Newspaper Page Text
A Fall From Grace
Stories of the Greatest
Cases in the Career of
Thomas Furlong, the Fa
mous Railroad Detective,
Told by Himself
Copyright by W. G. Chapman
In the latter part of the year 1S92
Mr. Clarence White, manager for the
firm of John Bolland & Co. of St.
Louis, who owned a large jewelry
store in that city, called upon me in
my office in the Chemical building.
"We are in trouble, M1r. Furlong."
he began, "and want to have your as
sistance. You know that our firm does
a large business in this city. A quan
Irty of valuable goods has disap
;,eaecd in a mysterious manner, and
is still disappearing, and we cannot
lay our hands upon the culprit. Mr.
Rolland has asked me to call and put
the case before you, and tomorrow he
will come in person for a conference."
On the following day, when Mr.
Holland called, he stated that it was
more than two years since goods be
gain to disappear from the store, and
that these losses were growing to
alarming proportions. In the endeavor
to clear up the mystery he had se
cured the services of another local
private detr -tive agency, at a consid
erable expense, but without being able
to fasten the guilt upon anyone. He
added that he would like to have me
make an investigation and apprehend
the guilty person or persons, if it
could be done.
"In view of the large amount that
I have already spent in order to de
tect the thief, I do not feel like spend
ing a large sum," continued Mr. Bol
land, "but see what you can do with
out incurring any heavy expenses. It
is necessary to me to have this mat
ter cleared up, but the police depart
ment is unable to help me, and I do
not know where to turn."
"It is evident to me, Mr. Bolland,"
I said, "that you believe all your em
ployes to be honest or else you would
not have them in your employment."
"You need not spend any time in
looking after Clarence White, Fred
Erfert, or myself," answered Mr. Bol
land, "but you may use your judgment
as to the other employes, although I
want you to understand that I have
the utmost confidence in all of them."
The employe named Erfert was well
known to me. He had been in the
service of the company since his boy
hood. He was then about twenty-two
or twenty-three years of age, had be
come a trusted employe, and carried
the keys of the establishment. He
was the first man to open the store in
the morning a nd the last man out at
night, closing and locking the store
himself. Clarence White was an older
man, and of blameless reputation.
A short time before this interview
took place, according to Mr. Bolland's
further statement, the company had
purchased a large stock of jewelry at
a bankrupt sale. The most desirable
parts of the stock had been sorted out
and removed to the company's store,
from which they had culled out stock
of their own which was growing
stale, and this they had placed with
the residue of their purchase. They
P then started to auction off the surplus
stock. Erfert was placed in charge
of this auction store, with a profes
sional auctioneer and a number of
clerks. This auction was running at
the time of the interview between my
self and the store owner.
"Goods are also being missed from
the auction store," Mr. Bolland con
tinued. "Evidently the thief has ac
cess to both places."
I instructed one of my operatives
to observe carefully all that he could
about the auction store, from the time
it opened in the morning until it was
closed at night, which was duly done.
At the end of the first day's watch
the operative reported that he had
noticed a number of what appeared to
be irregularities on the part of Erfert,
the manager. He reported that on the
evening before he had seen Erfert
and the other clerks leave the store.
Erfert, being the last man out, locked
the door and put the key in his pocket,
and the whole party walked to the
corner of Sixth and Olive streets,
where they separated, presumably for
their homes. He said that Erfert,
however, did not take a car, but
walked west a block on Olive street
to Seventh, then north on Seventh to
Locust street, and east on Locust
street to the side entrance of the auc
tion store, where he unlocked the
door. He entered and almost imme
diately returned to the sidewalk, car
rying a couple of large, heavy pack
ages, which were fastened with shawl
straps. He then went back by the
same route to Sixth and Locust
streets where he boarded a car, car
rying these two heavy packages, one
in either hand, to his home in South
St. Louis, where he resided with his
widowed mother and sister.
On learning these details I in.
atructed my operative to repeat his
watch on the following day, telling
him that, in case Erfert doubled back
on that evening also. he was to ap
proach him and 'say that Mr. Furlong
was in his office in the Chemical build
ing and wanted to see him at once,
and' to bring him up without delay. I
remained in the office that evening,
so as to be on hand in case Erfert re
peated his actions. rld that is what
It was winter, and grew dark about
5::10 in the afternoon. At this time
Erfert closed and locked the store,
and with the other clerks, apparently
started for home. lie accompanied
the others, as lihe had done the night
before, to Sixth and Olive streets, and
then left them, afterward making a
ciicuitous route and returning to the
store, into which he disappeared. Hie
emerged almost immediately, carrying
two packages rather heavier than
those which he had taken the night
before, and fastened with the shawl
straps. After he had( locked the door
and picked up the packages, which
seemed to be very heavy, the opera
tive, who had approached him unob
served, touched him on the shoulder.
