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   Chapter 26 No.26

The Expressman and the Detective By Allan Pinkerton Characters: 16115

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


On the twenty-seventh of January I had a very heavy run in, and among numerous other packages were four that attracted my attention; one for Charleston, S. C., for two thousand five hundred dollars, and three for Augusta, Geo., for thirty thousand, five thousand and two thousand five hundred dollars respectively. Chase was going out in the morning, and then was the time to act. I got an old trunk that was lying in the office, and packed it full of different articles, among other things four boxes of cigars. Early in the morning I was up and down at the office. Chase soon came in, drew his safe over to the counter, and began to check off the packages marked on the way-bill, as I called them off and placed them in the pouch. If he had obeyed the rule of the company he would have taken each package in his hand and placed it in the pouch, but he carelessly allowed me to call off the amounts and place the packages in the pouch. In this way, as he stood outside of the counter, I was enabled to call off all the packages on the way-bill, but dropped the four containing the forty thousand dollars under the counter amongst a lot of waste paper I had placed there for the purpose. The way-bill checked off all right; Chase said "O. K.," so I locked the pouch, handed it to him, and he locked it up in his safe. He then went to breakfast, leaving me alone in the office. I immediately picked up the packages, distributed their contents into four piles of equal size, removed the cigars from the boxes, and placed a pile of money in each. I then filled the space above the money with cigars, nailed down the lid of the boxes, placed them in the trunk, tied it up and directed it to W. A. Jackson, Galveston, Texas. There was a wagon loading at the door. I had the box immediately placed on it, and within an hour of the time I had taken the money it was on its way down the Alabama river, for Mobile. The boat started down the river at the same time that Chase left for Atlanta. That is what I call sharp work. No one but me knew of the loss of the packages.

"As he stood outside of the counter, I was enabled to call off all the packages on the way-bill, but dropped the four containing the forty thousand dollars under the counter."-Page 237.

"Chase was in his car, perfectly at ease, but when he reached Atlanta he was destined to receive a shock he would not soon forget. As soon as he arrived there the loss was discovered, and the Assistant Superintendent of the Southern Division, who happened to be in the Atlanta office, immediately telegraphed to me for an explanation. I did not take the trouble of answering the despatch, and he came on to Montgomery that night to investigate. All I had to say was that I had checked the money over to Chase, and they would have to look to him for an explanation. Telegrams came thick and fast, but I was nerved up to pass through anything, and left them unnoticed.

"When Chase returned to Montgomery he was greatly excited and appeared much more guilty than I. The Assistant Superintendent was in the office when he arrived. I received the pouch from Chase, checked off the way-bill, found the packages all right, and throwing down the pouch, placed the packages in the vault. I then returned and picked up the pouch as if to look into it. I had my knife open, but concealed in my coat sleeve. As I raised the pouch to look into it, I slipped the knife into my hand and in a second cut two slits in the pouch and threw the knife back up my sleeve. I immediately said to Mr. Hall, who stood directly in front of me, 'Why, it's cut! How the messenger could carry the pouch around, cut in this manner, and not discover it, is astonishing!'

"The Assistant Superintendent examined the pouch and found it cut, as I had stated. This was a great point in my favor, and the Assistant Superintendent was at once convinced that I was innocent of any participation in the robbery. No one suspected me after this until the Vice-President and General Superintendent came. They looked at the pouch, and one of them said, 'I understand this,' and they had the pouch taken care of. This was the first thing that seemed to create suspicion in the General Superintendent's mind. He had me arrested, but could not prove any thing against me. My friends all stood by me, and I had to do an immense amount of drinking. My wife one day asked me about the robbery; I at first denied any knowledge of it, but she is smart and does not easily give up. She kept at me and I finally concluded that the best way to keep her still was to tell her all. So I owned up to her, and then gave her some money and started her for the North. It is hard for me to keep any thing entirely to myself, and especially hard to keep any thing from my wife.

"I remained in Montgomery, but was not at all lonely, as I always had a squad of friends around me. In fact I never knew before that I had so many. I knew that the trunk was safe, but felt at times a little apprehensive that some one might open it. Its contents were amply sufficient to pay all charges on it in case it should never be claimed.

