Skip
Navigation

Train Robbery in Doddridge County

Beckley Raleigh Register
September 21, 1916


Mystery of Train Robbery Cleared Up in Confession

Central Station Bandit Gets Twelve Years in Federal Court at Martinsburg

Charles Jefferson Harrison, of San Antonio, Texas in the Federal court at Martinsburg last week made a full confession of the train robbery at Central Station on the Baltimore & Ohio railroad about a year ago. Sentence of 12 years imprisonment in the penitentiary at Atlanta, Ga., was immediately imposed.

The robbery was of a Baltimore & Ohio train near Central Station, W. Va., October 8, 1915. With Harrison was implicated Eugene Dies, who will be placed on trial next week, and Harry Grady Webb, who has not yet been arrested. The robbers took from the express car of the train more than $100,000 in unsigned bank notes.

The robbery was the boldest and biggest ever pulled off this side of the wild and wooly west and despite the fact that a large number of the best civil service detectives have been working for 11 months on the case, they have failed to run down all the three men who participated in the actual hold up.

The hold-up occurred when a west-bound express train stopped at Central Station, Doddridge county to take water about 2 o’clock in the morning. Two men entered the mail car and with drawn revolvers ordered the clerks to throw up their hands. They grabbed up several pouches of registered mail and made their get-away. About three months later Jeff Harrison, a black smith in San Antonio, Tex., was arrested. It is alleged $33,000 of the unsigned notes were found hidden under the floor of the auto garage and blacksmith shop he was conducting. Dick Harrison, his half brother was later arrested.

Like Jesse James

The story of the robbery has some of the stories of Jesse James and the Dalton Boys backed down from the limelight. Authorities say nothing more daring has ever been perpetrated in the United States. They claim Harrison, Eugene Diez and Grady Webb formed a band that worked in the south around Birmingham for some time but never got more than $20,000 in a hold-up. They then decided they had better get nearer Washington and get a train carrying larger sums of money out of the national treasury to the west.

The trio then came to West Virginia. They stayed in Grafton for a time and Harrison and Webb are said to have made Clarksburg their home for about two weeks while they were outlining plans for the hold-up. Diez is said to have confessed that he worked on the streets in Grafton for a time and Deputy Marshal Coon, of Clarksburg, remembers distinctly of riding from Clarksburg to Parkersburg in the same seat with Diez just a few days before the robbery. The trio had headquarters in both cities and they went over the ground thoroughly day after day in order that there be no slip up in their plans. And there wasn’t.


Crime and Punishment

West Virginia Archives and History