story title when making
(Doc or Dock) Newton
Of the eleven Newton children, four were troublemakers
in the eyes of the law, they were Willis, Joe, Wylie (Doc or Dock)
and Jess. They had been born into the poverty of sharecropping,
a practice in which they were allowed a place to live, plus a small
salary for farming someone elses land. It was very hard work
for all members of a family and only the land owner received substantial
profit from it. The poor sharecropper got only enough from it to
stay alive and return next season to do it all over again. There
was little chance of financial improvement for a sharecropping family.
At some point in time, when Willis was twenty years
of age, he claimed to have been falsely accused of stealing cotton
from a cotton gin and trying to sell it. In reality, his brother
Doc had stolen the cotton, but law enforcement officials werent
able to locate Doc, so they arrested Willis! In spite of the very
flimsy evidence against him, he was sentenced to a year in prison
as a result in 1909. Once in prison, Willis was forced to pick a
lot of cotton, all the while developing an attitude against the
law-abiding neighbors who had sentenced him.
Willis wasnt in prison long before his brother
Doc joined him. He had been convicted of robbing a Post Office and
making off with less than fifty dollars worth of postage stamps!
Together, they began escape attempts. Some of these were successful,
allowing them a short time of freedom, before being caught and given
a longer sentence.
Willis was eventually released from prison and began
a career, involving the burglary of stores at night.
Two of the Newton brothers had managed to stay out
of the legal system, at least for awhile. Jess and Joe worked as
bronc busters and ranch hands.
In 1914, Willis was one of two men who robbed a Southern
Pacific Railroad passenger train in Cline, Texas, taking 4,700 dollars.
In 1916, Willis was a member of a Durant, Oklahoma
gang that robbed a bank in Boswell, Oklahoma, taking about 10,000
In 1917, Willis was tried for burglary and convicted.
By forging some letters, he managed to get a pardon.
When Willis was released from prison this time, he
started working with and learning from a gang of bank burglars.
They would break into a bank at night, use explosives to blow open
the safe door and then take the money. The big drawback to this
was that occasionally the explosives man got himself blown up, handling
nitro-glycerin. So, Willis had several teachers during this time.
It was1920, while in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that Willis
decided to set up his business. He spoke with safecracker
and high-explosives expert, Brentwood Brent Glasscock
about joining the business. Glasscock agreed. Willis had decided
that all the wildness exhibited by other outlaws was not to be a
part of their business. It was to be for profit only, with the intention
of hurting no one. He spoke to his brothers, Joe and Jess about
joining him. Doc, serving time in prison, heard of this and again,
affected another successful escape his fifth! The Newton
Gang was formed with Willis and his four recruits.
A corrupt official with the Texas Association of Bankers
sold Willis a list of banks that used an older model of safe that
was especially vulnerable to the Newtons method of opening.
Most of the Newton Gangs robberies were committed
at night. They especially liked to operate in small towns and in
winter, when people were much more reluctant to come outside to
investigate the noise made by the nitro-glycerin as it blew a safe.
They would usually cut telephone lines before entering a bank to
rob it. Two of the brothers would stand guard with shotguns to hold
off any courageous citizens that wished to stop them. However, the
gang never killed anyone.
The gang robbed banks in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma,
Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado, North Dakota, Missouri, Illinois,
Wisconsin and Canada. They are to this day suspected of having robbed
banks in Washington and Oregon, but it has never been proven.
In 1921, the brothers robbed mail cars in Bells, Texas
and Bloomberg, Texas, loading their ill-gotten profit into their
Studebaker Special Six, their preferred automobile. During this
period, they robbed banks in the Texas cities of San Antonio, San
Marcos, Boerne and Pearsall. They robbed banks in Gallatin, Missouri,
Lafayette, Colorado, Tab, Indiana and Spencer, Indiana. In Manitoba,
they robbed banks in Melita and Moosomin. They robbed a bank in
Toronto and an Illinois Central train in Toronto and a train in
St. Joe, Missouri. It is reported that they stole over 200,000 dollars
in cash and bonds from these robberies.
on Page 2