The work day of July 10, 1918 ended as most summer days end.  Merchants closed their
    stores, town folks and farmers returned home for dinner.  The usual activity of early evening
    was beginning for those “out and about” and the workers at the train depot were busy
    getting ready for the evening and late night trains.  The weather for  July 10th was normal
    for that time of year and according to the moon chart, it would be a moonless night.

    Sometime during civil twilight several cars pulled into a field adjacent to the M. K. & T Koch
    siding on the Fred Haefele farm approximately three miles south of Paola.  There the
    occupants waited for the arrival of the southbound “Texas Special” scheduled to pull onto
    the siding at approximately 10:30 PM to allow the northbound “Texas Flyer“ to pass.

    The southbound “Special” left Paola at 10:25 PM and switched over onto the siding on
    time.  As soon as the “Flyer” passed, the engineer and fireman were startled by two men
    who jumped from the tender to the engine commanding the engineer and fireman to raise
    their hands.  With revolvers in hand,  one of the robbers told the crewmen to climb down as
    they had a “hog” with them (meaning an engineer) and they were going to take the train.  
    When the crewmen hesitated and started to resist, the gunmen started firing.  The fireman
    (R. E. Carter) and engineer (Mr. Kreiger) were hit by the gunfire.  

    While the two gunmen were commandeering the engine,  other gunmen guarded the rear of
    the train, smoking and chair cars.  The train auditor and brakeman came forward to see
    what was happening.  As they approached the bandits began  firing into the train such that
    it sounded like a small battle.  During the firing the train auditor (E. C. Witcher) and  Mrs. L.
    C. Williams of Oklahoma were the only ones  wounded.   

    After the “hog” took control of the train it was backed to where the tracks cross the Paola -
    Osawatomie wagon road.   The  engine and  baggage  car were uncoupled from the rest of
    the train and run south onto the main track where they were left.   While the engine was
    being moved, the mail and express cars were looted. (The exact lost from the robbery is not
    known.  It is known that one registered mail pouch and a small safe were carried away by
    the gang.)  The robbers did not go through the passenger cars, therefore, no passengers
    lost any of their valuables.  

    It was estimated that the robbery took between 25 and 30 minutes and ended when a
    southbound freight train came upon the scene and stopped.  

    Mr. Fred Haefele, owner of the land where the robbery took place, had just returned home
    from Osawatomie at about 10:40 PM when he heard the commotion and at first thought that
    the trainmen were putting off tramps, but when he realized what was happening, he called  
    Sheriff Stevenson at Paola, who arrived about 10 minutes after the robbers had left the
    scene.  He immediately organized a posse of men in cars and started in pursuit.  The
    pursuit was useless because it was later developed that the gang had split-up and gone in
    different direction.

    Mr, Haefele reported he returned home at 10:40 PM and heard  shots and looked and saw
    the train on the tracks.  According to Mr. Haefele, the shooting began to be heavier and
    more rapid.  He heard men calling , “Come out of there; come out of there.”  During the
    shooting one of the robbers said, “Don’t shoot him, don’t; that is Jake Darkes.“ Darkes is
    the name of the brakeman and, therefore it is supposed that the gang was led by men
    familiar with the train and train service.  He also heard the orders given to back the engine
    and a women screaming.  After calling the sheriff, Mr. Haefele notified central of the
    robbery.  He then called several neighbors.  After making these calls,  Mr. Haefele got his
    shotgun and waited for someone to join him before going to the train.  

    At 11:00 PM Captain Clevenger of the Osawatomie State Guard was notified of the hold-
    up.  He assembled 25 armed guardsmen and sent them out to patrol the cross roads,
    bridges and other know means of escape.  He posted six detachments of men east of
    Osawatomie to cover both side of the Marais des Cygne river.  

    Shortly after 11:00 PM J. A. Fenoughty came across a man and a women at Bangor Station
    who said their car had broken down.  He took them to the National Hotel in Osawatomie and
    watched as they entered the building.  Mr. Fenoughty became suspicious and reported the
    couple to the local officials.  The authorities went to the Hotel and found the couple had not
    registered or in anyway obtained a room.  They had mysteriously disappeared as though
    they had never been in town.  

