Robbed Twice on the Same Day
Central Pacific Railroad - November 5, 1870
Nevada's first train robbery happened
near Verdi on the western edge of the state. Being the very first one,
it attracted much attention. The second heist was just 20 hours later,
380 miles to the east. It was the same train on the same run on the same
day but, by then, train holdups were suddenly very common.
A glove with name of Edward Carr on it and a brass compass engraved with William Harvey were found on the floor of the railroad car. Now the plot thickens. Carr and Harvey were two of six soldiers who deserted from the Third United States Cavalry stationed at Camp Halleck. They became, of course, the prime suspects in the second theft.
On October 13, Carr was at Sallie Whitmore's house of ill repute on the Day Ranch two miles south of the military post. He got himself involved in some sort of fisticuffs and received the short end of the fracas. He hurried back to camp for his carbine and went back to Sallie's place. He fired a round at a sergeant but hit poor old Sallie in the groin inflicting a fatal wound.
Carr was arrested and taken to Camp Halleck. Constable William Baugh traveled to the base to transfer the prisoner to Elko. Soldiers threatened to take Carr from him and the constable hightailed it back to Elko for a posse. When he returned the next morning Carr and his guard were gone. A post muster revealed that six soldiers had deserted. Now they were wanted for train robbery.
There was a report of four well mounted and heavily armed men who passed by the Deep Creek station on the old Overland Telegraph road. The group turned east. A posse caught up with two of them, Leander Morton and Daniel Baker, on the road between Deep Creek and Salt Lake City. Morton, when apprehended, had on a pair of buckskin gloves marked in ink, "W.H. Harvey," with the name of his company. Great clues! This connected the robbers to the train and to the deserters. Except that the bad guys were not the deserted soldiers. No knows what happened to them or how the bandits got the gloves and compass. It appears that desertion from the army was their only crime.
One other man was soon arrested. In the November 30, 1870 edition of The Elko Independent it was reported that the Daniel Taylor, Daniel Baker and Leander Morton were indicted for highway robbery. They were charged with robbing Wells, Fargo and Co.'s express car and the U.S. Mail. The fourth member of the gang was never found.
More shenanigans. As reported by the Salt Lake Herald, Elko attorney J.S. Rand and Battle Mountain barrister M.S. Bonnifield, who were Taylor's lawyers, traveled into Utah, found Taylor's ill gotten gains, and got themselves arrested. Their excuse? They were after their fees for defending their client.
Elko's Independent editor commented "that the proposed Utah trial was hardly worth the powder. No jury could ever convict them of a serious offense. While their friends laugh at them for getting into such a foolish scrape, every man who knows them acquits them of any such offense as would call for judicial action." The charges were evidently dropped because there are no more newspaper reports about them.
On January 17, 1871 the three train robbers were convicted and sentenced to 30 years.
Source: "CPRR Number One Had a Bad Day" appeared in The Northeastern Nevada Historical Society Quarterly, Spring, 1975. Gerald Fitzgerald gathered the research for the article from local newspapers when he started compiling the museum's extensive newspapers index. Fitz has passed away but his legacy still lives at the Northeastern Nevada Museum, Elko.
©Copyright 2002 by Howard Hickson.