Thursday, January 19, 2012


"upper central incisors have gold inlays" 3 x 3 inches, acrylic on photopaper.

This is Norris H. Pyron, arrested in Los Angeles for conterfeiting.

Starting backwards.

Did you ever think you discovered something only later to find that your "original" idea is not original at all? It happens all the time: independent thinking shared.

I started researching these prison photos and was looking for a story, maybe something no one had heard of before. I found Roy Gardner. I looked in I found he was a notorious train robber from the early 1900s and a tricky escape artist. I started reading and downloading articles. There was a connection between him and some of the other photos that I had seen. Hmmmm, a very interesting thread was forming.

Little did I know that if I had only googled him in the first place that I would have come up with a lot of information, all condensed, without having to have spent hours reading old papers. Oh, I am not complaining, mind you, I love doing all that research. Also, it gave me a chance to see how the American press was covering other stories, like Irish Independence in the 1920s.

I decided that some of the info I found was worth repeating. So here is part one of four in this series, through their images, of the connection between a counterfeiter, a train robber and two rapists: Norris H. Pyron, Roy Gardner, Lawardius Borgart and Evert Impyn, respectively, McNeil Island prisoners numbered 3800, 3806, 3824 and 3825.

"Stick up your hands."

June 1921. Gardner and Pyron were not associates. Gardner was arrested for train robbing (he was called a "mail bandit" according to the press). He was apparently very good at it, this was not his first arrest, nor his first escape. Pyron was a counterfeiter, a quiet man, non-violent. Their connection was that they were being transported to McNeil Island at the same time under the supervision of US Marshal Thomas F. Mulhall and Federal Guard D. W. Rinckle. In the berth, on the train, Pyron was shackled. Gardner asked to wash his face, and as he came up from the basin he pulled a gun and demanded "Stick up your hands." The officials felt they had no choice but to surrender their guns and Pyron and Gardner hand-cuffed and shackled their guards. Gardener took their money. "What are we going to get breakfast with?" was the concern of Mulhall, so Gardner left them $5 before he and Pyron bailed out the window in Castle Rock, Washington. The following day Pyron was back in custody. "I didn't want to escape," he was quoted as saying. Gardner was still at large.

Culled from the front pages of The Ogden Standard Examiner, The Joplin Globe and The Oakland Tribune, to name a few.

To be continued...

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