"After my arrest, I was taken before Justice Holtzclaw. At the preliminary examination I was held in forty thousand dollars bail, but at the final examination the company presented so weak a case that I think I ought to have been discharged at once. The justice thought differently, but reduced my bail to four thousand dollars, in which amount I was bound over to appear for trial before the circuit court. I easily procured bail, and was soon at liberty. I remained in Montgomery after my release, keeping a sharp look out for detectives, as I felt sure the company would have plenty of them on my track, but I could not discover any. It was hard to believe they had none employed, as on the ten thousand dollar case they had a small regiment of them; but none were to be seen in Montgomery, and I concluded they must be looking for the money in another direction. I had a slight mistrust of McGibony, but soon proved to my entire satisfaction that he was not employed in the case. Every thing went on smoothly, and I could discover nothing suspicious going on around me. I at length determined to make an excursion to several of the large Southern cities, to ascertain, if possible, whether I would be followed. Before leaving, I wrote to the agent of Jones's Express, at Galveston, assuming the name of W. A. Jackson, and directed him to send my trunk to Natchez. I started out on my trip and visited Atlanta, Chattanooga, Nashville and Memphis. I scanned the passengers who came on board or left the trains, all the guests who 'put up' at the various hotels where I stopped on my journey, but could not discover a sign of a detective. By the time that I got to Memphis I knew I was not followed, and so took the steamer 'John Walsh,' intending to get off at Natchez, gain possession of my trunk, which must have reached there, and go on down the river to New Orleans. When I reached Natchez, I enquired of the agent of Jones's Express whether he had a trunk for W. A. Jackson, shipped from Galveston, Texas. He examined his book and said that he had not received such a trunk, but that possibly it had been sent and detained in the New Orleans office. I was now in a quandary; I was afraid to go to New Orleans and ask for the trunk, as I knew the Adams and Jones's Express occupied the same office in that city. Could it be possible that the company had suspicions of the trunk and were holding it as a bait to draw me out? No! it was not possible! Still, I did not care to go to the office and ask for the trunk, as some one would be sure to know me, and my claiming a trunk as W. A. Jackson would be proof positive to them that something was wrong about it. They would seize and search it, and then my guilt would be apparent. I finally determined to go to New Orleans, put up at the City Hotel, and then carelessly drop into the office of the company and see if I could discover the trunk lying around. I did so, and on co

ming into the office was immediately recognized by the employés, some of whom were glad to see me. I did not stay long; glanced around, saw the trunk was not there, and returned to the hotel.

"I wanted to find whether the trunk had gone on to Natchez, so I wrote a note, asking whether a trunk directed to W. A. Jackson, Natchez, was in their possession or had been forwarded to its destination, and signed it W. A. Jackson. I then walked out of the hotel, limping as if so lame as to be scarcely able to walk, and met a colored boy standing on the corner. I hired him to take the note to the office for me and bring back the answer. He soon returned with a note which politely informed me that the trunk had been sent to Natchez. I immediately returned to Natchez, found the trunk, signed the receipt, paid the charges and left for Mobile via New Orleans, and I tell you I was more than pleased when I arrived there with my trunk.

"When I reached Montgomery a bevy of my friends came down to see me. Porter, one of my best friends-a splendid fellow-was amongst them, and as he was clerk of the hotel I had him order my baggage up. He had a carriage for me and we drove to Patterson's, and then went over to the hotel. In the morning I had him bring the old trunk into my room. I opened it before them all, carelessly took a few cigars from each of the boxes and gave to them to try. In this way their suspicions in regard to the old trunk, if they had any, were entirely dispelled.

"Mrs. Maroney was still in New York. I remained for some time in Montgomery, still suspecting that some one was on my track, but could find nothing to confirm my suspicions. It was getting time for me to make some preparation for my defense. I had formed a plan to overthrow the testimony of the company by having a key made to fit their pouch, introducing it at the trial and proving that outsiders might have keys as well as the agents. I was desirous of having the key made at once. It could not be made in Montgomery or at New Orleans, for, though there were plenty of locksmiths, their work was not fine enough to suit me; so I concluded to go to New York and have one made.

