#38 Charles J. Everhardt

Charles J. Everhardt (Abt. 1842-19??), aka Marsh Market Jake, Charles Williams, George Walsh, Charles Webb, Greenback Charley, George Hartman, Samuel Peters, Charles Koch, Charles McGloin, George Jones, Samuel Wells, William Helburne, etc. — Sneak thief, forger

Link to Byrnes’s text for #38 Charles J. Everhardt

Despite his distinctive name, nickname, and numerous mentions in Professional Criminals of America, there are several mysteries surrounding “Marsh Market Jake.” Most sources agree he was raised in Baltimore, which had a neighborhood (and street gang) named Marsh Market. Baltimore had a large German population, with many families named Everhardt/Everhart/Everhard–but there are no leads indicating whether Jake came from one of them. The same sources locating his early years in Baltimore also say that he was a thief since youth; yet there are no Baltimore crime reports of a chronic offender by this name.

Before any known criminal activities, Jake served in the military, according to the 1890 Veteran Schedule records filled out in Sing Sing. Those indicate that he served three months (May-August 1861) in the 12th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry; and then enlisted in the Navy in 1862 and served over thirty months on the USS Brandywine during its blockade of the Virginia coast.

In January 1870, Everhardt, alias Charles Williams alias George Walsh, was arrested twice in Philadelphia: once for snatching bills away from a man at a bank; and secondly for trying to shoplift a bolt of satin. He was sentenced to six years and nine months in Eastern State Penitentiary.

After leaving ESP, Everhardt teamed up with Philly Pearson and George Williams for an 1876 bank robbery in Montreal, but were captured. Everhardt was sentenced to three and a half years.

In April 1880, Everhardt was back in Philadelphia and led a gang that opened a safe in a whisky store, stealing $2200. His partners were Kid Carroll (identified by Byrnes as “Little Al Wilson”), George Williams, and Billy Morgan. They were each sentenced to eighteen months in Eastern State Penitentiary.

A Cincinnati detective was convinced that Everhardt, Tom Bigelow, John Jourdan, and Charles Benedict were responsible for the October 1881 theft of $20,000 in bonds from Senator Burton in Cincinnati, but the case was never proved, nor were they ever arrested.

In May 1882, Everhardt and Philly Pearson were caught with a third man, known by the alias Charles Wilson, in Kingston, Ontario. They were accused of robbing a Toronto jewelry store; Pheason gave his name as John Miller, and Everhardt gave the name Charles Webb. They were sentenced to five years in the Kingston Penitentiary, but with time reduced were out in March 1885.

Three months later, Everhardt and Pearson were arrested on suspicion in Philadelphia, where Jake offered the aliases William Helburne and Albert Rudolph. Pearson gave the name George Thompson. Though the evidence against them was circumstantial, they were given ninety days in jail.

Upon his release in August 1885, Jake hooked up with Charles Fisher’s gang of check forgers. Fisher and Everhardt were briefly detained by police in Boston, but were let go. In New York, the gang–including Everhardt, Fisher, Walter Pierce, and Charles Denken–were tracked by Byrnes’s detectives, who succeeded in corralling the gang and charged them with several counts of presenting forged checks. Everhardt’s protege, Kid Carroll, was arrested for attempting to lay one of the checks in Baltimore. In January 1886, Marsh Market Jake was sentenced to ten years in Sing Sing.

Jake’s sentence was commuted and he was released from Sing Sing in November 1892.

Everhardt returned to New York and resided there under the alias Samuel Wells, and situated himself as a trader in jewelry. In October 1894, Secret Service and Postal Inspectors had Everhardt arrested on charges that he had broken into and stolen $5000 in stamps from the New Albany, Indiana post office. When he was taken in New York, officials found $3000 in stamps in his possession. Everhardt was brought up on charges in a federal court in Indiana and convicted, despite calling in many respectable witnesses who swore they saw him in New York at the time of the robbery.

Everhardt was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. In October 1896, just four months shy of completing his term, Jake was pardoned by President Grover Cleveland. The Secret Service and Post Office had discovered after his conviction that others committed the robbery.

Jake returned to New York, but within a few years had exhausted every means of legal income. He checked in with Chief Detective George F. Titus, a former lawyer, and Titus got him a job as a watchman on the New York subway construction project.

