. 

" FRIEND TIP : Your note came to-day. Now 
pay attention to what I have to say, I have a chance 
to make fifty or a hundred thousand dollars, if you 
know one or two good cracksmen that understand 
their business perfect. I will give them a good show. 
It can be done without any trouble, but they must 
understand their business. They are banks. Write 
in haste. 

" Yours in confidence, 
"Box 1663, 

"Dallas, Texas." 

I now began to distinguish the flavor of a very 
large mouse, and I resolved to follow the matter up 


to a satisfactory conclusion. I accordingly prepared 
a reply to " Business," which I thought, would answer 
the purpose, and induce this would-be burglar to dis 
close his identity. The next day the following letter 
was written and mailed. 

" CHICAGO, Nov. 16, 1876. 

" DEAR FRIEND : Yure note just recived. i can 
git the peple you want to do yure buisness and do 
it well. They wil be two of the best Gopher men 
in America. But now you must talk buisness. 
You kno I must kno you. Of corse you kant 
egspect me to go into anything of this kind without 
knoing who I am dealing with an all partickilars, 
rite me at once an let me kno, an I will give the mat 
ter attention an furnish good men. Rite what make 
the Gofes are, so they can tell what kind of tools to 
bring. " Yours truly, 

" TIP." 

This letter, as I fully expected, had the desired 
effect, and in due time the expected reply was 

"DALLAS, Nov. 21, 1876. 

" F RiEND TIP : Your note came to hand to-day, 
and I was glad to get it. Now Tip, you ask me my 
name. I don t blame you in the least. Tip, those 
vaults are of common soft brick with dibold doors 
and insides ; you can enter about nine o clock and 


stay till five in the morning, and nobody to bother 
you if they don t make too much noise. There will 
be no trouble in the least if they are good at their 
business. Now Tip it is a long time since I seen 
you and you will be surprised when you see my 
name. But I hope and trust you won t reveal it, for 
here is the only easy chance you will ever have to 
make a fortune. All I want is for you to do just as 
I say ; when you leave, come straight through, and 
when you come to Dallas, one of you register at the 
St. Charles, as W. J. Smith, St. Joe. Mo. ; you, L. 
Evans, at Commercial Hotel ; the other, C. Biddle, 
Baltimore, Mo., at Lamar Hotel. These are the 
hotels, and I will watch for those names, and don t go 
around until I see you, and if I don t see you the 
night you come, a postal will find me and I will take 
care of all. Tip, you must not delay, but attend to 
this at once ; Tip, when you read my name you need 
not faint, for I guarantee it is all right, and if you 
will do as I say we will both be all right. 

"My name is Tom Speider, you know me now; 
don t be alarmed everything is all right. 

" 1663, Dallas." 

The true character of " Business" was now fully 

. disclosed, and his name was at once recognized. 

Some fourteen years prior to this he had been 

engaged as a traveling pickpocket and confidence 

man, and had at one time been a member of the 

police force in Chicago. At that time he operated 



with " Tip" Carroll, and was, therefore, personally 
acquainted with him. 

I resolved to warn the bankers of Dallas against 
this man, and to make inquiries in reference to his 
present habits and occupation ; I accordingly wrote 
to the president of the First National Bank of that 
city, giving him all the information that I had as yet 
received, and recommending him to inform all others 
engaged in the same business of the discovery I had 
made ; I stated the matter fully to them, and advised 
a course of action which I thought would result in 
bringing the would-be burglar to justice. A few days 
after this I received a letter from Mr. Kerr, the 
president of the bank I had addressed, stating that 
after consultation with the various banks and bank 
ers in the city, they had resolved to place the matter 
entirely in my hands, and that I should take such 
steps as would not only prevent the present scheme 
from succeeding, but that would result in placing Mr, 
Speider where he would not be likely to do any 
further mischief of the kind contemplated. 

The letter also contained the information that 
Mr. Speider was advertising himself as a detective, 
and was engaged in watching several of the banks in 
the city of Dallas. From his position, therefore, he 
was fully qualified to carry out the scheme which he 
had suggested, and had his original communication 


not fallen into the hands of my son, he might have 
been successful in robbing the institutions which 
trusted him of a considerable amount of money. 

As it was, however, I determined to outwit this 
pseudo detective, who was a gross libel upon the pro 
fession, and to arrange such a plan as would bring 
him within the pale of the law and its punishing in 

Knowing full well that Speider was acquainted 
with Tip Carroll, and that it would be impossible to 
personate that individual in consequence of such ac 
quaintance, I prepared a letter which requested delay 
in consummating arrangements, and had it mailed 
from the city of New York, where it was alleged 
Carroll then was. The letter stated that Carroll 
would return in a short time, and as soon as he ar 
rived in Chicago, he would arrange to carry out plans 
proposed to him. This was intended to pave the 
way for a suggestion which would enable others to 
take the part originally designed for Mr. Carroll, and 
in which I should have the opportunity of making 
the selection. 

After allowing a sufficient time to elapse, another 
letter was prepared for Mr. Speider as follows : 

" CHICAGO, Dec. 4, 1876. 

" FREND TOM : i got home Saterday and got 
youre postel. i saw my men yesterday and got em 


reddy to start, yesterday i got nocked down by a 
slay an run over an severely bruised, an my left elbo 
nocked out of joint, so i ain t fit to travel or do eny- 
thing, but i will advance the money an send the men 
on to-day, they leave here to nite an will git there as 
as soon as this letter, they air from Buffalo, Arther 
Garrity will have a letter to you from me, he will stop 
at St. Charles hotel an will register name of W. J. 
Smith, St. Joe. Missorey. He is a man about 33 years 
of age, 5 ft. 9 ins., small thin face, brown mustash, 
dress ruff, dark overcoat, black slouch hat an stoop 
sholders, wen you mete him ask him how Buisness is 
in St. Joe. an he will say Buisness is about the same 
as it is here in Dallas, then he will reconise you an 
will introduce you to the pal who is Tom Emmett, 
an will register name C. Biddle, Baltimore, Md., at 
Lamar Hotel. Now Tom, i hav dun all i can fur 
you, an i leve you an the other men to say what 
amont of the swag i out to have, an i am only sorry i 
can t be present, i bot all the tickets and got the 
tools, so i out to stand in to sum extent. Garrity 
don t want to take the pullingjack i bout in New 
York, he says he can do the work without an i will 
see he has everything else, you will find him game, 
a good workman an a ded rite man. Now Tom for 
God sake be carefull, work shure. i will be anxious 
til i here from you. 

" Ever yure frend, 

"Tip/ 1 


Prior to dispatching this letter, I sent one of my 
operatives, Mr. Rogers, to Dallas, in order to arrange 
the plans necessary for the proper working of the 
operation I had perfected. Mr. Rogers arrived in 
Dallas in due time, and was met by Mr. Kerr, the 
president of the bank originally written to, and was 
conducted by that gentleman to the hotel where he 
was to lodge while he remained in the city. 

Mr. Rogers found the banking men in a feverish 
state of anxiety, which threatened materially to inter 
fere with the success of our enterprise. They had 
all been informed of the matters thus far ascertained, 
and betrayed their interest in such a manner that 
Rogers was fearful they would betray our movements 
and thus frustrate the design we were desirous of 
accomplishing. It is always a difficult thing to 
manage an operation where those who are interested 
are numerous, and where the proposed measures 
must be submitted to and discussed by many, and 
realizing this fact, Mr. Rogers endeavored to impress 
them with the necessity of the utmost caution. 
Finally, however, it was definitely arranged that the 
matter should be placed in the hands of two of their 
number who were to consult with Mr. Rogers, from 
time to time, and to whom all reports were to be 
made as the operation progressed. These matters 
having been fully arranged and everything being in 


readiness to commence operations. I got my two 
men ready in Chicago, and giving them full instruc 
tions and providing them with a full set of burglars 
tools they started for the city of Dallas, to perform 
their parts as expert cracksmen. 

One of them had been provided with a letter of 
introduction from the supposed " Tip," which read 
as follows, and which was to be shown to Mr. Speider 
after they met. 

CHICAGO, Dec. 4, 1876. 

" FREND TOM : The bearer of this, is my frend 
Arther Garrity, about who i rote you. He is a good 
frend of mine, an understands all about our buisness, 
talk to him just the same as you would to me, he is 
all strate. he wil interduce you to his frend, an tel 
you all about me. pleas du all you can fur him, 
with kind regards. 

i am yure frend, 


The men arrived without accident at Dallas, and 
going to the hotels designated by Speider, they 
registered themselves as directed by him. In the 
evening, and before they had met Speider, they 
arranged an interview with Rogers, and obtained 
from him all the information that had been learned 
since his arrival, and also received his instructions as 
to their mode of proceedings. 

On the following morning, as Arther Garrity (or 


as his name really was Woodford) was sitting in the 
reading room of the hotel where he had engaged 
quarters, he was accosted by a tall, stout, rather good 
looking man about forty years of age, who approached 
him familiarly, and extending his hand, said : 

" How do you do, Mr. Garrity, how is business in 
St. Joe ?" 

Garrity arose, and taking the proffered hand of 
his questioner, replied with a smile and a wink, in the 
most approved style of the Gopher fraternity : 

" Well, I guess business is about the same as it is 
here in Dallas." 

During the time that he was awaiting the appear 
ance of Speider, Garrity procured the services of a 
barber, and his hair was cut in the fashion so much 
affected by those who pass as sporting men, and as 
he tipped his hat over his eyes and greeted the new 
comer, he fully portrayed the character he was per 

The man who thus accosted him was Tom Speider, 
the writer of the letters, the detective-watchman, and 
would-be burglar, and after several inquiries in regard 
to the health of " Tip," and the accident which had 
suddenly befallen him, the two repaired to the bar of 
the hotel, where they cemented their acquaintance 
with a drink. After this they proceeded to the hotel 
where Emmett was stopping, and where they found 


him awaiting their arrival. Garrity introduced his 
companion to my operative, and the three men then 
strolled toward the outskirts of the city where they 
could converse with more freedom and without fear 
of being overheard. As they walked along, both men 
endeavored to impress upon Speider their ability for 
the work in hand, and so fully did they succeed, that 
before their return, the projector of the enterprise 
was quite enthusiastic in his praises, and perfectly 
sanguine of successful operation. He again wrote to 
his friend Tip, acquainting him with the fact of the 
arrival of the two men and of their intentions, and 
this letter was replied to by me to the entire satisfac 
tion of the concoctor of the contemplated burglary. 

The next day Speider took the two men to the 
locality of the bank which it was proposed to enter, 
in order that they might look over the ground and 
make their plans accordingly. The institution that 
was to be made the object of attack was the banking- 
house of " Adams & Leanord," which was reported 
to carry daily balances of from fifty to one hundred 
thousand dollars, and whose building could be more 
readily entered than any of the others. Speider had 
charge of the watching of this bank, and hence the 
chances of detection would be considerably decreased. 
The two men carefully noted all the surroundings 
and freely debated upon their best course of action, 


and from the manner in which they discussed their 
plans, Speider was entirely satisfied that his friend 
* Tip " had made an excellent selection of men for the 
work, and his mind was already filled with visions of 
suddenly acquired wealth. 

Meanwhile Rogers had consulted legal authority, 
and it was discovered that in order to fully sustain 
a charge of conspiracy, such as this would naturally 
be, there must be evidence of the complicity of more 
than one guilty party, and that in order to convict 
Speider of the charge he must be proven to have 
been connected with others than the detectives, in 
this attempted robbery of the bank. This information 
was communicated to Emmett late on the following 
evening, and they were directed to ascertain if there 
were not some other persons interested in this burg 
lary than themselves and Speider. The next morn 
ing, therefore, by adroit questioning they discovered 
that the policeman who patrolled the beat in which 
the bank of " Adams & Leanord " was located was 
connected with the matter in some way, and that he 
was to manage matters so that the parties working 
inside should be duly warned of any approaching 

After dinner on that day Garrity and Emmett 
took Speider to their respective hotels where they 
secured the tools which had been brought for the 


purpose, and Speider after gazing at them admiringly, 
suggested that they be conveyed to his house where 
his wife would take good care of them and where they 
would be much safer than if they were left at the 
hotel, where the prying eyes of chambermaids and 
porters might discover their nature and thus spoil the 
whole operation. At this suggestion both men 
appeared to grow suspicious and gave vent to their 
doubts in such language that convinced Speider of 
their sincerity and which called from him such profuse 
expressions of fairness and square dealing, that the 
men were reluctantly convinced, and they finally 
wrapped the tools up carefully, which were carried to 
Speider s house and handed over to Mrs. Speider for 
safe keeping. Speider was finally led to speak of the 
policeman, and upon Garrity suggesting that he could 
not be trusted, the watchman declared that Duff, the 
policeman, dared not go back on them, as he had been 
implicated in several small burglaries prior to this 
which would send him to the penitentiary if he dared 
to do anything that would jeopardize the present 
undertaking. Garrity declined to be satisfied with 
this, however, and insisted upon seeing the policeman 
himself, so as to be thoroughly convinced that he was 
all right and would perform his share in the work 
without fail. Speider promised that the policeman 
should meet them that evening, when they could talk 


the matter over fully with him and that they would 
then be convinced that he could be depended upon 
to do all that was required of him. 

This being satisfactorily arranged they agreed to 
wait until nightfall before taking any further steps in 
the matter, Garrity declaring that he wanted to be 
sure that everything was all right before he did any 
thing further. That evening therefore the policeman 
was on hand and the four men discussed their plans 
fully. Duff was to get his partner away from the 
locality at an early hour in the evening, and was him 
self to patrol the streets in order to apprize those who 
would be working within of the approach of any one 
who might hear the noises inside and give an alarm. 
It was further arranged that the following Sunday 
evening should be selected for the work and that 
everything should be in readiness for the operation at 
that time. It was also found necessary to procure a 
sledge hammer in order to force the doors of the 
bank vault and Speider guaranteed to furnish, this, 
which he did by stealing one from a blacksmith shop 
on the following evening and had it covered with sole 
leather by one of his boys in order to deaden the 
sound, and thus prevent detection. 

From day to day Rogers had been advised of all 
that was transpiring and his information was duly 
forwarded to me and also laid before the members 


of the bankers committee, who had the matter in 
charge. The men spent their days in the various 
saloons and in a manner that avoided all suspicion of 
their true character and won for them the unqualified 
admiration of Speider. 

Sunday afternoon arrived and everything was in 
readiness for the undertaking a close examination 
had been made of the bank premises and the mode of 
effecting their entrance fully decided upon. As the 
time approached, Speider and Duff began to grow 
extremely nervous. Already they saw a fortune 
within their grasp, and had already devised plans of 
expending a considerable portion of it. The plan as 
arranged, was that Duff should patrol the streets in 
the vicinity, while Speider was to remain on guard in 
front of the building. Garrity and Emmett were to 
enter the bank and perform the work and then the 
proceeds were to be divided in such proportion as had 
originally been agreed upon. 

During the forenoon when it was arranged that 
Speider and Duff should be induced by my men to 
walk to another part of the city, Rogers accom 
panied by the sheriff and a Deputy U. S. Marshal, 
entered the bank building, in order to anticipate the 
arrival of the invaders. These men made themselves 
as comfortable as possible under the circumstances, 


and were fully prepared for the labor that they ex 
pected, would fall to their lot. 

Late in the evening Garrity, Emmett, and Speider 
repaired to the residence of the latter, and received 
from Mrs. Speider the tools which had been left in 
her care. The dark lantern had been cleaned and 
filled, and was ready for use, and the sledge-hammer 
had been neatly covered with sole leather. Separat 
ing at the residence of Speider that gentleman took 
charge of the implements which he deposited in a safe 
place in close proximity to the bank while the others 
proceeded by a circuitous route, and reached the 
locality where they found Speider awaiting their ar 
rival. Garrity, however, refused to proceed further 
until they were certain of the whereabouts of 
Duff, the policeman, and Speider started in search of 
him. In a few moments he returned with the blue- 
coated official, who explained that he had just been 
making arrangements to send his partner, who was 
weak and sickly, home, under promise of patrolling in 
his stead. 

The two men were stationed outside, and then 
Garrity and Emmett, taking up their tools, made their 
way to the rear entrance of the bank, the door of 
which had been conveniently left unlocked by Rogers, 
who was waiting within. After waiting a few minutes 
under pretense of forcing an entrance, the door was 


swung open and the two men entered. Here they 
found the officers of the law and Rogers engaged in 
partaking of a midnight-lunch, and apparently taking 
things quite coolly. Seating themselves the new ar 
rivals proceeded to pass the time away, occasionally 
striking the hammer against one of the tools, and 
flashing the rays of the dark lantern across the win 
dow in order to convince the watchers outside that 
they were busy. Thus they passed nearly three quar 
ters of an hour and at the end of that time, thinking 
that Speider had become sufficiently impatient and 
anxious, Garrity went out to see him. It was of the 
utmost importance that Speider should be captured 
inside the bank, and Garrity therefore informed him 
that they wanted additional help in order to open the 
door of the safe and requested his assistance. 

By this time Speider was ripe for anything, and 
without a word of demurrer he started to follow Gar 
rity into the bank. Garrity, however, cautioned him 
against this and told him to give a good look around 
before coming after him, and then he returned and 
informed the officers who stationed themselves in 
convenient positions for his arrest. In a few mo 
ments the door was slowly opened and the face of 
Speider appeared in the opening. Noiselessly he 
entered, and just as he had removed his shoes, and 
\vas about to advance towards the safe, Emmett 


flashed the lantern upon him and two officers grasped 
him by the shoulders. Two pistols were pointed at 
his head, and he realized at once that resistance was 
worse than useless. He gazed helplessly around and 
at length muttered : 

" A put up job by God ! and I am in for it !" 

He was soon secured, and then Garrity and the 
Marshal started out after the policeman. Finding 
him in close proximity, a similar application of force 
and the like display of revolvers were sufficient to 
induce him to surrender. 

A visit was then paid to the residence of Speider, 
and his family were arrested, Mrs. Speider being 
fully dressed and anxiously awaiting the return of 
her husband with the promised fortune, and the two 
boys lying in bed with their clothes on. 

The entire party were marched to the station, 
and were duly bound over to await their trial, and 
the punishment they so richly merited was soon 
thereafter dealt out to them. 

A feeling of relief pervaded the entire banking 
community of Dallas, when the success of our opera 
tives became known, and all were united in praises 
of the efforts which had led to the discovery of the 
true character of a trusted watchman who was con 
spiring to defraud them. 

Thus it was that the accidental receipt of the origi- 


nal letter of " Business," led to the unearthing of a 
contemplated crime, and effectually prevented the 
commission of a burglary, which under other circum 
stances, would have been successfully consummated. 

The methods mentioned above are those which 
have been successfully operated by the burglars, who 
have infested the country from time to time during 
the past, and I have endeavored to show the daring 
and skill displayed by these reckless men, and the 
proficiency they have attained in their questionable 
calling. Nerved to his task by his fear of detection, 
and his desire to obtain the vast wealth of others 
without the labor of earning, and the delays of accu 
mulation, the burglar brings to bear upon his under 
takings, all the resources of his cunning and skill. 
Numerous expedients are resorted to and experi 
mented with, until a plan is matured sufficiently to 
warrant operation with a sure prospect of success. 
Then comes the manufacturing of the tools and 
implements, which is easily accomplished, and the 
burglar is fully prepared for his work of plunder and 

From the above it will be seen that too great care 
cannot be exercised by those who occupy responsible 
positions in the management of large financial institu 
tions. The thief and the burglar are ever on the alert 
to discover the weak points in the bank buildings that 


come under their notice, and it behooves every one to 
see that no such weakness exists. Watchmen upon 
the inside and outside of the building, strict discipline 
among the clerical force, and a careful watchfulness, 
maintained upon all strangers who approach the bank, 
or are seen in the vicinity, will tend very much to 
secure the protection so much needed. " Eternal 
vigilance is the price of safety," and this fact is in no 
case more true and potent than in guarding banking 
institutions from the attacks and depredations of the 
daring and skillful burglars who exist in such large 
numbers throughout the country. 


Draft raising. An Amateur Forger. A Clever Forgery. Rem 
iniscences of expert Forgers. The King of Forgers. Cor 
porations floated by Forged Securities. Wild-Cat Insurance 
Companies A Forger of many experiences. The Bank of 
England Forgers. A Forger of two Continents. 

FORGERY and counterfeiting are very closely 
allied to each other, the former being, in fact 
but another form of counterfeiting than those I have 
previously described, where the paper and coined 
moneys of nations and banking institutions are suc 
cessfully imitated, and passed for their full value upon 
the ignorant and the unsuspecting. Forgery, in al 
most all of its phases, requires more skillful and del 
icate workmanship than ordinary counterfeiting, 
from the fact that the imitations thus produced must 
be so close and perfect, as frequently to deceive the 
very men whose signatures and forms are dishonestly 
copied. Banking-house tellers are skilled in detect- 



ing the slightest variations from the genuine paper 
presented to them for payment, and they are quick 
to discover any defect in the signatures of their 
depositors with whose handwriting they have become 
familiar. To perfect, therefore, a forged check of 
some perminent business house or corporation, for a 
large amount of money, many things are required of 
the forger, which only those skilled in the art, are 
capable of producing. In the first place, the style of 
paper on which the check is printed must be similar, 
then, as most depositors have their own specially 
printed checks, the imitation in the engraving of the 
various designs, must be simulated perfectly. Then 
comes the filling up of the body of the check, then 
the proper number, and last, though very far from 
least, the forging of the peculiar, and the well-known 
signatures of the drawers of the check. It must be 
remembered that it is not the casual and careless 
observer, who is to be deceived, as in the passage of 
counterfeit money, but the skilled and educated 
officer of the bank, who has been trained by years of 
experience, to a quickness of judgment and a sharp 
ness of vision in such matters, which in many cases 
seem to be phenomenal. Not only must the forger 
be a finished penman, but he must possess a wide 
knowledge of the chemical qualities of the various 
inks which are used in the commercial world, in order 


procure perfect imitations of their colors and density ; 
and he must be shrewd enough in a business sense, to 
obtain many trifling items of information, regarding 
the work he designs to perform, without which 
success would be utterly impossible. 

It is, of course, necessary for the forger to obtain 
a genuine check, before he can accomplish his work 
of imitation, and this difficulty is generally overcome 
in a straightforward, business-like manner. If the 
check of a broker or a banker is desired, a small 
Government bond is disposed of, and the forger re 
quests a check for the amount, as he wishes to send 
it away by mail. No suspicion can possibly attach 
to a request of this simple character, and the check 
is given without hesitation. If a merchant has been 
selected as the victim, the forger has been known to 
make a small purchase and present a large note in 
payment, say a one hundred or a five hundred dollar 
note, and then to politely request that a check be 
given him for the balance due him, as he is afraid he 
may lose the money before reaching his home, which 
is outside of the city. This explanation is generally 
received in good faith, and the check is obtained. 
Various methods are adopted to meet the varying re 
quirements, and in the incidents which I shall here 
after detail, their full working will be illustrated. 

As may be imagined, only the most skillful men 


have been able to obtain any success in this particu 
lar branch of criminal practice, and hence the num 
ber of successful forgers have been comparatively 
small, although a sufficient number have existed to 
prove of severe embarrassment and serious loss to 
many careful and honest business men and sound fi 
nancial corporations. 

Hundreds of thousands of dollars of worthless 
bonds of corporations have been forged and counter 
feited, and have been accepted as genuine by men 
who were considered excellent judges of such mat 
ters, and when detection occurred, it has frequently 
been found almost impossible to point out any mate 
rial differences between the genuine and the imita 
tion. Banks and savings institutions have loaned 
large sums of money upon these fraudulent imita 
tions, and have carried them in fancied security for a 
long time, before their spurious character was discov 
ered. When such things, therefore, are possible in 
this day of business intelligence, and advanced modes 
of commercial interchanges, it is evident that the indi 
viduals capable of producing such deceptions, must 
be possessed of more than ordinary skill and genius. 

In attempting to afford the reader a definite and 
somewhat comprehensive idea of the modes of opera 
tion of the forgers, I have selected several instances 
of successful work in that line, in order to more ade- 


quately illustrate this manner in which this work is 
done, believing this to be a better means of illustra 
tion than a mere technical description of their tools 
and implements, and their manner of using them. 


DURING the year 1877 considerable consternation 
was caused among the banks of several of the Eastern 
cities, by the discovery of a number of raised drafts, 
which had passed unsuspected, through several banks, 
and had been paid without a doubt or question of 
their genuineness. The methods adopted by the 
men who had so successfully carried out this scheme, 
were exceedingly simple, but so complete was their 
work in its execution, that failure was almost an 
impossibility. Although several men were engaged 
in this fraudulent work, but two men were necessary 
for success at any given point, and hence they were 
not so liable to detection as if a number of confeder 
ates were engaged. It was the business of one of 
these men to enter a bank, and purchase a draft on 
New York City, for a certain amount of money, 
usually about fifteen hundred dollars, and a short 
time after this, another draft would be procured from 


the same bank for a small amount, seldom over ten 
dollars. These drafts procured, they were handed to 
the " raiser," or the man who was to alter the paper 
for their dishonest purposes. In a short time the 
small draft was raised to be a perfect duplicate of 
the large one, in every sense of the word, both as 
regards number, amount, place of presentation, &c. I 
have seen several of these altered drafts, and they were 
the most skilfully executed, of any articles of the kind 
which I had ever seen, and were in all respects well 
calculated to deceive. This work of alteration being 
fully completed, one of the men would then remove 
to another city, and forward the "raised" draft to 
New York by express for collection, or else would go 
to that city himself, and have it cashed through some 
respectable person. Immediately on receiving the 
money he would telegraph his companion in words 
previously agreed upon, informing him of the success 
ful result of the first move. The other confederate, 
upon the receipt of this information, would then at 
once repair to the bank where the drafts had been 
procured, and presenting the genuine draft for the 
large amount of money, would request that the money 
be refunded, giving as an excuse for not using it, 
either that he could not be identified in the New York 
bank, and for that reason could not collect it, or that 
the business he had procured it for had not been 


consummated. The bank officials would at once 
recognize him as the person who had purchased the 
draft, and would unhesitatingly hand him back the 
money, which he had paid. Of course he would 
<quickly disappear from that locality, never to be seen 
in it again and the forgery would not be discovered 
until in the due course of ordinary business, the other 
draft for the same amount would be returned for pay 
ment. This mode of swindling had been done so 
successfully that more than a hundred thousand 
dollars were realized in an incredibly short space of 
time, and before any general well-grounded suspicion 
of foul play had been formed. 

Being retained by several of the parties who had 
suffered severe losses in the manner above related, I 
soon succeeded in ferreting out the men who were 
concerned in these swindles, and they were eventually 
punished, besides which I recovered nearly thirty 
thousand dollars of the money they had so fraudulently 



THE perpetration of successful forgeries have not 
been confined to those skilled in crime, or whose long 
experience in acts of dishonesty, have enabled them to 
deceive with impunity. There are instances on re 
cord where men whose previous lives have been stain 
less, whose honor was above reproach, have become 
by one act the successful forger, and the skillful 
criminal. In the year 1880, my attention was called 
to a matter which fully illustrates this proposition, 
and I will relate it here. 

One afternoon, early in the month of July, and in 
the year I have just mentioned, a young lad sauntered 
leisurely through, the park, which surrounds the 
municipal buildings in New York City. The lad was 
a bright, handsome fellow, in whose face were reflected 
the evidences of intelligence and honesty, but there 
was also a careworn, anxious look about him, as though 
he was in trouble. He finally threw himself down 
upon one of the benches, and drawing from his pocket 
a daily paper, began eagerly to scan the column of 
" wants." The shadow of disappointment deepened 
as he finished his perusal, wearily folded the paper, 
and placed it in his pocket. While he was engaged 
in reading, however, he had been carefully observed 


by a well-dressed man, who stood at some distance 
removed from him, and regarded him intently. 

Apparently satisfied with his scrutiny, the man 
approached the bench where the boy was sitting, and 
took a seat by his side. His appearance attracted the 
attention of the boy, who noticed that one of the 
sleeves of his coat hung loosely by his side, the 
stranger having lost one of his arms. 

The man addressed a few questions to the youth 
about various localities in the city, and finally inquired 
if he was engaged in any employment at present. To 
this, the youth replied that he was not employed and 
was very anxious to procure something to do. 

" Can you write a good hand ?" asked the stranger. 

The boy replied that he could. 

" Perhaps you are just the boy I am looking for 
then," said the man. "If you will come over to my 
hotel, and give me a sample of your hand-writing, I 
can decide at once." 

The lad jumped up with alacrity, and followed the 
man without hesitation. They proceeded directly to 
French s Hotel, and ascended to the upper-floor, 
where the stranger, unlocked one of the rooms and 
invited his youthful companion to enter. In the cen 
ter of the room there was a table on which were scat 
tered writing materials and directing the young man 
to take a seat, he requested him to write a sample of 


what he was able to do. The young man noticed that 
the paper which was handed to him contained 
the name of " Babcock & Co., Jacksonville, Florida," 
printed at the top of the sheet, and that it was an 
ordinary letter-sheet, used by business-houses in con 
ducting their correspondence. The boy wrote for 
some time at the dictation of the stranger, who after 
examining it carefully, expressed himself well pleased 
with the result. 

" I think your writing will answer very well," said 
he, after a pause. " I will not have any work for you 
to-day, but if you will call upon me to-morrow morn 
ing I will be able to give you something that will keep 
you busy." 

The boy thanked the stranger for his kindness, 
and promising to report promptly on the following 
day, took his leave, the stranger at the same time 
placing in his hand, a bright silver dollar. Faithful 
to his promise, the boy called at the hotel on the next 
morning, and was shown into another room to which 
his prospective employer had removed since his first 

The stranger, whose name was afterward discov 
ered to be James Babcock, greeted the boy very 
kindly upon his arrival, and placed a chair for him at 
a table near the window. After the boy had seated 
himself, Mr. Babcock handed him a piece of writing, 


to which the name of " A. J. Baldwin " was signed, 
and requested him to imitate the signature as nearly 
as possible. The boy made a number of copies of 
the name, endeavoring to follow closely the copy set 
before him, and at length Mr. Babcock expressed 
himself perfectly satisfied with the result he had 
achieved. He now placed a number of printed 
sheets before the boy, which he directed him to sign 
the name he had been practicing on, in a blank space 
which he indicated. The boy worked assiduously 
and successfully, filling in the signatures designated, 
and when he had completed his labors the stranger 
handed him two dollars, and stated that he had no 
further work for him just then, but would send for 
him if he desired his further services. 

The boy, overjoyed at the large wages which he 
had received for comparatively such little work, has 
tened to his home, and acquainted his parents with 
the nature of his occupation, at the same time stat 
ing his belief that the papers which he had signed 
were bonds of some kind. The father of the young 
man at once became suspicious, and he resolved to 
communicate the facts to some one, who could make 
the proper inquiries, to discover the true nature of 
a transaction which smacked of apparent dishonesty, 
and in which his son had been made an innocent par 
ticipator. He accordingly sought out a gentleman 


connected with a prominent newspaper, published in 
Brooklyn N. Y., and the journalist, after cautioning 
his informant to keep the matter entirely secret, re 
paired at once to my agency in New York city and 
gave the full particulars to my son, Robert A. Pinker- 
ton. After listening attentively to the recital, Rob 
ert was convinced that some act of dishonesty was 
about to be attempted. The strange employment of 
the boy, and the character of the work he was en 
gaged to do, fully justified this opinion, and he deter 
mined to sift the affair thoroughly, in order to assure 
himself of the correctness of his suspicions. 

Careful and covert inquiries soon developed the 
fact that James Babcock was a member of the firm of 
Babcock & Co., who were largely engaged as dealers 
and packers of oranges and fruits in the city of Ja^pk- 
sonville, Florida. It was also ascertained that he 
had. been in the city for some time, engaged in raising 
money on advances of sales, and other commercial 
paper, for the benefit of the firm he represented. A. 
J. Baldwin, the gentleman whose name had been im 
itated and signed to these documents, it was learned, 
was an ex-Mayor of Jacksonville. 

After considering the matter fully, Robert wrote 
a communication to the Mayor of Jacksonville, Flor 
ida, asking for further information in regard to Bab 
cock and Baldwin, and requesting if the matter was 


deemed of sufficient importance, that an officer be 
sent on to investigate further into the affair. 

The Mayor, on receipt of Robert s communica 
tion, at once called a meeting of his Municipal ad 
visers, and they, believing that some dishonest 
scheme was being consummated, despatched the 
Chief of Police of that city, to New York with full 
power to take such measures as were deemed neces 
sary under the circumstances. In due course of time 
that officer arrived in the city, and a visit was at once 
made to the residence of the boy who had performed 
the writing service for Mr. Babcock, and finding the 
young man at home, he related at length his experi 
ence with the one-armed gentleman. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Babcock had been kept under 
strict surveillance, and he was still a guest at French s 
Hotel. On the following evening therefore, Robert, 
in company with the Jacksonville officer, and the boy, 
called at the hotel and inquired for Mr. Babcock. 
That gentleman was discovered standing in the bar 
room, and was at once recognized as the individual 
they were in search of. 

As the two approached him, he seemed to recog 
nize the officer from his native city, and evinced the 
greatest confusion, when he found him in the com 
pany of the boy who had been used to facilitate his 
imitations of other men s signatures. 


Mr. Cooper, the chief of police, advanced di 
rectly to Mr. Babcock, and addressed him : 

" Mr. Babcock, I understand that you have some 
Florida bonds in your possession, which we are very 
anxious to secure." 

This was a bold stroke on the part of Mr. Cooper, 
but it was deemed best to waste no words with the 
gentleman whatever. It was suspected that the 
papers which Babcock was manipulating were bonds 
issued by the city of Jacksonville, because that city 
had been engaged recently in placing their bonds on 
the market, for the purpose of effecting several im 
provements in the condition of their water-works and 
streets. Hence it was deemed best to assume that 
these bonds were what Mr. Cooper designated them, 
and to accuse Babcock directly with the crime. 

Mr. Babcock assumed an air of righteous indig- 

o o 

nation, on being thus accused, and replied : 

" It is a lie, sir ! I have nothing of the kind about 
me, and I do not know what you mean !" 

" Very well, Mr. Babcock," quietly interposed 
Robert, " there is no use getting angry about it ; we 
are authorized to search your apartments and then 
we will discover for ourselves whether you are speak 
ing the truth or not." 

At this threatened investigation, the bravado of 
Mr. Babcock suddenly deserted him, and his face 


paled perceptibly, a public exposure was not to his 
taste, and he broke down completely. After a 
momentary struggle he said : 

"Come up stairs, gentlemen, and I will make a 
clean breast of the whole affair." 

The party then ascended to the room occupied 
by Babcock, and after they had entered, he openly 
confessed to having a quantity of forged paper in his 
possession, but solemnly assured the officers that he 
had made no attempt to make any use of it. 

An investigation of his trunks was then begun, 
which soon resulted in discovering the existence of 
forty -six thousand dollars in five -hundred -dollar 
bonds and forty thousand dollars in one-thousand- 
dollar bonds, of "The Sanitary Improvement Com 
pany of Jacksonville, Fla.," all purporting to be duly 
executed, and properly signed by the several officers 
of the company, and the city authorities, and to which 
was attached a well-counterfeited seal of the corpora 

The proofs of his dishonest intentions were too 
manifest to be denied, and Babcock, realizing that a 
full expose would inevitably follow this first discovery, 
at least concluded to make a free confession of his 
nefarious practices while in the city of New York. 

It was developed, that Babcock was fully conver 
sant with the fact of the issuing of these bonds, by 


" The Sanitary Improvement Company of Jackson 
ville," his native city, and was acquainted with all the 
gentlemen connected with that corporation. He was 
also fully informed, as to where and by whom the 
bonds were printed, and had laid his plans for forgery 
with a perfect knowledge of all the circumstances at 
tending their issue. The bonds which were found in 


his possession, instead of being the work of clever 
counterfeiters, were found to have been actually 
printed from the original lithographic stones from 
which the genuine bonds had been printed, and by 
the same firm which had been engaged to do the work 
for the Jacksonville corporation. How this was ac 
complished can readily be explained. Babcock knew 
that these bonds were printed in New York City, and 
on his arrival in that city he had visited the printing 
establishment, armed with a forged order from J. 
Ramsey Day, the Mayor of Jacksonville, ordering the 
firm to print an additional number of the bonds to the 
extent of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars in 
denominations of five hundred and one thousand 
dollars. Of course no suspicions were entertained 
by the printers, and having but recently printed the 
bonds for the company, they were able to fill this sec 
ond order at once, and Babcock received the bonds 
in a few days. The engraver who had made the seal 
was also imposed upon with the same plausible story, 


and he furnished to Babcock a perfect fac simile of 
the seal he had originally furnished to the Jacksonville 
authorities. Having been thus successful in obtain 
ing the genuinely printed bonds and a perfect imita 
tion of the seal, the only thing remaining to be done 
was to secure the signatures of the men who were 
connected with the issuing of these securities. 

For this purpose Babcock had from time to time 
secured the services of a number of boys, in the same 
manner as that related by the boy through whom this 
exposure had been made. Each name had been 
signed and imitated by a different person, and by 
this means no similarity was manifested in the for 

With this valise filled with these fraudulent secu 
rities, Babcock was about to set forth upon a jour 
ney to several western cities in order to raise money 
by negotiating them. He had made all his arrange 
ments to leave upon the following day, and the officers 
had arrived just in time to frustrate his well-conceived 

Twenty-five thousand dollars of these bonds had 
already been disposed of, to reputable merchants in 
the city of New York, who had received them unsus 
pectingly as collateral security for goods and money 
which Babcock had obtained. To one firm he had 
given two thousand five hundred dollars, to another 


nine thousand five hundred dollars, and to the third 
the amount of thirteen thousand dollars. These 
parties had no idea of the worthless character of the 
securities they had taken, and when informed of the 
fact were, as may be imagined, considerably surprised. 
Babcock, however, was compelled to make full resti 
tution, which he did, not having, as yet, disposed of 
the money thus fraudulently obtained. 

The counterfeiter and forger was duly arraigned 
for trial, and being eventually convicted was sentenced 
to an imprisonment which will no doubt have a salu 
tary effect in preventing him from engaging in any 
further attempts to enrich himself at the expense of 

This is a strange case, in which a successful for 
gery and a perfect counterfeit was accomplished by 
a man of good business reputation, with every pros 
pect of winning a fortune by legitimate means and 
with no knowledge of the forger s arts or intimacy 
with criminal men and yet so successfully had he 
managed his fraudulent transactions that but for the 
revelations of the unsuspicious boy who had inno 
cently served him, he would have been enabled to 
place upon the market a hundred and fifty thousand 
dollars of spurious securities. 

As it was, however, his scheme was detected, and 


instead of a successful issue of his fraudulent efforts, 
he found himself disgraced and humiliated and 
branded as a felon. 


ANOTHER case that came under my experience, 
demonstrates fully the risks which large corporations 
are being continually exposed to by the intelligent 
criminal and the expert forger. 

During the month of January, 1877, the commercial 
circles of Wall Street, New York City, were startled 
by the announcement of a heavy forgery, one of 
several that had been successfully operated within a 
very short time. The victims of this transaction were 
two prominent stock-brokers and the Union Trust 
Company of New York, with whom the New York 
Life Insurance Company had a large account. The 
forgery was most ingeniously contrived, and the per 
petrators, whoever they were, displayed an almost 
incredible knowledge of the inner workings of the two 
institutions which they so successfully preyed upon. 

The facts of the case, as far as could be learned, 
when the crime was first discovered, appeared to be 


as follows. The check, which was drawn for $64,000, 
was elated on the 2nd day of the month, although the 
discovery of its spurious character was not made 
until the i8th, a fact which operated to a serious ex 
tent against the speedy detection of the forgers. 

On the day of its date the check, which purported 
to be drawn by the New York Life Insurance Com 
pany for $64,000 upon the Union Trust Company, 
was presented at the counter of the latter institution, 
for a certified indorsement of its worth and genuine- 


ness. It was printed upon one, or what appeared to 
be one, of the regular checks used by the insurance 
company, and bore the signature of the president and 
other officers of that institution. In all respects the 
dangerous little piece of paper appeared to be gen 
uine, and the cashier of the bank to whom it was pre 
sented certified it without a moment s hesitation. 

