Willis Newton’s First Practice Theft – 1914

Willis Newton’s First Practice Theft – 1914

On December 29, 1914, Willis robbed his first prepare, at age 25. He had simply been launched from serving time in jail and met up with an previous pal, Crimson Johnson. The 2 had gone to Uvalde and whereas there had damaged right into a ironmongery shop to steal some Winchester 30-30s and ammunition for a pistol Willis was carrying. They determined to go to Cline, a small settlement west of Uvalde, by foot the day after Christmas with the intent of robbing the Southern Pacific Quantity 9 passenger prepare that handed by the station round midnight.

In his final interview in 1979, he described his first prepare theft:

“Simply after Christmas, me and Crimson Johnson set off for Cline (Texas) by foot. I knowed the Quantity 9 prepare got here in there about midnight and took on water. So I informed Crimson, ‘Let’s rob that prepare tonight.’

“That evening we went all the way down to somewhat freight home close to the depot. Whereas we was ready we took the linings out of our large overcoats to cowl our heads and use as masks. When the prepare got here in that evening, we hit the again of it.

“An previous brakeman hollered at us and mentioned, ‘Hey! You’ll be able to’t get on right here!’

“I informed him, ‘Like hell we will not,’ and I jabbed that pistol in his stomach and he modified his tune. He did not give us no hassle. We went in to the primary automobile that was a particular automobile for the superintendent of the Southern Pacific Railroad, previous man Watkins. He was in there with one other fellow. Watkins had an enormous previous thick pocketbook and we thought we had a wad of cash. Damned if his pocketbook wasn’t stuffed with them railroad passes and 40 measly {dollars}!

“We went on up by the Pullman vehicles. We ain’t by no means been in a Pullman automobile so we did not find out about them berths upstairs too. We simply obtained those on the underside and went by two of them. If we come up on a lady by herself we let her go.

“Once we come by the primary automobile, we did not know there was a drawing room in there with a wealthy previous Mexican using along with his daughter. Positive sufficient, they’d a number of thousand in money and $15,000 in jewellery in somewhat bag up there. They was in a compartment automobile and we did not know nothing about that so we handed them up.

“Getting near Spofford, we pulled the twine, stopped the prepare, and obtained off. In a couple of minutes we was hightailing it by them prickly pear flats headed towards Crystal Metropolis. In two days we had been in Crystal Metropolis, sitting in my mom’s kitchen.

“We obtained $4,700 off the prepare; extra money than we had ever seen. I give Crimson half and we went all the way down to the lodge and had us an enormous steak dinner.”

Together with the tales of ringing within the New Yr, the Texas newspapers had been ablaze with front-page accounts of the “daring prepare theft.” The San Antonio Categorical quoted plenty of first-hand accounts of the prepare theft that modify from Willis’ model, significantly in how they handled the passengers after they demanded their money and valuables.

Two Bandits Awaken and Rob Passengers on Southern Pacific Acquire $7840 And Many Valuables; Overlook $16,000

Robbers Boarded a Practice close to Spofford And Escaped After 18 Minutes’ Search of Passengers.

Are Headed for Mexico

Posse in Pursuit Following Three Clues In Hope of Effecting A Seize Earlier than Robbers Cross the Rio Grande-Mexican Who Saves His Fortune Reimburses These Robbed.

… Greater than $7,840 and plenty of watches, jewels, weapons and different valuables had been taken and $16,000 in gold was ignored when masked males robbed the 2 rear sleepers of the Sundown Central Categorical prepare between Cline and Spofford about 2:30 o’clock yesterday morning. The theft required eighteen minutes, throughout which period the bandits took the belongings of 14 passengers within the San Antonio sleeper on the rear of the prepare, and utilizing W. F. Kendall, brakeman as a protect continued half method by one other Pullman because the prepare neared Spofford, when the bandits retreated to the rear Pullman, pulled the bell twine and escaped.

Though posses organized by Ranger Phelps and R. C. Watkins, division superintendent of the Sundown Central of this metropolis, one of many victims, had been organized at Spofford and Del Rio instantly after the theft, no hint of the robbers has been discovered.

Two males found in a instrument home on the Eagle Move department of the street had been arrested and launched. As the gap to the border is just about 30 miles by rail and about 33 miles by direct route, it’s believed that the lads are making an effort to achieve the boundary line and cross into Mexico.