Many years later, it was said that he died in a poorhouse, but the date and location is unknown.

 

 

 

#31 Louis R. Martin

Lewis R. Martin (Abt. 1827-1894), aka Luther R. Martin, L. R. Martin, Lew Martin — Counterfeiter, Forger

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Sixty-three years old in 1886. Born in United States. Horse dealer. Medium build. Height, 5 feet 10 3/4 inches. Weight, 164 pounds. Gray hair, eyes dark gray and weak, complexion light. Is a fine, gentlemanly-looking man.

RECORD. Martin was believed to be the capitalist of the Brockway gang of forgers and counterfeiters. He was well known by all the reputable horse and sporting men in this country, as a man of means engaged in the transportation of cattle between the United States, England and Australia.

He was indicted in the United States Court of the Western District of Pennsylvania in 1875, with an accomplice named Henry Moxie, alias Sweet, for passing counterfeit $500 notes. He was never tried. Previous to that time he had been known as an expert engraver and printer of counterfeits, under the name of Martin Luther. He made and owned the plate with which the $500 notes for which himself and Moxie were indicted were printed.

He has been connected in several large counterfeiting schemes with William E. Brockway (32), J. B. Doyle, Nathan B. Foster, English Moore, and others. He is well known by the United States officers as a counterfeiter.

Martin was arrested in New York City, on November 10, 1883, with Brockway (32) and Nathan B. Foster, charged with having in his possession forged $1,000 bonds of the Morris & Essex Railroad of New Jersey. At the time of his arrest, in the St. James Hotel, New York City, there was found in two valises in his room fifty-four $1,000 bonds of the above road, thirty-three of which had been numbered and signed ready for use. For this offense Martin was convicted, and sentenced to ten years in State prison, on August 6, 1884, by Judge Cowing, in the Court of General Sessions in New York City. His counsel obtained a stay of proceedings, and he was granted a new trial, and admitted to bail; while confined in the Tombs prison from some cause he became totally blind. His picture is an excellent one, taken in November, 1883.

There is no doubt that Lew Martin was a central partner in several counterfeiting schemes; less clear is whether he was ever an engraver himself, or always worked with others. Whatever the case, his crimes appear to have been episodic, and fueled by his real passion: horse breeding. Martin’s known crimes occurred far from his adopted home, San Francisco. As a counter to his profile in Professional Criminals of America, consider Lew Martin’s obituary in Breeder and Sportsman:

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Martin’s patron, starting around 1870, was one of California’s greatest businessmen, Lucky Baldwin. Not only did Baldwin stand by his friend in his last decade as an invalid, Baldwin surely must have been aware of Lew’s counterfeiting crimes. [Was Lew Martin the “broker” of these rings? Or was it his rich mentor?] Martin must have also rubbed shoulders with Baldwin’s friend and horse-racing enthusiast, Wyatt Earp.

In the 1860s, prior to his move to California, Lew Martin was a well-known trotting horse breeder living in Brooklyn. In the late 1880s, the head of the United States Secret Service, Andrew L. Drummond, claimed that it was during the 1860s that Martin first started working with William E. Brockway.

Martin’s downfall was his 1883 arrest in New York with Brockway and Nathaniel B. Foster. The events surrounding this arrest are more fully described in two sources: 1) Allan Pinkerton’s Thirty Years a Detective (published in 1884), in the chapter “Counterfeiters;” and 2) A. L. Drummond’s True Detective Stories, in the chapter “A Wonderful Man Loses His Luck.” Brockway, Foster, and Martin likely would have been daunted to learn that the forces of the Pinkertons, the Secret Service, and Inspector Byrnes were all aligned against them.

 

#177 Henry Cline

Henry Western (Abt. 1855-????), aka Henry/Harry Cline/Kline, Henry Weston, Henry Watson — Burglar, Coin Counterfeiter

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-one years old in 1886. German, born in the United States. Married. Machinist. Medium build. Height, 5 feet 9 inches. Weight, 148 pounds. Black hair, brown eyes, dark complexion. Has a scar on his forehead ; mole under the right eye.

