Skullduggery, Secrets, and Murders
The 1894 Wells Fargo Scam That Backfired
Published by: Texas Tech University Press
Imprint: Texas Tech University Press
Sales Date: April 2015
- Published: April 2015
- Published: April 2020
In 1894, George Isaacs, the penniless black sheep of his family, was running with the worst of the outlaws in the Oklahoma Territory. There, a get-rich-quick scheme that seemed foolproof was hatched up. The plan was for George to present money packets falsely purporting to contain $25,000 in cash to the Wells Fargo office in Kansas City. Wells Fargo was to ship the packets via the Santa Fe railroad to George at Canadian, Texas, where George’s cronies would then rob the depot office and steal the phony money packets, thus allowing George Isaacs to sue Wells Fargo for his lost fortune. The plan backfired when the sheriff was on hand when the train arrived. The bandits killed the sheriff but then panicked and raced back to the Territory without grabbing the bogus packets. Wells Fargo sent an undercover agent to investigate, but the outlaws discovered him, and the agent was assassinated. The two murders led to eight trials, but only one man, George Isaacs, was ever convicted—and even he managed to beat a life sentence. One question lingered: was George truly behind the scam? The identities of the masterminds behind the foiled plot have remained a mystery for more than a hundred years. With his usual rough-and-tumble tenacity, Bill Neal undertakes the investigation of these two cold-case murders.