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Treasures - Newton Gang Loot
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Newton Gang Loot in Uvalde County
1914 Willis Newton was fed up with being a dirt-poor cotton farmer in
To this however, the town folks of Uvalde would probably have
scoffed, questioning whether the man had ever really worked. By this time,
Newton had already gained a reputation as a thief from a young
age. Evidently, the Newton brothers had started breaking into stores when
they were still kids, and before long, if something went missing, anywhere
within hundreds of miles of Uvalde, it was quickly presumed to have been
the fault of the Newton boys.
breaking into stores would not meet the ambitions of four out of five of
the Newton boys, as they soon progressed to robbing banks and trains.
Uvalde County Courthouse, courtesy
Willis was the first
to rob the railroad when he and a friend boarded a train at Cline,
After taking everything of value from its passengers, they disembarked
just short of Spofford in Kinney County, with some $4,700 in their
pockets. Later, when Willis was in Durant,
he joined a gang who robbed a bank in Boswell, making off with some
By 1919, four of the
five Newton brothers – Willis, Willie "Doc,” Jess, and Joe, were
serving time in different prisons for various crimes. However, Willis
and Joe were released that year and Willis soon convinced his brother
that they should form their own gang. The next year, "Doc” escaped
from a prison in
and quickly joined his brothers, who were then residing in
The next spring, Jess was released, making up the final member of the
Between 1919 and
1924, the Newton Gang would rob 87 banks and six trains, taking more
loot than the Dalton boys,
Butch Cassidy, and the
combined. Stretching all over the United States, the gang hit their
home state of
as well as
Wisconsin, and even Canada.
Most of their bank
heists were committed at night after they had cased the joint
for several days. Using nitroglycerin, they would blow open the safes,
take the cash, and quickly disappear. On one occasion, they robbed two
banks in Hondo,
on the same night.
Though they preferred
to do their "work” at night to avoid meeting anyone, they were known
to commit robberies during the day on some occasions, where their
victims described them as extremely polite. They went out of their way
to make sure that the people in the bank or on the train were
comfortable and not too upset, explaining that they would never hurt
anyone. And, during these many escapades, they never did.
Amazingly, these many robberies were not
connected nor were the Newton brothers ever suspected, that was until,
their final robbery which, due to the large amount taken,
brought down the combined forces of several law enforcement agencies.
June 12, 1924, the Newton boys, joined up with two
Chicago racketeer, and a postal inspector, and robbed a train at
Illinois, netting them more than three million dollars. It was the
largest train robbery in history.
Boarding a mail train in
Postal Inspector, named William J. Fahyand, along with Willis Newton,
forced the train to stop at Rondout and demanded that the mail sacks
containing some three million dollars in cash and securities be thrown
from the train, enforcing their demands by firing bullets and tear gas
into the mail car. In the confusion, Willie "Doc” Newton was hit in the
leg by a stray bullet. With the cash, the Newton boys loaded the wounded
Willie into a waiting car and took off. However, while they were
loading him up, a bystander heard one of them call him "Willie,” which
gave authorities a lead on the
A few days later, when
the police got a tip that a wounded man was being cared for in a north
house, they followed up and the gang’s plans began to unravel. Within
days, Doc, Willis and Joe Newton had been arrested. However, brother Jess
had managed to get out of
with about $35,000 in cash from the robbery.
But Jess made a mistake
when he decided to get drunk in
Sure that he needed to hide the stolen loot, he soon hired a cab that took
him into the country, where he buried the cash. The very next day, he
decided he should go to Mexico and returned to dig up the money. However,
he couldn’t remember where he buried it. He even located the cab driver
who had driven him the night before, but as it turned out, the cab driver
had also been drinking and he wasn't able to remember where they had gone
either. After searching for some time, Jess finally abandoned the idea and
headed to Mexico anyway. But his freedom was short lived when a federal
agent soon located him in Via Acuna and brought him back across the
All eight were eventually
arrested and except for about $100,000 the stolen loot was returned in
exchange for lighter sentences. All eight went to prison, with William J.
Fahy, the postal official who had master minded the robbery, receiving the
longest sentence of 25 years in the Federal Penitentiary at
After serving their time,
the Newton brothers were released from prison and returned to their home
town of Uvalde,
But old habits die hard. In 1968, in Rowena,
Doc Newton, who was by then in his mid-70’s, made a bungled attempt at
breaking into the bank. Because of his age, he was turned loose.
Five years later, in
1973, Willis Newton was implicated in a bank robbery in Bracketville,
but there wasn't enough evidence to prove a case against him.
Of the missing money, it has never been found,
even though the Newton brothers, themselves, hunted for it after their
release from prison. Willis said that Jess buried the money on top of a
hill, where he dug a hole and put a large rock over it. In court and
under oath, Jess had testified that he buried the money somewhere along
Fredericksburg Road but from what he told his brothers, Willis was
convinced it was more likely on the road to Bandera.
of America, updated February, 2010.
Tales Next Page
"We never killed anybody
and we never wanted to. All we wanted
was the money...
Robbing banks and trains was our way of
getting it. That was our business."
Willis Newton, 1976
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