The Wooden Ice Mallet that Killed Ben Kilpatrick, with Photograph and Wells Fargo Archive
a) Wood Ice Mallet used by Wells Fargo Express messenger David A. Trousdale to kill the famed Wild Bunch gang outlaw Ben (“The Tall Texan”) Kilpatrick during the attempted robbery of Southern Pacific Railroad Train (Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railway) on March 12, 1910.
b) The famous postmortem photograph (mounted) of bandits Ben Kilpatrick and Ole Hobeck with messenger Trousdale holding up Kilpatrick's body. Taken at Sanderson, Texas. Unmarked photographer’s card. 7" x 5", mounted to 8 ½” x 6 ½”.
c) Wells Fargo & Co. Express Album or Folio containing original documents related to the robbery and the mallet. Compiled and preserved by Fred J. Dodge and Gerrit A. Taft. An entire archive of original ephemera, including telegraphs, signed statements, newspaper clippings, correspondence, waybills and more.
G.A. Taft was General Superintendent of Wells Fargo & Company Express, and Fred Dodge was a Captain for the Company at the time of the robbery.
From the Robert G. McCubbin Collection
From Trousdale’s official signed account of events:
“I thought if there was any chance for me to get the advantage of him, it would be by taking him back through my car, where I could find some means of “Turning the tables” on him. We passed through the combination car, and I opened two or three packages of express, and he took his knife and cut one telescope grip open. He took out a Mexican hat and said there was nothing in the baggage that he wanted. I told him that I was not getting fighting wages and did not care how much he took out. In this way I gained his confidence and he quit treating me as roughly as he had been. Before this, he would jab me with his rifle and command me around in a boisterous manner. When we passed by a stack of oysters, I had an empty packer standing in about the center of the car, and the robber and I had to pass between the oysters and packer, and this crowded me close to the oysters, and as we passed, I picked up the ice mallet which was lying on them. I placed it behind my overcoat so that he could not see it and got him away from the door and showed him a package which was going to Sanderson, and told him that that package was worth more than all he had gotten, I thought. He rested his rifle against his leg and started to pick up the package in his right hand. While he was in this position I saw my chance, and so the first blow I struck him was at the base of the skull, unjointing his head from his neck. Then I struck him two more blows in the top the head after he had fallen, and knocked his brains out the third blow.”
Lot 632, Brian Lebel's Old West Auction - January 25-26, 2019. Mesa, AZ.