On the same day, a Mr. Horace Brown, a petty 
broker of Wall Street, accompanied by a gentlemanly 
appearing stranger, who gave his name as Joseph 
Elliott, called upon Mr. George L. Maxwell, whose 
office was in close proximity to the Stock Exchange 
of New York. Mr. Elliott presented a letter, which 
purported to be signed by Mr. Morris Franklin, the 
president of the New York Life Insurance Co., 
and which requested Mr. Maxwell to state upon 
what terms he would act as the broker in Wall 


Street for the company of which he was the presi 

Mr. Elliott s address and bearing were those of a 
gentleman, and in the extended conversation which 
took place, displayed the knowledge of an experienced 
man of business. 

The matter was fully discussed, and Mr. Maxwell 
requested time in which to consider the question of 
commission, when Mr. Elliot took his leave. On 
the following day, the 3d of January, Mr. Elliott 
again appeared in the office of Maxwell, and display 
ing the certified check for $64,000, requested him to 
purchase $50,000 in gold on account of the New 
York Life Insurance Co. 

Mr. Maxwell undertook the commission, and intro 
ducing Mr. Elliott to another gentleman in the office, 
it was finally arranged that the gold should be pur 
chased at once, and the certified check was left with 
them for that purpose. On the 5th of January the 
entire transaction was consummated, the gold was 
purchased and delivered to Mr. Elliott, the check was 
duly deposited in the Mechanic s Bank, was honored, 
and, the business appearing to be fully and pleasantly 
settled, Mr. Elliott disappeared from the view of his 

Nothing more was heard of the transaction until 
the 1 6th day of January, when the account of the 


New York Life Insurance Co. with the Union Trust 
Co. was audited, and the cashier was considerably 
surprised to find returned in his hand-book two 
checks of the same date and number although for dif 
ferent amounts. One of them being for $150,000, 
aud the other being the $64,000 check already al 
luded to. 

The cashier had no recollection whatever of hav 
ing drawn such a check, and his investigations re 
vealed the fact that it was not entered upon the stub 
of the check-book. It looked wonderfully real, and 
the signatures of the officers seemed to be undoubt 
edly genuine, and he inquired of the president for in 
formation concerning its existence. That officer 
was astounded at the remarkable imitation of his 
signature, and the wonderful similarity which the 
check bore to the regular checks issued by the Com 
pany, but he immediately pronounced it a forgery. 
j An exposure at once followed, and measures were 
immediately adopted to discover the parties who had 
so successfully defrauded the bank. The loss was, 
however, reduced somewhat by a subsequent discov 
ery that a gold check for $9,500 given by one of the 
brokers from whom Maxwell and his partner had 
made their purchases in filling their order for Mr. 
Elliott, had not yet been presented for payment, and 


certainly would not be. now that the original forgery 
had been discovered. 

A general feeling of distrust was engendered in 
consequence of this discovery, and the brokers were 
placed under arrest. For a time, knowing and doubt 
ful people shrugged their shoulders at various little 
matters which came to the surface at the commence 
ment of this inquiry, and during this period of skepti 
cism, the officers of the bank and other prominent 
individuals found themselves the object of censure 
and suspicion. 

It has often seemed strange to me to notice the 
large number of wiseacres that are born of a sudden 


exposure of a great crime, or the commission of some 
action out of the ordinary routine, whether criminal 
or honorable. No sooner is the revelation made 
than suggestions the most ridiculous and farcial are 
made with solemn visage by self-conscious philoso 
phers, who, until that time, had remained undiscov 
ered, or at least unnoticed. I do not think I am 
making a rash assertion when I say that popular 
clamor, born of this attempt to appear wise, has 
scarcely ever been supported by subsequent events. 
In my experience, but a very small percentage of 
cases have been determined according to the proph 
ecies of those, who were most eager to give advice, 
or to proffer their opinions. Be this as it may, how- 


ever, the number of these " knowing ones " has not 
decreased, nor has their stock of knowledge been ap 
parently augmented. This case was no exception to 
the rule, and had these governors of public opinion 
.been consulted and obeyed, every business man upon 
the street who had been innocently connected with 
this transaction would have been condemned and ex 
coriated. Fortunately for the good of society, how 
ever, there is a strong under-current of common sense 
which refuses to be guided by irresponsible clamor, 
and which awaits the determination of an issue before 
expressing an opinion upon its merits. 

Mr. Brown stoutly attested his innocence of any 
knowledge of the forgery, or of any irregularity in 
the transaction so far as he was concerned. His 
statement was that a Mr. George W. Chadwick, 
whom he had known previously in a business way, 
called upon him one day for the purpose of having 
him dispose of some horse railroad bonds, which 
business he conducted to the satisfaction of Mr. 
Chadwick. A short time after this, he was again 
visited by that gentleman, who informed him that a 
large corporation which he did not name, was con 
templating a change in some of their securities, and 
that he would introduce to him the agent of the cor 
poration through whom the business was to be trans 
acted. In a few days after this interview, Mr. 



Chadwick introduced Mr. Elliott to him, at which 
time also the introduction to Mr. Maxwell, before 
related, took place. 

Notwithstanding these statements Mr. Brown and 
Mr. Maxwell were both held in bonds to answer any 
charge that might hereafter be made against them. 
These arrests had been made by the detectives con 
nected with the Police Department of New York 
City, and it was not until after they had taken place 
that I was engaged in the matter at all. When the 
investigation had reached this stage, however, my 
Agency was employed, and I set about making such 
inquiries, as in my mind, would lead to satisfactory 
and convincing results. 

Upon undertaking any investigation, no matter 
how trifling, my first effort is to get down to the 
foundation of the crime, and to ascertain, if possible, 
a motive for its commission. In this case, therefore, 
there must be a foundation ; somebody must have 
forged this check before it was presented ; somebody 
also must have been in a position to obtain one of 
the checks which were designed to be forged, and 
that somebody I determined it should be my first 
duty to discover. 

Mr. George H. Bangs, my late General Super 
intendent, therefore paid a visit to the office of the 
New York Life Insurance Co., and requested an 


interview with Mr. Franklin, the president of that 
institution. After the case had been fully stated, 
and all the facts thus far obtained had been given, 
Mr. Bangs inquired of the president if the company 
were in the habit of retaining in their possession 
their cancelled checks after their return from the 

On being answered in the affirmative, Mr. Bangs 
requested permission to examine these cancelled 
checks, promising to explain his purposes afterwards. 
The request was complied with, and the numerous 
bundles of cancelled checks were produced. 

It may be imagined that an institution of the 
magnitude of the New York Life Insurance Com 
pany necessarily draw a great many checks in 
the ordinary course of their business, and Mr. Bangs 
contemplated the portentous piles of narrow pieces 
of paper that were presented for his inspection, with 
serious misgivings. Undismayed, however, by the 
magnitude of the labor before him, and having 
learned from previous experience, how important is 
thoroughness in minute details to eventual success, 
he began the laborious task of examination. One by 
one the little pieces of paper, which were the tattered 
representatives of such vast wealth, were taken up 
and critically examined. The officers of the com 
pany looked on with faces in which speculation and 


wonderment were mingled, but finally, as the labor 
extended into hours, they left him alone to his task. 

At last, after hundreds of these checks had passed 
through his hands, and under his close inspection, 
each one in turn being critically compared with the 
forged check, he gave a start of exultation and 
exclaimed joyously : 

11 1 have it beyond a doubt !" 

So engrossed was he by his occupation, that he 
was unaware of the fact of his being alone, and that 
those whom he addressed had disappeared. Ringing 
a bell which lay near at hand, he requested the ap 
pearance of the officers of the company, and upon 
their arrival he placed the check he had found, in 
the hands of Mr. Franklin, saying : 

" This, sir, without a doubt, is the check from 
which the forgery was made." 

Mr. Franklin gazed at the paper in surprise; it 
was a check for one hundred and fifty thousand dol 
lars, and had been issued some weeks before the 

" How can it be that this check could have been 
used by the forgers, and again find its way into the 
possession of the company ? asked Mr. Franklin, in 

" It certainly has done so," answered Mr. Bangs, 
"and how I will explain hereafter but now let me 


show you how I am convinced of the fact which I as 

"In the first place," he continued, " I take it for 
granted that checks for large amounts are rarely, if 
ever, folded by anyone who does your banking busi 
ness, but are carried in a flat book or wallet for certi 
fication or payment." 

" That is quite true," said Mr. Franklin. 

"Very well. Now if you will observe this check, 
you will notice that it has not only been folded, but 
it has been soiled very much, as though it had been 
carried in the pocket. You will also observe that 
the cancellation stamp or knife, has penetrated 
through this check, leaving several sharp angular 
corners. Now if you will observe, one of these 
corners extends over one of the folds and is per 
fectly flat." And he folded the check to demonstrate 
the fact. " What does this prove ?" he asked. 
" Simply that the check was folded after it had been 
cancelled by the bank, and after it had been returned 
to you. The further fact is that this check was ab 
stracted by some one connected with your company, 
and has been carefully replaced in its proper place in 
the package, after it had served the purpose of the 


" Permit me to ask you one question," said the 
cashier of the company, now speaking for the first 


time ; " admitting all that you have previously stated 
to be correct, what proof exists that the forged 
check was really made from this identical one ?" 

" I am prepared to explain that point, and a most 
important one it is, too," said Mr. Bangs, "and will 
do so fully." 

Walking to the window of the room and taking 
the genuine and the forged check with him, he placed 
them both together, one upon the top of the other, 
against the glass, and requested the two gentlemen 
to come forward and examine them. 

As they did so an exclamation of surprise broke 
from them both. The two signatures of the officers 
were not only exactly alike, but they were in pre 
cisely similar positions on the paper in both instances. 
Nor was this the only strange coincidence, but it was 
also apparent that in the genuine check, a roughness 
or imperfection in the paper had caused the signature 
of the president to deviate from its proper line, and 
to show a slight irregularity in the formation of some 
of the letters. This irregularity had been faithfully 
followed in the forged check, although the paper in 
that document was perfectly smooth and free from 

" You will see," said Mr. Bangs, still holding the 
two checks against the glass, " that there is un 
doubted evidence that one check has been traced 


from the other, and is not what is called a free hand 

Both of the officers were convinced at once of the 
correctness of this assertion, and expressed them 
selves fully satisfied of the facts thus far adduced. 

" Now," said Mr. Bangs, " our first duty is to find 
the clerk who abstracted this check." 

To this task Mr. Bangs applied himself in a quiet 
and unsuspicious manner, and before the day had 
closed he was positive that he had selected the clerk 
upon whom to fasten suspicion. His first question 
was : " Who draws your checks, as a general rule ?" 

" They are invariably drawn by my special clerk," 
replied the cashier. 

" Does he leave his check-book open upon his 
desk at any time?" 

"Yes, sir; frequently." 

" Who then has occasion to transact business with 
him, who might thus be able to see the book ?" 

" Well, there are three clerks who frequently have 
business with this man, and who would thus have 
ample opportunity to inspect the books." 

" And by that means," said Mr. Bangs, " they 
would of course be able to know what numbers 
would be upon the checks at any particular time ?" 

" Yes, sir ; undoubtedly," replied the cashier with 
a start, as a new revelation was opened to him. 


These three clerks were therefore made the sub 
ject of a quiet scrutiny by Mr. Bangs, and after he 
had finished his examination he pointed out one of 
them as the man who had abstracted the check, and 
before he left the office he stated to Mr. Franklin in 
an emphatic manner: 

" That young clerk, Charles W. Pontez, is the 
man who stole the check, and I will prove it so in 

The astonishment of the two gentlemen at this 
statement was unbounded, but as they had placed 
the case in our hands, and had already received in 
dubitable evidence that the forgers, whoever they 
were, had received assistance from some one in their 
employ, they signified their willingness to allow us to 
proceed in our own way. 

The name of Charles W. Pontez was a familiar 
one to me, and his antecedents were readily recalled. 
Ten years before this time, he was a junior clerk in 
the office of the Union Transportation Company, and 
though a very young man gave promise of becoming 
an active and trustworthy accountant. The secre 
tary of the company was Joseph W. Chapman, who 
has since figured in many daring schemes of robbery 
aid forgery. At that time, however, he was a highly 
respectable man, moved in the best circles of the city, 
and was married to a very handsome and accom- 


plished lady, the daughter of a prominent merchant. 
By a life of extravagance, he soon became involved 
in debt, and yielding at last, to the influence of evil 
associates he became connected with a gang of bur 
glars and forgers of the genteel order. These men 
had their headquarters in a billiard saloon, located 
under Brooks Theater, and kept by a man who was 
known as Howard Adams, but whose real name was 
afterwards ascertained to be Carlo Justin Susscovitch, 
a Russian, and one who at various times had assumed 
other aliases to conceal his identity. 

Even at that time Adams, or Susscovitch, was 
one of the sharpest and most accomplished forgers 
in the country, and it was through his influence, that 
Chapman, who frequented his saloon, was made 
acquainted with the members of the fraternity with 
whom he afterwards became associated. Among the 
number was Mark Shinburn, a noted burglar, who is 
now living in the luxurious enjoyment of his ill-gotten 
gains, and having purchased a German title of no 
bility, is now known as Baron Shindle. Shinburn, at 
that time, had succeeded in robbing the Lehigh Coal 
and Navigation Company at White Haven, in Penn 
sylvania, of a large amount of money and valuables, 
among which were certain negotiable securities. As 
Chapman was perfectly conversant with the banking 
and broking business, and possessed a reputable 



character, he was deemed an available party to dis 
pose of these securities, and after a slight demur, 
he agreed to do so. Without the slightest difficulty, 
owing to his high standing in the community, he 
succeeded in disposing of several thousand dollars 
worth of these securities by depositing them as col 
lateral for loans which he effected. It unfortunately 
happened that some of these White Haven bonds 
were widely advertised as stolen, and, much to the 
surprise and humiliation of Chapman, he was arrested 
as being concerned in that robbery. 

Of course with his arrest Chapman s position of 
trust was vacated, and his character for honesty for 
ever shaken. At his trial, however, his previous good 
name and business reputation, were duly considered 
by the court, and upon his giving a plausible account 
of the manner in which the securities came into his 
possession, and surrendering all that he still held, he 
escaped the clutches of the law. 

His social downfall was complete, however, and 
yielding to the temptations of the men who surrounded 
him, and being thrown upon his own resources, he 
entered with a number of others into a systematic 
scheme of forgery. Chapman, shortly after this, 
induced a poor young man named Joseph Randall, 
who was then under twenty years of age, and of 
unblemished reputation, to join with them. Randall 


was a valuable acquisition to this gang, having been 
engaged as a clerk in a prominent banking house, and 
was considered by his employers to be extraordinarily 
sharp and shrewd. To these parties Chapman also 
introduced his junior clerk, Charles W. Pontez, but 
although this young man was frequently seen in their 
company afterward, it was not known that he had 
ever engaged with them in any of their dishonest 
operations. The first attempt which these men, 
Chapman, Randall, Adams, Charles Becker and " old 
man " Hearing, as he was familarily called, made, was 
in forging a check fora large amount upon one of the 
principal banks of the city of New York, and so skill 
fully was their work executed that they escaped 
detection and in fact suspicion. 

After this, emboldened by their primary success, 
they pursued their vocation in Baltimore, Richmond, 
Memphis, Vicksburg, New Orleans, and several other 
cities in the South. Not with the same success, how 
ever, for at New Orleans they were discovered and 
pursued so closely, that they were obliged to flee the 
country, taking with them a large sum of money. 

They went to Central America, where they speedily 
dissipated their funds, and then they resorted to 
other forgeries there. They were not successful, and 
were arrested, but they all managed to escape from 
the insecure jail in which they were confined. They 


then returned to the United States, but so changed in 
appearance that they were not recognized. 

Chapman and Randall were suspected of robbing 
the Third National Bank of Baltimore, which occurred 
soon after this, and they fled to Europe, where they 
met Charles Becker and Howard Adams, who had 
been obliged to leave America to escape punishment. 

In London, Chapman and his wife rented a hand 
some house on the Neville road, which they furnished 
in a luxurious manner and entertained their friends 
sumptuously. The four men then started on a grand 
tour of forgery through the continent. In Turkey 
they attempted to forge the bonds issued by that 
government, but so hastily and clumsily that they 
were detected, and after a trial were sentenced to 
several years imprisonment. They were confined 
in the consular prison at Smyrna, and after a short 
imprisonment, Randall and Becker managed to 
escape, and by slow stages worked their way back 
again to London with a considerable sum of money. 

Mrs. Chapman, hearing of the ingratitude of 
Randall and Becker, in leaving her husband in jail, 
wrote a letter to Charles W. Pontez, whom she had 
known for many years, and who still resided in New 
York. In this letter she requested Pontez to visit 
several friends of her husband, among the crooked 
ftraternity, and solicit their aid in behalf of both her- 


self and her husband. Pontez performed the duty 
requested of him, but found that none of them were 
in a condition to render any assistance in effecting 
the liberation of her husband. 

Meanwhile Adams, or Susscovitch, had made his 
way to London, and was a frequent visitor at the 
house of Mrs. Chapman. When he learned that no 
money was to be received from America, and know 
ing that Mrs. Chapman had some in her possession, 
he deliberately murdered the lady, and seizing her 
money and jewelry disappeared. This brutal and 
cowardly deed created great excitement in England, 
at the time, and among the effects of the unfortunate 
woman was found and published, this letter from 
Charles W. Pontez. 

Susscovitch is now in jail in Ohio for forgery, and 
when his term expires, he will be sent back to Eng 
land to answer for the murder of Mrs. Chapman, 
the discovery of his commission of that deed not 
having been made until he had been tried for the for 
gery in this country 

From these facts it will be seen that Charles W. 
Pontez, the correspondent of Mrs. Chapman, and the 
associate of the gang of forgers, and Charles W. Pon 
tez, the clerk of the New York Life Insurance Com 
pany, were one and the same person. I was there- 


fore inclined to believe that we were upon the track 
of the right parties. 

From the clerk of the cashier of the insurance 
company, whose duty it was to draw the checks for 
the institution, it was learned recently Pontez had 
managed to have some business with him at the 
particular times when he would be engaged in filling 
up checks ; that this had occurred frequently, and 
that he had conversed at these times longer than 
there was any business necessity for doing. No im 
portance had been attached to this action at the time, 
but in the light of subsequent events, they were con 
sidered suggestive, and having learned thus much of 
the actions and previous associations of Charles W. 
Pontez, we were enabled to proceed with our investi 
gation intelligently and with strong hopes of success. 

The preliminary investigations of Horace Brown 
and George L. Maxwell were now concluded, and 
without reflecting upon their business honor they 
were placed under bonds to appear whenever re 
quired. This action quieted the public mind some 
what, and we were enabled to devote our attention to 
Mr. Charles W. Pontez. Every movement he made, 
when at all observable, was closely watched by trusty 
men, who followed him by day and by night without 
his knowledge. He was found to frequent drinking 
saloons, visit the theaters, to live in good style, but 


none of his associates seemed to be of a character to 
excite suspicion. At length, one evening an opera 
tive reported to my son, Robert Pinkerton, that 
Pontez had gone to the theater with a gentleman and 
lady, and that the face of the man appeared to be 
familiar to him, but he could not identify him with 
any degree of certainty. Eager to follow any clew 
that would lead to success, Robert at once repaired 
to the place of amusement designated, and closely 
scanned the entire audience, to discover the parties 
he was in search of. He soon singled out Pontez 
and his companions, and despite their changed appear 
ances, he recognized them as Joseph Randall, the 
accomplice of Chapman, and his wife, a variety 
actress of great beauty and accomplishments, whom 
he had brought from Europe some time ago. This 
pointed strongly to the conclusion that the same 
gang who had so successfully defrauded the capital 
ists of almost every country in Europe, and section 
of the United States, were now at work. 

Operatives were at once placed upon the track of 
Randall, when he left the theater. And when the 
play was over, the shadows followed silently after 
the trio. Charles W. Pontez had now been connect 
ed with a noted forger, many of whose deeds were 
known, and this forger the companion of the man 


whose wife had written to him asking his services in 
her behalf. 

By a process slow and untiring, starting from this 
point the coils were slowly wound around these men. 
Night and day their steps were followed by silent, 
haunting figures ; and yet, strange to say, from that 
night at the theater, Charles W. Pontez and Joseph 
Randall did not meet again. Knowing fully, how 
ever, the antecedents of Randall, and believing that 
in this forgery we had discovered unmistakable evi 
dences of his handiwork, my vigilance never relaxed 
for a moment, and every movemet he made was 
known as fully by me, as by himself. 

This espionage was continued for two weeks un 
remittingly, and was at length rewarded. One 
night, during the latter part of the month of Febru 
ary, a cold, stormy night, when the sky was dull and 
heavy, and the white, feathery flakes of snow fell 
noiselessly to the earth ; when the wind howled 
through the princely avenues of the great city, and 
the gaslights glimmered through the mists like rows 
of stars, the detective stood under the shelter of a 
doorway, and shiveringly watched the residence of 
Joseph Randall. 

Soon that individual made his appearance, fully 
muffled up and protected from the storm, and mak 
ing his way hastily to Broadway, he hailed a passing 


omnibus, and entered, followed at the next corner, 
by the detective who had ran on in advance of the 
vehicle, in order not to excite suspicion. Reaching 
one of the streets in the lower part of the city, that 
led to the ferries, Randall left the coach and the de 
tective followed suit. 

When they arrived at the Courtlandt St. Ferry, 
the passengers were just emerging from the ferry 
house, having crossed from Jersey City, where the 
railroads deliver their passengers. Presently Randall 
darted forward, and grasped by the hand one of the 
arriving passengers, and as the stranger raised his 
face toward the light, the detective saw revealed to 
him the features of Charles Becker, another one of 
the noted quartette of forgers, whose history I have 
already given. The two men returned to the home 
of Randall, and after assuring himself that they 
were domiciled for the night, the detective took his 
departure and reported at the Agency. 

Additional operatives were now detailed to watch 
the various parties, now under surveillance, and to 
note every movement they made. It soon became 
evident that some new movement was afloat. All 
of the parties made frequent visits to a house in 
Allen Street, in New York City, the names of the 
inmates of which could not be ascertained by the 
most diligent inquiries in the neighborhood ; they 


were strangers and unknown. There could be no 
doubt, however, that this house was the general ren 
dezvous of the forgers, and that it was at this place 
that their work was being done. Events fully proved 
this, and one dark cloudy night about ten days after 
the arrival of Charles Becker, and after all of the 
parties had arrived at the house, an expressman 
drove up to the door with his wagon. Quickly after 
wards three men appeared carrying a large bundle, 
which resembled bedding, and placed it carefully in 
the wagon. Just as they had accomplished this feat, 
three detectives advanced through the darkness, and 
laying their hands upon the men, demanded their sur 
render, at the same time directing the driver of the 
wagon to remain where he was. 

This action had been so sudden, and evidently so 
unexpected, that for a moment, the three stood as if 
rooted to the spot and unable to stir, or to speak, 
and they were finally conducted away without oppo 
sition or resistance, the expressman following with 
his wagon. 

A search of the house was made, and here they 
discovered undoubted evidence that the place had 
been occupied for the purposes of counterfeiting and 
forging. Lithographic stones, metallic dies, prints of 
bank-notes, checks, and skeleton bonds of various 
corporations were found in profusion, including sev- 


eral spoiled proof-sheets of the forged check of the 
New York Life Insurance Company. 

Becker and Randall were fully known to us, but 
the third man had not been recognized by the opera 
tives who made the arrest. All doubts, however, 
were set at rest, when on being conveyed to the cen 
tral station, the light revealed the ancient features of 
" old man" Hearing the printer of the old gang, 
in which Chapman and Adams figured so promi 

The contents of the wagon were next examined, 
and tightly packed between the bedding were found 
all the parts of a lithographic press, which no doubt 
were about to be removed to a more secure locality. 

This furnished full proof of the guilt of these parties, 
and Charles W. Pontez was arrested on the following 
morning, very much to his surprise, and the quartette 
were duly held for an examination. 

The trial of these men took place in due time and 
from the testimony adduced thereat, the whole plan 
of the forgery was detailed. Charles W. Pontez who, 
it was ascertained, had acted as groomsman for Joseph 
Randall, upon the occasion of his marriage, had stolen, 
as we suspected, the check from the vaults of the 
Insurance Company, where he was employed as a 
clerk, and had given the same to Randall. Randall 
then went to Becker who was a son-in-law of "old 


man " Hearing who engraved the imitations of the 
check, and Hearing did the printing. After this had 
been done the tracing of the signatures and the filling 
up of the check was done by Randall, who also per 
sonated the Mr. Elliott, who managed the business of 
imposing upon the brokers and obtained the money. 
During the progress of the trial, which was con 
tinued for several days, the prisoners were brought 
back and forth from the jail to the court room, by the 
officers of the court, and Randall, who was of a genial 
and jovial disposition, soon became quite intimate with 
the officer in whose charge he was placed, and as a 
consequence the vigilance of his custodian was con 
siderably relaxed. One day, just as the court had 
adjourned for recess, this officer turned around to take 
care of his prisoner, when to his profound dismay, he 
discovered that he had disappeared. The alarm was 
given, but the most energetic efforts failed to discover 
his whereabouts, and he had successfully made his 
escape, literally walking out of court, under the very 
eyes of the officer whose duty it was to keep watch 
over him. Fortunately, for the cause of justice, he 
was recaptured by me but had the previous espion 
age of Joseph Randall been less thorough, and had 
not every one with whom he had associated, been 
fully known, he might have obtained his liberty. As 
it was, so thoroughly had our work of shadowing been 


conducted in advance of the arrest of these parties, 
that by continuing that system of watching upon all 
of his associates, we were soon upon his track and he 
was again brought to bay. 

The next time he appeared for trial, he did not 
escape, and the three principal forgers, Joseph Ran 
dall, Charles Becker, and " old man " Hearing, were 
duly convicted of their crime, and condemned to long 
years of imprisonment. 

Charles W. Pontez was suffering with a severe 
illness when the trial of his companions took place, 
and the investigation in his case was postponed. He 
was never brought to trial as his malady soon devel 
oped serious symptoms, and he finally died in his 
prison cell, before the judgment of the court could 
be pronounced upon him. 


CHARLES I. BROCKWAY is another of the famous 
names in the calendar of criminal practices, and with 
whom I have had dealings on more than one occa 
sion. This forger and counterfeiter is now about 
forty years of age, and exceedingly handsome in 
appearance. He was born and reared in the City of 


New York, and except when undergoing imprison 
ment, has made his home in that city. Soon after 
the war had closed, Brockaway opened a faro bank in 
New York City, and was an extensive dealer in 
counterfeit money. From this he gradually became 
an adept in the forging aud counterfeiting line, and 
for nearly twenty years led the vicarious life of one, 
who outrages the laws and suffers its penalties. 

On the occasion of his last arrest, I played a 
somewhat prominent part, and will relate that portion 
of his experience in this connection. 

It will be remembered that in my sketch of 
Charles F. Ulrich, I stated that he was regarded as 
one of the best engravers who had been found willing 
to prostitute his talents to counterfeiting, which this 
country had produced. He was a man capable of 
imitating a complete Treasury note without any 
outside aid whatever, and this is something few 
mechanical engravers are able to effectually accom 
plish. The details of his career, his later arrest and 
his release during good behavior have already been 
related. Since that time Ulrich has resided at Tren 
ton, N. J., and so far as known has confined himself 
to honest employment. In July, 1880, I received a 
communication from a member of a prominent law 
firm in Trenton, stating that Charles F. Ulrich was 
endeavoring to lead an honest life, but that he was 


being- continually annoyed by numerous crooked 
people who from time to time sought his services. 
Among the most persistent of these was Charles I. 
Brockway. According to the letter I received, 
Brockway was hounding the reformed man to per 
form some counterfeiting work for him, and offering 
to pay him 10 per cent, of all moneys obtained, in 
addition to a large remuneration for his labor in cash. 
The letter further stated that Ulrich was extremely 
desirous of ridding himself forever of these rascals, 
and the suggestion was made that some plan be 
devised by which. Brockway, at least, might be cap 
tured and punished. A short time previous to the 
receipt of this letter, I had heard that Ulrich and 
Brockway were again working together, but when 
this later information was received, I at once became 
doubtful of the correctness of my previous impres 
sions. With the view of ascertaining the truth in 
this matter, and in order to serve the community, 
which has always been my aim, I wrote a reply 
expressing my willingness to take the case in hand, 
provided Ulrich was really in earnest. 

I demanded, however, Ulrich that should place 
himself entirely in my hands, in order that I might 
fully satisfy myself as to the genuineness of his desire 
to serve the interests of justice. Mr. Linden, the able 
superintendent of my Philadelphia office, was dele- 


gated by me to conduct this case, and the arrange 
ments were left entirely to his own discretion and in 

In compliance with a request made by Mr. Lin 
den, Ulrich came to Philadelphia and exhibited two 
checks which he stated that Brockway had given him 
to counterfeit. One of these was on the old National 
Bank of Providence, and was regularly drawn by 
Henry E. Cranston to the order of C. L. Parker for 
one hundred and nine dollars. The other was on the 
Fourth National Bank of the same city, and was for 
an exactly similar amount. This check was payable 
to E. L. Parker and was signed by Chase, Watson 
& Butts. The drawers of these checks were promi 
nent business firms in Providence, and were known to 
be large depositors in the banks on which the checks 
were drawn. Charles Ulrich stated that Brockway 
was exceedingly anxious to have the counterfeits 
finished in three days. As this allowed but little time 
in which to perfect arrangements for a complete sur 
prise and capture of the forger, Ulrich was directed to 
obtain a delay from Brockway on the plea of his in 
ability to finish them properly in the prescribed time. 
To this Ulrich yielded a ready assent, and also prom 
ised to notify Mr. Linden whenever Brockway should 
call upon him. This delay afforded us full opportu 
nity of communicating with the threatened Providence 


banks, and also of obtaining the full particulars, with 
regard to the obtaining of the two genuine checks 
which had been given Ulrich to imitate. 

It was soon learned that these two checks had 
been procured from prominent stock-brokerage firms 
in Providence, as the proceeds of the sale to each of 
them of a one-hundred-dollar Government four-per 
cent, bond. The sellers in each case had asked for 
checks to be given them, on the plea that they desired 
to send them into the country. The banks were 
communicated with, and a reply was quickly received, 
stating their desire and determination to prosecute 
the intending forgers and requesting Mr. Linden to 
send an operative to Providence, who knew, and could 
identify the rascals. The Trenton attorneys were 
also informed of what had taken place, and taken 
fully into our confidence in the matter. It was sug 
gested by these gentlemen, that the best plan would 
be to arrest Brockway when he call at Ulrich s resi 
dence, and receive the counterfeit checks, but as I 
knew that the mere engraving and printing of a check- 
blank which was not filled in or signed, was not an 
offense under the law, I resolved to give Brockway 
all the rope he desired, particularly as the trap into 
which he was about to fall was entirely of his own 

Ulrich was therefore instructed to so mark the 


counterfeit blanks, that, while Brockway would not 
recognize any difference in them, the bank tellers, 
after being fully instructed, would be able to detect 
at a glance, any of them that might be presented for 
payment. This was accomplished by lengthening the 
lines in the border, where they met at the upper 
right-hand corner, so that instead of joining exactly, 
as in the originals, they projected to the slightest de 
gree, and by altering the names of the original en 
gravers at the bottom, from " Bugbee and Kelly " to 
" Rugbee and Kally." This change could only be 
detected upon a very close examination. 

Brockway, all unsuspicious of the danger that was 
threatening him, called upon Ulrich at the time pre 
scribed, and received a number of the printed blanks. 
The next day he called again and desired more, stat 
ing that he had spoiled all the others. These also 
were given to him. It was naturally supposed, there 
fore, that the following day, being Friday, was the 
day selected for the commission of the crime, and a 
trusty operative was therefore sent to Providence to 
look out for Brockway. The assistance of the chief 
of police of that city was invoked, and an intelligent 
detective was detailed to assist us in the enterprise. 
Two other local detectives were stationed, one in 
each bank, with instructions to arrest the " layer 
down " as the presenter of a forged check is called, as 


soon as he should appear, and to take him at once into 
a back room, in order not to give the alarm to any 
confederate who might be outside on the watch. My 
operative was then to be communicated with immedi 
ately, and he was to proceed at once to the bank and 
point out any of the Brockway gang whom he would 
be able to recognize in the vicinity. My operative, 
therefore, with his delegated assistant took up their 
positions in the post-office, which was directly op 
posite the old National Bank building, which it was 
supposed would be the first tried. 

Since the commencement of his operations, 
Brockway has always worked upon a system which 
though perfectly familiar to the detectives, is one 
which is ingeniously calculated to baffle them in their 
attempts to fasten a crime upon him, so directly as 
to ensure a conviction. 

It has been his custom to employ as an agent, a 
man whom he could trust, but one of such bad char 
acter and reputation that no jury would accept his un 
corroborated testimony should he prove unfaithful. 
This man s duty was to impart his instructions to 
the rest of the gang, with whom Brockway himself 
never held any business communications whatever 
and to see them carried out. One Charles Fera, 
otherwise known as the " Big Duke " has generally 
acted in this capacity for Brockway. 


I scarcely expected that Brockway would himself 
go to Providence, and my plans were, duly laid, to 
have him indicted there, after the arrest of his con 
federates, for sending forged papers into the state, 
secure a requisition for him, and then take him on 
for prosecution. 

Another of Brockway s rules was to have dupli 
cate forged checks prepared. The " layer down " 
was given one of them, which was simply indorsed on 
the back, to take in. The teller would naturally re- 1 
quire identification. The " layer down" would then 
take the check and retire from the bank, destroying 
the document as he went. On the street he would 
be met by Brockway, who would hand him another 
check, similar in all respects to the one that had been 
presented, except that in addition to the indorsement 
of the drawer, it had also the words " all right "-or 
" O. K.," and the signature of the firm whose genu 
ine check had been imitated. 

The " layer down " would then return to the 
bank, and get the money without difficulty, the teller 
supposing the identification to have been freshly 
written. It would not have been at all "regular," to 
present the identified check first, and Brockway was 
always too shrewd to take any such chances. An 
other rule of his was to have several "layers down." 
If one came out all right, another was sent in with a 


check, and if this succeeded, a third attempt was 
made. After this third attempt, however, he always 
stopped for the day. His watchers kept a lookout 
on the bank, and the broker s office until the next 
morning, and if no unusual commotion was observed, 
it was taken for granted that the victim s account was 
large enough to stand further depletion, and other 
checks previously prepared would be presented next 
day, and even the third day thereafter, if circum 
stances seemed to warrant the venture. The mo 
ment any sign of discovery was observed, however, 
the entire gang would incontinently flee the city. 

In the selection of layers down, favorites were 
always sent in first, as the chances of detection were 
then the slightest ; the last men were required to 
possess a large amount of nerve, as the amount drawn 
might overdraw the account of the party against 
whom the checks were drawn, and there would nat 
urally be some searching questions to answer. Of 
course the amount of a firm s account in bank was 
always a matter of guess work, and therefore involved 
great risk, although Brockway s rule was to select 
heavy concerns, leave a wide margin, and work up 

But to return to our particular operation. Friday 
passed without sign. On Saturday, however, my 
operative, while at his post in the post-office, saw 


Brockway pass the old National Bank. As he reached 
a position in front of that building, he seemed to give 
a signal with his head to somebody who stood on the 
opposite side of the street. Soon afterward he was 
joined by a young man, who held some conversation 
with him, and after a short delay went into the bank. 
When they had disappeared it was ascertained that 
the young man desired to get a check certified, similar 
in all respects to one of the checks prepared by 
Charles Ulrich. Another young man had another 
check similar to the other one certified in the Fourth 
National Bank on the same afternoon. They then 
called upon Chase, Watson & Butts, and Henry E. 
Cranston, just before the close of business, and sold 
two more one hundred dollar four-per-cent. bonds, 
asking, as in the first instance, for checks " to send 
into the country." The object of this move, it will 
readily be perceived, was to get the last numbers of 
the checks issued by both the firms, upon which they 
intended to operate. This would give them all day 
Sunday to affix the numbers to the forged checks, and 
they would be ready to work without fear of detection 
from that source, as soon as the banks were opened on 
Monday morning. The object of having the checks cer 
tified, as above related, was to make them available for 
their face value anywhere in case anything disastrous 
occurred. The two original and genuine checks, from 


which the counterfeits had been imitated, reached the 
Providence banks on Saturday, in regular order from 
the Ninth National Bank of New York, having been 
deposited there by T. Winterbottom, a Spring St. 

All being in readiness, the officers awaited the as 
sault they had every reason to expect would be made 
on Monday morning. Their anticipations were fully 
realized, for at 10 o clock on that morning, a man en 
tered the Fourth National Bank of Providence and 
presented one of the forged checks. It was filled 
out for one thousand three hundred and twenty-seven 
dollars. The detective who was on duty in the bank 
stepped up at the same moment and presented an 
other check. The money was paid to the forger 
without hesitation, and he placed it in his pocket. 
The teller then gave the sign agreed upon, and the 
man was at once arrested. Word was quietly but 
quickly sent to my operative who was watching 
Brockway, waiting upon the outside of the bank, and 
almost before he was aware of the fact, that worthy 
found himself a prisoner. The first man arrested 
gave his name as Joseph Cook, but upon being con 
fronted with my operative, he was at once recognized 
as Billy Ogle, a well known confederate of Brock- 
way s. Three hours passed by, and the patience of 
the detectives at th& other bank was still unrewarded. 


At one o clock, however, a suspicious looking fellow 
sauntered in and presented the expected forged 
check. An attempt was made to arrest him, but he 
took to his heels, and was captured only after a long 
chase, in which the officers were obliged to use their 
revolvers upon the fleeing fugitive. This man was 
ultimately identified as George Howell, who was 
known to be in communication with Brockway, and 
who had left Chicago but a short time before. 

It may be truthfully said that Brockway had been 
responsible for every forgery of consequence within 
the two years that preceded his arrest, and I have no 
hesitation in saying that his equal in that particular 
line of crime does not exist in the world. There 
never was but one check put forth by him that was 
stopped without previous warning. That was a 
forgery on the Fourth National Bank of New York, 
in which the signature and blank of Messrs. Fisk & 
Hatch, the famous New York bankers, were imitated 
to a remarkable degree of correctness. This firm, 
however, had a private mark upon their blanks, which 
the counterfeiters had overlooked, and the absence of 
this mark caused the cashier of the bank to hesitate 
a moment. The " layer down " at once took alarm 
at this and fled, but had he stood firm, he would un 
doubtedly have received the money. 

Brockway is one of the most handsome men of 


the day. He is tall, well built, with a wealth of curl 
ing black hair, a full beard of raven blackness and a 
pair of piercing black eyes. Though an extravagant 
man in every respect, he is charged with no small 
vices, and was never intoxicated. At one time he 
kept a faro bank in partnership with the notorious 
Dan Noble, who was recently sentenced to 20 years 
imprisonment in England for the crime of forgery. 

Brockway subsequently branched out as a coun 
terfeiter, and being detected, served two terms in the 
New York State prison for that offense. His last 
incarceration was in Auburn, where he remained five 
years. During this term of his imprisonment, it was 
noticed that he seized every opportunity that was 
offered to him to practice with pen, ink and paper. 
He was released in 1878, and immediately set out on 
a career of wholesale forgery, through the West and 
South. In June, 1879, ne an< ^ Bill Ogle, one of his 
pals, arrested at Providence were held on a charge of 
forgery on the First National Bank of Chicago, and a 
complete set of implements was found in his rooms. 
In this case he made a confession, in which he 
charged Samuel Felker, an ex-Government detective, 
with having induced him to come to Chicago, prom 
ising him the full protection of the police, and e/en 
selecting the banks for him to work upon. This state 
ment was corroborated by a subsequent confession 


made by Ogle, and so convinced were the authorities, 
that Felker was indicted, and Brockway was held in 
$10,000 bail, as a witness against him. The case, 
however, has never been called to trial, on account of 
the lack of sufficient corroborative evidence the 
main witnesses being both men of acknowledged bad 

After his release, Brockway went to N~ew York, 
and succeeded in perpetrating the following forger 
ies : Chemical National Bank, $13,000 ; Second 
National Bank, $1,700; Bank of the Republic, 
$14,000; Chatham National Bank, $1,700; Corn 
Exchange Bank, $700; Phoenix National Bank, 
$7,500. There were undoubtedly other cases in 
which the banks sustained the loss and made no 
public announcement of it. The Chemical National 
Bank also did this, and I only learned of this forgery 
by accident. For the Phoenix Bank Forgery, Brock- 
way, James Williams, William Ogle, and Charles 
Fera were all arrested by me and held to trial in the 
City of New York. Williams turned state s-evidence, 
and Ogle, who was the first to be tried, was con 
victed and sentenced to five years imprisonment, but 
his case was afterward appealed. Fera and Brock- 
way, however, managed to escape punishment on the 
old ground the bad character of the witnesses 
against them, and the lack of corroborative evidence. 

