Annie Rogers and the Bank
By Maggie Van Ostrand
On a sunny afternoon in October 1901 at
the bustling Fourth National Bank of Nashville, Tennessee, Spencer
McHenry looked up from his work and saw a beautiful woman in
fashionable and expensive-looking clothes standing at his teller's
window. Smiling fetchingly, she slid a $500 stack of Bank of
across the marble counter toward him, and she politely asked if he'd
be kind enough to exchange the small bills for large ones. The woman's
name was Annie Rogers.
Little did Annie suspect that bank employees were on the lookout for notes
stolen in the Great Northern Train Robbery the previous July. The
alert McHenry, who found loyalty to his employer to be more in his
character than succumbing to the charms of a beautiful woman, reported
his findings to J.T. Howell, the head cashier. Mr. Howell called the
police and bank president, Samuel J. Keith. Howell and Keith invited
Annie Rogers to accompany them into an office, whereupon they told her
the bills were stolen.
Faster than a 911 response, detectives
Jack Dwyer and Austin Dickens arrived at the bank to question Annie, who denied signing the bills. She insisted that, if the
bills had been stolen, she surely didn't know a thing about it.
Pressured by the detectives, Annie finally said a "little blonde man named Charley had given
[the bills] to her" in Louisiana. The pair had traveled together for
about two weeks from Omaha to Louisiana where Charley continued on to
New Orleans and Annie to Shreveport. Annie insisted that the $500 was hers, that she had earned it.
Dwyer and Dickens would have none of that, and took her off to police
headquarters to be further questioned by their Lieutenant Marshall.
Annie didn't even give name, rank and serial number. She gave only
one of her names, neglecting to tell the dicks that she was also known
as Delia Moore or Maude Williams. Other than that, she uttered only
the same words about the fictional Charley, and repeating that she
didn't know the bills were stolen. This "non-denial denial" caught the
attention of Justice Hiram Vaughn, who issued a warrant charging
Annie with attempting to pass forged National Bank notes.
Annie's arrest was called "one of the most important captures in
recent years..." by the Nashville American, which described her
as "somewhat good looking, not beautiful but not ugly." If they
printed something like that today, Annie
would probably hire a celebrity lawyer and sue their pants off for
calling her "not beautiful." The American went on to say "She
was slender, with a heavy head of dark brown hair, a dark complexion,
and high cheek bones. Her most noticeable features were two gold teeth
on the left side and her piercing black eyes ... [which] fairly danced
as she spoke."
The same day the American story came out, the Nashville
Banner sent a reporter to interview Annie,
who cheerfully greeted him as he entered her cell, led by Detective
called Dwyer "Happy Jack" and told the reporter he was one of her
favorites. It was reported that Annie
laughed, smiled, and flirted with her visitor throughout the
interview. She regretted, she said, that she hadn't brushed her hair
Next day, Annie
appeared before Justice Vaughn for a preliminary hearing, wearing a
black suit, and a black hat adorned with ostrich feathers. The
Banner reported that "a deep frown gathered her brow and her
piercing black eyes danced defiantly in answer to the stares of the
According to Wayne Kindred's article in a 1995
issue of Old West, the following conversation occurred:
Justice Vaughn asked her if she had heard the warrant read.
"I heard one read yesterday. I don't know whether it is the same one or
not," she answered.
He told her that it was the same warrant and asked if she wished to plead
guilty or not guilty.
"Guilty of what?" she angrily replied. "Of taking those bills to the bank"
I took them bills to the bank. Yes, I did that."
After Justice Vaughn explained the charges
again, Annie entered a plea of not guilty. Vaughn then set her bail at
$10,000, and asked her if she wanted to make a statement.
Nashville Courthouse, 1892, photo by A. Wittemann.
This image available for
photographic prints and downloads
"Nothing, but that I came by those bills
honestly, and I don't see why I should be treated this way. I had used
some of the bills before, and I thought they were all right."
The hearing must have seriously scared Annie
because, by the next day, she was closer to telling the truth, or so it
seemed: her real name was Della Moore, she was 26, and she was born in
She left home in 1893 and worked as a
prostitute in Mena,
Fort Worth, and
(at the bawdy house of Fannie Porter).
Between Ft. Worth and San Antonio,
she had married a farmer named Lewis Walker, but left him because "he was
just a poor farmer" and their life on the farm was altogether "too tame"
She left Fannie Porter's house for
in late 1900 with Bob Nevils, Will Casey, and Lillie Davis (another
graduate of Fannie Porter's "college of soft knocks").
