On December 29, 1914, Willis robbed his initial teach, at age 25. He had just been unveiled from serving time in prison and achieved up with an aged mate, Red Johnson. The two experienced gone to Uvalde and while there experienced damaged into a hardware retail outlet to steal some Winchester 30-30s and ammunition for a pistol Willis was carrying. They made the decision to go to Cline, a modest settlement west of Uvalde, by foot the day after Xmas with the intent of robbing the Southern Pacific Selection 9 passenger educate that handed via the station around midnight.
In his final job interview in 1979, he described his very first coach theft:
“Just just after Xmas, me and Red Johnson set off for Cline (Texas) by foot. I knowed the Selection 9 coach came in there about midnight and took on water. So I informed Pink, ‘Let’s rob that train tonight.’
“That night we went down to a little freight household in the vicinity of the depot. Though we was waiting we took the linings out of our big overcoats to go over our heads and use as masks. When the train came in that night time, we strike the again of it.
“An previous brakeman hollered at us and reported, ‘Hey! You can’t get on here!’
“I informed him, ‘Like hell we can’t,’ and I jabbed that pistol in his tummy and he changed his tune. He didn’t give us no difficulties. We went in to the to start with car or truck that was a particular automobile for the superintendent of the Southern Pacific Railroad, aged gentleman Watkins. He was in there with one more fellow. Watkins experienced a large previous thick pocketbook and we imagined we experienced a wad of funds. Damned if his pocketbook was not full of them railroad passes and 40 measly dollars!
“We went on up by means of the Pullman vehicles. We ain’t in no way been in a Pullman car so we did not know about them berths upstairs much too. We just acquired the kinds on the base and went as a result of two of them. If we arrive up on a lady by herself we enable her go.
“When we occur via the 1st automobile, we failed to know there was a drawing place in there with a rich previous Mexican driving with his daughter. Absolutely sure more than enough, they experienced several thousand in funds and $15,000 in jewelry in a minimal bag up there. They was in a compartment automobile and we did not know nothing about that so we passed them up.
“Acquiring shut to Spofford, we pulled the cord, stopped the teach, and received off. In a number of minutes we was hightailing it by them prickly pear flats headed toward Crystal City. In two times we were being in Crystal Town, sitting in my mother’s kitchen.
“We received $4,700 off the teach additional funds than we experienced ever noticed. I give Red fifty percent and we went down to the lodge and experienced us a major steak meal.”
Alongside with the tales of ringing in the New 12 months, the Texas newspapers have been ablaze with entrance-web page accounts of the “daring coach theft.” The San Antonio Express quoted a amount of to start with-hand accounts of the prepare robbery that change from Willis’ model, specially in how they addressed the passengers when they demanded their income and valuables.
Two Bandits Awaken and Rob Travellers on Southern Pacific Receive $7840 And A lot of Valuables Forget $16,000
Robbers Boarded a Teach around Spofford And Escaped Following 18 Minutes’ Research of Passengers.
Are Headed for Mexico
Posse in Pursuit Following Three Clues In Hope of Effecting A Seize Prior to Robbers Cross the Rio Grande-Mexican Who Will save His Fortune Reimburses Individuals Robbed.
… Extra than $7,840 and a selection of watches, jewels, guns and other valuables had been taken and $16,000 in gold was overlooked when masked gentlemen robbed the two rear sleepers of the Sunset Central Convey teach among Cline and Spofford about 2:30 o’clock yesterday early morning. The robbery demanded eighteen minutes, through which time the bandits took the possessions of 14 passengers in the San Antonio sleeper at the rear of the prepare, and employing W. F. Kendall, brakeman as a defend continued element way as a result of a different Pullman as the prepare neared Spofford, when the bandits retreated to the rear Pullman, pulled the bell cord and escaped.
Although posses organized by Ranger Phelps and R. C. Watkins, division superintendent of the Sunset Central of this town, a person of the victims, had been structured at Spofford and Del Rio instantly just after the theft, no trace of the robbers has been located.
Two gentlemen uncovered in a device house on the Eagle Move branch of the highway have been arrested and produced. As the length to the border is only about 30 miles by rail and about 33 miles by immediate route, it is believed that the gentlemen are producing an energy to achieve the boundary line and cross into Mexico.
