The Grafters Club

The Membership


Con Caddigan


What's in a name?


Con Caddigan

Caddigan was a gold brick artist, gambler, showman and swindler who seems to have followed the same start as the Blongers for at least a few years. We can track him to Deadwood in '76, along with Billy Nuttall of the notorious #10 Saloon, Bill Hickok, and perhaps even Joe Blonger, if his own account can be trusted. The jury is still out on Sam and Lou's presence, though they were reportedly there as well.

Next we find Caddigan in Leadville in 1879, in the theater business, as were the Blongers, and Nuttall again. Then Denver in the early Eighties, with Nuttall, Sam and Lou. And finally Albuquerque in 1882.

Upon Sam's dismissal as deputy sheriff and marshal of Albuquerque in July of 1882, Archie Hilton was named acting marshal. A day later, Con Caddigan was made a deputy sheriff by Sheriff Armijo.

Later that year, on a day's notice, Sam was drafted as the Republican candidate for town constable, an elected office which superceded the appointment of a town marshal. Opposing him were Con Caddigan running as a Democrat, and Tony Neis of the Rocky Mountain Detectives as an independent, after losing the Republican nomination to Sam. The tally (incomplete at press time): Caddigan, 990; Neis, 320: Blonger, 130. Oh well.

In December, shortly before the Blongers moved on from Albuquerque, Caddigan was busted — but later acquitted for lack of evidence — for using his position as constable to assist Nuttall and a few others when they swindled a guy out of his last few dollars with the top and bottom scam.

Feeling it best to leave Albuquerque, he took a theater company to Chihuahua, then absconded with the company's money.

He was at one time Town Marshal of Albuquerque, but departed hot-foot from the city in 1883 with an alert vigilance committee close behind, punctuating their warnings never to return with arguments more emphatic than words.

Were the Blongers his associates? Did the Blonger Bros. use their badges to protect the activities of Caddigan et al, and perhaps bail him out after his arrest?


Albuquerque Daily Journal, November 13, 1881

Confidence Crooks.
The Way They Have Been Gulling the Greenies in Albuquerque.
Some of Their Brilliant Schemes for Swindling Their Victims.
Confidence men can be found in all cities of any size the world over. The sharper ones confine themselves to larger eastern cities and work for big game. Those who are not so well up in their profession take the old worn out games of their brethren in the east and come west to practice them on the unsophisticated. Albuquerque is at present well supplied with this class of swindlers, and it would not be amiss, under the circumstances, to give away some of their schemes. All classes of men fall victims to their wiles. The laborer, the business man and gentlemen engaged in their professions, are equally liable to find themselves minus a few dollars by confiding in some assuming gentleman. Of course a game which would make a laboring man give up his money would not work on a business or professional man, and vice versa. Few of those who get bitten ever say anything about it, but profit by their experience, and take good care not to allow it to occur again.
The laboring classes who have been roped in here, generally had what is called the "mill game" worked on them. Some business like, well dressed man will walk up to his victim and inform him that he owns a mill in the mountains near here, and that he wants to hire some help. He offers big inducements and greenie hires out to him. After he has gained the confidence of the man, his accomplice meets him and presents a bill against the mill. The mill owner finds that he has not quite enough cash in his pocket to settle, and confidently turns to his new employee and requests the loan of five or ten dollars for a short time. If the scheme works he takes the money and shakes the victim to go in search of another.
The "rush game" is practiced on business firms. A couple of sharpers rush into a store, make some trivial purchase and throw out a ten dollar bill in payment. They are in a great hurry and want their change as soon as possible. When the merchant or clerk turns to get the change, the bill is picked up by the sharpers, and relaced in their capacious pockets, and then they take the change as it is counted out to them. The storekeeper asks for the bill and both of the sharpers swear point blank that he has already received it, and as the swindlers have possession of the funds, they have the advantage of the argument and Mr. Merchant gets left.
Probably the thinnest swindle of all, which has been successfully worked in this city, is that known to the "profession" as the "mallet game." A carpenter, or an alleged carpenter, enters a store and leaves some tools for safe keeping until he returns or them. Among these is a mallet. After he is gone one of his partners comes in and slyly changes the mallets. Sharper No. 1, with sharper No. 3, come in soon after to get the tools. A glance at them shows that the mallet is not the one he had deposited. He mentions the fact to the proprietor of the store. A discussion is raised as to the relative value of the tools, which is followed by an offer on the part of sharper No. 3 to bet that the mallet is worth, say ten dollars, or about ten times its actual value. His bet is taken up by the clerk or some bystanders, as it is a sure thing. Mr. Sharper picks up the mallet, takes off the handle, and shows, in a small chamber, a sum of money neatly secreted. Of course the money makes the mallet valuable, and the confidence men win the bet.
These are only a few of the schemes practiced by the confidence men who are in the city. They have every imaginable device for gulling greenies, and there is no telling when you are not betting against a sure thing. The only advice the JOURNAL can give is, don't bet on another man's proposition, even if he will swear that black is white, for you are morally certain to lose.


