Here is a story by M.V. on the James Forum# 34919.
Taken from “Glasgow, KY. The Way We Were, by the late historian, Vivian Rousseau.
MAMMOTH CAVE STAGE ROBBERY (note, this was mentioned earlier). The following article is a copy of a newspaper clipping from the original scrapbook of Delos “Tankee” BLIGH who was Chief of Detectives in Louisville, Ky., from January 1846 to February 1890. BLIGH, during his tenure I office was considered one of the greatest detectives in the country. The clipping is from a Louisville newspaper, dated Sept. 4, 1880.
A stagecoach left Mammoth Cave Hotel for Cave City last Friday at 5 o’clock, September 3, 1880 with eight passengers. Of these passengers, three had left Lebanon for the Cave two days before, namely: R. H. ROWNTREE, Esq., the oldest member of the Lebanon bar and President of the Marion National Bank; his daughter, Miss Lizzie, and his nephew, Phillip S ROWNTREE, editor of the Evening Wisconsin, Milwaukee, who had been visiting her for a week or two previous. The other passengers were: J E CRAIG, Jr., of Lawrenceville, GA., S W SHELTON of Calhoun, TN, S. H. FROHLICHSTEIN of Mobile, Ala.; W G WELSH and George M PAISLEY of Pittsburgh. A colored man drove the stage.
Four miles from the cave this coach passed the stage bound for the cave, which had but one passenger, a Mr. CROGHAN, one of the owners of the cave property. A half-mile further on an unexpected and startling incident occurred. At the time of the occurrence the passengers were distributed as follows: On the back seat, Messrs SHELTON and FROHLICHSTEIN; on the middle seat, Mr. R H ROWNTEEE and Miss Lizzie; on the front seat, Mr. P S ROWNTREE and Mr. CRAIG; Messrs WELSH and PAISLEY on top beside the driver.
Mr. CRAIG looking back, remarked, “I see two men on the road behind us taking a drink out of a bottle.” Then there was the clatter of hoofs on the road and two horsemen made their appearance at the coach window on the left side, each with a large revolver in his hand. One of them covered the driver and ordered him to halt; the other thrust his pistol up to the window and brought it to bear on the passengers in the front seat. The stage came to a standstill, and the passengers were ordered to get out. Under the persuasive influence of the revolvers they were not slow to comply with his request. “The lady can keep her seat; she need not be alarmed, we will not disturb her,” said one of the horsemen.
The suddenness of the attack at first confused the passengers and left them in doubt what it means. Some thought that the horsemen were officers who meant to arrest one or two of the passengers. They were quickly undeceived however, and found themselves in the power of two highwaymen, bent on robbing them of all their valuables in their possession. Mr. P S ROWNTREE took in the situation from the beginning and quickly thrust his watch and pocketbook under the cushion. Miss Lizzie ROWNTREE observed the act, and catching the suggestion slipped her rings from her finger a placed them under the cushion of the seat upon which she sat. When the men on the front seat got out she moved a seat over and was not disturbed. Mr. R H ROWNTREE also remained in the coach. The other six were made to form a line along the roadside. The robbers dismounted and throwing the reins over their arms drew each an additional pistol and proceeded to business.
One of them entered the coach and took from Mr. R H ROWNTREE his pocketbook containing about $30 in money and a $150 gold watch and a handsome gold key elegantly engraved worth $35. This key was a present from Hon. J. Proctor KNOTT. [Note - he was Governor - and his sister married into our GORIN line in MO]. Lifting the cushion the robber found the three rings, which Miss Lizzie ROWNTREE had hidden beneath it and at once appropriated them. The gentlemen outside were then called on for their pocket books, and preceded to give them up - all except Mr. Phillip S ROWNTREE, who produced 75 cents. [Note: Men’s pocket books were like expanding files - leather with various compartments inside for money, some had little books on diseases and home cures, etc.]
“Who are you?” said the spokesman for the robbers. “I am a newspaper man.” said Mr. ROWNTREE. “Where re you from?” “Evansville.” “Damfino.” “Where’s your watch?” “Put it up at the spout at the Cave as security for my board.” “You’re a d... little Jew,” said the genial highwayman, and turned to the next man. (This incident illustrates how training as an editor improves the imagination.)
“Now, said the leading robber,” “I am going to search you in a moment and if I find a dollar on any of you, I will blow your brains out. I give you fair warning, that you may be prepared.” Several additional pocketbooks came out at this announcement; among others the fattest one in the party, from Mr. CRAIG, who had at first thrown down a pocketbook containing nothing but $700 worth of valuable papers.
Watches were next collected, but Mr. CRAIG managed to secret his and save it. One or two silver watches were rejected as not worth stealing. The robbers remarked that they were moon shiners, and were so hard pressed by the Government that they had to resort to that means to obtain money to get away on. They took a list of the names and the post offices of the party.