"I had some business to transact with my wife also, and wrote to her to meet me at a certain date in Philadelphia. I came North, met my wife in Philadelphia, where we stopped a day or two, and then started for New York. As I stepped ashore from the ferry-boat I was arrested. Never before in my life was I so dumbfounded. I can't tell you how they knew the time I would arrive. The detectives in Philadelphia must have been after me while I was there, and when I left for here they must have telegraphed, and thus secured my arrest. They brought me here and I told my wife to come and see me in the morning. I was too confused to say anything and my brain was in a maze. I never dreamed of the possibility of arrest in New York. I might have been prepared for it in Montgomery, but did not think it possible that anything of the kind could happen here. My wife spoke to me on the subject, but I was unable to do or say anything. I make it a rule, when I am confused and can't collect my thoughts, to say nothing until I am calm, when I plan what I had better do.

"In the morning I decided that it was necessary for my wife to go to Montgomery and bring the money North with her. I was in jail and might need the money to procure bail, which I would like to do now. Then, there was danger in leaving the money where it was secreted-in the old trunk in the garret-as Floyd might want to clear the garret out, and I had several times seen him sell unclaimed baggage. My old trunk might be sold for a trifle and some one take it home and find it contained a treasure.

"As soon as she could, Mrs. Maroney went to Montgomery for the money. I had informed her where it was concealed, and told her to get it and bring it North.

"The money was rather bulky, as although there were some large bills, there were a great many fives, tens, twenties and a few one hundred dollar notes. The whole of it made a large pile, but my wife proved a good hand. She fooled them all, and concealed the money in her bustle. It was a troublesome weight to travel with, and she was obliged to stop at Augusta, Ga., to rest herself. She also spent a day with my brother at Danielsville, who promised to come and see me. He came, and, as you know, accomplished nothing.

"My wife has now got the money concealed in the cellar of Josh. Cox's house. Cox is her brother-in-law, and from what she tells me of him is a good-natured fellow, but pretty shrewd. Mrs. Cox is very smart. They never leave the house entirely alone, one or the other of them always keeping watch.

"That Madam Imbert is said by my wife to be a fine woman. I was much pleased with her when she came here the other day. Mrs. Maroney managed well with her and discovered that her husband is imprisoned in Missouri. She also followed her in Philadelphia and found her changing money. My wife is smart, she suddenly confronted her and the Madam admitted all. A man comes to see her who exchanges money for her. My wife was about arranging with her to have the express money exchanged, but you are going out and I prefer to entrust my affairs to you. You see, White, I know I can trust you. There is only one thing that troubles me about Jenkintown: A fellow named De Forest is stopping there and is quite attentive to my wife. I think he is an agent of the Adams Express; but from what my wife says, she is smart enough for him and can rope him in long before he can her.

"Now I have told you all, and hope you will act in the matter just as your judgment dictates. The fact of the matter is, your knowledge of the North is so great that you can act much better than I."

"Yes," said White, "I understand the ropes well, and you may depend upon it I will handle them as well as I know how. I think that as soon as I get clear myself-which may take four, five, or six days-and have settled up with my lawyers-I don't like those fellows, but sometimes you can't get along without them-I think I will try and get a key to the pouch made; I can do so easily. Then I will go to Montgomery and see Chase, study his movements on the cars and at the hotels. I can at the same time arrange to get the girl, whom I intend to bring from here, into the Exchange, and as soon as possible get her acquainted with Chase. But see here, don't you think it best to get some of the stolen money to use in this case?"

"Certainly," said Maroney, "My wife will give you all the money you need. I will give you a letter to her."

"No," said White, "I don't want to have anything to do with women. Your wife may be perfectly true to you, but if I come in I doubt very much whether she takes any interest in me, unless it be to thwart my plans."

"Why not?" asked Maroney. "My wife should know and take an interest in all my affairs. She will do all in her power for us, and she is so shrewd that she will be able to help us very much."

"Well," said White, "that may be all true enough, but women are sure to get strange notions. I don't like to deal with them; women seem naturally suspicious. I don't want to treat your wife with injustice, but at the same time if she has a finger in the pie, ten to one she will suspect me of trying to get the whole pile and intending to clear out with it."

"Don't you believe that for a moment," replied Maroney. "She knows I have entire confidence in you, and that will be enough for her. You need have no fears that she will interfere in the matter in any way. I trust you, and my word is law to her. I would prefer to have you take all the money; you can then select what you want for Chase, and try and work off the balance in small amounts. This will be a delicate operation, as the banks very likely marked some of the bills before they shipped them."

"Yes, there are a great many obstacles to be overcome in changing the money, but I think I can manage to work it off in some way."

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