RECORD. Cline is one of the most expert house and office sneaks there is in this country. He generally works with another man, who enters the room or office under pretense of selling something, thereby occupying the attention of whoever may be there, while Cline sneaks in and gets what he can. He is an expert machinist. One of the finest set of “house-workers'” tools that was ever captured was taken from him at the time of his arrest on April 24, 1885. He claimed to have made them while confined in prison. Cline has served several terms in the penitentiary of New York City. He was sentenced to three months on January 11, 1876, for petty larceny, in New York City, and again in May, 1879, for six months.

He was arrested again in New York City on July 6, 1885, under the name of Henry Weston, in company of a girl named Kitty Wilson, charged with counterfeiting United States silver coins. The United States officers searched the rooms occupied by them, and found twenty-five sets of plaster moulds, such as are used in making counterfeit coins, batteries, chemical solutions, and a number of spurious coins, among which were two hundred bogus United States standard dollars. They were rather poor imitations of the genuine, and could be readily detected.

Kitty Wilson, who is about twenty-five years of age, is of German descent, and is well known as one of the women who frequent the disreputable resorts in the vicinity of the Bowery, and Bleecker and Great Jones streets, New York. She formerly lived with a man named Wilson, and took his name. She met Cline a short time before their arrest, and went to live with him at No. 44 First Avenue, New York, and began the coining of counterfeit silver pieces in their apartments on the third floor. Weston and Kitty were committed to jail, in default of $5,000 bail, by United States Commissioner Shields, on July 7, 1885. Weston, or Cline, was sentenced to three years in State prison at Buffalo, N. Y., by Judge Benedict, in the United States Court in New York City, on October 28, 1885. Kitty Wilson was discharged. Cline’s picture is an excellent one, taken in May, 1879.

The task of gathering further information on Byrnes’s “Harry Cline” is an exercise in frustration. Newspaper coverage of the 1885 counterfeiting arrest only refer to the man as “Henry Weston.” The January 1876 and May 1879 arrests that Byrnes cites can not be confirmed, either by newspaper accounts or by New York prison registers. However, a “Henry Western alias Henry Kline” was sent to Sing Sing in November, 1876 on a three years sentence for burglary.

There is no evidence that “Henry Kline” was ever more than a third-rate thief. His 1885 arrest for counterfeiting coins did not represent a step upwards on the criminal ladder. The following interview with Chief Drummond of the U.S. Secret Service (whose main responsibility in the 1860s-1890s was stopping counterfeiters) was given to the New York Times in early October 1885, just a couple of weeks before Drummond had “Henry Weston” prosecuted for the crime he described:

 

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#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, 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’s 1895 edition that says that Dutch Dan died in Philadelphia in 1892.

#18 Charles Becker

John Charles Becker (1849-1916), aka Charlie Becker, Charley Becker, Dutchman Becker — Forger

Link to Byrnes’s entry on Charles Becker

John Charles Becker was not born in Germany, as Byrnes suggests, but in New York to parents who had long before arrived from Germany. His father, Valentin Becker, met and married Maria Margaretha Blinn in New York in 1838. John Charles was the fourth child born to the pair, arriving in 1849. Around 1856-7, the Becker clan (now numbering five offspring) moved to Chicago, but by 1865–with two more additions–they moved back to Brooklyn.

In his teens, John Charles (known to friends as Charlie) learned the printing trade and the process of lithography. He came in contact with another German lithographer living in New York, Clemenz Haering. Haering also operated a saloon on Stanton Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. In 1871, 21-year-old Charlie married Haering’s daughter, Anna C. Haering, then just 16 or 17 years old. Charlie was not a drinker–he avoided bad habits that might affect his penmanship–but he did enjoy rubbing shoulders with criminals. Charlie’s knowledge of printing, lithography, and bank forms made him a target for recruitment by these shady characters. Moreover, his father-in-law, Clemenz Haering, was not above engaging in a bit of forgery/counterfeiting.

In August 1872, Charlie joined with Joe Chapman, Joe Elliott (aka Frederick Elliott/Little Joe Reilly) and Carlo Sescovitch to rob the Third National Bank of Baltimore. They entered the bank at night and cracked open its vault, taking away cash, bonds, and blank bank forms, totaling between $200,000 and $300,000–an enormous sum for the period. Many of the bonds were registered bonds, which thieves usually ignored because their numbers can be traced. The theft of these bonds, along with the blank forms, indicated to detectives that the robbers had a forger among them that could use the forms and change the numbers on the bonds. Witnesses had seen men around the bank in the days before the robbery, and were able to give descriptions of them. From those descriptions, detectives thought they knew who to look for–but Chapman and the others could not be found anywhere.

