Meadowmom

Meadowmom

Posted on 07/14/2015


Photo taken on June 26, 2015


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Keywords

robbers
Black.Bart
Wells.Fargo
Siskiyou.Trail
history
California
stage robbers


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Photo replaced on July 10, 2015
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Another Tidbit of History

Another Tidbit of History
This obscure highway follows the true route of the old Siskiyou Trail, which became the main wagon road from Oregon to California. It was near here in 1881 that a man in a long white duster, with a flour sack over his head and a shotgun, stepped from behind a tree and, with a slight English accent, politely ordered the Wells Fargo stagecoach to throw down its strongbox.

The driver knew who it was immediately. The most famous highway robber of the day, beloved by the San Francisco press: Black Bart, po-8.

Every 2 or 3 months, in widely scattered parts of California, the Wells Fargo Bank (then a stage company) suffered a hold-up by this neat and cautious man, who always escaped on foot. In the empty strongboxes, they sometimes found a note in rhyme. An example:

" I've labored long and hard for bread,
For honor, and for riches,
But on my corns too long you've tread,
You fine-haired sons of bitches.
(signed)
Black Bart, po-8”

He robbed only Wells Fargo stages. Obviously held a grudge against the company. (...I do too, ever since my tax money was handed over to it in the outrageous bailout of 2009...)

Wells Fargo hired a phalanx of private detectives, Pinkerton men all. The detectives had no luck. The San Francisco newspapers were delighted by their frustration.

Black Bart might never have been caught, if the gentleman under the flour sack had not dropped his handkerchief.

Yes, dropped his handkerchief. Which had a laundry mark in one corner. The Pinkertons raced to check laundries throughout the state and finally zeroed in on a Chinese establishment in San Francisco. The owner of the handkerchief was Charles Bowles, a quiet man who lived modestly in hired rooms, telling his friends he was a mining engineer who had to make occasional trips to the mines. (See an old portrait in the note on photo above.)

After four years in prison, he was in declining health when he was released and disappeared forever. A rumor has persisted that Wells Fargo paid him handsomely to keep him from going back to stage robbing. I rather hope it is true.

Tim Hanko, Lorenzo Kjell Salmonson, RQ 01012015, Pam J have particularly liked this photo


6 comments - The latest ones
Ron Hanko
Ron Hanko
Great story, Laurie, and one does have trouble feeling sorry for Wells Fargo.
2 years ago.
Pam J
Pam J
Oh Laurie.. another glorious story !.

Your REALLY have to love old Bart !
2 years ago.
Marie-claire Gallet
Marie-claire Gallet
I read you comment like a book !!! Thank you for sharing !!!
2 years ago.
Bram van Broekhoven
Bram van Broekhoven
Beautiful capture, very nice nature and photo
2 years ago.
Judith Jannetta
Judith Jannetta
jSplendid story, which I hadn't heard. Love the idea of a highwayman using a laundry for his hankies!
2 years ago.
slgwv
slgwv
It only takes one little mistake--
2 years ago.