Maximilian Schoenbein (1842-1916), aka Max Shinburn, Mark Shinborn, Henry E. Moebus, etc. — Sneak thief, bank robber
Maximilian Schoenbein, the preeminent bank robber of the 1860s, was born in 1842 to parents Johann Schoenbein and Agnes Keiss of Württemberg, Germany. He arrived in the United States sometime in the mid-1850s, but the date and place of entry is unknown. In later life Schoenbein never mentioned his parents or upbringing. As a young man he supported himself by “sneak thieving” from stores and houses. He posed as a “sporting” man, a devotee of gambling and horse racing.
Schoenbein’s first bank job was the Walpole, N.H. Bank robbery of 1864, assisted by James Cummings. By his own account, Schoenbein attempted eleven bank robberies between 1864 and 1870, and was successful in nine of them. In June, 1870, he married Adelaide Tisserman and sailed for Europe a wealthy man, not to return until 1890.
In 1913, three years before his death, Schoenbein wrote a series of eleven articles for the Sunday Boston Herald, detailing several of his most famous exploits, as well as several capers involving his fellow master thieves, Adam Worth and George Miles White. These articles appeared just weeks after similar articles about old-time crooks penned by Sophie Lyons. However, unlike Lyon’s columns, Schoenbein’s writings were never syndicated to other newspapers, and never collected and republished in book form…
…until now. As a result of the Professional Criminals of America–REVISED project, Schoenbein’s heist stories have been transcribed and published by Wickham House under the title King of Burglars: The Heist Stories of Max Shinburn. Each of the eleven articles is a treat for any fan of stories about old-time crooks.
In one of his stories, Shinburn alludes briefly to the fact that after his return to the United States in the early 1890s, he spent two years trying to develop an invention. He later (in 1910) secured a patent for this after his release from the New Hampshire State Prison in 1908. The patent was US979325A, for a chambered pneumatic tire for automobiles:
Shinburn’s attempt to develop this in the early 1890s depleted his funds, resulting in a return to robbery–and re-imprisonment in New York and New Hampshire from 1895 to 1908.