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Fifty Years a Detective 35 Real Detective Stories

Fifty Years a Detective
35 Real Detective Stories
Title: Fifty Years a Detective 35 Real Detective Stories
Release Date: 2018-12-31
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Fifty Years a Detective, by Thomas Furlong

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Title: Fifty Years a Detective

35 Real Detective Stories

Author: Thomas Furlong

Release Date: December 31, 2018 [eBook #58576]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1



E-text prepared by Martin Pettit
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
Internet Archive


Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive. See https://archive.org/details/fiftyyearsadetec00furl


Transcriber's Note:
The Table of Contents is located at the end.






Copyright, 1912, by Thomas Furlong.

[Pg 1]




Late Chief of the Secret Service of the Missouri Pacific Rail-
way,known as the Gould System; the Allegheny
Valley Railway of Pennsylvania,
and first Chief of Police of
Oil City, Pa.


Hitherto unpublished facts connected with some of Mr. Fur-
long'sgreatest cases—Other interesting incidents of his
long and strenuous career which really began on
September 14, 1862, when he was detailed
from his company, (Co. G., 1st Penn-
sylvaniaRifles, better known
as the Pennsylvania Buck-
tails)for special


For sale by all reputable newsdealers, or can
be obtained by addressing

C. E. BARNETT, Chemical Building,
St. Louis, Mo.

Post Office Box 575   Price, $1.50

[Pg 2]



[Pg 3]


This book was not published for the purpose of displaying any literaryability I may possess, as I have never aspired to win fame by thewielding of a pen. Within its pages, however, I have attempted, in myown way and in my own manner, to make clear to the reader the inside orhitherto unpublished facts about some of the big cases I have handledduring the fifty years I have made the prevention of crime and thetracking and punishment of criminals my profession. How well I havesucceeded, I will leave it to the reader to judge.

I am today, I believe, the oldest detective, in point of continuousservice, in this or any other country. During my long career I havehandled many important cases, of which the reading public knows nothingabout, for the reason that the men, or corporations, by whom I wasemployed, did not hire me for the purpose of furnishing newspapers withthe material with which to amuse or entertain their readers. Withinthese pages I tell how the work was done, and how the clues were foundand put together. On the other hand, many cases referred to in this bookhave received much newspaper publicity, but in these articles thewriters were not permitted to tell all the inside facts—how the workwas really accomplished. These facts are made public for the first time.

In a few instances I have changed, or veiled, the names of the culpritsabout whom the articles were written. For doing this I do not propose toapologize, however. These men are alive today and are leading uprightlives. They[Pg 4] have paid the penalty demanded by the law and society, andI cannot see where it would do any good to again publish their earlydigressions to the world. I have no disposition to willfully malign anyone, and names are only used in cases in which the facts are supportedby documents in the archives of the courts of this country, Canada andMexico, the scenes of my greatest activity.

In selecting material for this book I have only used cases which wereout of the ordinary, or in the unraveling of which some original orunique detective work was done. No attempt has been made to enlarge onthe facts at hand. The book is just a simple narration of real detectivework done on real cases handled by me—no attempt having been made tocolor them as an experienced writer would do, or is done to the work orthe deductions of the phantom detectives by the writers of fiction.

Hoping that the book will serve the purpose for which it is issued I am,

Yours truly, 

[Pg 5]



All professions have their parasites and crooks. Among the lawyers youwill find men who will commit a felony for a few paltry dollars to cleara client of a charge of petty larceny—providing he does not think thereis a chance of his being caught.

Among the doctors you will find men (and they have diplomas with largerred seals on them than has the commission of the President of the UnitedStates) who make a specialty of committing illegal operations, and doingother things that are not considered either lawful or ethical.

Among bankers you will find men who every day violate both the laws ofthe state and the government—high finance, they call it.

The general public, however, knows and freely admits there are honest,upright, truthful lawyers, doctors and bankers, and highly honor each ofthese professions.

But the aforesaid general public is not so charitable to detectives. Thepettifogging lawyers and irresponsible penny liners of the press haveeducated it up to believing that all detectives are thieves, thugs andblack guards, just because there are some men in the business who makethe peddling of family secrets and the working up of evidence in divorcecases a specialty. I could never quite understand why this state ofaffairs should be true, for I[Pg 6] know many men of as good moral characterand just as honest and upright in the detective business as I have foundin any of the other professions.

