Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Newton Brothers

Alright! First person accounts without (seemingly) much editing. It's hard for an author to convey second (often third) hand the urgency and stealth necessary to pull off a successful robbery. Willis & Joe Newton describe the life first hand.

It's a good thing that technology has changed so much since these guys were operating because Willis Newton's descriptions could be a primer for the novice yegg. How much nitroglycerin do you need to blow a steel pete? Keep reading and you'll find out. Some time's it's a little amazing how little security there was back then. Basically, I think people believed that their money was safe until someone tried to steal it. Never mind what happened in other places. So in a warped way the robbers of yesterday have done us a favor. If it wasn't for them our money would be a lot more vulnerable.

It's amazing that the Newton Brothers were as successful for such an extended period of time, but I think they would say it was easier then. The gangs best years were the early 1920's and they concentrated on safe blowing (true Yeggs), Canadian couriers, and trains. They were sent to Leavenworth for a mail train heist in 1924. This was before the FBI, concrete vaults, and trained professional local police departments. It was also during the time when most householders in small towns and cities had guns so it many a robbery had the Newtons being shot at by irate citizens. It's actually amazing that more people don't die in this tale. I believe the count was 2 gang members, no police, and a civilian grazed.

I wish Doc Newton had been able to be interviewed for the book. Evidently he was the true original among the brothers. I would have loved to have read a first hand account of his escape from a Texas prison farm. He stole a guards horse and gun and let hundreds of men out while he rode to safety. Some one should do a book on original escapes.

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