AND FOJtGlNG. 395 

Brockway was, however, rearrested by my son, Rob 
ert Pinkerton, on a requisition from the Governor of 
Illinois, at the instance of his bondsmen in the Felker 
case, and was sent to Chicago, but he soon succeeded 
in restoring their confidence in him, and, they again 
renewing his bail, he was released. He returned at 
once to New York and proceeded from thence to 
Baltimore, where he perpetrated successful forgeries 
on the Merchants and Third National Bank of that 
city, to the extent of $10,146. 

When the information of these forgeries was pub 
lished, I felt confident, from the manner in which the 
work was done, that Brockway was at the bottom of 
them, and my son Robert meeting him a few days 
afterwards at Coney Island, openly taxed him with 
the crime. 

Owing to some ill-feeling which grew out of the 
distribution of the bank of the Republic job, a noted 
crook, Tommy Moore, shot Brockway in the back, 
and Moore was instantly shot and dangerously 
wounded by Billy Ogle. A dozen shots were fired 
and several were severely wounded, but the police 
made no arrests, and consequently no one was 

Brockway was brought to trial for this last 
attempt at Providence, and Charles Ulrich appeared 
as a witness against him. He also testified that 


Brockway had brought two other checks to him for 
counterfeiting, in which two prominent Philadelphia 
bankers were to be made the victims. 

His career was thus brought to a summary end, 
and it is to be hoped that equal promptness and 
courage in detection and punishment will follow any 
further attempts of this audacious thief to plunder 
the unsuspecting public. 


ONE of the boldest, and for a time the most suc 
cessful course of swindling, by means of forged secu 
rities, was perpetrated in the city of Philadelphia 
a few years ago, and a record of that operation 
deserves a place in this connection. It is a story 
of swindling which was skillfully and successfully 
effected, was only discovered by accident, and even 
then the leader in the movement was able to adroitly 
explain away all seeming criminalities and thus for 
the time escape punishment. Finally, however, a 
second expose occurred and further concealment was 


impossible. The principal actor in this scheme was 
a young man by the name of George F. Holton, 
whose parents were wealthy, and whose position in 
society was of unquestioned respectability. He was 
a man of great natural abilities, and with a business 
capacity far above the average. In his youth he 
devoted himself to the study of medicine, during 
which time he gave great attention to the subject of 
toxicology, and acquired a wonderful knowledge of 
the effects of all poisonous materials upon the human 
system. His talents as a physician were never fully 
developed, however, and before taking his degree he 
relinquished his medical studies and entered into 
mercantile business. He first became engaged in the 
business of insurance in the city of Philadelphia, from 
which place he soon afterward removed to Chicago, 
where he established himself as an agent for several 
of the leading Insurance Companies of the East. 
Tiring of this vocation, he became a dealer in grain, 
but being unfortunate in this venture, he returned to 
Philadelphia, where he again entered the insurance 

According to police authorities, the city of 
brotherly love was at that time the home of a num 
ber of "wildcat" companies, which, in the absence 
of a State Insurance Examiner, were enabled to suc 
cessfully impose upon the community. George F. 


Holton was fully aware of the existence of these 
fraudulent institutions, and he had not been long in 
Philadelphia when he became identified with a 
corporation devoted to underwriting, whose anoma 
lous title was that of "The Security." This corpora 
tion was organized by Holton, who also became its 
Secretary and Treasurer. This company, it is 
alleged, had no proper or solid monetary foundation, 
yet, so plausible, so smooth of speech and so 
insinuating in manner was Holton, that he succeeded 
in inducing a number of respectable and reputable 
gentlemen in Philadelphia, to accept positions in the 
company, and to allow their names to appear as 
directors. By means of his extensive and thorough 
knowledge of the business, Holton soon placed the 
company in a good working condition, and organized 
agencies in all of the principal cities of the country. 
It appeared that there was another Insurance Com 
pany in existence of the same name as that adopted 
by Holton, which was a good, sound and responsible 
institution, and the confidence which this latter com 
pany enjoyed, induced many people to confide their 
business to the swindling concern, under the impres 
sion that the two companies were identical. The 
business of this new corporation prospered amazingly. 
The secretary was a thorough business man, well 
posted in insurance matters, and in a few months 


Holton had received about $40,000 in premiums for 
risks which he had taken, and for the payment of 
which, in case of loss, the company owned no available 

The offices of the company were located on one of 
the principal business thoroughfares of the city, and 
were most tastefully and luxuriously furnished ; dapper 
clerks were at the desks, and Holton, when he was 
seen, bore the absorbed manners of an anxious, hard 
working and duty-loving man of business. More 
frequently, however, when not seen in the outer office, 
he was found in his private apartment in the rear, his 
feet perched easily on his desk, and a box of fragrant 
Havanas within his reach. Notwithstanding the 
weakness of its foundation, the Insurance Company 
prospered. The premiums were duly received, and 
when losses occurred to their patrons, they would 
sometimes be paid provided some good purpose was 
to be served, but in many cases, the losses were con 
tested upon some specious plea and the payment 

A difficulty soon arose, to meet which some new 
and untried means had to be devised. The State had 
established an Insurance Department, and had 
appointed a gentleman, whose duty it was to examine 
into the condition and standing of the various insur 
ance companies doing business in Pennsylvania, and 


also to require an exhibition of all of the available 
assets of these corporations. 

This commissioner was an avowed enemy of the 
so called "wild cat" insurance companies, of which 
he had heard and seen so much, and he suspected 
that the Security was one of this delectable number. 
He accordingly notified Holton, that he would speed 
ily examine the affairs of his company in order to dis 
cover its true financial condition. Instead of being 
overcome by this information, the inventive faculties 
of Holton were spurred on to heroic efforts, and he 
very soon devised a scheme, by which he could suc 
cessfully deceive the watchful and suspecting commis 
sioner. Aided by his thorough business knowledge, 
he caused a number of false and forged mortgages to 
be executed, upon valuable real estate in Philadelphia, 
and these papers were executed with a nicety, well 
calculated to impose upon any one not having direct 
evidence of their spurious character. Then knowing 
full well that all reputable corporations have large 
investments in bonds, stocks, and other valuable 
securities, he resolved to present to the examining 
commissioner, further evidence of the " Security s " 
solvency, by showing them to be largely interested in 
United States and railroad bonds. For this purpose 
he managed to purchase for a small sum one hundred 
bonds of one thousand dollars each, which had been 


issued by one of the southern states during the war. 
Although these bonds had no real market value, he 
depended on the fact that the bonds which had been 
issued by the same state, since its reconstruction, had 
considerable value, to thus deceive the commissioner, 
and to make this dependence the more certain, the dates 
of the old bonds were changed, so as to pass for the 
more recent and valuable ones. Besides these he 
managed to secure from other bogus insurance men, 
and from dealers in stolen securities some of whom 
are now in prison a large number of stolen and 
forged United States bonds, of the registered series, 
the names on which had been duly altered to meet 
the emergency, and also some forged certificates of 
railroad stock. Thus fully armed for the examiner, 
Holton complacently awaited the appearance of that 
official. So reckless had Holton been in manufactur 
ing his spurious mortgages that he had actually exe 
cuted one for a large amount on property, owned by 
one of his own responsible and deceived directors, and 
if at that time that honest individual had looked over 
the books of the company, he would have unearthed 
an immense swindle, and have learned some of the 
secrets of "wild cat" insurance companies and their 
methods, which would have been a profitable revela 
tion to him. 

The examination, however, was successfully 


passed, the commissioner was fully satisfied as to the 
assets of " The Security," and Holton was given a 
certificate accordingly. Thus far everything had 
prospered with Holton and his schemes, but, not sat 
isfied with his present success, he became ambitious 
for further efforts, and more daring exploits. 

He conceived a gigantic plan to flood the Phila 
delphia money market with forged stocks and bonds 
and he carefully made his preparations for that event. 
He extended his acquaintance among professional 
forgers and middle men, and he soon was hand and 
glove with a coterie of professional criminals, who, 
under the guise of assisting him in his unlawful ven 
tures, were simply making him the tool of their work 
and profit. He engaged the services of several ex 
perts in this particular line, among whom was the 
notorious Jacob Canter, who was the most skillful pen 
man in the United States, and whose forgeries were al 
most miraculous for their close and uniform imitations. 

About this time another insurance company in 
the same city, and in a similar condition, was ordered 
by the insurance commissioner to make an exhibi 
tion of their assets. The officers of this company were 
not so ingenious as Mr. Holton, and were in a great 
dilemma. Being on friendly terms with the officers of 
this company, however, Mr. Holton was appealed to 
for help in this dire difficulty. Holton readily agreed 


to help this sister bogus company, provided he were 
well paid for his trouble. His proposition was readily 
accepted, and he received some $7,500 in advance, for 
his services. In return for this he furnished the other 
company with the altered Southern bonds, and some 
of the forged railroad stock, which had served him so 
well. This time, however, the commissioner was 
more particular, and the securities offered were at 
once rejected as insufficient and valueless, and as a 
consequence the " Community Fire Insurance Co." 
incontinently collapsed. As soon as this company had 
dissolved, Holton, knowing full well that the secretary 
of the defunct institution was fully aware of his tricky 
methods, and might prove dangerous to him, began to 
circulate damaging reports about him, which com 
pelled him to leave the country, much to the relief of 
the ingenious and unscrupulous Holton. Holton, at 
this time, was living in a most luxurious manner with 
a lady, presumably his wife, in one of the first hotels 
of the city. He had plenty of money at his command, 
drove a span of spirited horses, and his diamonds 
were the envy of all beholders. Meanwhile he was 
preparing the way for his grand issue of forged secur 
ities. He had opened accounts with several banks 
both in New York and Philadelphia, in order to facil 
itate his operations when he was ready to make his 
grand movement. His plan was to deposit these 



worthless securities with the several banks where he 
was acquainted, as collateral for loans, which he could 
readily effect, and the fraudulent nature of the security 
would not be discovered until either the principal or 
interest should become due, and he should fail to make 
proper and prompt payments. 

From an unsuspecting banking house in Philadel 
phia he obtained a loan of $45,000, and deposited, as 
security, forged and stolen U. S. registered bonds, 
and from a prominent merchant of his acquaintance 
he obtained $5,000 upon another spurious U. S. bond, 
for the same amount. Upon this latter debt becom 
ing due Holton failed to pay it, and the bond he had 
given was sold. It passed through several hands 
without suspicion, and finally reached the U. S. Treas 
ury Department, where it was at once discovered to 
have been originally stolen and altered. It was therefore 
returned through its various channels to the gentleman 
who had made the loan to Holton, and Holton imme 
diately redeemed it and thus escaped, for the time be 
ing, exposure and arrest. 

As soon as this accident to his plan occurred, 
Holton, fearing that the banking institution from 
which he had obtained the $45,000 would learn of it, 
and would discover that the securities they held were 
also valueless, determined upon a bold stroke in 
order to save himself. He therefore went boldly to 


the bank and announced that he had serious doubts 
as to the validity of the bonds he had deposited with 
them, and requested the privilege of replacing them 
with others. He was just in time, for that very day, 
a messenger from the gentleman from whom Holton 
had borrowed the $5,000, arrived at the bank with 
the story of that gentleman s experience. The bank, 
however, permitted Holton to replace the U. S. 
bonds, with forged railroad bonds, some bank stock 
which he persuaded a friend to hypothecate, and a 
judgment note which he also procured from the same 
obliging and deceived friend. By these means he 
was enabled to escape detection for a time, but fail 
ing to pay his interest promptly, the bank threatened 
to offer the railroad bonds for sale in order to recover 
their money. This must be avoided at all hazards, 
as a sale would have revealed their fraudulent 
character at once. Thus pressed, the young man 
took the desperate chance of openly disposing of 
some other stolen and forged securities which he 
held, and being successful in this, he redeemed his 
note with the bank, and recovered possession of the 
questionable bonds, which he had deposited with 
them. While all this was going on, and while these 
desperate make-shifts were destroying his reputation 
as a respectable business man, and effectually pre 
venting the operation of his great scheme, Holton 


was diligently employed in another direction with his 
professional forger friends. He had opened an 
office in New York city, in close proximity to the ex 
change, where he was transacting business under the 
firm of Benedict and Co. Mr. Holton passing under 
the name of Benedict. Here he disposed of bonds 
to a large amount, and delivered four of them of the 
value of $1,000 each. These bonds were immediately 
discovered to be forgeries, and the next day Holton 
was peremptorily requested to return the money he 
had received for them. This he did, and shortly 
afterward $15,000 worth of Chicago and North 
western Railroad bonds, which Holton had sold in 
Philadelphia, were discovered to be forgeries, and 
decisive measures were taken to apprehend him. 
After many fruitless efforts to escape, he was finally 
captured, and an examination was made of the pre 
mises he had occupied in New York. Desks were 
broken open, and carpets torn up, resulting in the 
discovery of a number of forged United States 
bonds, and other securities, and also a counterfeit 
plate for printing United States currency. It was 
evident that Holton or Benedict had been preparing 
himself for operations on a large scale, and that he 
was exposed in the nick of time. These fraudulent 
documents were eventually destroyed, and Holton, 
in order to save himself, turned state s evidence, and 


revealed the whole transaction, thus leading to the 
arrest of the principals, and the breaking up of the 
entire organization. 


AMONG the notable characters who have promi 
nently figured in criminal circles, is a man whose 
name is well known in banking circles throughout the 
land. He is probably the greatest and most success 
ful thief and forger of modern times, and his final ar 
rest and imprisonment was a relief to the entire com 
munity. His name is Walter Sheridan, but during his 
career he has adopted a number of aliases, and among 
the number were those of Walter Stewart and 
Charles Ralston. It will be remembered that in 
1873, a famous gang of forgers among whom were 
Walter Sheridan, George Wilkes, Andrew]. Roberts, 
and Frank Gleason, nearly disrupted the Wall street 
markets by their gigantic issue of fraudulent stocks, 
and these men were also connected with that wonder 
ful attempt at forgery on the Bank of England in 
which several millions of dollars were attempted to be 
obtained from " the old lady of Threadneedle street." 
As to the conception of this scheme, the plans were all 


laid in New York City, and the capital necessary to 
carry on the operation, was subscribed by the men I 
have named, and by George MacDonnell, Austin and 
Biron Bidwell, and Samuel Perry. The former of 
these, rinding that MacDonnell, and the Bidwells, 
were leading a fast life in England, and were associa 
ting with notorious and disreputable women in Lon 
don, in such a manner as to seriously affect the suc 
cess of their scheme, they at once withdrew from the 
operation, and allowed these latter gentlemen to pur 
sue their way alone. When Sheridan deserted this 
party, his place was supplied by one George or Gott 
lieb Engels, another famous forger, and he in turn 
withdrew from them, and they were thus left to ac 
complish the forgeries alone. It is unnecessary to 
say that they failed, and fleeing to America they were 
arrested by me, and are now serving out life-sentences 
in Great Britain. 

To retrieve the losses occasioned by the failure 
of these Bank of England forgeries, a gigantic com 
bination was formed among the remaining members 
of the party in this country. Plates were prepared, 
and false bonds printed and openly sold on the market, 
of the New York Central Railroad, the Buffalo and 
Erie Railroad, the Chicago and Northwestern Rail 
road, the New Jersey Central Railroad, the California 
and Oregon Railroad, the Union Pacific Railroad, the 


Tebo and Neosho Railroad, Allentown School Fund 
bonds and Erie Water bonds. As nearly as can be 
estimated the total amount of the bonds thus forged, 
reached the amount of $2,500,000. The forged writ 
ing on them is claimed to have been done by George 
Engels, who was undoubtedly the most accomplished 
forger in the country in his particular line. All of the 
parties were eventually arrested and brought to 
justice, but not until many hundreds of thousands of 
these worthless securities had been floated upon the 

The career of Walter Sheridan is a most wonder 
ful one, considering the life of an ordinary criminal 
as a comparison. He is now about forty-five years 
old. He was born in New Orleans, of respectable 
parents, and received a fine education. He is about 
five feet seven inches in height, a decided blonde, and 
of very handsome person and gentlemanly address. 

When a mere boy he drifted into crime, and made 
his first appearance in the character of a criminal in 
Western Missouri as a horse thief. Then he became 
an accomplished general thief and confidence man, 
but was especially distinguished as a bank sneak. In 
1858 he was arrested in company with Joseph Moran, 
a noted western robber, for a bank robbery in Chi 
cago, and was sentenced to five years imprisonment 
in the Alton Penitentiary, which term he faithfully 



served. The next operation of any magnitude in 
which he was concerned, was the robbery of the 
First National Bank of Springfield, 111., in company 
with Charles Hicks and Philip Pearson, Sheridan 
engaged the teller of the bank in conversation, 
while Hicks and Pearson crawled through a window 
and stole $35,000 from the vaults. Pearson escaped 
to Europe, Hicks was arrested and sentenced to 
eight years imprisonment in Joliet Prison, and Sheri 
dan was subsequently arrested in Toledo, Ohio, by 
my son, William A. Pinkerton, with $22,000 in his 
possession. He was placed on trial, but strange to 
say, the jury acquitted him. He was next concerned 
in the sneak robbery of the Maryland Fire Insurance 
Company of Baltimore, by which the thieves secured 
$120,000 in bonds, and after this came the successful 
robbery of the Merchants and Mechanics Bank of 
Scranton, Penn., by which $37,000 in bonds were se 
cured by Sheridan. Then came the robbery of a 
bank in Cleveland, Ohio, by which $40,000 was car 
ried off by Jesse Allen, James Griffin, Joseph Butts 
and Sheridan. Allen and Griffin were convicted and 
sentenced to prison, Butts was discharged and Sheri 
dan managed to escape capture. Possibly the neat 
est robbery in which Sheridan was ever engaged, was 
that of Mr. Blatchford, the father of United States 
Judge Blatchford, who was plundered of $75,000 in 


bonds while buying an apple at Nassau and Liberty 
Streets, in New York city, some few years ago. Mr. 
Blatchford was pleasantly accosted by Sheridan, who 
engaged him in conversation, and so interested him 
that he unthinkingly laid down his wallet containing 
the bonds, upon the apple stand, from which it was re 
moved at once by a confederate. A portion of these 
bonds were subsequently found in the possession of 
Horace C. Corp, a brother-in-law of Gleason, who 
was arrested at the time, but discharged for want of 

When the forgery scheme was laid, after the fail 
ure of the Bank of England forgeries, Sheridan be 
came a member of the New York Produce Ex 
change, under the name of Charles Ralston, and un 
der this same name he carried on business as a dealer 
in fancy marbles, under the title of "The Belgian 
Stone Company." The forged bonds being placed 
on the market, he obtained a loan of $70,000 from 
The New York Guaranty and Indemnity Company, 
giving as collateral security $102,000 in forged bonds 
of the Buffalo & Erie Railroad, and on the following 
day obtained a loan of $30,000 on $40,000 of the 
same forged securities. When later, the forgeries be 
came known, Sheridan escaped to Europe, and re 
mained in Belgium for a long time, after which he re 
turned again to America. He was finally arrested 


by my son Robert, who had been on his trail for a 
long time, and was arraigned in New York city in 
the Court of General Sessions on eighty-four indict 
ments for forgery. Whih> in the prisoners box he as 
certained that he would be confronted by a number 
of his victims for identification, and fearing this try 
ing ordeal, he exchanged clothes with one of the 
meanest looking criminals, by whom he was sur 
rounded, giving his fashionable clothes and hat for 
the worst garments he could find. As may be imag 
ined, his appearance underwent a thorough change, and 
those who had seen him an hour before in his usual 
costume, found it extremely difficult, if not impossible, 
to recognize him. He was finally pursued to convic 
tion, and now after long years of crime, he is a pris 
oner in an Eastern Penitentiary. 


ON the 26th day of August, 1873, in the Old 
Bailey Court, in London, the most remarkable story of 
daring forgery and fraud that the world has known, 
was brought to a conclusion by the sentence of 
George MacDonnell, two brothers, whose names 
were Austin and Biron Bidwell, and an individual 


calling himself Edwin Noyes, to penal servitude for 
life, for forgery on the Bank of England. 

The amount of these forgeries aggregated nearly 
to the sum of one million dollars, but even this gi 
gantic amount was not the only feature which gave 
particular importance to the case. The history of 
this crime shows that four men of very marked intel 
ligence, and of considerable education, had been work 
ing for years in concert, with the deliberate intention 
of defrauding the world, and with a certain degree of 
pride in their dishonest undertakings. For nearly 
ten years they had defied the efforts of the authorities 
to detect them, and emboldened by their success, they 
determined to attack the institution in England, which 


more than any other, represents caution, security and 
unlimited capital ; fully believing that by careful com 
bination they could swindle, to an enormous amount, 
the shrewd and experienced men who controlled it. 

They laid their plans carefully, and performed 
their work coolly and deliberately. They established 
an office in the business portion of the city, and in 
vested a large amount of capital in the enterprise, 
just as men of honesty would put out their money in 
a legitimate undertaking, entertaining no doubt that 
in due time they would amply reap the reward of their 
labor and foresight. The capital that " Messrs. Mac- 
Donnell & Co." depended upon to give them access 


to the vaults of the Bank of England, was English 
gold deposited in strict accordance with commercial 
usage, in the vaults of the Bank itself. 

Nor were they hasty or imprudent in carrying out 
their designs. For months they conducted their op 
erations with a most business like caution, and they 
might have eventually succeeded in gaining the cov 
eted millions, had not the first flush of success so un 
nerved them that they grew careless, and made a most 
foolish and unnecessary error. This at once exposed 
them, and resulted in bringing their finely arranged 
plots to naught, and themselves to a life of servitude 
among felons less intelligent and refined, and, it may 
be said, less crafty and hardened than themselves. 

The manner in which these men worked was as 
simple as it was ingenious. George MacDonnell 
began by opening a deposit account of an ordinary 
character with the western branch of the bank. For 
this purpose he needed only an introduction by some 
regular and known customer of the bank, and the sole 
evidence of solvency which the institution required of 
him, was the deposit of a sufficient cash balance to 
warrant their carrying the account. This amount was 
forthcoming from the results of previous depreciations, 
and constituted part of the capital with which the 
fraud was carried on. The manager of the scheme 
was patient and conducted himself for a time as an 


ordinary customer of good resources. He was appar 
ently cautious in all his operations, and aimed at 
acquiring the reputation of a person engaged in legit 
imate and profitable business affairs. 

At length the time came for which they had been 
long waiting. Their name was established, their 
credit was good, and then came the presentation of 
the forged bills. So excellently were they executed, 
that they were discounted without hesitation, and the 
authors of the fraud had to all appearances succeeded 
in pocketing about five hundred thousand dollars. 
In order to avoid arousing the suspicions of the bank 
authorities a part of this money was invested in 
United States bonds. 

The manufacture of these forged bills required the 
greatest amount of ingenuity and labor. Many of the 
large firms, upon whom the bills purported to be 
drawn, use a particular kind of paper, with certain 
water marks and printed symbols. As the bills were 
drawn on more than one firm there were several of 
such imitations required, and yet, in all cases, these 
forgeries were so nearly perfect, that not one of them 
was questioned on the ground of a doubt of the accep 
tor s signatures or of their genuine appearance. The 
bills were all drawn at three months date, and the 
money was regularly obtained. No further inquiry 
was likely to be made about them, until they fell due, 


and the forgers would have ample time to place them 
selves beyond all risk of capture. Yet notwithstand 
ing all this, and strange as it may seem, these men, 
who had exerted a skill, foresight and perseverance, 
sufficient to insure the unhesitating acceptance of 
these numerous forged bills, did not escape the com 
mission of one trivial blunder which led to the imme 
diate discovery of the whole dishonest transaction. 

They omitted to put the date of acceptance upon 
two of the bills which they had presented, and in order 
to rectify this, the bills were taken to the firms, who 
were alleged to have signed them, for the purpose of 
having the dates filled up by the proper parties. 
Upon their being presented to these firms, they were 
at once pronounced to be forgeries. 

The forgers were well known, and an attempt was 
immediately made to arrest them before they had an 
opportunity to make their escape, but their move 
ments were too late, the criminals had taken the 
alarm and fled, and after dividing their money, had 
separated. It was soon discovered that George 
MacDonnell had started for New York, but by what 
vessel, could not then be learned. The news was 
telegraphed to America, and a full description of the 
man was given. The police authorities of this coun 
try were aroused, and they resolved that if the forger 
attempted to land he would be arrested at once. 


Accordingly the police-boat was ordered out, and 
cruised about the harbor of New York for several 
days without success. Several vessels were boarded, 
but no trace of the absconding MacDonnell could be 
found. Late on the following day the " Thuringia" 
arrived at Quarantine, and a detective went on board. 
The passengers were called up for examination by the 
health officer, and the detective accompanied him. 
Their search was crowned with gratifying success, and 
a passenger who answered the description of George 
MacDonnell, was found among the number. He was 
immediately placed under arrest, and his trunks were 
taken in charge by the officers. A careful examina 
tion of his effects disclosed about forty thousand 
dollars in gold coin, valuable diamonds, and a variety 
of watches, jewelry and fancy goods, that was quite 
astonishing. The prisoner affected to be highly indig 
nant at the outrage which he claimed had been com 
mitted upon his person and his liberty, and threatened 
loudly that the officers should be made to pay dearly 
for what they were now doing. 

His angry demonstrations, however, had no effect 
upon the officers, and as quickly as possible, Mr 
MacDonnell was conveyed to the jail in New York 
city, and locked in a cell to await an examination. 
After a diligent search, in which nearly all of the 
prominent detectives of the country were engaged, 



the entire number of the suspected criminals were 
captured and conveyed to London, where, after a 
protracted trial George MacDonnell, the two Bid- 
wells, and Edward Noyes were convicted and sen 
tenced to hard labor for life. Nearly all of the 
stolen property was recovered, and the discomfited 
prisoners may now reflect in bitterness of spirit upon 
the fearful punishment which their crimes have 
brought upon them. This was by no means the first 
crime with which George MacDonnell had been con 
nected. For years prior to this time he had been as 
sociated with criminals of the lighter order, and by 
his rascality had amassed a considerable sum of 
money. The first knowledge which I gained of him, 
was in connection with a gang of adroit swindlers who 
operated around Wall Street in New York city, in 
1867, and among the number were the two Bidwells, 
who shared his fate in this Bank of England forgery. 
The headquarters of this gang were on Broad Street, 
in the very center of the financial circles of the great 
Metropolis, and where they were within easy reach of 
all the large banking institutions of the city. Their 
mode of operation was to procure checks of some 
well-known firms for small amounts, and then to 
forge the signatures of those who gave them, for large 
sums which they succeeded without difficulty in pass 
ing upon the large banking houses and business 


firms. So ingeniously were their schemes planned 
and so cleverly was their work executed, that for a 
long time, they escaped detection. At length, so 
closely were they watched, that they were compelled 
to change the scene of their operations, and Mac- 
Donnell and his two friends separated from the others 
and went into partnership upon their own account. 

Shortly after this, James W. Barnard, a well- 
known physician on Fifth Avenue advertised the 
front parlor of his house to let. MacDonnell went 
there on the morning of October 30, 1867, and find 
ing the wife of the physician at home, he pretended 
that he was a rich Englishman traveling for pleasure, 
and that being disgusted with American hotel life, 
he had resolved to locate himself in comfortable 
private apartments. He presented his card on which 
appea-red the name of Henry B. Livingston, which he 
stated was his name. He was accompanied by one 
of the Bidwells, who took the part of his valet, and 
whom he frequently addressed as Clarence. After 
some conversation MacDonnell engaged the parlor 
and two rooms adjoining for a large sum, and at once 
paid an installment in advance. 

Two hours afterwards, he in company with his 
servant went to a prominent jewelry establishment on 
Broadway, and requested to be shown some expensive 
diamonds. A tray was placed before him, and after 


a careful and critical inspection of the gems, he 
selected a solitaire ring, a brooch with seven stones, 
two diamond ear-drops and two large unset diamonds, 
the total value of the precious stones amounting to 
nearly two thousand five hundred dollars. He in 
formed the salesman that his name was W. H. 
Barnard ; that his residence was on Fifth Avenue, 
and that he would go down town to see his father, 
and would return in two hours with the money for the 
jewels. He afterwards returned to the jewelers, and 
stated that he had missed seeing his father, but had 
left word at his place of business for the money to be 
left at the house. He requested to have the diamonds 
sent there and invited the salesman to accompany 
him in a carriage, which was waiting for him at the 
door. A coachman in all the glory of new livery sat 
upon the box, and MacDonnell addressed him as 
" Charles." The salesman accepted the invitation, 
entered the carriage, and was driven to the reputed 
residence on Fifth Avenue. 

The name of Barnard was upon the door, and as 
the carriage drew up, MacDonnell alighted, and with 
the salesman entered the front-parlor, where they 
found Bidwell busily engaged in reading at one of 
the windows. As they entered the room MacDonnell 
addressed him : 

" Clarence, where is father ? " 


" He has just stepped out," answered Clarence. 

" Do you know where he has gone ? " 

"Yes, I think he has gone around to the build 

" Clarence," then said MacDonnell, " the carriage 
is at the door, and I wish you would go around and 
see father. This gentleman is from Tiffany s, and he 
desires the money for the goods I have purchased of 

Without demurring in the least, Clarence entered 
the carriage, and was driven away, and MacDonnell 
entertained his guest while waiting. 

In a short time Clarence returned with a check, 
which he handed to MacDonnell who in turn handed 
it to the salesman. It was drawn upon a prominent 
city bank, and for the exact amount of the purchases 
that had been made. The check was also signed by 
James W. Barnard, and purported to be duly certi 
fied by the bank on which it was drawn. Everything 
appearing to be satisfactory, the salesman left the 
jewelry and departed from the house with the worth 
less check in his possession. Ten minutes afterwards, 
MacDonnell and Bidwell were on their way to the 
Eastern States. 

In their hurry to get away, or controlled by a de 
sire to avoid dividing with their other accomplice, 
Charles, the coachman, they left that individual in 


the lurch. This omission was fatal to them, for the 
indignant dupe at once repaired to police headquar 
ters, and related the whole story to the detectives. 
Steps were immediately taken to effect their arrest, 
and MacDonnell was tracked to Portland, Maine, 
where he was found in jail in the month of Decem 
ber, he having been committed for some trifling of 
fense. He was brought to New York where he was 


tried for the forgery and robbery, and being fully 
identified by the victimized salesman, was convicted 
and sentenced to three years imprisonment. Bid- 
well was not found. 

While serving out his imprisonment MacDonnell 
was employed as a waiter in the shoe manufacturing 
department, but he only served two years and two 
months when his fine was remitted, and he was re 

After leaving the prison he started for the West, 
and a few months afterward he entered the cars at 
Louisville, Ky., with a ticket for Liverpool. He sat 
in the seat with a jolly-looking, goocl-natured drover, 
whom he soon fascinated with his entertaining con 
versation. MacDonnell carried with him a flask of 
very excellent brandy, and in the course of their jour 
ney, the two men drank quite frequently. The cattle 
dealer soon succumbed to the effects of the liquor, and 


while he was asleep MacDonnell abstracted two thou 
sand six hundred dollars from his pocket-book. 

He had with him several newspapers and wrap 
pers, and folding the stolen bills in with these publi 
cations, he enclosed them in the wrappers, and ad 
dressed them to a fictitious name in New York city. 
He posted them at the next station, and then quietly 
resumed his seat beside the sleeping drover. When 
the latter recovered from his stupor the train reached 
a junction, where a change of cars was necessary, and 
he proposed that they should take lunch together. 
MacDonnell consenting, they entered the dining 
room, and ordered their repast. After finishing their 
meal, the drover opened his pocket-book to pay for 
the meal, when he discovered, to his dismay, that his 
money had disappeared. He turned to MacDonnell, 
and presenting the empty wallet, exclaimed : 

" I had twenty-six hundred dollars when you took 
a seat beside me, and now I haven t a cent !" 

MacDonnell drew back in well affected amaze 

" Do you think I would take your money ? If you 
do, I insist upon being arrested and searched at 
once ! Here are my checks, get my baggage, and let 
the officers make such an examination as will satisfy 
them and you." 

He was accordingly searched, but nothing being 


found upon him, he was fully exonerated, and the 
drover humbly apologized for his suspicions. MacDon- 
nell paid the fare of the drover to Buffalo, and upon 
arriving there the two men parted with mutual expres 
sions of esteem. MacDonnell then came on to New 
York, where he obtained the newspapers, with their 
valuable enclosures from the post-office, which he 
quickly dissipated in extravagant and riotous living. 

Some time after this, MacDonnell was suspected 
of a large diamond robbery, that had been effected in 
a very scientific manner, and I was engaged to ascer 
tain if the suspicions were correctly founded. Mac 
Donnell was then living with a beautiful young lady 
whom he represented as his wife, in a commodious 
residence in Brooklyn. I immediately arranged that 
one of my female operatives should make the acquaint 
ance of the reputed Mrs. MacDonnell, which she did 
so successfully that before many days, my operative 
and her husband, who was also engaged on my force, 
were domiciled beneath the roof of the suspected 

MacDonnell, it was soon learned, was in arrears 
for two months rent, and just before the day for pay 
ment arrived, he suggested a trip to Boston with my 
operative, and accompanied by their respective wives, 
they departed. When the owner went to the house 
to demand his rent, he found no one there but the 


servant, who informed him of the departure of his 
tenant. An examination of the house was made, 
which revealed the fact that nearly all of the rooms 
were unfurnished. Upon the return of MacDonnell 
and his friend from Boston, they engaged rooms at 
one of the hotels in the city, and here they were 
found by the owner of the house who had procured 
an order for his arrest, as an absconding debtor. As 
the officer entered his room, and informed him that 
he was a prisoner, MacDonnell turned deathly pale, 
and inquired nervously, the charge for which he was 
to answer. 

On being informed that it was to anwer the suit 
of his landlord, he instantly recovered himself, and 
requested the officer to accompany him to the room 
of my operative, who guaranteed the payment, which 
was subsequently made, and the man was released. 
This act of kindness led to a close confidence between 
MacDonnell and the detective, and the result was the 
disclosure that he had stolen the diamonds, and still 
had them in his possession. He was accused of the 
crime and made a full confession, and upon returning 
the diamonds, the parties who were robbed, refused 
to prosecute him, and he was released. 

From that time, while in America he was con 
stantly under the surveillance of the detectives, and 
police authorities. His handiwork could be traced 


in numerous swindles which were perpetrated upon 
dry-goods houses and banking firms, but the offi 
cers were always baffled in their attempts to catch 
him in the actual commission of any offense. He 
seemed to be perfectly informed of all the technicali 
ties of criminal law, and so adroitly did he manage 
his affairs, that it was impossible to legally convict 
him. At one time he was arrested for passing a 
spurious fifty dollar check for payment of a hotel 
bill, but the proprietors refused to prosecute, and he 
escaped. On another occasion, he went to a whole 
sale liquor store, and purchased sixty-three dollars 
worth of brandy, representing that it was for Con 
gressman S. S. Cox. tie presented in payment a 
one hundred dollar note, and requested a check for 
thirty-seven dollars in change. He received the 
check and made an exact imitation of it, except that 
the new production called for twenty-five hundred 
dollars. By some means, the bank officials were ap 
prised of the fraud, and when the check was presented 
MacDonnell s messenger was arrested. MacDonnell 
himself was subsequently arrested, but his tracks 
were two well covered, to prove him to be the forger, 
and he again escaped the penalties of the law. 

At one time he attempted to swindle the banking 
firm of Jay Cooke & Co., out of one hundred and 
thirty thousand dollars in United States bonds. The 


banking house was visited by an elegantly dressed 
gentleman, who gave the name as J. W. Kenney, 
who stated that he was a lawyer whose office was in 
close proximity to the banker s, and that he was the 
executor of a large estate in New Jersey. He 
expressed his desire to invest one hundred and thirty 
thousand dollars in government bonds for the benefit 
of the minor heirs of the estate. He ordered the 
bonds sent to his office, saying that they would be 
paid for there with a certified check on the National 
Park Bank. 

He was in negotiation with the banking house for 
several days, but the detectives had received intelli 
gence that the intended purchase was a swindle, and 
made arrangements to secure Kenney s capture. 
Kenney, however, took alarm from some cause and 
did not wait for the bonds to be delivered to him, 
but suddenly disappeared. His plan, as afterwards 
discovered, was to have two checks one of them a 
forgery for the full amount of the purchase money, 
and the other a genuine one for a small amount. 
When the messenger from Jay Cooke & Co. arrived 
at his office with the bonds, he had intended to get 
him to accompany him to the bank to have the check 
certified. At the bank he would have the good check 
certified before the messenger, and then get the latter 
to return with him to his office under the pretense 


that he was afraid to carry the bonds himself. On 
the way he was to substitute the forged check for the 
one that had been certified and so pass it off in pay 
ment for the bonds. This was discovered after Mac- 
Donnell had been arrested for the Bank of England 
forgery, when he was identified as the man who had 
attempted to personate the J. W. Kenney in the above 
case. As he had not committed any overt act, Jay 
Cooke & Co. were unable to prosecute him. 

In the fall of 1871, MacDonnell purchased 
twenty-three hundred dollars worth of goods from 
Arnold, Constable & Co. under the name of Edward 
Johnson. He represented to them that he owned a 
large store in the west, and that he would send a 
check for the goods if he was not able to call himself. 
On the day following, a carman called at the store of 
Arnold, Constable & Co., and presented a letter 
which was written on the bill head paper of a respect 
able firm, and which purported to be signed by them, 
stating that Mr. Johnson had left the city, and that 
they had been requested to forward the goods to 
him, together with some others which they had sold. 
Enclosed in the letter w r as a check for the amount of 
the bill. The goods were then delivered, and the 
swindled firm learned, when too late, that the check 
was utterly worthless and a forgery. MacDonnell 
was arrested for this attempt at swindling, but as 


there was no one to swear that he was the forger, he 
was released. 

A large lace importing firm were the last victims 
of MacDonnell, prior to his departure for Europe. 
He succeeded in this case, in obtaining laces to the 
amount of two thousand dollars, by the same tactics 
which he pursued in the case of Arnold, Constable & 
Co. He was arrested however, for this offense, with 
the laces still in his possession, but again evaded 
punishment by some ingenious legal technicality. 

Soon after this he went to Europe and remained 
for a time in Germany, where he managed to success 
fully swindle a number of merchants, and by that 
means obtained the large sum of money which en 
abled him to so completely win the confidence of the 
exceedingly cautious officers of the Bank of England, 
and eventually to carry out the gigantic forgeries 
upon that institution. 

After his arrest for this forgery, which took place 
in New York, he was placed in the custody of the 
United States authorities, and he was taken to Fort 
Columbus in the harbor of New York, for safe-keeping 
until the following day. That night was one of the 
most beautiful of the season the moon shone brill 
iantly, lighting up the harbor for miles, and enabling 
one to view the broad expanse of glistening water 
that surrounded them. 


About nine o clock a small boat containing two 
men was observed by the sentry, seemingly drifting 
toward Governor s Island. It stopped just under the 
walls of the fort, and the occupants waited there for 
an hour conversing in low tones with the. soldiers on 
guard. MacDonnell stepped outside to the closet 
several times, in company with the officers, and each 
time he gazed anxiously in the direction of the boat. 
Whatever may have been his intentions that night, 
they were not carried out, for the vigilance of his 
guard was never relaxed for a moment, and at a late 
hour the boat was rowed away and MacDonnell was 
compelled to retire within the fort. A few days after 
ward, however, a person who had been very solicitous 
about MacDonnell while he was in confinement, in 
quired of the officer if he had noticed anything 
strange about the fort on the night that MacDonnell 
was there. The marshal mentioned the circum 
stance of the boat, and he was then informed that 
the vessel had been sent there for the purpose of at 
tempting to effect the rescue of the imprisoned 
forger. The sentinels, it was asserted, had been paid 
fifty dollars each not to fire at him so as to hit him, 
in case he should jump into the water and attempt to 
swim to the boat ; but MacDonnell was afraid that 
the marshal, who was directly responsible for him, 


might aim more accurately than the soldiers, and 
hence the attempt was not made. 