When Mr. ROWNTREE gave his name and place of residence, the spokesman of the robbers remarked, “Oh, yes, I know the ROWNTREES,” and immediately pulled up over his face a handkerchief, which he wore around his neck. The movement was noticed by several of the party, and was understood as a precaution to guard against possible recognition. If so, it was unnecessary, as none of the party recollected of ever having seen the man before. Several of the passengers asked the robbers to restore their railroad tickets, which was done in every case. Business being over, the leading highwayman unbent a little and produced a quart of whiskey. “As I have done pretty well, I feel that I ought to treat,” he said, “to show you that it is not poison, I will drink first.” With that he took a good healthy swig at the bottle and then set it on the ground. Pointing his pistol at the nearest man he said persuasively: “Take a drink!”
The man may have been a Good Templar or he may not. If he was he said nothing about it, but raised the bottle to his lips without debate. He then passed it to the next man and it went the rounds of the party outside. It was not offered to the two passengers in the stage. The robbers now made preparations to leave. Mr. CRAIG sought to detain them by asking for another drink, but they divined his object in a moment and told him he could keep the bottle until they called for it.
When Mr. ROWNTREE’S watch was taken, the robber whispered to him that if he made a good haul he would give him back his watch. Mr. ROWNTREE now reminded him of his promise. The fellow took out the watch and seemed to hesitate, but finally remarked that he would keep it. Miss Lizzie asked for her diamond ring, but after looking at it the robber said it would look well on the hand of his wife. “I told you I wouldn’t disturb you,” he said, “but you chose to hid your rings, so I will keep them.” Telling the driver to drive slowly, the robbers mounted their horses and rode off ahead of the stage at a rapid pace. As they went off the leader remarked to Miss ROWNTREE: “Give my respects to the GRAY girls in Lebanon. They know me.”
None of the passengers had any arms, and they were not permitted at any time to get within ten feet of the highwaymen. The losses of the several passengers were as follows:
R H ROWNTREE, money, watch and key - $215.00 Miss Lizzie ROWNTREE, rings - $50.00. P S ROWNTREE, cash - $.75 J E CRAIG, Jr., money - $680.00. S W SHELTON, money - $50.00 S P FROHLICHSTEIN, money - $33.00. W G WELSH, money, $51.00 Geo M PAISLEY, money, $4; watch $50 - $83.00
Besides his money, Mr. Craig, as above mentioned, lost papers calling for $700, but the loss of these may not involve the moss of the money they represent. Mr. P S ROWNTREE saved a valuable watch a $30 in money in the manner above mentioned.
Inquiries along the road between the scene of the robbery and Cave City elicited the information that the robbers had been along the road Thursday evening and had applied at several houses for permission to spend the night. They said they would have robbed the stage Thursday evening, but it was too wet. They also stated that they had robbed Mr. CROGHAN, the solitary passenger in the coach going to the cave of $700.
FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS REWARD. The connection of Mr. R H ROWNTREE, one of our oldest and most prominent citizens with this affair has given it a great deal of local interest. Mr. ROWNTREE was born in Edmondson County within 10 miles of Mammoth Cave, and on Friday morning revisited the old homestead which he left 53 years ago. He feels keenly the outrage done him and his fellow passengers in the county of his birth; not so much on account of the amount lost, as because he feels that there ought to be no highway robbery in Kentucky at this day. He authorizes us to say that he will pay a reward of $500 for the capture and delivery of the two highwaymen to the Jailor of Edmondson County, or half that sum for either of them. He asks - and the request appears reasonable - that all papers favorable to the suppression of crime copy this offer of reward and the subjoined description of the men. In making this offer Mr. ROWNTREE is seeking no benefit to himself but only endeavoring to perform a public service.
DESCRIPTION OF THE ROBBERS. The man who did the talking was medium sized, about five feet six to eight inches high, weighed about 140 pounds, beard and mustache sandy, not red; thin and scraggly in appearance. He is about 35 years old and is nervous in his manner, talking in a thin, high-pitched voice. He is slightly round shouldered, but the shoulders are square from the front. His general appearance is slouchy. He rode a black horse of about 1,000 pounds weight, a good squared hipped, rangy animal, but thin of flesh. The second man was of a dark complexion, within, black beard and mustache, a large dark eye, a little taller than his companion. His voice is pleasant and full and his manner of action and speaking indicate that he is country bred. He road [sic] a sorrel horse with blaze face and two white feet. This man is about 30 years old.
Kentucky Peace Officers Magazine, not dated: In connection with this robbery, a man by the name of T. J. Hunt was indicted and arrested in March, 1881, and sentenced to prison for this crime. However, upon the death of Jesse James in 1882 his picture was published in the newspapers and the victims of the stagecoach robbery identified him as the person who robbed the stagecoach instead of T. J. HUNT. Some of the watches and jewelry, which had been taken in this robbery, were found in the possession of Jesse James at the time of his death, and were identified and returned to the persons from whom they were taken. Hunt was pardoned.
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