Posts Tagged ‘Horse Thief’

Running Fire: A Race for Liberty

July 26, 2012

Shortly after 1 o’clock this morning John Riedmiller’s valuable pacing horse, with a mark of 2:20, was standing, hitched to a post at the corner of Wayne and Calhoun streets. Officer Bower saw the animal there and had been watching it for some time. A few minutes after 1 o’clock the policeman saw a negro step into the buggy quietly and drive away without any evidence of being in a hurry or any movement to conceal his identity. The officer watched the colored man drive the horse east on Wayne street.

Image from WHDH 7News

The carriage was about a block east of Calhoun street, when in an excited manner Mr. Reidmiller made inquiries concerning his horse.

Officer Bower informed him that a colored man whom he supposed was a stable boy taking care of the animal, had driven it east. After a hasty exchange of explanations in regard to the disappearance of the horse, both men concluded that the animal had been stolen.

The patrol wagon was called out in a few minutes and sent east over the East Wayne street pavement at a wild run, manned by Capt. Borgman, Sergt. Dasler and Officer Gallmeier.

The officers flew down the thoroughfare with the horses at breakneck speed. Near the Concordia college they met a farmer driving into the city. He have the officers a clew and the panting patrol steeds were turned south on Walton avenue. Through the drizzling rain, with mud flying in all direction, the steeds galloped in a maddened run.

Fresh tracks were noticed on the Wayne ?ace going east, and the officers turned in that direction. In the darkness a few hundred feet away they saw the outlines of a carriage. The speed of the patrol wagon never faltered, and the policemen yelled “halt.”

The vehicle in front forged ahead with unchecked speed. Several shots were fired into the air to frighten the driver of the horse in front of the patrol wagon. The running fire had no effect. After a hot chase for a quarter of a mile, with neither the police nor the fleeing horse-thief gaining or losing any ground, there was a sudden halt.

The carriage in front of the patrol wagon stopped and almost instantly the patrol wagon wheeled up beside the foaming horse.

The drive had escaped, and only a few seconds before, as the lines were warm where he had held them in his grasp.

The ditch, culvert and fences in the vicinity were searched in vain. Not a trace of the horse-thief could be found. He successfully eluded the officers and escaped. The horse and carriage were brought back to the city.

This is the wildest ride the Fort Wayne officers have experienced since the patrol wagon has been in the police service.

The thief’s daring was bold in the extreme, and his escape was miraculous.

Fort Wayne News (Fort Wayne, Indiana) Oct 5, 1894

Here Lies George W. Pike

May 27, 2010

“And Departing Leave Behind Them –“
[Excerpt]

GEORGE W. PIKE

Underneath this stone in eternal rest
Sleeps the wildest one of the wayward west.
He was a gambler and sport and cowboy too
And he led the pace in an outlaw crew.
He was sure on the trigger and staid to the end
But he never was known to quit on a friend.
In the relations of death all mankind is alike
But in life there was only one George W. Pike.

This image of George W. Pike is from a one-page biography which can be read at the Find-A-Grave website, where I also found the tombstone picture.

Perhaps it’s just as well that “there was only one George W. Pike” for Malcolm Campbell, a famous old time sheriff of Wyoming, is authority for the statement that Pike’s “remarkable record for horse-stealing extended over a period of 15 years during which time there were few terms of court that he was not down for at least two counts …but he was never convicted of a crime in his life.”!

(by Western Newspaper Union.)

Pinedale Roundup (Pinedale, Wyoming) Dec 8, 1932

On The Hunt for a Horse Thief

March 12, 2009

horsethief

ON THE HUNT FOR A HORSE THIEF

SANPUELL INDIANS IN SEARCH OF A FORMER MEMBER OF THE BAND.

SPOKANE FALLS, Washington, May 17. — A body of Indians belonging to the almost-extinct Lower Sanpuell tribe are scouring the Palouse country now, the best agricultural region of Washington, in search of Paul Harri, a former member of that band, but now ostracized on account of worthlessness. Harry murdered Mrs. Peavy in Coeur d’ Alene country two years ago, and since that time has applied his energies to horse stealing.