George MacDonnell was never married, although 
in his long and varied career, several women have 
taken his name. He was possessed of great natural 
advantages, and could be very winning when he 
chose. He was tall, and well-proportioned, and was 
a remarkably handsome man. He wore a long, wav 
ing dark brown beard and his complexion was as fair 
as a woman s. His voice was soft and rich, and his 
powers of conversation were remarkably attractive. 
He was a brilliant linguist, and while he was impris 
oned in Ludlow Street Jail, he acted as an interpreter 
for a Chinaman and for the famous Carl Vogt, the 
Belgian valet who was charged with the murder of 
the Count Du Bois de Bianco. 

At last, however, justice overtook him, and now 
under the life-sentence of a criminal, he is suffering 
the stings of anguished conscience and the hard phys 
ical drudgery of the branded convict. 

Family, education, personal appearance, and great 
business qualifications were all sacrificed at the bid 
ding of crime, and the malefactor is now suffering the 
severe penalties of the outraged law. 



IN the criminal history of the present day no man 
attained a more widespread reputation as an accom 
plished, daring and expert criminal than William 
Ringgold Cooper who attained a wide celebrity both 
in America and England for his wonderful deeds of 
forgery. Certainly no man has ever sustained the 
dual character of a gentleman and a forger with equal 
success. Young, accomplished, of elegant personal 
appearance, and of the most fascinating address, 
William R. Cooper might have adorned any station 
in society, and yet for years, under various and almost 
undetectable disguises, he preyed upon his best friends, 
and the world at large, until in the fullness of his 
success, he imagined failure or detection impossible. 
This young man was born in Smyrna, Del., of respect 
able family, his father having been a county judge for 
five years, and regarded with the highest esteem by all 
of his friends and associates. Owing to a scandal 
with which the name of a young lady of his native 
city was connected, young Cooper resigned his posi 
tion in the Smyrna National Bank, and disappeared. 
The breaking out of the rebellion, found him an en 
listed member of United States Navy, and after two 
years service, he became an ensign on the staff of 


Admiral Lee, of the North Atlantic Squadron. By 
his engaging manners and strict attention to his duties, 
he became a great favorite among his superior officers, 
and through their influence he was appointed an assis 
tant paymaster in the Navy. 

While in Washington, he formed the acquaintance 
of a number of gamblers and accomplished forgers, 
who soon instructed him into the methods and mys 
teries of aristocratic crime. As a consequence of 
this course of study, he forged a warrant for $175,000 
purporting to have been signed by U. S. Paymaster 
Spaulding. At the time of this forgery he was 
engaged to be married to a beautiful and accomplished 
young lady, the daughter of Mr. Defrees, the Govern 
ment Printer, and the forgery of the paymaster s war 
rant was not discovered until the day after the wed 
ding ceremony had been performed. Cooper was 
immediately arrested and sentenced to five years 
imprisonment in the Eastern Penitentiary of Penn 
sylvania, which time he faithfully served. It was 
generally supposed that he died in prison, but upon 
his release he went to New Orleans, where, undis 
mayed by his first experience, he perpetrated another 
successful forgery for $45,000, and then fled to San 
Francisco, Cal., where he became a mining, stock, and 
gold broker. 

While in San Francisco, his own wife having 


married again, supposing him to be dead, he formed 
the acquaintance of a handsome and clever woman, 
to whom he was married and who clung steadfastly 
to her erring husband, through all the varying for 
tunes of his future career. 

For a brief season Cooper maintained an enviable 
reputation in the San Francisco Exchange, but the 
crash soon came, and he absconded after having 
forged a check for $60,000 upon his business partner. 
In this transaction, singular as it may seem, as well as 
in all his other criminal transactions, he employed the 
services of a boy to cash the forged check and to hand 
him the proceeds. An investigation followed imme 
diately after this forgery was discovered, but no 
information was ever gained of William Cooper, his 
wife Kate, or the boy Fred Caul and their disappear 
ance was as effectual as it had been mysterious. 

Nothing was heard of Cooper until his arrest in 
London, under the name of Neville Hunter, in the 
summer of 1879, notwithstanding the fact that he had 
taken no pains to live in seclusion, or to avert curi 

On leaving California he went to London, arriv 
ing there in the fall of 1877, and instead of registering 
at the Langham Hotel, he engaged apartments for 
himself and wife in a private hotel near the Strand. 
Here he gave the name of Henry C. Neville, an 


American iron merchant, and a manufacturer of mow 
ing machines. After remaining a short time in this 
hotel, he negotiated with a firm of solicitors for the 
lease of East Lodge, a beautiful country seat, with 
spacious grounds, at Hemel-Hempstead, in Hereford 
shire. He obtained possession of this estate at a 
heavy yearly rental, and set up his carriage and 
horses, maintaining a half dozen servants in his es 
tablishment. He owned his stud of hunters, rode to 
hounds with the country squires, and by various 
processes he secured the friendship and acquaintance 
of the surrounding gentry and their families, with 
whom he and his wife became speedily very intimate, 
and general favorites. 

This intimacy he turned to good account, and by 
inviting them to dinners and receptions, and receiv 
ing their replies, he familiarized himself with the char 
acter of their handwriting, and forged checks on their 
bankers in London. On June 28th, 1878, he sent a 
boy to the Bank of England with a forged check for 
^400, purporting to have been made by Hugh Chee- 
ver Goodwin, of Hemel-Hempstead. The clerk of 
the bank, however, suspected the forgery, and hurried 
out with the boy, only to find that Cooper was being 
driven rapidly away in his carriage, having changed 
his reversible coat, and removed the false whiskers he 
wore when he hired the messenger. In all his crimes 


of this nature he stood above the other Anglo-Amer 
ican forgers, from the fact that he never appeared in 
any public place in London except at the opera, and 
that, unlike MacDonnell and the Bidwells, the Bank 
of England forgers, he never associated with aban 
doned women, or conducted himself in any other 
manner than that of a thorough gentleman and man 
of the world. 

Too much success, however, made Cooper over 
confident, and he began to evince signs of careless 
ness in his work. At last, he presented to Glynn, 
Mills & Co., Bankers, a check for ^3956 9$ 6d., which 
was duly honored, and he would have escaped without 
detection, but, hearing that he was suspected, he re 
turned to the bank, and, with supreme audacity, 
demanded of the bankers to know why they presumed 
to doubt his honesty. He was at once arrested, and 
was identified by the boy he had employed, and by 
the cabman, and the barber who had made his false 
wig and whiskers. 

He was arraigned for trial, and his neighbors and 
friends from Hemel-Hempstead, testified with tears 
in their eyes, that they could not believe him to be 
dishonest, but finding that the evidence against him 
was overwhelming, Cooper pleaded guilty to both of 
the charges of forgery. 

While in England he made, but one fatal mistake, 


and that was to have his photograph taken, and a 
copy of this speaking portrait was sent to my agency 
for identification ; should therefore his trial in London 
have proved a failure, I was prepared with extradi 
tion-papers to bring him to America to answer for 
his crimes here, but having pleaded guilty there, his 
punishment was meted out to him by the English 

Perhaps the saddest commentary upon the life of 
this unfortunate young man and a fit illustration of 
his hypocrisy are the words which came from his own 
lips when he was called up for sentence : 

" I am by birth and education a gentleman," said 
he. " When I took the house at Hemel-Hempstead, I 
thought I could honestly maintain it, I furnished it 
for the sake of my wife. We garnished that house 
with hopeful anticipation. Every article it contained, 
every flower in its windows, was arranged by my 
wife s loving hands, and we cherished the fond ex 
pectation that there we should happily spend the re 
mainder of our days. I met with reverses, however, 
and was ashamed to look my wife in the face. I was 
tempted and I fell." And here the prisoner s head 
sunk on his breast, and he wept aloud. " My crime 
is the greater," he continued after a pause, " because 
my wife would have followed me to the end of the 
earth, and would have shared my last crust of bread 


in poverty. I have now lost hope, future, honor, 
everything, but a sense of shame which will follow 
me forever." 

This was very dramatic, very pathetic and ex 
ceedingly effective, but every word was known to be 
false, and the court sentenced him to five years penal 


THE incidents I have above related, which are 
but a few of the many, that have come under my 
notice during the thirty years of my detective life, 
comprise some of the more important operations of 
the expert forgers, who have from time to time plied 
their vocation in the United States. In addition to 
these, however, there is a numerous class of forgeries 
in which no attempt is made upon the banks, or the 
moneyed institutions of the country, and which are, 
in the main, perpetrated by skillful and unscrupulous 
amateurs who have sought to realize at one bold 
stroke the benefit of years of toil and economy. 

One of the prominent illustrations of this species 
of crime, was the celebrated Whitaker will case, in 
which an attempt was made to defraud the heirs of 


an aged and miserly millionaire in Philadelphia a few 
years ago. In this case the parties to the forgery 
were an aged and hitherto respectable lawyer, who 
had for years been the confidential adviser and coun 
selor of the deceased, and three other men whom he 
had selected for his purposes, to forge the seals and 
to sign fictitious names of witnesses. This was one 
of the best planned and carefully executed forgeries 
with which the courts have had to deal, and many 
months were spent in the investigation and trial 
which finally ended in conviction. The attorney, by 
reason of his intimate knowledge of the business 
habits and characteristics of Mr. Robert Whitaker, 
the testator, and from the fact that he had actually 
drawn the genuine will, and had it confided to his 
keeping, was enabled to work with every advantage 
in his favor. The forged will which was offered for 
probate was written upon the same paper as that of 
the original, and the signature of Robert Whitaker, 
the testator, was so perfectly imitated, that many 
intimate friends of the deceased testified to its 
genuineness. The signatures of the subscribing wit 
nesses were perfect, and upon its face the will 
appeared to be thoroughly genuine and worthy of 
acceptance. But the attorney had been too grasping ; 
under the terms of this forged will he had sought to 
obtain the lion s share of the miser s wealth, while his 


family were left with scarcely the legal allowance as 
their part and share in the estate. This fact led to 
suspicion, and suspicion led to inquiry. My investi 
gations in this case extended over a long period of 
time ; more than twenty operatives were engaged at 
various times, and a large sum of money was 
expended, but in the end, the base designs of the 
forgers were fully exposed, and their schemes utterly 
defeated, while the principals found themselves behind 
iron bars as a penalty for their evil-doing. By an 
ingenious and scientific course of investigation we 
were able to determine, beyond a doubt, that the 
paper on which this forged will was written, was not 
really manufactured for some months after the date 
on which the will purported to be executed. It is 
true it was manufactured by the same firm, from the 
same materials, bore the same trade-mark, and was 
intended to be the same paper in every respect, but 
it was ascertained that by some little derangement in 
the setting of the machine which ruled the lines upon 
the paper, there had been caused a scarcely noticeable 
difference in the two papers. This once proved, it 
became necessary to more fully establish the question 
of a conspiracy to defraud, and finally, one of the 
parties to the forgery was induced to disclose the 
whole affair, and the entire scheme of these unscrupu 
lous men was fully divulged. In the end the fraudu- 


lent will was set aside, the heirs came legally into 
their estate, and the guilty forgers were condemned 
to imprisonment. 

Several instances have occurred in which design 
ing women have forged or caused to be forged mar 
riage certificates, through which they endeavored to 
lay claim to the property of wealthy men who died, 
by attempting to prove that they were the widows 
of the decedents, and thus entitled to their legal 
dower in the estates of their deceased husbands. 
Deeds of title to real estate, bills of sale, orders for 
the payment of money, and receipts of payment, have 
all been forged by dishonest persons, who have 
attempted to defraud the community and enrich them 
selves by their nefarious actions. 

Altogether forgery is one of the most dangerous 
of crimes, and the amount of money thus unlawfully 
obtained, if it could be correctly computed, would 
startle the community with its enormity. I am happy 
to state, however, that in every case of this character, 
in which I have been engaged, I have invariably 
succeeded in discovering the perpetrators of the 
fraud, and in a large majority of instances, I have 
recovered the major portion of the amounts thus 
illegally obtained. 


Queer Coins and Laws of Ancient Nations. A Counterfeiter of 
Millions. A Genius among Counterfeiters. A Hero of 
Balaklava as a Counterfeiter. A Prince among Counter 
feiters. A Thrilling existence. Lesser Lights. A Trio of 
Criminal Artists. 

EVER since the existence of man, human inge 
nuity has been taxed to devise means of ex 
change between individuals and communities. Barter 
and sale, trade and exchange, are as old as humanity 
itself, and it is a matter of interest to note the various 
materials and commodities, which have in former 
times, in all portions of the globe, served as a medium 
of communication. The purposes which money 
is serving, have been served in different countries 
and in different ages, by a variety of products, accord 
ing to the tastes and the circumstances of the people. 
Cattle have been employed as money among pastoral 


people in almost all periods of the world, and are 
still employed for this purpose in Africa. Slaves 
served the same uses among the Anglo-Saxon, and 
wampum among the American Indians. Nails in 
Scotland, stamped leather among the Carthagenians, 
salt in Abyssinia, and cod-fish in Massachusetts, 
have all done duty as money in the absence of a 
general standard. Bark stamped with the sovereign 
in China, platina in Russia, copper, simple or com 
pounded with other metals, among the ancient Ro 
mans, and most other nations, and iron among the 
Spartans, have at various times been received as the 
equivalent of values which were regularly determined 
upon the basis of the nature of the return. * 

At length, civilized nations sooner or later adopted 

*Thus it is written that Hiram, King of Tyre, furnished to 
King Solomon a certain quantity of cedars from Lebanon, and 
Solomon, in return, furnished to the Tyrians a certain 
quantity of wheat and oil. 

Abraham, in the olden time, purchased the famous cave 
and field of Macpelah, for which he weighed out four hundred 
shekels of silver, current money, with the merchant, and this 
is the first record we have of a monetary transaction of any 
kind whatever. The shekel in those days was about half 
an ounce in English avordupois weight, and the value of 
the com was two shillings seven pence. There were two 
standards of the shekel namely, the shekel of the sanctuary, 
which was used in calculating the offerings of the temple, 
and all sums connected with the sacred law, and the royal or 
profane shekel, used for all civil payments. 


and are still using gold and silver as the medium 
of commercial exchange and as the proper standard 
of value. 

It must be acknowledged, that of all the products 
mentioned above the last two have shown themselves 
to be the best adopted for the purposes of money, 
and consequently have come into universal use in the 
commercial world. 

Experience has not only demonstrated the 
superiority of these metals over all other forms of 
money, as is shown by the fact of their universal 
adoption, but reason also is able to tell us why gold 
and silver are the best money. On account of their 
comparatively unchangeable value, the uniform cost 
of production and their fluency, they become the 
standard of value, and when in cases of wars and other 
emergencies nations are compelled to issue a paper 
currency, or certificates of indebtedness, the value of 
this currency and these certificates is predicated upon 
the standard value of the gold and the silver dollar. 
A dollar is a tangible commodity, a dollar-bill is a 
promise to give this commodity to bearer. Paper 
money, then, always has in it the element of credit, 
while the golden money has in it only the element of 
present and actual value. 

However these facts may be, it is equally true 
that for the purposes of convenience in trade, and to 


enable governments and individuals to meet financial 
obligations, the paper dollar, and the certificate of in 
debtedness, become for the time being and for all 
practical business purposes, a good, marketable and 
exchangeable medium of commerce, at the value of 
one hundred cents, when relative values have deter 
mined its proper standard. For centuries and in all 
countries the issuing, both of the metal money and 
the paper currency, has been indorsed and accepted by 
the people, and from the time that money was invented 
there have existed men who sought to pervert its use 
and to imitate its worth. With the advent of money 
the counterfeiter made his appearance, and as both 
have artistically advanced, the dangers and difficulties 
of spurious currencies must be apparent to every 
thinking mind. Counterfeiting at the present day is 
literally one of the advanced arts. From the earliest 
age the art and practice of counterfeiting has always 
demanded skill and audacity, and it naturally partakes 
of the general progress of the age. It therefore of 
necessity becomes more and more able and artful, as 
the multiplication of checks and the sharpness of dis 
crimination increase. It is no longer the common 
" shover of the queer," as he is called in police circles, 
who is the worst and most dangerous pirate upon the 
monetary seas, for behind these vulgar fellows, who 
are merely brazen and dexterous, and who are daily 


being apprehended, there stands an organization 
composed of men of actual genius and of unbounded 
resources. These men take the lead and utilize the 
skill of unscrupulous artists and engravers of the 
highest order of merit, and when fully prepared make 
their assaults upon the Commonwealth with all the 
combined subtlety of a Gortchakoff and concentrated 
energy of a Bismarck. 

The trained and faithful detective, who is called 
upon, in the performance of duty, to match his skill 
against the educated rogue, just as he must face the 
bullet and the knife of the degraded and ignorant 
ruffian, is often most painfully reminded how little 
mere education, or the restraints of high social posi 
tion, with correct moral discipline, and the true de 
velopment of high personal integrity, can do for the 
public safety. In the game of sharps, the advantage, 
at the outset, is with the depredator, and although 
the officer pursues the lawbreaker to a prison or the 
grave at last, it is often a stern chase in which it is 
the moral stamina of the detective alone that gives 
the superlative pluck and endurance that wins the 
desperate race. It is literally, a battle of life or death 
in almost every case, and yet it is the universal price 
that must be paid for even comparative public safety. 

It is not too much to say, that to a certain extent, 
the general public lend material aid to the counter- 


feiters by too great ignorance, and an almost crimi 
nal carelessness. They do not, as a rule, take the 
pains necessary to become good judges of current 
money, and if they happen to receive a bill or note 
which afterwards excites their doubts, they make haste 
to dispose of the suspicious exchange, rather than 
bear the burden of the loss which would be entailed 
upon them by determining the question of its genuine 
ness. There are too many persons who are like the 
ingenious store-keeper, who received in the course of 
his business a note, about which he was not altogether 
satisfied. As he explained the situation " One day 
I thought it was good and the next day I would think 
it was bad, and so on one of the days when I thought 
it was good, I just passed it out in change, and that 
relieved me from any further trouble." As long 
therefore as people who would indignantly repudiate 
the imputation of fraud, and who claim to be highly 
respectable, are willing to connive at felonious crime, 
to take and pass bad bills, there can be but little 
improvement expected in the general condition of the 
body politic with reference to the subject of counter 
feiters. Of course this is not generally the case, but 
instances are sufficiently numerous to warrant the 
expressions I have used. 

The Government deals with an iron hand when 
counterfeiters are detected, and the strictest and most 


unrelenting justice is meted out to those who manu 
facture and deal in spurious money of all kinds, and 
it is to the almost superhuman efforts of the detec 
tive, that the public are now in the enjoyment of the 
comparative safety which has been thus secured. 

As early as the year 1721, the government of 
Great Britain pronounced itself against counterfeiting 
and in that year the first execution for counterfeiting 
occurred. According to the nature of the times, this 
punishment was cruel in the extreme, but the law 
prescribed the penalty and it was carried into force 
and effect. On that occasion the victim was a woman 
named Barbara Spencer, and after a due and formal 
trial, she was convicted of " high treason, in counter 
feiting the King s current coin of the realm." 

The law which existed at that time was that 
women convicted of high or petit treason, should be 
publicly burned, but in this case the wisdom and 
humanity of the authorities provided a more easy 
death for the unfortunate culprit, and they directed 
that the malefactor should be strangled while tied to 
the stake, and that the body should be afterwards 
consumed by fire. The decree of the court was duly 
carried out at Tyburn on the 5th of July, 1721. 

England, with two hundred years of ecclesiastical 
barbarism for example, believing there could be no 
higher crime than counterfeiting the coin of the realm, 


adopted this mode of execution, and until the thir 
teenth year of the reign of George III., this punish 
ment was also inflicted on women who were con 
victed of murdering their husbands, which crime was 
denominated petit treason. 

The Newgate Calendar, in chronicling this first 
execution for counterfeiting in England, states that : 
" This is the first case on record in which any per 
son appears to have been executed for counterfeit 
ing the coin of the realm. The punishment for this 
offense, if at first, of necessity, severe, to check the 
alarming prevalence of crime, has long since been 
mitigated ; and although the evil still exists to a great 
degree, it has been diminished very considerably in 
consequence of the judicious steps taken by the of 
ficers of the mint." 

On the Qth day of June, 1731, ten years later, 
another public display was made in Great Britain, in 
the punishment of one Japhet Crook, alias St. Peter 
Stronger. This malefactor was brought to the pil 
lory at Charing Cross, to answer for his crimes of 
forging and counterfeiting. The prisoner was com 
pelled to stand for one hour on the pillory, in the 
presence of a jeering multitude, and after that a 
chair was brought for him, and he was placed there 
in. The hangman then approached him and clipped 
off both his ears, after which a surgeon immediately 


clapped a styptic over the bleeding stumps. The ex 
ecutioner with a pair of scissors then cut his left nos 
tril twice before it was quite through, and afterward 
cut through the right nostril at once. The prisoner 
exhibited great patience and fortitude, but when in 
pursuance of his sentence his right nostril was severed 
with a red-hot iron, he was in such violent pain that 
his left nostril was let alone, and he was then taken 
from the pillory. After this barbarous performance, 
the victim was conveyed in this bleeding and man 
gled condition, back to the King s Bench prison there 
to remain for life. He died in confinement about 
three years afterward. 

These are only two instances, which even in those 
early days marked the determination of the govern 
ment to put a stop to the nefarious practice of coun 
terfeiting and forging, and although the treatment of 
both victims was barbarous in the extreme, yet even 
these executions fail to have the effect desired. 
From 1797 to 1817 eight hundred and five persons 
were convicted of either forging notes of the Gover 
nor and Company of the Bank of England, or for 
knowingly uttering or possessing such forged notes, 
knowing them to be forgeries, and nearly ^250,000 
were expended by the crown in conducting the pros 
ecutions of these criminals. From this it will be seen 
that counterfeiting is no new science, although the 


present modes of operation are far different from 
those practiced in the early days. Despite the pros 
ecutions and the punishments of centuries, the coun 
terfeiter still exists, and his presence in the commu 
nity at this time is, if anything, far more dangerous 
and pernicious than when burning and maiming were 
the punishments meted out to the offenders. 

In our own country, counterfeiting was practiced 
in the colonies at a comparatively early day. Turning 
to the records of the olden time, we find that in Janu 
ary, 1773, the amount of counterfeit money in circula 
tion was estimated at ,8,000, and a bill was presented 
to the Colonial Legislature to remedy the evils which 
this fraud inflicted on the community. The currency 
thus forged was colonial, and the task of counterfeit 
ing it was not difficult, as the genuine itself was but 
poorly engraved. 

Philip Schuyler, afterwards famed in the Revolu 
tion, proposed to meet the difficulty with an improve 
ment in art. His idea was to have a plate made so 
perfect, that it would successfully defy imitation. He 
did not seem to consider for a moment that fraud 
generally enlists the services of the best workmen. 
Among other things suggested by this gentleman, 
was the idea of having engraved upon the notes, pe 
culiar devices, which should awaken terror in the 
minds of the people. Every genuine note was to 


bear the imprint of an eye looking out of a cloud ; 
also a cart, a coffin and a gallows. On the gallows 
were to be hung three counterfeiters, surrounded by 
weeping mothers and children. Underneath this ag 
onizing scene was to be inscribed the legend : " Let 
the name of the money maker rot." 

As an additional security, it was required that the 
Government printer should make oath that the plates 
had never been out of his hands, and when his task 
was done the plates were to be sealed up and placed 
in the Treasurer s hands. A reward was also to be 
offered for the detection of counterfeiters, whose 
punishment was death. 

Notwithstanding Philip Schuyler s precautions, 
however, counterfeiting both in currency and specie 
has continued to be a prominent feature in crime, and 
every improvement in the art of engraving or coinage 
is met by a corresponding advance in this branch of 

The question is frequently asked how can it be 
that such perfect counterfeits are made, but when it 
is remembered that the principal agent in producing 
this perfection is some first-class engraver who may 
have lost his regular employment through dissipation, 
and who being reduced to poverty by his evil courses 
is easily reached by the designing men who desire to 


control him, the artistic correctness of the work can 
readily be understood. 

In imitating the coin of the country the ambition 
of the counterfeiter is limited by the issue of the 
government. Our largest coin is the double-eagle or 
twenty-dollar piece, but in the counterfeiting of 
Government and National Bank notes, and in the 
bonds issued by the Government a larger and more 
remunerative field is opened for the dishonest imitator. 
From one dollar up to one thousand dollars the coun 
terfeiters have succeeded in imitating the Treasury 
notes of the Government, and many of these have 
been so well executed as almost to defy detection 
except from experienced eyes. In the National Bank 
notes counterfeits have not been attempted above 
the one-hundred-dollar bills, and with very few excep 
tions the work upon these spurious notes has been in 
all respects excellent. Government bonds of all issues 
have been counterfeited in the denominations of $50, 
$100, and $1,000, and in the case of the $1,000 7:30 
United States Bonds the Government receivers 
themselves redeemed $90,000 worth of these coun 
terfeits before their true character was discovered. 
As these bonds have matured and the interest upon 
them stopped, the authorities issued a general warning 
to the public to decline to receive all bonds of this 
character and denomination, When such a warning 


is considered necessary the counterfeiter is without 
question a person to be feared. Railroad and tele 
graph bonds, steamship companies and even muni 
cipal corporations that have issued certificates of 
bonded indebtedness have been the victims of these 
artistic rascals, and counterfeit bonds of all classes 
have been sold and negotiated in all the principal cities 
of the country. An important use to which these 
counterfeit bonds have been put, is to swell the assets 
of doubtful corporations whose capitals and assets 
ostensibly of hundreds of thousands of dollars have 
been entirely represented by the forged and counter 
feited bonds of the Government and the railroad 
companies throughout the country. An investigation 
not long since developed the fact that an insurance 
company in one of the prominent cities of the East 
was transacting a legitimate business, and insuring 
houses, stores and other properties for unlimited 
amounts with no other financial standing or responsi 
bility than a presumed capital and assets of two hun 
dred and fifty thousand dollars, which was composed 
entirely of forged and counterfeit securities which had 
been purchased from well known criminals for the 
purpose of imposing upon the general public. A 
remarkable feature in this case was the fact that in 
one instance the company had actually effected a loan 
of a large amount of money from one of the principal 


banks of the city and had deposited some of these 
worthless bonds as collateral security for the money 
advanced. These are not mere idle stories but actual 
occurrences, and the fraud in this latter case was not 
discovered until default was made in the payment of 
the loan of the bank, and that institution attempted 
to realize upon their valueless hypothecations. A 
public expose then occurred, and in the investigation 
which followed the insurance company was wiped out 
of existence and the perpetrators of the fraud were 
remanded to prison. It is a gratifying fact therefore 
that punishment usually follows the commission of 
such crimes, but before discoveries are made, thou 
sands of innocent persons are compelled to suffer and 
many of them are financially ruined. 

In the counterfeiting of coin every denomination 
from the paltry three-cent piece to the double-eagle 
has been successfully imitated, and all of them have 
an attractive exterior well calculated to deceive even 
good judges. This is all the more reasonable, since 
in the larger gold pieces it is really a good shell 
formed by splitting a genuine coin, of which two- 
thirds of the interior is removed. The space is then 
filled in with platinum and the sides are joined 
together in a very finished manner, the milling upon 
the edges being neatly renewed. The weight is pre 
cisely that of the genuine, and upon the whole it is a 


remarkable success. These counterfeits contain, 
therefore, about six dollars worth of gold, the balance 
of fourteen dollars going into the pockets of the 
scoundrels who have doctored them. 

Eagles and half-eagles are also frequently coun 
terfeited, and the latter of 1872 are so finished and 
perfect an imitation that they may really be termed 
* dangerous." They were really worth sixty per 
cent, of their expressed value, and this left too small 
a margin for ordinary circulation, for to pay in a 
satisfactory manner they ought not to cost more than 
thirty per cent. 

Gold coin is tampered with in a variety of ways, 
each of which is very ingenious. One operation con 
sists in " sweating" or jingling the coin together in a 
buckskin bag, by which five per cent, can be made, 
without injury to the coin itself. Twice as much, 
however, can be made by filing the edges of the 
coins, but this requires a master hand, since the 
appearance must not be marred in the slightest 

Trade dollars are extensively imitated, and there 
is also a large business done in half dollars, quarters 
and dimes. One of the best is the hall-dollar of 
1876, the metal being composed of antimony, lead 
and tin. There are many issues of the quarters 
exhibiting a great variety of skill and merit, The 


denomination of the quarter of 1854 has frequently 
deceived the best judges in the country. Of the 
dimes, and even the nickels, it may be said that the 
false issue is very inferior to the genuine, and yet, 
they are in general circulation. It is a comparatively 
easy matter to pass such pieces, and hence the public 
is easily imposed upon. 

In the matter of counterfeiting the national bank 
notes of the country, several precautions have been 
adopted by the government to secure the innocent 
public. The United States Government prints all 
the paper money of the nation from plates, which are 
made four in a set, and lettered in order respectively 
A, B, C, D, though of late, in a few exceptional 
cases, certain banks have been supplied with bills 
lettered respectively E, F, G, H. These four plates 
being in one piece and perfectly alike except the 
single different letter on each one, are used together 
and printed at one time upon one large sheet, a series 
or set of four bills. By this means each bill is 
always marked with the same one letter of its own 
plate. The counterfeiter, owing to the trouble and 
expense involved, makes but one plate, copying but 
one bill of one letter of the genuine set. 

Whenever, therefore, any counterfeit National 
Bank bill appears, the United States Redemption 
Agency quickly gathers up and retires from circula- 



tion all genuine bills of the same denomination, 
National Bank and letter, and thus leaves the 
field to the counterfeit. Consequently, as a matter 
of safety, all National Bank bills of the same denom 
ination, letter and date as the counterfeit should be 
refused by every person who desires to avoid great 
risk. All bills of the same denomination and Na 
tional Bank of the other and different check letters 
are not counterfeited and still continue in circulation. 
Counterfeiters seldom use the same plate on two or 
more check letters of the same denomination of any 
National Bank ; but when the counterfeit has become 
notorious they change the issue by inserting with the 
aid of skeleton plates, the name of another and unsus 
pected National Bank on which no counterfeit of 
that particular denomination has yet appeared. The 
principle, thus explained, is quite plain, and the 
method of discrimination most concise and certain. 
Whenever a note is presented at any of the. Sub- 
Treasury departments, and it is ascertained to be 
counterfeit, the officer in charge immediately stamps 
across the face of it in large letters the word " COUN 
TERFEIT," and thus the career of that particular piece 
of dishonesty is at once brought to a sudden and un 
timely end, and its power of deception forever taken 

In describing the methods resorted to by the 

CO UN T ERF El TERS. 45 9 

counterfeiters it will be necessary to introduce some 
of the most famous of the men who have figured in 
this particular line of dishonesty, in order that the 
reader may fully appreciate the nature and extent of 
their peculiar operations. 


AMONG the most successful of these dangerous 
counterfeiters were E. W. Spencer, better known by 
his alias of " Bill Brockway," and Charles H Smith, 
whose imitations of the six-per-cent. $1,000 bonds, and 
the six varieties of $100 National Bank note were 
the most perfect of their kind. No words can be 
found, or sentences framed to fitly express our aston 
ishment at and admiration for the wonderful exploits 
of these two men, or to properly estimate the genius 
of the former or the skill of the latter. On the other 
hand, when it is remembered to what base uses they 
applied their gifts, natural and acquired, the mind be 
comes confused in its efforts in seeking fitting terms 
to denounce the turpitude of their acts. And there 
fore, though their work and their methods of accom 
plishing it, surpass everything in the counterfeiting line 
which has yet been developed, and demonstrate how 


weak and insufficient are the mechanical barriers that 
have been interposed for the protection of the people 
by the Government against this class of criminals, 
yet for want of proper phrase, we descend to the pos 
itive degree of comparison, and simply designate 
them as counterfeiters. 

A pertinent inquiry at this point may be, " Does 
it pay to pursue this unlawful business of counterfeit 
ing?" In reply, I dismiss the mere moral aspect of 
the question, with the oft-repeated axiom, that " It 
never pays to commit a wrong." But in a pecuniary 
sense, has it paid these men to follow their nefarious 
calling? Brockway is probably the most gigantic, 
and has been, so far as keeping out of the clutches of 
the law is concerned, the most successful counterfeiter 
known to modern times. He owned the following 
counterfeit plates : The $1,000 7.30 bond, the $500 
and $100 Treasury notes, the $1,000 six-per-cent. U. 
S. bond, and six varieties of the $100 National Bank 
Notes, all of which, in their execution and design, 
were acknowledged by the most expert judges in the 
country to be equal to and scarcely detected from 
the genuine, and yet to-day he is homeless and penni 
less, and a felon. He was convinced that the coun 
terfeits which he held were so identical with the 
genuine that the spurious could not be readily de 
tected, and yet, after all his labor and expense, his 


toil and his anxiety, his hopes were dashed to the 
ground by reading in the newspapers of the discovery 
of his counterfeits almost on the very day of their is 
sue. Undismayed by these defeats, he would instantly 
withdraw that note, and prepare a plate for another 
imitation on a different bank, in which the defects 
which had led to the detection of the first were sought 
to be remedied in every particular. This process he 
repeated until he had issued the six counterfeits now 
so widely known. It is perfectly safe to state that the 
detection of four of these notes followed so quickly 
upon their issue, that the amount put into circulation 
did not compensate him for the labor bestowed upon 
them., A short description of the tools and materials 
used by this redoubtable counterfeiter, may give an 
approximate idea of the nature of counterfeiting as a 
fine art. 

The plates for printing the back border tint of the 
counterfeit $100 National Bank Notes are four in 
number, and all on copper plates. One of these was 
carefully and artistically engraved by hand, and the 
other three electrotyped ; the former by Charles H. 
Smith, the latter the work of Brockway himself. Each 
plate is the counterpart of the other, except the panel 
which contains the coat of arms seen at the left end 
on the back of the note. As the counterfeits had thus 
far been confined to three states, Massachusetts, Penn- 


sylvania and Maryland, so three of these plates showed 
on their respective panels the arms of these several 
states, while in the fourth the panel was left blank, 
until they had decided upon which state they would 
renew their depredations. 

The vignette entitled " Signing the Declaration 
of Independence," also common to all notes of this 
denomination, is a plate of polished steel and en 
graved with the most faultless precision. It has 
since been the object of admiration of all men who 
are skilled in the higher branches of that delicate 

There are also three copper-plates, one engraved 
and two electrotyped. These represent all the 
character and designs on the face of the note, ex 
cepting the name and location of the bank, and 
the signatures of the officers. These omissions are 
called by the counterfeiters, " titles." 

The plates which supply these omissions are 
called skeletons, and in addition to these, other plates 
are required for printing the little red seal, and the 
numbers by which all national notes are registered. 

In the production of the fac-similes of the highly 
figured United States Bonds, those monetary evi 
dences of a nation s trouble, and the holder s hap 
piness, the work of the counterfeiters is fully equal 
to, if not superior to the genuine article itself. 


The government had been at work for a long 
time endeavoring to discover the counterfeiters of a 
National Bank note of the Revere Bank of Boston, 
Mass. Brockway, or Spencer as he was called, 
whose skillful counterfeits had for years harassed the 
officers of the law, was at once suspected. As they 
proceeded in their investigations in this case, they 
found other counterfeits of the same denomination 
in existence upon the Pittsfield National Bank of 
Mass., the Second National Bank of Wilkesbarre, 
Pa., and the National Exchange Bank of Baltimore, 
Md., and shortly afterwards a new one-hundred- 
dollar counterfeit from the same plate, appeared 
on the Pittsburgh National Bank, of Pa. These 
notes were at first readily accepted by the New York 
banks. They were almost faultless in engraving, 
and several of them were worn as though they had 
passed through many hands, and the signatures of 
the bank officers were forged in different colored inks. 

The number of these counterfeits that were dis 
covered to be afloat, alarmed the authorities exceed 
ingly, and their efforts, strenuous as they were, were 
fruitless in obtaining any clue to the whereabouts of 
this master-plate. As Brockway was suspected, the 
officers were obliged to proceed very cautiously for 
fear of alarming either him or his associates, and at 
the same time keep him under close surveillance. It 


was soon noticed that one by one the most skillful 
counterfeiters of the country were visitors at Brock- 
way s house. He supported his wife at one place, 
while he boarded in an obscure locality in Brooklyn, 
where he. was known as Mr. Edward Spencer. It 
was soon discovered that he and J. B. Doyle were 
more frequently together than any of the others. 
Doyle was. a prominent member of the old gang of 
counterfeiters at Bradford, 111., to which Nat. B. Fos 
ter, his brother-in-law, and Tom King alias Thomas 
Shotwell, another relative, belonged. Doyle first 
took up his residence in Brooklyn, where he could be 
near to Brockway, and he rented a post-office box 
under his own name. Brockway was repeatedly seen 
to enter Doyle s room, and these two men were found 
to be intimate also with one Jasper Owens, who was 
once arrested in this city on suspicion, and a press 
and materials for counterfeiting were found in his 
possession. William H. Smythe, an elderly man, who 
was well known as one of the best engravers in 
America, was also noticed visiting Doyle on frequent 
occasions. Among engravers it is stated that any 
particular man s work can be identified as readily as 
handwriting, and an examination of these counter 
feits revealed the handiwork of Charles Smith. At 
that time no suspicion was entertained that these men 
were engaged in a bond forgery of gigantic dimen- 


slons. It was noticed shortly after this that all these 
men had keys to Doyle s room, which they entered at 
will, and without knocking. Doyle and Owens were 
observed to make frequent excursions to East New 
York, as though upon fishing jaunts. After watching 
Brockway for a long time he was at last seen buying 
a notary public s seal, and a valise which he carried 
straight way to Doyle s room. A few minutes after 
wards it was noticed that they took down the shades 
from the windows of the room, and after a short in 
terval both made their appearance on the street carry 
ing the newly purchased valise. From this point 
they wended their way to a fashionable restaurant 
where they procured supper, and there they separated, 
Brockway returning to his own quarter, and Doyle 
proceeding to Jersey City where he took a train for 
Chicago. The detectives were keenly alert to all 
these movements, and boarded the same train with 
Doyle. When they reached Chicago Doyle was ar 
rested as he was about to step from the cars. To 
the intense surprise of the officers when the valise 
was examined, instead of containing $100 coun 
terfeit bills as they had every reason to suspect, 
they discovered $204,000 in government coupon 
six-per-cent. bonds wrapped up in the identical win 
dow curtains, which had been taken down from 
Doyle s room before his departure. There were 



also twenty-five one-hundred-dollar notes of genuine 
money and two doubtful one-hundred-dollar notes, 
found in the satchel. When this arrest and discovery 
were made known the bankers and brokers of Chi 
cago, to whom they were exhibited, expressed them 
selves perfectly willing to indorse their genuineness, 
and to purchase the entire lot at market value. So 
perfect was their imitation. For a long time public 
opinion was unanimous in pronouncing the arrest of 
Doyle a mistake, and an act of cruelty and persecu 
tion which ought not to be persisted in or coun 

Immediately after the information of the arrest 
of Doyle was received in New York, steps were 
taken to capture his confederates. Brockway was 
found at his residence, and Owens and Smythe were 
arrested in the street. Smythe was completely 
broken down by the sudden discovery of his crime, 
and turned state s evidence against his companions. 
He fully admitted engraving the one-hundred-dollar 
counterfeit and the one-thousand-dollar bonds. The 
printing was done by Owens. Brockway supplied 
the signatures and Doyle was to manage the sale of 
these worthless securities. 

The differences which existed between these 
counterfeits and the genuine bonds were readily de 
tected when the discrepancies were pointed out, by 


comparing them with the assistance of the magnify 
ing glass. 

The first things that are noticeable under this 
searching investigation of mechanical ingenuity and 
patient labor are two small engrossed dies in copper. 
They will measure one and a quarter by three-quar 
ters of an inch, and are completed figures of cycloid 
engraving of the most perfect character. 

