Over the weekend, I purchased an old mugshot, dated January 1900. I had no idea who George Seymour was when I bought it and found, to my surprise, he was once one of the most famous criminals in the country.

If we begin with his arrest in Pittsburg in January 1900, we can assume this was a low point for Seymour. It was barely three weeks into a new century, and he was already busted.

Detective William Elmore spotted the 27-year-old Seymour and another man John Bates as they were riding on a Herron Avenue streetcar in Pittsburg, PA. Though neither of the men lived in Pennsylvania, Seymour and Bates were well-known to Detective Elmore as a professional thieves.

A streetcar in 1900

George Seymour was a Chicago resident and claimed to be a saloonkeeper, it would be closer to the truth to say he was a career criminal. Seymour liked to work with a partner or even a team, and he usually selected locations far from home. John Bates was from Columbus, Ohio. Like Seymour, he had a long record of petty crimes. Bates had been arrested in New York City the year before, while using the alias John Barnard.

Detective Elmore recognized Seymour and Bates and deduced they had a racket in Pittsburg. He suspected they were probably riding on the streetcar with the intention of robbing other passengers. Seymour was using an alias (George Cissna) but Detective Elmore was not fooled.

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