This post is the result of my curiosity about the underlined comment in the Caddo Herald.
May 2, 1902
Col. Preston was here from Preston City Sunday. He has sent to the department a numerously signed petition requesting that the name of Caney be changed to Preston City. The people of that fine burg have good reason for wanting the name changed, especially for the odium cast on it by the Caney robbery last year. We hope they will succeed.
This is what I found. Versions of the following story appeared in papers in Georgia, Kentucky, Texas, Nebraska, Louisiana, Oregon, California, New Jersey, South Carolina, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Colorado, and Kansas…and probably many others that I haven’t seen. It even made the New York Times! It was a little more attention than local residents, reputed to be 125, wanted.
Note: there are some details and names that vary from one account to another. One name is spelled Starnes in several papers and Stearns in the others.
The Chelsea Reporter (Chelsea, I. T.)
August 17, 1901
Men Who Robbed a “Katy” Train Run Down by Bloodhounds
Denison, Tex., Aug. 14- Missouri, Kansas, & Texas passenger train No. 3, southbound, was held up and robbed at Caney switch, I. T., yesterday morning at 1:30 o’clock by two men who got on the train at Atoka. When two miles north of Caney they crawled over the tender with pistols in hand, covered the engineer and fireman and commanded them to stop at Caney water tank. There the men were joined by three others, and at this juncture a fusillade of shots alarmed the crew and passengers. Postal Clerk Tulley was compelled to go through the train carrying the sack in which the valuables were thrown. Every passenger was robbed and a negro who refused opt give up his money was beaten nearly to death.
Then the robbers turned their attention to the express car. Both safes were blown open with dynamite and their contents secured. The amounts are not yet known, although the robbers got some valuable jewels. They gave a diamond ring and a shirt stud to Engineer Lanham.
After the work was done the robbers, who seemed to enjoy the situation, sat around and laughed over the matter. The whole affair was carried out without a hitch and it is believed the men have had experience I this line of business before.
J. B. Davis, deputy marshal of Colbert, I. T., arrived here last night from the scene of the robbery at Caney. “The following men have been arrested on the charge of having committed the robbery,” said Mr. Davis, “E. C. Richmond, Bob Alford, George Brown, John Gibson, Tom Edwards, and Jack Barr. These men were arrested at Caney and taken out Atoka yesterday morning. The operator at Caney, when he heard the shooting, suspected the train was being held up and put out the light in the depot and telegraphed to Atoka, 11 miles away for officers. Within two hours after the robbery was committed bloodhounds had trailed these men to their homes. We found the wet clothing identified by passengers as that worn by the robbers. We found three masks and found in the firebox of the cook stove, when the arrest were made, the shoes of the men arrested. The tracks were measured and fitted the shoes exactly.”
The American Express people claim they lost nothing by the robbery and the loss to the passengers is estimated at $200 to $300.
The Daily Ardmorite
August 21, 1901
Train Robbers on Trial
Atoka, I. T., Aug. 20- The trial of W. B. Starnes, Ed Richmond, Jack Barr, Bob Alford, George Brown, and Bailey Lewis, who are charged with robbing a Katy train at Caney, I. T. about a week ago, was called in Commissioner Ralls’ court this morning , Brown, Richmond and Alford pleading guilty. Starnes, Barr and Lewis pleaded not guilty. The trial will hardly be concluded before tomorrow afternoon.
August 22, 1901
Alleged Robbers Held
Atoka, I. T., Aug. 21- At the conclusion of the trial of the alleged train robbers here, Commissioner Ralls held all six of them to await the action of the Federal Grand Jury, which meets here in September. He fixed the bonds of Starnes, Brown, Richmond and Alford at $10,000 each. Barr and Lewis’ bonds were fixed at $5,000 each.
The Caddo Herald
November 22, 1901
One Train Robber Confesses
At Antlers Tuesday W. D. Stearns, leader of the Caney train robbers, pled guilty in the U. S. Court and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Stearns attorneys sought to lessen the sentence if their client would plead guilty, but the court refused to grant their request and the plea of guilty was made. The two remaining robbers are on trial today and will likely be found guilty. The prosecution is using their three confessed confederates as witnesses against them.
The San Francisco Call
February 16, 1902
Three Men plead Guilty to Save Themselves from Terms of Life
South McAlester, I. T., Feb. 15- In the United States Court at Atoka this morning George Brown, Edward Richmond, and Bob Stafford, the Caney I. T. train robbers, were given a sentence of ten years imprisonment in the penitentiary at Atlanta, Ga. The three men pleaded guilty, otherwise they would have been sentenced to life imprisonment. Jack Stafford, the leader of the robbers, was given a life sentence at the last term of court.
September 6, 1906
KILLED AT ATLANTA
South McAlester, August 30 – Edward Richmond, the Federal convict who was killed in the United States penitentiary at Atlanta, Georgia, yesterday afternoon was sent up from the Territory for robbing a train with the Stearns gang some five years ago near the town of Caney. Richmond was convicted and sentenced to ten years and his principal in the business, Starnes, is now serving a life sentence in the Leavenworth penitentiary. The two men were among the most strenuous that were ever sent up from the Territory. Stearns was a one armed man. He held up the train with an imitation pistol which he made out of a tin can. When arrested his armless coat sleeve was stuffed with straw. The robbers would have gotten away if it had not been for one thing. Hon. Haden Linbaugh of Atoka was on the train that night. Only a few weeks previously he had defended Stearns in the courts and had not forgotten his voice. The young attorney told the officers who the robbers were and in a short time they were rounded up and in prison. Richmond was regarded as the most desperate of the whole crowd.
(Some newspapers said he attacked and was shot by a guard named Frey. Others say Prey.)