On December 29, 1914, Willis robbed his initially coach, at age 25. He experienced just been introduced from serving time in prison and met up with an old close friend, Crimson Johnson. The two had long gone to Uvalde and though there experienced damaged into a components keep to steal some Winchester 30-30s and ammunition for a pistol Willis was carrying. They made a decision to go to Cline, a compact settlement west of Uvalde, by foot the day right after Christmas with the intent of robbing the Southern Pacific Number 9 passenger teach that handed by way of the station about midnight.
In his last job interview in 1979, he explained his 1st practice theft:
“Just following Xmas, me and Crimson Johnson set off for Cline (Texas) by foot. I knowed the Number 9 teach came in there about midnight and took on drinking water. So I told Crimson, ‘Let’s rob that educate tonight.’
“That night time we went down to a minor freight household in close proximity to the depot. Though we was waiting we took the linings out of our big overcoats to cover our heads and use as masks. When the educate arrived in that night, we hit the back again of it.
“An previous brakeman hollered at us and stated, ‘Hey! You are not able to get on here!’
“I advised him, ‘Like hell we can not,’ and I jabbed that pistol in his tummy and he improved his tune. He didn’t give us no difficulties. We went in to the initial automobile that was a special auto for the superintendent of the Southern Pacific Railroad, previous person Watkins. He was in there with one more fellow. Watkins experienced a big previous thick pocketbook and we assumed we experienced a wad of income. Damned if his pocketbook was not entire of them railroad passes and 40 measly dollars!
“We went on up by the Pullman autos. We ain’t by no means been in a Pullman automobile so we did not know about them berths upstairs as well. We just bought the ones on the bottom and went by way of two of them. If we appear up on a female by herself we enable her go.
“When we arrive through the first automobile, we didn’t know there was a drawing area in there with a abundant previous Mexican driving with his daughter. Confident sufficient, they had a number of thousand in dollars and $15,000 in jewellery in a tiny bag up there. They was in a compartment automobile and we did not know nothing at all about that so we handed them up.
“Having close to Spofford, we pulled the twine, stopped the train, and acquired off. In a several minutes we was hightailing it by means of them prickly pear flats headed towards Crystal Town. In two times we were in Crystal Metropolis, sitting down in my mother’s kitchen area.
“We bought $4,700 off the coach far more money than we had at any time witnessed. I give Pink 50 percent and we went down to the hotel and experienced us a big steak dinner.”
Together with the stories of ringing in the New Yr, the Texas newspapers ended up ablaze with front-web site accounts of the “daring teach theft.” The San Antonio Convey quoted a selection of 1st-hand accounts of the teach robbery that range from Willis’ variation, specially in how they handled the travellers when they demanded their hard cash and valuables.
Two Bandits Awaken and Rob Travellers on Southern Pacific Acquire $7840 And Many Valuables Forget $16,000
Robbers Boarded a Practice close to Spofford And Escaped Just after 18 Minutes’ Lookup of Travellers.
Are Headed for Mexico
Posse in Pursuit Next Three Clues In Hope of Effecting A Capture In advance of Robbers Cross the Rio Grande-Mexican Who Saves His Fortune Reimburses People Robbed.
… Far more than $7,840 and a selection of watches, jewels, guns and other valuables had been taken and $16,000 in gold was disregarded when masked adult males robbed the two rear sleepers of the Sunset Central Convey coach involving Cline and Spofford about 2:30 o’clock yesterday morning. The theft required eighteen minutes, throughout which time the bandits took the possessions of 14 travellers in the San Antonio sleeper at the rear of the coach, and working with W. F. Kendall, brakeman as a shield ongoing component way via yet another Pullman as the prepare neared Spofford, when the bandits retreated to the rear Pullman, pulled the bell wire and escaped.
Though posses organized by Ranger Phelps and R. C. Watkins, division superintendent of the Sunset Central of this town, one particular of the victims, had been structured at Spofford and Del Rio immediately right after the robbery, no trace of the robbers has been identified.
Two gentlemen identified in a instrument residence on the Eagle Go branch of the street have been arrested and introduced. As the distance to the border is only about 30 miles by rail and about 33 miles by direct route, it is believed that the gentlemen are generating an hard work to attain the boundary line and cross into Mexico.
