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A Texas Jack of Thirteen

In the 90s, violent youths were blamed on rap music and Marilyn Manson. In the mid-1960s, the FBI investigated the song Louie Louie by The Kingsmen, blamed for the actions of a generation. In the 1870s, violent acts by young men were blamed on Texas Jack, Buffalo Bill, and other legendary western plainsmen. We've talked before about Jesse Pomeroy, the young Boston murderer, whose spree of killings was blamed on Texas Jack dime novels. Here is another story of a violent and wayward young man whose actions were attributed to the influence of Texas Jack.


From the New York World, June 5, 1878.

The True and Veracious Chronicle of a Boy Highwayman and Would-Be Murderer.

Adolph Baldmeider, a dime novel expert, thirteen years old, was arraigned in general sessions yesterday to answer for his latest crime. He was born in Mott Haven and went to school there, doing well at school. When his mother married a second time he went to live with an aunt in Harlem. He saved $73.

Six months ago he engaged for passage for Texas in the City of Houston, paying $60 for a first-class berth. From Galveston, he went to Houston. There he met two other lads of the same variety. They called themselves "Yankee Bill" and "Shorty," and he became "Texas Jack." They armed themselves with pistols and bowie-knives and followed a precarious life as highwaymen.

The steamer City of Houston. It sank in the Frying Pan Shoals off of North Carolina in October of 1878.

Baldsmeider says he made $500. He came home three months ago with $300 in cash, but was coldly received by his mother and engaged a room in a hotel at the corner of the Bowery and Delancey street. He visited gambling dens in the Bowery but does not believe a highwayman ought to get drunk. In due time, however, he ran through his $300 and was compelled to go to work.

He obtained employment in Leitz's restaurant, at the corner of Broad and Beaver streets, but the wages were only $8 a month, and he determined to quit work and return again to Texas. He had only $16. He gave up his room in the Bowery and established himself in a cave near Macomb's Dam in Harlem. Next, he sought two of his school companions, John Ferdinand Fry and John Fritz Wagner, and took them into his confidence till they also yearned to deserve hanging.

They took a dime novel oath, with daggers in their hands, to be true to each other, and decided to get money to go to Texas with a robbery. After some pistol practice on the morning of Sunday, the 18th of May, they went to Stebens lane, near One hundred and seventy-first street, which is well sheltered by trees, and there determined to rob the first likely man who passed.

They robbed—or rather Adolph did while the others sat on a fence—Thomas Lynn. Adolph shot him, but a thick pocket-book in his breast pocket stopped the ball. He fired twice more and shot Mr. Lynn in the thigh. He was about to search his victim, when he heard footsteps and ran away.

On Decoration Day he again met Fry and Wagner, and they went on another expedition, armed with clubs and pistols. There were met at Central Bridge by Officer H.B. Steers, who arrested Fry and Adolph. On the way to the station house, Adolph admitted having been the would-be assassin of Lynn, and it was on that charge that he was arraigned in general sessions. He said he had intended to kill Lynn, who had made him mad by picking up a stone to throw at him.

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