Remarkable Historic Record of Train Robberies of Wells Fargo by the Daltons, Cole Young, Evans-Sontag Gang, Ketchum Gang, Cook Gang, and othersWells, Fargo & Co's Express "Train Robbery" Ledger, 260 pages, 8.5" x 13". Recording 95 robberies, or attempted robberies of trains from 1870-1902, mostly 1890s, on pages headed "Wells, Fargo & Co's Express," with "Train Robbery" on the left page and "Additional" heading the right page. Filled in are the location, time, date, and, if available, the messenger, engineer, and fireman names and monetary amount of Wells, Fargo's loss and the amount recovered. The names of the robbers, if known, are listed. Arrests, sentencing, and/or pardons granted and additional information about the robbers, if available, is included. In some cases, rewards are noted. The locations of the robberies are indexed in the front of the ledger. Pages numbered 101-130, the last 60 sheets headed "Wells, Fargo & Co's Express," are blank. Contemporary half roan over pebbled cloth boards reinforced on spine with black cloth tape, showing evidence of wear.
The first train robbery in the West occurred in the early morning hours of November 5, 1870. The November 5, 1870 evening edition of the Nevada Territorial Enterprise reported "The Great Train Robbery - All the talk upon the streets to-day is of the great robbery on the railroad , between Reno and Verdi, last night. It is believed here that the robbers got in the vicinity of $150,000...Wells, Fargo & Co. offer $10,000 reward for the recovery of the treasure, or any part of it, and the arrest and conviction of the robbers..." This ledger begins, appropriately, with that robbery.
Excerpts, in part, from the Ledger:
#1 "Near Verdi Nevada on the Central Pacific Railroad, about 1 A.M. November 6th [sic] 1870, Messenger Frank Minshall, Wells, Fargo & Co's Loss $41000, Amount Recovered about $41000. Robbers Filt P. Cockrell, A.J. Davis, John Squires, E.B. Parsons, R.A. Jones, J.E. Chapman, Gilchrist. As the train was leaving the Station 3 masked men, boarded the express car which they had detached from the body of the train by cutting the bell rope &c &c. Three other men jumped on the engine and drawing revolvers, ordered the engineer to move on which he did...".
#3 "Attempted Train Robbery. Near Cape Horn Mills Cal. On the Central Pacific Railroad, about 11:00 PM., August 31st 1881. Messenger N.M. Chadwick. Robbers Geo. W. Shinn, Ed. Steinagal, R.A. Rodgers, Harry Frazier, J.K. Mason. He attempt was made upon the east bound overland express. The robbers removed a rail which caused the two engines to leave the track, but doing no other damage. The rush forward from the passengers to see the cause of the accident frightened the men and they fled without accomplishing the robbery. They had all been miners...and all stood fairly well in the community..."
#7 "Near Gage N.M. on the Southern Pacific Railroad, November 24th 1883. Messenger T.G. Hodgkins, Engineer T.C. Webster Killed by the robbery. Wells, Fargo & Co's Loss $830.60. Robbers G.W. Cleavland, Mikel Lee, Frank Taggert, Kit Joy. At a point about 3 miles east of Gage, N.M. the east bound train was ditched by a misplaced rail which threw the locomotive, mail and express cars into a small cut. Four masked men were stationed on the bank of the cut as the engineer T.C. Webster was getting down from the engine one of the assassins shot him through the heart killing him instantly. The fire man jumped from the cab and run for his life while several shots were fired after him..."
#10 "Near Flatonia Texas on the Southern Pacific Railroad, about 10:00 P.M., June 18th 1887Messenger M.E. Folger. Robbers Brack Cornett alias Capt Dick killed in Arresting. Bill Whitley [alias] John Hill [killed in Arresting], John Barbour or Barber [Killed in Arresting], Ed. Reaves alias Pat Reaves sent to state prison, J.A. Powell [alias] Bud Powell. As the train drew up at Flatonia two me[n] with drawn revolvers mounted the engine and compelled the engineer to pull the train out into the open prairie 1½ miles where three confederates were in waiting by a fire lighted as a signal for the stopping place...The passengers were all robbed of money and Jewelry. The express and mail cars were robbed..."
