A Most Audacious Robbery
June 30, 2008
Excerpt from Our Castleton and Brown Ancestors
Compiled by Arthur Robert and Ellen D. Castleton – 1980
Copied from the scrapbook of Frank M. Castleton
(Now owned by his daughter, Louise Nielson)
Newspaper articles – March 5, 1894
Frank Castleton Assaulted and his Store Pillaged
“A most sensational robbery was committed at the store of the Castleton Bros. at the corner of Second and L Street last evening shortly before 8 o’clock. Frank Castleton, one of the proprietors, was about to close up when a stranger approached rapidly and accosted him with the remark: ;I guess you don’t want to close up for a while!’
Castleton turned toward his supposed customer and as he did so he was seized so that his arms were pinioned and he was dragged the length of the store to the rear, where he was overpowered, his hands tied behind his body with hempen cord, such as is used in tying packages, and his feet lashed together with common cotton twine. Having securely tied him, his captor turned him face downward on the floor and then leisurely proceeded to reward himself for his troubles. He first took a watch, chain and charm from his helpless victim and then relieved the cash drawer of all the money it contained, $4.75.
As he was about to depart Castleton begged him not to leave him in his helpless condition, and was assured that assistance would be sent him. Outside the thief was joined by a pal, who had evidently been on guard, and whom he directed to inform a boy he saw at work in a stable nearby that Castleton wanted to see him at once on important business. (This procedure is supposed, as the boy gives a description of the man who directed him to Castleton is different from that given by Castleton of the man who overpowered and robbed him.) The boy responded and found Castleton as stated, released him from his bonds and joined him in raising a hue and cry which soon aroused the neighborhood and brought scores of excited people to the scene of the most audacious robbery ever recorded in this city.
The following is how Frank Castleton told the story in a later interview. When the robber entered the store he immediately covered Mr. Castleton with a revolver, and securing the keys, he locked the door from the inside and told Mr. Castleton he would not harm him if he kept quiet, but if he attempted to call for help or resist in any way, he would shoot him dead. At the same time he intimated that he had a confederate on the outside and that he intended to do the job in a thoroughly business like manner. Having convinced the storekeeper that he was a desperate man, he commanded him to turn over his watch and chain and money, which he did. The fellow wore a wig and was masked, and was as cool as the traditional cucumber.
After securing the booty referred to, he prepared to take his departure and announced that as he wanted to get away safely he proposed to tie Mr. Castleton hand and foot so as to make it impossible for him to give an alarm. He secured a hempen cord and commanded Castleton to lie on the floor face downward, which he did. This cord was only sufficient to bind Castleton’s hands, and after assuring himself that there was no more cord and rope in the store, he coolly placed his revolver on the counter and improvised a strong rope from a ball of twine. With this he bound his victim’s feet and again looked over the store for something else that might suit his fancy, and was about to go when Castleton begged him not to keep his watch as he prized it very highly. He told the thief he was welcome to take his overcoat or anything else he might wish, but not to go away with his timepiece. Much to his surprise the watch was returned, but the thief declined to take the overcoat.
As Castleton says, he fully expected to be hit on the head and dazed before the robber left, but the latter took compassion on him, folded his overcoat nicely and placed it under his head for a pillow and went away, leaving him in this condition.
~ Another little later article:
The Castleton Robbery Explained
The news in yesterday’s paper that the watch and chain taken from Castleton’s store in Monday night’s robbery had been returned by the thief created a genuine sensation. The whole facts of this case have now come out and have added more than ever to the interest.
It appears that while the robber was passing the store on Monday afternoon, he saw a load of Beehive Soap being unloaded in front. The sight proved too much for his cupidity, and unable to withstand temptation, he broke into the building as detailed in Tuesday’s papers. As he was loading up with the soap, his eye caught sight of the watch and chain and he appropriated that too. Next day he had occasion to use the soap he had stolen. He had no sooner done so than he was filled with remorse and the thought occurred to him that an institution which carried so superior an article of homemade goods merited better treatment even from a burglar. So tying up the watch and chain in a neat bundle, he sent it back to the owner, but he kept the soap. This is a very tall and decided feather in the cap of Grant Soap Company.”
(We later found that the above article was an advertisement put in the paper by the Grant Soap Company.)