Aftermath of the Union Bank Robbery

     On Friday, March 13, 1903, the Franklin County Judge William Davidson arraigned William Rudolph and George Collins for the robbery of the Union Bank and the murder of Pinkerton Detective Charles Schumacher.  Rudolph and Collins plead “not guilty”.  Judge Davidson assigned three attorneys to represent Rudolph and Collins.


William Rudolph from the March 15, 1903 edition of the St. Louis Republic

     William Rudolph gave a confession to the St. Louis media, which was reprinted in the March 15, 1903 edition of The St. Louis Republic.  Like many confessions before his own, Rudolph admits to a few things such as robbing the bank out of financial desperation but does not admit to the killing of Schumacher.  He blames persecution by his neighbors as the reason for his leaving two years before.  He claims hunger and want led he and George Collins to rob the bank.

    Sheriff Bruch stated that the Union Jail was not adequate to house the prisoners.  He felt that the chance of escape was too great.  He requested that Judge Davidson allow him to transfer the men to the St. Louis Jail.  Judge Davidson agreed but they would find out even the St. Louis Jail would have trouble holding Rudolph and Collins.

     On July 4, 1903, William Rudolph was able to escape from the St. Louis Jail.  He was cut during the escape.  A workmen allowed Rudolph to clean himself up.  After the workmen learned of the escape, he returned to the boiler area but Rudolph was gone.  Rudolph would be captured a little under a year later.


Note Warning Officials About Impending Jail Break

     Collins would also attempt to escape.  On January 2, 1904, an anonymous informer sent a letter to St. Louis Chief of Police Mathew Kiely warning him that an escape would soon be attempted.  Chief Jailer Dawson was aware of the plot.  The “X” on the photo marks the spot, where the prisoners were digging.

     George Collins was one of the ring leaders of this plot.  George Collins could not escape before he was returned to Union, MO for his hanging on March 11, 1904.  George Collins was approximately 24 years old at the time of his death.

     The Pinkerton Detective Agency found William Rudolph a month before George Collins was executed.  William Rudolph and an accomplice robbed a bank in Kansas.  The authorities captured Rudolph, who claimed to be Albert Gorney.  The Kansas Court sentenced him to the Kansas Penitentiary.

     As a matter of practice, the bank that Rudolph robbed sent the men’s pictures to the Pinkerton Detective Agency.  William Pinkerton identified Rudolph in the photograph.  Authorities picked him up from Kansas, where the governor pardoned him so he could stand trial in Missouri.  Like Collins before him, the Franklin County Court convicted Rudolph of murder and robbery.  He was sentenced to hang on Monday, May 8, 1905.

     The St. Louis Republic reported that he was indifferent as he was lead to the gallows at the Union Jail.  Rudolph was hung and his body returned to St. Louis for a secret burial.  His family had him interred at Calvary Cemetery.

     This case was a huge deal in 1903, 1904 and 1905 in St. Louis but it is largely forgotten today.  What surprised you about this story?  What did you find the most interesting?  You can leave a comment or ask a question about this or any post on my Facebook pageTwitter profile and Google+ page.

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