In the early days trains were slower and it was more common that trains were robbed, particularly when they were carrying payroll. Minor robberies of passengers personal goods also occurred, but those are a different class of robbery. One source reports there were somewhat under 1,000 attempted or completed train robberies in the U.S. between 1866 and 1910.
The following newspaper story from Dec.25, 1897, reports “Shot and Killed. Work of Train Robbers on the Big Four Road. A Galion Man the victim of another fiendish murder at Berea.”
And here’s the unedited story:
D.J. Smith, of the Albert F. Remy Co., who was called to Galion this morning by the death of his brother-in-law, Jonathan Errett, of Galion, a conductor on the Big Four, who was shot and killed by train robbers about a mile west of Berea Wednesday night.
The particulars of the affair are as follows:
Shortly after the first section of No. 69 of Big Four freight had passed the west with, about a mile west of the passenger depot at Berea, three men entered the front door of the caboose and with drawn revolvers ordered the men in the car to throw up their hands.
The only occupants of the car at the time were Conductor John Errett, his 15-year-old son and brakeman Earl Dagleish.
Before the men had time to obey the command, the bandits began firing.
Conductor Errett was shot dead.
Dagleish escaped through the rear door of the caboose, while the boy escaped by jumping out of the car window.
The train left the Berea station at 7:34 where it had stopped for orders. As it’s arrival at the west switch, the train was moving at the rate of almost 20 miles per hour.
Brakeman Dagleish was sitting at a desk writing and Conductor Errett drew his revolver and emptied it at the robbers, but before he had time to reload his gun of the bandits stepped forward, and taking aim, fired his gun in the face of the conductor.
Erritt dropped dead at the feet of the robber. The bullet entered his left eye, passed through the brain and came out at the back of the head. Harry Errett, the son, seeing his father fall, jumped through the window of the caboose and making his way to Columbia Station, reported the holdup to the operator.
As soon as the firing began, brakeman Dagleish rushed for the rear door of the caboose. He received a shot in the left shoulder. After jumping from the train he hastened to the west switch telegraph office, where the holdup was at once reported. Word was immediately sent in all directions. Deputy Sheriff John A. Isling at once organized a posse and a thorough ofsearch the surrounds was made. Three men were foundthe yards near the freight depot and placed under arrest.
Both Errett and Galieish are highly respected in Galion, which is their home, and there is much feeling over the murderous assault. Errett was 55 years of age and has been on the railroad for a number of years.