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The times dispatch. (Richmond, Va.) 1903-1914, June 22, 1913, Image 8

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Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038615/1913-06-22/ed-1/seq-8/

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Copyright. 19H. by the Star Company- ero.it Britain Rights Reatrre4,
"Bidwell and McDonald had destroyed everything in their lodgings except a piece of blotting paper?and
this proved their undoing. When the Scotland Yard detectives discovered this blotter they were able, by
holding it up to a mirror, to decipher Austin Bidwell's New York address and also the impressions of several
signatures which proved just the evidence needed to send the forgers to prison."
O-TTrteht. 1813, by the SUr Oompiny.
IF there is one crime on the calendar
which might be cxpected "to pay," for
gery, on first thought, would seem to
be it.
Other criminals work for returns which
are more or less problematical. When the
pickpocket slips his hand into your hip
pocket, he risks his liberty for a wallet
which may contain little or nothing. The
bag-snatcher may secure only a worthless
handbag containing loose change and a
lew trinkets. The house-burglar takes
big chances for loot which may not be
?worth carrying away.
This is not the case with the forger.
Unlike other criminals, the forger fixes
the amount of his booty himself. In this
respect ho is restrained only by such limi
tations as the circumstances may suggest.
In the majority of cases, however, in mak
ing out the forged instrument, he may till
in any amount he happens to need.
Under these circumstances, forgery
ought to pay. It doesn't. I have known
scores of professional forgers in the
course of my own criminal career and
there is not a single one alive to day who
has anything to show for the years of
labor he has put into his criminal career.
Many of these criminals are dead. None
of those loft any estates. Others whom I
knew in the old days are spending their
declining years behind prison walls. All
the others are in straitened circumstances.
Some of them have resorted to less dig
nified forms of crime and are living the
?wretched existence of the underworld.
There isn't a single forger whom I knew
in the old days or who has since come
directly or indirectly to my attention who
is worth $5,000-?jto-day. And these are the
fellows who have cleaned up anywhere
from ?t>00 to ?50,000 in a single transac
These facts are the more significant
when it is remembered that the forger is
usually a man of education, refinement and
superior attainments. Many of them are
college graduates. Certainly the same
amount of effort and ingenuity employed
by them in their criminal operations
would, if legitimately used, have made
them wealthy and respected citizens in
their old age.
My views on this matter are in com
plete accord with those of criminal au
thorities who are in a hottpr position to
judge. WWllam A. Pinkerton, of the Pink
erton National Detective Agency, who
represented the American Bankers' Asso
ciation for years and in that capacity had
occasion to run down thousands of profes
sional forgers, recently declared that "for
gery, like all other criminal occupations,
does not pay."
"We have in the past twenty-five years
had to do with the conviction of probably
five hundred forgers," he said, "and to-day
I do not know of a single one of them out
of prison who has any money, and, like a
great many other professional criminals,
had they directed their talents in other
directions, the majority might have been
successful business men."
Bank burglars have been regarded as
the aristocrats of the underworld. For
gers are the underworld's brains. For
this reason they have been inclined to
hold rather aloof from their fellows-in
crime. Nevertheless, they come frequent
ly in contact with each other and the
ways of the forger are not very different
in some respects from those of other
Perhaps the principal respect in which
the forger resembles his brother crimi
nals is the fact that, despite the great
amount of talent and skill he possesses,
he frequently slips tip on minor details and
thus comes to grief.
How big criminals fail through little
-things was never better illustrated than
in the case of the gang of forgers headed
by the Bidwell brothers, George and Aus
tin. These criminals succeeded In hood
winking the Bank of England out of $300^
000 and then came to grief through two
trifling mistakes.
For three months the Bidwells suc
ceeded in getting credit at the bank on
forged bills of exchange, and then just
when they had decided to make one final
haul of $75,000, they forgot to put the
date of acceptance on one of the bills.
This necessitated communication with the
supposed acceptor and disclosed the fraud.
Even then the Bidwells, who had care
fully kept themselves in the background,
might have made a successful flight, but
for another oversight. In destroying all
evidence which might have led to their
identification at the rooms where they hajd
been lodging, they left a small piece of
blotting paper. How that piece of bid ?
ting paper brought about their arrest will
appear in connection with this accounts
their operations.
George Bidwell and his brother, Austin,
will go down into history, I suppose, as
the cleverest forgers who ever victimized
a bank, and yet. their operations covered
but a comparatively short period of time.
George was the victim of circumstances.
At twenty-five he was wrongly accused of
having stolen ten dollars frorri his employ
ers. He was discharged in court, but the
incident proved his undoing. He found it
imposible to secure honest employment.
He started in business on his own account
several times but failed time after time.