There was no rational reason that Charlie Becker, with his unmatched handwriting and engraving skills, needed to be involved in the heist itself; like other “penman,” he could have stayed safely in a studio with his pens, brushes, and inks. But he seemed to enjoy the thrill of crime.

The four thieves had already left the country before police could make those identifications. However, they realized the danger of traveling with the stolen bonds. Before leaving on a steamer to Europe, the stack of bonds was left with Chapman’s wife, Lydia, who was unknown to authorities. She was under instructions to bring the bonds to England in a trunk once the waiting thieves sent her the signal.

One of the reasons that the series of events from 1872-1873 involving Becker, Chapman, Joe Elliott, Sescovitch, and Adam Worth is so compelling is that it involves so many classic crime story elements: a huge bank heist; partners who distrust one another; capture and imprisonment; treachery; a prison escape; kidnapping; romantic rivals; an unsolved murder; a theft of a classic artwork; a criminal mastermind…and baffled authorities.

One of those frustrated lawmen was Andrew Lewis Drummond, operative of the United States Secret Service, who was assigned the job of finding and stopping the Baltimore bank thieves–not so much for the sake of the stolen items themselves, but to prevent Becker from becoming the most dangerous forger in America. Years later (in 1908), Drummond wrote about his role in the story–which was to follow the trunk of bonds that was in the possession of Lydia Chapman:

TRUE DETECTIVE STORIES: TWO WOMEN AND A RED TRUNK

BY A. L. DRUMMOND, FORMERLY CHIEF OF THE U. S. SECRET SERVICE

Early in August, 1872, the Third National bank of Baltimore was robbed. The vault was blown at dead of night and between $200,000 and $300,000 taken. A large part of this sum was in coin and currency. The rest was in registered bonds and coupon bonds. The robbers escaped without leaving a clew of their identity.

Coupon bonds can be cashed at any bank as readily as one government note can be exchanged for another. Registered bonds cannot. Ordinary thieves therefore do not take bonds the numbers and the names of the owners of which are matters of record. Forgers are the exception. With their secret chemicals for removing printing and writing inks without leaving a stain that even a magnifying glass will show, they can make use of registered bonds. The fact that a large lumber of blank drafts and checks had been stolen also indicated that one of the robbers was an expert forger.

From these bare facts it soon developed that the robbers were Joe Elliot, Joe Chapman, Charlie Becker and a Russian. Becker was the forger — one of the best that the world ever produced. Careful search revealed their movements for several days preceding the robbery. It was even found that men answering their descriptions were seen near the bank on the day it was rifled. But when all these facts became known the earth seemed to have swallowed the men who were wanted.

More than a month passed and nothing was heard of them. On September 17, the chief of the Secret Service called me to his office. Beside him sat a man with a long white beard. The chief introduced him to me as Clement Herring, father of Charlie Becker’s wife.

“This man runs a saloon on Stanton street,” said the chief. “He expects his daughter and Mrs. Chapman to call on him tomorrow morning. Be on watch outside, and if they come he will signal you. He says they are going to leave for Europe in the afternoon, and that among their baggage will be a small red trunk containing the registered bonds stolen from the Third National. Mr. Herring thinks they will get the trunk either on Lexington avenue near Twenty-second street or on Eighth avenue near Forty-eighth street.

“Here’s what I want you to do. Once you get sight of these women, follow them wherever they go. If they get the red trunk, follow them on to the ship and learn the number of their stateroom and the names under which they depart — they are not going to use their own names. When you get these facts put them in this letter that I have written to the chief of police of Southampton, and give it to the purser on the ship, who will deliver it to an officer waiting at the pier on the other side. He will be notified that you are coming and will know what to do. Don’t arrest the women; don’t seize the trunk.”

At 8 o’clock the next morning I took up the watch in front of Herring’s saloon. I waited more than an hour before anything happened. Then a stylish carriage drove up. Two women alighted, and in the moment that elapsed before they descended the three steps that led to Herring’s basement saloon I took careful note of their appearance.

