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THE EVENING WORLD, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 1922.
Most Dreaded Foe!
Fleeced by Five, J. F. Norfleet, Texas
Farmer, Goes on Trail, Captures Three,
As Mere Incident in Search Rounds Up
Thirty -Five Others, and Will Not Quit
Quest Until He "Gets" His Missing Two
To save himself, Spencer cried, "Stop thief!" and the
crowd set upon Norfleet Spencer got away, but Norfleet
swears he "will get him yet."
By J. B. Day.
CopnlfM, ISO Nw Tor Ertnlni World)
by Pm PublUMni Company.
Texan, email of sta
ture, blue eyed and
mild mannered, has
three notches In the
butt of his six-gun.
But that doesn't
pllshcd my mission," he declares.
"I'm Just a Texas farmer, out to
avenge a wrong that was done mo and
my family. I've had pretty good luck
so far, and I don't want to force my
luck by boasting of my accomplish
ments ns a detective"
Norfleot'B life was the ordinary,
more or less humdrum existence of
thousands of fathers In Texas and nil
over the United States until ono day
In 1910, when ho left his farm nt Hnlo
Centre, Tex., ohd went to Dallas for
the dual purposo of selling a carload
of mules and dickering for the pur
chase of another farm.
'I wanted to get rid. of my farm."
mean that ho has killed three men.
It simply signifies three confidence
men bunco steerors landed behind
Jail bars, and thereby, as writing folks
used to say, hangs this talo.
Norfleet has a mission In life. It
Is the rounding up of a band of five
:"con" men who fleeced him to the he explained, "and I had my eyo on
tune of $45,000 In Dallas, Tex., three anther place, nearor Dallas."
. yoars ago. To date ho has bagged In Dallas a suave stranger, posing
( three of the particular gang he sot " n mul( buyer, struok -up an ac
', out to break up and has been Instru- Quittance with him. Ho Introduced
mental In the Jailing of several dozen h,m,el R-eno Hamlin, and said ho
others of their Ilk.
Less than ten days ago.
Denver. Col., tour!-' centre of the Whe he learned that Norfleet was
llock.es. he ass'-tn le authorities In also lnt,nt on wiling his farm, ho In
' corralling thlrty-rUo of the most no. 'ormBd the unsuspecting farmer that
Via Vin - l I . .
torious sure-thing men In the country ""u "mla coming rrom Zdlnne
The avenging hand of Norfleet reached four of J BJ . ' I
the five "con men" the four shown at the right. I iBjtoJ V tmJWT. ! 'M I
No. 1 , Joseph Furey, died in the penitentiary. No. I Jjjjp flsBisft I
No. 3, W. B. Spencer, escaped by a ruse. No. 4, C. I ' ryy ' jFu.liByt
Gcrber, is in prison. l
ofTcied mo one, but I refused, In- Charles Gcrber and E. .T. Ward too. Then It began to dawn on me
forming him I was a member of his who posed ns olllcers of tlio cotton what a boob I hud been,
fraternity and glad to be of scrvico "change, came to my hotel and dc- "I went homo and told '.Ma' Nor-
t , .. manded tlio money back because, they fleet what had happened to me. I
orotner. Bald T wns not u ()uly cIectC(1 lncmij2r t0m lcri too, that I was going to
"'Hut yours was an extraordinary of tho exchange. I was for refusing, turn detectlvo and find the fellows
service,' he Insisted. 'If you won't but Furey, when I asked his advice, who skinned mo, if It took tho bal-
tako money thlr way lot mo DUt you told 1110 ,0 1160 diplomacy, fo I pro- anco of my life. And sho was ood
... 1 ...... I . . . . . ..... I . It.. . . . ....,.., .... ..1. . .- , .. . I. .. . n.
chatter in an attempt lo hang onto and tell mo to go ahead."
