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The Expressman and the Detective By Allan Pinkerton Characters: 13932

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


Mr. Porter had a very rough journey to Montgomery, and was delayed some days on the road. It was in the depth of winter, and in the North the roads were blockaded with snow, while in the South there was constant rain. The rivers were flooded, carrying away the bridges and washing out the embankments of the railroads, very much impeding travel.

On his arrival in Montgomery he saw the General Superintendent and presented his letter. He received from him the particulars of the forty thousand dollar robbery, and immediately reported them to me.

The General Superintendent directed him to watch-"shadow" as we call it-the movements of Maroney, find out who were his companions, and what saloons he frequented.

Porter executed his duties faithfully, and reported to me that Montgomery was decidedly a fast town; that the Exchange Hotel, where Maroney boarded, was kept by Mr. Floyd, former proprietor of the Briggs House, Chicago, and, although not the leading house of the town, was very much liked, as it was well conducted.

From the meagre reports I had received I found I had to cope with no ordinary man, but one who was very popular, while I was a poor nameless individual, with a profession which most people were inclined to look down upon with contempt. I however did not flinch from the undertaking, but wrote to Porter to do all he could, and at the same time wrote to the General Superintendent, suggesting the propriety of sending another man, who should keep in the background and "spot" Maroney and his wife, or their friends, so that if any one of them should leave town he could follow him, leaving Porter in Montgomery, to keep track of the parties there.

There were, of course, a number of suspicious characters in a town of the size of Montgomery, and it was necessary to keep watch of many of them.

Maroney frequented a saloon kept by a man whom I will call Patterson. Patterson's saloon was the fashionable drinking resort of Montgomery, and was frequented by all the fast men in town. Although outwardly a very quiet, respectable place, inwardly, as Porter found, it was far from reputable. Up stairs were private rooms, in which gentlemen met to have a quiet game of poker; while down stairs could be found the greenhorn, just "roped in," and being swindled, at three card monte. There were, also, rooms where the "young bloods" of the town-as well as the old-could meet ladies of easy virtue. It was frequented by fast men from New Orleans, Mobile, and other places, who were continually arriving and departing.

I advised the General Superintendent that it would be best to have Porter get in with the "bloods" of the town, make himself acquainted with any ladies Maroney or his wife might be familiar with, and adopt generally the character of a fast man.

As soon as the General Superintendent received my letter he telegraphed to me to send the second man, and also requested me to meet him, at a certain date, in New York.

I now glanced over my force to see who was the best person to select for a "shadow". Porter had been promoted by me to be a sort of "roper".

Most people may suppose that nearly any one can perform the duties of a "shadow", and that it is the easiest thing in the world to follow up a man; but such is not the case. A "shadow" has a most difficult position to maintain. It will not do to follow a person on the opposite side of the street, or close behind him, and when he stops to speak to a friend stop also; or if a person goes into a saloon, or store, pop in after him, stand staring till he goes out, and then follow him again. Of course such a "shadow" would be detected in fifteen minutes. Such are not the actions of the real "shadow", or, at least, of the "shadow" furnished by my establishment.

I had just the man for the place, in Mr. Roch, who could follow a person for any length of time, and never be discovered.

Having settled on Roch as the proper man for the position, I summoned him to my private office. Roch was a German. He was about forty-five years old, of spare appearance and rather sallow or tanned complexion. His nose was long, thin and peaked, eyes clear but heavy looking, and hair dark. He was slightly bald, and though he stooped a little, was five feet ten inches in height. He had been in my employ for many years, and I knew him thoroughly, and could trust him.

I informed him of the duties he was to perform, and gave him minute instructions how he was to act. He was to keep out of sight as much as possible in Montgomery. Porter would manage to see him on his arrival, unknown to any one there, and would point out to him Maroney and his wife, and the messenger, Chase, who boarded at the Exchange; also Patterson, the saloon keeper, and all suspected parties. He was not to make himself known to Floyd, of the Exchange, or to McGibony, the local detective. I had also given Porter similar instructions. I suggested to him the propriety of lodging at some low boarding house where liquor was sold.

He was to keep me fully posted by letter of the movements of all suspected parties, and if any of them left town to follow them and immediately inform me by telegraph who they were and where they were going, so that I could fill his place in Montgomery.

Having given him his instructions, I selected for his disguise a German dress. This I readily procured from my extensive wardrobe, which I keep well supplied by frequent attendance at sales of old articles.

When he had rigged himself up in his long German coat, his German cap with the peak behind, and a most approved pair of emigrant boots, he presented himself to me with his long German pipe in his mouth, and I must say I was much pleased with his disguise, in which his own mother would not have recognized him. He was as fine a specimen of a Dutchman as could be found.

Having thoroughly impressed on his mind the importance of the case and my determination to win the esteem of the company by ferreting out the thief, if possible, I started him for Montgomery, where he arrived in due time.

At the date agreed upon I went to New York to meet the General Superintendent. I had never met the gentlemen of the company and I was a little puzzled how to act with them.

I met the Vice-President at the express office, in such a manner that none of the employés were the wiser as to my profession or business, and he made an appointment to meet me at the Astor House in the afternoon. At the Astor House he introduced me to the President, the General Superintendent of the company, and we immediately proceeded to business.

They gave me all the particulars of the case they could, though they were not much fuller than those I had already received from Porter's reports. They reviewed the life of Maroney, as already related, up to the time he became their agent, stating that he was married, although his marriage seemed somewhat "mixed".

