On December 29, 1914, Willis robbed his first train, at age 25. He had just been released from serving time in prison and met up with an old friend, Red Johnson. The two had gone to Uvalde and while there had broken into a hardware store to steal some Winchester 30-30s and ammunition for a pistol Willis was carrying. They decided to go to Cline, a small settlement west of Uvalde, by foot the day after Christmas with the intent of robbing the Southern Pacific Number 9 passenger train that passed through the station around midnight.
In his last interview in 1979, he described his first train robbery:
“Just after Christmas, me and Red Johnson set off for Cline (Texas) by foot. I knowed the Number 9 train came in there about midnight and took on water. So I told Red, ‘Let’s rob that train tonight.’
“That night we went … Read More