#27 "Attempted Train Robbery. Near Alila Cala. on the Southern Pacific Railroad, about 8:30 PM., February 6th 1891...Fireman G.S. Radcliff (Killed by robbers)...Robbers Bob Dalton, Emmett Dalton, Grat Dalton and Bill Dalton as accessory...As the east bound train was leaving Alila the engineer Thorn and fireman Radcliff were suddenly confronted by pistols in the hands of two masked me[n] who had crawled over the coal onto the engine. The robbers stopped the train and taking Thorn & Radliff with them went back to the express car. A brakeman ran forward to see what the trouble was, was ordered to hold up his hands, which he did..." The entry notes that Grat Dalton was tried and convicted but escaped before sentencing, Bill Dalton was tried and acquitted, and "Bob and Emmett fled to the Indian Territory."
#33 "Near Red Rock Cherokee Strip on the A.T. & S.F. Railroad, about 10:30 PM., June 2 1892...Wells, Fargo & Co's Loss $381.00. Robbers Bob Dalton, Emmett Dalton, Grat Dalton, Bill Powers, Dick Broodwell, Geo Newcomb alias Slaughter Kid and Bill Doulin. Two were boarded engine at Red Rock Station and compelled engineer and fire man to run the train to the stock yards and the balance of the robbers joined the two...The Messenger and guard made heroic but unsuccessful defence and gave up the car in order to save the life of Fireman and Engineer the robbers after securing their booty mounted their horses and rode away."
#38 "Attempted Train Robbery. Near Ponca, I.T. on the A.T. & S.F. Railroad about 9:30 PM., May 19 1893...The robbers took possession of station and station agent when the train approached the station the engineer discovered the presence of the robbers and becoming frightened stopped the train and would not do anything...This attempt was made by what was known as the 'Cook Gang'..."
#47 "Near Rosco Switch on the Southern Pacific Railroad, about 11:15 PM., Saturday Dec 23rd 1893...Wells, Fargo & Co's Loss $13.85 Amount Recovered Nothing. Burbank is about nine miles north of Los Angeles. Rosco about four miles further north...This train left Los Angeles on time 10:36 and reached Burbank on time. As this train was leaving the 'Ever Station' in Los Angeles a medium sized man dressed in dark clothes and hat got onto the front step of smoking car and was noticed there by a young [man] occupying the front seat in the smoking car...thereafter the train came to a sudden stop. The young man and two other beats thinking the stop was made to rid the train of tramp ran up by the engine where the young man saw the step man on the hinder with two pistols in his hands pointing toward the engineer...the two robbers took the engineer and fireman to the express car blew open the door with dynamite and robbed the car..."
#48 "Near Red Fork, I.T. on the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad, about 7:30 PM., July 19, 1894...A gang consisting of Bill Cook, Cherokee Bill, Henry Munson, Thurman Balding (alias 'Skeeter'), Elmer Lucas and Texas Jack, and one other man (Dr. Bowman) after robbing office, held up train. Messenger slipped two packages of currency ($1008.59 & $331.31) in his waybill register and they were overlooked by robbers. After beating messenger over head with a Winchester, they became convinced he had nothing and left..."
#53 "Near Sylvia, Kan. On the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, February 4th 1895...Robbers: Ed. Newcombe, alias Slaughter Kid, alias Bitter Creek and Will Blake, alias Tulsa Jack. Train was held up at station by masked men, who captured engineer and fireman and forced them to batter in the door of the express car...they went back and robbed the passengers, getting in all $78.65 from them..."
#58 "Near Dallas, Texas, at W.K. & T. Crossing on the Houston & Texas Central Railroad, about 7:30 PM., February 26 1895...Wells, Fargo & Co's Loss Messenger's six shooter...Train was held up by four masked men. When it came to a stop at the crossing, two of them jumped on the engine, and covered the engineer and fireman; and two of them went back got the porter, making him cut the train between express car and smoker, cutting off baggage, mail and express cars...Sheriff Cable of Dallas, with blood hounds, was on ground...The dogs took the trail and circled around back towards town, where the trace was lost."
