Mug shot: A photograph of someone’s face especially one made for police records. The word ”mug shots” comes from the British slang word “mug” meaning “face.”
During his illustrious career Alphonso J. “Al” Jennings was a cowboy, lawyer, train robber, politician, author and movie star. At a time he was one of the best-known outlaws in the American West. However, with that said, he was not a very successful criminal but he was an interesting one. In the late 1800s, he and his brother created a gang (known as the Jennings Gang) and started robbing trains – or, more accurately, attempted to rob trains.
Allegedly, on his first attempt to rob a train, he stood on the tracks and aimed his pistol at the engine as it came racing towards him barely escaping by jumping out of the way at the last minute. His second train robbing experience went a little better and the gang made off with not just a jug of whiskey but some bananas too! His train robbing days consisted of three robbing attempts (the gang actually got money on the third train) in over 100 days.
On December 6th, 1897, Al and his brother were captured single-handed by a U.S. Marshal. In 1899 Jennings was sentenced to life in prison for attempted murder, but, due to the legal efforts of his non-train robbing brother John, his sentence was reduced to five years. He served his time in Leavenworth Prison. He was freed on technicalities in 1902 and received a presidential pardon in 1904 by President Theodore Roosevelt.
After he was released from prison, Al began touring the country, sensationalizing his life as a train robber for crowds. Eventually he became a lawyer and politician. Once he tired of law and politics, Al moved to Hollywood and took up acting and became a technical adviser for Western films.