Sometimes he was victimized by people he
regarded as his friends. Sometimes
ordinary business reverses ruined him.
However hard he tried he seemed to be
able to make no headway, and then he de
cided to do dishonestly what he had found
himself unable to do legitimately.
Bidwell had the misfortune of making
bad acquaintances and he was easily led
by them. He embarked in one swindling
operation after another and at last he fell
Astonishing Careers of the Bid
wells, Who Cheated the Bank
of England Out of $300,000,
and Other Famous Formers
into the meshes of the law. He served
his first prison term when ho wr.n thirty.
Escaping from a Southern jail, George
Bidwell visited New York. There he met
George Engle, a professional forger, and
BidweTl at once commenced his real crim
inal career.
For several years these two worked to
gether in this country cleaning up several
thousand dollars a year on forged paper,
and then, with his brother Austin and
George McDonald, a Harvard graduate of
criminal tendencies, went to Europe.
Bidwell had a well mapped out plan of
campaign. He bought a letter of credit
from a big London bank and obtained
some of the bank's stationery. He then
forged some letters of introduction sup
posed to have been signed by the manager
of the bank and mailed them to various
banks throughout Europe. He also sent
letters written on the London bank'B sta
tionery to himself in care of these banks.
He then proceeded to the various
European capitals, asked for his mail at
the banks to which he had addressed it.
needle Street" In the name of "Warren."
Another account was opened in the Con
tinental Bank. False bills of exchange
for amounts averaging about $20,000 were
discounted almost daily at the Bank of
England and put to the Warren account.
Checks were drawn against that account
and tho proceeds invested in American
The success of tho forgers was so great
that within a few months they had
amassed a fortune of $300,000 in bonds be
side several thousand dollars in cash.
They decided that to continue the game
indefinitely would be running unnecessary
risk and a final coup calculated to net
them somo $76,000 was planted.
It was this coup which proved their un
doing. Through pure carelessness the
clever Bidwell forgot to insert tho date of
the acceptance of the draft. Of course,
the bank regarded it as a mere oversight,
but they had to communicate with the sup
posed acceptor in order to have the omis
sion supplied, and thus the forged char
acter of the bill was discovered. Very
r "
"The coughing started again. The teller became alarmed. It deemed as if
the man's racked frame could not much longer resist the terrific strain his cough
ing spells were subjecting it to. One of the officials of the bank appeared on thej
scene just in time to catch him as he was falling to the oor. The man's terriblef
condition completely disarmed them of suspicion, and the draft he had presented
was paid. It called for $2,000. It had been raised from $20."
presented his forged letters of introduction
and easily succeeded in Retting the hanks
to cash the forged checks and drafts he
presented to them.
In this way he cleaned up hundreds of
thousands of dollars. The gang had not
been operating long in Europe before they
discovered that the Bank of England might
prove an easy victim. An account was
opened with "The Old Lady of Thread
The New Flan to Encourage Love-Makind
By Thomas S. McQuajde,
Pittsburgh's Superintendent of Police.
WHY should not the course of true love run
smooth? Why should spooning be inter
fered with? If all the world loves lovers
why should they he forced to do their spooning, their
love-making under cover? It is the business of any
city to see that lovers are given a place to spoon in.
And because 1 was once a lover I am determined
that for once the young people of Pittsburgh shall
be given every opportunity to spoon to their heart's
And where else should they spoon, where else
should they kiss but in the public parks? Our parks
will be transformed every evening into spoonholders
where the true lovers can talk their sweet nothings,
can embrace each other, and do all the airy trifling
lovishnesses that comprise a courtship. But, of
course, it Is necessary that true lovers bo distin
guished from the masher. The former shall not
only be welcomed, but encouraged to spoon. The
latter will be gi\en a free ride in a police wagon.
It's love that makes the world go round, and it is
spooning, that is, lovemaking, that is the greater
part of love. And young people should be made to
feel that they are doing nothing to be ashamed of
when they frankly spoon
The more open lovemaking there Is under the
carelessly careful eye of a cnaperon, the less secret
vice there is apt to be.
What harm is there in a young couple going into
the park of an afternoon or evening, seating them
selves on a bench and spooning? What if the young
fellow does put his arm around the girl's waist, or
even if he embraces and kisses her? There is no
wrong iij that. Then why should they be driven
out of the park, or perhaps arrested, for doing some
thing that the magistrate and the chief of police and
everybody else did when they were young, and do
still, too?
As 1 understand it, the p?.rks are the playgrounds
of the people?mostly the common people who
haven't the means to provide for themselves the
expensive amusements of the wealthy. The parks
ehould be made as attractive as possible, especially
jto the young people. For If you provide decent,
clean amusement for your boys and girls they are
not nearly so likely to go wrong.