It was from these small dies that mattrixes were 
made by Brockway, by which he was enabled, one by 
one, to produce 207 faultless and perfect imitations 
of the border to the six-per-cent. bonds of 1881. This 
was the denomination of which Doyle had hypothe 
cated three to secure him a sum of money to bear 
his current expenses, and at the time of his arrest he 
was going to take them up, only to float the whole 
$207,000 before the interest became due. But for his 
arrest, in one week s time the whole of that vast 
amount would have been placed on the Chicago and 
Illinois bankers generally. As it was, fortunately 
only $3,000 were lost, and that was by the Peoria 

In like manner did Brockway take the engraved 
plate and electrotype a genuine " counter," which is 
the circle that encloses the 100 and the large C in the 
National Bank notes. 

These bond plates are of copper, the larger one 


having the border of the bond and five coupons from 
which four were cut off when the loan was made. 
The other plates contained a medallion portrait of 
the Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase, and 
the other designs incident to the bond. In all their 
printed stipulations, signatures, seals, etc., they were 
precisely the same as the genuine, or as near perfect 
imitations as it was possible to make them by hand. 
Two extra plates were also made for printing the 
coupons ; and the two seals representing respectively 
the Loan Division and the Treasury Department, 
were as perfect as could possibly be produced by 
the hands of man. 

All of these articles were captured by the detect 
ives, together with their machinery, which consisted 
of a rotary hand-press, and two first-class ruling 
machines, all registered and prepared for the most 
minute work, and they were such as are found only in 
first-class bank note printing establishments. 

These various counterfeits were considered by 
every one to be the most perfect specimens of their 
kind ever prepared, and the entire financial com 
munity breathed a sigh of relief when they were 
finally captured and destroyed. 

William Brockway is about fifty-five years old, 
and has gray hair, whiskers and mustache. His 
form is spare and tall, and his presence is impressive 


and commanding. The number of similar counter 
feiting and forging experiences in which he has 
taken part is legion. He is an expert in scientific 
knowledge, having been a pupil under Prof. Lilliman 
of Yale College. By means of the special talents 
which he possessed, he was able, twenty-five years 
ago, to make a counterfeit of the plate then used by 
the New Haven Bank in printing their circulating 

He was concerned, while still a lad, in counterfeit 
ing a five-dollar note on the North River Bank, and 
a two-dollar note on the New York State Bank. 
For this last mentioned crime he was sentenced to 
five years imprisonment in the State prison of New 
York. In 1867 he was connected with a forgery of 
over ninety thousand dollars of Government seven, 
thirty bonds, a number of which were accepted by 
the famous banker Jay Cooke, before the counterfeit 
was discovered. Brockway was convicted of this 
crime, but received a pardon after serving a few 
months, on condition of his surrendering the plates 
from which these bonds were printed. 

The story of Brockway s counterfeiting in New 
Haven is interesting. In 1850, he was engaged as 
an apprentice in a printing establishment in that city, 
where the New Haven Bank notes were printed. 
The plates were kept in the strong vault of the bank, 


and when used by the printer, were taken to his 
establishment by two bank directors who carefully 
watched the operation of printing, and who then 
returned with the plates to the bank. Young Brock- 
way was a skillful workman? and his employer sent 
him to Yale College to study electro-chemistry, in 
which he soon became proficient. The newly ac 
quired knowledge he communicated to his employer, 
and between them a scheme was devised to obtain a 
fac-simile of one of the New Haven Bank plates. 
The next printing for the bank that was required 
was for five-dollar bills, and the directors brought 
the plate with them for that purpose. While the 
notes were being rapidly run from the press, the 
proprietor of the establishment attracted the atten 
tion of the watchful directors to another part of the 
room, and taking advantage of their temporary 
absence, young Brockway quickly obtained an im 
pression of the plate upon a sheet of soft metal, 
which he had kept concealed beneath his apron. 
This copy was electrotyped and then transferred to a 
copper-faced plate. Paper was procured and one 
hundred thousand dollars in bogus money was 
printed, Brockway forging the signatures of the 
president and the cashier. These false notes were 
speedily put on the market, and in a few weeks there 
after many of them had safely passed over the counter 


of the New Haven Bank itself. The officers, how 
ever, at last detected the fraudulent signatures, but 
they redeemed this worthless paper, because they 
believed that the notes had been printed from the 
genuine plate, which had been obtained for that pur 
pose by some surreptitious means. In return for his 
share of the work the printer swindled Brockway out 
of his portion of the profits, but gave him, instead, 
the forged plate, of which he made excellent use with 
out being detected. 

For the printing and counterfeiting of this last 
Government $1,000 bond, the parties were all pun 
ished, and most of them made restitution by surren 
dering the inimitable plates and the various materials 
with which their work was so successfully accom 

During the present year William Brockway again 
made his appearance in the role of a gigantic forger, 
notwithstanding the fact that a sentence of thirty 
years imprisonment had been suspended, conditional 
upon his entirely refraining from the practice of his 
dishonest calling. 

The particulars of this last forgery are as follows. 
During the month of March, 1883, Chief Drummond, 
who is the New York agent of the Secret Service 
Department of the Government, was informed of the 


suspicious actions of an individual, in reference to 
some plate printing. It appeared that a stranger had 
visited one of the prominent printing establishments 
in New York city, and had displayed a piece of steel 
plate which was about six inches long, two inches wide 
and about a quarter of an inch in thickness. Upon 
this plate which is known in the trade as a "bed- 
piece" there was engraved in a highly artistic man 
ner, the figures "$iooo," and a small but elaborately 
ornamental corner of scroll work. Inquiries were at 
once instituted, and it was learned that this plate had 
been left at the printing office for the avowed purpose 
of having several proofs, or impressions, taken from 
it, and was to be called for in a few days. This 
seemed upon the surface to be a very innocent pro 
ceeding, and savored very little of dishonesty, but a 
suspicion was engendered in the mind of the astute 
officer, that there were indications that some person 
was preparing to issue a security of some kind, but 
whether it was genuine or a forgery was a question 
which he resolved to settle for himself. 

As a valuable piece of evidence in case of need, a 
proof of this plate was procured, and not content with 
this, it was resolved to discover the identity of the 
party who had brought this steel plate to the office, 
and by that means perhaps, at the outset, ascertain 
all that was necessary in the matter. Accordingly a 


man was detailed to watch the premises of the printer, 
and at the same time a particular signal was arranged 
to be given by that gentleman, to the watching detec 
tive, whenever the suspected party should make his 
appearance. The officer s vigil was not of long dura 
tion, and he soon noticed a well known figure alight 
ing from a car opposite to the establishment, and after 
a hurried but searching glance in all directions, the 
figure disappeared through the printer s door. Five 
minutes elapsed when the same man left the building, 
and hurriedly walked up the street, carefully scrutiniz 
ing every person whom he met or passed. As the 
man emerged from the building, the signal was given, 
and the officer started in pursuit, muttering as he did 
so " It s Bill Brockway, and he s at it again." He 
had little difficulty in following Brockway for such 
the man proved to be to his dwelling-place, and hav 
ing made sure of his location, he reported his dis 
coveries to the chief. 

The matter was at once communicated to the 
Treasury authorities at Washington, and the proof of 
the engraved border was also submitted to them for 
inspection. An examination failed to disclose any 
imitation between the engraving and the work upon 
any Government security. From this it was evident 
that no attempt upon the Government was contem 
plated, and under these circumstances, the secret 


service would not be justified in expending the Gov 
ernment funds in the pursuit. It was resolved, how 
ever to notify the New York police authorities of 
this discovery, and to place the matter in their hands. 
Having in the meantime discovered Brockway s ad 
dress, and the location of the places which he fre 
quented, the matter was left with the Police Depart 
ment, and nothing further was heard of it for some 
time. On the i5th of August, Chief Drummond re 
ceived information from Washington that rumors were 
rife that Brockway was engaged in preparing a new 
counterfeit note on some National Bank, and he was 
ordered to look carefully after the movements of that 
gentleman. This order was implicitly obeyed, and 
Brockway was soon found, residing in a respectable 
quarter of the city, under the name of E. W. Spen 
cer, his well-known alias of other days. Brockway 
was always one of the most difficult men to shadow, 
and his past experience had made him more careful 
and watchful than before, and consequently the de 
tectives were constantly at their wits ends to keep 
track of him, without exciting his suspicion. His 
movements were spasmodical in the extreme. He 
would jump from a railroad car in the middle of a 
block, retrace his steps, turn the corners of the streets 
suddenly, and then stop, waiting for some one to 
hurry around after him. He would leave the elevated 


train at the very last moment, or would wait on 
the platform, until the gate was about to close before 
entering a train. He seemed to be constantly on the 
alert, and ever practicing some dodge in order to out 
wit anyone who might be following him. As may be 
imagined, this mode of procedure rendered the task 
of the detective a decidedly difficult one ; but they 
worked hard, and kept him in sight as long as they 
could, and when compelled to drop him from fear of 
detection, they bore their defeat as patiently as pos 
sible. At length, however, they succeeded in tracking 
him to a house on Lexington Avenue, and this prop 
erty being watched, it was found that Brockway made 
frequent visits to this place, and remained there a 
longtime. This was deemed of importance, and it 
was soon learned that the house was occupied by a 
small-sized man, who spent nearly all his time indoors, 
going out only for a few minutes each day, as if for 
the purpose of stretching his limbs, and taking the 
air. Brockway s visits continued for some time, and 
finally the two men were seen to leave the house in 
company, and take the elevated train. A description 
of Brockway s companion was forwarded to Mr. 
James J. Brooks, the Chief of the Secret Service at 
Washington, and that officer at once forwarded a 
photograph of Nathan R. Foster, a noted counter 
feiter of the town of Bradford, Illinois, who was also 


a brother-in-law of James B. Doyle, a former associ 
ate of Brockway s. This photograph was instantly 
recognized as that of the small gentleman whom the 
officers were now shadowing, and Brockway s com 
panion was thoroughly identified. Brockway was 
also tracked to the St. James Hotel, where he made 
frequent visits of long duration, and after many ef 
forts he was found to be in commuication with a tall, 
fine-looking gentleman who wore iron-gray whiskers 
and mustache, and who was apparently about sixty 
years of age. 

A detective was now located in the hotel, to 
watch this stranger, and shortly afterwards he was 
found engaged in writing a letter in the reading 
room. He was noticed deliberately tearing up a 
letter which he carelessly threw away, and in a few 
minutes after his departure, the pieces were carefully 
collected by the watchful detective. These pieces 
were put together, and from their connection, the 
officers had no difficulty in identifying the third man 
as Lewis R. Martin. Martin was known as a 
printer and engraver of skill and ingenuity, and with 
Brockway, both printer, engraver, and one of the 
ablest electrotypers ever known, and Nathan Foster, 
a noted shoverof counterfeits, negotiator of counter- 


feit bonds, and a manufacturer of gold coin, this was 
one of the most skillful and formidable bands of 


forgers and counterfeiters which were known in detec 
tive annals, and the detectives were stimulated to 
renewed exertions, in order to effect their capture, 
under such circumstances as would unquestionably 
ensure their conviction. 

From the movements of these parties, it was evi 
dent that their work was nearing completion. Brock- 
way visited Wall Street on two occasions and pur- 
chassd two bonds of railroad companies, and paid 
mysterious visits to two or more steel plate engravers 
in the lower part of the city. Shortly after this, he 
and Foster were seen to walk out to the end of the 
long pier at Thirty-second Street, and to critically 
examine what seemed to be an embossed seal of 
some kind. Again becoming convinced that these 
forgers were not at work upon any government coun 
terfeiting, the matter was turned over to the police 
authorities, as the secret service had no power to act 
in the premises. 

At last, on the loth day of November, more than 
eight months after the investigation had been com 
menced, it was decided to make the descent upon this 
gang, as, by this time, it was believed that everything 
was in readiness for the issue of the counterfeit and 
forged bonds, of whatever nature they might be. 
Warrants were duly procured, and the men were in 
convenient places to be of service, in case of resist- 


ance, or miscalculation. At one o clock on the day 
above mentioned, one of the detectives reported to 
the Inspector, that Brockway, Foster and Martin, 
were all together at the house of Foster. He was 
directed to repair to the premises, and after a delay 
of fifteen minutes, in order to allow a sufficient time 
for the orders to be communicated to the detectives 
stationed at Brockway s residence, and the St. James 
Hotel, he was to enter the house and arrest the three 
men. When the officer returned to Foster s resi 
dence, he found that Brockway had left almost at the 
same time that he did, and that he had boarded an 
elevated railway train near by. One of the detectives 
had followed him, and when the train reached Hous 
ton Street, arrested him and conveyed him to the 
police central office. The remaining detectives 
ascended the steps of Foster s residence and pulled 
the bell twice in quick succession, just as they had 
seen the forgers do when they wished to gain admis 
sion. All ordinary rings, they had noticed, were dis 
regarded, and peddlers and tramps had learned long 
before to consider the place unapproachable. In 
this case, however, the door that was invariably 
closed to a single summons was opened to the wait 
ing officers, who immediately crowded in and arrested 
Foster and Martin in the midst of their counterfeits 
and counterfeiting implements. The capture was an 


immense one, and the men were soon strongly 
secured. The counterfeiting apparatus seized, con 
sisted of plates, stamps, dies, and every kind of 
material necessary for forging. The work the men 
had been engaged upon, were of $1,000 Morris & 
Essex Railroad construction bonds payable in 1901, 
and Central Pacific Railroad Company $1,000 6-per 
cent, gold-bearing bonds, series B. Stamps intended 
for both bonds, including the London stamp of the 
last-named bonds, were also found. A large number 
of bonds already printed, were seized, and an 
examination disclosed the fact that they were the 
most perfect imitations that had ever been brought 
to the notice of detectives or experts. 

Types which were set up and used to print the 
certificates on the back of the Central Pacific bonds, 
were captured, reading as follows : 

According to a resolution of the Board of Direc 
tors of the Central Pacific Railroad Company, dated 
Oct. 28, 1872, said company, for value received, hereby 
agree with holder at the time being that the within 
bond and accompanying coupons, or any of the same, 
shall be payable at or after maturing, at the option of 
the holder at the time being, at the banking house of 
Speyer & Brother in the city of London, at the rate 
of 49 pence sterling per dollar ; and, resolved further, 
that the President or Vice-President of this company 


shall be, and hereby is, authorized to sign the above 
endorsement on behalf of this company on each bond, 
and shall affix its corporate seal. 

(Signed), HUNTINGTON. 

Other type arranged for printing read : 

We hereby certify that this bond is one of the 
seven thousand two hundred bonds of like date, 
secured by mortgage executed and delivered to us. 
Daniel S. Dodge, one of the trustees within named, 
being dead, Philip C. Calhoun has been duly nomi 
nated and appointed in his place and stead, in accord 
ance with the provisions of said mortgage. 

There were also seized eighteen sets of type for 
each of the eighteen coupons, reading as follows : 

This coupon is also payable at the option of the 
holder at the banking house of Speyer & Brother, 
London, at the rate of 49 pence sterling per dollar, in 
accordance with the endorsement on the bond. 

Types set up for other parts of the bonds, together 
with the figures used for printing the scrolls were also 
seized, and in fact everything pertaining to a first 
class establishment for printing, engraving and litho 
graphing in the finest style of the art. 

So much for Foster s apartments. At Brockway s 
house the detectives found but comparatively little to 
prove that forgery had been attempted, but in Martin s 


room at the St. James Hotel, there were discovered 
twenty one counterfeit Morris & Essex Railroad 
$1,000 seven-per-cent. mortgage construction bonds, 
all duly numbered and wanting but the signatures of 
the President and Treasurer to put them upon the 
market. These signatures would evidently soon have 
been added. Mr. Samuel Sloan, the president of the 
company, usually writes with a quill pen, and a bundle 
of quills, cut and ready for use, were found wrapped 
up in this bundle of bonds. Thirty-three more bonds, 
not yet numbered, and also unsigned, were found in 
a bureau drawer in Martin s room, together with four 
counterfeit dies, several seals, including two electro 
type, high embossed seals, to be used on the Morris 
& Essex bonds, and a quantity of tracing paper upon 
which could be plainly discerned, tracings of the 
signatures of the various officers of the companies, 
whose bonds were about to be so successfully imitated. 
On Brockway s person there were found a genuine 
$1,000 /-per-cent. construction bond of the Morris & 
Essex Railroad, a $1,000 6-per-cent. gold-bearing 
Central Pacific bond, about $160 in money, and a 
number of criminating stamps, drawings, and letters. 
The drawings were counterfeits of different bonds, 
and the stamps were imitations of those necessary to 
the completion of the spurious certificates. One of 
the drawings was identified as that of a counterfeit 


U. S. revenue stamp for a $1,000 bond, and part of 
a genuine bond, the back of which was cut out where 
the stamp fitted. 

From all that can be learned, it is not believed 
that any of these counterfeits have been put upon the 
market, either in this country or abroad, and the ar 
rest was made in the very nick of time, as from the 
completeness of everything found, it was but a ques 
tion of a few days when these daring forgers would 
have realized probably hundreds of thousands of dol 
lars from their fraudulent issue of the certificates they 
had so ingeniously and so laboriously prepared. Noth 
ing superior to this work has ever been discovered by 
those who have examined these bonds. It was abso 
lutely necessary to submit them under a strong glass, 
in order to even doubt their genuineness, so marvel- 
ously perfect are they in every minute particular and 

Of the three men who performed this work, a 
few words may be required. Of Brockway and his 
career, however, the reader has already been fully 
imformed, but of the other two, I desire to say a few 

Lewis R. Martin is believed to be the capitalist of 
the gang. He is sixty years old, and is a fine looking 
man, whose face is familiar to all frequenters of the 
racing tracks throughout the country. In 1875, this 


fine old gentleman was indicted in the United States 
Court of the Western District of Pennsylvania, as 
an accomplice of Henry Maxie alias Sweet, in pass 
ing counterfeit $500 treasury notes; but by some 
means he escaped being tried for this offense. Previ 
ous to that time, the records of the secret service 
show that he was known as an engraver and printer 
of counterfeits under the name of Luther R. Mar 
tin. He owned the plate from which the counterfeit 
$500 notes were printed, and was intimately ac 
quainted with Brockway, Tom Ballard and Hank 
Hall, in producing this remarkable bill. He was the 
principal in the counterfeit $100 compound-interest 
note job, and was an important member of the gang 
that floated the $50 legal-tender frauds, but during 
the preparation of these last forgeries, he was well 
known in commercial circles, as being extensively en 
gaged in the transportation of cattle between Aus 
tralia, New York, and England, in which he was do 
ing a legitimate and thriving business. 

Nathan R. Foster, the third prisoner, is about 
forty-three years old, and a native of Bradford, 111. 
It is apparent that he was brought on to New York 
to perform an important part of the work on this big 
job, for he is comparatively a stranger in the east, and 
had been in the city only from the time when the pre 
parations of these forgeries were first discovered. 


He was the occupant of the Lexington Avenue 
house, and kept to his work there very closely. He 
rarely left the premises, and was not easy to follow 
when he did venture out. Even in the morning when 
he would walk out to procure a drink of liquor, 
he used elaborate precautions to prevent his being 
observed, without his knowledge. Foster s father, 
his sister and his brother-in-law James Doyle, are all 
counterfeiters. In 1868 he was arrested in Quincy, 
111., but gave bail for his appearance and was never 
tried. He was an intimate associate of Theodore 
Shotwell alias Tom King, the counterfeiter and bank- 
burglar, who died recently in Greenland, California. 
Since the latter s death, Foster has been passing as 
the husband of Shotwell s sister, a Mrs. Blakely, al 
together, these three men are considered as the most 
finished and daring artisans in their particular profes 
sion, and now that they have been at last secured, the 
whole financial circle of the country breathes a sigh 
of relief, and experiences a sense of security and 



AMONG the most prominent of the counterfeiting 
fraternity, and one who used his fine talents to im 
prove the devices of his art, was Thomas Ballard, 
who was almost a phenomenon in criminal annals. 
Handsome in person and captivating in manner, his 
appearance was genteel and refined to a remarkable 
degree. His personal habits also were unexception 
able. He never smoked a cigar or drank a glass of 
liquor, and all his associations were among the re 
spectable people and the upper classes of New York. 
He was at one time the master of a Masonic lodge, 
and was everywhere regarded as above reproach, and 
yet this man was one of the most expert and success 
ful counterfeiters which the country has ever pro 

A short description of his career and his remark 
able achievements cannot fail to prove of interest, in 
the study of this wonderful science of counterfeiting. 

The father of Thomas Ballard was a carriage- 
painter, and to this business the young man was 
brought up. So carefully did he apply himself that 
he soon became one of the most proficient experts 
in his line, particularly in the fancy or more artistic 
branches of the work. As he grew older he became 


anxious to make money more rapidly, and he was 
seized with an ambition to occupy a vastly higher 
social position. His uneasiness, his talent, his enter 
prise or his destiny, if we may call it so, led him to New 
York City, where in 1858, at eighteen years of age, 
he engaged himself with one of the most celebrated 
carriage builders of the metropolis, whose name was 
Henry Hinman. This gentleman, unfortunately for 
Thomas Ballard, was related by marriage to the 
noted Joshua D. Miner, a noted politician, a city 
contractor and the autocrat of the Coney men, and it 
was an evil day for the young man when he made his 
acquaintance. Miner carefully observed young Bal- 
lard s genius and ambition, and he conceived the idea 
that he had found the very person to serve his pur 
poses in the grand criminal schemes of counterfeit 
ing which occupied his mind. The young man 
proved a pliant tool in the hands of the more ex 
perienced tempter, and Ballard was induced to ac 
quire the art of bank note engraving, which he did 
by serving four years in one of the New York bank 
note companies. While thus engaged, and through 
Miner s political influence, the young engraver was 
enabled to obtain by actual observation, a full knowl 
edge of the operations of the Treasury Department. 
As early as 1862 Thomas Ballard, under the di 
rection of Miner, and Henry C. Cole, one of the 


most successful counterfeiters of his day, produced 
a plate for printing counterfeits of the one-dollar 
U. S. Treasury notes of the old issue. Though ex 
tensively and variously used, this first plate was a 
poor thing in comparison to subsequent work from 
the same hands, but it must be remembered that the 
standard of discrimination was not as high as at the 
present time. The next plate prepared was a two- 
dollar counterfeit on the National Shoe & Leather 
Bank of New York. Following this came a ten-dol 
lar counterfeit on the same bank, and then embol 
dened by their success they produced imitations of 
the one-hundred and five-hundred-dollar old issue U. 
S. Treasury note, and an immense amount more of 
the same general description, just as the supposed 
emergencies of a vast scheme for counterfeiting the 
United States currency required. 

A more dangerous criminal combination than 
that of which Thomas Ballard became an employee 
and partner it would be difficult to imagine, and no 
more favorable circumstances for the success of their 
fraudulent operations could have been found in the 
history of a thousand years. The principal members 
of this gan<n, were Henry Hinman, Joshua D. Miner 
and Thomas Ballard. Hinman and Miner were the 
capitalists and managers, and Thomas Ballard was 
at once an engraver, a chemist, an inventor, a me- 


chanic of rare skill and an expert in the manufacture 
of paper. The financial resources of these men were 
great to begin with, and they occupied respectable 
positions in society and the world of business. The 
necessities of the war compelled the government to 
a hasty issue of hundreds of millions of new and 
different kinds of legal tenders, securities and paper 
money. All was excitement, change, bustle and con 
fusion, and the counterfeiters pushing their felonious 
purposes with coolness and industry, found them 
selves the masters of a business which was a virtual 
open sesame to the riches of the nation. As the 
government multiplied its issues and enlarged its 
indebtedness, these men with the use of Ballard s 
perfectly prepared plates, ran a race with the Treas 
ury department in the inflation of the currency. 
Vastly as this was increased, the percentage of 
counterfeits made, was for a long time as great as 
ever. Thomas Ballard was compelled to be very 
industrious, as he not only made the plates for the 
counterfeits, but he was also the only man in exist 
ence, outside of the Glen Mills, at West Chester Pa., 
who could make the famous government fiber paper, 
which was supposed to be proof against imitation. 
These mills were run exclusively for the Treasury 
department, under the supervision of official watch 
men, and the counterfeiters being unable to purchase 


any of this paper at any price, were compelled to 
manufacture every ounce of the stock used in the 
counterfeiting of United States Treasury notes and 
the fractional currency. For the National Bank bills, 
however, they were enabled to buy white bond paper, 
such as is used by railroad companies and other cor 
porations, and to treat it chemically so as to tinge it 
properly to imitate the Treasury department material. 
At his obscure quarters, which were occupied by 
his aunt and his brother, Thomas Ballard worked 
almost daily as an engraver, paper maker, colorist 
and ink manufacturer, universal genius and practic 
ally jack-of-all-trades as long as daylight lasted. 
Leaving this house at nightfall, and giving his neigh 
bors there to understand that he was a night watch 
man in the custom house, he would proceed to his 
comfortable and well furnished home in upper New 
York, where his unsuspicious wife awaited his com 
ing. Thus the people about his home, supposed him 
to be successfully employed all day in a carriage 
factory down town, while those near the building 
which he used as a work-shop, supposed him to be 
a single young man who was employed all night in 
the custom house, and who remained at home all 
day in bed. By these means the counterfeiter lived 
without suspicion, respected, in the double life he 
pretended, by two sets of people upon whom he im- 



posed, and certainly with reason, highly prized by 
those who were associated with him in his true 

The Treasury Department and the money experts 
of the United States felt satisfied that the fiber paper, 
was a complete protection against counterfeiting. 
When, at last, the discovery was made that their 
vaunted safeguard had been successfully imitated, the 
department was literally dumbfounded over Ballard s 
work. The best engravers owned him to be their 
superior, and declared, with no little truth, that he 
must have acquired his art in the Treasury building. 
As year after year went on, and still no issues ap 
peared from the presses of Ballard & Co., the coun 
try became infested with all kinds of spurious paper 
money. Losses were frequent, the lawful currency 
was disparaged and the capture of the unknown 
producers of all this vast amount of fraud became an 
imperative necessity. But through the adroit man 
agement of Miner, the watchfulness of Henry C, 
Cole as a dealer, and the temperate prudence of Bal 
lard, the arrest and conviction of this gang was made 
as difficult, as it was for any ordinary person to de 
tect the artistic imitations of money they were 
engaged for so long a time in throwing into circula 

Joshua D. Miner was known to the police ; but 


his craft, his unbounded command of money, and his 
influence in this city and in organized societies, all 
combined, under his resolute will and perfect cool 
ness to save him from arrest, though probably not a 
man upon the Government Detective force, and 
aware of his existence, but was as confident of his 
guilt as conviction in court would have made them. 
A detective is justly allowed some latitude at times, 
but he must work within the law, and rigidly respect 
the rights of citizens even in mere technicalities, or 
otherwise his case is lost. To arrest Miner, there 
fore, without full proof and due process was worse 
than useless, and to show cause against him seemed 
almost impossible. Whether continued immunity 
made him over-bold at last, or whether he grew 
weary of seemingly needless precautions does not ap 
pear ; but, at all events, he soon became well known 
to an inconvenient number of criminals in his own 
line, and in consequence of this multiplicity of ac 
quaintances, he at last found himself, through the 
imprudence of some of his agents, in the grasp of the 
officers of the law. 

The arrest of Miner led to serious complications, 
and to purchase his own freedom he surrendered some 
of the plates in his possession, and being pressed for 
others, he made disclosures and false statements, 
which eventually led to the disruption of the gang, 


and the arrest of all the parties connected with their 
gigantic schemes of fraud. 

The manner of Miner s arrest was as follows : 
From the nature of their business great care was 
necessary in order to cover their transactions as 
much as possible, and so these counterfeits passed 
through a number of hands before they reached the 
person who was to place them in circulation. Henry 
C. Cole was what is known as the "first hand man," 
or wholesale dealer. Cole, after receiving the coun 
terfeits in large quantities, would distribute them to 
perhaps half-a-dozen dealers in quantities ranging 
from $100 to $5,000, and these men in turn would sell 
to probably twenty still smaller dealers, and thus by 
the time the counterfeit notes reached the market 
the number of hands through which they had passed, 
and the secret and careful manner in which these 
transactions were conducted made it exceedingly 
difficult to trace these fraudulent imitations to their 
original source. 

Notwithstanding the fact that these operations 
were continuously conducted for more than four 
years, Thomas Ballard, and his brother, never saw 
Cole, and Cole in turn was in perfect ignorance of 
the existence of the Ballards. The parties to whom 
Cole sold his goods did not know either Miner or 


the Ballard Bros., and, in fact, the only man known 
to and by Ballard was Miner himself. 

Among the number, however, connected with this 
gigantic combination, was one Bill Gurney, one of 
the heaviest dealers in counterfeit money in the 
United States. After a time, Gurney discovered 
that Miner was the fountain head of supply, and he 
began to deal direct with that individual. Gurney, 
however, was not as temperate as Tom Ballard, as 
wary as Cole, or as sagacious as Miner, and i;i conse 
quence of his want of care, he in time ; ta grief 
himself, and, as a natural consequence^ invo ed ,the 
others in his fall. 

The Ballard counterfeit of the $20 National 
and Leather Bank of N. Y., made its appearanc 
1870, and was soon traced to Gurney, as a who] 
dealer. A watch was placed upon this gentleman, 
and he was arrested in the act of selling his unlawful 
wares to a detective, who had personated succ 
fully the character of a buyer. Gurney, to save him 
self, informed on Miner, and Miner in turn made the 
revelations I have mentioned above. 

These revelations secured Miner his freedom, but 
they excited the other members of the gang to a 
spirit of revenge, and they resolved to amply repay 
him for his contemptible actions. During all this 
time, and amid all this ill-feeling, Thomas Ballard 

494 co UNTERFE1 TERS. 

was entirely unknown, and perfectly ignorant of the 
tempest that was in motion around him. Miner had 
not included him in his revelations and he was there 
fore untouched. 

Cole having been arrested by Miner s acting and 
placed under heavy bonds, entered into an arrange 
ment to secure the capture of Miner, upon important 
grounds, and to save himself. Nursing his wrath, 
therefore, and preserving an outward friendliness, he 
began to negotiate with Miner, for some of his goods 
and plates. An agreement was made to meet at a 
certain obscure locality in New York City, and the 
detectives were on hand, disguised as laborers, with 
picks and shovels, as though returning from some 
job of night work. 

The night was extremely dark, a heavy mist hung 
in the air, and the rain descended in torrents, as Cole 
took up his position of waiting. Shortly afterward, 
a man came into view through the darkness and in 
the middle of the street, and was soon joined by 
another. They then walked together out to the 
intersection of the streets, and stood in the open 
space unmindful of the drenching storm to which 
they were exposed. The officers crept out as near 
to the two men in the street as possible, without 
being noticed, and then lay down flat in the mud. 
One of the counterfeiters had a large umbrella, and 


when his companion reached his side, he closed it 
down over the two, so that neither of them could be 
distinctly seen, nor could it be detected what they 
were doing. The detectives strained their ears, but 
they could not distinguish a word of the conversation 
that was going on so near them. Presently, how 
ever, the two men separated and started off in dif 
ferent directions. The critical moment had now 
arrived, and one of the detectives instantly caught 
hold of the man nearest him. A desperate struggle 
ensued, in which the detective s fingers were badly 
bitten, while the counterfeiter had four teeth knocked 
out, and in the melee, the plates and the marked 
money which Cole had been furnished with to hand 
over to his victim, were hurled away into the dark 
ness ; the money package broken, and the bills scat 
tered in the mud of the street. This man proved to 
be Joshua D. Miner, and he soon found himself 
powerless for further resistance. The second officer 
had immediately followed the rapidly retreating 
second party. Laying his hand suddenly upon the 
broad breast of the stranger, he flashed his revolver 
in dangerous proximity to his head. A few energetic 
words convinced the escaping man of the folly of 
resistance, and he yielded without a struggle. 

This man gave his name as Thomas A very, and 
declared his business to be that of a painter. In- 


quiries soon developed the fact that the captured in 
dividual was none other than the famous and long 
sought counterfeiter, Thomas Ballard. Ballard broke 
down under the humiliating circumstances, and be 
lieving that Miner had selfishly made him the victim 
of his own acts, ultimately revealed the full particu 
lars of the whole business, and informed the officers 
where the tools, implements and materials could be 

This arrest occurred on the 25th day of October, 
1871, and on the I5th day of November Ballard and 
two other criminals succeeded in escaping from Lud- 
low Street Jail, which has frequently been the scene 
of miraculous and inexplicable escapes, both before 
and since this event. There is little doubt that Mi 
ner s moiiey opened the prison doors for his skillful 
employee, and thus removed the principal witness 
against him at his coming trial. 

From Ballard s revelations, the detectives suc 
ceeded in securing a vast number of counterfeiting 
material, among which were a $1,000 unfinished plate 
of United States Treasury note, five unfinished 
plates of National bank-notes of two dollars, ten 
dollars and twenty dollars ; a large number of mis 
cellaneous plates of various descriptions and denomi 
nations; forty-five thousand dollars in counterfeit 
money, one hundred and fifty pounds of counterfeit 


fiber paper and all the complete appliances for mak 
ing the same. 

After Ballard s escape a reward of five thousand 
dollars was offered for his apprehension, but he re 
mained successfully hidden until the I2th day of Oc 
tober, 18/4. When a sharp criminal escapes he does 
not go off on a long crazy flight, but disappears, as 
near his prison as convenient, for a time. Ballard 
remained in the city of New York, or its vicinity, 
week after week, before he finally departed for the 
country. At the elate above mentioned, however, 
the detectives had finally located Thomas Ballard in 
a small frame cottage in the outskirts of the city of 
Buffalo, N. Y., where he was again engaged in this 
nefarious occupation of counterfeiting. 

When the officers made their appearance and de 
manded admission, a man was seen to emerge from a 
window in the attic and climb out upon the roof with 
i lie agility of a cat. He was at once recognized as 
Thomas Ballard, and ordered to come down. This 
he declined to do, and began to run on the roof as 
if to get away in some manner, but a shot from a 
revolver being sent over the house after him, the 
would-be fugitive showed his good sense by surren 
dering at once. He was immediately secured and 
put in irons. 

The interior of this house was found to be a 


miniature Treasury Department on its own account, 
fitted up with every modern convenience for coun 
terfeiting. A complete chemical laboratory was 
found in one of the rooms, presses and paper occu 
pied another, and the plates used in printing coun 
terfeits were discovered in a third. Among the 
paper taken was a large roll of the imitation fibre 
paper, equal in every respect to that manufactured 
by the secret printing service of the United States; 
steel and electrotype plates, printing-presses, engra 
vers tools, and in fact the full pharaphernalia of a 
first-class establishment, including one hundred and 
fifteen thousand dollars worth of excellently exe 
cuted counterfeit money. 

At the time of his arrest Ballard was engaged 
upon a steel counterfeit plate of the bank of British 
North America of Montreal, Canada. One of the 
experts who examined this plate under a magnifying 
glass, declared that Thomas Ballard had the ability, 
as he boasted, "to bankrupt all Canada." For, in 
appearance, the other counterfeits which had been 
successfully circulated, were no more to be compared 
to this one in fineness of execution and perfection of 
detail, than an ordinary wood-cut was to a fine steel 

If the workshop would have been a cariosity to 
the skilled mechanic, the sitting-room in this little 


frame building, which was used by Ballard as a study, 
would have been none the less so to the ripe and 
progressive scholar in chemistry. Files of the Scien 
tific American and other scientific periodicals were 
there, the tables were covered with rare books, and 
treatises on practical chemistry and metallurgy, elec 
tricity, paper-making and photography. In fact, 
everything gave indication of the perfect scientist and 
the advanced scholar. 

Notwithstanding his wonderful abilities, Thomas 
Ballard was a criminal. He had prostituted his great 
talents to base uses and his sins had found him out. 
He was conducted to the Auburn jail, and after 
remaining quietly there for three days, he opened the 
doors of the prison and walked out upon the streets 
of Auburn. He might again have escaped the penalty 
of his crimes, but he was penniless and destitute, and 
in a moment of weakness he telegraphed to his friends 
in New York for money. This was furnished him, 
but the detectives had learned of his application, and 
when he appeared in disguise to claim the money he 
was rearrested and conveyed back to jail. Again he 
made an attempt to escape, and although he succeeded 
in breaking out of his prison, he was recaptured 
within two days. He was finally brought to trial at 
Albany in January, 1875, an d, being convicted of the 
charges preferred against him, was sentenced to 


undergo an imprisonment in the Albany Penitentiary 
of thirty years. Upon the announcement of this 
dreadful doom, the crushed and broken prisoner fell 
down in a dead swoon in the open court. 

During his imprisonment Thomas Ballard has 
made two unsuccessful attempts at self-destruction, 
the last one being on the 1 6th day of April, 1879. He 
was standing quietly at his work, when suddenly, 
without any previous intimation of what he was about 
to do, he drew a sharp knife across his throat, making 
a wound about five inches long, severing the muscles 
and blood-vessels, and cutting the windpipe almost 
asunder. For many days after this rash act, he did 
not speak, and his death was looked upon as almost 
certain. But it seems that after all fate, which to him 
had assuredly been severe, had not finally doomed 
him to a horrible death by suicide. Since his recovery 
he has been a patient, resigned man, submitting in 
silence to the dreadful punishment which his own 
unlawful actions have brought upon him. 



HENRY C. COLE, who has has been mentioned 
incidentally in connection with Thomas Ballard and 
Joshua D. Miner, is one of the oldest and most thor 
ough counterfeiters known in criminal annals. He is 
at this date about sixty-three years of age, and as 
early as 1854 he was arrested and convicted for pass 
ing counterfeit money. At that time he was working 
on a canal-boat in New York, the captain of which 
was a regular dealer in the " queer." For this offense 
he was sentenced to an imprisonment of five years, 
which he faithfully served. Immediately after his re 
lease, he resumed his calling of dealing in counterfeit 
money, and from that date until February, 1879, he 
was actively engaged in the fraudulent occupation 
which he had deliberately chosen, undergoing various 
terms of imprisonment during that period. Up to 
the time of the arrest of Miner and Ballard, Cole had 
simply acted as a dealer in furnishing to the smaller 
fraternity such amounts as they desired, he receiving 
his counterfeits from the hands of Miner, direct. 
When this gang was disorganized and broken up, 
however, and after Cole had managed to escape the 
machinations of his enemies, a process that was costly 
in the extreme, he commenced the business of manu- 



facturing counterfeits on his own account. For this 
purpose he sought out Charles Ulrich, a skillful and 
pains-taking engraver, who had been previously en 
gaged in counterfeiting, and Jacob Ott, a thorough 
practical lithographer, who also had some experience 
in that line of work. This combination of genius, 
artistic skill and phenomenal audacity perfected sev 
eral of the most dangerous imitations that were ever 
imposed upon the financial world. 

As my intention is to disclose fully, the means 
and devices used by these counterfeiters in producing 
their deceptive imitations, I will devote a few words 
to the two experts who joined with Henry C. Cole 
in his assaults upon the public. 

For practical industrial skill, artistic genius, in 
tellectual capacity and general education, the criminal 
world has produced no one superior to Charles 
Frederick Ulrich. This man was born near Berlin, in 
Prussia, in 1836. When about fourteen years old he 
was apprenticed to an engraver, under whom he 
worked and studied for nearly five years, when he 
emigrated to England. As to the particular causes 
which compelled him to leave his native land at so 
early an age, there are different statements advanced. 
Ulrich himself under oath in the United States 
courts, declared that he went to England with the 
full knowledge and consent of his father, in order to 


escape the conscription which requires military service 
of all the young men of Prussia when about twenty 
years of age. There is another story afloat, however, 
which if true, shows that Ulrich was engaged in 
criminal transactions even in his early youth. From 
this account it appears that the city of Berlin was 
thrown into a fever of excitement, by the victimizing 
of five large banking houses in that place through a 
number of forged acceptances, which had been nego 
tiated. Five different and totally dissimilar descrip 
tions were furnished the police, of the person who 
passed the fraudulent paper, by as many bank clerks. 
The police, however, fastened their suspicions on 
young Ulrich, and he becoming aware of the fact fled 
to England. He is also said to have engaged in 
crooked work while there, and to be the only person 
who ever successfully engraved an imitation of the 
Bank of England paper. In consequence of his ef 
forts in this direction, Ulrich is alleged to have 
attracted the attention of the English authorities, and 
was obliged in turn to leave that country, from which 
he fled to America. Whichever statement is true, it 
is certain that the young man left a comfortable home 
in Prussia, and arrived in the United States without 
either money or definite prospects. 

