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James B. Crosse

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James B. Crosse (1827-1913) was a leading handwriting forger, thief, and Wall Street swindler of the mid-19th century. He served prison terms at Auburn State Prison, Eastern State Penitentiary, and Joliet State Prison. He was celebrated for forging pardon recommendations delivered to New York governor Horatio Seymour, who then granted Crosse (incarcerated as Francis B. Edymoin) an irrevocable pardon. Crosse attempted a similar ruse from his cell at Eastern State Penitentiary, sending Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin a letter purportedly from Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, requesting Crosse's release in order for him to be used as a spy in the South.

Crosse was known for his elegant dress and manners, and was a frequent resident of luxury hotels in Philadelphia, New York, London, and Paris. He was described by the Pinkerton Detective Agency and by Chief Inspector Thomas Byrnes of New York City as being the greatest forger of his era.[1] Crosse appeared in Letitia M. Burwell's Plantation Reminiscences[2] as "the gold-tipped man" that purchased slave Bob Burwell to employ him as an accomplice in his European forgery schemes.

Crosse retired from his criminal career in 1877 and moved to Fargo, North Dakota, where he remained until his death in 1913. He employed medical training received in prison to serve as a frontier physician between 1878 and 1908, living under the alias J. B. Crucial.


  1. Byrnes, Thomas F. (1886). Professional criminals of America. Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center. New York : Cassell & company, limited. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  2. "The Project Gutenberg eBook of Plantation Reminiscences, by Letitia M. Burwell". www.gutenberg.org. Retrieved 2019-03-08.

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