Thursday, November 3, 2016

The End For Black Bart...!

Amazing as it seems, some folks that were declared as "wanted- dead or alive" actually were captured and jailed for a relatively short time before being released again.

In the world of highwaymen, Black Bart was fairly passive. Other than robbing a few stagecoaches and writing some really bad poetry, he didn't seem to be much of a villain.

Black Bart makes his last stagecoach robbery

On this day, authorities almost catch the California bandit and infamous stagecoach robber called Black Bart; he manages to make a quick getaway, but drops an incriminating clue that eventually sends him to prison.

Black Bart was born Charles E. Boles, probably in the state of New York around 1830. As a young man, he abandoned his family for the gold fields of California, but he failed to strike it rich as a miner and turned to a life of crime.

By the mid-1850s, stagecoaches and Wells Fargo wagons transported much of the huge output of gold from California. Often traveling in isolated areas, the Wells Fargo wagons and stagecoaches quickly became favorite targets for bandits; over the course of about 15 years, the company lost more than $415,000 in gold to outlaw robbers.

It is believed that Boles committed his first stagecoach robbery in July 1875. Wearing a flour sack over his head with holes cut for his eyes and a fancy gentleman’s black derby, he intercepted a stage near the California mining city of Copperopolis. When guards spotted gun barrels sticking out of nearby bushes, they handed over their strong box to Boles. He cracked open the box with an axe and escaped on foot with the gold, though his “gang” of camouflaged gunmen stayed behind. When the guards returned to pick up the box, they discovered that the “rifle barrels” were just sticks tied to branches.

Heartened by this easy success, Black Bart embarked on a series of stagecoach robberies. During the course of his criminal career he never shot anyone nor robbed a single stage passenger; he gained fame for his daring style and the occasional short poems he left behind, signed by “Black Bart, the Po-8.” Wells Fargo, however, was not amused–the company ordered its private police force to capture the bandit, dead or alive. After several years of searching and tracking down clues, Wells Fargo detectives finally located Boles.

Arrested and tried, Boles pleaded guilty and received a sentence of six years in San Quentin prison. He served just over four years and reportedly moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, after receiving a pardon. All told, the “Po-8″ bandit had stolen only $18,000 during the eight years of his criminal career.

Now it seems to me that back then, 18,000 was a smart amount of money to retire on. I reckon that it was a lot safer than robbing stages as well.

Coffee inside the kitchen this morning, as the rain seems to have returned.


linda m said...

Back then $18,000 was a small fortune. Black Bart had a healthy retirement. Funny how prison sentences were so short. Interesting story about old Bart.

Dizzy-Dick said...

I love true, old west stories. Thanks for the one about Black Bart.

HermitJim said...

Hey Linda...
That's what I was thinking. Pretty good retirement, given the time and value of money back then.
Thanks for stopping in today!

Hey Dizzy...
This one should be right up your alley, my friend. Glad you liked it.
Thanks for coming by today!

JO said...

I love these stories, but did he have the money stashed somewhere or was he broke after prison?
We had a big storm blow thru here last night thunder, lighting and lots of rain. Really nice out now