Each woman was apparently 30 years old and strikingly handsome. Both were gowned in the height of fashion. The blonde woman, who I afterward learned was Mrs. Becker, was a trifle shorter than her companion. Mrs. Chapman, who was a statuesque brunette of perhaps live feet eight or nine. Both women were wreathed in smiles and apparently radiantly happy. They were going to Europe to meet their husbands, and evidently the prospect pleased them.

Two or three times while they were inside I walked past the place and caught glimpses of them through the window. The two women seemed to be sipping at glasses of Rhine wine, while they talked to the gray whiskered man who sat on the other side of the table. Mrs. Becker did most of the talking. The lightheartedness that marked her manner in the street had departed. She spoke earnestly and seriously. The man listened, almost sadly.

While I was waiting I sent a newsboy to call a hack driver who had often driven me on business trips, and when, about 11 o’clock, the women left the saloon, I was ready to follow them. But I had not taken into account the possibility that the driver might not come with the accustomed cab. He didn’t. He came with what was the most fashionable turnout of the time — a Clarence coach, drawn by two horses. This fact is of importance only because the semicircular front of the coach was glass and I was dressed like a stevedore — slouch hat, blue shirt, rough trousers and no coat or waistcoat. I had contemplated the possibility that my work that day might take me along the docks, and had dressed accordingly.

However, there was nothing to do but to jump into the coach and tell the driver to follow the women wherever they went. They cut in and out through side streets and finally turned into Lexington avenue. I remember with what amazement I was stared at by others who drove fashionable carriages like my own. Behind the semicircle of glass I sat like the modern “demonstrator” in a show window — apparently a stevedore seeing the sights at $8 a day!

Near the corner of Twenty-second street — at the number at which the aged man had said they might get the red trunk — the carriage containing the women halted. As they alighted and went up the steps to the house I saw that they were again the happy, frolicsome women who were overjoyed at the prospect of seeing their husbands. All of the earnestness, and the seriousness with which they talked to Mrs. Becker’s sad eyed father had been swept away in a swirl of smiles.

Ten minutes after the door closed upon them a servant came out with some hand baggage. He placed it on the carriage at the driver’s feet and went back after some more. I watched carefully for the red trunk, but it did not come. In a few minutes the women appeared, still smiling. They entered their carriage and were driven up •Lexington avenue to Twenty-eighth street, then over to and up Broadway.

I followed along in my Clarence coach, keeping half a block behind them. They went straight up Broadway to Eighth avenue, and from there to the Forty-eighth street house that Herring had told me about. About an hour after they entered the premises the red trunk was brought out. A few minutes later the women followed.

Telling my driver to be sure not to lose them, I resumed my pursuit. They drove straight to Cortlandt street and, still secluded in their carriage, went on the ferry. I let a few teams get in after them and then drove on the boat.

 I knew they were headed for the Cunard piers at Jersey City, which at that time were just below the present slips of the Pennsylvania railroad. I also knew they had taken passage on the old sidewheel steamboat Cuba. So while we were crossing the river I left my carriage to look for the ship. To my amazement I saw that it was not at the pier. The next instant I saw it lying in the middle of the river. The tide had gone out at noon and the dock, not having been dredged as deeply as docks are now, the ship had gone out into the stream. Late passengers would be compelled to go out on a tender.

This was a possibility that I had not contemplated. It is comparatively easy to board a ship lying at her pier and almost impossible to get aboard a tender. While I was wondering what I should do, the ferry boat nosed her way into the slip and I was compelled to do something quickly. This is what I did:

I had worked my way among the teams up to a point perhaps 50 feet behind the vehicle in which were the two women. When their carriage drove off I followed it. When they alighted, I was almost beside them, and when their handbags were put off the carriage I grabbed two of them and made for the gangplank leading to the tender.

Fortunately the crew of the tender thought I was a stevedore, and the stevedores thought I belonged to the tender. So nobody molested me and I got aboard. As soon as I could I looked for the women and was rejoiced to find that they had taken seats at the opposite end of the boat. I kept away from them all the way over and proceeded them up the ladder to the ship. Once on board the Cuba, I contrived to get behind them in order to let them lead the way to the stateroom. They walked down the starboard side of the cabin to a point half way between the middle of the ship and the stern and then turned in to a little hall. I knew their stateroom could be only a few feet away, so I asked them if the baggage I carried belonged to them. They looked at it and replied that it did. I asked where I should put it and they led me to their staterooms, the numbers of which I  noted. Then I held up a handbag which bore the name of “Mrs. Bruce Cutting” and asked to which of the women it belonged. Mrs. Chapman replied that she was Mrs. Cutting. The other bag was marked “Mrs. Steward,” which Mrs. Becker told me was her name. Mrs. Chapman was evidently impressed with my desire to make no mistake in delivering their baggage, as she gave me a 25 cent tip.

