#76 Billy Forrester

Alexander McClymont (1838-1912), aka Billy Forrester,  Frank Livingston, Frank Howard, Conrad Foltz, etc. — Thief, Burglar

Link to Byrnes’s text for #76 Billy Forrester

The story of Billy Forrester’s career is filled with misinformation: false stories of his origins; crimes that he likely did not commit; aliases which he may or may have not used; how he escaped prisons; women he married; and when and how he came to an end. The worst mistake occurred when New York detectives (before Byrnes’s time) accepted the word of a convict-informer and started a manhunt for Forrester, believing him to be the murderer of financier Benjamin Nathan. For many years, Forrester found himself branded as a killer, despite the fact that he proved he was in the South at the time when the burglary at Nathan’s mansion occurred.

When Billy realized that he was about to be railroaded for murder in 1872, he explained his history to the New York Herald: his name was Alexander McClymont, he was born in Glasgow, and served for a long period in the U. S. Navy, starting as a messenger boy in 1852.  [As late as 1907 or 08, Forrester was still trying to get past pay due to him, and in fact thought he was was owed decades of pay, since he had never been formally discharged. Detective William Pinkerton tried to dissuade Billy of that claim, reminding Billy that he had deserted.]

In 1872, Allan Pinkerton gave the Chicago Tribune an account of Forrester’s history, most of which can be verified from 1868 on. Forrester himself had once indicated he had been in Joliet from 1863-1867, but if so, must have been under a different name:

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For the act of interceding, “The.” Allen was dragged through court proceedings for six months.

Pinkerton’s account continues on, but skips over an embarrassing episode. From New York, Billy went to Boston, where he romanced a young girl, Elizabeth Dudley, the daughter of a respected liquor merchant from a venerable family, James Winthrop Dudley. They eloped and were married in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in October 1869. [Though there are hints he had been married to others earlier.] “Lizzie” Dudley later claimed she only knew Forrester to be a gambler, but it is more likely that both she and her father knew exactly how Forrester earned his living. Forrester was arrested in Boston in November 1869, discharged, and then rearrested by detectives who had learned about the requisition issued for his return to Illinois. In December, he was put on a train to New York, linked to a detective by a cord. They got off for a drink in New Haven, and Forrester managed to cut the cord and escaped.

Two months later, Forrester and a gang tried a bank robbery in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. Before they could crack the safe, they were spotted and had to flee. Billy headed to Pittsburgh, where he was seen by a Pinkerton operative and captured. In March, 1870, he was taken first to Philadelphia to face charges for the Wilkes Barre robbery attempt; while being measured at the station house there, he fled, wearing nothing but his underwear.

In April, Billy and his bride Lizzie Dudley were reunited in Baltimore. The Baltimore police learned of his presence in the city, and the couple were forced to flee south, taking a ship to Key West, then to Havana, and finally to New Orleans, arriving in early June 1870. New Orleans police had already been warned to lookout for Forrester, and he was soon arrested in mid-June, 1870. However, no requisition was yet in hand from Illinois, and so he was released on a writ of habeas corpus.

Billy lived in New Orleans without further harassment for a couple of months, during which time he was seen by many people. Meanwhile, in New York City, financier Benjamin Nathan was killed in his home during a bungled burglary on July 28, 1870.

After a gap of activity in the late summer and fall of 1870, Billy returned to New Orleans in December to coordinate the robbery of Scooler’s jewelry store, which took place on the night of Dec. 31, 1870-Jan. 1, 1871. While Billy was enjoying the spoils from this job, his one-time partner in the failed Wilkes Barre bank robbery, George Ellis, informed police from his cell in Sing Sing that Billy was responsible for the Nathan murder. This kicked off a nationwide manhunt.

He was run to earth in Washington, D. C. in September 1872 and taken by train to New York. There he was interrogated, and proved his alibi to the grudging satisfaction of prosecutors. The Pinkertons and others had been hoping to collect a $50,000 reward for Nathan’s killer, but instead were forced to send Billy back to Joliet to serve out his term.