Annie claimed not to have asked either Nevils or Casey what they did
for a living. "They were just good fellows," she said. Nevils gave her
five $20 gold pieces on their return to Ft. Worth where they separated.
Annie split her time between her mother's Ft. Worth home and Fannie
Porter's house of ill repute in San Antonio.
She then left for Mena, Arkansas
where she remained until September 1901. Fannie Porter got word to her that Nevils had come back to
and wanted Annie to take another trip. Annie responded to the message with
a telegram: "Will wait till parties come." Nevils shortly thereafter came
to Arkansas o
According to the Kindred article, their first stop was Shreveport,
Louisiana where they remained for nearly a week, playing cards and
patronizing saloons. Nevils had plenty of money and gave Annie a bunch of
$10 bills before they left Shreveport for Jackson, Mississippi where they
did "nothing but having a good time."
They took the day coach to Memphis, Tennessee and let the good times
continue to roll. Annie guessed they spent around $400 having fun and she
especially enjoyed Nevils buying expensive dresses and hats for her. By
the time they left Memphis for Nashville on October 10th where they headed
straight for Linck's Hotel, Annie had Bank of Montana
notes for about $400. She must have been a very good companion, because
Nevils gave her at least another hundred. Perhaps Annie was Mae West's
inspiration when she said "When I'm good I'm very, very good, but when I'm
bad, I'm better."
As Annie's story unfolded, she admitted spending most of her time at the
Lincke Hotel in their room, while Nevils preferred hanging around saloons
until the wee hours. Then, Annie said, she began to have misgivings. The
more money Nevils gave her, the more suspicious she got. She was also
afraid he might take the money back and dump her. A shrewd move by Annie
was that she changed the money he had given her into larger bills so they
could be more easily hidden from him, and repaired to the Fourth National
Bank to accomplish this, where she was arrested.
At the completion of this second statement, cops ran to the Linck and
found that Nevils, registered under the name R.J. Whalen, had escaped due
to the length of time it took Annie to tell her (false) story. She had
given him enough time to make his escape. He had checked out the day
before taking the train to Birmingham, Alabama, thence on to Mobile, where
the cops lost his trail.
An incarcerated Annie Rogers might have been daydreaming of her boring
days back on Lewis Walker's farm. Even that dull life would be better than
a dreary jail. On April 21, 1902, she appeared before Judge W.M. Hart
asking for a bail reduction. Her former employer, Madame Fannie Porter,
who well deserved her kind-though-soiled reputation, offered to put up the
As reported in Kindred's article,
Annie was dressed in a black suit and
hat. "Wearing a black glove on one hand and carrying a white handkerchief
in the other, she took a seat beside her attorney, Richard West." Attorney
General Robert Vaughn prosecuted, his first witness express messenger C.H.
Smith who had been brought from Montana
to describe the train robbery and link Annie to one of the robbers. He
described the robbery ($40,000 in unsigned bank notes on July 3, 1901)
near Wagner, Montana,
and identified a man in a torn photograph shown him by General Vaughn as
one of the train robbers. So ended the first day of Annie's bail hearing.
Next morning, a smiling and laughing Annie with the dancing eyes sat in
court carrying on a "lively conversation" with a deputy sheriff. She quit
laughing as soon as she saw
dick Lowell Spence take the stand. General Vaughn showed him the same
photograph identified the day before by messenger Smith, and Spence also
identified the man as the train robber, one
member of the
Wild Bunch, also called "Kid
Curry," and said he was in the Knoxville, Tennessee, jail. (Note:
After he got into a saloon brawl in Pueblo, Harvey and his brothers headed
for Hole in the Wall,
Wyoming, where they met up with George Curry.
Having been known as the "Kid" in
Texas, Harvey took George's last name and began to go by "Kid
Curry.") Logan had been arrested December 1901 on a charge of
felonious assault against policemen. He had over $9,000 of the stolen Bank
bills on him at the time.
Interestingly, in this damning photograph of Logan, having been identified
twice by witnesses, a hand could be seen resting on his left shoulder. In
a dramatic moment worthy of Perry Mason himself, General Vaughn whipped
out the other half of the picture. The hand was attached to the arm of the
defendant, Annie Rogers. Uh Oh. The courtroom sizzled with excitement as
observers whispered behind their hands. Then Annie took the stand.
