Ben Boyd: Counterfeiter
Fulton Journal: October 29, 1875
NABBED AT LAST
A Noted Counterfeiter and his Lady Arrested in Fulton,
and More of the Gang in Centralia.
On or about the 25th of September a man giving his name as B. Wilson arrived in this city on the steamer Diamond Jo, of the Diamond Jo Line, from LeClaire, a town about twenty miles down the river. He brought with him four boxes of household goods, two mattresses, one beadstead, a bundle of carpet, a bundle of pipe, a sewing machine, stove and six chairs. Nothing unusual, the reader will say, about these goods, if the man was a housekeeper. Certainly not, simply considered as a housekeeper’s outfit, but it will be seen further on in this article that there was something unusual in the boxes at least. When he came to sign the receipt for the goods at Startzman’s Warehouse his hurry to get them away was so great as to attract the attention of Mr. Chas. B. Startzman, the clerk, who asked him if he was just moving into town, to which he replied that he was, and that he had rented a house of Dr. Reed. He further said that he would remain in town during the winter, looking for a farm, as he desired to purchase one in the vicinity, but when told that there were a couple of men in the office having farms for sale, replied that he had no time to talk farms then. He was plainly dressed, but his heavy gold watch chain, and an abundance of gold rings, together with his general personal appearance denoted him to be something else than a farmer.
His goods were removed to the old Wm. Kitchen house, now owned by Dr. Reed, on Prairie street and shortely afterwards a woman, said to be his wife, and a second man, arrived, and the three appearently settled down to housekeeping. They had hardly got their stove in order however, as it was noticed, before a green curtain was placed at each window, and from that time until Friday of last week, these curtains were always down. This did not create any particular notice at first, but as days went by the same thing continued it began to excite remark. The men were very seldom seen out of doors, the woman doing most of the trading and marketing. One or two of the ladies in the neighborhood, we are informed, paid friendly calls, but their advances were evidently not well received, and were consequently discontinued. The man who rented the house of Dr. Reed gave his names as D.F. Wilson, and told the Doctor at the time that his family consisted of himself and wife, and an invalid man. He wanted the house only until Spring when he intended to buy a farm and settle down upon it. On Thursday forenoon of last week a month’s rent was paid, but by a different man than the one who originally hired the house. On the afternoon of that day United States Detective P.P. Tyrrell, and two other officers called at the house quite unexpectedly to the inmates upon an errand of importance to the Government, and after a rather unceremoneous introduction Mr. Benjamin Boyd, alias Boynton, alias B. Wilson, alias D.F. Wilson, and his wife Almirinda were arrested as counterfeiters, the second man and the one probably who paid the rent to Dr. Reed, escaping. The man wanted, however was secured and when taken was in the act of completing a $20 bill. As soon as the parties were arrested the Detectives commenced searching for plates and other apparatus for counterfeiting and for such qualities of the “queer” as had been stricken off which the house afforded. As near as we can learn, completed plates of $100 and $1000 bills were found, and about $7,000 of counterfeit money. The plates showed evidence of the highest skill in engraving, and the money, partly $100 greenbacks and the balance notes of several National Banks, so well executed as to deceive the best experts. At 4 o’clock the same afternoon, the officers took their prisoners, and the plates and bogus money, to the Western Union Depot, and secured passage for Springfield, supposing then that Fulton was in the Middle District of Illinois, and that the prisoners would have to be taken before the U.S. Commissioner at that City. On arriving at the depot, Boyd telegraphed to a confrere “Bob is dead,” a way these fellows have undoubtedly of informing each other when they are arrested.
Boyd gave his age to the officers as 41, and his wife’s 30. The latter is a sister of the notorious Pete McCartney, a gentleman of large ability in the counterfeiting line, but the officers state that Boyd’s steel plates show finer work than those of McCartney’s ever did. Boyd, it is said, has been an engraver from his youth up, and stands now second to none in the art. It will therefore be seen that his capture is one of great importance. He is an old offender, and was pardoned out of the Illinois Penitentiary by Gov. Palmer in 1872, but has been steadily at work on the queer since. The house selected by him for his operations in this city was well adapted for the purpose, being isolated, and the rooms in the second story affording excellent opportunity for quiet work. Finding that Fulton was in the Northern District of Illinois, Detective Tyrrell by order of his chief, Washburn, transferred them to Chicago where they are at present awaiting action by the United States authorities.
On the same day that Boyd and his lady were arrested here, Elmer Washburn, Chief of the United States Secret Service, with some officers connected with his department, succeeded in arresting at Centralia, a Mr. and Mrs. Stautfelt, alias Statlaw and a Mrs. Carroll, alias Driggs, also engaged in the business of counterfeiting, and with whom it appears Boyd was connected. Two more of the party were afterwards arrested a little out of Centralia, who proved to be Carroll, alias Driggs, and his wife’s brother. When captured, Carroll had between $200 and $300 counterfeit money on his person. He is an old offender, and is believed to be the party who, a short time ago, published and uttered the counterfeits on the Traders’ National Bank of Chicago, the Paxton National Bank, Canton National Bank, First National Bank of Aurora, and the First National Bank of Peru. The premises at Centralia were searched and a press, paper, numbering machine, type, and a complete outfit for counterfeiting found. The engraved plates found among this lot were the handiwork of Boyd. Indeed, it appears that Boyd was the director general or head center of the whole gang and that it was his intention to establish his headquarters in Fulton. On Friday last the officers continued their search in and around Centralia, and were rewarded by unearthing six boxes of the queer in the woods about eight miles from that place, aggregating about $150,000 in fifty cent fractional currency and $5 national banknotes on the banks above named, and $1,000 in fifty dollar national bank notes. The fractional currency had the Stanton and Dexter heads, but was finished on one side only, and printed on regular fiber paper. Two rolls of bank note paper were also found. Warrants for other parties have been taken out, as it is thought the ramifications of the gang extend throughout the State.
The detectives have shown great skill in the manner in which they have worked up the case, and the public congratulate them on their success in capturing the noted offenders. Had not this been done, it is but reasonable to suppose that this section of the West would have been flooded with counterfeit money during the winter.