Billy was freed in January 1880 and drifted to Philadelphia, where he was frequently seen in the new high-end saloon run by the Brotherton brothers, who themselves had recently been released from San Quentin. In April 1881, Forrester was captured during a house burglary in Philadelphia, resulting in his trial, conviction, and sentencing to Eastern State Penitentiary for five years. His term ended there in November 1885.

Byrnes picks up Billy’s history in his 1895 edition:

Shortly after Forrester‘s release from the Eastern Penitentiary, at Philadelphia, Pa. (in November, 1885), he was arrested at Richmond, Va., as Frank Renfrew, charged with breaking into the residence of one A. L. Lee. He was indicted for burglary and carrying burglars’ tools. While in jail awaiting trial he escaped, and the next heard from him was his arrest at Chester, Pa., in 1887, under the name of James Robinson, for safe breaking and shooting at a police officer.

He was convicted at Media, Pa., and sentenced to four years in the Eastern Penitentiary, at Philadelphia, Pa. He was released from there on March 20, 1891, re-arrested, taken to Richmond Va., where he plead guilty to having burglars’ tools in his possession, and was sentenced to five years in the penitentiary on April 9, 1891. Forrester’s time expired at Richmond, Va., on August 17, 1895.

It should be noted that while Billy was devoting time to prison in Philadelphia and Richmond between 1885 and 1895, another criminal who took the alias “Billy Forrester” was active in Denver, Butte, and Chicago. His specialty was safe-cracking.

After Billy got out of prison in Richmond in 1895, he was taken in Washington, D. C. and held to account for a robbery there. He was sentenced to ten years, to be served in Albany County Penitentiary in New York.

Gaining his freedom in 1902, Billy went to New York City and lived for awhile with an old friend, Dan Noble. Flat broke, he approached the Pinkerton Agency in New York and asked for a loan to tide him over until he gained employment. They offered him a small amount in cash, and tried to recruit him as an informer. He declined.

He was never heard from again, until 1909, when he went to Buffalo to meet William A. Pinkerton. Though he tried to press Pinkerton to support his claim to back pay from the Navy, in truth he seemed just pleased to talk to his old adversary.

Billy was then working as a facilities superintendent for “a major Catholic institution near Niagara Falls,” described as a large monastery. This almost certain refers to the Mount Carmel monastery in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Billy managed a staff of seven there, working from 1903 until his death in 1912.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#50 David Cummings

David Cronin (1847-????), aka Little Dave Cummings, J. H. Smith, James Hogan, Harry Smithson, etc. — Sneak thief

Link to Byrnes’s text for #50 David Cummings

Inspector Byrnes not only devoted several pages to Dave Cummings, he also presented information about Dave’s early career that had never been published before 1886, and relating crimes far from New York. Byrnes undoubtedly received most of this information from the Pinkerton Detective Agency, which had been tracking Cummings long before he showed his face in New York City.

There is one egregious error in Byrnes’s entry on Cummings: the robbery of Scooler’s jewelry store in New Orleans took place on the night of Dec. 31, 1870-Jan. 1, 1871. This robbery continued to generate headlines for many months, for two different reasons. First, it was suspected that Billy Forrester was among the gang that did the job–and Forrester was the prime suspect in the murder of financier Benjamin Nathan in July of 1870. Secondly, at about 6:00AM on the morning of Jan 1., a fire broke out on one docked steamboat at New Orleans, which spread to four other ships, destroying them all. There were persistent rumors that the fire had been started by the gang to occupy the police while they made their getaway. However, it does not make a great deal of sense that this would be done hours after the heist was completed; or that the fire would get so out of control from one start point.

The Scooler’s robbery had another detail of interest: as reported by Byrnes, Cummings used the trick of fooling a watchman on street patrol by moving a dummy facade of a safe in front of a window, so that the burglars could work on the real safe without being seen. The same trick was later attributed to Mike Kurtz in an 1884 jewelry store robbery in Troy, New York.

