#71 Daniel Hunt

Daniel E. Hunt (1847-????), aka George/Henry/James Carter, Samuel D. Mason, Edward McCarthy, David Henderson, James A. Cochran  — Highwayman, Pickpocket, Sneak thief, Shoplifter, Wagon thief

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-eight years old in 1886. Medium build. Ship-joiner by trade. Born in United States. Single. Dark brown mustache. Height, 5 feet 8 or 9 inches. Weight, about 160 pounds. Brown hair, hazel eyes, dark complexion.

RECORD. Dan Hunt is a very nervy and clever pickpocket, sneak and shoplifter. He will also drive away a loaded truck. He is pretty well known in New York and most Eastern cities, and works with the best people.

He was arrested in New York City on March 25, 1878, and delivered to the police authorities of Brooklyn, N.Y., in company of William Bartlett, charged with robbing the cashier of the Planet Mills, in South Brooklyn. The cashier was knocked down and robbed of $3,500 on March 25, 1878, while within a block of the mills, by three men, who, after the robbery, which was committed in broad daylight, jumped into a wagon and escaped. He had drawn the money from a New York bank, and was returning with it to the mills for the purpose of paying off the hands. He was accompanied by a watchman, but the attack was so sudden that both men were knocked down before either could offer any resistance.

Hunt and Bartlett were arrested on suspicion, brought to trial in Brooklyn, and both found guilty on June 29, 1878. The testimony was so contradictory that Judge Moore, who presided at the trial, had strong doubts as to the guilt of the prisoners. He therefore did not sentence them, but remanded them back to Raymond Street jail, pending a motion for a new trial made by their lawyer. A new trial was granted, and as the District Attorney had no additional evidence to offer, they were discharged by Judge Moore on June 28, 1879, over a year after their arrest.

Hunt was arrested again in New York City under the name of Mason, and sentenced to two years and six months in State prison on January 22, 1880, by Judge Cowing, for grand larceny. Hunt’s picture is an excellent one, taken in 1871.

Inspector Byrnes indicates that Daniel Hunt was a ship-joiner by vocation; that was a trade he learned from his father, George Wesley Hunt. Hunt’s crimes began small: in 1868, he was caught forging an order for brass door knobs. He graduated to picking pockets, using the aliases of George W. Martin and Henry Carter when caught in 1877.

Dan Hunt’s criminal career moved to a higher level early in 1878, when he was arrested following a daring robbery of a cashier transporting payroll cash from a bank to the Planet Mills, a Brooklyn yarn manufacturer. Over $3000 was taken by a gang of men who jumped from a wagon and accosted the cashier and his companion on a sidewalk. A group of suspects was rounded up, and Hunt (still using George W. Martin as his alias) was recognized.

However, as Byrnes notes, at the trial of the men, witnesses gave contradictory testimony, and were not positive in their identification. There were rumors that New York City detectives had provided the group of suspects to Brooklyn police–knowing that they were not the true culprits–in order to protect the real thieves. Because of poor evidence, Hunt was eventually cleared.

In 1880, Hunt snatched a wallet of a man leaving a New York City bank. He was arrested under the name Samuel D. Mason, alias Edward McCarthy. He was convicted and sent to Sing Sing for two and a half years.

From Sing Sing, Hunt fell in with a gang of thieves who made their headquarters in Windsor, Ontario, robbing towns and cities along the Grand Trunk railroad, operating from Detroit to Buffalo. In Windsor, they lived in houses rented by Tom Bigelow. In April 1893, that gang was engaged by Windsor and Sandwich constables in a vicious knife fight, in which several officers were stabbed. In April 1884, several of the gang members robbed a drug store in Buffalo, and fled across the border to Ontario. They were arrested there, but refused to return to Buffalo. Instead, they were arrested for previous crimes in Ontario. Hunt was sent to the provincial prison on a sentence of five years.

Upon his release, Hunt returned to Windsor and took up with the remnants of Tom Bigelow’s gang, now headed by Louise Jourdan (Bigelow)’s new paramour, James Maguire. In 1890, Hunt was arrested in Detroit on suspicion, but was later released. That same year he was rumored to have been involved in a Northwestern Pennsylvania bank robbery that netted $10,000, but was never publicized. Eventually, this gang was broken up, and Maguire fled to Australia. Hunt migrated back eastward, where he teamed up with a young burglar from Philadelphia, Henry Vining. Together they went to the Boston area and committed a string of robberies. They were captured in Brighton, outside of Boston, in October, 1892 and arrested on suspicion. Hunt gave the name of James A. Cochran. Hunt was sentenced to a year in jail, but young Vining was released, as he was dying of consumption.

In 1895, Inspector Byrnes’s updated edition of his book stated that Dan Hunt remained in the Boston area after his release from jail in 1894. Byrnes says that he took up the vocation of a bookseller.

Hunt’s resume does not suggest he was the bookish type.


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