#62 "Attempted Train Robbery. At Rio Puerco, N.M. 34 miles from Albuquerque on the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, about 7:30 PM., Oct 2nd 1896...Train stopped at Rio Puerco to cool a hot pin on the engine. As the train started to move after a five minute stop a shot was fired which struck the brakemans lantern. A second shot put out the light. This occurred as the brakeman attempted to put off two men who were on the tender. A general fusillade ensued. The Engineer in charge of one of the robbers was marched back to uncouple the Express Car. While the Engineer was endeavoring to uncouple the Express Car Deputy U.S. Marshall Loomis who was on the train approached from the rear and fired upon the robbers, killing the leader Cole Young..."
#64 "Near Lozier, Texas on the Southern Pacific Railroad, about 1:59 A.M., May 14th 1897...Wells, Fargo & Co's Loss $4240.00 Amount Recovered $69.00. Robbers: Tom Ketchum, Bud Upshaw, and Dave Atkins. As the train was pulling into the station at Lozier, two masked men captured the engineer and fireman and compelled them to run up the road about a mile and a quarter to where the third man was, with the horses and dynamite. They ordered the engineer and fireman back to the express car and tried to make the engineer open the door with a pick, after firing through the door at the Mess[inger] and missing him only by a small margin. They then told him they would blow the car with dynamite..."
#65 "Near Edmond, O.T. on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, about 12:30 A.M., August 16th 1897...Robbers: Al and Frank Jennings, Tom O'Malley and Dick West. At Edmunds two men climbed on the engine, and captured engineer and fireman, compelling them to run train to a point about a mile south of Edmunds, where they stopped the train and were joined by the other two, who kept up a continuous firing up and down the train..."
#74 "Near Collis-Fresno Co., Cala. on the Southern Pacific Railroad about 11:50 PM., August 4th 1892...Wells, Fargo & Co's Loss $2172.00 Amount Received $1020.00. Robbers Chris Evans, Geo. Sontag alias Contant and John Sontag alias Contant. John Sontag killed while resisting arrest and Evans and Geo. Sontag sent to the Penitentiary at Folsom for life. About 11:30 P.M., Aug 4th 1892, Cris Evans, Geo. Sontag alias Contant and John Sontag alias Contant, held up the Southern Overland train at Collis in Fresno Co., California. They blew the safe with dynamite nearly killing Miss Geo. D. Roberts..." A history of the Evans-Sontag Gang's train robberies, and murders, follows on the next few pages, to 77.
#87 "Near Comstock Texas on the Southern Pacific Train No. 20 Railroad, April 28th 1898...This robbery was committed by four men. Train stopped at Comstock, two men ran up to Engineer with Winchester and as he got down from engine tom oil ordered him back on his engine...When robbers entered they proceeded to blow safe...Rangers from Spofford Jct sent out to protect bridge which was reported was to be blown up that night came along about hour and half after the robbery and seeing three men on horses gave chase...Man sent out by Capt Dodge found that Tom Ketchum, Bud Upshaw and Dave Atkins had been seen the vicinity several days before the robbery...Later information shows conclusively that Atkins-Ketchum and Upshaw were the robbers..."
#93 "Near Folsom, New Mexico on the Colorado & Southern Train no. 1 Railroad about 10:30 P.M. July 11th 1899...Robbers Sam Ketchum wounded by posse in pursuit-Died at Santa Fe N.M. penitentiary July 24, 1899...Train no.1 was held up...by three men, Sam Ketchum, William H. McGinnis and one unknown...Stationary car safe and messenger's local safe were blown to pieces by dynamite..."
#94 "Near Folsom, New Mexico on the Colorado & Southern train no, 1 Railroad, about 10:30 P.M., August 16 1899...Held up...by one man, Tom Ketchum. A battle took place between the robber and Conductor F.E. Harrington, result in wounding the bandit in the right arm and his subsequent capture..."
#99 "Contemplated Train Robbery Near Hatfield Ark on the Kansas City Southern Railroad, July 23 1901 Train #1...Robbers Bob Hampton (half breed) leader of the gang, Lige Nichols, John Pitts, Walter Leonard, Mack Hudson & Mack Wilson arrested on July 26/01 by Special Agents Bridgeman & Copeland and Sheriff R.W. Johnson & U.S. Marshall McNeal. When caught robbers had in their possession a red-light, Winchester rifles, dynamite & nitroglycerine; also in readiness in a pasture nearby a lot of stolen horses, saddled, preparatory to escape..."
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