#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’s 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.

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 (whom the Boston Journal claimed was a brother of the wife of counterfeiter William E. Brockway, but this is unsubstantiated.) 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’s 1895 edition that says that Dutch Dan died in Philadelphia in 1892.

#204 Louis Brown

Louis Wolff (Abt. 1826-????), aka French Louis, Louis Brown, Daniel Brown, John Krill, Louis Wolfrain, etc. — Burglar, Fixer (locksmith)

From Byrnes’ text:

DESCRIPTION. Fifty-nine years old in 1886. Born in France. Married. Machinist. Slim build. Height, 5 feet 10 inches. Weight, about 145 pounds. Gray hair, very thin ; hazel eyes, fair complexion. Large nose. Thin face. Small mole near right eye. Wife’s name, Annie L. Wolf.

RECORD. Brown, or French Louie, the name he is best known by, is one of the most expert burglars in America. His particular line is the manufacture of burglars’ tools and making false keys from impressions in wax. He seldom takes a hand in a burglary, unless it is a large one. He generally paves the way for the operations of confederates, and works from 6 a. m. to 8 a. m. in the morning, when his operations can generally be carried on with impunity, as any person seeing him at that hour would fancy that he was simply opening the store for the day’s business. French Louie has spent at least twenty years in State prison in America, two-thirds of it in Sing Sing prison. New York. Louie was arrested in New York City on July 15, 1877, in the act of committing a burglary at Nos. 27 and 29 White Street. He was convicted and sentenced to three years and three months in State prison at Sing Sing, N. Y., on August 16, 1877. He escaped from Sing Sing on July 16, 1878, and was re-arrested in Philadelphia, Pa., on February 18, 1879, he returned to Sing Sing prison to serve out his unexpired time. He was arrested again in New York City, on August 27, 1881, for tampering with the padlock on the store of E. H. Gato & Co., No. 52 Beaver Street. There was $50,000 worth of imported cigars in the store at the time. Louie pleaded guilty of an attempt at burglary, and was sentenced to two years and six months in State prison, on September 12, 1881, by Recorder Smyth, in the Court of General Sessions, New York City. His time expired on October 12, 1883. French Louie was arrested again, under the name of John Yole, in Hoboken, N. J., on March 18, 1886, and sentenced to ninety days under the Disorderly Act. He had some tools and keys in his possession when arrested. His case was referred to the Grand Jury, which body failed to indict him. Brown’s picture is an excellent one, taken in Philadelphia, Pa.

Chief Byrnes never indicated that the real name of “French Louie” was Louis Wolff, though he knew his wife’s name as “Annie L. Wolf.” Byrnes, as per usual, begins criminal records in the late 1870s, but “French Louis” (used much more often than “Louie”) was active much earlier–dating back to the 1850s. His paper trail of newspaper clippings dates back to 1867, when he was arrested in New York for vagrancy and (allegedly) asked to be sent to the workhouse.


Wolff is difficult to track for a couple of reasons: 1) his nickname, “French Louis,” was used at different times and places by many criminals, some of whom were active during the same period that Wolff was at work; 2) in a city full of German immigrants, “Louis Wolff” and “Anna Wolff” were common names–no census records have been positively matched with the burglar; 3) and finally, Wolff had a talent for dropping a new alias each time he was arrested:

  • “John Woolford” in 1867, New York (vagrancy)
  • “John Walton alias Louis Wolfrain” in 1868, Boston (burglarizing a furrier)
  • “Louis Wolfert” in 1876, New York (stealing silk samples)
  • “J. Daniel Brown alias James Walker” in 1877, New York (stealing fine linens). Sent to Sing Sing as “Daniel Brown.”
  • “James Welsh” in 1878, Philadelphia (sent to Eastern State Penitentiary)
  • “David Brown” in 1879, Philadelphia (recognized as escapee from Sing Sing and recaptured)
  • “John Krill” in 1881, New York (attempted burglary). Sent to Sing Sing under this name
  • “John Yole” in 1886, Hoboken, New Jersey (possessing burglary tools)

As elusive as French Louis was, the most illuminating information about him comes not from law records, newspapers, or genealogy sources.  Instead, there exist a long passage of  anecdotes picked up in prison about him by the famous Bank of England forger, George Bidwell. In 1891, Bidwell published his memoirs, titled Forging His Own Chains: The Wonderful Life Story of George Bidwell.  Wolff appears in Chapter LI as the burglar, “Luelo”:

In the year 1856 an independent detective came to two young men then engaged in the jewelry business, as above described, and informed them that within a few weeks a jeweler was to arrive in New York from Germany, bringing with him a rich stock of watches, diamonds, and other jewelry, and that the store on the first floor of No. 181 Broadway had already been rented for him, as he intended doing a wholesale business.