This occurred in 1853, and after wandering about 
the city in the unsuccessful search for work, for 


about ten days, Ulrich fell in with a party of English 
men, who were privately recruiting in New York for 
the British army, then preparing for war with Russia. 
From his own account of himself, Ulrich became a 
member of that renowned organization, known as 
" The Light Brigade," and was present at that 
famous charge at Balaklava which has immortalized 
every member of that daring band. Our purpose is 
not, however, to detail the life of the subject of our 
sketch, but to describe his career and operations as a 
counterfeiter. Charles Ulrich was severely wounded 
at Balaklava, and for thirty-six hours he lay upon the 
field of battle, his skull crushed by a Russian musket, 
and the blood welling up from a bayonet wound in 
his side. He was finally found, and being carefully 
nursed, recovered, and was transported to England, 
discharged, and paid off. The choice was offered him 
of lands at Cape of Good Hope, and seven years in 
the militia, or extra pay to the amount of over 
eighteen pounds in money. Ulrich accepted the 
money, and returned to the United States. 

This was in 1854, and for a young man hardly of 
age, who expatriated himself to keep out of the 
army, Ulrich had obtained a pretty thorough knowl 
edge of war. In the light of his subsequent career, 
it would have been far better for himself and those 
who were associated with him, if his bones had 


whitened on the bloody field of Balaklava, and he 
had then died a hero s death. 

More fortunate than when he first came to New 
York, Ulrich soon found remunerative employment 
at his trade, and for a long time after his second ar 
rival in America, he was one of the greatest mysteries 
that ever befogged the minds of American detectives. 
It soon became evident that a master hand was at 
work in the country, but who and where he was be 
came an aggravating conundrum. Ten-dollar notes 
raised to hundreds were discovered to be in circula 
tion, and these were the product of the most consum 
mate art. A long and fruitless investigation followed, 
and all that could be learned was that it was the work 
of a certain unknown " Dutch Charlie," but this was 

After a time, however, he became entangled in the 
meshes of the law as all criminals of his class are sure 
to do, and he was arrested and imprisoned. The first 
charge that was brought against him was for engrav 
ing a vignette on a copper card plate, and he claimed 
that he was not aware what it was to be used for. 
He was tried and sentenced to five years imprison 
ment at Sing Sing prison, but in 1861 he was set at 
liberty. Within a year from this time he began 
counterfeiting in practical earnest, as a regular pro 
fession. He had made the acquaintance in prison of 



two well-known counterfeiters, and after their release 
they searched out Ulrich and introduced him to 
Jimmy Colbert, who was intimately connected with a 
large gang of counterfeiters, among whom Henry C. 
Cole was the most prominent figure. This unlawful 
combination sealed the fate of the young Prussian 
engraver, and from that time he was identified with 
most of the ambitious and successful counterfeits that 
have been imposed upon the community. Ulrich 
confined himself to engraving the plates for these 
fraudulent issues, and had nothing to do with the 
printing or with getting them upon the market. From 
the fifty-cent currency note to the $500 note he was 
equally perfect and pains-taking, and his work was held 
in high repute among the leading " Koniackers" of 
the country. Among the number of plates which he 
engraved was a one-hundred-dollar bill of Central 
National Bank of N. Y. city, with a number of skele 
ton plates as already described, which would enable 
the counterfeiters to produce similar bills upon the 
Ohio National Bank of Cincinnati, and the First 
National Bank of Boston, Mass. Two hundred thou 
sand dollars of the first counterfeit were printed and 
disposed of in two days. By shadowing a package 
of money directed to Charles Ulrich at Cincinnati, 
the detectives arrested that gentleman at the express 
office, where he had called to receive it. In order to 


secure the clemency of the law, Ulrich obtained 
and surrendered the plates above described and all 
the presses and appliances used in printing them. 
In addition to these he also surrendered the back 
plate and a nearly finished front plate of a five- 
hundred-dollar counterfeit National Banknote. This 
last note was pronounced by the experts of the Trea 
sury Department to be, in all respects, equal to the 
genuine. Notwithstanding these overtures on the 
part of Ulrich he was finally sentenced to an imprison 
ment of twelve years in the state prison at Columbus, 
Ohio. He remained in confinement eight years, and 
was pardoned in June, 1876. 

The spirit of counterfeiting seemed now to have 
taken possession of him, and before the year of his 
liberation from prison expired, he had formed the 
partnership with Henry C. Cole and Jacob Ott, as 
mentioned previously. They established their head 
quarters in the vicinity of Philadelphia and domiciled 
themselves with the family of Jacob Ott at a place 
called Oak Lane, about six miles north of the city. 
Ulrich was soon at work upon new plates for printing 
counterfeit fifty-dollar notes of the various National 
Banks of the state of New York. The general work 
on the genuine plates of the National Bank issues is 
produced by regular transfers from the same original 
dies, and of course should be precisely alike. This 


general work Ulrich imitated with great exactness, 
but instead of engraving the name of any particular 
bank upon his plate, he left that part of the surface 
untouched, where the name of the bank and its loca 
tion generally appears, so that when his bills were 
struck off through the process used by plate printers, 
there should be a blank space left for the name of 
some bank and that of the town or city where it was 
located. Bills thus printed, it is evident, might after 
ward be issued in the name of any bank, the title of 
which could be printed in the blank space upon them, 
that is to say upon any number of banks in the state 
of New York, having titles of about the same length 
or number of letters. To print these several titles, 
" skeleton plates" bearing requisite inscriptions, were 
all that was needed, and the counterfeit fifties could 
be issued whenever desired in exact imitation of the 
bills of the banks which they had selected for their 

Every thing now being prepared for work, Henry 
C. Cole, who was the capitalist and manager of the 
business, secured all the materials and implements for 
printing, among which was a plate press of excellent 
design. This machine was set up in the attic of 
Ott s house, and the printing was duly commenced. 
Though a first-class lithographer, Ott was not a plate 
printer by trade, and the work he did at first was 


evidence of his want of experience. But whatever 
their defects, the bills were readily sold by Cole, arid 
within ten days over $40,000 of these bills were 
thrown into circulation. The first bill was passed in 
Baltimore on the loth of May, 1877, and went 
through one of the banks without suspicion. On 
the nth, a similar bill was passed in New York, and 
in a few hours, the metropolitan press was teeming 
with the news of a new, excellent and exceedingly 
dangerous counterfeit fifty-dollar bill on the Central 
National Bank of that city. 

The counterfeiters, however, were fully prepared 
for the exposure, and before the public had re 
covered from the first scare, they issued another lot 
of fifties upon an entirely different bank, by the 
simple process of using their skeleton title plate to 
fill in the blank spaces of their original note. Over 
$100,000 of this counterfeit plate were used and 
placed in circulation. 

Henry C. Cole, though one of the "smartest" 
men in the criminal calendar of any country, was 
curiously deficient in some very important respects. 
Accustomed for years to imitations of the currency, 
he not only failed to understand the charter number 
of a genuine bill, but was so wanting in discrimina 
tion, that the paper he selected for the counterfeit 
on the Third National Bank of Buffalo was entirely 


too thick for the purpose, and resembled pasteboard 
more than bank-note paper. As a matter of course 
this second fraud was far less dangerous, and was 
detected almost instantly. 

In the meantime, Charles Ulrich had finished a 
new plate for printing five-dollar bills on the First Na 
tional Bank of Tamaqua, Pa. From this plate eight 
thousand bills, $40,000 were printed and soon placed 
in circulation. This issue was univerally pronounced 
as "very dangerous," and the extensive circulation 
of that bill since, even among so called "good 
judges," justifies the claims for excellence which 
were originally made for it. Shortly after this, they 
printed $100,000 of fifty-dollar notes on the Trades 
men s and Broadway National Banks of New York 
city, and these were sold in bulk, unsigned, and car 
ried to Germany, by J. E. Conkling and John Baker, 
and by them passed off upon the German bankers 
and people. None of these notes were circulated in 
the United States at the time, and it was not until a 
large sum of them were brought back to New York 
all at once, by emigrants on the German steamer 
Herder, which arrived on the 22nd day of May, 1878, 
that their existence was discovered. Subsequently, 
many were circulated in this country and some of 
them are still afloat. 

Encouraged by the grand success of their previous 


efforts and emboldened by the immunity they seemed 
to enjoy, Cole and Ulrich now planned a new and 
most stupendous fraud, which, if successful, would 
forever eclipse all others of the kind that had been 
done in the past, and raise at one swoop the bold 
and daring operators to luxurious independence for 

Up to this time, the new issue of the Treasury 
notes had not been counterfeited at all, and it was 
supposed by those in authority that it was impossible 
to imitate them on account of the intricacy of the 
geometric scroll-work upon them. Charles Ulrich, 
however, knew much better than this, and with Cole 
as his manager, had agreed to produce a counterfeit 
plate of the one hundred-dollar new issue, from which 
a million dollars were to be struck as fast as possible, 
and the whole amount put into circulation in Amer 
ica and in Europe. 

In order to obscure himself more thoroughly from 
the detectives who had already become suspicious of 
this combination, Ulrich removed to Scotch Plains, 
near Plainfield, in New Jersey. Here he assumed the 
name of James Winell, and with a woman, presumed 
to be his wife, represented himself as a gentleman of 

Ott, by this time, had separated from his former 
companions, and having sold out his presses and 


material, went to New York city, where he opened a 
liquor saloon. For his share in the work of counter 
feiting, he had received some $8,000, besides an ex 
cellent living for his family for the last two years. 
He was, however, not qualified for business, and to 
gether with his bad management he became excess 
ively intemperate, and as a consequence, in a very 
short time he had dissipated all his money and was 
finally sold out under distress for rent. During all 
the time that Ott was connected with Cole and Ul- 
rich, he had serious trouble with his wife. This lady 
was seriously opposed to her husband s business of 
counterfeiting, and had repeatedly threatened to in 
form the officers of the law of the whole affair. At 
last the trio of criminals resolved that their only 
safety lay in getting rid of this fractious woman for a 
time at least, and by various arguments and large 
monetary considerations, they at last induced her to 
return to Germany with the understanding that her 
husband would follow her in a short time. 

After his failure in the liquor business, Ott 
turned his attention to his regular business of lithog 
raphy, and being an excellent workman, soon secured 
lucrative employment. Up to this time he had re 
mained entirely unknown, and was not suspected of 
any collusion with his dishonest partners. 


It was at this time that Cole and Ulrich had re 
solved upon their stupendous fraud with the one- 
hundred-dollar treasury note, and they sought out 
Ott to again assist them in the printing. They paid 
frequent visits to New York, where they visited dif 
ferent establishments and made several suspicious 
purchases of steel plates and engravers tools of fine 
quality. At this time the parties were all under the 
surveillance of detectives, and it was not until now 
that they were able to connect Ott with the gang at 
all. " James Winell " now became an object of very 
especial attention in his new residence, and it was 
soon discovered that his movements and those of 
Henry C. Cole, who made frequent visits to Scotch 
Plains, were remarkably suspicious. At last the de 
tectives resolved to make a raid upon the premises, 
and by a well-timed movement they were able to 
capture Mr. Charles Ulrich, alias Mr. James Winell, 
hard at work upon a new counterfeit plate of the 
$100 new issue of legal-tender notes. This plate 
was confiscated, and upon being exhibited to the 
Treasury experts of the United States it was found 
to be a master-piece of imitative engraving, in which 
the boasted inimitable geometric lathe-work was re 
produced to a microscopic nicety, almost impossible 
to detect. 



Ulrich to save himself, made a full confession, in 
which he implicated his partner and manager, Henry 
C. Cole. Ulrich was arrested on the 3Oth day of 
November, 1878, and was allowed to remain in the 
premises he occupied, in the company of one of the 
detectives, in order to effect the capture of Cole at a 
time when he would furnish convincing proofs of his 
own guilt. Affairs remained in this condition for 
over six weeks, and during that period Cole visited 
the house several times, entirely unsuspicious and 
undisturbed, and it was not until the i;th day of 
January, 1879, - na t matters shaped themselves so as 
to perfectly suit the full purposes of the patiently 
waiting officers. 

On that day, Cole, who had purchased all the 
materials for plate printing at various establish 
ments in Philadelphia, slyly left that city for Scotch 
Plains. A telegram from a watchful officer flashed 
ahead of him the news of his departure, and his ar 
rival was eagerly awaited at the residence of Mr. 
Winell. Meanwhile Cole, in blissful ignorance of 
the fate in store for him, sped on his way, and was 
soon in the company of his able engraver and part 
ner, who was now also his betrayer. All unconscious 
of the hidden eyes and ears which were drinking in 
every move and sound, Cole eagerly discussed the 


plans of the future with Ulrich, and chuckled with 
satisfaction over the excellence of the workmanship 
of the unfinished plate. 

He brought the materials purchased in Philadel 
phia to be used by Ulrich in printing the notes, and 
spent an hour in pleasant conversation upon their 
wonderful and grandly promising scheme. He 
finally rose to depart, and, as had been his custom on 
previous occasions, he handed fifty dollars to his part 
ner as an earnest of his good will and kindly inten 
tions. While Ulrich was counting the money thus 
given to him, the detectives suddenly stepped out in 
front of Cole, and he found himself in irons before 
he could realize what had occurred. By these means 
a clear case was established against both parties, and 
this most dangerous criminal combination of the age 
was completely broken up, their entire outfit cap 
tured, and, by one grand move, justice was triumph 
ant over crime. 

Ott was soon after arrested, and Ulrich appeared 
as a witness against his two partners in crime. They 
were both convicted, and on February 11, 1879, Cole 
was sentenced to an imprisonment of twelve years, 
while on the nth of March succeeding Ott received 
a sentence of ten years. Charles Ulrich, for his 
share in the capture of his companion, his testimony 


against them at the trial, and his valuable assistance 
in unearthing the plates and materials of the coun 
terfeiters, was released upon his own recognizance, 
with the injunction from the court that any further 
attempt on his part to again engage in his illegal 
calling would be swiftly followed by severe and last 
ing punishment. 

Thus one of the most successful criminal combi 
nations that ever existed was at last broken up, the 
principals duly punished, and the outraged law fully 


As a sample of the remarkable ingenuity which 
men devoted to criminal purposes, may be mentioned 
, a wonderful production of a twenty-dollar counterfeit 
of the new greenback issue, which was detected a 
short time ago, at the U. S. Sub-Treasury at New 
Orleans. This phenomenal piece of imitation was 
entirely executed with pen and ink. Figures, cor 
ners, vignettes, seal, fine scroll-work, and even the 
fibers of the paper, were carefully reproduced by no 
other means than an ordinary steel pen and inks of the 


various colors required for the work. The signatures 
of Register Allison and U. S. Treasurer JohnC. New 
were also excellently counterfeited. This note is 
calculated to deceive almost any person who is not 
thoroughly able to judge, and who is accustomed to 
handling such bills. Two U. S. bonds have also 
been discovered, both of which have been produced 
by the same process. Of course these specimens are 
few and scarce, as the amount of skilled and pains 
taking labor involved prevent their being manufac 
tured for very extensive circulation. Any man could, 
at any honest, menial labor, earn more money in the 
time that would be consumed in perfecting one of 
these imitations, and it seems a lamentable waste of 
artistic talent to devote them to such unproductive 

In the United States the crime of making and 


passing counterfeit money has been stimulated by 
peculiar and national conditions, tolerated by a lax 
public sentiment, and even facilitated by the institu 
tions of a speculative and a defective and corrupt 
financial system. A new and free country, sparsely 
settled, filled with the spirit of exciting enterprises, 
among a reckless and extremely inventive population, 
intensely inspired by the aspiration for great and 
sudden wealth, presented the most favorable circum 
stances and opportunities for speculative financier- 


ing, which, through public carelessness, and an 
apparent ingredient of dishonesty, not only degraded 
the popular conscience, but, by debauching the cur 
rency, gave rise to abuses, of which counterfeiting 
was not altogether the worst. 

A community which could endure and endorse the 
old-style currency of thh country, and allow itself to 
be swindled year after year, by shyster banking, for 
decades, may be 3?.id to have offered a premium for 
imposture and paved the way for crime. When com 
pared with the genuine issues of fraudulent banks of 
that time, the handsome counterfeits of the currency 
put forth by the old-time " Coney men," were not 
only equal in artistic appearance, but in point of fact 
based upon an almost equivalent in value. It was a 
popular remark among men of business at that time, 
that they perferred a good counterfeit on a solid bank 
to any genuine bill upon the "shyster" institutions. 
All this, of course, favored the counterfeiter to the 
greatest possible extent, and gave him reason to be 
lieve, that, however dangerous his course of action, 
he could be but little worse than some of his neigh 
bors, who as pretentious " bankers," claimed respect 
able positions in society. During the war, circum 
stances which I have already noted again encouraged 
the production of counterfeit money, and the skill and 
activity of such men as Joshua Miner, Thomas Bal- 


lard, Henry C. Cole, Charles Ulrich, Miles Ogle, 
Ben Boyd, Peter McCartney, and others, have been 
caused and fostered by the demoralizations due to 
long-continued civil strifle. 

The suppression of the great Southern Rebellion 
not only decided the question of slavery and national 
ity, but gave us incidentally a national currency and 
first-class national credit, and this, leading to the is- 
surance of national bonds and current money, again 
offered a wide and profitable field to the forger and 
the counterfeiter. In this connection my work of 
revelation would be entirely incomplete without an 
account of John Peter McCartney, the man in every 
sense the master of the art and for a long time the 
veritable " King of the Koniackers." This bad pre 
eminence may be claimed for others, but for none can 
the claim so successfully be made as for this man ; 
who, in conjunction with his imitative abilities, was 
deservedly known as the great American briber, 
magician of arts and master of arts. 

John Peter McCartney, unlike the large majority 
of his associates in the profession of counterfeiting, 
was possessed of little or no education, and his arti 
ficial abilities were meager in the extreme. He was 
born in the State of Illinois, and when a boy was en 
gaged by a farmer at Mattoon, in that state. The 
conditions of a new country, and his own narrow cir- 


cumstances deprived him of the benefits of an educa 
tion, even such as the common schools give the youth 
of older communities. Through able to read and 
write, his proficiency in those arts was nothing more 
than rudimental, his written letters were rough, un 
couth-looking documents and his spelling a perfect 
wonder of crooked orthography. If the studious 
habits of Thomas Ballard were the preludes of a 
career of crime, that fact can offer no disparagement 
of popular education, for the unlettered ignorance of 
McCartney was no security against a precisely simi 
lar course of life. The natural talents and abilities 
of young McCartney were, however, in every way 
excellent, and at all times he manifested a quickness 
and versatility of action and acquirement so signifi 
cant of the quick-witted Irish race from which he had 
his origin. 

While engaged at Mattoon, McCartney made the 
acquaintance of a family by the name of Johnson, 
some of whom were printers and engravers, and, 
becoming interested in that profession, he rapidly 
learned much of the art of engraving from them. 
One of the female members of this family was mar 
ried to the famous Coney man Miles Ogle, and the 
entire family had at various times been engaged in 
counterfeiting. Indeed, the grandfather, the father, 
and the brother of the man who instructed 


McCartney in his art, had all been convicted of that 
crime in times past 

When young McCartney had arrived at the age 
of eighteen years, he became desirous of visiting his 
relatives in the northern part of Illinois, and he 
obtained the consent of his employer for this purpose. 
The honest old farmer not only approved of the 
intended journey, but in liis good will and friendship 
for the boy, he furnished McCartney with a team 
and a small supply of goods, which he might sell and 
barter along the route, and account for his proceeds 
on his return, when he was to receive half of the 
profits. This venture proved successful and the 
result was satisfactory to both parties ; McCartney 
kept perfect faith with the man who had trusted him, 
and rendered a full account of his trading operations. 

According to McCartney s own statement, it was 
while on the above mentioned trip that he first con 
ceived the idea of making and passing fraudulent, 
bogus and counterfeit money. At that time the 
whole West was flooded with paper money ; broken 
banks were numerous, and small bills were abundant. 
One day, while alone on the prairie looking over his 
large stock of one-dollar bills, the thought occurred 
to him " Why should anybody make one-dollar 
bills, when it was just as easy to make fives or tens ?" 
Thinking how easy it would have been to make more 


money by simply changing the figures, the tempta 
tion came upon him to try the experiment himself, 
and by changing the figures of his own money to 
thus materially increase his own property. At this 
time the question of right or wrong did not occur to 
him, although he had frequent causes to remember it 
afterwards. Looking upon the paper as money in 
itself, his simple line of reasoning was that it would 
be a very good thing to make more of it by increas 
ing the denominations of the bills. He accordingly 
put these criminal theories into practice, and care 
fully scraped off the "ones" and pasted "fives" and 
" tens" over them. These " fives" and " tens" were 
readily obtained from the bills of broken banks, of 
which he had a number, and he thus found his 
materials ready to his hand. A few trials satisfied 
him that this work could be done successfully, and 
from that time his career as a counterfeiter was 

The easy road to wealth thus opened to his 
vision was too attractive to allow him to willingly 
settle down to common and poorly paid labor again ; 
and so, after settling with his employer on his return, 
he started out on his own account. After visiting 
some friends about Covington, he made his way to 
Indianapolis, Ind., where he first attempted to prac 
tice his new vocation. Sauntering about the town, 


he entered a grocery store, made some purchases 
and tendered in payment one of his raised notes. 
On taking it up the grocer observed " I don t 
know about that," and the young man s heart stood 
still, as he feared that detection had overtaken him 
at the outset. But it proved to be only a question 
of the grocer s ability to make the change for so large 
a note, for the money drawer was opened, a favorable 
answer given, and the change counted out to him 
without a word. 

It is officially stated, that of all the adult crim 
inals found in London, England, not two in a 
hundred have entered upon their course of crime, 
who have led an honest life up to the age of twenty 
years. In fact, it has been shown that nearly all 
grown-up criminals began their career of evil-doing 
at from ten to sixteen years of age. To this general 
rule, it will be seen McCartney was no exception, and 
further, that when once started on his crooked road, 
he made counterfeiting his business, following it with 
diligence, pertinacity and success. 

In order to perfect himself in engraving, he early 
made the acquaintance of that famous plate cutter, 
Ben Boyd, and McCartney improved exceedingly 
under the instruction of Boyd, in the skill in engrav 
ing which he had but vaguely acquired under the 
Johnsons. McCartney served no regular apprentice- 


ship to the trade of an engraver, but having observed 
the operations of the Johnsons and Boyd, he set him 
self to work, and although he had at the time never 
been inside of the office of a regular engraver, or 
had proper instruction in the art, he executed a plate 
which sold readily at a good price. 

Before the breaking out of the war of the rebel 
lion, McCartney was extensively engaged in the 
manufacture and circulation of false or bogus coins, 
his first acquaintance with that branch of crime hav 
ing been made at Cincinnati, where the work was 
carried on at a factory out in Walnut Hills, the 
principal of the concern being a prominent citizen of 
Cincinnati, a church member and one of the leading 
members of the school board, named Thomas Taylor. 

In 1852, McCartney was a resident of Indian 
apolis, and was married to a young girl named Martha 
Ackerman, who was the daughter of an old German 
counterfeiter, and who, when but a girl of eleven, 
being very bright and skillful, had been engaged in 
printing counterfeits in her father s house, under his 
paternal directions. McCartney made this city his 
principal headquarters for several years, and here 
he acquired a large amount of real estate. His 
ostensible business was that of a dealer in horses, 
but in whatever vocation he labored, he made all else 
subservient to his grand purpose of passing counter- 


feit money. Here he was known as Joseph Woods, 
and he lived in the style of a fortunate trader and 

He did not, however, achieve all this without 
trouble, nor without some notoriety. He had been 
in tight places more than once, but had always man 
aged to escape by paving the way to freedom with 
bribes, or by taking the most desperate chances of 
physical danger, when such a course was rendered 

In 1862, he was arrested at a military camp in 
West Virginia, for passing counterfeit money, and 
started under a guard of soldiers over the Baltimore 
and Ohio Railroad for Washington, where he was to 
be confined in the Old Capital Prison, of which I was 
then in charge, in my official capacity as Chief of the 
Secret Service of the United States. It was at this 
time that McCartney literally jumped into public 
notice. He had been arrested in a manner that left 
no doubt of his guilt, and he moreover realized the 
difference between military usage and that of the 
civil authorities, and as a consequence, the prospect 
before him seemed to be the most discouraging of 
any in his experience. The soldiers who guarded 
him were exceedingly watchful, and they had taken 
the precaution to doubly iron their prisoner. Both 
his arms and legs were shackled, but the stout-hearted 


counterfeiter made the best of the situation, kept 
perfectly quiet and silently calculated the chances of 
escape. " I didn t want to go to Washington," he 
said afterwards. " Old Pinkerton had charge of the 
prison, and I didn t like the look of that arrangement. 
I could manage the boys out West. I had managed 
them frequently, but in Washington, I knew it would 
be different. So I made up my mind I had rayther 
not go to Washington, and I didn t." 

The train was a fast one, and when it was under 
full headway, the guards, trusting to the manacles 
upon the prisoner, and thinking no sane man would 
attempt to jump off at such flying speed, even if un 
fettered, relaxed their vigilance. McCartney did not 
fail to notice this, but it did not imbue him with very 
sanguine hopes. He had, however, come to consider 
his case as one of life or death ; he had determined 
not to go to Washington alive, and yet, when he felt 
his irons, and noted the speed at which the train was 
going, it seemed as though an attempt at escape was 
almost equivalent to that of suicide. He was a des 
perate man, however, and having decided upon his 
mode of action, he seized a favorable moment, and 
quietly stealing to the rear of the car, he sprang out 
and was gone. 

The train swept on, and as there was a slight 
curve in the road just beyond, the cars were out of 


sight of the spot in a moment. The prisoner was 
quickly missed, the alarm cord was pulled, and the 
train was stopped as speedily as possible. Filled 
with rage and excitement, the soldiers rushed back 
in search of the man who had so daringly eluded 
them. The train had been running at the rate of 
thirty-five miles an hour, and the officers fully ex 
pected to find the reckless fugitive dead beside the 
track, or thoroughly mangled, even if alive. Their 
search, however, was unavailing, the bold counter 
feiter could not be found in any condition, and that 
party never saw the face of McCartney again. 

Fettered as he was when he made this reckless 
leap for liberty, McCartney sustained an ugly fall, 
but fortunately for himself, he alighted upon a bed 
of loose gravel, beside the roadway. He did not es 
cape serious injury, however, for he came to earth in 
such a forcible and awkward manner that two of his 
ribs were broken, and he was almost stunned by the 
tremendous shock. 

4< I was hurt, of course," said McCartney, as he 
afterward detailed his escape ; " but I at once crawled 
off the track, and hid among the weeds until I got 
my breath. Then I made my way slowly into the 
woods as best I could, where I hid again, and kept 
quiet until all was still, and the train had gone on 
again. After this, I painfully struggled on for hours, 


until comparatively safe, and then I secreted myself 
once more. With a stone I finally broke the clumsy 
and not very strongly made irons from my limbs. I 
suffered very much from hunger and from the bruises 
I had got ; but daylight came at last, and after a 
journey of two long, painful days I reached friends 
where I rested in safety." 

This terrible shaking up, together with the excite 
ment caused in detective circles by his miraculous es 
cape, compelled McCartney to seek seclusion for 
some time. He had brought nothing home but 
broken bones from his West Virginia campaign, and 
his bad luck turned his mind to acts of peace and 
deeds of love. He became an operating dentist with 
a prominent gentleman at Springfield, Illinois, and 
devoted himself to his congenial and accomplished 

This young woman was very handsome and much 
devoted to her husband, and having been born and 
bred in the midst of counterfeiters, she had become 
a critic and an expert in relation to all kinds of 
crooked operations. With such a helpmate, it may 
be imagined that the cares of regular vocation soon 
grew tiresome, and he shortly afterward gave diligent 
attention to what he had come to consider as his 
regular business. He managed his affairs as adroitly 
as usual, but he could not escape, what he regarded as 


the annoying and persecuting attentions of the offi 
cers of the law. 

In 1864 he located at Nauvoo, 111., and while there 
he engraved the plates from which he printed the 
successful counterfeits of the ten-dollar U. S. Trea 
sury note, of the Greenback variety, of the issue of 
March 10, 1862. He had laid his plans carefully, and 
had made extensive arrangements for circulating large 
quantities of these notes, in all of which he was 
remarkably successful, more than a hundred thousand 
dollars worth of them having been disposed of. 
These plates passed into several hands, and were 
"largely used, until they were finally surrendered by 
Mrs. Missouri Rittenhouse of Osgood, Indiana, in 
November, 1868, when her husband, Jefferson Ritten 
house, and Lyle Levi were arrested with a number of 
other counterfeiters at that place. 

During the year 1866, McCartney was arrested 
in St. Louis, where he had been industrious and 
successful, and where he had in his possession 
over eight thousand dollars in good money. But 
he managed to escape, and, to use his own words, he 
found it "as easy as falling off a log." He openly 
declared that he found no difficulty in buying his 
way out of danger. " I was flush," he remarked, 
" they had made a pretty sure thing on me, and I was 
well known, but I managed to leave the jail, the city, 


and over eight thousand dollars behind me, there in 
one night. I haven t been there since," he remarked, 
with a sly twinkle in his eyes, " to make any inquiries 
as to what they thought of my taking French leave 
of the hospitality of the municipal officials." 

During the years 1866, 1867, and 1868 McCart 
ney conceived and carried out a new and bold scheme. 
He assumed the name of Professor Joseph Woods, 
and, traveling through all the principal cities of the 
West, he delivered his lectures on " Counterfeit 
money and how to detect it." At this branch of 
education, Professor Woods thrived amazingly. To 
the detectives who knew him he professed a great 
deal of penitence for his past career, and solemnly 
stated that he had abandoned counterfeiting forever. 
He gave wise and sagacious hints and advice to 
treasury officials and to bankers, and was altogether 
regarded as quite a rosebud of moral and virtuous 
promise. While he was thus appearing before the 
public, Miles Ogle with James Lyons as his " boodle 
carrier and right bower " were engaged in the con 
stant manufacture and sale of counterfeit five-dollar U. 
S. treasury notes of the issue of March 10, 1863, and 
of the twenty-dollar note of March 10, 1862, both of 
which plates had been just finished by the deft hands 
of Professor Joseph Woods, in his true character of 
John Peter McCartney. 


An ordinarily skillful engraver can, it is stated, 
cut a counterfeit of the greenback plate in from six 
to twelve months. Incredible stories have been told 
of the rapidity with which McCartney engraved the 
five-dollar plate above described, the time of his 
entire work upon it having been positively stated to 
be less than two weeks. He was a fast man in more 
respects than one, but such a performance in the 
time given, would certainly have been little less than 
a miracle. The "fives" from the above plate, though 
handsome when well printed, bear unmistakable 
evidences of haste in the engraving, but the twen 
ties" were excellent ; and, although McCartney 
improved this plate, retouching and altering it from 
time to time to the end of his career, from the very 
first it produced the most dangerous imitations of 
the genuine, and placed him at the head of the 
" Coney" business as a cutter or engraver. It is 
suggestive of the character and value of the public 
teachings of " Professor Joseph Woods," that these 
counterfeits along with others were regularly passed 
as change from the ticket offices of the various halls 
and lecture rooms, where that expert and public 
benefactor so frequently and powerfully held forth. 

During the summer of 1866, McCartney was 
arrested in Illinois, and taken to the County Jail, at 
Springfield, for confinement. On his person, among 


other things, was found two thousand dollars in good 
money, which was deposited by the officers having 
him in charge in a bank at Springfield, for safe keep 
ing. On the nth of October, McCartney having 
been in jail but a short time, his wife, who arrived in 
town some time before, received this money. One 
week after this, when the officers of the jail made 
their earliest morning rounds, they found the doors 
of McCartney s cell and that of a companion open. A 
further examination developed the fact that the doors 
of the corridor and that of the outside wall of the 
jail were also open, and that these two men were no 
where to be found. Mrs. McCartney, strange to relate, 
had also disappeared with her husband. Considering 
the notorious character of the escaping prisoner, it 
was most positively assumed that some one had been 
bribed to allow him to thus get away. The sheriff 
was indicted for this offense, but no proof being pro 
duced, he was acquitted. 

This daring counterfeiter was now but a little 
over forty years of age, and in the perfection of his 
power and faculties. He was of large stature, 
strongly framed and stout limbed, of a generally pre 
possessing appearance, wearing a full natural black 
beard, and in a crowd, wearing a common dress, he 
would have been readily taken for an ordinary, good- 
looking farmer or drover. A closer inspection, how- 


ever, led to a different conclusion. Under his bushy 
eye-brows were to be found a pair of cold, piercing 
grayish-blue eyes, so changeable and quick that they 
have been frequently described as darker. Above 
the eyes there rose a broad and high forehead, giving 
an indication of mental capacity, to which a clear- 
cut, regular aquiline nose added a suggestion of 
sharpness and decision. His face wore habitually a 
keen, watchful expression, as of a man continually 
upon his guard, and his whole appearance indicated 
to the trained observer a subtle, cunning and power 
ful personage. Despite his regular features, the face 
of McCartney seemed to be narrow ; he had a 
cynical, crafty look, calculated to excite distrust, yet, 
his manner was that of quiet gentlemanliness, which 
would divert suspicion, while his whole form and 
bearing were the embodiment of activity, resolution 
and imperious will. 

He would have been an object of interest to any 
intelligent person under any circumstances. He had 
become one of the very best and most rapid engrav 
ers of counterfeit plates. An excellent plate printer, 
he was a good practical manufacturing chemist, and 
was capable of skillful mechanical work in almost any 
thing he undertook. Although he had literally 
" picked up " his art, owing but little to text-books 
and instruction, McCartney had become exceedingly 


skillful ; he had invented a machine for copying the 
geometrical scroll work on the Government Treasury 
notes ; he had mastered the art of chemically dis 
charging all color from the Treasury notes of small 
value, in order to get the paper to print counterfeits 
of those of a larger denomination, instead of making 
the fiber paper after the manner of Thomas Ballard. 
Thus he made a fine-art of counterfeiting, and as one 
safeguard after another was adopted by the Govern 
ment, he enlarged the scope of his own processes, 
and was at all times able to meet the most delicate 
tests the Treasury Department had devised. 

As a counterfeiter, McCartney was above preju 
dice, exceedingly versatile and perfectly able to play 
every part in the great game. Beginning as he did 
by what is called * bugging," and raising small notes, 
he became a shover and a false coiner of gold and sil 
ver; he acquired the art of engraving, made his own 
plates and sold them : made others and printed from 
them ; sold his own bills at wholesale or at retail ; 
bought plates and bills to sell, and worked in every 
imaginable disguise in putting his own or others 
make of "queer" into circulation. He had an ex 
ceedingly low estimate of men generally, believing 
that every one could be bought, and by this means he 
always calculated to escape difficulty. He had the 
faculty to appreciate the ability of others, and made 


his selections of special agents with great discretion. 
He always treated them liberally, worked through 
them and with them, standing squarely by his part 
ners when they became involved in trouble. When 
arrested himself, he kept his own counsel, never be 
trayed others, and exercised the utmost liberality, 
cunning and bravery in his struggles for freedom. 
In this way, at different times, he practiced medicine, 
extracted teeth, served as a peddler, as a drummer or 
commercial traveler, delivered public lectures, acted 
as an agent of the Secret Service and a Treasury ex 
pert, represented a gentleman of elegant leisure, an 
artist, a cattle or mule drover, a stableman, or, in 
fact, any character that might serve to give success to 
his undertakings or to elude the watchfulness of the 
detective authorities. He has been known, when 
hard pressed by the officers of the law, to locate in 
the City of Washington, D. C., and to lie safely con 
cealed almost within the very shadows of the Treas 
ury buildings. It may be truthfully said that no man 
in his particular line has passed through as many 
varied and romantic experiences, or has successfully 
assumed so many and difficult characters. 

After his escape from the Springfield County 
Jail, McCartney engaged in business as a daguerreo 
type artist, under the name of Warren, at Cairo, 111. 
There he spent some time, and probably gave full 


satisfaction to the blooming beauties of that low- 
lying section of the country, for he remained there 
some time, while he made good use of his spare mo 
ments in studying chemistry, experimenting in inks, 
colors, etc., and materially improved himself in the 
art of counterfeiting, even while laboring in an hon 
est calling. 

From Cairo, McCartney went to Rolla, Mo., 
where, still adhering to the name of Warren, he 
changed his business to that of a livery stable, pur 
chasing the entire outfit of a gentleman already in 
that location. It must not be supposed, however, 
that his entire time was absorbed in the contempla 
tion of his horses, or in following the occupation he 
had chosen. He still continued his counterfeiting 
operations, and on more than one occasion was 
obliged to liberally remunerate the so-called detec 
tives, who threatened him with exposure and punish 
ment. Soon, however, he was obliged to leave this 
place of retreat, and decamping suddenly, he left his 
wife to settle up his business, while he went flying 
over the country with the officers at his heels. Mc 
Cartney s tracks were always diligently followed up 
from time to time, and he was arrested again and 
again, but always managed to effect a release. When 
unable to escape by bribery or audacity, and being 
fairly cornered, he on several occasions surrendered 


counterfeit plates and money, which he had or could 
procure, and making fervent promises of future good 
behavior, he would get off in consideration of his 
efforts in. furtherance of the purposes of the Govern 
ment. But in all these trials it was impossible to 
induce him to betray his confederates. Some of them 
were known counterfeiters, and all were marked men, 
but they were too vigilant to expose themselves to 
conviction, and McCartney kept their secrets with a 
fidelity worthy of the noblest brotherhood in some 
holy cause. 

He was arrested shortly after this at Mattoon, 
111., by the City Marshal of that place. Among the 
effects taken upon his person, was a check for his 
baggage, and upon presenting this at the railroad 
baggage room, the officers received a peculiarly con 
structed red chest. Upon opening this they discov 
ered a printing-press, a quantity of printing material, 
a roll of note-paper, and twenty-three thousand four 
hundred dollars in counterfeits of the compound in 
terest U. S. Treasury notes of the denomination of 
fifty dollars. By making some revelations concern 
ing himself, and surrendering other material then in 
his possession, he was enabled to again secure his 
liberty, and was once more a free man. 

In August, 1870, McCartney was again arrested, 

this time in Cincinnati, Ohio, in company with one 


Charley Johnson. No counterfeit money was found 
on McCartney, but he had three thousand five hun 
dred dollars in genuine money in his possession. 
Johnson, however, had over four hundred dollars in 
counterfeits in twenty-dollar and five-dollar green 
backs and in fractional currency ; together with a set 
of twenty dollar counterfeit U. S. Treasury note 

The Government detectives, hastened to Cincin 
nati to obtain an interview with this " King of the 
Koniackers," but before they arrived McCartney 
had departed. He had broken jail as usual and left 
for parts unknown. This little escape, it is said, cost 
the renowned counterfeiter two thousand dollars in 
Government money. 

In November of the same year, he was again arrested 
by the police of Cincinnati, but he soon escaped, leav 
ing behind him three one-thousand-dollar genuine 
U. S. bonds and five hundred dollars in genuine bills, 
which with a well executed counterfeit plate was 
found on his person when arrested. What disposition 
was made of this money was never known, but Mc 
Cartney had effectually disposed of it so far as his 
own uses were concerned. 

