The Round Rock Outlaw: Who Was Sam Bass

Sam Bass Wanted Poster

We’re not just the best Round Rock moving company, we’re also fans of history and rarely has another person shook up the Round Rock area like Sam Bass The Outlaw. After trying his hand at a number of legitimate businesses and failing at them all, Sam Bass turned to a life of crime. He started his career in crime by pulling off a number of smaller robberies (never netting more than $500 a robbery) until he and his gang pulled off one of the biggest train robberies in history which came to be known as the Union Pacific Big Springs Robbery in which Sam Bass and his gang netted over $60,000 in cold hard cash.

Sam Bass Early Years

Photo of Sam Bass The Round Rock Outlaw in the flesh

Sam Bass was such an influential Round Rock native that he had a song named after him, the Ballad of Sam Bass. Bass was born on a farm that was located about 2 miles from Mitchell, Indiana. Bass was orphaned as a child and him and his brother and sisters moved to a farm that was nearby with their uncle and his 9 children. Growing up Sam had no formal education and made the decision to go out on his own as soon as he could. He floated down the Mississippi River all the way to Rosedale where Bass worked for a year as a Mill Hand. It was during this time that Sam Bass began to be infatuated with pistols and card playing, the staples of the current day outlaw. In a funny twist of fate, Bass worked as a sheriffs deputy and his boss was Sheriff W. F. Eagan, the same Sheriff who would later search for the outlaw. The irony is that this very training helped him allude law enforcement many years later.

Moving With Sam and The Gang

Jim Murphy and Sam Bass Gang Photo Jim Murphy pictured with the Sam Bass Gang

Sam later moved to Denton Texas where he would meet many of the people that would eventually form his gang. Bass was especially remembered for his thriftiness, saving just about everything he made and wasting nothing. Bass ended up buying a race horse that was very fast and it soon started earning him money. The earnings were so great it allowed him to quit his job with The Sheriff and after that Sam Bass never held a long term job and was able to live off his gambling earnings.

Sam then met a man by the name of Joel Collins and decided to start a business running cattle from the Austin and San Antonio areas up to northern cattle markets. The two eventually settled in Nebraska for a short period, before selling their business to take up gold prospecting in the Black Hills. However the venture was unsuccessful and ended up leaving the pair broke and that’s when they started to create a plan for one of the biggest train heists in history..

The Union Pacific Big Springs Robbery

Union Pacific Big Springs Robbery Union Pacific Big Springs Robbery

After forming his gang that he would use for one of the biggest train robberies in history, Sam Bass began to role play the robbery. The crew he used consisted of himself, Joel Collins, Jack Davis, Tom Nixon, Bill Heffridge and Jim Berry. Under the cover of night, The Black Hills Bandits, as they would come to be known, committed the robbery and ended up making off with over $60,000 in cold hard cash (which by today’s standards would be like just under a million dollars).

Betrayal of ‘Judas’ Jim Murphy

'Judas' Jim Murphy Sam always knew he would be the first to turncoat!

Sam Bass was effectively able to elude law enforcement until a member of his own gang, ‘Judas’ Jim Murphy, ended up ratting Bass out. The Texas Rangers seized Murphy’s father, who was very ill at the time, and used him as a bargaining chip for obtaining Murphy’s cooperation. He ended up caving under the pressure and turned informant, setting up Sam Bass and his gang for what would be their final downfall.

The Making Of A Round Rock Outlaw