The first thing was to plan how to get possession of his whole stock at one stroke after his arrival. There was another room for rent in the rear, and connected by a door with the premises rented for the German. That room must be secured immediately, but how to do this was a puzzler, for neither of the two confederates could act in the matter, because they were too well known to the police. It was, therefore, necessary to obtain a man of good address to do that part of the business.

These two young rogues were called Luelo and Bruno. Luelo went to Philadelphia to a buyer of stolen goods named Strauss, and upon learning from Luelo the object of his visit, he, in two hours’ time, brought and introduced to Luelo a man called Evans, who had every appearance of being an honest business man, but who was in reality a crook, though not known to the New York police as such. Luelo told Evans, in the presence of the buyer, that they were to go to New Orleans on a good paying job, and would be gone perhaps three months, he to pay all expenses in case no money should be made. This deception was used for the double purpose of throwing the buyer off from the actual job in hand, and to avoid paying the usual percentage of the proceeds of the robbery; also to avoid the risk of being betrayed or blackmailed by him.

Luelo and Evans then left for New York. On the way the former informed the latter as to the true nature of the job in contemplation. Evans was delighted at the prospect, and said he was glad to get into the company of such large operators in other people’s property, having himself been doing a picayune business for some months just to keep from starving. He appeared to think that at last he had struck a vein of good luck, but Luelo said : “No, you are mistaken; you are not to know us too well. After the job is finished, and you have received your share, you are to go back to Philadelphia, and we are again strangers. Besides, you are not to let old ‘Sheeney Strauss’ know anything.”

Evans agreed to these terms, and upon his arrival in New York began operations by calling on the real estate agent, who demanded reference, also one quarter’s rent in advance. It was easy enough to pay the quarter’s rent, but as to the reference, that was for a party of “dead-beats” a difficult thing to accomplish. However, Evans, being a man who had his wits about him, accepted the terms, and told the agent that he would take the place, call the next day, and settle the matter to the agent’s satisfaction. He then took his leave without the remotest idea as to how he could fulfill his promise. The thing must be done, and after some cogitations he was furnished with §200.

Going to the house of “Henn & Co.” in Liberty Street, he purchased all the old unsalable stock of tobacco which was left on their hands. This amounted to $1,500.00, and they were very pleased to get hold of a customer who would pay cash for their damaged goods. Evans informed the firm that he was from California, and was about opening business at No. 181 Broadway. “I have purchased these goods,” said he, “to sell to peddlers, but shall soon require a large quantity of your better qualities. My name is Evans, and as I am a stranger, here is $200 on account. Please have the goods ready for delivery when I send for them.”

Taking a receipt for the $200 and the invoice, Evans departed, but as he reached the door turned, and, coming back hastily, said: “By the way, I am in trouble about the place I have rented. I supposed that the rent in advance would be quite sufficient, but the agent also requires reference. Of course, had I known such to be the custom here, I should have come prepared with the best recommendations, but I shall have to write to San Francisco, which will delay the opening of my business. Can you advise me of any better plan?”

“Oh, do not trouble yourself,” was replied. “We shall feel it a pleasure, as well as a duty, to assist you out of your dilemma.” Writing a few words, he handed a card to Evans, and said: “Hand this card to the agent, and it will save the time of writing to San Francisco.” Evans took the card, went direct to the agent with it, and found nothing more was required, the agent being personally acquainted with Messrs. Henn & Co. Evans then paid a quarter’s rent, received the key, and departed. In order to make a show of business, some empty boxes were sent in, and a carpenter set at work putting up shelves, drawers, etc. Within ten days the German jeweler arrived, passed his goods through the custom-house, and took possession of the adjoining room, with two large trunks filled with jewelry, containing his whole stock in trade. They arrived too late in the afternoon to be unpacked and put away in the safe.