the money and yet avoid any scin- And "Ma" Norfleet has been run-
blance of trouble. nng tho Texas farm ever slnco and
"Ward nml Gcrber hccmcd to suc-
tl)0 cumb to my argument. Hut they In
sisted wio lensi i count uo was ueposit
$20,000 to prove my bids. 1 jumped at
In tho way of making some.' Ho
then suggested that I play his tips
on tlio cotton market and I sat down
with him whilo lie deciphered several
codo telegrams. Spencer, In
meanwhile, had excused himself and
dropped, temporarily, out of tho pic- the offer. I had to go homo to get tho
turc. money and they demanded that
"I found out later that 'Stetson leave the 68.000 in their hands wlill-i
was, In reality, Joo Furey, one of tlio I made the trip. When I was about
most notorious confidence men In tho to depait Spencer put in nn nppenr
country, and that Spencer was ono ancr. Ho said he wanted to go to my
of ills chief lieutenants, as was Ham- placo to get samples of tho soil for
lln, tho pseudo mule buyer. testing, and I took him along. Tlio
"Well, I went with Stetson to tho fuctH wero that ho had been detailed
cotton board of trade. 1 also found by Furey to stick with me and sou
out later that it wasn't a board of tllat 1 brought back that $20,000.
trade at all, but nn office the gang "When 1 got back with the $20,000
had fixed up In that guise to put over ,IP' Kavo 1110 1,10 s.000 and r divided
their stuff. On Stetson's tip, I won with "rcy. who had the greater part
$800 that day oC " coming, becauso ho had put up
"Tho following day I met Spencer the. major part of the money to win it.
.! l,n tnl.l mn Thrmmsnn hn.l wlr,l Was tiding high and lofty riding
he couldn't come to Dallas and that
"Phoney" money seized by the Denver authorities in the
spectacular clean-up raid.
he, Spencer, was to handle the deal
for my land. As a mntter of fact,
there wasn't any Thompson. Ho was
manufactured as a plausible means
nf steering me to the hotel where
had come down from Minneapolis to that other nlace. which would bo wallet and ho had looked over its con- i."U10y, or Stetson, was stopping and
out In et mu,M 'or the Duluth market, nicer for my wlfo'and handler to good tents ho became suddenly conllden- getting mo Into Furey's hands for tlio
schools for my son and daughter.
The world sure looked rosy to me.
I didn't know what these fellows
wero cooking up for me.
"Two days later I went to a big
hotel with Spencer to seo If Thomp
son had arrived. I sat down In the
lobby while 3pencer went to tho desk,
when hn nmt back ho contrived to
gang of swindlers, which operated out 1 11 Introduce you," ho said, and j,0B!1 behind my chair, and when I
of Omaha and Council Bluffs, Ia and thus' "although Norfleet did not sus- gtorted to get up, after ho told me
was reputed to have realised approxl- Peet It at the time, was the ground- Thompson had not arrived. I felt
mately 110.000,000 in five years "rk laid for a succession of ovonts eometi,ing behind mo In tho chair.
xnrougn various swindling gamos. ...w. ion i-orneei jis.ooo poorer and
tlal. Ho explained that he was In big clean-up.
Dallas to play tlio cotton market and "They stared
that the wallet contained among
-the biggest slnglo clean-up of con- a!o11 ln a few days-one W. B.
fldence men In the history of the na- """ccr wno a representative of
lion with one exception. The excep- tho areea Land & Irrigation Company
tlon was the breaking up. a score of "tta m uo" of sooa Toxas
me with tho !SO0
winning and then they took mo fast.
When next I saw Furey, ho asked ino
other things his codo alphabet by u, taUo I)is IIlonpy an,i ,,iay his tips,
which ho deciphered telegrams fiom because ho wanted to keep tindur
the headqiiaiters of tils company In cover. Ho said I could play my own
New Yotk Instructing him how to ''"K wlth if 1 wmu-d to. Anl.
. ,., of courso, I wanted to. Who wouldn't?
to a good, hard fall. My cupidity had
been aroused, and when Furey sug
gested that 1 get $25,000 more to add
to what I already had and with it
'clean up enough to last mo half a
dozen life times' I took bait nnd all.
