Eugene Bunch, also known as Captain J. F. Gerard, was a school teacher turned train robber. Bunch was always a gentleman during the time that he robbed trains for four years.
Born in Mississippi, Bunch was well educated and enlisted in the Civil War in Louisiana in May 1861. He served in Company E. of the Third Louisiana Calvary. After the war ended, he married a girl from a neighboring parish. He was working as a school teacher in Louisiana when the couple moved to Gainesville, Texas, where he edited a local newspaper. Allegedly, he also became heavily involved in gambling, and perhaps, for this reason, he turned to train robbery.
Along with a few other bandits, the group robbed trains in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi from 1888 to 1892. Upon arriving on the train, Bunch always spoke softly to the express car messengers, telling them that if they did not open their safes, he would “blow their brains out.” Before robbing the train’s passengers, he always politely introduced himself as Captain J. F. Gerard to train passengers, tipped his hat to the ladies, and didn’t take their handbags. Though he was just as gentlemanly to the men, he did, however; take their wallets.
For the four years, Bunch operated, he robbed six trains, making off with more than $30,000. But for Bunch, like many others, it wasn’t to last. After making his largest robbery in 1892, taking some $20,000 from a train near New Orleans, he was heavily pursued by Pinkerton agents. Before long, they tracked him to a swamp in Louisiana and, on August 21, 1892, shot and killed him and his cohorts. He is buried in Franklinton, Louisiana.
Kathy Weiser-Alexander/Legends of America, updated April 2021.