#68 John Love

John Edward Love (1844-1914), aka Johnny Love, Jack Love, James Long, John Lynch, James D. Wells — Burglar, Bank Robber

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Forty-two years old in 1886. Born in United States. Medium build. Plane-maker by trade. Married. Height, 5 feet 8 inches. Weight, 140 pounds. Sandy-brown hair, gray eyes, florid complexion. Generally wears reddish-brown mustache. Has figures “33” in India ink on left leg, also letters “J. L.” on each arm.

RECORD. Love, alias James D. Wells, is a clever store and bank burglar. He has had considerable luck in escaping punishment considering his long career of crime. He is a desperate man and will shoot on the first opportunity, and is well known in most of the Eastern States as a leader of a desperate gang of burglars. He was implicated with Langdon W. Moore, alias Charley Adams (22), and George Mason, alias Gordon (24), for the robbery of the Warren Savings Bank and the Post-office in Charlestown, Mass., on December 4, 1879. Mason, on whose testimony Adams was convicted, refused to testify in any manner against Love, and he was not indicted. Mason was afterwards sentenced to three years in the House of Correction, and Moore, or Adams, received sixteen years.

Love was traveling around the country with Johnny Dobbs and his gang, and was the fifth man that escaped from an officer at Lawrence, Mass., on March 3, 1884, when the rest of them were arrested. He and others were concerned in the robbery of the post-office in Gloucester, Mass., in March, 1884, also the post-office in Concord, N.H., and several other robberies in New England. Love was formerly the partner of “Jack” Welsh, alias “John the Mick,” who killed “Jack” Irving, and who in turn was killed by Wm. O’Brien, alias “Billy Porter” (74), Irving’s partner, in a saloon on Sixth Avenue, New York City, on October 20, 1883. John Love, alias “James D. Wells;” Charles Lowery, alias ” William Harris,” alias “Hill,” of Canada; George Havill, alias “Harry Thorn,” alias “Joseph Cook (15), of Chicago, Ill. ; Frank McCrann, alias “Wm. McPhearson,” alias “Big Frank,” and Mike Blake, alias “Mike Kerwin,” alias “Barney Oats,” alias “Little Mickey,” of Pittsburg, Pa., were arrested near Elmira, N.Y., on February 14, 1885, for the robbery of the Osceola, Pa., Bank on the night of February 13, 1885. The bank vault was built of solid masonry two feet thick, but the concussion of the dynamite cartridge used was so great that the neighbors heard the explosion and notified the proprietors of the bank, who in turn notified a constable. The latter gathered a posse and pursued the burglars, who had escaped in a sleigh. They drove at such a furious rate that their team soon gave out. At that moment, a farmer came from his stable with a fresh horse and sleigh, which the robbers appropriated without ceremony and continued their flight. When within four miles of Elmira, N.Y., the gang was cornered, having been traced by their tracks in the snow. Lowery, a most desperate fellow, fired two shots at Constable Blanchard, one of them slightly wounding him in the arm. The marshal, joined by others, gave chase to the burglars across Mount Zoar, and a running fire was kept up. The pursuers were joined by other officers from Elmira, and when near that city two of the desperadoes were captured. One of them, Mike Blake, alias Kerwin, was shot through the wrist; John Love, alias Wells, Frank McCrann, alias McPhearson, and George Havill, alias Harry Thorn, alias Cook, the other members of the gang, were chased until evening, when they were captured and placed in jail at Elmira, N.Y. The robbery was small, amounting to about $1,500, of which $500 was in silver and was nearly all dropped by the burglars in their flight. Charles Lowery, alias Wm. Harris, alias Hill, is without doubt one of the most desperate criminals in America. After his arrest, he was also charged with the murder of the town marshal of Shelby, Ohio; and a $6,000 burglary at Gait, Ont.; also a $10,000 jewelry robbery in Montreal, Canada. While Lowery and another burglar named Andrews were in a bank cashier’s house at Belleville, Ont., they were surprised and captured. Lowery, a short time before that, had killed a hackman. In this case he escaped his just deserts through numerous appeals and the diplomacy of his wife, who lived in Toronto, Canada. He was convicted in the Osceola Bank case, and sentenced to ten years in State prison on April 9, 1885. Love was sentenced to nine years and eleven months, Havill to nine years and nine months, Frank McCrann to nine years and seven months, and Mike Blake to nine years and six months, in the same case and on the same day (April 9, 1885). Love’s picture resembles him very much, taken in July, 1882.

Thomas Byrne’s recitation of John Love’s record is accurate from 1879 forward, including the litany of infamous criminals whom Love accompanied on those jobs:

  • The robbery of the Post Office and the Warren Savings Bank in Charlestown, MA on December 4, 1879 with Langdon Moore (#22) and George Mason (#24).
  • The capture of the “Johnny Dobbs Gang” (Dobbs was John Kerrigan, #64) in Lawrence, Massachusetts on March 3, 1884, following a string of post office robberies in Massachusetts towns and in Concord, New Hampshire.
  • The capture of Love and four other nationally-known criminals in Elmira, New York, following the robbery of an Osceola, Pennsylvania bank on February 14, 1885. Two of the others involved were Charles Lowery and George Havill (#15). In Byrnes’s 1886 edition, Love’s portrait caption indicates that “Lowrey” was one of Love’s aliases, but that is not repeated in Byrne’s profile of Love, nor in any newspaper accounts; perhaps it was referencing the different man, Charles Lowery?

The chase of the Osceola bank robbers was even more thrilling than Byrne’s account. The February 14, 1885 edition of the Buffalo Commercial reprinted an account from Elmira:


Curiously, Byrnes omits mention of all of Love’s New York convictions:

  • in 1869 he was arrested under the name James Long for burglary, and sent to Sing Sing on a five year sentence
  • in 1875, he was arrested as John Lynch for burglary, and again sent to Sing Sing for one year
  • In 1882, he was arrested with Michael Kurtz for robbery of an Italian bank in New York, but was released for lack of evidence.

In his 1895 updated edition, Byrnes indicates that Love had reformed. Indeed, in 1892, New York’s Governor issued a restitution to Love of all his citizenship rights, setting aside his 1869 and 1875 convictions–an action that Love must have requested, indicating how much it meant to him. He spent his last two decades as a bookkeeper, living in the Bronx with his wife and two sons. Love, who came from a good family, left his sons a small fortune in a trust account, not to be available to them until they were thirty years old–Love apparently wanted to make sure his sons learned an honest trade.


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