This part of the work over, I went to the writing room and, in the letter written by the chief of the Secret Service to the chief of police of Southampton, filled in the names under which Mrs. Becker and Mrs. Chapman had departed, together with the number of their stateroom. Then I sought the purser and presented my letter of introduction.

“Did you get track of them?” he asked.

I replied that I had and gave him their names. He consulted his passenger list and ran his forefinger down the column of names.

“You’re right,” said he. “Here they are, and the number of their stateroom is the same that you gave to me.”

I handed him the chief’s letter to the Southampton chief, urged him to deliver it before the women could leave the ship, and went aboard the tender just as the Cuba was preparing to get under way.

The rest of this narrative had to do with events that took place in Europe. And it should be borne in mind that in following the women and the red trunk the purpose was twofold— first, to learn the whereabouts of the band that robbed the Third National bank of Baltimore; and, second, to nab Becker if he should attempt to alter and sell any of the registered bonds. The women had committed no crime — we could not prove guilty knowledge on their part concerning the contents of the trunk — therefore we had no occasion to arrest them. And there was nothing to be gained by seizing the trunk, since the payment on all of the stolen bonds had been stopped. We wanted only Becker and his band.

When the Cuba reached Southampton, an officer representing the chief of police was at the pier. He read the letter that was handed to him by the purser and followed the two women ‘when they left the ship. Half an hour later he was on the same train with them, bound for London, where they remained a night. The next morning they went to Paris. And the red trunk was among the baggage that followed them to the hotel at which they stopped in the French capital.

The Southampton detective engaged accommodations at the same place and for a week nothing of importance developed. The women, who seemed to be plentifully supplied with money, went out every morning, evidently intent upon replenishing their already large stock of finery. In the evenings they went to the theaters.

One morning the Southampton detective waited in vain to see them go out for their accustomed shopping tour. An hour after the time when they usually entered the carriage he began to be nervous. Finally he went to the clerk and, after having led up to the subject gradually, made some reference to the “beautiful English women” whose beauty had been the subject of considerable comment. The clerk didn’t know whom he meant. The detective had purposely misstated their nationality in order not to display a knowledge of them that they might regard as suspicious if it should come to their ears. But in a moment the clerk realized the detective’s mistake and said:

“Oh. you mean Mrs. Cutting and Mrs. Steward. But they are not English women; they are Americans. They left the city this morning.”

The closing sentence jarred the detective to his boot heels, but he controlled his emotions.

“Where had they gone?” Oh, the clerk did not know. They left after midnight and another clerk was on watch. But he might be able to find out.

In a little while the clerk imparted the information that to the best of his knowledge and belief the ladies had gone to Berlin. Strangely enough, the detective was to depart for the German capital the same evening. Perhaps he would be fortunate enough to go again to the same hotel with them.

At 5 o’clock in the afternoon, the detective, on his way to the train, stopped a moment at the clerk’s desk to bid him goodby. Pleasantries were exchanged, the two men had shaken hands, when the clerk hurled a parting bit of badinage.

“Too bad you will not meet the American ladles in Berlin.” he said. “They have gone to Genoa.”

The detective made enough inquiries to convince him that the information was undoubtedly correct and changed his own plans accordingly. On the way down to the Italian city he cudgeled his mind to determine how he should go about it to get track of his lost immigrants. They would reach Genoa several hours ahead of him and might even have sped on to another city before his arrival. There was only one chance by means of which he might get trace of them — the red trunk.

So when he reached Genoa he made anxious inquiries of the man who had charge of the baggage concerning two ladies whose present address he wished to learn. Speaking no Italian he had difficulty in making himself understood, but at last sought to identify his friends by explaining that among their baggage was a red trunk. The baggage hands were questioned, and at last a man was found who had sent the box that was covered with the hide of the brindle cow.

