On December 29, 1914, Willis robbed his first coach, at age 25. He had just been unveiled from serving time in prison and fulfilled up with an aged mate, Crimson Johnson. The two experienced absent to Uvalde and though there had damaged into a components retail outlet to steal some Winchester 30-30s and ammunition for a pistol Willis was carrying. They determined to go to Cline, a little settlement west of Uvalde, by foot the day soon after Xmas with the intent of robbing the Southern Pacific Number 9 passenger practice that passed by the station all around midnight.
In his previous job interview in 1979, he explained his 1st practice theft:
“Just just after Xmas, me and Red Johnson set off for Cline (Texas) by foot. I knowed the Quantity 9 prepare arrived in there about midnight and took on h2o. So I told Crimson, ‘Let’s rob that educate tonight.’
“That night we went down to a tiny freight dwelling close to the depot. Whilst we was ready we took the linings out of our large overcoats to go over our heads and use as masks. When the prepare arrived in that evening, we hit the back again of it.
“An outdated brakeman hollered at us and explained, ‘Hey! You are unable to get on right here!’
“I advised him, ‘Like hell we are unable to,’ and I jabbed that pistol in his tummy and he altered his tune. He did not give us no difficulty. We went in to the very first car or truck that was a unique automobile for the superintendent of the Southern Pacific Railroad, previous person Watkins. He was in there with a further fellow. Watkins had a large aged thick pocketbook and we thought we had a wad of dollars. Damned if his pocketbook was not entire of them railroad passes and 40 measly pounds!
“We went on up by the Pullman vehicles. We ain’t by no means been in a Pullman vehicle so we did not know about them berths upstairs much too. We just bought the kinds on the base and went by way of two of them. If we appear up on a female by herself we allow her go.
“When we appear as a result of the first car or truck, we failed to know there was a drawing room in there with a loaded old Mexican driving with his daughter. Confident ample, they had quite a few thousand in money and $15,000 in jewellery in a very little bag up there. They was in a compartment motor vehicle and we didn’t know almost nothing about that so we handed them up.
“Obtaining near to Spofford, we pulled the cord, stopped the prepare, and bought off. In a couple minutes we was hightailing it as a result of them prickly pear flats headed toward Crystal City. In two times we had been in Crystal Metropolis, sitting in my mother’s kitchen area.
“We acquired $4,700 off the educate more dollars than we had at any time witnessed. I give Red 50 percent and we went down to the lodge and experienced us a major steak supper.”
Alongside with the stories of ringing in the New Yr, the Texas newspapers were ablaze with front-site accounts of the “daring educate theft.” The San Antonio Categorical quoted a variety of initially-hand accounts of the practice robbery that change from Willis’ variation, specially in how they taken care of the passengers when they demanded their funds and valuables.
Two Bandits Awaken and Rob Passengers on Southern Pacific Attain $7840 And Many Valuables Overlook $16,000
Robbers Boarded a Teach around Spofford And Escaped Just after 18 Minutes’ Search of Passengers.
Are Headed for Mexico
Posse in Pursuit Following Three Clues In Hope of Effecting A Capture Before Robbers Cross the Rio Grande-Mexican Who Will save His Fortune Reimburses Those people Robbed.
… Additional than $7,840 and a range of watches, jewels, guns and other valuables were taken and $16,000 in gold was disregarded when masked males robbed the two rear sleepers of the Sunset Central Express prepare among Cline and Spofford about 2:30 o’clock yesterday early morning. The theft required eighteen minutes, during which time the bandits took the possessions of 14 travellers in the San Antonio sleeper at the rear of the train, and using W. F. Kendall, brakeman as a shield continued part way via yet another Pullman as the teach neared Spofford, when the bandits retreated to the rear Pullman, pulled the bell twine and escaped.
Despite the fact that posses organized by Ranger Phelps and R. C. Watkins, division superintendent of the Sunset Central of this city, a person of the victims, ended up organized at Spofford and Del Rio instantly right after the theft, no trace of the robbers has been found.
Two men discovered in a instrument residence on the Eagle Pass department of the street ended up arrested and unveiled. As the length to the border is only about 30 miles by rail and about 33 miles by direct route, it is believed that the adult males are making an work to access the boundary line and cross into Mexico.