The farmers of the Palouse, as well as those of Colville and Big Bend Counties, have suffered great losses on account of his marauding proclivities, but they preferred not to deal harshly with him on account of the assurance received that the Indians themselves would check his career of crime. Recently he stole a cayuse from his own brother, who caught him in the act and shot him through the foot, but he escaped.

The Indian agents are powerless in their efforts to control them and the chiefs have taken the case in hand. Several chiefs have given pledges that Harri will be brought to justice. The party of Indians now searching for him in the Palouse country have privately asserted that if they catch him they will amputate both of his arms close to the shoulders. Then if he still persists in stealing horses they will cut off his legs. Even Chief "Sko Las Kin," the Prophet, who for a long time resented the encroachments of civilization, has sent out a squad of his young men to look for the notorious Harri.

The New York Times (New York, New York) May 18,  1890

No Arm Jack: Horse Thief

January 29, 2009
Stolen Horses

Stolen Horses

An Armless Horse Thief.

Dallas, Texas, has had a visit from a singular character — Jack Hall, alias No Arm Jack — en route to Stephenville jail, from which institution the prisoner escaped six months ago after receiving a sentence of ten years in the penitentiary for horse-stealing. Both his arms are off above the elbow, having been crushed in a sugar mill when he was a child, but the bones grew out several inches from the flesh, and their surfaces are rough like corncobs, and Jack writes a beautiful hand by holding a pen beside his chin and pressing the protruding bone against it. He shoots a pistol or firearms expertly, and manages a horse as well as the average two-handed man. The height of his ambition appears to have been stealing horses successfully. He is about thirty years of age. He was arrested in the Choctaw Nation.

The Marion Daily Star (Marion, Ohio) Aug 14, 1882

The Notorious ‘Doc’ Middleton

January 22, 2009
'Doc' Middleton

'Doc' Middleton

From the (WOLA) Western Outlaw Lawmen History Association website, which provides a good amount of information about ‘Doc.’

Doc Middleton** was born James M. Riley in Bastrop County, Texas (his death certificate says he was born in Mississippi). Family members state the middle name was Middleton. Doc’s early years are confusing, but sorted out nicely by Harold Hutton in his book. Suffice to say, Doc got into some trouble in Texas, joined a cattle drive and headed to Nebraska.

The website link** above doesn’t seem to work anymore, so here is a link to the WWHA site, which also has a good article about Doc Middleton.

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NEBRASKA.
Fight with Outlaws.

OMAHA, July 26. Hazen, the detective wounded in a fight with Doc Middleton, has arrived here. Lewellyn, third detective in the fight, arrived at Fort Hartsuff and has left with soldiers from there for the place where Middleton is.

Later report shows the detectives treacherously fired on the outlaws, during negotiations. The outlaws promptly returned the fire. Middleton is severely wounded. Hazen badly and Llewellyn slightly. Black George and another outlaw were killed. The result will be the capture of Middleton and breaking up the gang.

Daily Kennebec Journal (Augusta, Maine) Jul 28,  1879

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A DESPERATE CONFLICT.
Chicago, July 24. — An Omaha special to the News gives meagre details of a desperate fight between a body of detectives and four desperadoes of Doc Middleton’s gang of thieves and murderers infesting the cattle country on the Niobara river which occurred Monday on one of the branches of the creek called Long Pine, 140 miles north of Grand Island. Shots were fired by two of the detectives and returned by the desperadoes, with effect upon each side, although no lives were lost. Hazen, one of the detectives, received three balls — one in the neck, one in the arm, and a third through his body below the ribs, coming out near the backbone.

S. Lewellyan, another of the detectives who was present at the fight, is missing, and the remaining detectives escaped without a scratch, and made their way to Columbus, 150 miles distant. Hagan reached the place safely and his wounds are not serious, though painful. Middleton would have been killed, had not the detective’s revolver missed fire four times. He was badly wounded in the groin, and it is thought he will die. He is being cared for by friends.

Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Indiana) Jul 30,  1879

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NEBRASKA.
Captured.

CHEYENNE, July 31. Doc Middleton, the notorious horse and cattle thief for whose capture large rewards were offered by different counties in Nebraska, was taken last Sunday in his camp on the Nebraska river, about 200 miles northwest of Columbus, Neb., and brought into that town this evening. Sunday morning, detectives and soldiers from Columbus and Grand Island surrounded the house of Richardson, Middleton’s father-in-law, and captured Middleton and five of his gang.