Albuquerque Daily Journal, December 14, 1881

Con W. Caddigan, the Leadville theatre man, is in the city, and proposes to established here a first-class variety show, providing he is able to secure a building for the purpose. He is the proprietor of the Grand Central in Leadville, and is acknowledged to be a first-class theatre man. He also intends putting in troupes at Silver City and Tombstone.


Albuquerque Evening Review, June 7, 1882

Billy Nuttles and Con Caddican, two of the most popular variety actors of Leadville, are in the city. They have some intention of leasing Smith & Snyder's opera house if they can make satisfactory arrangements, and if they succeed in this the boys will have some fine evenings of entertainment.


Albuquerque Morning Journal, July 13, 1882

Con Caddigan was yesterday appointed deputy sheriff. He will be on the police force in new town.


Albuquerque Morning Journal, August 8, 1882

Con Caddigan is on deck again with his street cleaning brigade. It's hard to tell what would become of us if it were not for our very efficient marshal. He should have the thanks and support of every citizen.


Albuquerque Evening Review, December 2, 1882

A Wholesale Arrest of Alleged Confidence Men Creates a Sensation.
An Albuquerque Office is Among the Rest.
This morning Chief Howe, assisted by his men, arrested John P. Thornton, Barney Quinne, Billy Nuttall, Sam Houston and Con Caddagan on complaint of Henry Griffiths, who charges them with grand larceny. He claims that they enticed him into a saloon and get a certificate of deposit on the Central Bank for three hundred and forty dollars and a ten dollar note. The trial is now taking place before Judge Bell in the court house, west end.
The chief witness, Henry Griffiths, who is a Scotchman by birth, has been in town but a short time, having come in from the front and deposited his savings, amount to $340, in the Central bank, for which he received a certificate of deposit. He says that Barney Quinn made his acquaintance and introduced him to Billy Nuttall, and told him that Nuttall was a mining expert. He also introduced him to Sam Houston, alias Hopkins, alias Brown, was a mining speculator who had just sold a mine for $17,000. In the meantime they were all taking a drink, and Griffiths got pretty full, when they went into a saloon and commenced shaking dice for drinks. They threw the dice so that the top and bottom of the dice made it count up twenty-one every time. Griffiths thinking that it was chance, bet ten dollars that it could not be done again, and lost, whereupon, a teamster standing near offered to be they could not throw twenty-one again, when one of the party turned to Griffiths and asked him to let him have the certificate of deposit to bet against the teamster's pile, so Griffiths pulled it out, the dice were thrown, and the teamster won; the certificate was passed to him, and almost before the victim knew it, the man had disappeared, certificate and all. Griffiths was condoled with by his companions, who guaranteed to get the certificate back before twenty-four hours, and then quieted him for that night.
The next morning was Thanksgiving day, and the Central bank was closed when Con Caddagan, accompanied by the teamster, knocked at the door. Mr. W. K. P. Wislon, the cashier, was sitting inside and went to the door to see who was knocking. Seeing Caddagan and the teamster he let them in. Caddagan asked him to pay the amount the certificate called for to the man, saying that he had to go off on the train in a hurry and needed the money. This Mr. Wilson refused to do, and after some words Caddagan and the teamster went out.
Griffiths sobered up that morning and told Chief Howe about it, who immediately started to work up the case, with the above result. The officers think that Thornton is the man who personated the teamster.
Billy Nuttall and Sam Houston are sporting men, Barney Quinn was formerly proprietor of a saloon knows as the Sportsman's Headquarters, and Con Caddagan is constable of precinct number twelve and has been on the police force for some time. Thornton is also a sporting man. Caddagan is on the stand as THE REVIEW goes to press.