A mortgage on my farm got mo tho
money, but Furey's 'coup' went
wrong nml ho 'lost' tho entire kn-
boodlc. Ho camo to my room, orylng
like a child, threatening to commit
struggling with tho Interest nnd pay
ments on that $25,000 mortgage,
while "I'a" Norfleet has trapsed
here, there and everywhere financed
by tho Stato of Texas ln quest of
I the men who "skinned" him.
Ho went first to tho Dallus Police
Department. They showed him
rogues' gallery photos galore. Hu
picked out tho men who had fleeced
him nnd then set out on his hunt.
Less than a month later ho located
Gi'i-ljor nnd Ward in San Hcmardlno,
("al. Gcrber went to the penitentiary
for ten years and Ward committed
suicide wlillo awaiting transfer to tho
Furey spent closo to $17,000 trying
to keep out of Norfleet's way, but
Norfleet got him and ho wns sentenced
to servo twenty years In tho Texas
penitentiary. Ho died there recently,
and authorities at I.os Angeles, whoro
he also was wanted for swindling,
went to the trouble of having his body
exhumed to mako sure It was that of
l'uu-y and not another body palmed
off as that of tho notorious "con"
Norfleet got Hamlin, nlso. but ho
was released on $20,000 bond, pend
suicide, pleading witli me to shoot him i"K trial, and jumped the bond. Tne
nnd acting, generally, like n heart- hclf-ccfistitutcd detective trailed
broken man the best piece of acting Spencer to Montreal. Canada, and
I ever witnessed, I'll confess. captured him in a crowd while he win
"A few days later lie disappeared, watching a human spider climb tho
When I. liko a muiderer returning to fnco of a building, but ho set up tho
tho sceno of his crime, went to tho "stop, thief" cry that lias avaiieu vu
yeara ago, of tho Infamous Marbray
"I won $08,000 nnd they paid it to intton rai-lmncc. I found it deserted, many resourceful crooks ln
"When we wero leaving ho gave mo In cold cash I counted It. Hut I went to look for Spencer to coulldo gencies and It worked.
Spencer a $100 bill as a reward and that night two of Furey's confederates my troubles in him, and he was gone, "Tho crowd set upon mo
Norfleet's quest for the men who changed the entire trend of his life.
"bunked" him has taken him almost Spencer showed up and was intro
to the ends of the earth and has been ducod, but he said he had another
productive of situations the ordinary deal on and could not consider Nor
man would hesitate to face. But Nor- fleet's 2.050-acre placo until the orig
flttt's Is no ordinary mission and tnal deal either was consummated or
Norfleet can acarcsly be classed as fell through.
-ordinary." The great commonwealth "I milled around DiUas with Ham
of Texas has taken cognizance of his lm and Spencer for several days "
work with an appropriation of $11.- ,d Norfleet. "They treated me roy
000 to defray his travelling and other ally and had me believing they were
expenses; has armed him with a com- regular fellows.
mission as a deputy sheriff, and each "Spencer came to me finally and
Governor who has succeeded to the said he was if to consider mv
executive chair since he started on land. becaue the other deal had
Ws man hunt has provided him with f.iien through. He said he had -i -d
lequlsltlon papers for the men he Is his employer, Oarrett Thompson, at
lmntlnr. Minneapolis, and had been tr. ' d
not pose an a oneriocjc
'T reached back nnd found n nice,
fat wallet. Thcro was a lot of money
In It, nnd some papers, Including tho
card of a fraternal order made out to
"J. n. Stetson." I found Stetson
was registered at the . hotel nnd
Spencer and I went up to his room
to return his wallet. He was surly
ns tho mischief when ho answered my
knock and when I asked him If ho
had- lost anything he slammed the
door In my face, mumbling something
about damned, nosey newspaper men.'
"I started back down the hall, with
Spencer trailing, but had not reached
the elevator when Stetson came after
me, on the run.
" 'I did lose a wallet,' he exclaimed.
but I didn't know it until after you
TV. A mass mm Mhar nit r t.