Byrnes (or rather, the Pinkerton Agency) was likely correct that Cummings’ real last name was Cronin. Chicago newspapers indicated that Cummings had been there as a youth; and there is an 1860 Census entry for a “David Cronan” (a common variant spelling of Cronin) born in 1847, and no entries for any David Cummings living in Chicago that was close to the same age. Cummings had initials tattooed on his arm, “D. C.”

Cummings worked with many of the best bank thieves of his era. However, it is doubtful that any criminal of his generation could equal the year that Cummings had in 1881–Byrnes’s information from 1881 bears repeating:

  • In January, 1881, he was arrested at the Sinclair House, New York City, a porter having caught him coming out of the room of a son of United States Senator Pinchback’s, with a full outfit of tools and some valuables of the guests. He was committed, obtained bail, and again went into hiding. [Byrnes later suggested that Cummings was able to get out on bail after playing sick–he ate brick dust while in the Tombs, and spit it up, suggesting that he was coughing blood.]
  • His next appearance was at Philadelphia, where he formed a partnership with Walter Sheridan, Joe McClusky, and other noted bank sneaks. Their first robbery was that of a diamond broker on Chestnut Street, near Twelfth, where Cummings and Sheridan engaged the attention of the clerk, and McCluskey secured about $6,000 worth of diamonds.
  • In May, 1881, Sheridan, Dave, and Jack Duffy made a trip to Baltimore, where they ran across a traveling salesman of the jewelry house of Enos, Richardson & Co., of Maiden Lane, New York. They followed him to the Clarendon Hotel, where they watched till he went to dinner, entered his room and stole his entire stock, valued at $15,000. The chase becoming hot for Cummings, he finally returned the proceeds of the robbery, and received $2,500 for it.
  • He then started for the Pacific slope with Old Jimmy Hope and Big Tom Bigelow, and after looking about, these enterprising burglars concluded to rob Sauthers & Co.’s Bank, a Hebrew institution, where there was $600,000. They again put into operation their favorite tactics of securing a vacant room over the vault. They had tunneled through four layers of brick and several tiers of railroad iron, when the chief of detectives learned they were in the city. He took possession of several offices in the vicinity of the bank with his men, and about 10:30 p. m., on the night of June 27, 1881, he made a raid on them. He found Jimmy Hope at work. Cummings heard them coming and ran to the roof, crawled through the scuttle, and running over the tops of several buildings, finally descended through a vacant store, and was once more at large. Bigelow, who was supposed to have been working inside with Hope, in some manner escaped also.
  • Cummings left his trail at every hotel where he stopped, in Southern California, New Mexico, Denver, Col.; and at a small town, twenty miles from Denver, he robbed a well known Chicago liquor dealer, named Al. Arundel, of $1,400 in money, a $500 watch, and a $400 diamond stud.
  • He then paid a flying visit to Chicago, then to Saint Joseph, Mo., from there to St. Paul, then to Oshkosh, Wis. where he was arrested under the name of J. H. Smith, for robbing a Chicago salesman of his watch, diamond pin, and $200 in money, at the Tremont Hotel in that town. Dave pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in State prison there on September 14, 1881.

Cummings career following his release from the Wisconsin State Prison was much more dismal. He went to England, and with Rufe Minor started to plan hotel thefts. However, they were advised against targeting hotels, as security in England was tighter than in the United States. Cummings ignored that advice, and for his trouble was arrested and imprisoned for five years.

He returned to the United States and was arrested for possession of burglar’s tools in New York City in February 1891. He was sentenced to five years in Sing Sing under the name Patrick Robertson.

Cummings was released in September 1894. From that point, little is known of his fate. A 1905 item in the National Police Gazette implied that he was alive and had moved to the Pacific Coast.

