Highway Robbery: Sneak Bismarck and five captured at Lyle

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Publication Date: 
Thursday, August 14, 1879
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All but one Captured at Lyle by Chief
of Police Riley and the Sheriff.

A Case of Pick-Pocketing.

On Thursday night, a man giving his name as Thomas Curran, about 9 1/2 o'clock, made his appearance before Chief of Police Riley, and informed him that he had been robbed, and wanted him to start in pursuit of the robbers. He said six men captured him on the railroad track, near the depot, took his revolver from him, and with it leveled a his head, they forced him west of the track into the woods and there bound him to a tree, and, with curses, oaths and threats, they robbed him of all his valuables, consisting of $20.40 in cash, a new revolver, a pocket knife and his coat. They left him tied, and told him that one of them would stay around there, and if he made any noise inside of two hours, he would blow his brains out. The fellow kept quiet, but proceeded immediately to make good use of his grinders, by biting off the cords with which he was bound- he being tied with one of the villain's shifts which had been torn into strings for that purpose. After about half an hour's hard work, he chewed himself free.

In about an hour after this information had been disclosed of Chief Riley, he, with the Sheriff, started in pursuit, taking the victim with them. At Lyle village, the officials breakfasted about 6. Tom, finishing before the others, walked out to the railroad track just in time to see these lovely, beautiful highwaymen straggling up the track. Tom, from the description given him by Curran, made for "Sneak Bismarck," the leader of the gang, and collared him, the fellow trying to point his pistol at him through his coat pocket. Tom, however, who is always on the alert, noticing the movement, brought his own pistol to his head and made him reconsider. Bismarck said if he had got the drop on him he would have made it hot. Tom said he had no idea of allowing him or any other man to do that thing. As soon as the other scalawags noticed that their leader had been arrested, thy commenced to run. The Sheriff soon appeared, aided by one or tow special deputies. After being chased a few rods, a few shots from the Sheriff's revolver convinced the thieves that discretion would be the better part of valor, and they gave themselves up. The prisoners were brought to Austin and had their preliminary examination on Friday afternoon, before L. N. Griffith. Esq.

They gave in their names as Sneak Bismarck, Edwin Clary, Geo. Smith, Geo. Strakey, and Wm. Lyons.

Additional facts were brought out in the examination as follows: "Sneak Bismarck" is evidently the ring-leader, and is, without doubt, a tough customer. He plead guilty to the charge, but announced that his comrades were innocent. He seems to have directed the movements of the men, and they obeyed his orders without a murmur. There were six of them engaged in this little past-time, one escaping. One of the men was directed by Bismarck to take off his shirt and tear it into strings and tie their prisoner fast.

Bismarck handed one of them (Edwin Clary) the revolver with instructions to blow Curran's brains out if he moved a peg while he (Bismarck) tied him. He knocked him down once during the affray. In his talk to Curran, he says, with an oath, "I have done this kind of business before." He also directed the boys to sing "to keep down suspicion." They all left him about 8 1/2 o'clock, after throwing an old coat over his shoulders. The complaining witness pointed out his coat on the back of Bismarck, who was directed take it off and pass it into the hands of the court with the other property. Curran put it on, and it matched his pants and vest perfectly, being the same kind of cloth. All the property was recovered except in $20 in cash. It is thought the missing man took care of that.

In default of bail, the justice committed the prisoners to the county jail to await the action of the grand jury. They are probably sure of a situation at Stillwater.


On Monday afternoon, while a man by the name of Thomas Currie was lounging on a couch in K. Goodwin's saloon, a thief, giving his name as Wm. [illegible: Kitlen?], walked up to Currie and pulled his purse, containing $14.75 in cash, out of his pocket, and started out of the back door on the run. Chief of Police Riley was appealed to, and, as usual, not in vain. An hour later Tom had the gent in tow. On Tuesday morning he had his examination before Justice Griffith, who committed him to jail to await the action of the grand jury. Another candidate for Stillwater.