"Mr. Furlong is at his office in the
Chemical building and wants you to
come over and see him at once," he
"What does he want to see me for?"
"I don't know," answered the opera
tive. "He will explain that when he
"I am in a hurry and haven't time,"
said Erfert. "I am late anyway and
will call and see him tomorrow."
"You can either go with me right
now," returned the other, "or I will
call that policeman across the street
and have him take you to police head
quarters, and probably Mr. Furlong
will go there and see you. Now it is
up to you. If I take you to police
headquarters your name and picture
will appear in the papers in the morn
ing and you will probably get a lot
of undesirable notoriety."
"I don't want any notriety," an
swered Erfert, "but I can't understand
what Mr. Furlong wants to see me for
tonight. However, I will go with you,
but I will put these packages in the
"What is in them?" asked the opera
"I have two fine clocks which were
sent over to my store by mistake and
are too expensive to sell at auction,"
answered Erfert, "and I intend to take
them back to the main store, where
"Well," said the operative, "you
take them up to Mr. Furlong's office,
and after you have seen him he will
probably allow you to take them to
the main store."
The operative brought the man to
my office. I was already acquainted
with all that had passed, because, un
known to the operative, I had put a
second operative to watch him and
bring back a report of all that oc
curred. Th. second man reached my
office a few minutes before the first
When Erfert and the detective were
seated together in the private room
I turned to the young man and asked:
"Fred, what have you in those
"They are two clocks," answered
Erfert, "which were sent over to the
auction store by mistake. They are
expensive clocks and I will not sell
them at auction, and intended to take
them home tonight and return them
to the main store in the morning, be
fore I opened the auction store."
"What other stock have you on
your person which was sent over to
the auction store by mistake?" I in
"I have only a few stick pins and
a few other small articles of Jewelry,"
"Put them on my desk," I said.
Erfert complied, and the articles
that he had concealed in his pockets
were worth, according to the prices
marked on them, nearly four hundred
dollars. There were stick pins, gold
rings, and other small pieces of good
Jewelry. Thinking that possibly he
had not emptied his pockets, I in
spected them myself and found a
memorandum book, in which Erfort
had kept an accurate account of all the
articles which he had stolen from the
jewelry firm, the cost price of each
article to the company, and the price
he had received for a large lot of
articles of which he had already dis
posed. This book was written in
cipher. I also found a key to a safe
"Fred," I said to him, "ySu have
stolen thousands of dollars' worth of
I jewelry from your employers. You
were practically raised by them, hav
ing been in their service nearly all
your life, and the company has al
ways treated you well and justly.
Now that you have been caught red
handed I think it will be to your in
terest to tell the whole truth about
what you have taken, and to do al|in
your power to return as much of the
plunder as possible."
The office was on *e fourteenth
floor of the Chemical building. Erfert
turned suddenly and made a lunge for
the window, with the purpose of fling
ing himself into the street below, I
caught him just in time.
After a few moments the culprit
admitted everything. He said that he
had been stealing from the company
for the past two years, and had re
cently been assisted by another of the
employes. lie added that his grand
father conducted a jewelry and nov
elty store in South St. Louis, and that
nearly all the stock which he and his
confederate had stolen had gone into
the old man's stock. He also stated
that he had a quantity of the stolen
property concealed in the attic of his
mother's house, and agreed to go with
one of my men and deliver the stolen
goods. This he subsequently did.
After Erfert had completed his con
fession I sent a message to Mr. liol
land, asking him to come to my office
at once, as I had succeeded in cap
turing the thief.
Mr. Holland arrived about ten in
the evening, accompanied by his wife
and Clarence White. I met them in
the front office.
"The messenger told me that you
had captured the party who has been
robbing us," said the owner.
"Yes," I replied. "That is why I
sent for you."
"\Whom have you caught?"
"Fred Erfert is the principal party."
Mrs. Bolland and White exclaimed
simultaneously: "Why, surely you
have made a mistake!"
"I told you not to bother with Er
fert; that I believed he was all right,"
said Mr. Holland angrily. -
"Why, Furlong, you have got your
foot in it," White continued. "Erfert
surely ,had nothing to do with these
thefts, and you luive made a great
mistake by even accusing him. He
has been practically raised by Mr. Bol
land and in his service for many
years, and we have always had im
plicit confidence in his honesty."