Our park policemen have been instructed to use
their discretion in determining between true lovers
and mashers. We have twenty-five old, experienced
"Policemen must wink to themselves and
look the other way when they hear the
sound of a kiss between true lovers."
park men, who have been there for years. They
know the difference between a true lover and a
masher every time. These men were young once
themselves and they have not forgotten the days of
their own spooning. They have been told that they
are to let the decent lovers alone, that when they
hear the sound that may reasonably lead them to
suppose that someone has been kissed, they are to
look out of the corner of their eye to sec whether
the man in the case is the right sort. If he is, then
the police chaperon is to pass on and the lovera
may go on with the good work.
Of course, we take precautions, tut we try not to
have them too apparent. All our benches are along
the roadways and not far away from light. All our
parks are well lighted. A bashful lover may be as
averse to kissing In the open as the masher, but he
soon gets over this state of mind when he sees
everybody's doing it, too!
No man will be allowed to spoon with a different
girl every night, nor will he be allowed to enter the
park with one girl and leave with another.
How do our men tell whether true lovers or
mashers are doing the hugging and kissing? Why,
in this way: Take Schenley Park, for lnstanco.
There are three entrances to it. At each entrance
are stationed policemen, trained, experienced men.
Those fellows can tell almost at a glance whether
a young man is bringing his regular girl to the park
or whether he is the sort that brings in a different
one each evening. The masher is turned away from
the entrance and is not permitted to enter. If he
does get through, the policemen watching the
benches will get him. If that sort is caught mis
behaving, they are bundled out of the park in one
of the police automobiles and are fined in the morn
ing. Repetition means jail sentences and work
house terms.
No, I haven't issued any instructions to the park
policemen as to what sort of love talk is permissi
ble. That is left to their descretion. Lovers all
say things that sound silly to the eavesdropper, but
we allow for that. Silliness is not a sin.
Roughly speaking, my rules are three in number,
aB follows:
Rule 1?No man will be permitted to bring a dif
ferent girl to the park each night.
Rule 2?Policemen must wink to themselves and
look the other way when they hear the sound of a
kiss between true lovers.
Rule 3?The girl who does not want to be kissed
must do more than say faintly, "Please don't."
What about the girl who fusses and says that she
doesn't want to be kissed? Well that is a delicate
problem, but our men are told to go slow and be sure
that the girl means it before they interfere. You
know girls have that habit, and yet when the man
refrains from the kiss thoy get mad.
1 firmly believe that our liberal attitude toward
spoonors will do much to improve the morals of the
young people of the city. I have a great sympathy
with lovers, and this year determined that all bars
should be let down and that they should go as far
as thoy like within reasonable bounds of decency.
Spooning is the birthright of the young. I am. with
the 6poonera heart and soul.
cleverly the bank kept its discovery to It
self, and when Noyes, one of the members
of the Rang who had been used to do the
actual presenting of the drafts, appeared
at the Continental Bank to draw some ol
the gang's money he was arrested.
Word reached Bidwell at his aristocratic
quarters, in the West End of London, that
the game was up and ho and McDonald,
who boarded with him, at once set to work
to destroy all Incriminating evidence. Not
an iota of evidence apparently was left to
identify them or to characterize the work
in which they had been engaged. Every
label was carefully cut out of their clothes
and other belongings, all papers were
burned and, of course, the engraving
blocks were thoroughly destroyed.
While the work of destruction was going
on, McDonald wroto a letter to Austin Bid
well in New York, whence he had fled, and
he asked George to save a piece of blot
ting-paper so that he might blot the letter
when he got through.
Some days later when the detectives
from Scotland Yard had so far followed
the forgers' trail that they came to the
abandoned quarters of Bidwell and Mc
Donald, they ran across that piece of blot
ting-paper. Holding it up to a mirror
they were able to decipher Austin Bid
well's New York address. This piece of
blotting-paper also contained Impressions
of some of the forged signatures them
selves and proved one of the principal
links in the chain of evidence which the
Government was able to present against
the forgers.
All four were convicted and sent to
prison. George served some fourteen
years and worked for live years in an ef
fort to secure his brother Austin's re
lease, which he then succeeded in doing.
The two brothers went West. Austin died
poverty-stricken a few years later. Qeorge
delivered a lecture in an effort to raise
enough money to bury his brother! A few
weeks later George blmself died.
George Bidwell had cleaned up over a
million dollars In the course of his com
paratively short criminal career, but after
years of suffering and privation he died a
pauper. In all the history of crime there
never was a better example of the futility
of a life of crime than this.