Jose Martinez, a rich mine proprietor of Durango, Mexico was neglected by the bandits and remained the content possessor of about $16,000 in money and quite a few hundred dollars’ truly worth of jewellery. Martinez and his spouse and daughter, occupied the drawing place in the entrance stop of the last sleeper. They understood absolutely nothing of the presence of the bandits right up until aroused by the Negro porter, John Dunmore, who explained to him robbers have been going by means of the educate and that they experienced better hide their funds and valuables.
The warning was heeded and the trio waited just about breathless for the physical appearance of the masked pair to look for their compartment. Minutes that appeared like several hours passed and finally Martinez returned to stick his head out into the car or truck and realized that the bandits experienced accomplished their mission.
Irrespective of whether thanks to their unfamiliarity of Pullman autos or to their haste, the drawing area was slighted in the holdup activity, as ended up individuals occupying upper berths. Two adult men in the rear sleeper occupying higher berths ended up not disturbed by the bandits and one particular never ever understood nearly anything about the occurrences until later aroused by the victims when inquiring about his reduction.
He created an inventory and observed his purse that contains $200, his gold look at and other valuables experienced not been molested and were being below his pillow where by he had set them up on retiring.
Overjoyed with possessing escaped the robbers, Martinez summoned the porter who had warned him and his loved ones of the risk and handed him a roll of bills as a reward.
Learning of the plight of some of the passengers who had been relieved of every single cent they experienced and most of them of every little thing else of value, Martinez made the decision to share his fantastic luck and wealth with his fellow tourists. To each and every he gave cash in sums ranging from $25-$100 in proportion to their losses and other situations as he figured out by own investigations.
The newspaper report went on to element how Willis and Pink roughed up the passengers to get them to hand more than their valuables. Opposite to Willis’ self-described chivalry towards females, the write-up dispelled any uncertainties he was much more than eager to accost ladies as nicely as adult males when it arrived to demanding all of their valuables.
… The bandits were being explained by travellers as brutes and ended up exceptionally tough at instances in the managing of their victims. While a number of travellers have been struck by the butts of guns in the arms of the robbers and far more or considerably less seriously wounded, not a shot was fired. At least 4 people essential health care notice right after the bandits had taken their departure, and just one girl whose title could not be uncovered, experienced an unsightly gash in the head, which expected 11 stitches to shut. Exasperated at the feelings of parting with her valuables, she to start with pleaded with the bandits without the need of avail, and then she resisted their attempts to reduce her of her money and jewellery, when 1 of them drew his gun again and struck her throughout the head, inflicting an unattractive gash and extreme bruises.
A single woman traveling with her four-month-outdated child escaped brutal treatment method and managed to preserve $185, which she had secreted below her mattress. Occupying a lower start in the rear car or truck, she grew to become hysterical when awakened and, looking out saw the masked bandits demanding revenue from the passengers. Time was worthwhile to the robbers and dropping persistence in their initiatives to serene her, a person of the males known as out:
“Oh, permit her go: she’s nothing at all but a infant,” and the pair moved to the following birth with orders to the brakeman to hurry and rouse the travellers.
One particular guy who appeared slow in having his money and time piece alongside one another was presented a really hard jab with the perilous close of a gun and he dropped his income in this aisle of the car. Another rap from the gun and he was designed to jump out of his start and acquire up the dollars and handed to the brakeman, who promptly passed it to the robbers.
Just one male who was a sound sleeper arrived inside of an ace of waking up in eternity when he unsuccessful to react speedily to the shaking presented him by the brakeman.
The robbers ended up not inclined to tarry and when the sleeper did not appear throughout they were being about to strike him a lethal blow, but the brakeman succeeded in rousing the sleeper and impressing upon him the seriousness of the condition just in time to help save him from a beating.
A person woman fainted and was speedily relieved of her revenue, jewelry, and purse containing her railroad ticket before she was revived.
This occasion appears to awaken a pressure of humor in the make-up of a single of the holdup man, for he remarked, “If we could only put them all to rest as straightforward-this would be the everyday living.”
Seemingly, some of the passengers were being much more than prepared to exaggerate or absolutely fabricate their recollections of the robbery to reporters masking the holdup. In a person scenario, a passenger determined himself as getting the brother of the earlier president of Mexico.