He enjoyed his dearly, bought liberty but a short 
time, and he was soon after located at a small town 
in Illinois known as Venice, situated opposite an 


island, in the Mississippi River, where he was in hid 
ing with one Fred Beibush, a warm friend and active 
counterfeiter. McCartney who had left Cincinnati 
very quietly, was not expecting an official call of any 
sort, and the officers dropped upon him so uncere 
moniously, that he was made a fast prisoner, before 
there was even time to think of making an effort to 

It is a difficult thing to capture a man like Mc 
Cartney, and a still more difficult undertaking to hold 
him and convict him. When such a man is arrested, 
but little can be done unless the plates, tools and 
facilities of the counterfeiter are captured along with 
him. If there is counterfeit money in existence, it 
will get into circulation even if the maker of it be in 
a state prison. If there are counterfeit plates not 
captured, they will be printed from, no matter how 
many engravers suffer the penalty of the law. Con 
sequently, all vigilant officers have a keen appetite for 
large sums of counterfeit money, and for anything 
from which such stuff can be manufactured or printed. 
Astute and powerful " Coney " men know full well the 
advantage of this, and when brought fairly to terms, 
surrender false bills, plates, tools, presses and materials 
in consideration of effecting their release. McCart 
ney knew this also, and he now offered a large amount 
of counterfeit plates, dies and^ materials, among which 


were complete sets of plates for making all denomina 
tions of the National currency from fifty cents to fifty 
dollars, and also sixty thousand dollars in counterfeit 
money, all ready to be thrown into circulation, and 
afterwards offered an additional fifty, sixty and even 
eighty-five thousand dollars in counterfeits for his 
release. These offers, however, were all declined, and 
he was conveyed to Springfield, 111., and committed to 
the very jail from which he had escaped in 1866. 
This time, however, he was left in charge of the U. S. 
Marshal, who took the precaution of providing an 
extra guard of such strength that another flight from 
the old prison seemed to the official mind absolutely 

A story is related in connection with this impris 
onment of McCartney which is worth relating. Mc 
Cartney had been safely placed in his cell, and Col. 
Whitley, of the Secret Service of the U. S., having 
finished his interview with the prisoner, turned to 
leave the apartment. McCartney, his face beaming 
with good humor, exclaimed : 

" You won t leave me here, I suppose, Colonel ?" 

"Yes, for the present you are safe here now," 
was the answer of the Colonel. 

" Oh, I can get out of here easy enough," said 
McCartney ; " I have done so before, and I know I 
can do it again." 


" I don t think so," said the Chief. 

" What hotel are you stopping at, and what is the 
number of your room ?" 

Col. Whitley informed him. 

" Well," said McCartney, " I will call upon you 
there at ten o clock this evening." 

The chief smiled at the jest, and laughingly took 
his leave. He returned to his hotel, and engaged in 
writing, entirely forgot the amusing incident. 

Ten o clock came, and the busy Colonel wrote on. 
Just a few moments later, a courteous rap was heard 
upon the door. 

" Come in," called the chief, when to his intense 
astonishment in walked John Peter McCartney, with 
a bland smile and a quiet salutation : " Good even 
ing, Colonel !" 

Whitley was completely nonplussed, but he sprang 
to his feet and drew his revolver. 

" McCartney, how are you here ?" he exclaimed, 
as he caught him by the arm. 

" Oh, put up your shootin -iron, Colonel," 
replied the strange visitor. " I only called to pay my 
respects. I am going back, of course." 

The two men then left the hotel, and McCartney 
returned to his cell, in which he afterward remained 
quietly enough. 

He never explained how he obtained his liberty 


so miraculously, but always spoke of it as one of his 
" little jokes," just to show that some things could be 
done as well as others. 

Thus it will be seen, that McCartney was a man 
of nerve, cool, daring and even desperate courage, 
but he was also a person of intelligence and cool 
calculation as well. He felt perfectly competent to 
deal in one way or another with the local western 
police, but, as has been shown, he recklessly risked 
life and limb to escape from what he rightly con 
sidered the more formidable authority of the Federal 
Courts at Washington, in time of war. He was not 
averse to taking risks, but he was unwilling to do so 
unless there was a strong chance of success. 

He early tried to make terms with the Secret Ser 
vice, and he does not give a very favorable account 
of the officers with whom he came in contact about 
this time. To quote his own language again, " I 
really wanted to get out of the Coney business, but I 
couldn t see my way clear to do it. Everybody was 
down on me Government officers, police, lawyers and 
all hands ; I could have no peace anywhere, no mat 
ter what I was about ; some of the Government 
detectives didn t want me to quit the Coney. They 
were on the make and had a soft thing of it. They 
put up jobs on me continually, and cheated me with 
false promises. They said if there were no counter- 


feiters there would be no work to detect, and conse 
quently, they couldn t and wouldn t afford to let me 

McCartney was completely nonplussed by the re 
fusal of his offers at compromise. He seemed panic- 
stricken, and at last, believing that the proper time 
had arrived for obtaining the most from his fears, it 
was resolved to test his sincerity still further. The 
idea of the officers was to strike, through McCartney, 
a deadly blow at the whole counterfeiting business of 
which he was so prominent a leader, and so impor 
tant a part. A few visits satisfied them that their 
prisoner was sincere and worthy of confidence, and 
McCartney gave them much valuable information. 
He even practically illustrated his method of working, 
and on one occasion he went through the process of 
taking the name of a bank out of a bill, and filling in 
the name of another bank, in the presence of the of 

In order to further show his sincerity, McCartney, 
accompanied by the officers, journeyed to Decatur, 
Illinois, where, in a corn-field, he dug up and turned 
over to them several tin cans containing $60,000 in 
well-made counterfeits, and a set of five-dollar coun 
terfeit plates on Western National banks. Soon 
after this they journeyed to St. Louis, and walking 
out into the country some distance, they reached an 


old frame house, apparently long deserted. McCart 
ney, creeping under this, brought out several sets of 
well-executed dies for gold and silver coins, which 
were hidden there. And again they went to Cincin 
nati, where McCartney unearthed a large amount of 
counterfeit bills and several parts of unfinished 
plates for counterfeits. These acts of restitution se 
cured for him a release upon his furnishing security 
to the amount of $5,000, and the great counterfeiter 
was once more free. 

McCartney s chief desire now was to avoid pre 
senting himself for trial, and he sought to effect some 
arrangement by which his services to the Govern 
ment would be accepted by the authorities as an ex 
piation of the crimes of his past. Through his wife, 
therefore, the proposition was made to this effect, and 
McCartney offered to meet an officer of the Govern 
ment in some retired place, where he would place in 
his hands a large amount of counterfeits and fin 
ished plates. One stipulation, however, McCartney 
insisted on, and that was that he should be exempt 
from arrest or any personal molestation for the time. 
After considerable diplomacy, it was agreed that the 
meeting should take place in an isolated corn-field at 
midnight. To this meeting the officer was to come 
unarmed, and accompanied only by Mrs. McCartney. 
McCartney was to meet them in the darkness fully 


armed ; but promised to do no injury unless imposed 
upon by some attempt at treachery. The meeting 
took place according to the agreement made. Un 
armed, but alert, the officer accompanied the hand 
some and discreet wife of the counterfeiter to the 
place appointed for their nocturnal meeting. Mc 
Cartney was first upon the ground, and as the officer 
approached, he was met by two men with arms in 
their hands, who escorted him to where McCartney 
was, upon the further side of a fence. The men with 
loaded weapons covering the detective, stood by him 
during this interview, and McCartney himself pre 
sented a musket across the dividing fence at the 
breast of the officer. In this manner they discussed 
their business. McCartney offered, upon the condi 
tions already mentioned, to place in the hands of the 
Government a large number of very valuable and de 
sirable counterfeit plates of different denominations, 
and many thousands of dollars of counterfeit bills. 
The officer listened patiently to the offer thus made, 
and then informed those around him that he was not 
authorized to any promises, but that he would make 
his report fully at headquarters, and await results. 
This was deemed satisfactory, and the meeting broke 
up, the officer being escorted back in safety from this 
somewhat romantic adventure. 

These negotiations were a regular case of " dia- 


mond cut diamond," the officers were looking to the 
suppression of counterfeiting, and McCartney, as a mat 
ter of course, to his own safety. McCartney absolutely 
controlled, and could surrender the immense amount 
of crooked property he offered for his ransom, and 
the authorities were extremely anxious to recover all 
that was possible. Circumstances soon after offered 
the wished-for opportunity for the unconditional ar 
rest of McCartney, who could not resist the induce 
ments to ply his vocation ; as a consequence, instead 
of the general exemption he had so arrogantly de 
manded, he was glad to surrender all of the counter 
feits and materials of which he had confessed the con 
trol of. These plates, dies, presses, materials, &c., 
were many and valuable, and the counterfeit money 
amounted to over sixty-five thousand dollars nominal 
value. The midnight negotiation resulted in the sur 
render of the crooked property proposed, but upon 
very different terms from that set forth by their un- 
scurpulous possessor. 

McCartney now took refuge in Canada, and made 
Windsor his hiding place. While under cover at 
this place he executed several pieces of work, which 
are proof of his dexterity and artistic patience. Pro 
curing a bank-note detector, wherein the vignettes, 
numbers, and other portions of notes were neatly 
printed, on thick paper, for the instruction of bankers 


and others, he carefully cut them out, and by the use 
of a fine piece of silk, placed these various pieces to 
gether so perfectly as to form the body of a whole 
well-executed note. Filling in and connecting these 
various parts and details through extra devices, and 
deft touches, of marvelous accuracy and finish, then 
by cutting the paper away from the back of his work 
to half the thickness of a bank-note, he joined the 
back and front together, and thus produced a hand 
some bill which might have deceived many. This is 
stated, simply to show the patient and artistic genius 
of the man. 

Limited space prevents me from minutely tracing 
the exciting and romantic career of this wonderful 
man. His numerous arrests and miraculous escapes 
have already been partly related, but his subsequent 
experience, was perhaps more exciting than that 
which had transpired. 

His next arrest took place in 1874, at St. Louis, 
and was the result of a betrayal by a friend. In 
formation was lodged with the authorities, that a man 
by the name of Captain Judd, was at that time in the 
city, and the informer could secure his arrest if de 
sired. The plans were soon agreed upon, and when the 
informer kept his appointment with Captain Judd for 
the purchase of some counterfeit bills, the detectives 
suddenly appeared and attempted to arrest him and a 


companion, who was also a well-known counterfeiter. 
This Captain Judd was none other than our old 
friend McCartney, and on the appearance of the of 
ficers, he at once suspected treachery, and prepared to 
defend himself. A general fight ensued, in which 
one Bloomfield, a United States officer, distinguished 
himself, by jumping squarely through the door of the 
room in which the encounter took place, breaking 
out two of the panels as he went. The informer, 
strange to say, was a brave man, and placing himself 
before the broken door, completely blocking the pas 
sage out, he fired repeatedly at Captain Judd, the 
balls each time finding a lodgment in his arms and 
legs. Captain Judd, or McCartney, fought desperately 
for his liberty, and with a long murderous knife en 
deavored to carve his way to freedom, through the 
body of the obstinate informer. The police, however, 
were attracted by the noise of the conflict, and soon 
made their appearance, when the entire party all 
badly wounded, were arrested and carried off. 

McCartney s wounds were dressed, and his re 
covery speedy, and after remaining in confinement 
but a few months, he again managed to escape, with 
a number of the most desperate inmates of the jail. 

But an end must come at last, McCartney fled to 
Texas, where he distinguished himself in various 
ways, and finally made a tour through the Eastern 


and Southern cities in company with several old time 
companions. They visited New York City, Rich 
mond, Washington Philadelphia, Parkersburg, be 
sides many places of lesser note, in all of which they 
zealously, but discreetly labored to promote pros 
perity, by adding in their own way, to the volume 
of the national currency. 

On the 23rd day of November, two men named 
Charles Lang and Henry Boland were arrested in 
Richmond, Indiana, for passing counterfeit money in 
that city by the marshal of the place. The United 
States officers were notified, and upon arriving at 
Richmond they were rejoiced to discover in the 
person of Charles Lang, no less an individual then 
their old enemy Peter McCartney. This discovery 
was hailed with delight, and an examination of their 
persons revealed the presence of two thousand seven 
hundred and thirteen dollars, of which one thousand 
eight hundred and fifty-three were genuine, and 
the balance, eight hundred and sixty dollars, were 
counterfeit. Among the latter were several good 
imitations of the fifty-dollar United States Treasury 
note of 1869, with thirty-three twenty-dollar bills 
United States Treasury notes, while the remainder 
were five-dollar counterfeits of the Traders Bank of 

Their trial took place at Indianapolis, and on the 


29th day of November 1876, McCartney was sen 
tenced to undergo an imprisonment of fifteen years 
at hard labor, and he was conveyed at once to 
Michigan city where he now is. 

When ordinary men are immured in prison to 
serve long terms of years, it is as if the grave had 
closed over them, the felon is dead in law, even his 
wife is released from her duty as such, just as if he 
were buried. McCartney was not an ordinary man, 
and when he disappeared suddenly, it was as if some 
great wreck had gone down at sea. The waters were 
tossed and troubled, while ruin engulfed the smaller 
craft around him, and many of the less ambitious 
Coney men, who depended for their protection and 
security upon this bold and daring prisoner, were 
soon after detected and brought to punishment. 

But the reckless spirit could not be content within 
the limited walls of a prison, and McCartney again 
essayed to escape. One night about six months after 
he had passed within the gloomy portals, the guards, 
who were watchful and alert, detected him in the act. 
He had sawed off three of the bars of his cell door, 
and after the guard had passed along his tier of cells 
and to the second floor above, he quietly slipped 
through the opening he had thus made, and walked 
down to the outer door of the cell house. While 
opening this door the guard saw him, and hastening 


to him, he found him standing between the wooden 
door and iron grating. When he was angrily asked 
what he was doing there he simply and quietly replied : 
" I am going out." He had made for himself a pair 
of pants out of one of his blankets, and had a knitted 
shirt over his striped prison garment. Finding that 
his efforts were fruitless and his designs frustrated he 
quietly submitted to be returned to a cell, and his 
watchers were ever afterwards more rigid and severe 
than before. 

John Peter McCartney was one of the most 
daring and successful counterfeiters of his time. He 


had made as many as fifty different counterfeit-plates 
in his life, and more than a million of dollars of coun 
terfeit money had passed through his hands. He 
had defied the power of the government and the laws 
of the nation, but at last the arm of outraged justice 
had been reached out, and this genius of unlawful 
talents, this miracle of self-taught skill, this governor 
of evil-minded men, found himself in the end, a felon 
an outcast, and despised of all honest poeple. 
There in his prison he still remains, shorn of his 
power for evil, and growing rapidly old and there we 
will leave him. 



It is impossible in the limits of the present article 
to give full particulars of the careers of the many 
notable men who have figured so prominently in the 
manufacture and sale of counterfeits. The Secret 
Service of the United States, which is now under the 
control of Chief Joseph J. Brooks, to whom I am 
indebted for many facts here presented, have per 
formed herculean labor, in ferreting out and bringing 
to just punishment, hundreds of men who have 
devoted their talents and energies to the corruption 
of the currency, and to counterfeiting the various 
kinds of money current in the country, The exploits 
of this branch of the Government service, would 
require several volumes such as this, in which to fully 
depict the many daring episodes and courageous 
captures which they have made. For my purpose, 
however, I have been compelled to select some of the 
most prominent and successful of this fraternity of 
counterfeiters, and by relating their experiences afford 
the reader some idea of their manner of working, the 
extent of their operations and of the vast amount of 
spurious money they have been able to foist upon the 
honest and unsuspicious community. The Govern 
ment has taken every precaution to preserve the 


purity of the currency which it issues both of the 
Treasury notes and those of the National Banks 
throughout the country, but in spite of their unremit 
ting and watchful efforts for the supression of coun 
terfeiting and the arrest of the counterfeiters, this 

dishonest calling is still being pursued, and the toiling 
masses are made the victims of these daring imitators. 

As one means of safety and precaution, as soon 
as a note or bill of a particular class or denomination 
is found to have been counterfeited, the Government 
takes immediate steps to retire from circulation all 
the genuine notes of that particular class or series, 
and thus leave the field entirely to the counterfeits, 
which may thus be readily detected and uniformly 
refused by the tradesmen and others to whom they 
may be offered. The banks are thus kept fully posted 
by the Government of all the counterfeits in existence 
as soon as they are discovered, and the tellers of 
these institutions are at all times prepared to detect 
the imitations, and by the authority of the nation, 
they stamp the word "Counterfeit" across the face 
of every spurious note which comes before them. 
This process effectually prevents the further circula 
tion of that particular piece of deceitful paper, and to 
that extent is a protection to the people, in whose 
name these notes are issued. 

Among the vast number of those who have prac- 


ticed the art of counterfeiting, with varying fortunes 
and with distinguished success may be mentioned 
Irvine White, who under numerous aliases for more 
than fifty years was identified with many of the 
boldest and most unscrupulous counterfeiters of the 
times in which he lived. A half century ago White 
w r as engaged in engraving plates for printing coun 
terfeits of the currency, and from that time until the 
year 1876 he was identified with the actions of his 
dishonest associates. During that time, however, he 
had undergone one or more terms of imprisonment, 
but these produced no repentant inclinations in his 
mind, and immediately upon gaining his liberty, he 
resumed his occupation of counterfeiting until in 18/6 
he was sentenced to an imprisonment of ten years in 
Kings County prison, which he is still serving. It is 
estimated that during these fifty years White has 
prepared the plates from which several millions of 
"counterfeits were printed and put into circulation. 

Among other notables may be mentioned the 
redoubtable former and counterfeiter " Col." T. B. 

o J 

Cross, who upon one occasion while undergoing a 
term of imprisonment, actually forged a pardon from 
the Governor of Pennsylvania, and would undoubtedly 
have obtained his liberty, had there not of necessity 
been some defect in the manner of its transmission to 
the prison authorities. 


William Cregar, too, was a famous man in his 
time, who worked with Henry T. Condron and his 
brother Charles. On one occasion, when a raid was 
made upon the premises occupied by these men, they 
were found busily engaged at their respective occupa 
tion of counterfeiting. In the room were found a 
printing press, upon which were three separate piles 
of counterfeit money, the top notes of which were 
still fresh and green with the ink that had been used 
in printing them. On the floor were several bundles 
of these counterfeit notes wrapped in damp cloths, 
and stretched in wires across the room, hung a large 
quantity of five-dollar National Bank notes, in an 
unfinished state. 

In the room there was a box with a stone cover, 
under which was a lighted gas jet, and on the top of 
which lay a steel plate recently inked with the words, 
"The Castleton" " Castleton, New York," engraved 
upon it. In the premises there were also found a 
small hand press, and on it a steel plate for the red 
ink seal of the treasury of the United States, and 
engraved on this same plate was the coat of arms of 
the State of Rhode Island. On a table near at hand 
were two piles of counterfeit National Bank notes on 
the National Bank of Castleton, New York, together 
with a large number of miscellaneous plates for print 
ing the various portions of the National and currency 


notes. These plates were all identified as the handi 
work of Irvine White, who, at that time, must have 
been over sixty years of age. The parties thus 
taken were all sentenced to long terms of imprison 
ment, and their materials utterly destroyed. 


I cannot better close this article, in which I have 
attempted to give some idea of the nature and extent 
of the counterfeiting business in the United States, 
than by devoting a short space to the operations of 
three dangerous and daring men, who, for a time, 
figured prominently in the ranks of the successful 
imitators of the nation s currency. These men were 
Miles Ogle, Ben Boyd and William Rhodes Johnson, 
and their careers were marked with many wonderful 
and daring experiences which fully justify relation. 

When John Peter McCartney was captured and 
incarcerated at last within the walls of a prison at 
Michigan City, the ablest and most competent coun 
terfeiter then at liberty was Miles Ogle, whose des 
perate life and crafty adventures, with those of his 
partners and relatives, furnished rare and danger 
ous work for the officers of the law. 


Miles Ogle was of German parentage, and was 
born in 1841. When but twenty years of age, 
he was connected with a gang of robbers who infested 
the western country. They made their headquarters 
upon a flat-boat, and the towns and cities along the 
Ohio River were the scenes of their numerous depre 
dations. At last they were traced by the officers, and 
their boat was boarded near Rockport, Indiana. As 
the officers came on board the boat, Miles Ogle, 
then a mere stripling, deliberately pointed a gun at 
their leader and killed him instantly. For this offense 
he was, strange to say, sentenced to only five years 
imprisonment, which he faithfully served. 

Upon his release from prison, he soon proved 
himself a worthy follower of the teachings he had 
received. He almost immediately joined the " Reno 
gang," a combination of bandits and scoundrels, 
which for years was the terror of all southern 
Indiana, and actually subjected and tyrannized over 
whole counties in the most lawless and audacious 
manner. The recital of their daring and desperate 
deeds has already been given, and it is sufficient to 
say that at last the ring leaders of this band were 
captured and punished, the two Reno brothers being 
summarily lynched by long-suffering people, who, 
driven to desperation, finally took the law into their 
own hands, and made short work of their just execu- 


tion. Ogle had left this gang before the final 
catastrophe overtook them, and locating at Fort 
Wayne, Indiana, worked in connection with McCart 
ney, where he was constantly engaged in the manu 
facture of counterfeits of the five-dollar United 
States Treasury notes, and of the twenty-dollar 
greenback note of 1862, the plates for which were 
furnished by McCartney. 

There was a great difference, however, between 
McCartney and Miles Ogle. The first, although ex 
ceedingly shrewd and quick-witted, was often reckless 
to a remarkable degree, seeming in some cases to al 
most enjoy being involved in danger, because of the 
opportunities it afforded for the exercise of his genius 
for trickery, bribery and sharp practice in evading 
punishment. Ogle, however, as became his German 
origin, was more plegmatic, careful and secretive, 
and rarely exposed himself to the danger of detec 

After numerous experiences, in which he distin 
guished himself, it is supposed, in disbursing more 
than a quarter of a million of counterfeit money, 
Ogle was at length traced to Cincinnati, Ohio, where 
he was found in company with his brother-in-law, 
William Rhodes Johnson, who had also been known 
to deal extensively in the unlawful imitations of the 
Governmental issues. 


The officers had been carefully watching these 
men for a long time, and at last their vigilance was 
rewarded. On Saturday evening, the 6th day of 
January, 1876, Ogle left his home in Cincinnati, and 
and proceeding to the railroad, set off at a rapid 
pace toward a place called Brighton Flats, which 
had long been suspected as being a rendezvous for 
counterfeiters. After journeying a short distance he 
was joined by Johnson, who stepped out from be 
tween two freight cars that stood upon the track. It 
now became evident to the detectives that something 
important was about to occur, and their hitherto 
careful observation was quickened by absorbing in 
terest. Ogle, always exceedingly cautious, and ever 
alert, was evidently more watchful than usual, and 
apparently in a dangerous mood, while his compan 
ion, keen as a weasel, observed with sharp-eyed at 
tention every sign which might indicate danger. 

After traveling some distance in this manner, ; 
Ogle and Johnson left the railroad track, and turned 
toward a point on the common, where stood a large 
elm tree. Daylight w r as fast fading into darkness, 
and the forms of the two counterfeiters soon became 
lost to distinct view, amid the rapidly gathering shad 
ows of the uncertain landscape. Obscurity, while it 
favors concealment, also lends its assistance to 
skilled observation as well, and adopting their own 


methods of approach, the detectives became con 
vinced that the men before them, were engaged in 
the important occupation of " raising a plant," a 
species of labor, which regardless of the adaptiveness 
of the phrase, has naught to do with agricultural 
pursuits, but consisted in digging out of the ground 
a deposit of some peculiar nature. In this case, 
there was but little doubt that the " plant " they 
"raised" contained counterfeit money, or the means 
of making the same, and very probably both of 
them together. 

When the two men prepared to return, one of 
them carried a rough-looking and heavy valise, and 
he was discovered to be Johnson, while Ogle strode 
beside him, with a look upon his face which gave 
serious warning to all who attempted to interfere 
with them. 

Had Miles Ogle been an ordinary man, he would 
have been arrested then and there, for the officers 
were among the cars upon the track when the coun 
terfeiters reached it, but the man who had shot an 
officer dead on sight, when a mere boy, and who 
kept a band of cut-throats at his call, was not the 
character to provoke a duel with, man to man, partic 
ularly in a locality where he had more friends by far 
than the officers could hope to rally, before some one 
lost his life. 


As manslaughter was not their mission, it is no 
reflection upon the courage of the officers, but rather 
a compliment to their discretion, that they allowed 
these men to pass for the time, and laid their plans 
to capture them both alive, and to secure their booty 
without butchery. 

The first move of the detectives was to soil their 
faces and hands, and then as the men passed them, 
to pretend to be actively engaged in work upon the 
cars, thus appearing to be a most faithful and indus 
trious pair of brakemen. 

On came the two counterfeiters, and as Ogle 
passed close to the detectives, his hand was upon his 
hip ready for action ; but his scrutiny seemed to be 
satisfactory, and without a word they proceeded on 
their way. The two men went to the railroad 
station, where they procured their tickets, and en 
tered an Eastern bound train, immediately followed 
by the detectives who had now made themselves pre 
sentable and were prepared to accompany the coun 
terfeiters to the end of their journey if necessary. 
Ogle and Johnson occupied different positions in the 
car, and it was an easy matter to capture them both. 
Stepping up to Ogle, one of the detectives extended 
his hand as if to an old acquaintance, and said, in a 
friendly manner : 

" How do you do, Mr. Hall?" 


Ogle extended his hand to answer the salutation, 
when, quick as a flash, the detective grasped the prof 
fered palm with his right hand, and the other hand 
with his left. A struggle ensued, Ogle tried to reach 
his revolver, but the officer was muscular and in the , 
end the counterfeiter found himself fitted with a pair 
of handcuffs, which prevented further violence on his 

While this had been going on, Johnson had been 
secured by the second officer, and an examination of 
the persons of the prisoners was then made. Ogle 
was found to be literally stuffed full of counterfeit 
money, having a bundle of spurious note in each 
pocket, amounting in all to several thousand dollars, 
and Johnson attempted to throw away a package of 
nearly an equal amount. 

On their arrival at their destination, which was 
Pittsburgh, Penn., the valise which they had dug up 
was examined, and it was found to contain sets of 
plates for printing ten-dollar National Bank-notes, 
on about forty banks of Indiana. The original 
Richmond counterfeit engraved plate, with the bor 
der and center back, and forty-three electrotype plates 
from the ten-dollar bills. Also a set of plates for the 
printing of counterfeit fifty-cent notes, with fifty-two 
electrotypes of the same, and about twenty-five thous 
and dollars in counterfeit money. 


By this capture, the Government was placed in 
possession of all the plates for printing the ten-dollar 
counterfeits of the Treasury and National Bank-notes, 
then known to be in existence. A further examina 
tion of the ground around the old elm-tree at Brigh 
ton Flats, revealed another buried treasure, which 
was found to be about $50,000 in counterfeit money 
of the same denomination as those found on the 
persons of the arrested counterfeiters. 

Ogle and Johnson were speedily brought to trial, 
and being duly convicted were sentenced to long 
terms of imprisonment in the Western Penitentiary 
at Allegheny, Penn., and for a time the government 
breathed freer and more safely. 


OF Ben Boyd, volumes might be written before 
the story was duly told, but for our purpose a few 
extracts may not prove uninteresting. Ben Boyd 
and Nelson Driggs were the giants of the western 
counterfeiters, and through those two men a large 
portion of the counterfeit money was placed upon 
the market, and a large majority of the dealers in 


spurious money were under contribution to these men. 
Ben Boyd, however, after running his course more 
or less successfully, was finally captured. His trial 
took place in Chicago, 111., and in February, 1875, 
he was sentenced to an imprisonment of ten years. 

The conviction and imprisonment of Ben Boyd, 
and the breaking up of his business with Nelson 
Driggs, was a heavy blow to the trade of a host of 
dealers in counterfeit money in the South and West. 
They could of course obtain the counterfeits, but 
they were now so far removed from the manufac 
turers, that their profits were too small for the risks 
they were obliged to take. Every means was used 
to prevent the conviction of Ben Boyd, and when he 
was at last imprisoned for ten years, all sorts of 
devices were employed to effect his release, or to 
secure for him a pardon. 

Among these enterprises, was one which from its 
ghostly character and the particulars of its porpose, 
occasioned a national excitement and a world of 
speculative controversy, so that its mention here 
seems requisite and proper. 

During the winter of 1875-76, there was organized 
at Lincoln, 111., under the lead of a St. Louis counter 
feiter of distinction in this nefarious line, a gang of 
desperadoes and ghouls for the purpose of stealing 
the remains of President Lincoln from their resting 


place, beneath the monument erected to his memory, 
with the intention of concealing them and holding 
them for ransom. The body of the noble President 
was only to be restored in consideration of immunity 
for the robbers, the payment of two hundred thou 
sand dollars in money, and the pardon of Ben Boyd. 
The elate fixed for this outrage to be consummated 
was carefully considered by these conspirators, and 
the fourth of July, 1876, was agreed upon. Fortun 
ately for the nation the scheme was divulged to the 
Police of Springfield, by an abandoned woman, who 
gained her intelligence from a drunken companion, 
and it was in consequence of this, abandoned for the 
time being. 

This attempt was, however, made upon the night 
of November 7, 1876, but havi ng obtained informa 
tion regarding it in advance, both the government 
officers and several picked men of my force were 
present to receive these sacrilegious fiends. Three men 
approached the monument by filling off the staple of 
the lock, and two men entered for the purposes of the 
robbery. They had lifted the lid from the sarcopha 
gus, and were in the act of raising the coffin from its 
resting place, when the officers advanced upon them. 
They attempted to escape, but all were finally cap 
tured, and sentenced to imprisonment. 

This closes my reference to counterfeiting and 


counterfeiters. The long list of imitators that once 
seemed to successfully defy the law, and to practice 
this criminal calling with apparent safety has been sadly 
depleted, the giants have fallen to a man, and to-day no 
really expert counterfeiter breathes the air of liberty. 
Some of them are dead, many of them are in prison, 
and the practitioners of this crime are now composed 
of a number of ignorant and unskillful men who after 
a short questionable success, find themselves in the 
hands of justice. The country to-day is comparative 
ly safe from those marauders. The engraver of per 
fect counterfeits no longer exists and the false coiners 
are few and easy of detection. Absolute safety, how 
ever, has not been assured, nor will it be until human 
ity shall be so purified and exalted that dishonesty is 
no longer possible, and law-breaking becomes a thing 
of the past. 


The Robbery of Express Companies Two Notable Acknowledg 
ments of my Services A Bold Express Robbery Clever 
Detective Work. 

DURING the thirty years of my experience as 
a detective, I have performed many services 
for the various Express Companies throughout the 
country. During the earlier years of their existence 
robberies were very numerous, and the companies 
suffered to an alarming extent. Money packages 
of large amounts were appropriated by dishonest 
employees, and safes with valuable contents in 
transitu, were seized by daring robbers, who broke 
open the iron chests and appropriated all that was of 
value within them. 

In works previously published by me, I have 
detailed some of the most important operations of 
this character, giving in full the process of detecting 
the robbers and the recovery of the major portions 



of the moneys taken. These robberies are now of 
rare occurrence, and, in my opinion, the present 
safety of the Express companies may be mainly 
attributed to the vigorous measures which they 
adopted in the past, to bring these robbers to justice 
and to punishment. 

The two following significant acknowledgments 
will show what part I bore in this work of detection 
and recovery, which were elaborately engrossed, and 
forwarded to me by the officers of the Adams Express 
Company. They speak for themselves. 

These are but two of the many operations in 
which I have succeeded in apprehending the robbers 
and recovering the money taken, and in the following 
pages, I shall relate a few instances in which some 
new features of express robbing are developed, 
although the events related took place some years 




? *^f 1 I 

^ ^\ ^ ^ ^jN ^x v 



In 1 86-, the village of Grafton, in West Vir 
ginia, was the scene of a carefully planned and skill 
fully executed express robbery, by which the attempt 
was made to defraud the Adams Express Company 
of the amount of twenty-seven thousand dollars. 

Grafton, at that time, was a post village in Taylor 
county, and contained but a small population. It 
was located on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and 
was also the junction of the Parkersburg branch 
road. The village was built upon the banks of 
Tygarts valley river, which flows through the North 
western part of the state, and here the Adams Ex 
press Company, with their usual energy and thrift, 
had established an office for the transmission of 
freight and valuables. 

The war with its bloody scenes had ended ; the 
North and the South were at peace ; the Union 
soldiers had laid aside the blue uniforms and the 
musket, and had returned to pursue the peaceful 
avocations of trade and agriculture. The Southern 


veteran had doffed the tattered butternut, and had 
surrendered to the conquering hosts of the North. 
The country was at peace, and the merchant, the 


mechanic, and the husbandman turned again to those 
pursuits which they had followed, before the dark 
cloud of war had overshadowed this fair land. The 
dead had been buried, the wounded had been nursed 
back to life, and the survivors were again toiling in 
the marts of trade, in the workshop, or at the plow. 
From the desolation and the ravages of war, the 
country was emerging into the sunshine of an 
enduring peace. 

During the continuance of the conflict which had 
raged so persistently and so disastrously for four long 
years, many men had accumulated riches, who were 
now seeking for legitimate investment. It is needless 
to say that these were not the men who fought in the 
ranks, and bore the brunt of battle. But the fact 
remains that men grew wealthy from the needs of the 
country, and that opportunities were needed by which 
this wealth could be invested. 

The Rebellion had also given birth to a horde of 
adventurers, who for years afterward infested the 
country, and preyed with systematic rigor and success 
upon honest industry and frugal enterprise. 

The demoralizing influences of the war upon 
humanity has long been felt, and will not be entirely 
eradicated for years to come, and the crimes that have 
been engendered by its influence would appall the 
casual reader or the indifferent observer. 


The country surrounding the village of Grafton 
was soon found, by inquiring minds, to be rich with 
internal products. Coal and petroleum were found 
in abundance beneath the surface of the ground, and 
mining operations and oil-boring became fruitful 
sources of investments to the capitalist. 

It was no rare thing, therefore, for the Express 
Company to have consigned to them at this place 
money packages aggregating to thousands of dollars, 
which would enable the adventurous to purchase 
lands, the speculative to develop hidden stores of 
wealth, and the industrious to remunerate labor and 
to construct manufactories. 

The Express Office was located in the building 
used as the railroad station, and was in charge of men 
who had been proven to be thoroughly honest, ener 
getic, and capable. For several years their labor had 
been performed carefully, and no event had occurred 
to occasion complaint or to entail loss upon the com 
pany they represented, and Grafton bade fair to rival 
in a short time towns which were much older and 
enterprises of larger experience and greater renown. 

One Monday morning, however, in the early 
spring, the agent and the messenger of the Express 
Company repaired to their office for the purpose of 
transacting their daily routine of business. On the 
Saturday previous, two money packages, one of them 


containing twelve thousand dollars, and the other 
purporting to enclose the amount of fifteen thousand 
dollars, had been received, and had been safely locked 
in the safe by the agent, awaiting the demand of the 
consignees. Upon going to the safe on the morning 
in question, for the purpose of removing such papers 
as were necessary for their daily business, the agent 
at once discovered, to his amazement, that the safe 
was unlocked, and that these two valuable packages 

were missing. 

The safe, he was confident, had been securely 
locked on the Saturday evening previous, the key had 
never left his possession from that time to the present 
moment, and yet the safe was now open, the lock 
intact, and the packages had been abstracted in the 

The agent immediately communicated the aston 
ishing ne\vs to the messenger, but neither of them 
could, in any manner, account for the mysterious dis 
appearance of the two packages of money. The fact 
alone remained that they were gone. 

Mr. Henry Adams, the agent, \vas nearly distracted 
with amazement, and with the fear that he would be 
charged with the crime. But he lost no time in 
informing the chief officers of the company of the loss 
that had been sustained, and requesting an examina 
tion into the affair. 


The president of the company, immediately en 
gaged the services of my agency, and Mr. George H. 
Bangs, my general superintendent, was at once dis 
patched to Grafton, authorized to make a full and 
thorough investigation into the seeming mystery. 

Upon the arrival of Mr. Bangs, he at once pro 
ceeded to the express office, and had an interview 
with Mr. Adams, the agent. That gentleman had 
scarcely recovered from the excitement with which 
the robbery had affected him, but he gave a compre 
hensive account of all that had transpired in connec 
tion with the matter. 

According to his statement and that of his assistant, 
the messenger, the packages had arrived and had been 
placed in the safe, on the Saturday previous to the 
robbery. The safe had been securely locked, and the 
two men left the office together and proceeded to 
their homes. On Monday morning, upon repairing 
to the safe, which was unlocked, but gave no indica 
tions of being tampered with, the packages were 
missed, and no clue to them had as yet been dis 

One of these packages had been addressed to John 
Risley, a resident of the village, and was reported to 
contain fifteen thousand dollars. Mr. Risley, it was 
ascertained, had gone to Wheeling a few days previ 
ous, in order to dispose of some lands which he owned 



in the State of Wisconsin, and the money contained 
in the package, was the proceeds of that sale, which 
he had expressed in his own name to Grafton, be 
lieving that process would be safer than carrying the 
money upon his person, during his journey homeward. 

Mr. Risley had arrived in Grafton on the after 
noon prior to the robbery, upon the train which 
brought his money, and had inquired of Mr. Adams 
whether his package had been safely delivered. Upon 
being answered in the affirmative, he requested Mr. 
Adams to hold the package for him, as he did not 
care to assume the risk himself, and was not yet pre 
pared to make an investment which he contemplated. 

The other package was addressed to an individ 
ual who resided some distance in the country, who 
was operating some oil wells, and contained the sum 
of twelve thousand dollars, and the notes were alleged 
to be all of the issue of one particular bank. This 
party was unknown to Mr. Adams, except by name 
and general reputation. 

It was further learned, that the railroad station 
and express office was the general resort of the un 
occupied villagers. They would assemble there at all 
hours of the day, and indulge in the exchange of news 
items, in arguments upon the various topics of the 
times, and, in fact, made it a regular place of ven- 


A brother of Mr. Risley, was the proprietor of 
the railroad hotel, and both men were reported to be 
respectable and wealthy. They had been contemplat 
ing for some time the idea of investing in land in the 
vicinity of Grafton, and of developing the petroleum 
deposits which were contained beneath it, but as yet 
no land had been purchased and no operations begun. 

Mr. Bangs closely questioned the two express 
men, and was fully convinced that both of them were 
honest and trustworthy, and as a rule were exceedingly 
careful and attentive to their business. Therefore no 
suspicion could reasonably attach to them, and he was 
required to look further for the parties who had per 
petrated the crime. 

Two theories were presented to his mind upon the 
conclusion of his investigation. One was that the 
safe had been left open inadvertently, by the officer 
in charge, or else that one of the many frequenters 
of the office had been enabled to obtain duplicate 
keys, and by that means effect an entrance into the 
office and open the safe undisturbed. The latter 
theory seemed to be the more reasonable, and he de 
termined to follow that up, before leaving the place. 

By a rigid examination of all the parties concerned, 
he ascertained that during the day and while the 
villagers were lounging about the office the officers 
of the Express Company would frequently go outside 



to attend to their business, leaving the key in the safe 
where it might be used by any one so inclined, for 
the purpose of obtaining an impression, and by that 
means a perfect duplicate. 

John Risley was also interviewed by Mr. Bangs. 
He was a tall venerable looking man of about fifty- 
five years of age, of quiet manners and steady habits. 
He had lately come from the state of Wisconsin, 
where he had resided for a number of years. His 
general reputation was unimpeachable, and at one 
time he had served a term as a member of the Legis 
lature of Wisconsin. At one time he was quite 
wealthy, but at present his resources were rather 
meager, and except for the lands which he was 
reported to own in Wisconsin, he was comparatively 
poor. This state of affairs had been produced by 
yielding to the spirit of reckless speculation which 
prevailed throughout the West, and which had resulted 
unfortunately to him, and stripped him of his fortune. 

Mr. Risley gave his statement in an apparently 
straight-forward manner, but Mr. Bangs noticed that 
he carefully avoided looking him in the face. A fact 
at all times of a suspicious nature. He further stated 
that he had gone to Wheeling, and had disposed of 
the lands which he owned, for the sum of fifteen thou 
sand dollars, and that it was this money that had 
been taken from the Express Company s safe. He 


had arrived home on Saturday, when he learned of 
the receipt of his package and also of the other, and 
that the person to whom the latter was addressed, 
would not be likely to call for it until the following 

Mr. Risley at once began suit against the com 
pany for the recovery of his money, and expressed 
his determination to press the matter as speedily as 

An investigation proved that Mr. Risley s associ 
ates were two men of the name of Joseph Marks, and 
William Meredith. Marks was a man who had pre 
viously borne a good reputation, and was formerly a 
contractor for the building of bridges. Meredith was 
what is known as an " Oil Sharper," who had been 
identified with several fraudulent oil companies. 
Marks was a resident of Wheeling, living in the 
suburbs of that city, but made frequent visits to Graf- 
ton where he was contemplating an investment, while 
Meredith was a resident of Grafton, and boarded in 
the Hotel owned by Henry Risley, the brother of 
the man whose money had been stolen. These three 
men met frequently at the hotel, and would engage 
in gambling for small sums of money, when the 
opportunity was afforded. 