Daily Kennebec Journal (Augusta, Maine) Aug 1,  1879

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“Doc.” Middleton, the notorious horse and cattle thief, has been sentenced to five years in the Nebraska penitentiary for stealing horses from Carey Bros, of that Territory. There are other indictments against him in Nebraska.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Sep 21,  1879

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Killed by Gamblers.
OMAHA, March 26 — A gang of gamblers, supposed to be Doc Middleton’s gang, went to Covington, Neb., Tuesday night and opened up a room. Yesterday morning they killed John Peyton, a gambler, and fled. The sheriff is in pursuit.

Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey) Mar 26,  1891

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–Covington, the Nebraska suburb of Sioux City was the scene of another saloon and gambling house murder. James Peyson, ex-mayor of the town, is nearly dead, and Doc Middleton, a young gambler, has a dangerous wound in the abdomen. The trouble grew out of a game of craps in the White House, a notorious place kept by Sioux City saloon men. All were drunk.

The New Era (Humeston, Iowa) Apr 1,  1891

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A DARING DESPERADO
SOME ESCAPADES OF THE NOTORIOUS “DOC” MIDDLETON.

For a While He Ran Things With a High Hand in the Black Hills Country — Defied the Federal Authorities and Made a Judge Quickly Throw up His Hands.

“‘Doc’ Middleton was the most daring desperado that ever terrorized the Elkhorn valley and ruled the Black Hills country with a high hand,” said John C. Barclay, a shoe drummer, at the Lindell, as a party of western traveling men were swapping stories.

“Middleton always bore the soubriquet of ‘Doc,’ but nobody seems to know how he was so dubbed. Before the railroads were built into Deadwood, S.D., I used to make one trip a year by stage to that country, and I saw ‘Doc’ Middleton several times. He was a powerful fellow, with quick, elastic step, and wore a dark sombrero, an overcoat of wildcat skins and a bright handkerchief, and his cowboy make-up gave him the appearance of a typical western frontiersman. Leading a band of rangers, he waged war on the Sioux Indians and protected the settlers of the Elkhorn valley, Neb. Government officials in those days feared him, and for years he was the chief of desperadoes in those parts. But he settled down to a respectable life in Nebraska over 15 years ago and was engaged in the cattle business.

“When I first knew ‘Doc’ he was freighting from Sidney, Neb., to the Black Hills. One night, in a Sidney dance house, a half-dozen soldiers engaged in a quarrel with ‘Doc,’ and there was a shooting scrape. Middleton escaped and his in the hill sands on the Platte river. While living in the hills he picked up a bunch of horses and started out with them. He was captured and thrown into jail in Sidney. The second night there he got the jailor drunk and walked away. He next appeared at a road ranch up the Elkhorn, having been without food for five days. Soon after that he was hurrying down the Elkhorn valley with a bunch of horses that belonged to the Indians. ‘Doc’ and his party were pursued by a company of United States soldiers, about 50 settlers and a band of Indians. The white men gave up the chase in a few days, but the Indians kept on the trail. One night the thieves were overtaken by the Indians. The red men dared not shoot Middleton, so they took the horses and returned home. Middleton’s front teeth were filled with gold, and he was known to all the redskins as the ‘Gold Chief.’ The Indians believed that ‘Doc’ must have been favored by the Great Spirit in oder to have gold teeth, and they would not kill him.

“One of Middleton’s escapades was known all over the country. He was at North Platte, and a deputy sheriff tried to take him. ‘Doc’ mounted his horse, pulled a couple of revolvers and rode over all the town daring any man to shoot at him. The government finally made a determined effort to capture ‘Doc’ and sent out four secret service men. They met ‘Doc’ at a Fourth of July celebration at Atchison, Neb. He took their pistols away and made them run foot races and join in the other festivities of the day. Once Judge Moody of Deadwood demanded Middleton’s surrender. He made the judge throw up his hands and then took all the valuables he had.

