California's Infamous Stage Robber
BLACK BART THE LEGEND BEGINS
Charles E. Boles
A deep voice commanded: "Please throw down the box!" Bart then said, "If he dares shoot give him a solid volley, boys." Shine looked around and protruding from the boulders were what appeared to be six rifles. Shine quickly reached beneath his seat and withdrew the Wells Fargo strongbox (a wooden box reinforced with iron bands and padlocked) containing $348, according to Wells Fargo, and tossed it and the mail sacks to the ground. Shine warned his passengers, eight women and children and two men, to refrain from doing anything stupid. One of the women travellers threw out her purse in panic. Black Bart reportedly picked it up, bowed to the lady, and handed it back to her. "Madam, I do not wish your money," he said. "In that respect I honor only the good office of Wells Fargo."
With a sweep of his hand Bart motioned Shine on his way. As Shine drove away the driver took a quick glance back and saw the man attack the strong box with a hatchet. Shine drove off some distance and then stopped the stage, Walking back down the road, he saw a half dozen guns leveled at him from outlaws positioned behind boulders. He stood still and then realized the outlaws were not moving. Shine then discovered it was sticks pointed at him from the boulders.
The legend was born Black Bart had committed his first robbery.
Charles E. Boles (aka Black Bart, aka Charles E. Bolton) lived in San Francisco.
He was a man well into his 50's, about five-foot eight inches tall, ramrod straight, with gray
hair and a moustache. A natty dresser, he favored diamonds and carried a short cane.
People seeing him walk down the street in 1870's San Francisco would
have thought him nothing more than a kindly, prosperous, old grandpa
out for a leisurely stroll. But, he was more than that, much, much more.
No one could have imagined that this man was really the famous, or
infamous, Black Bart the stage robber-poet of Northern California,
or P o 8, as he preferred to refer to himself.
He was a man who liked to live well and intended to do just that. He stayed in fine hotels,
ate in the best restaurants and wore the finest clothes. Now all he had to do was find a
way to earn a living to support his preferred lifestyle, and Charles E. Boles found a dandy.
Black Bart the P o 8
At the fourth and fifth robbery Bart left a note. He signed the note with a name that would go down in western history: "Black Bart, P o 8." The letters and number mystified lawmen as much as the name Black Bart. Any tracking posse found no trace of the elusive bandit, and superstition had it that the stage indeed had been robbed by a ghost. There were only two poems but it is one of the most recognizable parts of the legend.
At the fourth robbery:
Note: A little know fact is that on the first poem there was also a note scribbled under the verse. The poem and the note had each line written in a different hand. It is thought that Bart did this to disguise his handwriting.
The note reads:
After Bart's release from prison there was another robbery where a poem was left in the same fashion that Bart always left his poems. Detective Hume examined the note and compared it with the genuine Black Bart bits of poetry of the past. He declared the new verse a hoax and the work of another man, declaring that he was certain Black Bart had permanently retired. This gave rise to the later notion that Wells Fargo had actually pensioned off the robber on his promise that he would stop no more of its stages, paying him a handsome annuity until his death.
This is the third poem that was NOT written by the P o 8
Want to contact us? E-mail the Webmaster
If you have enjoyed our website please click on the LIKE button
Problems with this site? Contact the Webmaster