June 22, 2017

Edwin B. Trafton - Will Someone Please Catch this Man

Part 5 of Edwin Trafton series by Zoe Ann Stoltz, Reference Historian


After the Yellowstone stagecoach robberies, Trafton spent time with his in-laws and took Minnie to Salt Lake City where he stole a new touring car. But government officials were following his trail, conducting interviews, and compiling evidence. Department of Justice Special Agent James Melrose was ultimately responsible for the arrest. Melrose followed up on rumors of the hold up of Mr. Martinez, traced the unusual horse tracks back to Trafton, and connected jewelry from the robbery to Trafton. An affidavit submitted by Minnie stating her husband had admitted to the robbery and that she later found jewelry in her husband’s possessions was the final nail in the coffin.  Trafton was taken into custody May 1915. [1]

The evidence against Edwin during the December 1915 trial in Cheyenne was overwhelming. Not only did Melrose present his carefully compiled evidence, but several of Trafton’s victims, who had sat for several hours and witnessed him threaten scores of fellow tourists, identified him. The prosecution was so confident that the photographs taken by Hammond and Squire were not even shown. Following the inevitable guilty verdict, he was sentenced to five years at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. [2]
The Livingston Enterprise.
December 14, 1915

[1] “Yellowstone Park Bandit Arrested,” Livingston Enterprise, 25 May 1915, pg. 8. [2] "Yellowstone Park Bandit Arrested,” Livingston Enterprise, 25 May 1915 and “Man 63 Years Old Found Guilty of Sensational Yellowstone Hold-up,” The Kemmerer Republican, 10 December 1915; “Five Years in Pen for Trafton,” Livingston Enterprise, 14 December 1915, pg. 1.