“Middleton was finally captured by Deputies Lewellen and Hazen, who were sent out by Governor Thayer of Nebraska. ‘Doc’ was taken to Omaha, where he received a sentence of five years in the penitentiary. He was shown leniency because he always protected the white settlers and only stole the stock belonging to the Indians. At the expiration of his term ‘Doc’ returned to Atchison, Neb., and became a law-abiding citizen.” — St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

New Oxford Item (New Oxford, Pennsylvania) May 6,  1898

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“Doc.” Middleton, well known to pioneer Nebraskans twenty years ago, who served a term in the penitentiary and afterwards engaged in the saloon business at Gordon, is now in the same business at Ardmore, South Dakota. He is also town marshal and so gets pay for “running men in” after he has “filled them up.”

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Dec 21,  1900

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Doc Middleton Had Asked Malone for Job as Detective
“I knew Doc Middleton well,” said Chief Malone, in discussing news of the outlaw’s death. “My relations with him were very friendly. When he was at Whitman I got acquainted with him. Some months ago Doc asked for positions for himself and his son as specials in the railroad secret service. I have his letter of application in my possession now.” The chief said that Middleton wanted a job at Crawford.

A Burlington man tells a good story of the outlaw and gambler and an old time detective of the road. The latter had gone to a western town in the state with the avowed purpose of cleaning out the Middleton gang. He and his assistants were quartered in a freight car when it reached the town. The gang heard of the arrival of the detective and his force of exterminators and when the train pulled in shot after shot was fired into each freight car. Quick orders from the sleuth resulted in the train being pulled outside of the corporate limits of the town. The job of extermination was nipped in the bud.

Lincoln Daily News (Lincoln, Nebraska) Jan 1,  1914

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SIXTY YEARS AGO TODAY.
(From the Journal Files.)
Five of Doc Middleton’s gang, including Middleton, passed thru Sidney, Neb. Local officers were in hot pursuit and shot one of the outlaws within city limits.

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Apr 28,  1939

Sixty Years Ago Today.
It was learned that Doc Middleton, the notorious outlaw, had paid a quiet visit to Lincoln during the week.

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Sep 13,  1944

Doc Middleton's Gravestone

Doc Middleton's Gravestone

TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY.
Doc Middleton, Nebraska “bad man” of the seventies, died at Douglas, Wyo. In the early history of the state his gang was the terror of settlers in northwestern Nebraska. He belonged to the “Wild Bill” and “Calamity Jane” period in that section. He had a ranch at Rushville said to be the rendezvous of many noted road agents.

The Lincoln Star (Lincoln, Nebraska) Dec 30,  1933

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Santa Fe Publisher Puts West in Books
By DON TURNER
Of Our Staff
(excerpt from article)
The other two, “Doc Middleton, The Unwickedest Outlaw,” by John Carson, and “The Lynching of Elizabeth Taylor,” by Jean Williams, are based in Nebraska…
The story of Doc Middleton — horse thief, gambler, accused murderer and Texas fugitive — also is interesting reading. A lot happened between the time Middleton came to Nebraska in 1876 at the age of 25 and his death from a group of diseases while in the Converse County jail in 1913 at the age of 62.

Amarillo Globe-Times (Amarillo, Texas) Nov 10,  1966

Golden Empire: A Novel of the Northwest
By Chalmer Orin Richardson
Published by Greenberg, 1938
274 pages

…by Chalmer Richardson now superintendent of schools at Vesta. “Golden Empire,” by Mr. Richardson, is a story of Custer county of the 70’s and 80’s and brings into prominence the Olives, well known Nebraskans because of the Mitchell and Ketchum case long in the courts of the state. Mr. Richardson does not say that none of his characters are drawn from life. He admits that several are fairly close copies of early people of Custer county. Doc Middleton, another well known and lawless early day resident, is easily recognizable. The original title of the book was “Buffalo Grass,” which has sufficient meaning for people brought up in close proximity to this familiar landscape covering, but evidently not enough for Mr. Richardson’s publishers. The book made its appearance as “Golden Empire, a novel of the northwest: blandly ignoring the fact that Custer county is far from being in the northwest of Nebraska, to say nothing of the territory usually known as the northwest.

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Oct 9,  1938


Frank Wade: A Dyed in the Wool Criminal

January 15, 2009
Oregon State Penitentiary-Salem

Oregon State Penitentiary-Salem

A DYED-IN-THE-WOOL CRIMINAL
Frank Wade Must Wait Four Years Before His Next Theft.

