Tales from the Morgue: The not-so-great, attempted train robbery, part 4

2013-11-29T09:00:00Z 2014-04-24T16:30:04Z Tales from the Morgue: The not-so-great, attempted train robbery, part 4Johanna Eubank Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 29, 2013 9:00 am  • 

It was at the coroner's inquest that the stories of all the witnesses to the attempted train robbery came together. Knowing it all happened more than 90 years ago, one may now see humor in the descriptions, but the Morgue Lady is sure people were frightened at the time.

A note: The express messenger who shot and killed Tom Dugat was previously identified as Harry Stewart. In this article his name is spelled Steward. Not knowing which is correct, the Morgue Lady is reproducing the text of the articles in this series as they appeared originally.

From the Arizona Daily Star, Thursday, May 18, 1922:

 

Steward Exonerated for Killing Bandit by Coroner's Jury
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WITNESSES TELL OF ATTEMPT TO ROB EXPRESS CAR NEAR JAYNES
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Messenger Who Killed Dugat Describes Hold-Up Scene
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Harry S. Steward, express messenger, shot and killed T. O. Dugat, Tucson goat rancher, near Jaynes station early Monday morning, "in self-defense and in defense of property in his care," according to the verdict of a coroner's jury sitting yesterday afternoon before Justice of the Peace Oscar L. Pease.

Steward and members of the train crew of the Golden State Limited, the Rock Island west bound train that was held up one and a half miles west of Jaynes station at 1 o'clock Monday morning, gave the details of the attack made by six masked men.

A humorous touch was given to the proceedings by the testimony of Charlie Bailey, a Kentucky youth who was "riding the blind" on the Limited at the time of the hold-up. The lad's boyish, ingenious confession of stark terror at what occurred that night was so picturesquely phrased as to evoke roar after roar of laughter from his auditors.

The witnesses were examined by Deputy County Attorney Ben R. Mathews.

Described Fatal Wound

The first to take the stand was Dr. E. J. Gottheif, Jr., county physician, who testified as to the fatal wound that Dugat received. Dr. Gottheif said that one buckshot entered the left shoulder and ranged downward, probably severing one of the large arteries. The bullet had not been extracted from Dugat's body, the county physician testified.

D. M. Madagan, conductor of the Golden State Limited, testified that he was collecting tickets in the chair car, next to the express car, when he heard the engineer answer torpedo signals to stop. The conductor said that the engine came to a stop immediately opposite a red fusee near the track. He started to open the vestibule of the chair car to climb out, when he heard voices shouting "keep back," and heard two shots. One of the bullets crashed through the roof of the car, while the other went through the bumpers or shock absorbers, between the two cars. Conductor Madigan said that he stayed in the train until the officers from Tucson arrived, and that the train was stopped for one hour and 50 minutes.

Mr. Madigan told of the finding of a thermos bottle of nitroglycerine and three sticks of dynamite, near the track. The contents later were poured out and the bottle turned over to Sheriff Ben F. Daniels.

Tells of Holdup

Express Messenger Steward was the next witness. He said that after leaving Tucson shortly after midnight Sunday night, he turned out the lights of his car and fell asleep. He was awakened by shots, and thought that the train crew was having trouble with hoboes. He said that he got his shotgun, loaded it, and also got his revolver ready, and stepped to the door on the right side of the car. All the while, the firing and the shouting outside were continuing.

"After I had been standing by the door for some time," Mr. Steward said, "I heard steps coming down the side of the car from the engine. I looked out of the window and saw a man pass by holding his hands up. I expected to see some one behind him with a gun, but I saw no one.

"I heard some one fooling with the chains under the car, and heard a man say, 'For Christ's sake, can't you make that cut? Go ahead, go ahead.'

"The train seemed to jerk ahead and then jerk back, and finally it went ahead for some distance.

"More shots were fired, and some one cried out, 'Come on out, or we'll blow you up.'"

Mr. Steward said that he saw a man coming toward the engine or the mail car, from the left side of the train.

"I could tell from his actions that he was one of the robbers," the express messenger said. "I fired at him, and he disappeared from sight.

"The some one said, 'Don't shoot any more, boys.'

"Shortly afterward, I heard steps under the window of my car, on the left or fireman's side. I tried to open the door on that side, but I made some noise with it that attracted the man's attention, for he looked up.

"He went on for a few steps, and then came back, walking toward the engine, but instead of continuing toward the engine, when he passed the door of my car he turned off on a slant, toward the embankment.

Crawled Into Bushes

"I fired, and the man fell. He crawled toward the bushes."

The express messenger added that he saw a large car with a black body on the road on the south, or left, side of the car. He said he saw the car start off in a westerly direction, the same as that in which the train had been going. He said that he believed that he fired both times at the same man. Steward testified that he used a sawed-off shotgun.

The man who was shot wore a mask, according to the messenger's testimony.

George L. Reid of 614 East Second street, Tucson, engineer, said that he saw a red light ahead of him a few miles out of Tucson, and that he asked his foreman whether it was an automobile light or a signal, the fireman replying at first that he could not tell, but later saying that it was a red fusee.

"We passed over two torpedoes, which is the signal to slow down," said Engineer Reid. "I thought at first that it was a surprise test being conducted by the officials of the road.

"We stopped after a third torpedo had gone off. One man climbed up on my side of the engine and covered me with his gun, while another climbed up on the left side and covered the fireman."

Mr. Reid described the efforts of the robbers to cut the engine and the mail and express cars from the rest of the train, and told of being ordered to get off the engine after the front part of the train had been detached from the rest and moved several car lengths.

