The story is interesting in itself because it gives a look at what the times were like in the 1870's in Missouri. However, some of the people involved were my relatives. The John Carter mentioned as helping to capture the train robber, was my great great grandfather John G. Carter. The James Craighead mentioned in the story as the brother-in-law of the train robber, was married to Nannie Berry and was my 2nd cousin 4 times removed through his great grandfather John Craighead who was my 5th great grandfather. The town of Mexico mentioned is Mexico, Audrain Co., Missouri.
On the night of the 18th of September, 1877, the Union Pacific express car was robbed at Big Springs Station, 162 miles west of Wyoming Territory, by six masked men. The robbers appeared at the station in the evening, and took possession of everything, tearing the telegraph instruments out and throwing them away. A red light was then hung out to stop the train, which arrived there about 11 o’clock P.M. On the conductor’s stepping off to see what was wanted he was confronted by men armed with revolvers, who commanded him to throw up his hands. The fireman and engineer were secured and placed under guard. The station agent was forced to knock on the express door, and on its being opened for him, the, robbers rushed in, overpowering Messenger Miller, and taking possession of the car They secured $65,000 in coin, and about $500 from the express car in currency. The through safe, which was stationary, and which had a combination lock, they left undisturbed. It contained a large sum of money. The passengers in the coaches were then visited, and relieved of cash and valuables amounting to about $1,800. One of the six masked men above mentioned was James Berry, who had been a resident of Callaway county, Mo. He had been living a short time previous to the robbery at North Platte, Nebraska, with a man named Garretson. They were in some kind of business, but failed, leaving their creditors nothing. Berry went to the Black Hills. A detective by the name of Leach resided in Ogalalla, and was in the mercantile business. Berry went to Leach’s store to purchase a pair of boots, but not having any money, Leach refused to credit him. A man by the name of Collins, however, paid for them. A few days after this the robbery of the train occurred, and Leach went at once to the locality where it took place. He took the trail of the men, and followed them two hundred miles through a wild country alone. He at length overtook them, while they were around their camp-fire counting their money. He saw Berry and Collins, and at once recognized them as the men who had purchased the boots. He heard them talk about their plans, and learned their places of abode. The robbers separated into companies of two men. Berry and his confederate came to Mexico, where Berry stopped; his accomplice took the Chicago and Alton train for the North. Leach, the detective, came on to Mexico, and at the time of Berry’s capture was in Callaway county, near Berry’s house, endeavoring to affect Berry’s arrest
After Berry’s return to Callaway county, he took great pleasure in showing his money, and was often seen in the saloons in Mexico, where he made a great display of his ill-gotten gain. Not being a thrifty man, but on the contrary, a dissolute character, the people who knew him and seeing him with so much money, at once suspected something wrong. This suspicion was confirmed by the detective, and circumstances pointed to Berry as one of the six robbers of the express train. We Copy from the Mexico Ledger, of October 18, 1877:- It appears that last Saturday night as our sheriff (Glascock) was eating supper about half-past six o'clock, he received a message that a man was in town after the suit of clothes Berry had left at Blum’s. The man's name was Bose Kazy; he lived near Berry’s. He told Blum that Berry had told him that he could have the clothes if he would pay the balance of $30 due on them. This was the way he had his ‘‘job" fixed up. Glascock ran right down to Kabrich's Hall, and hid behind the corner and saw Kazy come out; this was half past seven. Glascock followed him to Wallace & McKamey’s livery stable. Just as Glascock got near the stable, he met John Carter and told him to come along. Carter, Glascock and Kazy all got to the stable at the same time. Kazy paid for his horse feed, and started to get on his horse. Sheriff Glascock took Kazy by the collar, presented a pistol to his head, and told him he would shoot him if he moved. Kazy did not move. Glascock ordered two more horses saddled. They then tied Kazy on his horse. The sheriff and Carter then mounted. and the cavalcade then moved off, Glascock leading Kazy’s horse. They went down to the branch near the residence of Thomas Smith, in South Mexico, and there they stopped. Glascock there procured the services of John Coons, Bob Steele, and a young man named Moore. All got horses and prepared themselves with double-barrel shot-guns. They then told Kazy that he must tell them where Berry was. He said he had not seen Berry since he told him he could have the clothes, which had been about a week before that time. The posse then surrounded Kazy, put their guns to his heart, and told him if he led them into any trap, or did not take them at once to where Berry was they would kill him. He said he would take them to Berry’s house, if it would do them any good. The men started out towards Kazy’s house. When they arrived within a half mile of Kazy’s house, they took Kazy off, tied him and left Bob Steele to guard him; then Glascock placed two men north of the house and stable - Moore and himself going on the south and west side. Before they tied Kazy they asked him to tell where Berry was, but he said he knew nothing, about him. They did not alarm Kazy’s house, but all seated themselves in thickets, to await results. Glascock told them to halt Berry if they saw him, and if he showed tight, to shoot him down, and if he ran, to shoot him in the legs-in short to capture him at all hazards. In about a half hour Glascock heard the neighing of a horse about a half mule distant as he thought. Moore and Glascock then crept towards the noise - went 300 yards down the branch, came to a fence and saw fresh horse-tracks. Glascock got over the fence and secreted himself in a thicket, he heard the horse snort this time about fifty yards away in the brush. Glascock then crawled toward the horse, and after going about twenty steps got upon his knees and saw the back of the horse about forty yards off. Glascock approached within about twenty yards of the horse, when he raised up and saw Berry unhitching the horse from a tree. He started with his horse, leading him as he stated to water. Glascock cocked both barrels of his gun and approached within about twenty feet of Berry and ordered him to halt . Berry started to run ; Glascock shot, the charge going over Berry’s head. He shot again, and seven buck-shot were lodged in Berry's left leg below the knee. Berry fell to the ground. When the sheriff got to them he was trying to get his pistol out. This the sheriff took from him. Berry then asked him to kill him, saying he did not want to live. Just at this time Moore came up. Glascock called the balance of the posse. Berry was searched, and in his belt was found five $500 package’s, and in his pocket-book was found $304. He had a gold watch and chain, one dress coat, three overcoats and a comfort; he had doubtless slept within ten feet of the horse. They took him to Kazy’s house, and while they were at breakfast a messenger was sent to Williamsburg for medical assistance. Immediately after breakfast the sheriff and John Carter went to Berry’s house to look for the balance of the money. Upon arriving there the sheriff inquired of Mrs. Berry the where-abouts of Berry. She answered she did not know, as she had not seen him for four or five days, and thought he had left the country. The sheriff showed her Berry’s watch and chain, when one of the children said, ‘‘ Oh! I thought that was papa’s.’’ He further told her that he had captured Berry, when she asked if he had been taken alive, saying she never thought he would be. When informed that he had been taken alive she and the children began to cry - a little boy and five small girls. It was a distressing scene. The sheriff searched the house but found no money. Sunday evening the parties returned to Mexico and placed Berry in a room at the Bingo house, and called Dr. Russell to attend him. On the following Tuesday, at about one o’clock, Berry died. After being wounded, there was no reaction and on Monday night gangreen set in. Berry did not seem to dread death. He told those around him he would not die. His brother-in-law, James Craighead, was with him during his last moments. His sister and friends from Martinsburg came too late to see him, as did also his wife, who did not arrive until about four o’clock. On Monday night, Berry made a confession, and said he was in the robbery, but said he was not sorry for it. His remains were interred in the Richland cemetery, Callaway county. His aged mother died a few hours before he did, and they were both buried in the same grave.