Jose Martinez, a rich mine operator of Durango, Mexico was neglected by the bandits and remained the joyful possessor of about $16,000 in hard cash and a number of hundred dollars’ worthy of of jewellery. Martinez and his spouse and daughter, occupied the drawing space in the entrance finish of the previous sleeper. They understood nothing at all of the presence of the bandits right up until aroused by the Negro porter, John Dunmore, who advised him robbers were being likely via the educate and that they experienced better cover their funds and valuables.
The warning was heeded and the trio waited just about breathless for the visual appeal of the masked pair to research their compartment. Minutes that appeared like hrs handed and last but not least Martinez returned to adhere his head out into the automobile and discovered that the bandits experienced concluded their mission.
Regardless of whether because of to their unfamiliarity of Pullman cars and trucks or to their haste, the drawing place was slighted in the holdup match, as have been people occupying upper berths. Two guys in the rear sleeper occupying upper berths ended up not disturbed by the bandits and one particular under no circumstances knew anything at all about the occurrences until finally afterwards aroused by the victims when inquiring about his decline.
He created an stock and uncovered his purse containing $200, his gold look at and other valuables had not been molested and had been below his pillow exactly where he experienced put them up on retiring.
Overjoyed with obtaining escaped the robbers, Martinez summoned the porter who had warned him and his family members of the threat and handed him a roll of costs as a reward.
Learning of the plight of some of the passengers who had been relieved of each and every cent they had and most of them of almost everything else of benefit, Martinez resolved to share his fantastic luck and wealth with his fellow travelers. To every he gave income in sums ranging from $25-$100 in proportion to their losses and other circumstances as he uncovered by individual investigations.
The newspaper report went on to depth how Willis and Crimson roughed up the travellers to get them to hand in excess of their valuables. Opposite to Willis’ self-described chivalry toward gals, the write-up dispelled any doubts he was a lot more than inclined to accost females as effectively as adult men when it came to demanding all of their valuables.
… The bandits were being described by passengers as brutes and were being really rough at moments in the handling of their victims. When several passengers ended up struck by the butts of guns in the arms of the robbers and more or less significantly wounded, not a shot was fired. At the very least 4 folks necessary medical consideration soon after the bandits experienced taken their departure, and one girl whose identify could not be learned, suffered an ugly gash in the head, which demanded 11 stitches to close. Exasperated at the views of parting with her valuables, she very first pleaded with the bandits without having avail, and then she resisted their makes an attempt to ease her of her money and jewellery, when just one of them drew his gun back again and struck her across the head, inflicting an unappealing gash and significant bruises.
One woman traveling with her four-month-old child escaped brutal cure and managed to save $185, which she had secreted less than her mattress. Occupying a decreased birth in the rear auto, she turned hysterical when awakened and, seeking out noticed the masked bandits demanding funds from the travellers. Time was valuable to the robbers and dropping persistence in their efforts to relaxed her, a person of the men named out:
“Oh, allow her go: she’s almost nothing but a child,” and the pair moved to the up coming start with orders to the brakeman to hurry and rouse the travellers.
A person guy who appeared gradual in obtaining his funds and time piece collectively was specified a hard jab with the risky conclusion of a gun and he dropped his income in this aisle of the auto. An additional rap from the gun and he was designed to bounce out of his start and gather up the income and handed to the brakeman, who quickly passed it to the robbers.
One male who was a seem sleeper came inside of an ace of waking up in eternity when he failed to respond quickly to the shaking specified him by the brakeman.
The robbers were being not inclined to tarry and when the sleeper did not appear throughout they were about to strike him a fatal blow, but the brakeman succeeded in rousing the sleeper and impressing on him the seriousness of the scenario just in time to help save him from a beating.
One particular lady fainted and was immediately relieved of her revenue, jewelry, and purse that contains her railroad ticket ahead of she was revived.
This occasion seems to awaken a pressure of humor in the makeup of one of the holdup male, for he remarked, “If we could only place them all to sleep as straightforward-this would be the life.”
Evidently, some of the passengers have been far more than ready to exaggerate or completely fabricate their recollections of the robbery to reporters covering the holdup. In a single circumstance, a passenger discovered himself as getting the brother of the earlier president of Mexico.