Albuquerque Morning Journal, December 3, 1882

A Raid Made on the Confidence Men Yesterday.
Con Caddigan Arrested But is Honorably Acquitted of the Charge.
The Four Others Held to Bail in the Sum of $3000 Each.
Extreme Excitement Over the Affair Among the Sporting Fraternity.
On Friday evening Judge Bell, who had just returned from Socorro, was called upon by District Attorney Owen, and a Welshman by the name of Griffiths. The latter, who arrived in this city sometime during last week, made an affidavit that he had been swindled out of ten dollars in money and a certificate of deposit, payable at the Central Bank, and amounting to $345. Judge Bell immediately issued a bench warrant for the arrest of five men, who names appeared in the warrants as "One Brown, first name unknown, and one unknown man, as principals," and William Nuttall, Barney Quinn, and Con Caddigan as accessories.
Yesterday morning Chief Howe, assisted by several officers, arrested the parties named in the warrant, and they were all taken to the marshal's headquarters.
Judge Bell was at once notified of the result, and ordered that the prisoners be taken to the court house, in the old town. Upon taking his seat, Judge Bell inquired whether or not the defendants desired an examination, to which they all responded in the affirmative. The first witness called was the prosecutor himself, Henry Griffiths, who testified that he came to this city on the evening of November 22, from Chino Valley, on the line of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad.
The witness then went on to state in a very straightforward way, the whole circumstance attending the loss of his money.
He stated that he met Barney Quinn at John Boyle's restaurant, where witness was stopping, that Barney asked him to take a stroll, and that they went up street, where they took several drinks, that they then returned to Boyle's, and that he agreed to meet Barney at 8 o'clock in the evening. They did meet and took a walk down town, and stopped in at a saloon, where they met a man by the name of Brown and an old teamster whose named Griffiths did not know. Brown and Griffiths got to throwing dice and induced, after much talking, the Welshman to take a hand in the game. He did so to the extent of about $350. Nuttall came into the saloon just after the game was finished, and just in time to see the teamster leave with the roll. The witness went next morning and stopped payment of the draft, by stating the case to Mr. Wilson, of the bank.
All the defendants took the stand in their own behalf, and each described the portion allotted to him, so far as any criminality was concerned. Thornton acknowledged that he had the check, but denied that he had received it any but a perfectly legitimate way.
After a cross-examination of all witnesses by Judge Bell, and the district attorney, the court rendered a decision, discharging Caddigan from custody and holding the others in $3000 bail.
All the defendants were busy last evening procuring bail.


Albuquerque Evening Review, December 4, 1882

The trial of the confidence gang for robbing a man named Henry Griffiths of $350 was concluded Saturday afternoon, Judge Bell discharging Con Caddagan for want of sufficient evidence, and holding the other four in $3,000 bail. John Thornton and Barney Quinn succeeded in raising the required amount, but Billy Nuttall and Sam Houston had to go to jail.


Albuquerque Morning Journal, December 5, 1882

The arrest of the confidence men last Saturday is the principal topic of conversation on the streets. It is said that the only men who got away with any of the winnings of the game have escaped and left town, and all those under arrest made by the operation was a great deal of trouble for themselves.


Albuquerque Evening Review, December 5, 1882

There is strong enough decent public opinion in Albuquerque to sustain a courageous and honest police force in the discharge of its duty. If it is necessary, that public opinion will become public resolution.


Albuquerque Evening Review, December 12, 1882

W. H. Cline & Co. swore out a warrant last night for the arrest of Toney Neis, the well-known detective, on the charge of slander, it being claimed that he stated on the street that "Cline & Co." were running a bunko shop, and their business was swindling and that he would pull the establishment at the first opportunity. He was arrested by Con Caddigan and gave bonds for his appearance before Justice Sullivan.


Albuquerque Evening Review, January 9, 1883

Con Caddagan went up to Bernalillo this morning with a warrant for the arrest of John Spillman, who is under indictment of the grand jury for assault with intent to kill, and who is before the contest board as a witness for the Pereas. 


Albuquerque Morning Journal, February 6, 1883

Con Caddagan passed through the city last night on his way to Chihuahua, Old Mexico, where he will open a theatre. He has engaged all the performers, who will start for Chihuahua to-morrow night. He says there's millions in it.


Albuquerque Evening Review, February 6, 1883

Con Caddagan came in last evening from Pueblo, where he has been to secure talent for his variety theater in Chihuahua. He leaves to-night for old Mexico.


Albuquerque Morning Journal, February 7, 1883

Con Caddagan started for Chihuahua again last night. This time he made sure of his dog which he left behind night before last and was compelled to return for him yesterday morning.