Jose Martinez, a rich mine proprietor of Durango, Mexico was ignored by the bandits and remained the glad possessor of about $16,000 in money and several other hundred {dollars}’ value of bijou. Martinez and his spouse and daughter, occupied the drawing room within the entrance finish of the final sleeper. They knew nothing of the presence of the bandits till aroused by the Negro porter, John Dunmore, who informed him robbers had been going by the prepare and that they’d higher conceal their cash and valuables.

The warning was heeded and the trio waited virtually breathless for the looks of the masked pair to go looking their compartment. Minutes that appeared like hours handed and eventually Martinez returned to stay his head out into the automobile and realized that the bandits had accomplished their mission.

Whether or not as a consequence of their unfamiliarity of Pullman vehicles or to their haste, the drawing room was slighted within the holdup sport, as had been these occupying higher berths. Two males within the rear sleeper occupying higher berths weren’t disturbed by the bandits and one by no means knew something concerning the occurrences till later aroused by the victims when inquiring about his loss.

He made a listing and located his purse containing $200, his gold watch and different valuables had not been molested and had been underneath his pillow the place he had put them up on retiring.

Overjoyed with having escaped the robbers, Martinez summoned the porter who had warned him and his household of the hazard and handed him a roll of payments as a reward.

Studying of the plight of a few of the passengers who had been relieved of each cent they’d and most of them of the whole lot else of worth, Martinez determined to share his good luck and wealth along with his fellow vacationers. To every he gave cash in sums starting from $25-$100 in proportion to their losses and different circumstances as he realized by private investigations.

The newspaper article went on to element how Willis and Crimson roughed up the passengers to get them handy over their valuables. Opposite to Willis’ self-described chivalry towards ladies, the article dispelled any doubts he was greater than prepared to accost ladies in addition to males when it got here to demanding all of their valuables.

… The bandits had been described by passengers as brutes and had been extraordinarily tough at occasions within the dealing with of their victims. Whereas a number of passengers had been struck by the butts of weapons within the arms of the robbers and roughly critically wounded, not a shot was fired. At the least 4 individuals required medical consideration after the bandits had taken their departure, and one lady whose identify couldn’t be realized, suffered an unpleasant gash within the head, which required 11 stitches to shut. Exasperated on the ideas of parting together with her valuables, she first pleaded with the bandits with out avail, after which she resisted their makes an attempt to alleviate her of her cash and jewellery, when considered one of them drew his gun again and struck her throughout the top, inflicting an unpleasant gash and extreme bruises.

One lady touring together with her four-month-old child escaped brutal therapy and managed to avoid wasting $185, which she had secreted underneath her mattress. Occupying a decrease beginning within the rear automobile, she grew to become hysterical when woke up and, looking noticed the masked bandits demanding cash from the passengers. Time was invaluable to the robbers and shedding endurance of their efforts to calm her, one of many males known as out:

“Oh, let her go: she’s nothing however a child,” and the pair moved to the subsequent beginning with orders to the brakeman to rush and rouse the passengers.

One man who appeared gradual in getting his time and money piece collectively was given a tough jab with the harmful finish of a gun and he dropped his cash on this aisle of the automobile. One other rap from the gun and he was made to leap out of his beginning and collect up the cash and handed to the brakeman, who rapidly handed it to the robbers.

One man who was a sound sleeper got here inside an ace of waking up in eternity when he failed to reply rapidly to the shaking given him by the brakeman.

The robbers weren’t inclined to tarry and when the sleeper didn’t come throughout they had been about to strike him a lethal blow, however the brakeman succeeded in rousing the sleeper and impressing upon him the seriousness of the state of affairs simply in time to avoid wasting him from a beating.

One lady fainted and was rapidly relieved of her cash, jewellery, and purse containing her railroad ticket earlier than she was revived.

This occasion appears to awaken a pressure of humor within the make-up of one of many holdup man, for he remarked, “If we may solely put all of them to sleep as easy-this could be the life.”

Apparently, a few of the passengers had been greater than prepared to magnify or completely fabricate their recollections of the theft to reporters protecting the holdup. In a single case, a passenger recognized himself as being the brother of the previous president of Mexico.

