From Byrnes’s 1886 edition:
DESCRIPTION. Forty-two years old in 1886. Born in New York. Single. No trade. Stout build. Height, 5 feet 7 1/2 inches. Weight, 160 pounds. Irish descent. Sandy hair, bluish-gray eyes, sandy complexion. Straight nose. Generally wears a sandy mustache.
RECORD. “Shang” Campbell is a well known New York burglar and pickpocket. He is an associate of Poodle Murphy (134), Charley Allen, Joe Gorman (146), Dick Morris (141), Curly Charley, and other first-class men. He is also well known in all the principal cities in the United States and Canada. He is a big rough fellow, well calculated for a “stall.”
His first offense was burglary on a bonded warehouse in the lower part of New York, for which he was arrested and sentenced to five years in Sing Sing prison, under the name of Thomas Burns.
Campbell was one of the gang of masked burglars that operated so extensively in Westchester County, N.Y., and in other places in the vicinity of New York City, in 1873. (See record of No. 138.) The entire gang, consisting of Dan Kelly, Patsey Conroy (now dead), Denny Brady, John, alias Brittley Burns, Larry Griffin, George Milliard (138), and others, were arrested in New York City, and sent to State prison for terms ranging from two and a half to twenty years. Campbell and Johnny Dobbs escaped through the side door of Milliard’s saloon when the police entered and arrested the gang.
After their narrow escape Campbell and Dobbs turned up in Florida as gentlemen of leisure, traveling for their health. They had plenty of money, and drank to excess. Campbell let out their real character while on a spree. A drunken brawl furnished a pretext for their arrest, and Campbell’s baggage was found to consist only of a complete set of burglars’ tools. They sufficed to hold Campbell, but Dobbs was discharged, and lost no time in quitting Florida for New York, where he barely escaped arrest for shooting at a person in Cherry Street whom he had accused of furnishing the information upon which his old associates were arrested.
While the identification of Campbell was yet in doubt, the Sheriff of Key West was very much surprised by a letter from a well known man in New York, vouching for Campbell as a reputable resident of that city. The letter urged upon the Sheriff the unconditional release of the prisoner. Some difficulty was experienced in obtaining a warrant of extradition from the Governor of the State of New York (Dix), but one was granted at the urgent solicitation of District-Attorney Briggs, of Westchester County.
While the necessary papers were in preparation Campbell escaped. He was shut up in a rickety old jail with a negro held for murdering a United States marine, and one Edward Baker, a local offender. Baker stood on Campbell’s shoulders, and with an old case-knife cut a hole in the ceiling large enough for them to squeeze through. The Key West Aldermen offered a reward of $200 for the arrest of the negro, and $100 for Campbell. Baker’s brother earned the reward by guiding a party of soldiers to the island on which they were hidden. Campbell was returned to jail and securely anchored with three hundred pounds of iron riveted to his legs, where he remained until the arrival of the New York officers, who brought him back and took him to White Plains, where he was sentenced to two years and six months in State prison on April 22, 1874, by Judge Gifford.
He was arrested again in Montreal, Canada, in January, 1882, in company of Billy Dewey (now dead), and Charles Douglas, alias Curly Charley, for sneaking from a train a valise containing $14,000 in money, the property of one McNamee. They were all arrested, the money was returned, and the complainant was sentenced to ten days in jail for refusing to make a charge against them. In this case they were discharged. Since then “Shang” has been traveling around the country with a clever “mob” of pickpockets, and at last accounts was in Canada. Campbell’s picture is a good one, taken in November, 1877.
From Byrnes’s 1895 edition:
He was arrested at Kent, 0., on June 10, 1887, in company of Ned Lyons (see No. 70) and Ed. Lyman (see No. 102), two other well-known eastern thieves, charged with robbing a passenger on a train near Kent, Portage Co., 0. Lyons and Lyman were convicted and sent to prison for this offense. Campbell was released on $1,000 bail, which he forfeited.
He is also said to be wanted at Worcester, Mass., where he was arrested for picking pockets, having forfeited $1,500 bail there.
Campbell was arrested again at Bennington,Vt.,on August 18, 1891, and sent to Boston, Mass., where he was wanted for the larceny of $400 from a clerk who was making a deposit in the National Bank of the Republic, on October 4, 1890. He was twice tried for this offense, and finally (on June 23, 1893) convicted and sentenced to four years in State Prison,by Judge Bishop, in the Superior Criminal Court of Boston, Mass. He was in jail nearly two years before conviction and sentence.