J.G. Birdsey, of Jacksonville, sheriff of Jackson county, arrived in the city yesterday evening, after having left an inveterate horse thief at the penitentiary at Salem.

The prisoner, Frank Wade, well illustrates the incorrigible character of criminals in their career, and justifies in great measure the conviction of the officer of the law that these people never reform. They are no sooner out of prison walls that they are at their old tricks again.

“Last spring,” explained Mr. Birdsey “Wade began stealing horses in our country, and after two or three operations was arrested. After he was confined he was examined for insanity, and go off on that dodge, being committed to the asylum. He lost very little time here in filing his way out, and on his way from Salem to Jefferson stole a horse, got caught, and was sent back to the asylum. The latter part of the summer he was discharged as cured and came back to Jackson county. As soon as opportunity offered he forged an order for money, which he got cashed, stole a horse and skipped.”

“Well, he took this horse and crossed over the mountains by way of Klamath and Lake counties, going through the snow, without an overcoat or blanket, over the mountains into California. Upon the conclusion of this exploit he tumbled into the hands of Deputy Sheriff Walker, of Klamath county, near Alturas. There Sheriff Childers turned him over to me at Medford. His indictment soon followed. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced by Judge Webster to four years for the forgery, and the indictment for the theft of the horse still stands against him. He confessed interesting portions of his career to me on the way down.”

Sheriff Birdsey returns home to-day after the convention.

Morning Oregonian (Portland, Oregon) Dec 7, 1889

May Colvin: She was Fond of Horses

January 8, 2009
May Colvin, Horse Thief

May Colvin, Horse Thief

This is the first in what will be a series of articles on horse thieves,  featured every Thursday.

SHE IS FOND OF HORSES.
May Colvin Does Not Hesitate to Appropriate Her Neighbor’s Nags.
Kansas holds the trumps in the game of horse stealing. She has outdone all other states in the line of phenomenal thieves and still has a few, despite the known fact that her Anti-Horse Thief association is noted for carelessness of life in dealing with thieves. In truth, there is a proverb in the southern boarder counties that a murderer has a much better chance of life than a horse thief; yet Washington Waterman, famous as the octogenarian horse thief, died last year in the Kansas state prison at the age of 92 and in the first year of a 20 year sentence, and now a handsome miss of 18 years is awaiting her second trial for a similar crime.

May Colvin is the name of this heroine of darkness, and her home was with her parents near Thayer, Mo., till her mania for horseflesh made her a fugative. A true mania it is, no doubt, for she steals fine horses and gallops away on them without thought of the consequences. In early womanhood she showed such a passionate desire to fondle and caress fine horses that the neighbors declared she was insane, and her father, evidently not a very wise father, resorted to hard whipping and close confinement. She was then 17 and took to thieving.

Entering a neighbor’s barn in the night, she bridled and saddled the first animal that sped her away from its owner, and she has since been either a refugee or a prisoner. After perpetrating several successful thefts and adroitly eluding the officers of each locality in which she operated, she made her appearance in Fort Scott last summer and was for a short time known as a girl of the town. Suddenly she disappeared, and with her a fine buggy and valuable trotting mare from Louis Albright’s livery stable. She drove all night and the next day and was heard of three days later at Weir City, Kan., where she was captured and the animal recovered.

Here was a queer case, and the prosecuting attorney decided to rate it as one of true mania. She made an attempt to escape by sawing off one of the bars of her cage with a steel saw procurred from a fellow prisoner, but was frustrated at the vital moment. Hon. Eugene F. Ware, known among Kansas writers as “Ironquill,” made an earnest plea for her, and the prosecuting attorney was induced to nolle pros the case against her. Consequently she was released from jail immediately.

In less than 12 hours she was on the dead run behind a span of stolen horses and a buggy taken from a farmer’s barn in Crawford county. With insane daring she drove to Fort Scott, called on some of her fast friends, then drove furiously on to Nevada, Mo., where she put the stolen team in a livery barn as security for another team, with which she continued her journey, she cared not where.