… One of many first tales of the holdup obtained from an eyewitness got here from Walter Grimmer, an worker of the electrical gentle plant at Del Rio. Mr. Grimmer was a passenger out of San Antonio. He was using within the day coach and declares emphatically that the 2 robbers boarded the prepare at San Antonio and sat virtually immediately throughout the aisle from him.

Mr. Grimmer says he was drawn to them virtually as quickly because the prepare left San Antonio by their suspicious actions and unusually powerful look. He says a Ranger occupied a seat immediately in entrance of him and that the lads evidently acknowledge the officer and appeared to keep away from his eyes every time he seemed of their path.

In keeping with Mr. Grimmer the 2 males waited till virtually everybody within the day coach was asleep, after they left their seats and walked by the coach. Mr. Grimmer says he was awake on the time, watched the lads stroll by the day coach and noticed them cross the platform and enter the primary Pullman. He says he obtained an excellent take a look at the robbers and would simply be capable of establish them. One he described as a person of exceptionally heavy construct.

He says after going by the Pullmans the lads signaled the prepare to cease and jumped to the bottom on the moonlight aspect of the prepare. The aroused passengers noticed them plainly as they ran. Each males are mentioned to be Individuals.

Benjamin Madero, brother of the late President of Mexico, is believed to have been one of many passengers within the higher berths who escaped consideration. He arrived on the Sundown Station too late to get a decrease beginning and was consigned to the higher quantity 5. Madero is meant to have saved his belongings, though all the others and excepting the passenger within the remaining higher, and the Martinez household within the drawing room, had been robbed.

George Miller, a cattleman from Marathon was one of many passengers in a decrease beginning, and was robbed of his valuables. It’s supposed that a number of hundred {dollars} had been present in his possession.

Mr. and Mrs. L. T. Wooden of 217 San Pedro Ave. misplaced their cash and valuables when the brakeman awoke them and informed them that the automobile was being robbed and to show over the whole lot they’d.

Superintendent Watkins, who was asleep in a decrease beginning concerning the center of the prepare, was one of many first to be robbed. He was relieved of $25 and move books. Sam Scammahorn, a yard grasp on the Sundown Station, misplaced his revolver, watch and the pocketbook.

F. H. Bednarak, chief dispatcher misplaced his watch and a few cash. The three railroad males had been on their method to a degree on the Eagle Move department to hunt large sport, however they joined the posse on the path of the bandits.

C. D. Woodward, the Pullman automobile conductor in command of the rear sleeper within the prepare, was not ignored and the robbers relieved him of $156 together with his personal and the corporate’s cash.

Following this text that gave a vivid account of the pistol-whipping a few of the passengers skilled throughout the hold-up, the San Antonio Mild ran this front-page reward discover on January 2.


The G. H. & S. A. Ry. Co. provides $500 reward for the arrest and conviction of the 2 males who robbed the passengers on prepare No. 9 on the evening of Dec. 29, 1914 between Cline and Spofford, Texas, by order of Superintendent R. C. WATKINS

Apparently, the reward provide labored; the January 21 version of the identical newspaper ran a daring front-page headline.

Two Males Are Arrested As Practice Bandits

Sheriff Johnson of Uvalde Is In San Antonio With


The article went on to explain the arrest of two males who had been engaged on a ranch close to Uvalde. One was a lately launched convict who had served time for housebreaking. Engaged on a tip, the Uvalde County sheriff despatched two males to the ranch to surreptitiously establish the 2 males:

… Superintendent Watkins and W. C. Cox, each whom had been passengers on the prepare, went to Uvalde and, in order to not excite suspicion, went on a chicken hunt to a ranch eighteen miles west of Uvalde, the place the 2 suspects had been working. Each declared there might be little doubt as to one of many males they usually believed they may establish the opposite as nicely.

Because it turned out the reward was by no means paid to the informant; the case fell aside when one of many eyewitnesses, a lady, couldn’t positively establish the redheaded man. The regulation stayed on the case for a couple of extra months after which slowly let it fade away.

Willis was by no means arrested for the hold-up. For some purpose he focused on financial institution jobs till 1921 when he and his gang reeled off three prepare heists throughout that yr. Then in 1924, the Newton Gang hit the grand slam, ripping off over $3 million from an specific mail prepare close to Rondout, Illinois.

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