    At about 7 AM the following morning, Captain Clevenger received a report from Paola that
    Sheriff Stevenson and his posse had the bandits or a portion of them cornered in a dense
    thicket seven miles south of Paola and were awaiting reinforcements.  About the same time
    Captain Steve Quimby of the Paola State Guard was notified and assembled 30
    guardsmen  to assist in the search for the bandits. The Osawatomie and Paola state guard
    responded, but did not locate the Sheriff or his posse.  

    Mr. R. C. Lee, railroad detective, was in Paola at the time of  the robbery and responded to
    the scene as soon as he was notified.  Evidence showed where the gang had waited and
    their foot and car tracks were found in the field.  Investigators also found where a car had
    been back up close to the tracks.  This, no doubt, was the car into which the small safe and
    mail pouch were loaded.  

    The train robbers had made a clean getaway, but they were soon identified.  The
    investigation identified Frank Lewis and Dale Jones as the ringleaders of the gang.  
    Warrants charging Margie Dean, Bessie Clayton, Gertrude Rogers, Francis Rogers, Henry
    Layton, Lloyd Dean and Gabe Prince were filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas.

    An award of $39,000 was offer by the railroad, express company  and  U.S. Postal

    While the search for the bandits was taking place throughout the central Midwest, the
    leaders of the gang were living at 3715 Wyandotte street, Kansas City, MO.   Frank Lewis
    rented the house on June 1 under the alias of Harry Clayton.   Dale Jones, who went by the
    name of Dean, was represented as Lewis’ chauffeur.  Other men were reported to have
    been seen going in and out of the house with Lewis.  On the night of the train robbery,
    Lewis and his wife were away from the house until the next day at 11:00 AM.

    On Thursday July 25, 1918  police detectives engaged in a shootout with four men: two
    believed to be  Frank Lewis and  Dale Jones.  (The KCMO police had two battles with the
    gang , the first in Penn Valley Park shortly after the train robbery.   They gang was able to
    escape after  they shot out the tires on the police car.  The second was at the Wyandotte
    street address where the detectives were out gunned and out numbered in the battle.)  
    Bessie Clayton and Margie Dean, said to be the wives of Frank Lewis and Dale Jones, were
    arrested at the house on Wyandotte street.   A search of the house uncovered $400.00
    worth of jewelry taken from the safe in the express car of the “Texas Special.”  Also, found
    was a derby hat worn by one of the robbers, several bullets of the kind used by the bandits,
    and a tire taken from a motor car used in the robbery.

    (Note:  Lewis was wanted for numerous crime is the Kansas City area, including the killing of
    two police officers and escape from the prison in Jefferson City.  Although little was know
    about Sherrill, he was known to have been involved in bank robberies and other robberies
    with the gang and the killing of several police officers.  Dale Jones was wanted in several
    states for numerous crimes and the murder of policemen.)

    Slowly but surely the bandits were meeting their fate.  On or abut September 24, 1918
    Roscoe Lancaster, alias “Kansas City Blackie” was shot and killed in Kansas City in a battle
    with police in which several policemen and spectators were wounded by Lancaster.  Near
    Denver,  Frank Lewis, Dale Jones and Roy Sherrill were arrested after a number of battles
    with police in which two officers were killed and four officers and Sherrill were wounded.    A
    number of suspects and women in company with Lewis were also arrested

    On November 11, 1918 Roy Sherrill and Roy King (arrested in St. Louis)  pled guilty to the
    Koch siding train robbery on July 10th in U.S. District Court, Fort Scott, Kansas.  They were  
    sentenced to 25 years in a federal prison at Leavenworth, Kansas.

     This article is a composite of articles published in  The Miami Republican, Western Spirit,
    and the Osawatomie Graphic.   
compiled by
Jim Bousman
Hannes Poetter Design and Sponsorship - all rights reserved
Miami County Historical Museum - 12 E. Peoria, - Paola, KS 66071 Phone: 913-294-4940
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