Jose Martinez, a rich mine proprietor of Durango, Mexico was forgotten by the bandits and remained the delighted possessor of about $16,000 in funds and a number of hundred dollars’ really worth of jewellery. Martinez and his spouse and daughter, occupied the drawing room in the front conclusion of the previous sleeper. They realized nothing at all of the presence of the bandits until aroused by the Negro porter, John Dunmore, who told him robbers were heading by way of the educate and that they experienced far better hide their revenue and valuables.
The warning was heeded and the trio waited almost breathless for the visual appearance of the masked pair to search their compartment. Minutes that seemed like several hours passed and ultimately Martinez returned to adhere his head out into the vehicle and realized that the bandits had concluded their mission.
Whether or not due to their unfamiliarity of Pullman automobiles or to their haste, the drawing home was slighted in the holdup match, as were these occupying upper berths. Two men in the rear sleeper occupying upper berths have been not disturbed by the bandits and just one hardly ever understood nearly anything about the occurrences until finally later on aroused by the victims when inquiring about his reduction.
He designed an inventory and found his purse made up of $200, his gold watch and other valuables had not been molested and ended up less than his pillow where by he experienced place them up on retiring.
Overjoyed with acquiring escaped the robbers, Martinez summoned the porter who experienced warned him and his loved ones of the danger and handed him a roll of charges as a reward.
Discovering of the plight of some of the travellers who experienced been relieved of every single cent they experienced and most of them of almost everything else of benefit, Martinez determined to share his great luck and prosperity with his fellow travelers. To every he gave funds in sums ranging from $25-$100 in proportion to their losses and other situations as he realized by personalized investigations.
The newspaper report went on to detail how Willis and Red roughed up the travellers to get them to hand about their valuables. Contrary to Willis’ self-explained chivalry towards women, the short article dispelled any uncertainties he was far more than inclined to accost women of all ages as properly as adult men when it came to demanding all of their valuables.
… The bandits have been explained by passengers as brutes and ended up really tough at periods in the dealing with of their victims. Although numerous passengers have been struck by the butts of guns in the fingers of the robbers and additional or less severely wounded, not a shot was fired. At least four people needed healthcare focus soon after the bandits experienced taken their departure, and one female whose name could not be learned, suffered an unsightly gash in the head, which required 11 stitches to close. Exasperated at the thoughts of parting with her valuables, she to start with pleaded with the bandits without having avail, and then she resisted their attempts to decrease her of her revenue and jewelry, when just one of them drew his gun back and struck her throughout the head, inflicting an unattractive gash and critical bruises.
One particular female traveling with her 4-month-old child escaped brutal therapy and managed to help you save $185, which she experienced secreted less than her bed. Occupying a reduced beginning in the rear car, she became hysterical when woke up and, hunting out observed the masked bandits demanding funds from the passengers. Time was precious to the robbers and shedding tolerance in their endeavours to quiet her, 1 of the men identified as out:
“Oh, allow her go: she’s almost nothing but a toddler,” and the pair moved to the next delivery with orders to the brakeman to hurry and rouse the passengers.
1 guy who appeared slow in receiving his revenue and time piece jointly was supplied a hard jab with the hazardous finish of a gun and he dropped his money in this aisle of the auto. A further rap from the gun and he was manufactured to jump out of his birth and obtain up the cash and handed to the brakeman, who quickly passed it to the robbers.
A single guy who was a seem sleeper came inside of an ace of waking up in eternity when he failed to answer speedily to the shaking presented him by the brakeman.
The robbers were being not inclined to tarry and when the sleeper did not arrive throughout they ended up 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 save him from a beating.
A single girl fainted and was promptly relieved of her money, jewellery, and purse made up of her railroad ticket prior to she was revived.
This instance looks to awaken a pressure of humor in the make-up of one particular of the holdup male, for he remarked, “If we could only set them all to snooze as simple-this would be the everyday living.”
Seemingly, some of the passengers had been additional than willing to exaggerate or totally fabricate their recollections of the theft to reporters covering the holdup. In a person circumstance, a passenger determined himself as becoming the brother of the previous president of Mexico.