Another day, however, found her in the grasp of the sheriff of Vernon county, Mo., just as she was driving into Irwin, Boston county, and she is now a prisoner in the jail of Crawford county, Kan., where the next to the last theft was committed.

And now the question is, What shall be done with her? It is perhaps worth noting that the women say, “She ought to be hanged,” while about half the men say, “Poor thing.” She is pretty, that’s certain, and aside from her peculiar mania seems to be ordinarily bright and sensible. Nevertheless a year or two of quiet life, honest industry and strict moderation in the use of rich food — just such advantages as she will enjoy in the Kansas penitentiary — will doubtless go far to cure her.

The Anti-Horse Thief association has recently effected several very sudden and radical cures of male patients, and the only wonder is that in such a country Washington Waterman lived so long. That man served five full terms in Missouri and Kansas penitentiaries, yet kept right on stealing horses and died in prison, as aforesaid, at the age of 92. Truly he was “possessed.”

The News (Frederick, Maryland)  Mar 4, 1893

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Female Horse Thief Captured
FORT SCOTT Kan. June 19 — May Colvin the female horse thief who escaped from the Carthage (Mo.) jail last Friday, has been captured by the officers and posse of citizens who were in pursuit.

Bismarck Daily Tribune (Bismarck, North Dakota) June 20, 1893
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May Colvin, who escaped from the jail at Carthage, Mo., where she was confined for horse stealing, was recaptured on the border of Indian Territory.

The Salem Daily News (Salem, Ohio) June 21, 1893

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A BEAUTIFUL HORSE THIEF.
She is May Colvin, an Ozark Girl of 18, and as Pretty as a Picture.
The female department of the penitentiary undoubtedly furnishes the most depraved types of humanity. Primarily the partiality of courts and juries for women characterizes every judical system of civilization, and so it must be a depraved and dangerous woman indeed whom a jury of Americans will sentence to penal servitude.

Decidedly the most unique personality of the female population of the prison is May Colvin. May is only 18 years old and is a rustic beauty. Dress her in the gorgeous paraphernalia of Lillian Russell and she would be a more brilliant beauty than that stage celebrity. She has great blue eyes and a mass of touseled hair of Titian tint. Her form is luscious — well rounded and plump — and her cheeks are red with the vigorous life of the Ozarks, whence she came. Her mouth is one that an impressionable artist would go wild over, with its cherry red lips of sensuous curves, the whole forming the most perfect Cupid’s bow. And, withal, May is a horse thief and doesn’t deny it. Certainly the confinement in the penitentiary has brought out her native beauty, that must have been blurred or obscured by her exposure to all sorts of rough weather while fleeing over the plains and mountains of the southwest from the officers or else no jury could have ever been induced to giver her a term in prison, especially for so common and plebeian an offense as stealing horses.

But May is not only a horse thief, but a jail breaker as well by her own confession. Her feat in breaking from the jail at Girard, Kan., where she was confined about two years ago for horse stealing, her escape to Jasper county, Mo., and her subsequent capture there and prosecution on an old charge will be recalled by the readers of newspapers.

“Well, I have no hard luck story to tell,” was the way May greeted The Republic representative. “They made no mistake in my case. Nearly everybody else in here is innocent, according to their own statement, but I’m not. I’m here for horse stealing.”

“When I heard you were here and wanted to see me, I thought you were an officer from Girard, Kan., and wanted to take me back there for breaking out of jail. I’m glad you are not, but I guess they’ll come for me as soon as my term is out here, which will be in about 14 months if I behave myself. I’ve been a pretty good girl since I’ve been here. The reason for it, I guess, is that I haven’t had a chance to be bad. However, I’ve so managed to break the rules as to be put in the dark room two or three times. But I’m going to behave myself from now on so I can get the benefit of the three-fourths rule.”

“I don’t know why I’ve turned out so bad unless it is that it was just born in me. My mother is a good woman, only 35 years old now, a member of the Methodist church and has been married three times. She raised me right, and my father, who is a dentist, was always kind and indulgent to me. I went to the public schools in Webb City until I was 16, and then the devilment began to crop out in me. I don’t know why either.”

“Nobody ever taught me any wrong. I’m not like other women, either, in blaming my downfall on any man.”
–St. Louis Republic.

The Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) June 14, 1894