… One of the to start with stories of the holdup attained from an eyewitness arrived from Walter Grimmer, an personnel of the electric powered light-weight plant at Del Rio. Mr. Grimmer was a passenger out of San Antonio. He was riding in the working day mentor and declares emphatically that the two robbers boarded the practice at San Antonio and sat nearly straight throughout the aisle from him.
Mr. Grimmer says he was captivated to them almost as quickly as the prepare left San Antonio by their suspicious steps and unusually rough overall look. He states a Ranger occupied a seat directly in front of him and that the males evidently acknowledge the officer and appeared to stay away from his eyes each time he appeared in their course.
In accordance to Mr. Grimmer the two adult men waited until almost absolutely everyone in the day mentor was asleep, when they remaining their seats and walked by the mentor. Mr. Grimmer states he was awake at the time, viewed the men stroll via the working day mentor and noticed them cross the system and enter the first Pullman. He states he bought a excellent search at the robbers and would easily be capable to determine them. One he described as a man of extremely large construct.
He suggests soon after likely by means of the Pullmans the guys signaled the prepare to cease and jumped to the floor on the moonlight facet of the practice. The aroused passengers saw them plainly as they ran. Both of those guys are mentioned to be People in america.
Benjamin Madero, brother of the late President of Mexico, is considered to have been a person of the travellers in the higher berths who escaped attention. He arrived at the Sunset Station much too late to get a lessen delivery and was consigned to the upper selection 5. Madero is supposed to have saved his belongings, despite the fact that all of the others and excepting the passenger in the remaining higher, and the Martinez family members in the drawing place, ended up robbed.
George Miller, a cattleman from Marathon was 1 of the passengers in a lessen beginning, and was robbed of his valuables. It is supposed that many hundred bucks were discovered in his possession.
Mr. and Mrs. L. T. Wooden of 217 San Pedro Ave. missing their money and valuables when the brakeman awoke them and advised them that the car was remaining robbed and to turn more than every little thing they had.
Superintendent Watkins, who was asleep in a reduced start about the center of the coach, was a person of the initial to be robbed. He was relieved of $25 and pass books. Sam Scammahorn, a lawn learn at the Sunset Station, shed his revolver, observe and the pocketbook.
F. H. Bednarak, main dispatcher shed his check out and some revenue. The 3 railroad gentlemen were on their way to a point on the Eagle Pass branch to hunt massive recreation, but they joined the posse on the trail of the bandits.
C. D. Woodward, the Pullman automobile conductor in cost of the rear sleeper in the educate, was not neglected and the robbers relieved him of $156 like his personal and the firm’s income.
Next this write-up that gave a vivid account of the pistol-whipping some of the travellers professional for the duration of the keep-up, the San Antonio Gentle ran this front-website page reward discover on January 2.
The G. H. & S. A. Ry. Co. provides $500 reward for the arrest and conviction of the two men who robbed the travellers on coach No. 9 on the night of Dec. 29, 1914 among Cline and Spofford, Texas, by purchase of Superintendent R. C. WATKINS
Evidently, the reward present worked the January 21 edition of the same newspaper ran a daring front-web site headline.
Two Guys Are Arrested As Educate Bandits
Sheriff Johnson of Uvalde Is In San Antonio With
The article went on to describe the arrest of two males who were performing on a ranch close to Uvalde. 1 was a recently unveiled convict who had served time for theft. Doing work 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 whom experienced been travellers on the practice, went to Uvalde and, so as not to excite suspicion, went on a bird hunt to a ranch eighteen miles west of Uvalde, where by the two suspects ended up performing. Both equally declared there could be no doubt as to a person of the males and they believed they could identify the other as properly.
As it turned out the reward was under no circumstances compensated to the informant the case fell apart when one particular of the eyewitnesses, a female, could not positively discover the redheaded man. The regulation stayed on the situation for a couple far more months and then slowly allow it fade absent.
Willis was never arrested for the maintain-up. For some motive he concentrated on bank positions till 1921 when he and his gang reeled off 3 educate heists all through that year. Then in 1924, the Newton Gang hit the grand slam, ripping off over $3 million from an specific mail train in close proximity to Rondout, Illinois.