"Yes I understand all that," I an
swered, "but Mr. Bolland employed
me to apprehend the party, or parties,
who were robbing him, which I have
done. Erfert knows that he is guilty
and he has fully admitted his guilt,
and I am satisfied from the evidence
that I have found on his person that
he told the truth when he said he was
guilty. I, of course, realize Mr. Bol
land's disappointment in finding that
Erfert was the guilty person, but I
cannot help his feelings. I have sim
ply done what was my duty in the
matter, and now it remains with Mr.
Bolland as to what shall be done with
"Where is Erfert?" Mr. Bolland
"He is in there and waiting to see
you," I answered, pointing to the door
of my private office. "He has prom.
" "MR. FURLONG WANTS YOU TO COME OVER AND SEE HIM AT ONCE."
ised me that he will tell you what he
has already told my assistant and my
self, and that he will at once return
as much as possible of the stolen
property to you, which I have advised
him to do."
I then ushered them into the private
room in which Erfert was. The young
fellow repeated to them the statement
of guilt that he had already made to
me. Then, with some assistants, I
went in a hack to the house of Er
fert's mother, where we found about
two hack loads of stolen goods, con
sisting of clocks, silver plate, fine um
brellas and various articels of bric-a
brac, all valuable stuff.
These goods were taken direct to
the rtore of Mr. Iolland. )nur party
then visited the store of the grand
father, in South St. Louis. and recov
ered about four hack loads of goods
from that place. By the time the last
load had been hauled away it was
While this loot wa:; being removed I
was standing outside guarding thri
hack into which the goods were b- -
ing placed. A police ocficer came:
along. We knew each other and hIi
was somewhat surprised to see nme at
that time of night in that locality,
and asked me, in a fri.-redly manner,
what I was doing th,.r. I replied
that some stuff had l.c(,n stolen from
a jewelry store, anrd that it had 1,,-, !
taken to the house. I added tn,:,t I
had thought it advisable to r,;Au.ive
the goods after ni: ht so as not I at
tract the attention of the nei;L!:,hr
hood, as I felt sure that the v. un(; of
the family were not aware 11 ' the
property which had been s:jl i n in
their house was stolen.
The policeman later reported that
he had met me and detailed this con
versation to his captain. The report,
of course, reached t. chief of police
the following morning. The chief,
becoming exasperated, suspended the
policeman for not having arrested
both the hack driver and myself. lie
also suspended one or two of the of
ficers connected with the station who
were on duty that night.
The next morning a city detective
called at my office.
"I have been sent down here by
the chief to see you," he said. "The
chief understanr s that you arrested a
young fellow named Erfert last night
and that you recovered a lot of stolen
property. Is that report true?"
"Part of the report seems to be
true, while the remainder is not true,"
I answered. "You know, and the
chief should know, that I have no
legal right to make arrests, and there
fore I have made no arrests, nor have
I caused any to be made within the
city of St. Louis, but I did recover a
large quantity of stolen goods last
night and early this morning, and I
have delivered them to their owner."
"Where is Erfert now?" asked the
"I don't know where he is at pres
ent. Why do you want to know this?"
"Because the chief instructed me
to come down here and get him, and
bring him to headquarters at once,"
replied the man.
"Have you any charges against
him at headquarters?" I inquired.
"I don't know. All I know is that
the chief sent me down he-e to get
him and bring him to headquarters."
"I do not know whether there will
be any charges preferred against Er
fert or not," I said. "His employer
seems inclined to sympathize with
him, and especially with his family. I
do not believe that he cares to have
him prosecuted for these thefts. I
expect Erfert to call at my office some
time during the forenoon, and I am
looking for Mr. Bolland here at any
moment. When Erfert comes I will
tell him that the chief wants to see
"No, you need not do that," an
swered the detective. "I will wait
here, and when he comes I will take
him up with me."
- -- IJ I .
"FRED, WHAT HAVE YOU IN THOSE TWO PACKAGESI"
"If Erfert calls at this office while
you are here," I answered, "and if you
have a warrant for his arrest, charg
nlg him with any crime, you may
take him to headquarters; but unless
you have a warrant I will not permit
you to take him out of this office. I
think, perhaps, you had better go and
communicate this to the chief."
The detective left the office and
went to make his report. In the
meantime Mr. Bolland arrived, to
whom I stated the facts of the eity
detective's visit and his intention to
arrest Erfert. Mr. Bolland said that
he did not care to prosecute; in fact,
he preferred not to do so, and was
really undecided which was the best
course to pursue.
"You had better take Erfert quietly
up to police headquarters," I said to
him, "and tell the chief what you have
said to me."
