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The Expressman and the Detective By Allan Pinkerton Characters: 12074

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


Previous to Maroney's trip to the North, Mr. Boyer held a consultation with the Vice-President and General Superintendent of the company. He freely admitted his inability to fathom the mystery surrounding the loss of the money, and thought the officers of the company did Maroney a great injustice in supposing him guilty of the theft. He said he knew of only one man who could bring out the robbery, and he was living in Chicago.

Pinkerton was the name of the man he referred to. He had established an agency in Chicago, and was doing a large business. He (Boyer) had every confidence in his integrity and ability, which was more than he could say of the majority of detectives, and recommended the Vice-President to have him come down and look into the case.

This ended the case for most of the detectives. One by one they had gone away, and nothing had been developed by them. The Vice-President, still anxious to see if anything could be done, wrote a long and full statement of the robbery and sent it to me, with the request that I would give my opinion on it.

I was much surprised when I received the letter, as I had not the slightest idea who the Vice-President was, and knew very little about the Adams Express, as, at that time, they had no office in the West.

I, however, sat down and read it over very carefully, and, on finishing it, determined to make a point in the case if I possibly could. I reviewed the whole of the Vice-President's letter, debating every circumstance connected with the robbery, and finally ended my consideration of the subject with the firm conviction that the robbery had been committed either by the agent, Maroney, or by the messenger, and I was rather inclined to give the blame to Maroney.

The letter was a very long one, but one of which I have always been proud. Having formed my opinion, I wrote to the Vice-President, explained to him the ground on which I based my conclusions, and recommended that they keep Maroney in their employ, and have a strict watch maintained over his actions.

After sending my letter, I could do nothing until the Vice-President replied, which I expected he would do in a few days; but I heard nothing more of the affair for a long time, and had almost entirely forgotten it, when I received a telegraphic dispatch from him, sent from Montgomery, and worded about as follows:

"Allan Pinkerton: Can you send me a man-half horse and half alligator? I have got 'bit' once more! When can you send him?"

The dispatch came late Saturday night, and I retired to my private office to think the matter over. The dispatch gave me no information from which I could draw any conclusions. No mention was made of how the robbery was committed, or of the amount stolen. I had not received any further information of the ten thousand dollar robbery. How had they settled that? It was hard to decide what kind of a man to send! I wanted to send the very best, and would gladly go myself, but did not know whether the robbery was important enough to demand my personal attention.

I did not know what kind of men the officers of the company were, or whether they would be willing to reward a person properly for his exertions in their behalf.

At that time I had no office in New York, and knew nothing of the ramifications of the company. Besides, I did not know how I would be received in the South. I had held my anti-slavery principles too long to give them up. They had been bred in my bones, and it was impossible to eradicate them. I was always stubborn, and in any circumstances would never abandon principles I had once adopted.

Slavery was in full blossom, and an anti-slavery man could do nothing in the South. As I had always been a man somewhat after the John Brown stamp, aiding slaves to escape, or keeping them employed, and running them into Canada when in danger, I did not think it would do for me to make a trip to Montgomery.

I did not know what steps had already been taken in the case, or whether the loss was a heavy one. From the Vice-President's saying he wanted a man "half horse, half alligator," I supposed he wanted a man who could at least affiliate readily with the inhabitants of the South.

But what class was he to mix with? Did he want a man to mix with the rough element, or to pass among gentlemen? I could select from my force any class of man he could wish. But what did he wish?

I was unaware of who had recommended me to the Vice-President, as at that time I had not been informed that my old friend Boyer had spoken so well of me. What answer should I make to the dispatch? It must be answered immediately!

These thoughts followed each other in rapid succession as I held the dispatch before me.

I finally settled on Porter as the proper man to send, and immediately telegraphed the Vice-President, informing him that Porter would start for Montgomery by the first train. I then sent for Porter and gave him what few instructions I could. I told him the little I knew of the case, and that I should have to rely greatly on his tact and discretion.

Up to that time I had never done any business for the Adams Express, and as their business was well worth having, I was determined to win.

He was to go to Montgomery and get thoroughly acquainted with the town and its surroundings; and as my suspicions had become aroused as to the integrity of the agent, Maroney, he was to form his acquaintance, and frequent the saloons and livery stables of the town, the Vice-President's letter having made me aware of Maroney's inclination for fast horses. He was to keep his own counsel, and, above all things, not let it become known that he was from the North, but to hail from Richmond, Va., thus securing for himself a good footing with the inhabitants. He was also to dress in the Southern style; to supply me with full reports describing the town and its surroundings, the manners and customs of its people, all he saw or heard about Maroney, the messengers and other employés of the compan

y; whether Maroney was married, and, if so, any suspicious circumstances in regard to his wife as well as himself-in fact, to keep me fully informed of all that occurred. I should have to rely on his discretion until his reports were received; but then I could direct him how to act. I also instructed him to obey all orders from the Vice-President, and to be as obliging as possible.

