writers have chided Ben Kilpatrick as incompetent and unable to
carry out a single robbery without the guidance of a Butch Cassidy
or Kid Curry. Such is not true. Upon Ben's release he would execute
a series of spectacular train and bank robberies in a very short
period of time. His downfall was the inability to secure a large
amount of funds from this series of robberies, necessitating further
robberies. Eventually the odds would catch up with him.
Hobek's location and actions from his release until the Spring of
1911 are unknown. However, anticipating Ben's release, he makes
an appearance in West
Texas in the Spring of 1911. Claiming to be a detective, he
shared a hack with two San
Angelo men taking a trip to Sheffield.
Once there, he gave them the slip without paying his share of the
bill. Investigators would determine he contacted someone in Christoval
by phone. Ben had relatives living in both Sheffield
There the trail ended. He next shows up in Memphis, Tennessee, working
for the L.B. Price Mercantile Company from July, 1911 until February
Even after almost ten years of prison, Law Enforcement was not ready
to have Ben on the loose. His application for Executive Clemency
was turned down. He was also turned down for Parole. He was released
from the prison on June 11, 1911, but was immediately arrested under
Warrant For Murder in the Oliver Thornton case by the Sheriff of
Texas. Upon his return to Texas Ben completed a Write of Habeas
Corpus on June 14, 1911. He would be released on June 27, 1911 with
a Court hearing set for July 3, 1911. Appearing in Court on July
3, 1911, the case against him was dismissed for lack of evidence.
Ten years to the day after the Great Northern Robbery at Exeter
Creek, Montana, he walked away a free man.
Ben and Hobek would not wait long to put there plans into action.
A series of unexplained Bank and Train Robberies began occurring
in West Texas and
Tennessee. A mail train was robbed a short distance out of Memphis
on the Tennessee/Arkansas border on the evening of November 1, 1911
and again on February 6, 1912. The first took place while Hobek
was employed in Memphis and the latter took place one day after
Hobek quit his job in Memphis. The descriptions of the robbers match
that of Ben and Hobek. The method of robbery was classic Wild Bunch
with the exception of fleeing a great distance immediately after
the robbery. The robbers returned and hid within the confines of
the city after each robbery. There were others involved and suspicion
centered around Ben's brother Felix Kilpatrick and Outlaw Dan Sheffield,
brother to Ben's sister in-law (Boone's wife, Truda Sheffield).
Other robberies of interested include the attempted holdup of the
bank at Dale, Oklahoma by two masked men on January 12, 1912; the
night time robbery of the bank at Elmo,
Texas (twenty-five miles outside of Dallas)
by two men. The safe was blown using nitroglycerin. The First National
Bank of Seminole
in Gaines County
Texas would be robbed of $3500 by two masked men on February
15, 1912. Next on March 8, 1912 a railroad station just south of
San Antonio, at
Diego, Texas would be robbed of $600 by two masked men.
Ben and Hobek had not yet realized the big pay day. To achieve this
Ben fell back on an old success. He would attempt to rob the same
Express hit by Black Jack Ketchum and in which he was a likely participant.
The robbery was the Lozier, Texas train robbery of May 10, 1897
fifty miles east of Sanderson,
Leading up to the robbery, Ole Hobek was observed in San
Angelo, Texas, two weeks prior, in route to join Ben. Ben is
working on Berry Kethchums West
Texas ranch. Just before the robbery several horses are stolen
in Upton County,
Texas, Ben being the suspect. The citizens of Ozona
have the Ozona National Bank guarded for several days before the
robbery. Ben's in town and numerous telephone calls made by him
arouse the citizenry's suspicions.
The night before the robbery an express messenger reports seeing
Ben at the Sanderson
depot. He asks the messenger several question about the express
before disappearing into the dark.
On the evening of March 12, 1912. Ben and Hobek board Westbound
GH&SA #9 upon its arrival in Dryden.
They force the engineer to stop the train at the first iron bridge
just east of Baxter's Curve. The train crew are searched. The forward
cars consisting of the engine, combination baggage & mail and express
car are uncoupled from the passenger cars. They are ridden about
a mile ahead. Ben, taking the Express Messenger, a man named David
Trousdale and several others back, works his way to the Wells Fargo
Express Car. Securing only $37 from the safe he begins looting the
car. Trousdale had managed to grab and hide an ice mallet underneath
the rear portion of his overcoat. He shows Ben a package and tells
him it is valuable. Ben rests his rifle against his leg and stoops
down to pick up the package. While in this position Trousdale removes
the ice mallet from underneath his coat and strikes three vicious
blows to Ben's neck and skull, breaking his neck, crushing his skull
and splattering his brains on the train car wall.
After Ben is dead, Trousdale and his two companions take Ben's two
revolvers and rifle. They wait for Hobek to make an appearance.
Trousdale lures him in by shooting a round into the roof of the
train. Hobek bites, entering the car cautiously and calling out
for Ben. Trousdale shoots and kills him with one round from Ben's
rifle striking about an inch above his left eye.
After Ben and Hobek are killed, the looted mail and express are
secured. The body and contents are taken to Sanderson,
Texas where the process of identification begins. The train
arrives at Sanderson
at 5:00 AM. Trousdale and the train crew prop up Ben and Hobek for
the now famous photograph taken at the Sanderson depot. David Trousdale
the Express messenger is hailed a hero. Ben and Hobek will be wrapped
in sheets and buried together in a single box. They will remain
partners for eternity.