Everything had been arranged to convey this safe into Evans’s room, where it had been the intention to pry or blow it open, the tools being all ready, and little fear that the noise of exploding powder would be heard in that busy part of Broadway. Late in the afternoon Luelo, Bruno, and Evans locked themselves in their office. At the usual hour the janitor knocked at every door, then closed the building, and went home. The trio of robbers then burst open the door leading to the German’s office, when what was their astonishment at the sight of the two trunks still packed, just as they came from the custom-house. This unexpected discovery simplified their plan, as all they had to do was to engage a cart for the next morning early. Accordingly, they were on hand, got the trunks on a cart before the janitor came, and took them to the Jersey ferry, where they were deposited, the cartman dismissed, another cart engaged to take them to another place, and this operation was repeated several times; so that any attempt to trace them by the police would be frustrated.

Upon getting them to a place of safety they were opened, and found to be lined with zinc, and air tight, to preserve the valuable contents from injury during the voyage. The tops of the trunks were filled with diamond jewelry, watches set in diamonds, and underneath were solid gold rings and chains. For eight days there was nothing about it in the papers; then appeared an offer of a reward of $10,000, and the goods stated to be valued, according to the custom-house invoices, at $150,000. The whole lot was sold to two receivers for $80,000, the detective who planned the job being paid $10,000, although it was not the custom to pay them in such cases but 10 per cent of the proceeds, unless they rendered active assistance in executing the plan, in which case only were they entitled to a full share.

Evans was well content with his share ($20,000), and was hurried off to Philadelphia, thankful and hoping for another of the same kind. The two friends had $25,000 each, and this was all squandered within six months; for, says a German proverb: “Wie gewonnen, so geronnen” (easy come, easy go). Their ill-gotten gains being used up, the two pseudo friends quarreled and parted, Bruno becoming “dishonest,” having turned informer, or stool-pigeon for the police; so that none of the tribe of “cross-men” would have anything to do with him. This is another illustration of what I have elsewhere stated — that all persons acting dishonestly have, step by step, reasoned themselves into a state of mind which permits them to take part in any crime against property, and that it is quite right for them to do so. In the estimation of his fellow thief, Bruno was honest so long as he only robbed the outside public — dishonest when he turned to assist the police.

Several years later Luelo — whom I may as well state was a French-German Alsatian named Louis Wolfe — met a crook called the General, and asked him where he was going so fast. “Come along, Luelo,” said the “General,” “for I am in a hurry to get some things. My family is on board, and we are off for Brazil this afternoon.” Luelo accompanied him to bid him farewell, and when near the ship, seeing a ragged looking fellow on board, said, “General, I think I know that fellow. Who is he?” “O, that is your old pal, Bruno. I did not wish to tell you that he was so badly off. He begged me to take him along, and he is to work his passage.” “Well, you are taking your ‘hoodoo’ (bad luck) with you,” said Luelo. As Luelo came on board Bruno turned away, but Leulo called to him to face about. “Shame made the rascal change color,” said Leulo to the writer. “This is your reward from the ‘fly cops’ (detectives),” said he, “for your treachery to your pals ; but I pity you, as you were once a square man, and it is the best thing you can do to leave the country.”

Handing him $50, Luelo turned to take leave of the others and departed. Eight months later the General and his family returned to New York in poverty, a revolution having broken out in Brazil. Bruno had enlisted in the Brazilian army, and disappeared from view, doubtless dying a miserable death by violence. Thus ended another of the great army of “dead-beats,” who, after living a butterfly life, alternating between abject poverty and reveling in luxury on their ill-gotten gains, varied by longer or shorter terms of imprisonment, invariably end their lives in want and wretchedness.

The detective, never having had so large a sum before, began to gamble to increase it, was finally expelled from the police force, emigrated to California, and soon after was sent to prison for the term of ten years on the charge of highway robbery.