Having given him his instructions, I started him off on the first train, giving him a letter of introduction to the Vice-President. On Porter's arriving in Montgomery he sent me particulars of the case, from which I learned that while Maroney was temporarily filling the position of agent, among other packages sent to the Montgomery office, on the twenty-seventh of January, 1859, were four containing, in the aggregate, forty thousand dollars, of which one, of two thousand five hundred dollars, was to be sent to Charleston, S. C., and the other three, of thirty thousand, five thousand, and two thousand five hundred respectively, were intended for Augusta. These were receipted for by Maroney, and placed in the vault to be sent off the next day. On the twenty-eighth the pouch was given to the messenger, Mr. Chase, and by him taken to Atlanta. When the pouch was opened, it was found that none of these packages were in it, although they were entered on the way-bill which accompanied the pouch, and were duly checked off. The poor messenger was thunder-struck, and for a time acted like an idiot, plunging his hand into the vacant pouch over and over again, and staring vacantly at the way-bill. The Assistant Superintendent of the Southern Division was in the Atlanta office when the loss was discovered, and at once telegraphed to Maroney for an explanation. Receiving no reply before the train started for Montgomery, he got aboard and went directly there. On his arrival he went to the office and saw Maroney, who said he knew nothing at all of the matter. He had delivered the packages to the messenger, had his receipt for them, and of course could not be expected to keep track of them when out of his possession.

Before Mr. Hall, the route agent, left Atlanta he had examined the pouch carefully, but could find no marks of its having been tampered with. He had immediately telegraphed to another officer of the company, who was at Augusta, and advised him of what had happened. The evening after the discovery of the loss the pouch was brought back by the messenger from Atlanta, who delivered it to Maroney.

Maroney took out the packages, compared them with the way-bill, and, finding them all right, he threw down the pouch and placed the packages in the vault.

In a few moments he came out, and going over to where Mr. Hall was standing, near where he had laid down the pouch, he picked it up and proceeded to examine it. He suddenly exclaimed, "Why, it's cut!" and handed it over to Mr. Hall. Mr. Hall, on examination, found two cuts at right angles to each other, made in the side of the pouch and under the pocket which is fastened on the outside, to contain the way-bill.

On Sunday the General Superintendent arrived in Montgomery, when a strict investigation was made, but nothing definite was discovered, and the affair seemed surrounded by an impenetrable veil of mystery. It was, however, discovered that on the day the missing packages were claimed to have been sent away, there were several rather unusual incidents in the conduct of Maroney.

After consultation with Mr. Hall and others, the General Superintendent determined that the affair should not be allowed to rest, as was the ten thousand dollar robbery, and had Maroney arrested, charged with stealing the forty thousand dollars.

The robbery of so large an amount caused great excitement in Montgomery. The legislature was in session, and the city was crowded with senators, representatives and visitors. Everywhere, on the streets, in the saloons, in private families, and at the hotels, the great robbery of the Express Company was the universal topic of conversation. Maroney had become such a favorite that nearly all the citizens sympathized with him, and in unmeasured terms censured the company for having him arrested. They claimed that it was another instance of the persecution of a poor man by a powerful corporation, to cover the carelessness of those high in authority, and thus turn the blame on some innocent person.

Maroney was taken before Justice Holtzclaw, and gave the bail which was required-forty thousand dollars-for his appearance for examination a few days later; prominent citizens of the town actually vieing with one another for an opportunity to sign his bail-bond.

At the examination the Company presented such a weak case that the bail was reduced to four thousand dollars, and Maroney was bound over in that amount to appear for trial at the next session of the circuit court, to be held in June. The evidence was such that there was little prospect of his conviction on the charge unless the company could procure additional evidence by the time the trial was to come off.

It was the desire of the company to make such inquiries, and generally pursue such a course as would demonstrate the guilt or the possible innocence of the accused. It was absolutely necessary for their own preservation to show that depredations upon them could not be committed with impunity. They offered a reward of ten thousand dollars for the recovery of the money, promptly made good the loss of the parties who had entrusted the several amounts to their charge, and looked around to select such persons to assist them as would be most likely to secure success. The amount was large enough to warrant the expenditure of a considerable sum in its recovery, and the beneficial influence following the conviction of the guilty party would be ample return for any outlay securing that object. The General Superintendent therefore telegraphed to me, as before related, requesting me to send a man to work up the case.

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