But there are many others. There was
"Steve" Broad well, referred to so often as
"the man with the cough." He was a
member of the notorious Wilkes gang of
forgers. George Wilkes, regarded as the
most expert freehand forger of his time,
was the penman Of the gang, and Broad
well was one of the "presenters." Every
gang of forgers consists of a capitalist or
backer, an actual forger, known as the
"penman" or "scratcher," a middleman,
?who acta as the forger's representative,
Sophie Lyons.
often getting the llon'n eh*. ' !? Presenter
"?} *X2??fn'?" *
lied nearly three^quarter^'f t0 haTa real,
.are a, J?g? J*
he was Implicate ti,? In which
city in the countrv In hardlT a
operated at one Mm, *h,ch he had not
method was un?que! ?r anothcr? Hia
a Boa^o^bank^ne'rfl?80' Walked Into
fore the\ounr^?ecSaf HrftnOOQ JU8t be"
draft drawn by a Sou thorn k pr,csented a
bank In New York hi J ?? bank upon a
bank to pay L j,!' ?1 lba **? Y?r*
Broadwell was Rnnli^06 8?mo *2,000.
rain, and as ha h?nH ig.Wet from the
Paying teller ho commenwd'a Ittof t0 'ba
Ing which seemed as tbourh 1, of, cough
him apart. The teller * d 8p,,t
coughing man hnrf ? *?lted until tho
then explained that h-0rnen, ,8 ,resP'te and
draft becaus<f it was drawn" xCash th*
bank. ? 11 *aB dra*n on a New York
Southern bank whLl , CaPhior ?r ?ho
teeing James Lane s endn? MUr? gUaran*
(he back of thn drtn ?ndor8ernent was on
could cash the draft aa^Pi? <hat h*
bank as In New York Boston
a specialist?" 'he ZZ'lf'Z 7Vk to -
1 11 never get anv fnrffc ?u>U m afraid
That's ^whjfI came here. than th,s to*?
became0 alSm'ed61^^^'"' Tbe te,,*r
man's racked framo " .*jeCm 88 if th*
? resist the terrific strain h|DUCh lon*
spells were subjecting itto"a ??Ilghln*
grew deathly nale ami ? . 1 flc man
collapse. One of (hp ftfri m" about to
attracted by thn 0,8,8 of the bank.
Paroxysms, appeared nr ?v,?f tho man'a
time to catch him as h? i ?C?no J,,3t in
floor. m Rs he was filing to the
hausted'mi;" ,and wb"? "" ??
it at A ?Vu wh,ch made them he's
? Banwl0 ,r"*?larlly or the proceed
ing and bank official, are tbe
o mo\e out of tho regular rut. Re
gafat-^ experiences have taught them that
safety lies in following precedent.
It seemed that the Boston bank had car
hienvca , f? deposlt of ^e New York
banks funds, and could, of course, safely
have cashed the draft If so inclined, a fact
temni. ^ Broadwell was. of course,
familiar. Again the man commenced hia
deadly cough, and tho teller, after con
sulting with the cashier and fearing that
further argument with tho apparently
dying man might bring about his death
fin any counted out the money and handed
rnin Broadwe11 went out into the
a?aI?* worked tho same trick at four
other banks before three o'clock that after
"??? ?nd cleaned up some eighteen thou,
sand dollars on the day!
The drafts he used in this way were
genuine drafts issued for small amounts in
the regular way and skilfully raised to
severe hundred times their actual amount.
wL*e9(?a8e menUonad the original amount
was $?0. Broadwell collected 52,000 on it
Broadwell died in a Bowery lodging
J*?"8?- had made fortunes In his time,
but he died a pauper. The strain he ex
perienced in executing his ingenious fraud
undoubtedly hastened his end. He was a
most finished actor and would havo
crfmA the stage. But he chose a life of
SmL 5? reaped the criminal's inevl
table reward?misery and poverty.
George Wilkes himself, who at one time
or another worked with most of the bie
forgers of his time and cleaned up hun
dreds of thousands of dollars In this coun
try and in Europe, died penniless in the
Bellevue Hospital In New York City
The accomplices of tho actuul forcers
becomo involved in the meshes of the law
more frequently than the principals them
selves. Thus, William PInkerton has
pointed out that eight of the associates of
Charley Becker, the forger, were caught
and sent to prison, and the same fate be
iell ten of George Wilkes' associates, five
of Jack Brush's, six of Jim Farrell's aud
eight of Alonzo J. Whiteman's. i
No one who Is at all familiar with tho
careers of the big forgers will ever con
tend that forgery pays. On the contrary
like every other crime, it has never broucht
anyone any real happiness. p0r a few
years, perhaps, it may enable those who
pursue it as a means of livelihood to Hv?
well, but in tho long run the life of th?
forger is fujl of wretchedness and misery
Forgery does not pay because no crS
pays. 1Ui9

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