In one of these years of the golden time Luelo found him self at the St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans. Every winter this hotel was filled with planters and their families, and it was the place where many marriages among them were celebrated. A Spanish jeweler by the name of Lopez occupied a room, in which he kept a large stock of diamonds, etc., and found his customers among the guests. Upon investigation, Luelo ascertained that Lopez took his supper at the Spanish Club, depositing the key of the specially padlocked door at the office. The door being within sight of the office, he must devise some other way of entering the room. It could have been done by going in on pretense of pur chase, and knock the jeweler down with a sandbag, but Luelo was not the man for such brutal work. Strange traits of human nature! Nearly all thieves have conscientious scruples of some kind.

Luelo found that the hotel rested on a basement of stone arches. His plan was at once formed. As his room was next to that of Lopez, he cut a slit in the carpet, bored a hole in the floor with an extension bit, crept through and found him self in the hollow which ran along above the pillars which supported the arches. Creeping along about ten feet, and lying on his back, he bored a hole as before, slit the carpet, crept up through, and found himself under the bed. He now hastened to the bureau, opened the drawers, selecting the most valuable articles, which he put into a pillow case. With a jimmy, he then turned to the trunk, and while in the act of breaking it open he heard the padlock being taken from the door.

He instantly seized the pillow-case, and swiftly, but deliberately, walked into the bedroom. Pushing the bag down, he quickly followed, the slit in the carpet closing after him, so that any one searching the room would not notice the opening. Creeping hastily along the passage, he ascended into his own room, emptied the contents of the case on the bed, hurried on his clothes; then, opening the cases, he filled his pockets with diamond jewelry. Passing out, he locked his own room, took the key, and when passing the next room saw the padlock was not on the door, but all was quiet. Leaving the key at the office, he went out, took a carriage to Lake Ponchartrain, and the boat for Mobile at 11 p. m.; then, going from place to place, he was fortunate enough to reach Cincinnati in safety.

Here he wrote a note to a buyer of stolen goods, who came and paid $55,000 for the whole booty. The following week Luelo was on board a steamer bound for Bremen, and in a few days was with his relations at the old homestead on the Rhine. He presented his father with $5,000, each of his four brothers with $2,000, leaving himself $41,000. Soon tiring of the quiet country life, at the end of four weeks he left, traveled through Germany, Switzerland, France, and Italy, arriving in New York eleven months later with $12,000, which soon disappeared at the gaming table of John Morrissey.

The purchaser of the goods informed Luelo that there had never appeared in the papers anything about the robbery, and he inferred that the hotel paid half the loss rather than that the affair should become public. Not a strange trait of human nature, but still a singular fact, that Luelo was always grieving over what he might have had out of that trunk if Lopez had only kept away a few minutes longer.

In disposing of the jewelry, Luelo had kept back a valuable diamond ring, taking it out of the setting, and sewing it in his vest as a button. While in Paris he had three paste rings made which were exact imitations, and could not be distinguished from the original by the naked eye. Arriving in New York, he stopped at the Fifth Avenue Hotel. In a few days he told the proprietor that he was out of money, and desired a loan of $2,500 on his ring until he could get funds from home. After sending the ring to a dealer to ascertain its genuineness, he readily advanced the required sum, which Luelo duly paid, receiving back his ring. Two days later he again applied for the same sum, which, on receiving, he handed over as security one of the paste rings, telling the landlord that he could not pay him under ten days. He then went to the Metropolitan Hotel, and repeated the operation with one of the bogus rings, after which he proceeded to Montreal, where he obtained $3,000 on the third paste ring.

He afterwards invested the genuine stone in a faro bank, the proprietor allowing him $5000 for it. Of course, this sum was all gambled away in a few hours. Where are the hundreds of thousands that Luelo stole? “O, gold is only glimmer,” says the song. Where is Luelo? In State prison, where all law breakers go first or last, leaving their families, if they have any, in poverty. Luelo, who is known as French Louis and Louis Brown, was sentenced in 1867 to eight years in the Charlestown, Mass., State prison. He always asserted that he did not commit the burglary with which he was charged, and was finally, by the active exertions of his wife, pardoned in 1871.

Strange! bad men nearly always get good wives. His was a beautiful and good woman, who adhered to him through all. While serving a sentence at Sing Sing prison he escaped in July, 1878, and nine months later was recaptured and returned to his old quarters. Not long after the expiration of his term he was again apprehended and sent back to Sing Sing. He is now 63 years of age, and has passed at least 25 of that in prison. His talents, had they always been honestly employed, would have saved him those years of deprivation and degradation, and doubtless would have placed him in circumstances which would have enabled him to live continuously in as great luxury as during the intervals when he was out of prison.