… A single of the initial stories of the holdup obtained from an eyewitness arrived from Walter Grimmer, an staff of the electric light plant at Del Rio. Mr. Grimmer was a passenger out of San Antonio. He was using in the working day mentor and declares emphatically that the two robbers boarded the teach at San Antonio and sat almost immediately across the aisle from him.
Mr. Grimmer says he was attracted to them almost as soon as the train still left San Antonio by their suspicious actions and unusually challenging look. He states a Ranger occupied a seat specifically in front of him and that the gentlemen evidently recognize the officer and appeared to prevent his eyes anytime he appeared in their way.
In accordance to Mr. Grimmer the two men waited until virtually everybody in the day mentor was asleep, when they remaining their seats and walked as a result of the coach. Mr. Grimmer says he was awake at the time, viewed the men walk by means of the day coach and saw them cross the platform and enter the to start with Pullman. He states he received a superior look at the robbers and would effortlessly be ready to recognize them. One particular he described as a person of extremely significant create.
He states immediately after likely via the Pullmans the adult men signaled the practice to quit and jumped to the ground on the moonlight facet of the educate. The aroused travellers noticed them plainly as they ran. Each men are explained to be Us residents.
Benjamin Madero, brother of the late President of Mexico, is thought to have been one of the travellers in the upper berths who escaped interest. He arrived at the Sunset Station as well late to get a decreased start and was consigned to the higher range 5. Madero is intended to have saved his belongings, despite the fact that all of the other folks and excepting the passenger in the remaining higher, and the Martinez relatives in the drawing home, had been robbed.
George Miller, a cattleman from Marathon was one particular of the passengers in a lessen birth, and was robbed of his valuables. It is intended that many hundred bucks had been identified in his possession.
Mr. and Mrs. L. T. Wood of 217 San Pedro Ave. lost their money and valuables when the brakeman awoke them and explained to them that the vehicle was staying robbed and to convert over everything they experienced.
Superintendent Watkins, who was asleep in a reduce delivery about the middle of the coach, was just one of the to start with to be robbed. He was relieved of $25 and move guides. Sam Scammahorn, a lawn grasp at the Sunset Station, missing his revolver, look at and the pocketbook.
F. H. Bednarak, main dispatcher lost his view and some cash. The a few railroad guys ended up on their way to a level on the Eagle Go branch to hunt big video game, but they joined the posse on the trail of the bandits.
C. D. Woodward, the Pullman auto conductor in cost of the rear sleeper in the train, was not neglected and the robbers relieved him of $156 which includes his possess and the firm’s funds.
Pursuing this post that gave a vivid account of the pistol-whipping some of the passengers experienced for the duration of the hold-up, the San Antonio Mild ran this entrance-web site reward see on January 2.
The G. H. & S. A. Ry. Co. features $500 reward for the arrest and conviction of the two adult men who robbed the travellers on prepare No. 9 on the evening of Dec. 29, 1914 in between Cline and Spofford, Texas, by buy of Superintendent R. C. WATKINS
Seemingly, the reward present worked the January 21 version of the exact same newspaper ran a bold front-website page headline.
Two Men Are Arrested As Teach Bandits
Sheriff Johnson of Uvalde Is In San Antonio With
The article went on to explain the arrest of two adult men who ended up doing work on a ranch close to Uvalde. One was a not too long ago produced convict who experienced served time for theft. Functioning on a suggestion, the Uvalde County sheriff despatched two gentlemen to the ranch to surreptitiously recognize the two males:
… Superintendent Watkins and W. C. Cox, both of those whom experienced been passengers on the teach, went to Uvalde and, so as not to excite suspicion, went on a fowl hunt to a ranch eighteen miles west of Uvalde, where by the two suspects ended up operating. Both declared there could be no doubt as to a person of the men and they considered they could recognize the other as perfectly.
As it turned out the reward was never paid out to the informant the circumstance fell apart when a single of the eyewitnesses, a lady, could not positively determine the redheaded guy. The regulation stayed on the scenario for a few far more months and then slowly but surely allow it fade absent.
Willis was under no circumstances arrested for the maintain-up. For some explanation he concentrated on bank positions until eventually 1921 when he and his gang reeled off 3 prepare heists through that yr. Then in 1924, the Newton Gang strike the grand slam, ripping off in excess of $3 million from an convey mail coach in close proximity to Rondout, Illinois.