As far as they could f

ind out, Mrs. Maroney was a widow, with one daughter, Flora Irvin, who was about seven or eight years old. Mrs. Maroney was from a very respectable family, now living in Philadelphia or its environs. She was reported to have run away from home with a roué, whose acquaintance she had formed, but who soon deserted her. Afterwards she led the life of a fast woman at Charleston, New Orleans, Augusta, Ga., and Mobile, at which latter place she met Maroney, and was supposed to have been married to him.

After Maroney was appointed agent in Montgomery he brought her with him, took a suite of rooms at the Exchange, and introduced her as his wife.

On account of these circumstances the General Superintendent did not wish to meet her, and, when in Montgomery, always took rooms at another hotel.

The Vice-President said he had nearly come to the conclusion that Maroney was not guilty of the ten thousand dollar robbery; but when my letter reached him, with my comments on the robbery, he became convinced that he was the guilty party.

He was strengthened in this opinion by the actions of Maroney while on his Northern tour, and by the fact that immediately on his return the fast mare "Yankee Mary" made her appearance in Montgomery and that Maroney backed her heavily. It was not known that he was her owner, it being generally reported that Patterson and other fast men were her proprietors.

This was all the Vice-President and General Superintendent had been able to discover while South, and they were aware that I had very little ground on which to work.

I listened to all they had to say on the subject and took full memoranda of the facts. I then stated that although Maroney had evidently planned and carried out the robbery with such consummate ability that he had not left the slightest clue by which he could be detected, still, if they would only give me plenty of time, I would bring the robbery home to him.

I maintained, as a cardinal principle, that it is impossible for the human mind to retain a secret. All history proves that no one can hug a secret to his breast and live. Everyone must have a vent for his feelings. It is impossible to keep them always penned up.

This is especially noticeable in persons who have committed criminal acts. They always find it necessary to select some one in whom they can confide and to whom they can unburden themselves.

We often find that persons who have committed grave offenses will fly to the moors, or to the prairies, or to the vast solitudes of almost impenetrable forests, and there give vent to their feelings. I instanced the case of Eugene Aram, who took up his abode on the bleak and solitary moor, and, removed from the society of his fellow-men, tried to maintain his secret by devoting himself to astronomical observations and musings with nature, but who, nevertheless, felt compelled to relieve his overburdened mind by muttering to himself details of the murder while taking his long and dreary walks on the moor.

If Maroney had committed the robbery and no one knew it but himself, I would demonstrate the truth of my theory by proving that he would eventually seek some one in whom he thought he could confide and to whom he would entrust the secret.

My plan was to supply him with a confidant. It would take time to execute such a plan, but if they would have patience all would be well. I would go to Montgomery and become familiar with the town. I was unknown there and should remain so, only taking a letter to their legal advisers, Watts, Judd & Jackson, whom I supposed would cheerfully give me all the information in their power. I also informed them that it would be necessary to detail more detectives to work up the case.

I found the officers of the company genial, pleasant men, possessed of great executive ability and untiring energy, and felt that my duties would be doubly agreeable by being in the interests of such men.

They ended the interview by authorizing me to employ what men I thought proper; stating that they had full confidence in me, and that they thought I would be enabled to unearth the guilty parties ere long. They further authorized me to use my own judgment in all things; but expected me to keep them fully informed of what was going on.

I started for Montgomery the same day, but was as unfortunate in meeting with delay as were my detectives. The rivers were filled with floating ice and I was ice-bound in the Potomac for over thirty hours. I was obliged to go back to Alexandria, where I took the train and proceeded, via West Point and Atlanta, to Montgomery. On the journey I amused myself reading Martin Chuzzlewit, which I took good care to throw away on the road, as its cuts at slavery made it unpopular in the South. At the various stations planters got aboard, sometimes conveying their slaves from point to point, sometimes travelling with their families to neighboring cities. I did not converse with them, as I was not sure of my ability to refrain from divulging my abolition sentiments. On my arrival in Montgomery I took up my quarters at the Exchange and impressed upon Mr. Floyd the necessity of keeping my presence a secret. He had no idea that I was after Maroney, but supposed I was merely on a visit to the South.

I took no notice of Maroney, but managed to see Porter and Roch privately. They informed me that they had discovered little or nothing. Maroney kept everything to himself. He and his wife went out occasionally. He frequented Patterson's, sometimes going into the card rooms, drove out with a fast horse, and passed many hours in his counsel's office. This was all Porter knew.

Roch was to do nothing but "spot" the suspected parties and follow any one of them who might leave town. He was to be a Dutchman, and he acted the character to perfection. He could be seen sitting outside of his boarding-house with his pipe in his mouth, and he apparently did nothing but puff, puff, puff all day long. There was a saloon in town where lager was sold and he could, occasionally, be found here sipping his lager; but although apparently a stupid, phlegmatic man, taking no notice of what was going on around him, he drank in, with his lager, every word that was said.

I found that Mrs. Maroney was a very smart woman, indeed, and that it would be necessary to keep a strict watch over her. I therefore informed the Vice-President that I would send down another detective especially to shadow her, as she might leave at any moment for the North and take the forty thousand dollars with her.

I had no objections to her taking the money to the North. On the contrary, I preferred she should do so, as I would much rather carry on the fight on Northern soil than in the South.

I found Messrs. Watts, Judd & Jackson, the company's lawyers, were excellent men, clear-headed and accommodating. They gladly furnished me with what little information they possessed.

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