the year 1887, outlaws were still robbing stagecoaches in Missouri,
and according to The Gonzales Inquirer; Texas was leading the
nation in the number of train robberies - three had been committed
since January of that year (1887).
Although some folks might have been under the impression that the
days of the armed bandit had passed into history, that just wasn't
the case in the Lone Star State.
While it's true that civilization had made a lot of progress in the
southeast section of Texas, a train ride could still be a hazardous
venture. The following article tells the story of a major train hold-up
near Flatonia in June
of 1887. The robbery seemed to be a large operation with up to 12
This (un-edited) piece is printed just as it appeared in The Gonzales
Inquirer - way back then.
Inquirer - June 25, 1887
[Headline: The Train Robbery]
Friday night of last week between 12 and 1 o'clock a most daring train
robbery was successfully perpetrated on the east bound passenger train
about a mile and a half from Flatonia.
As the train started from Flatonia
two men boarded the engine. The engineer started to kick them off,
thinking they were tramps, but at the muzzle of two drawn pistols
was quickly convinced of his mistake.
They made him put on extra steam until about a mile and a half east
of Flatonia, when he
was made to stop the train over a trestle and by a big fire that had
been built beside the track. The other robbers who were waiting here
boarded the train and went to work.
They beat the express messenger over the head and got, it is thought,
about $600, the bulk of money having been secreted before they reached
him. Then they went through the sleeper and other cars taking such
money as was not hidden and beating passengers over the head with
their pistols when they did not wake up fast enough and shell out
During this performance the train was delayed about an hour, when
they desisted, being told by the conductor that there was great danger
of a collision with another train. From the passengers they got about
$600 in money and $1000 worth of jewelry. The robbers numbered about
After quitting the train they mounted their horses, which were tied
near by, and rode off in different directions. The posses sent out
after them returned without a clue.
Three arrests were made Monday, on the line of the Southern Pacific,
and the parties taken to Flatonia
for identification. One of them said that George Shoaf, a noted San
Antonio gambler was one of the bandits who helped in the robbery,
and he was arrested in San
Antonio and jailed.
He [Shoaf] says he can prove by a number of witnesses that he was
playing poker in that city the night of the robbery. It appears that
all the men connected with the recent robbery have been spotted.
Wells Fargo & Co. have offered $1000 reward for the capture of each
one of the robbers and his conviction. The governor was telegraphed
to by the express company on the subject of a state reward. The governor
replied that the state would give $500 for the capture and conviction
of each one, and would also use its power to hunt the robbers down.
The Southern Pacific offers $250 and the United States government
$200, which will make a total of $1950.
County 1907 postal map showing railroads crossing Flatonia
From Texas state map #2090
Courtesy Texas General Land Office