History

The Newton Boys: Charming Texas Outlaws Who Robbed 85 Banks & Half a Dozen Trains

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After being pardoned by Governor Colquitt and released from prison, Willis remained bitter over the brutality he’d endured. He determined to have his revenge. Willis held up a passenger train at Cline, Texas, getting away with $4,700, and so began his outlaw career. Six years later, he founded the Newton Gang with his three brothers and safecracker/explosives expert Brent Glasscock. They hit banks all over the Lone Star State and the Midwest, usually working by night and blowing safes with nitroglycerin. “We did it so often and so long,” Joe Newton later told the New York Times, “we kind of made a business out of it.”

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Photo: drloihjournal.blogspot.com

Bank robbery was the family business, and business was good. The boys were even bold enough to knock over two banks in a single night in Hondo, Texas. On occasion, they would execute a daytime robbery, such as the 1922 bank job in New Braunfels. Bank workers and other witnesses to the daylight robberies invariably described the young outlaws as polite and careful to make everyone comfortable.

For a time, the Newtons lived the high life. Willis invested in oil wells, all of which went bust, and Dock and Jess played the horses and sampled the nightlife in Kansas City and Chicago. “Who wants a better job than what we already got?” Joe Newton once asked. “I need any money, I go out and rob another bank.”

THE NEWTON BOYS, Skeet Ulrich, Dwight Yoakim, Matthew McConaughey, 1998, TM & Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.
Photo: 3brothersfilm.com

The Newton boys pulled off the largest train robbery in history when they robbed a postal train carrying money from the Federal Reserve. The brothers took over $3 million from the heist. It wasn’t without cost, however. During the robbery gang member Glasscock mistook Dock Newton for an armed guard lurking in the dark. He shot Doc five times with .45 handgun. Dock survived, and the gang escaped, but the members were ultimately arrested with all but $100,000 recovered. While drunk, Jess Newton had buried a portion of that money northwest of San Antonio, then promptly forgot the location.