In 1912, newspaper columnist Henry C. Terry devoted one of his “Parallel Stories of Famous Crimes” columns to the foiled 1872 Jersey City bank robbery attempt, in which Cummings escaped arrest. Terry’s approach is interesting: he first lets one of the criminals tell his story; then lets one of the police detectives give his view of events:

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#86 John T. Irving

John Thompson Irving (Abt. 1835-1922), aka Old Jack, John Irwin, John Thompson, George Mason — Burglar

From Byrnes’s text:
DESCRIPTION. Forty-eight years old in 1886. Born in New York. Married. Medium build. Height, 5 feet 4 inches. Weight, about 130 pounds. Gray hair; generally wears a gray mustache. He shows his age on account of his long prison life, but is still capable of doing a good job.
RECORD. “Old Jack,” as he is called, is one of the most celebrated criminals in America. He was born and brought up in the Fourth Ward of New York City, and has, for some offense or other, served time in State prisons from Maine to California.
He created considerable excitement in the early part of 1873, while under arrest for burglary in San Francisco, Cal., by declaring himself the murderer of Benjamin Nathan, who was killed at his residence in Twenty-third Street, New York City, on Friday morning, July 29, 1870. He was brought from California on an indictment charging him with burglarizing the jewelry store of Henry A. Casperfeldt, at No. 206 Chatham Street, on June 1, 1873, and stealing therefrom eighty-seven silver watches, four gold watches, and a number of gold and precious stone rings. Irving and another man rented a room at No. 3 Doyer Street, and forced an entrance into the store from the rear. After his return from California he was confined in the Tombs prison, and while there, on November 22, 1873, he made another statement in which he alleged that he was one of the burglars who robbed Nathan’s house, and offered to tell who it was that killed the banker. The matter was thoroughly investigated by the authorities, who concluded that Irving was only trying to avoid the consequences of the two burglaries he was indicted for. He was therefore placed on trial in the Court of General Sessions, in New York City, on December 8, 1873, and found guilty of the Casperfeldt burglary, and also for another one, committed in the Fifth Ward. He was sentenced to five years on the first charge and two years and six months on the second one, making seven years and six months in all.
Irving, some years ago, was shot while escaping from a bonded warehouse in Brooklyn, N. Y., and believing himself about to die, betrayed his comrades. He recovered from his wounds, and was discharged from custody. After that, in company with others, he attempted to rob Simpson’s pawnshop, in the Bowery, New York City. The burglars hired a suite of rooms in the adjoining house, and drilled through the walls into the vault. The plot was discovered by the police, who, however, were unable to capture them, as the cracksmen were frightened away by a party living in the house.
He was arrested again in New York City on April 26, 1881, under the name of George Mason, in company of another notorious thief named John Jennings, alias Connors, alias “Liverpool Jack,” in the act of robbing the tea store of Gerhard Overhaus. No. 219 Grand Street. They were both committed in $3,000 bail for trial by Justice Wandell. Both pleaded guilty to burglary in the third degree, in the Court of General Sessions, and were sentenced to two years and six months in the penitentiary, on May 10, 1881, by Judge Gildersleeve.
Irving was arrested again in New York City on suspicion of burglary, on April 22, 1886. The complainant failed to identify him, and he was discharged. He is now at large. Irving’s picture resembles him to-day, although taken some fifteen years ago.
The burglar, John T. Irving, lied about himself too often for his own good. He also suffered somewhat from being confused with two other men far apart on the spectrum of society: John T. Irving, Jr., the nephew of writer Washington Irving and son of Judge John T. Irving, Sr.; and Johnny Irving, a much more celebrated bank robber and member of the Dutch Mob gang. The latter Irving, Johnny, was killed by another crook in Shang Draper’s saloon in 1883, and therefore is only mentioned briefly in Byrnes’ book.