It had been transferred to the wharf of a steamship company that operated a line of boats between Genoa and Constantinople.

Again the detective resumed his travels, only to to find when he reached the city of the sultan that he had lost all track of the women. Nobody had seen the red trunk — nobody at any of the hotels had seen the women. And he was on the point of returning  to Southampton to report his failure when something happened.

Becker and Chapman were arrested by the Turkish authorities for selling forged bonds! Their trial brought their wives in public to their sides, and by shadowing them their new habitation was learned.

Becker and Chapman were quickly found guilty and sentenced to a long term of Imprisonment In Smyrna. The jail was a flimsy affair and in a few weeks they escaped. Simultaneously with their departure Mrs. Becker and Mrs. Chapman went to London, the detective following and tracking them to a boarding house in an obscure part of the city. Within a week their husbands joined them, together with the other two men who robbed the Third National bank of Baltimore, and within another week Mrs. Chapman was dead.

The cause of her death will perhaps never be known. The end came suddenly. It has always been supposed that she was poisoned by some member of the band.

After Mrs. Chapman’s death the party separated. Chapman came to the United States, robbed another bank, was caught, convicted and sentenced to twelve years’ imprisonment. Becker came to Brooklyn, where a policeman arrested him in the act of making the plates for a 1000 franc French note. The red trunk was never found.

Others may wonder, as I did at first, why Mrs. Becker’s father betrayed her husband to the secret service. I put the question to the man flatly.

“Charlie didn’t treat me right.” he said. “He and I were in on a counterfeiting deal one time and he got all the best of it. I never could bear a dishonest man. And. besides, I didn’t want my daughter to go to Europe to meet him.”

Byrnes’ 1886 profile of Becker took his career up to his imprisonment in the King’s County Penitentiary, from which he was freed in 1887. In 1892 he roamed the upper midwest and northeast with forging partners Richard Lennox, Joe English, and Robert Bowman. He and his team then went to California, where they were captured and tried. Charlie was sentenced to seven years in San Quentin, but with good behavior was released in 1903.

Capture3

Upon his return to Brooklyn, there were rumors that the American Banking Association offered Becker an allowance just to help keep him honest. Towards the end of his life, he was employed by the Pinkerton’s as an informant patrolling racetracks. He and his with lived as John and Anna Becker in Brooklyn. He died of diabetes in September, 1916. His wife Anna Haering, ever loyal, died just a couple of weeks after Charlie. They are buried in Brooklyn’s Evergreen Cemetery.

 

 

 

#14 Charles O. Vanderpool

Charles O. Brockway (Abt. 1837-1901), aka Charles D. Vanderpool, Chester C. Brockway, Charles Seymour, Curley-Headed Kid — Counterfeiter, Forger

From Byrnes’ text:

DESCRIPTION. Fifty-one years old in 1876. Born in United States. Married. Medium build. Dark curly hair, blue eyes, sallow complexion. Height, 5 feet 9 inches. Weight, 160 pounds. Black beard.

RECORD. Charles O. Brockway, whose right name is Vanderpool, is one of the cleverest forgers in America. He has no doubt been responsible for several forgeries that have been committed in America during the past fifteen years. He at one time kept a faro bank in partnership of Daniel Dyson, alias Dan Noble, who is now serving twenty years in Europe for forgery. He subsequently branched out as a counterfeiter, and served two terms in State prison for it. The last one, of five years, was done in Auburn, New York, State prison. His time expired there in 1878.

He afterwards went West, and was arrested in Chicago, Ill., with Billy Ogle, in June, 1879, for forgery on the First National Bank of that city. At the time of his arrest a full set of forgers’ implements was found in his room. He made a confession, and charged an ex-government detective with having brought him to Chicago and picked out the banks for him to work. This statement was corroborated by a subsequent confession of Billy Ogle. The authorities indicted the ex-detective, and Brockway was admitted to bail in $10,000. The case never went to trial for lack of other evidence to corroborate Brockway and Ogle, who were both men of bad character.

