#23 Daniel Watson

“Dutch Dan” Carl (Abt. 1831-1892?), aka Andrew Carl, Daniel Watson, Daniel Erlich, Daniel Davis, James Watson, David Watson, Daniel Carl, John Clark, etc. — Bank robber, key-fitter, tool maker

From Byrnes’ text:

DESCRIPTION. Fifty-one years old in 1886. Stout build. Height, 5 feet 9 inches. Weight, 186 pounds. Machinist by trade. Single. Born in Germany or Prussia. Quite wrinkled forehead, dark hair, blue eyes, light complexion. Generally wears a goatee and mustache tinged with gray. Heavy lines on each side of nose to corner of mouth (nose lines). A cross-looking man. Has a sort of a suspicious look about him when he meets a stranger.

RECORD. “Dutch Dan,” the name he is best known by, is considered one of the best key fitters in America. He is also an excellent toolmaker, and his many exploits would fill an ordinary sized book.

Dan was arrested in Philadelphia, Pa., on April 11, 1881, in company of George Hall, alias Porter, a burglar and confidence man, Charles Lilly, alias Redman, and Bill Morris, alias Gilmore, burglars, charged with a silk burglary. Wax was found on Dan, with a key impression on it. Watson and Hall were each sentenced to two years in the Eastern Penitentiary on a charge of conspiracy on July 8, 1881; Lilly and Morris to one year.

Watson makes a specialty of entering buildings and obtaining impressions of keys (which are sometimes hung up in a convenient place by the janitor or occupant of the premises). In this manner he collects a large number of impressions from which he makes duplicate keys. He then selects a number of expert burglars and furnishes them with a set of keys and a diagram of the place to be robbed. If the burglars are successful, he receives about twenty per cent, of the robbery for his share. He is known to have had as many as six parties of men to work at one time. Dan has spent fifteen years of his eventful life in Sing Sing, N. Y., Cherry Hill, Philadelphia, and other Pennsylvania prisons. His picture is an excellent one, taken in 1878.

“Dutch Dan’s” real name and origins are not known, but he was arrested after some of his earliest exploits as “Andrew Carl”; and Langdon W. Moore wrote about that same period of the mid-1860s, mentioning Dutch Dan many times, and introduced his true name as simply “Carl.” In fact, Dutch Dan was Moore’s main partner during much of his career.

Thanks to Langdon’s Moore’s autobiography,  Langdon W. Moore : his own story of his eventful life, we also have an anecdote relating the first attempt by both Moore and Dutch Dan to rob a bank–an effort foiled by the cunning of Langdon Moore himself:

In March [1865] I met in New York City two burglars, with whom I had been acquainted for years — one named Carl, who was known to his companions as “Dutch Dan,” and the other named Ned Livingston. They told me at this meeting that they had decided upon the robbery of a bank and needed assistance. When I asked where the bank was located, they said, “At Francestown, N.H.” After a few interviews with them, I consented to become a party to the affair, agreeing to pay all expenses, do the outside work, and furnish the team to take them from Nashua to Francestown, a distance of twenty miles and return.

“Outside work” meant remaining on the outside of the building to see and not be seen while the others were at work inside. In case of danger it became the outside man’s duty to warn the inside men by signals. One rap, for example, was a call to stop work; two meant that the danger was past and work might be resumed. More than two raps called the men out hastily.

The party went on from New York to Nashua, and according to agreement I put the men over the road from Nashua to Francestown, driving the same horse which was subsequently used in the Concord job. We “piped” the Francestown Bank, which simply means that by personal observation during the night we learned that everything was satisfactory for a break when we got ready to make one.

There was one thing, however, that was not satisfactory to me: Dan and Livingston carried a quart bottle of whiskey, and this they worked for all it contained; so that when the time came to start for home, I found them unable to get into the wagon without assistance. On thinking the matter over I was sorry I had entertained their proposition, not only because a whiskey bottle is not a good ally in robbing a bank, but also because Francestown is near my birthplace and I didn’t care particularly about robbing my parents’ old neighbors.

As I could not consistently withdraw from the agreement, I decided to prevent the robbery. The plan was simple but effective. Harry Howard at that time lived in Boston; and as he was already a trusty friend, I confided to him my intentions and told him I would like to hire him as a night watchman for a short time. Howard agreed to assist, and was given his instructions in the matter. He was to go on a certain day to Wilton by rail, walking thence seven miles to Francestown.

He reached Francestown about ten o’clock on the night the robbery was to be committed. He had provided himself with a heavy overcoat and dark lantern; and promptly at eleven o’clock, according to the arrangement with me, he began his march down the street on which the bank stood. When he reached the building, he went to the door of the store underneath the banking-rooms and shook it violently, then tried the bank door in the same way, and finally went out into the street and flashed his lantern at all the bank windows, thus satisfying himself that everything was all right.

During this time my companions and I were in hiding behind some shrubbery in front of the cashier’s house on the opposite side of the street. This was at the time known to Howard, and he had been cautioned not to turn his lantern that way. Leaving the bank, the “watchman” continued on his round, passing down the street toward the church and examining everything carefully as he went along. Arriving at the church, he lingered there, flashing his lantern along the sheds, at the side and in the rear of the edifice.

I had told him he would find my horse and wagon there, and he was to examine both carefully. He was also to look into the vehicle, and, on finding therein two bags, he was to take them out, and, while looking them over, hold them in such a position that the burglars, having followed the “watchman” from the bank, would be able to see all his movements from ambush. This programme was faithfully carried out, and the time occupied in the examination was fully ten minutes.

