Post Office Robbed

Milton circa 1870-1880

Dr. C. W. Thomas

Sheriff Joe Campbell

the bullet photo

Bullet and note from doctor.

The following stories are to go with the four photos above: The oldest known photo of Milton taken around 1870-1880, Sheriff Joe Campbell, Dr. C. W. Thomas and the bullet photo showing the hand written note by the doctor.—-D. Biggs

Dr. C.W. Thomas practiced medicine in Milton from 1894 until 1934. In 1988 the grandson of Dr. Thomas, Wilfred Thomas, donated all of his grandfather’s medical instruments, leather satchels and other items that were in use in the medical field of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. He also donated all of the Doctor’s journals in which he had entered every appointment and visit during his 40 year career. As all of these items were being unpacked and cataloged, there was a small wad of paper wrapped around a hard object. The paper had been wrapped around a spent bullet and Dr. Thomas had written the following on the small scrap of paper:

Milton, Oregon 1897 December 2, 8:15 am
Taken from the left forearm just below the elbow.
Man’s name John Warren. Shot by Joe Campbell in
alley in back of the Post Office. Had been robbing the
Post Office.
C.W. Thomas, M.D.

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The following article appeared in the December 3, 1897 issue of the Milton Eagle


The Burglar Wounded and Captured by Marshall Campbell and Special Officer Dykes. The Arrest Due to Mrs. E. L. Smalley Who was Awakened by the Noise in the Store

The post office store in this city belonging to Mr. Fletcher E. Wilcox, the postmaster, was entered by a lone burglar at 3 o’clock Thursday morning. The housebreaker secured access to the building by prying up a rear window.

Mr and Mrs. E. L. Smalley have their living apartments in the rooms above the post office and the lady was awakened by the noise made by the burglar. She awoke her husband and he in turn woke Mr. Alex Manela, who also rooms in the second story of the post office building and together the two men stole noiselessly down the stairs and aroused Marshall Campbell and Mr. James Dykes, both of whom immediately repaired to the ally back of the post office to arrest the villain if possible. In the meantime Messrs. Smalley and Manela, both armed with revolvers were posted on the street in front of the store, so as to command a clear view of the door to prevent the robber’s escape in that direction. Marshall Campbell and Officer Dykes had but a moment to wait after gaining their point of vantage back of the store, for they saw their man crawling out of the back window upon their arrival. Marshall Campbell commanded him to stop and surrender, but instead of command the fellow made a break for liberty. Simultaneously two shots rang out upon the stillness of the night and then the officers heard the robber pleading for mercy and telling them that he was shot.

The officers took their man to the drug store of EL Smalley and dispatched a messenger for Dr. Thomas, who dressed the wound, the bullet from Marshall Campbell’s pistol having struck the robber’s left arm near the elbow, lodging on the inside of the arm, just under the skin. The ball was extracted and the wound properly dressed by the doctor.

When captured the burglar had in his possession cutlery, etc., taken from the post office store, of the value of $28.30. No post office funds were secured. He attempted to force the cash till of the department, but the hardwood of which it was constructed resisted his efforts and he directed his attention to the show-cases containing pocket cutlery and razors.

The burglar is a medium sized man of 55 years of age and gives his name as John Warren. He claims to have been recently employed as a section hand on the O. S. L, near Mountain Home, Idaho. He talked freely concerning his crime to an EAGLE reporter yesterday morning while lying on a pallet in the Hotel Milton sample room. When asked his motive for breaking into the post office he replied that he was crazy as a result of excessive dissipation at Pendleton during the past week. He claims to have arrived in the city Wednesday afternoon. This is probably true as late in the evening of that day he applied to Mr. Chas. McKenzie, of the city livery stable for permission to sleep in the barn and his request was granted. Warren also told the reporter that he visited this city on one occasion upwards of a year ago and remained several days. This statement is also corroborated by persons here who conversed with him at that time.

The prisoner is a hard-featured individual and bears the appearance of being a recent inmate of a penitentiary. His clothing, too, which is new, is the kind usually furnished to convicts by the state upon their release. Warren claims to have a brother in Virginia City, Nevada.

Submitted by Diane Biggs, Director
Frazier Farmstead Museum

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