Pinkerton Circular for Tom Nixon
Pinkerton Circular for Tom Nixon Poster – Alias Tom Barnes. Stands 5’7″ or 5’8″ tall and was one of the robbers of the Union Pacific railway at Big Springs Nebraska on September 18, 1877. He had about $10,000 in $20 Gold Pieces of the stolen money in his possession, of the coinage of the San Francisco Mint of 1877. The above reward will be paid for his arrest and detention, and 10 per cent of all moneys recovered; previous rewards as regards him are withdrawn.
This Notice was signed by Allan Pinkerton, Chicago, Illinois.
On September 18, 1877, Sam Bass, Joel Collins, Jack Davis, Tom Nixon, Bill Heffridge, and Jim Berry, robbed a Union Pacific train out of San Francisco. Under the cover of night, The Black Hills Bandits, as they were referred to, made off with “$60,000 in newly minted twenty-dollar gold pieces from the express car and $1,300 plus four gold watches from the passengers” (Clayton). Boarding the train at 10:48 on a Tuesday night, the bandits found $450 in the way safe, used for storing passenger’s valuables.
After interrogating an attendant as to why the main safe would not open, one of the bandits pistol whipped the man. While the accomplices did not believe the lock was on a timer, making it impossible to open the safe before the train reached its destination, Bass realized the attendant was not lying (“Sam Bass and His Train”) and called off his rowdy comrade.
As the gang was walking toward the door—all but empty handed and ready to flee the scene of the crime—something caught the eye of one: three wooden boxes stacked by the main safe. Opening the boxes, the gang discovered “$20 gold pieces headed from the San Francisco Mint to an Eastern bank”, worth $60,000. Each member of the Black Hills Bandits made off with his share of the earnings, split six ways, accounting for the “first and greatest robbery of a Union Pacific train” and placing our character Bass in the midst of a crucial turning point in his life.
Later named the Big Springs Robbery, this seizure of the Union Pacific express train No. 4 at a water station in Big Springs, Nebraska, resulted in no fatalities. However, there was one capture — John Barnhart, station-master (McEntire 195). Though he made it out alive, others among the gang were not so lucky. Eight days after the robbery, Collins and Heffridge were killed by Sheriff Bardsley and a group of “ten United States Soldiers” ( McEntire 195). Berry, having been wounded at the hand of the law, died a short distance from his home in Mexico, Missouri. Two thousand, eight hundred and forty dollars was recovered from his person (McEntire 195). Assumedly, Nixon escaped home to Canada, while Bass and Davis drove south-bound with their money and their lives, the former hidden under the seat of their escape buggy (“City of Round Rock”).