Unknown Newspaper, July 26, 1884

Gold Brick Man Collared
A Tough Pair in Toils at St. Louis, Mo.
Clay Wilson and Con W. Caddigan, arrested at St. Louis July 1st with a lot of gambling implements and bunco material in their possession, are well known to the Western Detectives as smart confidence men and thieves. They are members of a gang that has worked Denver and Deadwood and the mining camps of Colorado and New Mexico, and have followed the Mexican Central road into Mexico. Harry Duval, or the "Texas Ranger," was the leader of the band, and Frank Pine, "Jumbo" Clifford, Tom Ashton, and Al Connors, all of whom are now working in the West, were under his orders, with Caddigan and Wilson.
Clay Wilson generally had his headquarters in Denver and Leadville. About two years ago with a companion, he swindled the son of a Leadville Bank President out of $25,000.00 by "gold brick," prepared according to the formula found in his room when arrested. He and Caddigan were afterwards arrested but escaped prosecution but returned part of the money to the victim. Wilson then went to Denver and turned several more confidence tricks, bringing himself into prominent police notoriety. He was a desperate gambler and became the rival of Jim Moon, a Denver sporting man who bore a hard character. Moon, when drunk one night, slapped Wilson in the face and threatened his life, driving him out of the Arcade Saloon, where they were. Wilson returned with a pistol, and standing behind the saloon folding door, emptied a revolver into Moon's body as he was drinking. He was tried and acquitted, but Moon's friend swore vengeance on him, and he left the State, going to Mexico for safety. He has not been heard of in Colorado since. But he has friends in Denver who will come to his aid in his St. Louis trouble.
Con Caddigan is a rascal of similar caliber than Wilson, and has been used by the bunco gang as a "stool pigeon."
He appeared as a confidence man first in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the gang had their trans-continental rendezvous. Albuquerque was then a new town and the bunco men ran it with a high hand, electing as Justice of the Peace Dan Sullivan, one of their friends, and as Marshal and Constable Milton Yarberry, who was hanged last year, and Con Caddigan. The operation of these bunco men finally began to hurt the passenger traffic of the Santa Fe road, and the Company determined to drive them out of the territory. So when they cheated Henry Griffith, a Welsh miner, out of $75.00 through the top and bottom trick, Caddigan, Barney Quinn, Billy Knuttall, three of the confidence men, were arrested and put in jail to await indictment, escaping in a few days by the work of their companions outside who bribed the jailer. Caddigan then came to St. Louis and got a variety company which he took to Chihuahua. he played them for several weeks and then deserted them, taking all the money of the company with him. His arrest in St. Louis will afford his victims the liveliest satisfaction.


Unknown Deadwood, SD newspaper, 1884

Bill Nuttall, who conducted the Bella Union theater in the flush days of Deadwood, is said to be occupying private quarters in the Alberquerque, New Mexico, jail, charged with gambling. How the mighty have fallen.


Wanted Poster

Los Angeles Times, May 27, 1911

With a bench warrant issued yesterday from Justice Summerfield's court for C. W. Caddigan, and with a Minnesota extradition warrant for him still wholly unsatisfied, the local police now believe that one of the cleverest confidence men of an old and rapidly vanishing school has escaped the arm of the law as lightly as a child at play might break a thread.
Added to the surprise of his attorneys and the uneasiness of his bondsmen was the chagrin of the officers when Caddigan, whose real name is Thomas Moore, and whose other alias is John Armstrong, failed to appear in court yesterday morning to face witnesses of the State in the case of E. W. Chaffee, who, in behalf of his father, H. F. Chaffee, has made a requisition for Caddigan to Minneapolis, on a charge of buncoing the older Chaffee out of $25,000 in 1909.
Young Chaffee alleged that his father paid this sum to Caddigan, then parading under the name of John Armstrong, for two nicely-pressed gold bricks in good condition as to glitter and heft.
Caddigan, who is seventy years of age and who got local recognition as a mining man of means, put himself up as sadly misrepresented in the present case, and as eager to satisfy the court that he was not the man desired. He appeared in court several times before the arrival of the State's witness, but at the showdown he was not there. If his absence from the court extends over a period of twenty days, his $50,000 bond, signed by Guy K. Woodward and D. O'Donnel will stand forfeited.
Detectives Jones and Boyd, who have handled the case, stated last night that Caddigan's history is as ancient as unique. He was at one time Town Marshal of Albuquerque, but departed hot-foot from the city in 1883 with an alert vigilance committee close behind, punctuating their warnings never to return with arguments more emphatic than words.
Caddigan, it is alleged, had turned some crooked jobs and the hustling western camp preferred his room to his company. He was associated in the New Mexico City with several notorious characters, two of them being the famous Blonger brothers, and one of them Soapy Smith, the great confidence shark, who was perhaps less clever, but a deal more real than J. Rufus Wallingford.
Soapy's death in Alaska, the officers say, removed the last of that old gang of peerless fishers for suckers from the scenes of mortal avarice, with the exception of Caddigan.

NOTE: He strangely forgets about Lou, who is going gangbusters in 1911.

Caddigan's first claim to local distinction was his arrest here in February in connection with X. F. Holler, charged with attempting to swindle Mrs. Ida Kendall out of a large sum by negotiating for the sale of a gold brick.

NOTE: This is before Lou's arrest by ten years, and yet the Blonger Bros. are apparently "famous" as far as Los Angeles.