Byrnes’s account of John T. Irving’s criminal resume is a bit disjointed. In proper order:

  • Around 1864, Irving was arrested for burglary and sent to Sing Sing for five or six years. While there, he wrote the the New York District Attorney and offered information about those involved in the murder of a policeman. Detectives were sent to interview Irving, but it turned out he had no credible information, and the detectives concluded he was fishing for a pardon.
  • In January, 1870, the premises of Barton & Co. on Beekman Street in New York City were burgled of property valued at $1400, mostly cutlery and pistols. The thieves were discovered to be Patrick McDermott, James Clarke, William Pierce, Richard “Dickie” Moore, Charles Carr, and John Thompson [Irving]. Thompson was released for lack of evidence.
  • In May, 1870 he was caught in possession of burglar’s tools, but was again released. Irving later confessed that he and Carr had broken in the premises of Robert Green & Co., pawnbrokers, of the Bowery, on May 18th, but were frustrated by the safe.
  • In July of the same year, 1870, Irving and Charles Carr were arrested for the burglary of a store on Lispenard Street in New York; they were found with the stolen goods in Hoboken, New Jersey. Carr was convicted and sent to prison, while Irving was released on bail, which was forfeited.
  • On January 1, 1871, Irving and his partners attempted to rob the safe of Arbuckle & Co’s coffee and spice mill in Brooklyn. They were caught in the act, and while attempting to flee, Irving was shot in the shoulder.
  • The surgeon couldn’t extract the ball from Irving’s shoulder, and he was not given good odds of survival. Under these circumstances, he gave police the names of his accomplices. For this information, he was kept in a lightly-guarded cell at Raymond Street in Brooklyn. Within four weeks, he reconsidered his position and was able to break out of jail. Most blamed lax security, while the jailers blamed Irving’s visitors.
  • Irving laid low from January, 1871 until June, 1873. On the first on June, the jewelry store of Henry Casperfeld of 206 Chatham Street was robbed of dozens of watches and other jewelry. Fearing arrest, both for this robbery and past ones for which he was wanted, Irving lit out for California.
  • Irving must have taken the new transcontinental railroad, for he arrived in Sacramento on around June 25th. Three weeks on the run, separated from his wife and daughter by 2000 miles, broke Irving’s resolve. He approached a police officer in Sacramento and confessed to the robbery of Casperfeld and also to the May, 1870 Bowery robbery. Sacramento authorities wired New York, but Chief Matsell had no interest in laying out the expense of retrieving Irving, and so told them to cut him loose. Irving tried walking east to Auburn, California, thirty miles from Sacramento, to present the same confession. There, he was held for another couple of weeks, before being cut loose once again.
  • Irving backtracked west, past Sacramento, and arrived in San Francisco in late August, 1873. He signed on as a crew member of the British merchant ship, Coulnakyle, but before the ship left port, Irving went to the San Francisco police and confessed to the July 28, 1870 murder of Jewish financier Benjamin Nathan–a highly publicized murder that had gone unsolved for three years, and carried a reward of $50,000 to whoever captured the murderer. San Francisco police at first thought him insane, and subjected him to questioning by a lunacy panel.
  • At first, Irving confessed to being the murderer, but later changed his story to assert that he was one of three burglars who had entered Nathan’s home, in a plot set up by Nathan’s son and housekeeper. Irving knew many details of the murder–many of which had been publicized years earlier. He also provided a few details that had not been publicized; but also offered many particulars that were demonstrably wrong. New York authorities believed Irving was either trying to get a free ride east or immunity from his past burglaries, or both.
  • Irving also told San Francisco authorities that he was a relative of the great writer, Washington Irving. The claim was easily debunked in New York.
  • Public pressure finally forced Chief Matsell to have Irving brought back to New York, where it some became apparent that he had nothing of substance to offer about the Nathan murder. Irving was tried in November for the Casperfeld robbery and was found guilty. He immediately went to trial for the May, 1870 pawnbroker robbery, and was convicted again. His total sentence was seven and a half years.
  • Not long after his release from prison, Irving was arrested for the robbery of a tea store in late April, 1881. This resulted in Irving’s being sent to the penitentiary for two years.
  • In March, 1884, Irving was caught with three others in Lawrence, Massachusetts, as they were planning a robbery there.
  • He was arrested in New York in 1886 on suspicion, but was released for lack of evidence.
  • Finally, in December he was picked up for the robbery of a grocery store in Long Island City in October, 1888. However, testifying in his defense were Charles Stewart of the School of Industry and J. Ward Childs of the Bowery Mission, a famous refuge in the middle of a depraved neighborhood. They swore that Irving had been sleeping in hallways and begging for bread, and was making a genuine effort to reform.