Mr. Bangs visited Wheeling and sought out the 
parties to whom Risley was alleged to have sold his 


property, but could obtain no definite information 
concerning that transaction, and he became convinced 
that Risley was in some way implicated in the 
robbery. He was, however, requested to furnish 
proof of the money having been sent, and that the 
package which he delivered to the Express Company 
contained the amount which was claimed. Mr. Risley 
at once came to Wheeling, and introduced Mr. Bangs 
to a very estimable young man, who stated uncle; 
oath that lie had been called into the hotel by Marks! 
and Risley, to witness the arrangement of the money for 
expressing, and that he had seen Mr. Risley put up 
the money for that purpose. 

Upon a rigid cross-examination the young man 
explained that he had not seen the money counted, 
but that he saw a roll, or pile of what represented 
money, and on the top of this was a fifty-dollar bill. 

So many cases had arisen previously that had 
come under my notice in which " dummy" packages 
had been entrusted to the care of the Express Com 
pany, the safe afterwards robbed and suits brought to 
recover the stated value of the money sent, that Mr. 
Bangs was firmly convinced of the fact, that this was 
but another effort of the same nature. Directing the 
Express Company to withhold payment until satis 
factory proof could be adduced, Mr. Bangs at once 


commenced a systematic course of inquiry, which 
would solve the mystery beyond all doubt. 

Having ascertained that William Meredith had 
made frequent visits to Wheeling recently, and that 
he was in the company of Marks and Risley upon the 
occasion of these visits, the idea occurred to Mr. 
Bangs that the duplicate key to the safe at Grafton 
might have been procured here. 

He immediately telegraphed to my Agency at 
New York, for an operative to assist him in the in 
vestigation. Upon his arrival he was directed to 
visit every locksmith in the city, taking with him the 
keys of the plundered safe, and to endeavor to as 
certain if any one of them had furnished to any par 
ties a key at all resembling the one to be exhibited, 
and if so to obtain a description of the party, if the 
memory of the smith was sufficiently retentive upon 
the subject. 

The operative at once began his inquiries, and by 
nightfall had succeeded in finding one man, who re 
membered having furnished a blank key of the same 
size as the one shown to him, and which with little 
labor could have been made into a perfect fac-simile. 
He described the man to whom he sold the key, in 
such a manner as to leave no doubt in the mind of 
Mr. Bangs, that it could be no other than William 


Mr. Bangs had communicated his suspicion of the 
trio, Risley, Mark, and Meredith, to Mr. Adams, the 
agent of the Express Company, and requested him to 
inform him of the movements of these gentlemen, 
during his absence from Grafton. As he was about 
to enter the dining-hall of the hotel at which he was 
stopping for his evening repast, a telegram was 
handed to him, which upon opening hastily, he found 
to be from Mr. Adams. 

Its contents were as follows: 


" Meredith left this afternoon for Wheeling. 

(Signed) HENRY ADAMS." 

As the train was not due for some time, the two 
detectives partook of their supper, and upon its con- 
clusion Mr. Bangs directed the operative to repair 
to the railroad station, and await the arrival of Mr. 
Meredith. He was furnished with a minute descrip 
tion of that gentleman, and thus armed he would be 
able to single him out from among a hundred others. 
He was also directed to watch the individual until he 
had entered some building of the nature of a hotel, 
and then to inform him (Mr. Bangs) of the fact at 

The operative departed upon his mission, and 
Mr. Bangs at once repaired to the store of the lock- 


smith, whom he was fortunate enough to find still 
engaged at his work. The man expressed himself 
as being fully able to identify the person to whom he 
had sold the key. if he should ever see him again, and 
at Mr. Bangs request, and for a pecuniary considera 
tion, he at once closed his store, and accompanied him 
to his hotel. 

They did not have long to wait, for soon the 
operative returned with the information that Mr. 
Meredith had arrived safely at Wheeling, and that 
he had been met at the train by another man who 
fully answered the description of Joseph Marks. 
The two men had proceeded together to a hotel, 
where they registered themselves, and had gone into 
supper, after which the detective left and made his 
report as above stated. 

The operative was then instructed to accompany 
the locksmith to the hotel and Mr. Bangs would fol- 


low afterward, in order to fully assure himself that 
the parties were those he was in search of, and to test 
the memory of the locksmith for identification. 

As they approached the hotel, two men came out 
smoking their cigars, and stood in the doorway ap 
parently engaged in earnest conversation, when the 
operative and the locksmith drew near enough to 
distinguish the faces of these men. The maker of 
keys turned suddenly to the operative and exclaimed : 


" The tallest of those two men, is the one I sold 
the blank key to !" 

The man designated by him was William Mere 
dith, and upon the arrival of Mr. Bangs, who had 
also noticed the two men, the fact was at once re 
ported to him. 

This identification was a matter of profound 
gratification to Mr. Bangs, and at once removed all 
doubts as to one of the parties, whom he had origin 
ally suspected. He now felt confident that his first 
theories had been correctly founded, and determined 
to follow the clue until it led him to decisive results. 

He at once telegraphed for additional men to 
assist him in the operations, and after directing the 
operative present, to keep watch upon the two men 
while together, and if they separated to pay strict 
attention to Mr. Meredith, he, in company with the 
locksmith, returned to the hotel. 

There was another feature in the case which had 
not been overlooked. The other package which had 
been taken had no doubt contained the money which 
it was represented to enclose, and the identical bank 
which had issued these notes, was fully known to us. 
The party to whom they had been addressed, was a 
respectable operator in oil, whose reputation and 
business standing were unquestioned. The thieves, 
therefore, had not only succeeded in abstracting the 


evidently spurious package directed to John Risley, 
but they had possessed themselves also of the twelve 
thousand dollars belonging to the responsible party 
in Grafton to whom it had been consigned. 

It was necessary therefore, not only to expose 
the intended fraud upon the express company, but 
to discover the thieves and endeavor to recover the 
stolen property. Great care must therefore be ex 
ercised, in order to avoid the possibility of the three 
men suspecting that they were believed to have been 
connected with the matter at all. 

At this stage of the inquiry, I was fully informed 
of the results thus far attained, and from the reports 
furnished me I was fully convinced of the correctness 
of the views entertained by any General Superin 
tendent. After a mutual consultation, and having 
received ample authority from the officers of the 
Express Company, we began the work of detecting 
the thieves and the attempt to recover the money 

A week passed by, and the matter of the robbery 
of the Express Company had ceased to be the ab 
sorbing topic of public interest. 

The opening of a new well in the vicinity, whose 
daily yield was surprisingly large, a railroad accident 
and many other events, had transpired in the mean 
time, to divert the attention of the citizens from the 



abstraction of the two packages of money, in the safe 
at Grafton. 

On the evening of a beautiful day in April, a 
stranger arrived at the village and secured quarters 
at the Railroad Hotel. The new comer was an 
elderly man about fifty years of age, whose gray hair 
surmounted a face, the features of which beamed 
with benevolence and good nature, of a tall and com 
manding figure, dressed in the quiet garb of a retired 
gentleman, and with an ease of manner that showed 
an intimate knowledge of the world, and of associa 
tion with gentlemen. He became at once the sub 
ject of considerable curiosity and speculation among 
the guests at the hotel, and the residents of the 
village who congregated there during the evening. 

Apparently unconscious of the scrutiny to which 
he was generally subjected, the stranger conducted 
himself with the utmost unconcern for those about 
him. He went into supper, and after finishing his 
repast, lighted a cigar, and seating himself in the 
reading-room, he drew from his. pocket a newspaper 
and soon became absorbed in its contents. Mean 
while the people around him, had engaged in sub 
dued conversation, of which his appearance was 
evidently the leading topic. One by one they had 
inspected the register of the hotel in order to ascer 
tain the name of this apparently well-to-do stranger, 


and numerous speculations were indulged in as to 
the probable cause of his visit to Grafton. 

The register afforded them but little information. 
The man had simply entered himself as David Fow 
ler, Cleveland, Ohio, and he had not as yet indulged 
in conversation with anyone except the clerk of the 
hotel, and that only in relation to the room he was to 
occupy, and to state that he would probably remain 
in Grafton several days. 

Among those who were seated about the hotel 
this evening, were John Risley and William Mere 
dith, and their conversation, which was carried on in 
low tones, was principally concerning the gentlemanly 
looking stranger, whom they finally concluded was a 
man of wealth from Ohio, who had come to Grafton 
with the intention of speculating in coal or oil. 

Meredith, with his eye always to the main chance, 
and having several schemes at present on hand, im 
agined that in this Mr. Fowler he would find an op 
portunity to enrich himself, by inducing him to in 
vest his money, if such was his object, through Mr. 
Meredith s agency. 

As the evening wore on and Mr. Fowler evinced 
no disposition to be communicative or inquisitive, 
Mr. Risley walked over to where he sat with his 
paper before him, and sat down beside him. 

As he took his seat, Mr. Fowler looked up and a 


mutual salutation passed between them, and the 
genial face of the stranger lighted up with a cheery 
smile as he made room for Risley to sit down. 

With the natural curiosity of an old resident, 
Risley plied Mr. Fowler with numerous questions, 
all of which were intended to glean from the stran 
ger the object of his visit and the possibility of his 
intention to invest in the undeveloped lands round 

To all of these interrogations Mr. Fowler an 
swered in an easy, good-natured manner, which soon 
put Risley at his ease, and tended to render their 
conversation familiar and communicative. In a short 
time Mr. Fowler had informed Mr. Risley that he 
had been engaged in the business of a cattle drover 
in the west, where he had accumulated quite a snug 
sum of money. Hearing of the resources of Grafton, 
he had paid a visit to the locality in order to ascertain 
the correctness of his information, and if he found a 
good opportunity, the probabilities were that he 
would engage in some enterprise that promised a 
profitable return. 

They got along swimmingly together, these two 
men. The good-nature of Mr. Fowler imparted itself 
to his companion, and soon the two old gentlemen 
were laughing heartily at each other s sallies, and 
their pleasant acquaintance was an assured fact. 


They conversed for a long time together, and at 
last Mr. Fowler during a lull in their conversation, 
drew his watch from his pocket, and apparently sur 
prised at the lateness of the hour, excused himself 
and retired to his room. 

Bidding his new acquaintance good night, Mr. 
Risley immediately sought out Meredith, who was in 
the bar-room of the hotel, and these two worthies 
were soon engaged in earnest conference. After a 
while, selecting two others, they ascended to a room 
in one of the upper floors, where they engaged in a 
friendly game of poker with small moneyed hazards, 
until the early hours of morning warned them to de 
sist, when they separated and retired to their sev 
eral couches. 

In the morning Mr. Fowler and Mr. Risley again 
met, and the friendliness, commenced on the previous 
evening, manifested itself in their friendly greetings 
of each other. 

After breakfast, Mr. Risley invited Mr. Fowler 
to ride with him through the oil country, and that 
gentleman cordially accepting the invitation, they were 
soon on their way to the productive fields beyond the 

During their drive, Mr. Fowler evinced the liveliest 
interest in all that related to the development of the 
oil lands, and the mining of coal which was said to be 


found in large quantities in this locality. His open 
friendliness soon won the friendship and confidence 
of the other, and he began to feel as though they were 
old friends, instead of recent acquaintances. 

Upon reaching the locality which Mr. Risley 
desired particularly to call to the notice of his friend, 
they were both somewhat surprised to find Mr. 
Meredith already there. Mr. Risley introduced his 
companion to Meredith, and the three men walked 
over the grounds, both Risley and Meredith expatiat 
ing with a great deal of enthusiasm upon the rare 
opportunities that were offered for the accumulation 
of a fortune in a very short space of time. Nothing 
could exceed the attention and interest displayed by 
Mr. Fowler as this information was received, and as 
they drove back to town, he spoke most favorably of 
the proposed enterprise. 

" I expect a remittance in a few days," said Mr. 
Fowler, " but it will not be sufficient for the expenses 
that will be necessary to develop the land in order to 
make it profitable." 

" I will have some money of my own shortly," said 
Risley, " as soon as my suit against the Adams 
Express Company is settled." 

" Have you a suit against that company ?" inquired 
Mr. Fowler. 

"Yes," replied the other, "a suit for fifteen thou- 


sand dollars ;" and he related to Mr. Fowler the facts 
as far as known in relation to the robbery of the safe 
and the abstraction of the two packages of money. 
He then added, "When I receive that, I intend to 
invest it in this way, and if you have no objections, 
we can join together in the matter." 

"That is perfectly satisfactory to me" said Mr. 
Fowler, "and I hope you will have no trouble in 
recovering your money." 

Mr. Fowler did not seem to display any curiosity 
about the robbery of the Express Company, but con 
tented himself with casual inquiries about the circum 
stances connected with it, and whether any one was 
suspected of committing the crime. 

On arriving at the hotel the two men went into 
the bar-room and indulged in a drink, and while there 
Mr. Fowler s attention was attracted by a poster which 
hung upon the wall. 

Immediately upon the facts of the robbery being 
fully made known to me, I had caused posters to be 
printed which contained a full account of the affair, 
and which also stated the name of the bank which had 
issued the notes which were contained in the twelve 
thousand dollar package. A reward was offered for 
the apprehension of the thieves, or for such informa 
tion as would lead to their arrest, and it was this 
poster which attracted the notice of Mr. Fowler. 


Mr. Risley and Mr. Fowler walked over to where 
the poster was displayed and silently perused its 
wording Mr. Fowler, with the undisturbed air of a 
disinterested observer, while Mr. Risley displayed a 
nervousness which did not escape his companion, and 
which would ordinarily have excited suspicion. Mr. 
Fowler paid no attention to this however, and after a 
careless remark about the robbery, they left the bar 
room and went into dinner. 

Several days passed on, and at the end of that 
time the new-comer and Mr. Risley had become 
inseparable friends, they rode out together, they 
smoked their after-dinner cigars in company, and in 
the evening they would join with the others in their 
card-playing for small stakes, in which it almost 
invariably happened that Mr. Fowler and Mr. Risley 
were winners. Mr. Fowler had extended his circle of 
acquaintances, and had become quite popular with 
the villagers and the guests at the hotel. He also 
visited the Express Office, and made the acquaintance 
of Mr. Adams, agent of the company, with whom he 
conversed about the robbery, in the presence of 
others, and in a careless good-natured manner offered 
his opinion, that the thieves, whoever they were, must 
have been pretty smart fellows. 

This was said with a quiet smile, and with a sly 


wink at Mr. Risley, which greatly confused that gen 
tleman and prevented him from replying. 

It was the general impression that the detectives 
had given up the task, and that no further investiga 
tions were being made into the affair. That the only 
thing to be done was for the gentlemen who had lost 
their money, to await the opening of the spring term 
of the court, and to substantiate their claim when the 
money would be promptly refunded to them. 

Meanwhile Mr. Fowler had interested himself to a 
very great extent, in the oil speculations which he 
had announced was the occasion of his visit to Graf- 

He had repeated conversations with Risley, 
Meredith and Marks, who often came to Grafton, 
upon the subject. He deeply deplored the delay to 
which Risley was subjected in receiving his money, 
and at length suggested a scheme that would prob 
ably obviate all difficulty. 

He would visit a number of his friends in the 
West, who were cattle-drovers with means, and in 
company with Risley they would endeavor to inter 
est them in the speculation, and if they succeeded in 
that, all further trouble about money would be suc 
cessfully overcome. 

Risley eagerly consented to the proposition, and, 
after making full preparations for their journey, the 


two men departed. They went together to Cincin 
nati and to Chicago, and saw various western cities, 
Fowler having a large acquaintance among men who 
were engaged in the droving business, introducing 
his friend to them, and wherever they went they were 
hospitably entertained. It was arranged that Fowler 
should invariably broach the subject of the proposed 
investment, and that at a time when Risley would be 
absent. That Risley should be introduced to these 
men as being largely interested in oil and coal lands, 
which gave promise of large yields, but that he should 
not be understood as advertising his possessions, or 
as seeking for assistance in working them. 

Fowler would, therefore, report to his friend Ris 
ley, the result of his conversations with his friends, 
all of which was of a character to inspire the hopes 
of Risley in the success of the schemes in which they 
were engaged. 

It soon became apparent that Risley was one of 
those happy-go-lucky fellows, who was fond of a 
" good time," and who would drink more than was 
good for him when in the company of congenial 
spirits. Mr. Fowler, too, laid aside much of his dig 
nity and frequently indulged in these little irregulari 
ties which both of the old fellows seemed to enjoy 
very much. 

By this time they had become bosom friends, and 


had reposed in each other mutual confidences which 
drew them nearer together. One day, Fowler re 
turned to the hotel where they were stopping in Chi 
cago, and found Risley in rather a mellow mood, 
impatiently awaiting his coming. He was not in 
toxicated, but rather in that peculiarly gracious and 
communicative mood which is produced by imbibing 
a trifle too much of " strong water." 

" Well, old man, what luck ?" was his first saluta 
tion, as Fowler entered the room. 

" Pretty good to-day," answered Fowler, in an 
easy manner. 

" Did you find anybody that wanted to invest?" 
was the next inquiry. 

" Yes, I found two, and if you only had your 
money now we would be all right," said Mr. Fowler. 

" Well, maybe I have got some that will do just 
as well," said Risley, as he drew a large wallet from 
his pocket, and threw it down upon the table. 

He opened the wallet and displayed to the gaze 
of his companion a bundle of bills, new and crisp, of 
the denomination of a hundred dollars. 

" How will that do old fellow, for a first install 
ment ?" he asked with a chuckle. 

<l Well, that will do all right, I guess," answered 
Fowler as he drew near to the table, and took up the 
bundle of notes. As he did so, he noticed with a 


start, that the notes were all issued by the bank 
whose name had been mentioned in my poster, and 
he felt certain that these could be none others than 
the notes stolen from the express safe at Grafton. 
The amount of them which Risley had, amounted to 
five thousand dollars. 

" You are a sly old coon," said Fowler, slapping 
him upon the back. " You did a pretty good job with 
the safe, and I congratulate you." 

Risley looked up into his companion s face, but 
seeing there only a sly twinkle in the eye and a good- 
natured smile upon the lips, he burst into a loud 
and hearty laugh. 

"Yes, yes," he said after his laugh was over, 
" we managed that pretty well, didn t we ?" 

" I should think you did," said Fowler, " but we 
must get rid of these notes, they are well known and 
might compromise us, you know." 

" I know that," said Risley, " but how are we 
going to do it?" 

" Oh, I ll fix that," said Fowler, with a confident 
air. " I used to deal in counterfeit money a little, 
some time ago, and I can fix this all right. I will 
give you other money for this, and then dispose of 
it in safety." 

" You re a pretty good sort of a fellow," said 
Risley, " and just the kind of a friend a man ought 


to have," and he reached over and warmly clasped 
the hand of Mr. Fowler. 

" Where is the rest of the money ?" said Mr. 
Fowler, " we might as well dispose of the whole of 
it, while we are about it." 

" Why Marks and Meredith divided the balance, 
but they have been afraid to dispose of it ever since." 

"Well, you write to them, tell them it will be all 
right, and they can either bring it on themselves or 
send it by express. I have friends here who will 
manage it to a dot." 

"All right," said Risley, "I ll write to them 

" Let me see," said Fowler, " I guess we had 
better have this done out of the United States. 
Suppose you write to them to meet you in Windsor, 
Canada, and then we will be perfectly safe." 

"That s a good idea," said Risley, "I ll fix it 
that way, and then we will be sure to be all right." 

That night he wrote to both of his friends, de 
tailed the circumstances fully to them, and advised 
them to come to Detroit, when they would all go 
over to Windsor, and Mr. Fowler would give them 
other money for what they had. 

Risley was over-joyed at the prospect before him, 
and the friendliness he manifested towards Fowler 
became so demonstrative, that it almost grew weari- 


some. However, in a few days they received a tele 
gram from Marks and Meredith, signifying their 
acceptance of Fowler s offer, and stating that they 
would be in Detroit upon a day which they named. 

During the absence of Risley and Fowler, my 
operatives had kept close watch upon the movements 
of the two men who remained at home, Messrs. 
Meredith and Marks, but their carefulness was not 
rewarded by anything which appeared at all suspi 
cious. Both of them attended to their affairs in a 
business-like manner, and seemed to be entirely occu 
pied by matters of a purely legitimate character. 

Upon the day, however, when Meredith sent the 
telegram to Risley, the detective was on hand, and 
after Meredith had left the office, the operative entered 
hurriedly and approaching the clerk said : 

" Mr. Meredith has just sent a dispatch, but he 
thinks he has made a mistake in it, will you allow me 
to correct it ? " 

" Certainly, sir," said the unsuspecting clerk, hand 
ing over the blank which Meredith had filled up. 

The detective carefully read the words, and hav 
ing fixed them in his mind handed it back saying : 

" No, there is no mistake, Mr. Meredith thought 
he had named the wrong day," and then thanking the 
clerk for his courtesy, he withdrew. 

He had very little time, to spare, for the train 


was due in a half hour, and Meredith would no doubt 
take passage upon it. He was not disappointed, for 
soon Meredith appeared with a satchel and purchas 
ing a ticket for Wheeling, he entered the car. The 
detective followed him, and after reaching Wheeling 
he telegraphed to Mr. Bangs the discovery, he had 

Meredith soon met Marks, and the two operatives 
were thrown together, and that evening the quartette 
started upon their journey to Detroit. Messrs. Fow 
ler and Risley had also left Chicago for the same des 
tination, and the transfer of the money would soon 
no doubt be made. 

Each of the three men were congratulating them 
selves upon the happy chance which brought Mr. 
Fowler to Grafton, in time to do them so great a serv 
ice, and the detectives were active and alert for any 
developments that might be made. 

The two men, Joseph Marks and William Mere 
dith, accompanied by their unknown and unnoticed 
attendants, arrived in Detroit just as the gathering 
twilight was throwing its darkening shadows over the 
city. They were met at the station by John Risley 
and Mr. Fowler, and the greetings exchanged were 
the most cordial. 

The two detectives were standing at a convenient 


distance, keeping the parties in full view, when they 
were accosted by another operative from my New 
York office. Without unnecessary delay he directed 
them to repair at once to a hotel, which he named, 
and that he would take care of the gentlemen who 
were now conversing so good-naturedly together. 
Having been trained to obey instructions without 
asking unnecessary questions, the two men did as 
they were directed, and to their surprise they found 
the portly and imposing figure of Mr. Bangs standing 
in the doorway of the hotel. They could not account 
for his presence there, in advance of them, and he did 
not enlighten them upon the subject. 

He requested them to come up to his room, and 
then, after hearing a full report of what had transpired, 
he gave them fall and explicit orders as to their 
course of action. After all the arrangements had 
been duly made, Mr. Bangs, in company with the two 
men, left the hotel, and proceeded in the direction 
which the persons, they had been watching, would 
naturally take, in reaching the same house. They 
had not walked far, when they espied the four men 
walking leisurely along, and apparently in great good 
humor. Risley was relating some of his experiences 
in Chicago, which were evidently of an amusing na 
ture, for his friends laughed heartily at the recital. 

The detectives approached them, and at a sign 



from Mr. Bangs, the two men with him, and the one 
on the rear, advanced toward Risley, Marks and Mere 
dith, while Mr. Bangs himself took care of Mr. Fow 

Before the four gentlemen could realize their po 
sition, a heavy hand was laid on each their shoulders, 
and the stern voice of Mr. Bangs fell upon their ears : 

" Gentlemen, I demand your surrender for the 
robbery of the express company at Grafton, and an 
attempt to escape will be fatal to the man who makes 
the effort." 

There was no mistaking the resolute tone of that 
voice, and no evading the strong grip which each 
man felt upon his arm. Escape would be impossi 
ble, and they realized it at once. Besides that, their 
surprise was almost overpowering, their laugh was 
still ringing in the air when they were thus accosted, 
and they had not yet recovered from the shock 
which the notice of their arrest had occasioned. 
Each looked at the other in hopeless dismay, and not 
a word was spoken until they reached the hotel. Four 
rooms had previously been engaged by Mr. Bangs, 
and as they ascended the stairs the curious eyes of 
the guests who were lounging about the hotel, fol 
lowed them on their way. 

One man was assigned to each room, a detective 

being delegated to guard each prisoner, and in a 



short space of time the lock of each door clicked be 
hind them, and they found themselves shut in, with 
an officer of the law for a companion. Mr. Bangs 
had secured two communicating rooms in which to 
place Mr. Fowler and John Risley, as it was his in 
tention that Risley should hear all that transpired 
between himself and Mr. Fowler. 

By a systematic course of questioning, which 
proved that he was fully posted as to the movements 
of the men who had been arrested, Mr. Bangs gradu 
ally induced Mr. Fowler to become communicative. 

Meanwhile John Risley had crouched upon his 
knees beside the door, his ears strained to catch 
every word uttered by the two men in the room ad 
joining ; with eyes glaring and with his hands 
clenched, he listened to what was transpiring, and 
when at length Mr. Fowler broke completely down 
and handed over the money which he had received, 
John Risley uttered a cry of agony accompanied by 
terrible oaths, and threw himself upon the bed. 

Presently a knock was heard at the door, and as 
the detective opened it, Mr. Bangs and Mr. Fowler 
stood in the door-way. Silently they entered, and 
Fowler going up to Risley, laid his hand upon his 
shoulder and said : 

" It s of no use, Risley, Mr. Bangs knows all about 
it, and we may as well give up." 


Risley started to his feet and gazed fiercely at 
Fowler, but as his eye encountered the steady genial 
look of the other, his fierceness was gone and he 
was plastic in our hands. He realized that subter 
fuge and untruthfulness could avail him no further, 
and he made a full and thorough confession of all 
the facts in relation to the robbery. 

From his statement it appeared that Meredith first 
suggested and planned the robbery, and by his argu 
ments and solicitations, Risley was finally induced to 
join in the attempt, Meredith furnished Risley with 
a lump of wax and explained to him the use of it, 
and one day while both the agent and messenger of 
the company were outside, he quietly removed the 
key from the safe, and in a few moments had a per 
fect impression of it in wax. 

Meredith then procured the blank key at Wheel 
ing, and assisted by Marks, the instrument was made 
which so successfully opened the way to their robbery. 
The work was performed by Meredith and Marks af 
ter Mr. Risley had sent his "dummy" package from 
Wheeling, and the fact of the second package being 
there had not entered into their original calculations 
at all. When they learned of it, however, their 
cupidity was not proof against the temptation, and 
they secured both packages. One of them contained 
what it represented to do : twelve thousand dollars, 


and the other a bundle of brown paper with a fifty- 
dollar National Bank note upon the top for which 
fifteen thousand dollars was to be claimed through 
the courts of law. 

The confession of John Risley was most complete 
and full, and at its conclusion he with tearful eyes 
besought Mr. Bangs to deal as leniently with him as 
was possible. His gay demeanor had disappeared 
and he whined piteously and begged for mercy. Mr. 
Bangs informed him that he would do all that he 
could for him, but that the matter would rest entirely 
with the court before which he would have to be 
tried, and that he could promise nothing. 

After leaving Risley Mr. Bangs proceeded to the 
rooms occupied by Meredith and Marks. Meredith 
was morose and silent, he seemed to have given up 
all hope and had resigned himself to his fate, but he 
declined peremptorily to make any statement that 
might criminate himself. He was searched and upon 
his person was found his share of the robbery, four 
thousand dollars, all in the original notes which had 
been taken and which he had hitherto been afraid to 
dispose of. 

In the meantime Marks had been chafing like a 
caged tiger ; of an excitable disposition, he stormed 
and raved at the detective, and with terrible oaths 
threatened vengeance upon his captors. He walked 


his room impatiently and his eyes flashed with anger 
and hate. He was no doubt a dangerous man when 
aroused and the detective watched him carefully lest 
he should make an attack upon him, and attempt to 
effect his escape. 

When Mr. Bangs entered the room he was 
received with curses and denunciations from the 
baffled thief, but his quiet, stern manner soon con 
vinced the desperado that fuming would avail him 
but little, and that his threats were but idle breath 
ings when launched at the fearless man who stood 
before him. The handcuffs were placed upon his 
wrists and although he evinced a disposition to resist 
their application, a word of stern command from Mr. 
Bangs convinced him of the folly of such a proceed 
ing, and he submitted with a dogged silence to the 
humiliating operation. 

His person was also searched and his share of the 
transaction was found in the lining of his coat, three 
thousand dollars and thus the entire amount of the 
stolen property had been successfully recovered. 

Mr. Bangs returned to his room where he found 
Mr. Fowler awaiting him. Grasping his hand cor 
dially Mr. Bangs exclaimed : 

" Fowler, you have manged this case admirably, 
and the success we have accomplished is mainly owing 
to your tact, energy and intelligence." 


As the reader has no doubt already divined, Mr. 
Fowler, the elderly and gentlemanly cattle drover, 
was an operative upon my force, who had been 
selected by me for this investigation, and through 
whose agency, acting under my instructions, the 
matter had been brought to a successful issue. 

The stolen money was now all in my hands, and 
the thieves were all under the watchful charge of my 
men. Risley s confession had been fully made and 
would be sufficient for the conviction of the prisoners. 
Thus far all had been successfully accomplished, and 
nothing further remained to be done, but to transport 
the discomfited gentlemen back to Virginia. 

As a train left that evening Mr. Bangs deter 
mined to lose no time in transferring his prisoners to 
the state in which the crime had been committed. 
Other matters were requiring his attention, and he 
was desirous of rendering up his charges to the pro 
per authorities when his task would be ended, and 
he would be at liberty to devote himself to press 
ing affairs that required his individual services and 

The prisoners were therefore handcuffed to their 
captors, the shackles being placed upon the right 
wrist of the prisoners, and upon the left arm of their 
escort, and thus in couples, led by Mr. Bangs, the 
party proceeded to the depot, where entering the 


cars, they were soon speeding upon their way to the 
scene of their burglarious exploit. Mr. Fowler hav 
ing performed all the duties required of him, returned 
to Chicago, where he was soon engaged upon an 
operation of an entirely different character. 

Without accident, the prisoners and their escorts 
arrived at Wheeling. Mr. Bangs secured rooms at 
a hotel for the party, and they retired to bed ; each 
operative taking the precaution to lock the door of 
his room and to wheel the bedstead directly across 
the doorway to prevent any attempt at escape. 

For three days and nights these men had scarcely 
slept an hour, and entering their rooms they hand 
cuffed their prisoners, and then throwing themselves 
on the bed without disrobing, they soon fell asleep. 

An hour afterwards, there were strange indica 
tions of wakefulness in one of the rooms. Joseph 
Marks, who had been strangely sullen and quiet 
during their journey, slowly raised himself upon his 
elbow and listened attentively to the labored breath 
ing of his detective companion. Silently and breath 
lessly he listened, and at last becoming satisfied, that 
slumber had firmly bound the fatigued operative, he 
noiselessly slipped from the bed and stood upon the 

Handcuffed as he was he began quietly and by 
slow degrees to push the bedstead from its position 


across the door, pausing at frequent intervals, to 
note its effect upon the sleeping man, but the deep 
sonorous breathing of the sleeper gave undoubted 
proof that no danger was to be apprehended from 
him. After he had succeeded in moving the bed a 
sufficient distance to admit of the passage of his 
body, he searched the pockets of the detective and 
found the key. Without a sound the bolt shot back 
in the lock and freedom was before the criminal. 
Snatching up his hat and throwing his coat over his 
shoulders, buttoning it around his neck he started for 
the door. 

As he did so, a movement of the sleeper aroused 
his fears, and hastening to the side of the bed, he 
assured himself that he was safe. Again he turned 
toward the door, and then opening it noiselessly, 
he passed out, closing it behind him. Stealthily he 
glided along the corridors, and with cat-like steps 
descended the stairs. In safety he reached the street 
door, and in another moment he stood in the open air 
a free man. 

Raising his shackled hands, he shook them 
savagely in the direction of the building, and then as 
he strode away, he chuckled to himself at the success 
which had attended him. Reaching the railroad track, 
near the station, he found a freight train loaded with 
hay, and he climbed upon one of the open cars and 


hid himself between two bundles of hay. In a few 
moments he was rattling away from the scene of his 
captivity, and from the company of his companions 
and their guards. 

When the exhausted detective arose on the fol 
lowing morning, and found that the place beside him 
was empty, and that his bed had been moved away 
from the door, he sat and gazed in a state of dazed 
stupor, unable to utter a word. Finally as he 
recovered his scattered senses, he started quickly 
from the bed, and rushing directly to the room occu 
pied by Mr. Bangs, he astonished that gentleman by 
his revelations. A hasty search proved conclusively 
that the bird had flown, and that expedition was 
necessary if his recapture was to be accomplished. 

Of course this action on the part of my operative 
merited, and afterwards received, a just degree of 
censure, but I did not feel disposed to be very harsh 
with him, because of the fatigue and exhaustion which 
he had suffered previous to his retiring upon that 
night. There are limits to the powers of endurance 
of human nature, and while regretting the temporary 
escape of the prisoner, I was disposed to be more 
lenient than under any other circumstances would 
have been the case. 

In order to be entirely untrammelled in the pur 
suit of Joseph Marks, Mr. Bangs at once surrendered 


his two remaining prisoners to the care of the city 

officials of Wheeling, and placed the fifteen thousand 
dollars, stolen money that had been recovered, in the 
custody of a bank in that city. This being done, 
he began to lay his plans for the recovery of the 

Obtaining the assistance of two men from the 
Chief of Police of the city, a vigorous search was at 
once commenced. It was soon learned that a freight 
train, the only one that had departed since the evening 
before, had passed through Wheeling shortly after 
midnight, and that it had stopped at the depot for a 
long time. It was a local freight train and made 
stoppages at all the stations along the road. From 
this Mr. Bangs was induced to believe that Marks 
had availed himself of the mode of travel thus 
afforded him, and he thought it might be possible 
that he had left the train at the next station and had 
gone to his residence but a short distance away. 

One of the city officials who was unknown to 
Marks was deputed to repair to the vicinity of the 
residence of that individual and endeavor to ascertain 
if such was the case. 

Late in the afternoon, Mr. Bangs received a dis 
patch from this official to the effect that Marks was 
at home, and that preparations were being made for a 
hasty departure. , , , 


Mr. Bangs lost no time in getting his men to 
gether, and taking one of the city force with him, he 
took the train for Marks house. It was nine o clock 
when the party started, and the clock of the village 
church struck ten as they halted near their place of 
destination. The night was dark, heavy clouds had 
been gathering during the day and a slight shower 
began to fall as the party of detectives came in view 
of the house. The residence occupied by Marks was 
a pretty frame structure of the style of aswiss cottage, 
surrounded by a beautiful lawn and numerous shade- 
trees, and at the rear of the house was a large strip 
of woods. 

A low light was burning in one of the rooms of 
the house. Quietly the men approached, and after 
reaching a convenient distance Mr. Bangs directed 
them to surround the building so as to prevent the 
exit of any one from either side. When this had 
been done, he ascended the steps and knocked loudly 
upon the front door. Instantly the light was extin 
guished within, and all was darkness and silence. 
Failing to receive any response to his first summons, 
Mr. Bangs knocked again, and presently he heard 
hurried footsteps within the dwelling, and a female 
inquired in a trembling voice, who it was that 


"Open the door !" cried Mr. Bangs, unheeding 
the inquiry, " or I will force it from its hinges." 

A stifled cry came from the lady, whoever she 
was, and the sound of her swiftly retreating feet 
could be plainly heard. 

Again Mr. Bangs knocked at the door, this time 
louder than previously, and another female voice 
cried from within : 

"Wait a moment, and I will let you in." 

" Make haste," again cried Mr. Bangs. " I can 
not be kept waiting any longer." 

As he spoke, the lock was turned, and the door 
was slowly opened. Throwing it forcibly back, he 
strode into the passage-way, which was dark as Ere 
bus. Drawing his dark lantern from his pocket, he 
threw its penetrating rays over the scene presented 
before him. The hall in which he stood was wide and 
capacious, extending the entire length of the build 
ing, from front to rear, the door of the various rooms 
opening into it. Before him stood two pale-faced 
women, their eyes heavy with weeping, and their 
hands clasped piteously before them. He had no 
time to notice them particularly, and as he walked 
to the rear of the hall he saw that one of the doors 
was open. Turning his lamp in that direction, he 
a.w that the window in the rear was raised, and that 
a man whose body half protruded through the open- 


ing thus made, was about to escape from the build 


" Stop or I fire !" cried Mr. Bangs. 

But at that instant, two stalwart arms from with 
out grasped the shoulders of the man he addressed, 
and the cheery confident voice of my operative 
replied : 

" All right, Captain, I ve got him, and I guess I 
can take care of him," and with these w r ords the form 
of the man disappeared through the window. 

Rushing to the spot, my general superintendent 
saw with gratification that the discomfited Mr. 
Marks was in the strong arms of Henry Wilson, a 
brawny and careful detective. The prisoner made a 
desperate effort to resist, but a sturdy blow from the 
detective, soon convinced him that such an attempt 
would be useless, and he sullenly resigned himself to 
his fate. 

The other men were called together ; the prisoner 
was safely secured, and the successful and elated 
party returned to the station, where they took the 
train, and soon after had placed their prisoner within 
the enclosing embraces of a prison cell, while a 
ponderous lock held him secure. 

On the following day the prisoners were handed 
over to the authorities, and were held to await their 


trial. Risley appeared to have broken down com 
pletely, his nerves were terribly shaken, and he 
seemed to feel deeply the disgrace which he had 
brought upon himself and his family. Meredith dis 
played the utmost unconcern and chatted with his 
keeper, and such of his friends who visited him, with 
great good humor. Marks, on the contrary, evinced 
a most belligerent disposition, he became almost sav 
age under his long confinement, he swore loudly at 
every one who approached his cell, and threatened a 
desperate vengeance upon those who had been instru 
mental in his arrest. 

During certain hours of the day, the prisoners 
were allowed the liberty of walking in the corridor, 
and during these times Risley and Meredith would 
converse in low tones upon their situation, while 
Marks held himself aloof from them and consorted 
with the other prisoners, with whom he soon became 
i great favorite. His dauntless spirit and fiery tem 
per seemed to excite their admiration, and his threats 
of vengeance found a ready echo in the breasts of 
many more hardened, though less determined than 
himself. His influence soon communcicatd itself to 
the more reckless of the prisoners, and he became the 
center of a band of ruffians of all grades of crime. 

One day, after they had enjoyed the" relaxation 
generally allowed them, and as they were about to be 


returned to their cells, the prisoners were alarmed by 
loud voices as if in fierce altercation, and the power 
ful form of Marks was seen grappling fiercely with 
one of the keepers. This was intended to be the 
signal for a general mutiny among those with whom 
Marks had associated, but when the moment for ac 
tion arrived, their hearts failed them, and they dared 
not perform their part of the compact. 

Marks was soon overpowered, but not until he had 
seriously injured the keeper, whom he had attacked, 
and he w^as conducted again to his cell. 

That night he made another attempt to escape, 
and in the desperate encounter which ensued, he was 
shot and killed. Thus ended, in a prison, a life which 
had been begun in honor and respectability, and a 
career that had hitherto won for him the confidence 
and regard of friends and of the community in which 
he moved. It was his first criminal offense, and the 
fierce nature brooking no control was chafed into mad 
ness by his disgrace and confinement. 

The trial of the two others, Risley and Meredith, 
was held, and the evidence against them proving in 
disputable, they were convicted. Risley, on account 
of his confession, was sentenced to only three and a 
half years, while Meredith was sentenced to fifteen 

Thus was the law finally vindicated, and the 


wrong-doers were compelled to expiate their crimes. 
From all that could be learned, Meredith had been 
remotely connected witn several other incidents of a 
criminal nature, although he had thus far escaped 
punishment. Risley, on the contrary had always 
prior to this lived an honest and respectable life. 
His family were all honorable and. respected, he him 
self had once been a man of prominence and wealth; 
his voice had once been heard in the council of the 
state, and but for this blot upon his fair name, the 
few remaining years of his life would have passed 
peacefully away, and he would have gone to his 
grave honored and revered. But temptation came, 
and the weak brain and speculative mind were not 
secure against the syren voice of the tempter ; the 
possibility of suddenly and without danger, accumu 
lating riches, was too powerful for his weak nature, 
and he yielded to the influences that had wrought 
his ruin. 

Our task was done, the stolen money had been 
recovered, the criminals had been punished, and 
leaving the prisoners to their better reflections, the 
Detective enters again into other scenes which, while 
the world rolls on and humanity continues frail, will 
ever engross his mind and exercise his abilities. 











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