No Shooting at Crew

"As we passed down the train I saw a man with the rifle hiding in the bushes and I told the fireman that I guessed it was all up with us," Mr. Reid said. "Some one shouted at that moment, however, that there was to be no shooting at the engineer and fireman, the witness added.

J. A. Ingram of 1023 East Ninth street, the fireman on the Golden State Limited, largely corroborated the testimony of Engineer Reid regarding the manner used by the robbers in getting the train to a halt.

"We want the express car, but not the mail or the passengers," the fireman said that one of the bandits told him, adding that no one would be hurt if they did as the robbers told them to do."

Mr. Ingram said that he saw six men in all around the train, and that all of them wore masks and had paint or rubber gloves on their hands, He said that the masks completely covered the men's faces.

Referring to the method used in flagging the train, Mr. Ingram said that it was "a 100 per cent job of flagging." He also expressed the opinion that the fire in the engine was put out by some one who had experience with locomotives.

W. Clyde Brainard, brakeman, of 148 East Pennington street, said that when the train stopped he got off and went back to flag the approaching extra freight, and that the latter returned to Jaynes station, from where a telephone message was sent to the chief dispatcher at Tucson, appraising him of the holdup. When he started back toward the passenger train Mr. Brainard saw two Mexicans walking on the track, he said.

W. F. Tucker of 218 South Fourth avenue, another brakeman on the Golden State Limited, said that he got off the train as soon as the train stopped and saw a man shooting at a point between the baggage car and the next coach. Mr. Tucker said that he saw four robbers during the holdup, one of the four being Dugat.

"Hobo" Describes Scene

Charley Bailey of Covington, Ky., who said he had been "riding the blind" on the Golden State Limited, furnished a note of comedy with his frank, youthful avowal of unrestrained fright at what happened during the attempted holdup.

"I arrived in Tucson Sunday morning at 3:05," young Bailey began. "I was on my way to Los Angeles, but I was going to stop at Maricopa, for I had heard that there was work there.

"Sunday night I was lying in the park, and fell asleep. When I woke up I saw two trains about the leave the station. One was a freight and the other was a passenger. I debated as to which one I should take, and it was my misfortune to take the passenger."

Bailey told of hearing shots and shortly after the train had left Tucson, and also hearing some one say "Line up."

The youth said that he came out of his corner and lined up with the rest.

"For God's sake, don't shoot!" he testified that he cried out to the robbers, showing the jury how he had his hands in front of his face as he spoke.

"Then they took us out into the field, and I sure thought they were going to shoot us," Bailey continued. "After a while the robbers made me climb into the engine."

Asked to "Cut Air"

After a while, the bandits asked him if he could "cut the air," and he answered that he would try. "Cut her quick," one of the bandits commanded when Bailey did not show enough technique, the youth said, adding that he then crawled under the car, while one of the bandits shot at him three times.

Bailey said he ran under the cars until he made the end of the train, when he ran down the track for about a mile, his hands still held well up in the air. As he crawled, from one side of the cars to the other, Bailey said he would come up against one or another of the bandits waiting for him.

Finally Bailey reached the extra freight that had been coming behind the Golden State Limited.

"I saw a man standing by the train, and I went up and asked him if he was a conductor. I had a lump in my throat so big that I couldn't talk. He told me that he was not the conductor, and that he had been shot at six times.

"'That's nothing,' I answered him," Bailey testified. "I've been shot at three times myself."

Shooting Reported

"Someone had reported the shooting from Jaynes Station, and the suggestion was made that some of us go back to the passenger train and see what was going on.

"The suggestion was not a good one, and no one took it," Bailey added, while the listeners in the court room roared.

"Are you going on to California?" Deputy County Attorney Matthews asked.

"Now? No, sir, I'm going back home!" Bailey answered, while his auditors had another good laugh.

Sheriff Daniels testified to being called to Jaynes Station to investigate a train robber, about 1 o'clock Monday morning. The sheriff said that he drove out to the scene of the attempted hold-up, accompanied by Deputy Sheriffs J. Lew Tremaine, Pat J. Sheey and Carmen Mungia, described the body that was found lying by the tracks, and told of the three pieces of dynamite that were picked up nearby.

The dead man still clasped a six-shooter, the sheriff said.

Under Sheriff Charles H. Pogue testified that he had known Tom Dugat for 20 years, and that he identified the body that was taken to the Parker-Grimshaw Undertaking company as being that of Dugat.

Don't you just love that the Justice of the Peace's name is Pease?

Some definitions:

A "fusee" is (in this case) a colored flare used as a warning signal.

"Riding the blind" now refers to riding in boxcars but once meant to ride on the platform in front of the baggage car as it was generally a secure seat because of the baggage piled near the door.

A "torpedo" is a coin-sized explosive device designed to warn the driver of a train. It would be strapped to the top of a rail, perhaps by someone from a disabled train ahead or a construction crew, to warn a coming train of the possibility of danger ahead. When the engine of the train crushes the torpedo, it makes a small explosion that the engineer hears.

Next: An arrest.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

About this blog

"Tales from the Morgue" is a way for the Star to share stories from the treasure trove of information held in its old files.

Johanna Eubank, aka the Morgue Lady, was a research assistant in the Star Library — also known as News and Research Services — for 18 years before becoming an online content producer. She has had her share of sneezing fits after digging into dusty old files, so she's sure to find a few old stories to re-examine.

If you have suggestions, comments or questions about this blog, e-mail jeubank@tucson.com

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