Detectives are born, not made—that is the successful ones—just as arethe successful lawyers or doctors or mechanics or merchants. Educationdoes not always make a man a success in his chosen profession orcalling. Unless he really possesses the peculiar make-up, or fitness,for what he chooses to make his life work, he will never reach the topround of the ladder of fame. Education, however, will help develop thesenecessary qualities, but that is all.

In addition to all these qualifications there are others which thedetective must possess.

He must be scrupulously honest at all times, with himself and with thosewith whom he has dealings.

He must be sober, truthful and reliable, and, in addition, at all timesand under all circumstances, a gentleman.

Tenacity and nerve are other valuable assets. A lazy man, or a coward,has no business in the ranks. And he must at all times be firm.

To my mind, a real detective should possess all the elements within hisgeneral make-up, which would be necessary to make him a success at anyof the leading professions. He should possess the keen perceptiveabilities of a trained or successful journalist, be able to read betweenthe lines, as it were, or recognize the value of a clue, as thejournalist does the value of a bit of news. He must be well posted onthe law, especially that part pertaining to criminals. He must have theforesight and judgment of the successful merchant or tradesman. He mustbe sympathetic and just to the same degree as is the beloved pastor of alarge congregation. And he must be an actor,[Pg 7] one of the versatile kindof actors, who can play any kind of a part or assume any characterwithout month's of rehearsing. He should at all times act natural, evenwhile assuming a character, for if he overdoes the part he assumes, itis more than likely to attract unusual attention to him, which a realdetective should avoid at all times.

Remember another thing: All crimes, nine hundred and ninety-nine out ofevery thousand, have a motive. True, these motives are often veiled andare not discernable at a mere glance. You must be a good diagnosticianto handle these veiled cases—to diagnose them, as it were, as a learnedphysician diagnoses his case when called to the bedside of a very sickpatient—find the cause. When you have found the motive for a crime, thebalance of the work is usually easy.

There is one more phase of the detective business that I want to referto briefly. Many men believe they were created or born for the expresspurpose of becoming detectors of crime. They believe they have missedtheir calling—it makes no difference by what means they are making aliving now—because they have not been "called" into the detectivebusiness and many of them actually put in all their leisure time tryingto "catch on" to a job, either in some municipal department or with someprivate agency. The truth is, not one in ten thousand of these men would"make good" if the opportunity to do so was offered them.

The chief of a detective agency does not go among these men who arelaboring under the delusion that they have been "called," when he wantsmen to do real detective work. He selects his recruits from amongacquaintances in whom he has recognized the talents necessary for themaking of good thief-catchers or investigators. These are[Pg 8] found in allprofessions and trades. Among the men in my employ can be found men whoare capable of running the mechanical end of almost any kind ofbusiness, from a boiler shop to a composing room in a large printinghouse, or who could easily find, because of their qualifications, a goodjob in any large commercial or mercantile establishment.

In conclusion, I will add that after the natural qualifications for agood detective have developed themselves, it takes more hard work andstudy to reach the pinnacle of fame than other professions require, andthe remuneration is a great deal less, taking into consideration thehazardousness of the business.

[Pg 9]



The Preller murder occurred in the summer of 1885, in one of the roomsof the Southern Hotel, St. Louis, Mo. Clarence Preller was a youngEnglishman, as was also his slayer, Hugh M. Brookes. The discovery ofthe body, the apprehension of the murderer, his trial and execution,attracted the attention of the civilized world. The true story of theconviction of the perpetrator of this foul crime has never before been published.

Hugh M. Brookes was a native of Hyde Park, a suburb of London, England.His father and mother were respectable people, and school teachers byprofessions. The young man was about twenty-five or six years of agewhen he committed this crime. He had never done anything but go toschool, consequently was well educated. The last school he attended wasa law school. He ran away from this institution, after stealing a lot ofproperty that belonged to fellow students. The plunder he securedconsisted mostly of ornaments and bric-a-brac, which he pawned atLiverpool, England, to secure enough money with which to purchase afirst-class ticket to Boston, Mass. After boarding the vessel he met andformed the acquaintance of Clarence Preller.

Preller was a trusted employee of a large export establishment ofLondon. His duties required him to travel[Pg 10] nearly all over the world,or, at least, to visit the principal cities of the world. He was a youngman, being about thirty years of

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