Friday, May 7, 2010

Michigan Outlaw Loot

Have you ever been to Michigan, eh? Do ya like lookin’ for outlaw loot? Is a million dollars of post Civil War era money enough to peak your interest?

If so, then you might want to do a little extra research on John Smalley of Michigan. Mr. Smalley was Michigan’s most infamous train robber. He is said to have accumulated over one million dollars of stolen money from the many robberies he committed.

It is said that John Smalley never went anywhere without a good chunk of change on his person. Can you blame the guy? He worked hard so he liked to play hard and we all know that playing hard can be pretty expensive!

When John Smalley died he didn’t have a penny on him and it was thought that before he died he hid what money he did have on him so it couldn’t be found. You’re probably wondering how he would know when he was going to die and when he should hide his money, huh?

In 1895 John Smalley was at the home of his girlfriend, Cora Brown, who lived in Mc Bain, Michigan when he was surrounded by a posse. The posse asked him several times, probably really nicely, to come out of the house and surrender but Mr. Smalley declined, probably very politely don‘t you think? Well, maybe not so much. When Smalley chose to ignore the request to surrender the posse shot the house and John Smalley full of holes.

At the time of his death he girlfriend was not in the house and nobody bothered to search for any money.

Besides his girlfriend’s house in Missaukee County, John Smalley also spent some time at a cabin in Clare County that belonged to the outlaw‘s father.

David Smalley, John’s father, built a log cabin five miles northeast of Clare, Michigan on the Colonville Road just after the Civil War. John Smalley was known to use this cabin as a hideout on many occasions and it is thought that he hid the majority of the money he didn’t spend somewhere around that cabin.

Supposedly none of the stolen money has ever been found.

As a side note, the Colonville Road used to lead to Colonville which is now a ghost town so you might even get in a little coin shooting or relic hunting while you are there.


Anonymous said...

David Smalley was not his father but his brother. They were not close and John did not hide out at Colonville. There is no treasure there because the loot was recovered by the railroad agents in 1896.

Anonymous said...

Rev. Leonard W. Newman carefully dismantled the log house on Colonville Rd.about about 1982. He used most of the timbers, windows, etc. to build a log home on his property on Stark Rd. in Midland County. We also heard that the train robber hit out in the Colonville cabin, but we did not find any money there.

jubileef44 said...

I have a history book on McBain Michigan and the story is printed there. And that at the time of his death they put him on the front door of the home where he had been shot. The house is still there in McBain.

Scott Blue said...

My Great Grandfather had a farm near Brinton and Smalley visited there often...thru family stories I have heard where some loot may be but there is alot of land to check out but I am working on it...Smalley was killed in the same house in McBain where my great grandparents were married.

lornado said...

Scott Blue, were your Great Grandparents Letson's or Hamilton's by chance?

lornado said...

Were your Grandparents Lessons or Hamilton's by chance?

Anonymous said...

My Great Grandparents were Bowens lornado
You can email

Anonymous said...

My Grandparents were Bowens lornado