" io iikjh over my i nnd get . d
Jlolme. or a crag ivenneay, nor ooes ,ampM for an(ljBU, But wh8 he cnme t) ,he door ,.m orry , acteJ
he, like that hero of romance, ICd- was gc' tg -ady to leave for l. the way I did. but I'm here on lm
jnond Dantos, the Count of Montu Centre he received a wire, ostensibly portant business and the newspaper
Crlfto, stand up before his audience from Thompson, saying thai .r lmv, Wfin pestering the life out of
to index, one by one, on raised fingers son had seen called to El rio on me. I might havo known to look at
the enemies he has brought to JustMe, business and would com. to lan,,, vmi ,hat you were not n newspaper
Hla ploture has never appeared In a to personally Inspect my place ,. but 1 didn't stop to think
tltwipaper or magartne -J was a happy boob," Norfleet -He took Spencer and me back to
"And It won't until I've sceom- continued. "I hsd vi.loni of ,eitlne his room unfi afW : had returned ths
Some of the thirty, five confidence men rounded up, with Norfleet's aid, by Denver police and held in church basement.
Spencer got away," said Norfleet, re
calling the Incident. "I haven't lsiS
eyes on him since, but I'll get hlra
yet and Hamlin, too."
Tho pursuit of Furey lasted nearly,
a year and took Norfloet to Cuba,
Mexico, Kngland, Franco and Ger
many nnd Into eighteen States of ttM
"Ho snarled at me like a caged
lion the day they took him to the
penitentiary." Norfleet declared "but
I laughed at him. I figured I had It
coming; that I could afford to laugh,
ln splto of all tho money he caused
me iu lose, min ail me gnei jib causoa
my wife and family."
In the pursuit, Norfleet used air
planes, fast motor boata, automobiles.
Ho trapped Furey twice only to see
him slip out of his clutches, once by
leaping, hand-cuffed, from a window
of n speeding train and again by
bribing two Deputy Sheriffs who had
him ln custody.
"When I got him the last time I
took him back to Texas, myself," said
Norfleet. "I fought a battle with Mix
of his confederates on the way, when
they tried to liberate him, and by
grnco of God I camo out on top."
Two weeks ngo Norfleet arrived In
Denver In pursuit of his quest for
Hamlin and Spencer. Ho had been ln
tho Colorado metropolis less than two
days when a prosperous looking
stranger scraped an acquaintance
with him. Norfleet "pegged" him as
of tho genua "con" and played tho
game until his suspicions had been
confirmed. He then communicated
with tho District Attorney, Philip t?
Van CIso nnd that ofllcial almost
hugged him, for he had been laboring
nearly a year to round-up a coterie
of clever swindlers who had been
preying on summer visitors to Denver
and nearby tourist resorts. He wan
ln need of a man of Norfleet's accom
plishments. Norfleet led on the "bunco steerer."
who Introduced him to others. He
located the headquarters or "tip-off
joint" of tho gang and was taken sev
eral times to a fake stock exchange
In a downtown building, where the
swindlers took their victims for the
customary "cleaning." When the
time was ripe he spoke tho word and
lie round-up started.
It netted thlityflvn prisoners and
more glory for Norfleet, but
"I'm not through yet." exclaimed
the diminullvo Texan. "I'm not going
homo for good until I get Hamlin und
Spencer. They'ro around somewhere,
nnd sooner or later I'll catch up with
The Denver tound-up was one of
Uie most spectacular and extraor
dinary in crlmo annals. Instead of
being taken dlicet to jail ns they
were arrested, tho prisoners were
herded Into th basement of the First
I nlvirsallst Church, In the heart of
the city's most fashionable residence
hst nt t. whoro they were held until
the last man sought had been picked
"If we had taken the first pick-up
to Jail, word of our activities would
certainly liavo drifted out, from one
Mouii-o or another, and our plans
would have been defeated," said Dis
trict Attorney Van C'lse.
I'lles of fake money, and rolls of
reen goods" padded out with real
money wc ie seized in the raid on the
lake stock exchange, while the per
sonal baggage nf the men taken Into
custody contained numerous evl
dences of the calling of Its owners.
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