Today we feature a picture of Oliver Curtis Perry. He is remembered as the first person to rob a train solo. There had been many train robberies before Perry's, but they had always been done by teams or gangs. He pulled off the robbery in 1891 in New York. He got on the train in Utica, New York. He positioned himself behind the express car, and after the train left the station, he bored holes into the door of the train car, to get it open. Upon entering the car, he got the drop on the express guard, Burt Moore, and stole $5,000 in loot. This would be over $100,000 in today' dollars. As the train slowed as it approached the Utica station, Perry jumped off and made off with the money.
No one believed Burt's story, that the train was robbed, and he was fired. Perry pretty much got away with this robbery. It was easy money, and he burned through it pretty fast. Then in 1892, he thought he would try again. This time he jumped onto the ladder of the money car as a train left the station in Syracuse. He had a rope, and fixed it to the top of the money car. He held onto the rope, and then swung, and crashed through the window of the car. He caught the express agent off guard, and shot him several times. The guard was able to pull the alarm whistle cord, and alert the conductor that there was trouble. The train was stopped, and other crewmembers on the train came into the express car. Perry pulled his gun on them, and told them to get the train moving. One of the crew escaped, and warned authorities about the robbery. When the train pulled into the Port Byron station, armed men were waiting for him. He jumped off that train, and then attempted to make his escape by stealing a nearby locomotive. Authorities chased him in another train. The problem with attempting a getaway in a stolen locomotive is that it is sort of conspicuous, if you know what I mean, and you don't have too many options as far as your escape route goes. He ended up abandoning the train, escaping on foot. He stole several horses from some farmers as he tried to allude the law. It was actually the farmers, irate over having their horses stolen, that captured him in a field as he was sleeping.
The good news is that after he was captured, and the overall facts were put together, the original express guard, Burt Moore was cleared of wrongdoing in the original robbery.
Perry was convicted of the robberies, and died in prison in 1930.