#77 Gustave Kindt

Gustave François Kindt (1835-1910), aka Isidore Marechal, French Gus, Frenchy — Thief, Toolmaker, Inventor

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Fifty years old in 1886. Stout build. Born in Belgium, Widower. Height, 5 feet 6 inches. Weight, 180 pounds. Brown hair, keen gray eyes, fresh rosy face, dark complexion. High forehead. Generally wears a gray silky mustache and imperial. He is a square, muscular man. Speaks English fluently. Dresses like a well-to-do mechanic. Has a scar on his left jaw.

RECORD. Kindt, or “Frenchy,” is a celebrated criminal. He came to this country when very young. He is a skillful mechanic, and is credited with being able to fit a key as well, if not better, than any man in America. He also manufactures tools and hires them out to professional burglars on a percentage. In January, 1869, he was sent to Sing Sing prison for ten years for robbing the watch-case manufactory of Wheeler & Parsons, in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he was employed. On February 5, 1871, he escaped from Sing Sing by cutting through the bars of his cell with saws, which friends had managed to convey to him. On October 17, 1872, he was arrested for robbing a jewelry store in Hackensack, N.J., and sent back to Sing Sing prison. He devoted his time to the invention of a lever lock, by which a single key could unlock all or part of the cell doors at once, and offered the lock, which he completed in 1874, to the prison authorities on condition that he should receive his freedom. The proposition was laid before Governor Tilden, who rejected it. “Frenchy” escaped again in 1875, and went to Canada, where he was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for robbing a pawnbroker in Montreal. Thirty- seven diamonds, which he had shipped to his daughter in New York, were recovered. After serving out his time in Montreal, where he introduced his lock, he went to St. Albans, Vt., where he was arrested as an escaped convict on February 3, 1880. While on his way back to Sing Sing prison, in custody of an officer of Sing Sing prison, when near Troy, N.Y., on February 4, he made a dash for liberty. He leaped out of the car and ran across the fields. The officer followed and fired one shot. French Gus staggered, put his left hand to his cheek, but kept on. He fired again, and the burglar, flinging his arms in the air, fell headlong to the earth. He had been hit in the cheek and the back of the head. He was carried back to the train, and reached Sing Sing in a dying condition. He recovered, however, and on February 21, 1884, he was discharged, having finally expiated the crime of 1869. Immediately upon his discharge he was arrested and taken to Hackensack, N.J., to be tried for robbing a jewelry store there in 1872, an indictment having been found during his confinement in Sing Sing. There was not evidence enough to convict him, and he was released, after two months’ confinement. Kindt was next arrested in New York City, on May 23, 1885, charged with burglarizing the safe of Smith & Co., No. 45 Park Place, on April 27, 1885, where he obtained one $5,000 and one $1,750 bond, two watches, and $80 in money. He was also charged with robbing the store of G. B. Horton & Co., No. 59 Frankfort Street, of $234 in money and some postage stamps. The detectives searched the rooms of his daughter. Rose Kindt, in East Eleventh Street, New York City, and there found a complete and beautifully made set of burglars’ tools. In a sofa which they tore apart were sectional jimmies of the most improved pattern ; under the carpet were saws and small tools of every variety ; concealed elsewhere in the rooms were drags, drills, wrenches, crucibles for melting gold and silver, fuses, skeleton keys, wax, impressions of keys, etc. They also found what had been stolen from Smith & Co., and Horton & Co., with the exception of the money. When Kindt was confronted with his daughter, who had been arrested but was subsequently released, he confessed to all, and also charged Frank McCoy, alias “Big Frank” (89), with trying to obtain his services to rob the Butchers and Drovers’ Bank of New York City. Kindt pleaded guilty to two charges of burglary, and was sentenced to six years in State prison on June 4, 1885, by Judge Barrett, in the Court of Oyer and Terminer, New York City. Kindt’s picture is an excellent one, taken in May, 1885.