The “watchman” then walked slowly away until, at the corner of the church, he stopped, acting all the while as though his curiosity had not been fully satisfied. He then walked back along the street in the direction of the bank, near which he was to wait until I should come to him. While he was acting his part, my companions and I were terribly excited, and in backing the horse from under the shed and turning the wagon we upset it.

During the consequent delay, one was saying to the other: “Hurry up or we will get pinched; the watchman is alarming the town!” As soon as we were ready for a start, Dan and Livingston got into the wagon; but I hesitated, saying that I was not thoroughly satisfied that the “watchman” had given an alarm, or that he would remain on duty after twelve o’clock. I argued that as we had done nothing, wrong, and as the “watchman” could have no knowledge of what the bags contained, it would be wise to “pipe” the “watchman” and see if he performed his duty faithfully.

I then proposed doing this myself, and asked them to drive to the bottom of the hill toward Nashua and wait there until I came. This they consented to, after repeatedly cautioning me not to let the “watchman” see me, for if he did, I, they said, would get “pinched.”

I then went to Howard, the “watchman,” and told him everything was all right; that he had performed his duty as a watchman faithfully and to my entire satisfaction. I stayed with him until 12:30 o’clock; then bidding him a pleasant walk back to Wilton, where he was to take the five o’clock Sunday morning milk train for Boston, I returned to Dan and Livingston.

I told them the “watchman” was still on duty and seemed likely to remain on all night, for he was at that moment eating his lunch on the bank steps. The only thing left for us to do was to drive to Nashua in time for Dan and Livingston to get the milk train from Wilton to Boston. I saw them aboard the train, and noticed that Howard was in the car with them, but, of course, did not recognize him. The people of Francestown never knew how near they came to losing their hard-earned savings.

One might think this experience would have discouraged Moore from working with Dutch Dan again, but in May, 1866, they attacked a “burglar-proof” Lillie safe in an office building on Staten Island. The loot was disappointing, but the job itself was successful.

In the fall months of 1866, Moore, Dutch Dan, Bill Vosburgh and a man named Carr made an attempt to rob a bank in New Rochelle, New York, but were interrupted by the night watchman making his rounds. All four men escaped, but Moore believed that Vosburgh, the outside man, had been derelict in his duty.

Capture

Moore, Dutch Dan, and Hank Hall were more successful just a few weeks later, and beat a new Lillie safe at an Olean, New York bank using drills and black powder. In January, 1867, the pair enlisted Spence Pettis to attack a bank in Watkins Glen, New York; but they could not crack the safe before morning. Moreover, Moore and Dutch Dan suspected that Pettis had arranged to cross them. They later discovered they were correct–had the robbery been successful, Pettis had arranged to have them arrested by the Secret Service, as means of getting Hank Hall, who was also a counterfeiter.

The next month, Moore and Dutch Dan cracked a safe in Armenia, but were spotted during their escape. They separated, but both were later captured and held for trial in Poughkeepsie, New York. Once again, Moore believed that Dutch Dan had gotten drunk during the escape, and had let himself be captured through carelessness. They were released on bail in Poughkeepsie, and Dutch Dan decided to jump without letting Moore know. Moore faced trial alone, but was lucky in that the main witness against him, a railroad brakeman, was killed in an accident. Moore was let off.

In August, 1867, Dutch Dan joined Moore’s other recent partners, Ned Livingston and Truman Young,  to rob a general store in Cornish, Maine, of over $20,000. According to Moore, as soon as Dutch Dan was arrested in Boston, he immediately informed the police of the names and whereabouts of his partners on the job. His treachery earned him little: in 1868 he was tried and convicted, and sentenced to seven years in the Maine State Prison. He was pardoned after five years.

In 1874, Dutch Dan appeared in court to give evidence against John A. Olmstead, a brother of the wife of counterfeiter William E. Brockway. Dan said that Olmstead, an engraver by trade, had helped harden the drill bits used by himself and several other burglars. It was around this time that Dutch Dan and his wife hosted in their Manhattan home Piano Charley Bullard, who had arrived from Europe after many years on the run following the Boylston Bank robbery with Adam Worth. Dutch Dan pointed authorities to Bullard, who was taken to prison in Massachusetts.

Dan was arrested on suspicion several times between 1874 and 1878, but nothing stuck. Then, in August 1878, Frank McCoy and James Irving were arrested for breaking into a piano store in New York, and police believed that Dutch Dan had fitted the keys for them. Dan’s house was searched, and many wax molds, key blanks, and burglars’ tools were found. He was later discharged, though there seemed to be an abundance of evidence against him.

Although by the late 1870s, Dutch Dan had been proven many times to be treacherous, he was one of the two best key-fitters in the business, the other being Louis Wolff, aka French Louis. In October, 1880, Dan was arrested for his role in the robbery of a tortoise-shell goods store in Philadelphia, but was discharged for lack of evidence and told to leave the city.

However, in July 1881 he was back in Philly, and assisted three professional burglars in the robbery of a string of stores. Dutch Dan was arrested as “James Watson” and sentenced to two years in Eastern State Penitentiary.

Beyond that, nothing is known of his fate, other than a note in Byrnes’ 1895 edition that says that Dutch Dan died in Philadelphia in 1892.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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