Brockway came back to New York, where he was credited with doing considerable work. The following banks are said to have been victimized through him : The Second National Bank, the Chemical National Bank, the Bank of the Republic, the Chatham National Bank, the Corn Exchange Bank, and the Phoenix National Bank. He was finally arrested at Providence, R. I., on August 16, 1880, with Billy Ogle (13) and Joe Cook, alias Havill (15), a Chicago sneak, in an attempt to pass a check on the Fourth National Bank for $1,327, and another on the old National Bank for $1,264. Brockway pleaded guilty to two indictments for forgery, and was sentenced to eight years in State prison at Providence, R. I., on October 2, 1880. His time will expire, allowing full commutation, on August 26, 1886. See commutation laws of Rhode Island. Brockway’s picture is a good one, taken in 1880.

 

Contrary to Byrnes’ assertion, Charles O. Brockway was born to John O. Brockway and Abigail Carey in Washington, Sullivan County, New Hampshire in 1837. John Brockway passed away in South America just two years after Charles was born. In 1846, Abilgail remarried to Sylvanus Clogston. By 1850, Charles Brockway was living with a young farming couple named Fletcher, rather than with his step-father’s family.

Fourteen years later, at age 27, he had not moved far away; he was said to be living in Laconia, New Hampshire. One account suggests he had soldiered for New Hampshire in the Civil War; but his name is not found in muster rolls, and a different account suggests he had been in prison in Concord. Residents of Laconia say he was suspected of being involved in a failed attempt to rob the Laconia Savings Bank in 1864.

Capture2

It was about this time that Brockway fell in with one of the nation’s most infamous counterfeiters, Bill Gurney. Brockway was said to be a “passer of the queer”, i.e. one assigned to put counterfeit currency into circulation. Brockway was also said to be an avid faro player, the card game favored by gamblers before poker replaced it in later decades. In October, 1864, officers from Albany and New York captured Brockway in Troy, New York. He was accused of drugging and rolling a businessman in a Houston Street saloon; and of passing counterfeit bills in Albany. Though committed to trial in New York, he was eventually returned to Albany and was jailed there. The 1865 state census found Brockway still in the Albany prison.

Upon his release, Brockway connected with a New Hampshire-based counterfeiter named Bill Dow, who was equally notorious in that endeavor as Bill Gurney. After the Civil War ended, federal bank notes replaced individual bank notes, and the United States Secret Service was founded to counter widespread counterfeiting operations. Dow was indicted in Maine, while Brockway tried to set up an operation in Mount Vernon, New York. The house he had rented was raided by agents of the Secret Service, but Brockway convinced one of the agents, Abner Newcomb, that he could provide information leading to much larger counterfeiting operations. They also made a deal to help settle Dow’s Maine indictment by setting up a fake raid and crediting Dow for making the raid possible. Eventually, the whole tawdry affair was exposed in a federal court, to the great embarrassment of the Secret Service. Brockway was sentenced to fifteen years for counterfeiting, to be served in Albany.

Brockway was pardoned in early 1869 by President Johnson (in the last days of his administration) having served just one year and eight months of his fifteen year term. Shortly after his release, as he approached Mrs. Bunker’s residence on W. Houston Street in New York City, he was shot in the back by George Lockwood. The cause of the dispute between Lockwood and Brockway isn’t known; both were womanizers and gamblers.

Upon recovering, Brockway partnered up with a check forger named Lewis M. Van Eaton, and made a forging tour that went from New Orleans to Detroit. Both men were captured; Brockway was brought from Detroit to New York, where he was tried and convicted for forgery. He was sent to Sing Sing for a term of four years and nine months.

Upon gaining his freedom in 1875, Brockway tried to reform himself and landed a job as a streetcar conductor on the Lenox Street Line in Boston. Within weeks, he was arrested for forging streetcar tickets.

Fleeing Boston, Brockway settled in Chicago and attempted to set himself up as a financial broker. Now over forty, Brockway romanced a girl of eighteen and married her. Whether his intentions to go straight were honest or not, his criminal acquaintances sought him out, involving him in further forging schemes. Their operations ranged from Chicago, to Boston, to Washington, and Baltimore, but it was in Providence, Rhode Island where a case was made against him. In 1880, he was sentenced to eight years in the Rhode Island State Prison. His young wife divorced him.

After his release from prison this time, Brockway returned to Chicago and once again set himself up as a broker on the commodities market. In the last dozen years of his life, he stayed out of trouble with the law, though never was particularly successful in his new vocation. He died in debt in 1901 at age 64.