Even in 1895, Chief Byrnes was still skeptical that Irving had given up burglary, but his 1888 arrest was his last brush with police. Irving went on to live a long life in Brooklyn and Queens, for many years working as a janitor at the Queens Library.

#199 Samuel Perris

Samuel Lafayette Parris (1840-????), aka Sam Perris, Sam Gorman, Samuel Ferris, Worcester Sam — Bank robber

From Byrnes’s Text:

DESCRIPTION. Forty-six years old in 1886. Born in Canada. A French Canadian. Single. No trade. Height, 5 feet 8 inches. Weight, about 180 pounds. Looks something like a Swede or German. Brown hair, blue eyes, light complexion. Face rather short. Has a prominent dimple in his chin. Is thick set and very muscular. Has a quick, careless gait. Speaks English without French accent ; also, French fluently. He changes the style of his beard continually, and is “smooth-faced” a part of the time. Generally wears some beard on account of his pictures having been taken with smooth face. He drinks freely and spends money rapidly. He has a scar from a pistol-shot on his right eyebrow.

RECORD. “Worcester” Sam is one of the most notorious criminals in America. He has figured in the annals of crime in the Eastern and New England States for years. He is an associate of Old Jimmie Hope (20), Mike Kerrigan, alias Johnny Dobbs (64), and all the most expert men in the country. He has no doubt participated in every bank robbery of any magnitude that has taken place in the United States for the past twenty years. He is a man of undoubted nerve, and has a first-class reputation among the fraternity. His specialty is banks and railroad office safes.

Sam is wanted now by the Worcester (Mass.) police; also, for the robbery and alleged murder of Cashier Barron, of the Dexter Bank of Maine. He was in custody at Worcester, Mass., but escaped from jail there on April 5, 1872. He has never been recaptured, although there is a standing reward of $3,000 offered for him by the county commissioners. (See records of George Wilkes and No. 50.)

Perris’s picture is the best in existence. It was copied from one taken with a companion, and resembles him very much.

Reuben and Adaline Parris were part of the wave of migration from French Canada to the United States that started in the 1830s and 1840s, fleeing a poor economy. Their first stop in the United States was Randolph, Vermont, where son Samuel Lafayette Parris was born in 1840. Adaline and her children were noted as “mulatto” in census records. In the 1850s, the family moved first to Worcester, Massachusetts; then to Watervliet, New York; and later to back Worcester, Massachusetts, where there was a large French-Canadian population that had sought out textile factory jobs. Reuben Parris (whose surname was often spelled Perris, Paris, or Pareice) was a fish and fruit dealer by trade. Reuben Parris did little to discourage his son from a life of crime, and in at least one instance abetted one of Sam’s bank robberies.

When and where Sam Parris started his life of thieving is not known, but anecdotes about his involvement in specific robberies surfaced in 1871 which dated his activities back to at least 1869, about the time he was said to have left Worcester. He traveled under the alias “Sam Gorman,” and among his early mentors were George Miles White (alias George Bliss, George Miles) and Max Shinburn. In 1869, Parris was involved in a heavy robbery in Boston, and by December of that year was enjoying the spoils in New Orleans. There he was arrested as Sam Gorman for the theft of $20,000 from the banking form of Pike, Brother, & Co. He was released on bail after donating $400 to the recorder (judge) that handled his case.