This was done, but, at police head
quarters, the police chief and the de
tective who had called at the office in
the Chemical building took Erfert in
charge and put him through the.third
degree. They attempted to make him
say that I had arrested him and
forced him to make a confession of
his thefts. They did not concern
themselves with his guilt or inno.
cence. A statement was prepared by
them, which they urged Erfert to sign,
declaring that I had violated the law
by having arrested him and forcing
him to make a statement of his guilt.
Erfert declined, however, to sign this
statement, on the ground that it was
untrue. He stated that I had ex
plained to him in the beginning of
the interview that I had no legal right
to arrest him, and that I pad said it
was optional with him whether he
return the stolen goods or not, but
that if he refused to do so it would
be my duty to turn him over to the
The chief of police was greatly ex
asperated to find that be could make
no case against me. At a later time,
however, he himself made a complaint
that I was running a private detective
agency without a license from the
police board, and a warrant was is
sued for my arrest. Upon the wit
ness stand I was asked whether I
was doing a detective business in St.
Louis, and I replied that I was. Asked
whether I had a license from the
board of police commissioners, I re
plied that I had not. I ..as then
asked by what authority I was con
ducting my business, and I answered
that it was by authority of a state
charter. I produced the articles of
incorporation, which the judge care
fully read, and he then dismissed the
case, assessing tne court charges upon
The chief of volice insisted upon
the prosecution of Erfert. He was re
leased on bond, reappeared in due
course, and pleaded guilty, receiving
a minimum sentence of two years in
the penitentiary, and being released,
as a model prisoner, under the two
third sentence rule.
The stolen property recovered
amounted to several thousand dollars
Erfert, it is pleasing to note, lived
an exemplary life after his release.
His confederate, who was a mere
youth, was not prosecuted.
TREATMENT OF BALKY HORSE
Animal is Not to Be Cured by Either
Beating or Abuse-Only Practi
In an article in Our Dumb Animals,
Alfred Ii. Pope says that the balky
horse has the most sense and the con
firmed runaway horse the least sense
of any horse. The balky horse is not
to be cur^d by beating and abuse. It
appears from his article that he makes
a business of buying balky horses,
breaking them of the habit, and selling
them again. It is to be presumed,
therefore, that he knows whereof he
speaks. HIe makes no mention of such
methods as that of building a fire un
der a horse, as he condemns any kind
of abuse. When a horse makes up
his mind to balk, he has no room in
his mind for anything else. Whipping
only increases his stubbornness, but
there is a method which goes to the
cause of the trouble. With a single
idea in his head, it was reasoned that
the best way to get the horse to move
was to 'give him another idea-some
thing else to think about. The trainer
then remembered thlut hlorses and
mules resent interferenoe' \'.ilh their
liberty to move their e:tr' .'t will. It
was noticed that a horse wi,.r c.hanges
his course of action withoui moving
his ears. It was then found that when
a horse balked it annoyed him to have
one ear pushed under the crown of the
bridle so that he could not move it.
And it was also found that if the
ear was left there for about 20 min
utes he was so annoyed that he forgot
about his determination to balk. He
shook his head. turned to one side
and then the other, and made every
effort to release the ear. This oc
cupied his mind until when the driver
ordered him to go, he went. After
a few minutes the ear was released
and he went on as if he had forgotten
all about balking. In conclusion, the
writer said: "This trick will not
break a horse of balking, but it will
invariably start one that has balked
on the road, provided he hasn't al
ready been whipped and abused to
a point where nothing matters."
Joe had been working in Baltimore.
On the day before Christmas he re
ceived his pay and planned to go home.
to Washington, but first he started out
to buy presents for all his family. He
did this with more generosity than
foresight, and when evening came he
found himself at the railway station
laden with bundles but with no money
for his fare to Washington.
Somehow he got through the gate
and approached the conductor. He
laid the case before him, and ended
with a plea that he might ride to
Washington oan the platform of the
baggage car. The conductor, his heart
warmed by the spirit of the season,
said, "All right, go ahead !"
So Joe climbed on the platform of
the car next to the engine. It was a
cold night, and It was on a road where
the engine takes up water from a track
reservoir as it goes along.
When the train reached Washing
ton the conductor saw Joe approach
ing, covered with ice from head to
foot, bundles and all. He came up to
the conductor and said, "I sure does
thank you, boss, for muh ride. You's
very kind to allow muh to ride up
wish you; but there's jus' one ques
tion I wants to ax. Kin yuh tell me
the name oh that rivuh we run through
back there?"-Youth's Companion.
"I understand that your new servant
is a disappointment."
"Yes," replied Mrs. Gaddington Prye.
"The last family she worked for does
n't seem to be at all interesting."