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1929 Saugus Train Robber Tom Vernon: Mugshots & Prison Records.



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Who was Buffalo Vernon, rodeo star? It wasn't Walter Pringle, Bert Tanner, Richard (Dick) Elvil, Hugh Clark, Walter Bringler, R.P. Verna, Py Summers, Tom Averill or Tom Vernon.

If that sounds like a 9-pack of testosterone, it's not. It's all the same person — all aliases used by the man who derailed a Southern Pacific train and robbed its passengers on Nov. 10, 1929, just after it rounded the bend behind the Baker Ranch Rodeo in Saugus.

The robber would later tell people he was the old-time rodeo star, and he even penned letters as "Buffalo Vernon" — long after the real Buffalo Vernon was dead.

Buffalo Vernon's name was Jess. They would have been about the same age, but they weren't the same guy. (See separate story about the real Buffalo Vernon.)

Thanks to researchers Tricia Lemon Putnam and Lauren Parker, we now know that while Buffalo Vernon was demonstrating bulldogging at the Pendleton Round-Up in September 1910 and winning a $75 purse at Pendleton in September 1911, our future train robber was rotting away in prison, awaiting his release on Dec. 16, 1911.

We'd like to say his name was Tom Averill, but that was a lie, too.


Prison: San Quentin State Prison

Inmate No.: 23238

Name: Bert Tanner

Crime: Grand Larceny

County Sent From: Solano

Sentence: 4 Years

When Received: Dec. 16, 1908

Discharged: Dec. 16, 1911

Nativity: Wyoming

Prison: San Quentin State Prison

Source: Mug Book

Inmate No.: 33527 (changed from 35227)

Name: Tom Vernon

Crime: Grand Larceny

County Sent From: Ventura

Sentence: 1-10 years

When Received: March 4, 1920

Hair: Lt. Brown | Eyes: Lt. Blue | Height: 5'7" | Weight: 155

Prison: San Quentin State Prison

Source: Prison Registers, 1918-1922

Inmate No.: 33527

Name: Tom Vernon

Notation: 2T (Second-time offender)

Alias: Bert Tanner

Notation: Same name used when he was San Quentin Inmate No. 23238, discharged 1917

Crime: Grand Larceny

County Sent From: Ventura

When Received: March 4, 1920

Age: 35 | Occupation: Cattle Man | Nativity: Wyoming

Hair: Lt. Brown | Eyes: Sal. Blue | Height: 5'7" | Complexion: Fair

Prison: San Quentin State Prison

Source: Mug Book 09

Inmate No.: 33527

Name: Tom Vernon

Notation: 2T (Second-time offender)

Alias: Bert Tanner

Crime: Grand Larceny

County Sent From: Ventura

When Received: March 4, 1920

Age: 35 | Occupation: Cattleman | Nativity: Wyoming

Hair: Lt. Brown | Eyes: Sl. Blue | Height: 5'7" | Weight: 155

Marks: Flesh wound, left cheek and back neck; scar, left index finger between first and second joints; 2 scars, left little finger.

Prior: San Quentin Inmate No. 23238 — Discharged Feb. 2, 1919

Transferred to Folsom March 9, 1920 — Folsom Inmate No. 11440

Prison: San Quentin State Prison

Source: Identification Cards

Inmate No.: 33527

Name: Tom Vernon

Notation: 2T (Second-time offender)

Alias: Bert Tanner, Richard & Dick Elvil (variation of Averill?), Hugh Clark, Walter Pringle

Crime: Grand Larceny

County Sent From: Ventura

When Received: March 4, 1920

Color: White | Occupation: Cattleman

Marks: Flesh mole, right cheek and back neck; scar, left index finger between first and second joints; 2 scars, left little finger.

Prior:

As Bert Tanner, San Quentin No. 23238

Transferred to Folsom March 9, 1920

As Hugh Clark, No. 43868, Ohio State Penitentiary, 1915

As Walter Pringle, No. B2681, Eastern State Penitentiary, Penn., 1905

Prison: Folsom State Prison

Inmate No.: 11440

Name: Tom Vernon

Crime: Grand Larceny

County Sent From: Ventura

Sentence: 1-10 Years

When Received: March 9, 1920

Height: 5'7¾" | Hair: Brown | Eyes: Gray | Weight: 157

Prison: Folsom State Prison

Inmate No.: 12751

Name: Tom Vernon

Alias: Walter Bringler, Bert Tanner

Crime: Insufficient funds check

County Sent From: Los Angeles

Sentence: 0-14 Years

When Received: Sept. 29, 1923

Nativity: Wyoming | Occupation: Stockman | Age: 37, DOB 1-28-1886

Height: 5'7¾" | Left Eye Color: Grey | Teeth: Fair | Chin: Round | Shoe size: 7 | Hair: Brown | Complexion: Fair | Weight: 152 | Build: Medium

Marks: 2 vac (scars?) left upper arm; hairy mole on center of neck, back

Priors:

B-2681, Eastern State Penitentiary, Penn.

No. 23238, San Quentin State Prison

No. 43858 Ohio State Penitentiary

No. 11440, Folsom State Prison

Prison: Folsom State Prison

Inmate No.: 16070

Name: Thomas Vernon

Alias: Walter Bringler, Bert Tanner

Crime: Train wrecking and robbery in the first degree; (aggregated charge of) habitual criminal

County Sent From: Los Angeles

Sentence: Life and 5-Life consecutive

When Received: Jan. 10, 1930

Nativity: Wyoming | Occupation: Stockman | Age: 43 in 1930

Height: 5'7¾" | Hair: Auburn | Eyes: Blue | Left shoe size: 7 | Complexion: Fair | Weight: 149 | Build: Slender

Marks: 2 vac (scars?) left upper arm; hairy mole, center neck back

Priors:

No. B-2681, Eastern State Penitentiary, Penn.

No. 43868, Ohio State Prison

No. 23238, San Quentin State Prison

Nos. 11440 and 12751, Folsom State Prison


1929 SAUGUS TRAIN ROBBERY

THE ROBBERY

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Passengers / Earliest Known 11-10-1929

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Daybreak 11-11-1929

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Newsreel Footage

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Loren Ayers x5

THE MANHUNT

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Pollack Story

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LAT 11-11-1929

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Vernon Captured

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Extradition 12-12-1929

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AP 12-19-1929

THE FAKERY

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REAL: Tom Vernon Prison Records

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REAL: Horse Theft 1920

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BOGUS: Tom Vernon Letters 1929-1963

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BOGUS: Tom Vernon's Fake Photo ID 1962

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BOGUS: Vernon's Own Story in 3 Parts

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BOGUS: Cattle Kate Story 12-7-1929

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BOGUS: Vernon Retells Story in 1953

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BOGUS: Sweetwater Incident 1967

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BOGUS Sideshow: Lester F. Mead
'Confessor' 11-1929

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REAL: Buffalo Vernon 1884-1939

THE AFTERMATH

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1957-1958 x3

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Pardon 1964

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Death Cert. 1967

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After the Wreck
No. 5042 x2

• A New Ending (Now Obsolete)


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