 

 

Shortly afterwards, Parris was back in northern New England, committing robberies with new partners Daniel Dockerty and Charles Gleason. In July 1870 they hit the safe of E. B. True in Newport, Vermont; followed several weeks later by a robbery in Barton, Vermont. Gleason was captured by a detective from New Hampshire in White River Junction, but was released on bail. Reunited, the gang hit the First National Bank of Grafton, Massachusetts, not far from Sam’s Worcester home.

In January, 1871 the gang of thieves robbed a bank in Waterbury, Connecticut. Afterwards, Parris was rumored to have fled to England. By May he was back in the United States, but was captured by detectives in Hoboken, New Jersey. Several states (Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine requested Parris, but ultimately it was decided to send him back to Worcester to stand trial for the Grafton bank robbery.

Gleason, Dockerty, Parris, and Sam’s father Reuben all faced charges. Reuben Parris was accused of driving the thieves to Grafton, and for accompanying his son to New York to sell some bonds stolen from the Grafton bank. Gleason and Dockerty were convicted and sent to the Massachusetts State Prison for long stretches: thirteen and fourteen years. Reuben Parris was acquitted of the most serious charges. Sam Parris was still waiting to learn his fate when he escaped from the Worcester jail, aided by his wife Harriet. The escape was meticulously planned:

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Three months later, in July 1872, a gang of eight or nine men hit the bank at Uxbridge, Massachusetts. The technique was the same employed by Parris’ former partners, Gleason and Dockerty: they would lay in wait for the bank cashier, gag him, beat and threaten him, and then force him to open the safe. Parris’ partners are not known, but sometime in the mid 1870s, he was frequently mentioned as being one of George Leslie’s gang, which included Jimmy Hope, Abe Coakley, and Johnny Dobbs (Michael Kerrigan).

In 1876, Parris re-teamed with an old partner, George Miles White, to rob a bank in Barre, Vermont. White was captured, while Parris eluded authorities. White was imprisoned for a long sentence, and emerged from jail reformed by religion. He went on to write two books about his criminal career and religious conversion, From Boniface to Bank Burglar and Penalty and Redemption.

Parris left the United States and went to Europe, where he conspired with other touring American criminals; but what crimes they successfully committed are not known. He returned to the United states and took part in the infamous robbery at the Dexter bank in Maine in February 1879. As was his pattern, the bank cashier was threatened; when he proved uncooperative in opening the inner vault door, one of the gang of robbers locked the man behind the vault’s outer door. Most accounts suggest that Worcester Sam Parris was the guilty party when the cashier was found dead the next morning.

The Dexter job had been planned by mastermind George Leslie, who rarely participated in the actual robbery. Now that the gang had blood on their hands, it was feared that Leslie might lose his nerve. Leslie was subsequently murdered in Westchester County, just across the border from New York City. Who killed Leslie is not known, but the leading suspects were Johnny Dobbs or Sam Parris.

Parris laid low for several years, some of which were spent in Philadelphia under the protection of Jimmy Hope and his friends. The last crime that Parris was thought to be involved in was a robbery at a Walpole, New Hampshire drug store with partner Thomas McCormick. McCormick was captured and sent to prison; Parris (if it was him) put up a desperate fight, twice breaking away from officers, before outrunning them.

Worcester Sam then disappeared. An article from Cincinnati published in 1904 suggested that he was still alive, and still wanted as a fugitive in Worcester.

There is one curious mention of Parris after 1883: the June 1900 issue of The Blue Pencil Magazine contained an article by respected editor and newspaperman James F. Corrigan, titled “The Murder of Nathan.” Corrigan relates meeting an old bank robber at the New York docks in 1898, and discussing an old unsolved murder with him. It was the killing of banker Benjamin Nathan that took place in 1870, that remained unsolved. The old bank robber told Corrigan who had committed the crime, and said both perpetrators were long dead [Charles Dennis and Hugh “Kew” Carr; the pair had been briefly considered as suspects, but it was found that Dennis was in jail when Nathan was murdered.] Corrigan named his informant as “Worcester Sam,” a name that hardly anyone would have recognized in 1900.