… Just one of the first stories of the holdup acquired from an eyewitness came from Walter Grimmer, an worker of the electrical light plant at Del Rio. Mr. Grimmer was a passenger out of San Antonio. He was riding in the day coach and declares emphatically that the two robbers boarded the coach at San Antonio and sat pretty much directly across the aisle from him.
Mr. Grimmer suggests he was captivated to them almost as soon as the train remaining San Antonio by their suspicious steps and unusually tricky look. He says a Ranger occupied a seat directly in front of him and that the males evidently acknowledge the officer and appeared to prevent his eyes anytime he appeared in their route.
In accordance to Mr. Grimmer the two gentlemen waited right up until basically absolutely everyone in the working day mentor was asleep, when they remaining their seats and walked as a result of the coach. Mr. Grimmer claims he was awake at the time, watched the men walk by way of the day coach and saw them cross the system and enter the very first Pullman. He says he acquired a very good look at the robbers and would easily be able to recognize them. A person he explained as a guy of exceptionally large build.
He says following heading by means of the Pullmans the men signaled the teach to halt and jumped to the ground on the moonlight side of the coach. The aroused passengers saw them plainly as they ran. Equally men are reported to be Us citizens.
Benjamin Madero, brother of the late President of Mexico, is thought to have been one of the passengers in the higher berths who escaped attention. He arrived at the Sunset Station as well late to get a decreased delivery and was consigned to the upper number five. Madero is intended to have saved his belongings, although all of the others and excepting the passenger in the remaining upper, and the Martinez household in the drawing area, were robbed.
George Miller, a cattleman from Marathon was 1 of the travellers in a decreased delivery, and was robbed of his valuables. It is supposed that quite a few hundred bucks were being uncovered in his possession.
Mr. and Mrs. L. T. Wooden of 217 San Pedro Ave. misplaced their funds and valuables when the brakeman awoke them and informed them that the motor vehicle was getting robbed and to convert in excess of all the things they had.
Superintendent Watkins, who was asleep in a lower beginning about the center of the prepare, was just one of the initial to be robbed. He was relieved of $25 and move textbooks. Sam Scammahorn, a property grasp at the Sunset Station, shed his revolver, view and the pocketbook.
F. H. Bednarak, main dispatcher misplaced his view and some revenue. The a few railroad adult men were on their way to a stage on the Eagle Move branch to hunt significant recreation, but they joined the posse on the path of the bandits.
C. D. Woodward, the Pullman vehicle conductor in cost of the rear sleeper in the prepare, was not overlooked and the robbers relieved him of $156 such as his personal and the firm’s income.
Pursuing this posting that gave a vivid account of the pistol-whipping some of the travellers seasoned during the hold-up, the San Antonio Light-weight ran this front-web site reward discover on January 2.
The G. H. & S. A. Ry. Co. gives $500 reward for the arrest and conviction of the two adult men who robbed the passengers on train No. 9 on the night time of Dec. 29, 1914 among Cline and Spofford, Texas, by buy of Superintendent R. C. WATKINS
Evidently, the reward give worked the January 21 version of the same newspaper ran a daring front-web page headline.
Two Adult men Are Arrested As Practice Bandits
Sheriff Johnson of Uvalde Is In San Antonio With
The article went on to describe the arrest of two adult men who ended up performing on a ranch in the vicinity of Uvalde. One was a a short while ago unveiled convict who experienced served time for theft. Working on a tip, the Uvalde County sheriff despatched two adult males to the ranch to surreptitiously identify the two guys:
… Superintendent Watkins and W. C. Cox, both whom had been travellers on the teach, went to Uvalde and, so as not to excite suspicion, went on a chicken hunt to a ranch eighteen miles west of Uvalde, in which the two suspects were being doing work. Each declared there could be no question as to 1 of the gentlemen and they considered they could establish the other as nicely.
As it turned out the reward was by no means paid out to the informant the situation fell aside when a single of the eyewitnesses, a girl, could not positively establish the redheaded man. The regulation stayed on the situation for a couple extra months and then slowly and gradually permit it fade absent.
Willis was in no way arrested for the keep-up. For some reason he concentrated on bank employment until 1921 when he and his gang reeled off three educate heists for the duration of that 12 months. Then in 1924, the Newton Gang hit the grand slam, ripping off in excess of $3 million from an convey mail prepare close to Rondout, Illinois.