She admitted the man in the photograph was Bob Nevils, but denied ever
knowing he was also Harvey Logan
or Kid Curry, denied knowing where he got the money, and never heard of
the train robbery until her arrest. Judge Hart must not have believed any
of these corkers because he proceeded to set bail at $2,500, considerably
higher than the $1,000 Annie had requested. Even the indomitable Fannie Porter
was unable, or unwilling, to pay such a high bail despite Annie's tearful
entreaties. Sobbing uncontrollably, Annie was led back to her jail cell
where she languished for almost two months until her next day in court.
June 14th saw the same cast of characters in court: defense attorney West,
prosecutor Vaughn, and Judge Hart. A plethora of prosecution witnesses
were called including bank employees, hotel employees, and detectives,
each telling his tale.
Of these witnesses, the most damning was
Corrine Lewis, the pretty owner of a Memphis resort, who also
identified the photograph of Logan as one of her hotel guests in September 1901.
said Miss Lewis, "plenty of money," flashing a large roll of bills. When
she asked him if he were not afraid to carry so much money, he said he
"wasn't when he had his guns," whereupon he tore open his coat exposing
two large revolvers." Miss Lewis also identified Annie Rogers as
companion, stating that, although Annie was dressed "plainly" when they
arrived, the day after that she had been wearing expensive new clothes.
She reported that both Logan and Lewis drank a great deal but never got
Next up was Annie herself, nervous and pale. She repeated her denials of
knowing who Nevils really was, not knowing the money was stolen, and
denying that she ever forged the bills. She did, however, admit that she
had "bled Nevils and got all the money I could." She took from him
frequently, she said, and had worked him for about $500 by the time they
reached Nashville. Annie then stepped down from the witness stand.
Backing her up was a deposition from Harvey Logan,
read by defense attorney West. In it, Logan, at the Knoxville jail, said
he had been with Annie at Linck's Hotel the day she was arrested, and that
she had left him in mid-afternoon. When she didn't return, Logan "thought
that she had quit me." He said that he had given her the money and that it
was signed before she got it.
In their closing arguments, prosecutor Vaughn called her a greedy
opportunist, a liar, and accused her of aiding and abetting Logan's
escape. Defense attorney West said she was just an unsophisticated country
girl who had been duped by a clever criminal.
The jury came back to a packed courtroom with a verdict in fewer than two
hours. "Not guilty!!" A relieved and thrilled Annie Rogers shook hands
with each jury member, her lawyer, and the judge. Spectators crowded
around her voicing their approval of the verdict, while Annie expressed
pleasure at being given a "fair deal."
Annie then asked for her $500 back, claiming it was her money after all,
but the court eventually ruled that she was not entitled to it.
Both Annie Rogers
and Harvey Logan were members of Butch Cassidy's
is standing, right. Photo taken in Fort Worth,
Texas, 1901.This image available for
photographic prints and downloads
Annie left Tennessee and returned to
where she followed Logan's exploits in the papers and wrote to him. Logan was captured in Jefferson City
following a fight in a Knoxville saloon where he broke a man's nose in a
quarrel and shot two Knoxville Police Officers who opened fire on him.
Logan was subsequently tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in
Tennessee Prison. Using a wire from a jailhouse broom, Logan engineered
his escape from the Knox County jail. He killed himself a few months later
after a failed bank robbery.
During his lifetime, Logan/Kid Curry was wanted on warrants for
fifteen murders, but it was generally known that he had killed more than
twice that number. William Pinkerton, head of the
Detective Agency, called Kid Curry the most vicious outlaw in America. "He has not one single
redeeming feature," Pinkerton wrote. "He is the only criminal I know of
who does not have one single good point."
There exists no evidence that Annie ever saw Logan again, and it is
surmised she changed her name once more and went back to work at Fannie
© Maggie Van Ostrand,
February, 2008, updated June, 2017.
About the Author: Maggie Van Ostrand's
articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe,
various magazines; monthly in the Mexican publication, El Ojo Del Lago
and mexconnect.com, and numerous contributions to
Online Magazine, from which this article was provided.
of Female Pioneers, Heroines, Outlaws & More
Logan, aka "Kid Curry" - The Wildest of the Wild Bunch
Fannie Porter - San Antonio's Famous Madam
Texas (main page)
Women of the West Photo Gallery