Stories - Train Robbery Near Calumet, 1893

Calumet, September 15, 1893. The Mineral Range passenger train due here at 10:00 o'clock this forenoon was held up by four masked robbers at Boston to-day, about five miles south of Calumet, and the American Express Company's messenger robbed of $70,000. Tomorrow is the regular monthly pay day of the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company, they paying their employees usually on that day upwards of $20,000. The currency is obtained from the banks of Calumet, Red Jacket, Houghton and Hancock, and for years the money for the Hancock and Houghton banks has been shipped the day previous to paying the men.

This morning there was shipped from the Superior Savings Bank, of Hancock, $30,000 and $10,000 from the National Bank of Houghton. The money was taken from the train leaving Houghton at 9 o'clock and arriving here agt 10.

When the train reached Boston station, a lonely spot at the location of the Peninsula mine, which has been idle for nearly a year, a man appeared on the platform and signaled the train to stop. The conductor had already rung the bell for the engineer to stop, as he had passengers for that point. As soon as the man had caused the train to slacken its speed, he stopped inside the little waiting-room and reappeared with a mask over his face. He had also donned a long linen duster. The fellow jumped on the engine and immediately drew his gun on Engineer Shuler, demanding of him to give up the throttle. As he spoke he pulled the trigger and a shot went into the air. Reaching over, the fellow turned the air from the brakes.

As this man was climbing the side of the engine, a companion was making the acquaintance of the fireman. As he came up the fireman took the man to be an escaped lunatic, bolted out of the cab and along the running board of the locomotive. He was shot at three times, and finally forced to go back to his post. The engineer was told by the man at his side to turn the throttle over to him and he would run the engine. "You sit quiet and I will run this machine," said he.

While this was taking place on the engine, two companions, similarly dressed, climbed to the platform of the baggage-car, one-half of which is used by the express company. The front end was occupied by the express messenger. The money which consisted partly of gold and silver coin, and partly of paper, was in an iron chest. Messenger Hogan was engaged in making out bills. He hears a crash at the front door, and before he had time to realize what was coming, found himself looking down the barrels of two seven-shooters. A masked man stood before him.

Baggage-man Porter was seated in the further end of the car, which is divided by a partition. He was also confronted by a black-masked man and a gun.

He did as he bade and kept quiet. Messenger Hogan was ordered by the man holding the revolver to throw up his hands. He did so, and the stranger reached down and pulled the messenger's revolver out of his pocket. He then ordered him to open the iron chest containing the cash, and not delay. The key was produced, the chest opened, the cash removed, placed in a large sack and the robbers withdrew. As they jumped from the baggage car their companions alighted from the locomotive, and the four left for the woods, all in plain view of the passengers, who were now thoroughly excited. As the train increased its speed one of the men turned towards the cars and waved his hand.

The robbers forced their way into the car by breaking down the door with a blacksmith's sledge hammer, which had evidently been taken from some of the vacated mine buildings. The four men are described as follows: One large and square shouldered, one tall and slim, one short and thick set, while the fourth is rather below the medium size. The latter was the one who had charge of the engine. Such little time was consumed in the transaction that the train was less than five minutes late when it reached Calumet. Officers were very quickly at work, and within three hours time fully 100 deputy sheriffs were scouring the entire country.

The Calumet and Hecla Mining Company promptly offered the officials and express company all the assistance in their power to hunt the rascals down. Fifty men employed by the mining company, who were sworn in as deputy sheriffs, were detailed to go on the search.

Four men, Jack King, the Cornish wrestler; John Kehoe, a saloonkeeper of Red Jacket; Jack Chellew, keeper of a house of ill-fame at Ishpeming, and a man named Gorman, a stranger in these parts, were arrested in Hancock this afternoon and are held on suspicion. King and Gorman hired a rig at one of the livery stables to go to Calumet. This was two hours before the robbery took place. They came back an hour after the affair, not coming to Calumet at all. The officers claim that Kehoe and Chellew were also seen coming from the same direction. Some women say a horse was tied near the place of the robbery which tallies with the livery horse hired by King. The express messenger's revolver, taken by the robbers, was found only a short distance from where the horse was tied. No complaint has been sworn out against them, and they are simply held on suspicion. Unless these are the men, the officers are expecting the robbers will attempt to leave by a boat from some point along Lake Superior, and the shore is being patrolled for many miles in every direction. [DFP-9/16/1893]

Houghton, September 15, 1893. The startling intelligence that the train had been held up and robbed was quickly known in this city, Hancock, Calumet and the other mining villages and camps along the Mineral Range and its spurs, and caused the most intense excitement. The sheriff quickly organized a posse and started in pursuit, the members of the military companies also started on the trail, and hundreds of miners and other citizens joined them. The miners have not been paid for several weeks, are many of them money-less, were expecting to be paid today, and it is pretty certain that if the robbers fall into their hands a rope will be found for them.

Not far from the scene of the robbery the sheriff and his party found a revolver and two masks. The trainmen report that the two bandits who held revolvers at the heads of the engineer and fireman wore cloth masks covering a portion of their faces, but the express messenger says the two who forced him with revolvers to put the money into a bag and hand it out to them, wore no masks. The masks found are without doubt those worn by the men at the locomotive. That they should have thrown these away was natural, but that one of them should also throw away his revolved, is looked upon as significant. It is interpreted as a desire to get rid of something that might tend to incriminate the owner of it were found upon his person in these suspicious times, and it is argued that the owner intended to mix with his fellowmen. Had he been determined upon flight, and resistance if pursued, his revolver would have been the last thing to part with.

For these reasons, while search in the woods has been kept up all day unceasingly, others have not been unmindful of the towns. tt was soon learned that two men who are well known here and all through this region, had taken a horse and buggy early this morning and driven out in the direction of Calumet. Soon after the robbery they were seen not far away on the road driving rapidly away. These men are Jack King, a professional wrestler, and Jack Chellew, a sporting man. They claimed to know nothing of the train robbery, but were taken into custody pending investigation, and with them Jack Kehoe, said to be a pugilist, and two men named Butler and Gorman, who are sports. In default of $10,000 bail each, they were committed to jail. [DFP-9/16/1893]