Gustave F. Kindt was an expert machinist and a master of prison escapes, perhaps the most intelligent criminal in Chief Byrnes’s rogue’s gallery. Kindt’s first confirmed presence was in Brooklyn, in 1867. He placed an ad in the New York Herald, looking for any information on his brothers Joseph and Charles–apparently they emigrated separately. Kindt described his original country as Belgium (but, when posing as Frenchman Isidore Marechal, claimed to be from Lille, France.) He was said to have been trained as a watchmaker.


In 1867, he joined a jewelry-making company in Brooklyn, working in their metal shop. Years later, the Cincinnati Enquirer recounted how Kindt robbed his workplace:


Kindt tried to implicate a co-worker–Jeannot–in the crime; this despite the fact that the Jeannot family had housed Kindt and his wife, and had helped him try to find his brothers.

For this crime, Kindt was sentenced to ten years in Sing Sing. In Sing Sing, he was able to craft a tiny saw, parts of which he secreted in one of his own molars that he had pulled out and hollowed. In February 1871, he sawed through three door locks and escaped from the prison and headed to New Jersey. Within six days, he found a new job at a Hackensack NJ jewelry manufacturer. He was hired, given a raise, and reconnected with his wife. While still working his job, he and his wife opened a lager hall across from his workplace. However, temptation beckoned, and Kindt open the safe of his employer and took $8000. The owner called in local police, who were stumped; they called in New York detectives, one of whom had worked on the similar Brooklyn case. Kindt was collared and reinstalled in Sing Sing to serve out his earlier sentence.

In November 1875, Kindt escaped from Sing Sing a second time–the only man ever to do so. This time, he was aided by a corrupt guard, who allowed Kindt to hide in a prison workshop instead of being returned to his cell. From the workshop, Kindt was able to get off the prison grounds, and made his way north to Canada. There, he used his French language skills to assume the alias of Isidore Marechal. About a year later, in November 1876, Kindt picked the lock of a pawnshop, opened the safe with a duplicate key he had made, and took about $20,000 in jewelry, watches, silverware, and bank notes. He melted down the metals into bricks, and sent an accomplice to New York to sell the precious stones. However, a suspicious cleaning lady tipped off authorities, and evidence was found in Kindt’s rooms. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to the Provincial Prison for three years.

Upon his release in 1879, he robbed a Montreal store of $4000 worth of silks. After fencing the goods, he headed back across the border into Vermont, shedding the “Isidore Marechal” alias and becoming “Gus Kent.” The silks were traced back to Kindt through a woman he had been intimate with in Montreal; she told Montreal detectives that he could be found in St. Albans, Vermont. They contacted the sheriff of St. Albans, who found that Kindt had been working in a machine shop there for six weeks. He was arrested; in his rooms they found a new set of safe-cracking tools that indicated he was about to commit another robbery. A message was sent to Sing Sing that an officer should come to retrieve Kindt and take him back to that prison.

An officer arrived to take possession of Kindt, and they boarded a train heading south to Troy, New York, where they needed to switch trains. They were delayed in Troy for several hours, and as they waited in the station, Kindt attacked the officer and tried to make a dash for freedom. They wrestled for several minutes, and finally the officer was able to pull out his revolver and shoot Kindt. The bullet glanced his head, causing a serious wound. He was bandaged and placed on the train the next day, but when he arrived at Sing Sing, there were doubts he would survive.

Imprisoned in Sing Sing once more, Kindt used his time productively. During his earlier stay at Sing Sing, he had observed that the workshop and exercise periods wasted much time with the unlocking and locking of individual cell doors. He had drawn a diagram for a mechanism that would allow one guard to lock or unlock a whole row of cells at one time. He offered his invention to the warden in exchange for a commuted sentence. The request had gone up to Governor Tilden in 1875 and had been turned down. Now, once again confined to Sing Sing, Kindt obtained a US patent for his invention. Kindt was later able to sell the rights to prisons in Great Britain.


Kindt was in and out of prison two more times (in 1885 and 1892), and was arrested again in 1900, but escaped conviction. His final years were spent in Philadelphia, where the city directories listed him as “inventor” or “mechanic.” He was known to be a manufacturer of burglar and safe-cracker tools. He obtained a second patent for an improvement to his cell-block locking mechanism  in 1898. He died in Philadelphia in 1910, age 75.