California's Infamous Stage Robber
| Why Bart
| Legend Begins
| C.E. Boles
| Legend Ends
| Family Tree
have been a slow news day
Eastern newspapers (known to romanticize western outlaws) printed many
stories that had no basis in fact.
For example, the New York Dailey Times printed a story that had Black
Bart robbing trains. Bart never was a train robber.
In 1946 the New York World Telegram reported in a Sunday feature that
Black Bart pointed his cane at a passing stage to play a joke on the
driver. The driver was so frightened that he threw down the strong box.
They said that Bart thought that if stage robbery was this easy why not
become a robber. The author of the story obviously had no respect for
The "Black Bart" of the Upper Peninsula.
Black Bart in Michigan? What was he doing there? Well he wasn't, but
Reimund Holzhey was. Holzhey was a really bad man and robber that sometimes
carried a rifle and two guns. Now you ask what possible connection could
there be between Reimund Holzhey and Black Bart? Well, here it is: In his
day Reimund Holzhey was know as the "Black Bart" of the Upper Peninsula.
He was, for a time (five months), the terror to all who were obliged to travel
by other than rail in the Gogebic district. Holzey took Bart's name after reading
about him in a dime novel, sort of a off-hand compliment to Bart. However,
the real Black Bart never shot or killed anybody.
Reimund Holzhey's last robbery had a little history to it:
On August 26, 1889 the last stagecoach robbery east of the Mississippi River was
in Gogebic County, Michigan, on the road from Gogebic Station to The Gogebic Hotel.
During the robbery a passenger decided to be a hero and pulled a gun and started
shooting. The robber fired back, the shooter and an innocent passenger (possibly shot
by the shooter not the robber) were wounded and the passenger later died. The robber,
Reimund Holzhey, escaped. Three days after the robbery Holzhey arrived in Republic,
Michigan, and checked into the hotel as Henry Plant but, the hotel manager recognized
him and called the sheriff. The next morning as he left the hotel they arrested him.
Holzhey served 23 years in prison and was released. Holzhey died in 1952 of suicide.
A Hole in a Tree
There is a story that Black Bart had an affair with a woman that lived on a ranch
near Petaluma, California in Sonoma County. On the ranch there is a tree, where at
the base of it, a large section of bark (about 3'x3') was perfectly cut out to reveal
a 'hole' within the tree. Basically, the 3x3 piece of bark acted like a lid over the
'hole.' Allegedly Black Bart used this to hide cash in during his travels. Could this
be the mystery women? Today that tree is on the property of the Bush-Field Estate
Vineyards & Winery. If you ask them about it, maybe they will show it to you.
Setting the Table for Black Bart
A story from Mendocino County, California:
A lady said her great grandmother always set an extra place
at the table for Black Bart. The story is
that all the ranchers up and down the valley kept a place for
him at their supper table so that he could join them if he were in
the area. If they did this, then Bart would not rob them.
HI HO ...... no one
Unlike all the other bad guys, Black Bart never used
a horse in any of his robberies.
Throw down that strong box
In every robbery Bart jumped out in front of the coach, pointed a
12 gauge shotgun at the driver and demanded the strong box. He never fired a
shot or harmed anyone. When he was captured it was discovered he never even
loaded the gun.
Where is the Reynolds Ferry?
November 3, 1883 stage driver, Reason E. McConnell stopped at the Reynolds
Ferry Hotel on the Stanislaus River. He picked up Jimmy Rolleri, headed for Funk Hill,
and the last robbery of Black Bart. Today the Reynolds Ferry and the hotel are at the bottom of
the New Melones Lake. New Melones Lake is a reservoir behind the New Melones Dam, on the Stanislaus
River, between the cities of Angels Camp and Sonora in the central Sierra Nevada foothills of
California. Upon the dam's completion, the valley filled
with water, covering the old mining town of Melones, the original Melones Dam and old location of the Reynolds Ferry.
The New Melones Lake provides irrigation water, hydroelectric power, flood control, wildlife habitat,
fishing, camping, boating, and other recreation as part of the Glory Hole Recreation Area.
Black Bart the Movie
In 1948 the movie "BLACK BART" was released by Universal
Studios. The 80 minute color movie starred Yvonne De Carlo and Dan
Duryea. Duryea played the part of Black Bart (Charles E. Boles). The
screen writers, headed by Luci Ward, did not care for historical fact
but instead chose to grab the name of Black Bart and write a movie that
had absolutely no resemblance to the real Black Bart.
Worthless as history, Black Bart is nonetheless an enjoyable
fabrication about the fabled western outlaw. Rescued from a
"necktie party," outlaws Charles E. Boles (Dan Duryea) and
Lance Hardeen (Jeffrey Lynn) decide that it would be best to part
friends and go their separate ways. When next seen, Boles is a
prosperous rancher who supplements his income by robbing the Wells
Fargo gold shipments under the alias of Black Bart. Upon learning this,
Hardeen rides back into Boles' life demanding a piece of the action.
Both of the hero-villains are foiled when they succumb to the charms of
the bewitching international courtesan Lola Montez (Yvonne DeCarlo).
The story is related in flashback-from a jail cell-by the outlaw's
erstwhile partner Jersey Brady (Percy Kilbride).
The Wells Fargo Treasure Box
Gold dust, gold bars, gold coins, legal papers, checks, and drafts traveled
in the famous green treasure boxes, stored under the stagecoach driver's seat.
Loaded with bullion, they could weigh from 100 to 150 lbs. "About as much as
one likes to shoulder to and from the stages," wrote John Q. Jackson, Wells
Fargo agent, in an 1854 letter to his father. Because they carried the most
valuable assets of the West, these sturdy boxes of Ponderosa pine, oak, and
iron were more prized by highway bandits than anything else.
But the real security of the treasure boxes came from who was guarding them —
the Wells Fargo shotgun messengers. Thieves who were foolhardy enough to try
and steal a treasure box would find themselves staring down the barrel of a
sawed-off shotgun, loaded with 00 buckshot.
The Concord Coach
Built high and wide to handle the rough, rutted roads of a new country, the
design of a classic American vehicle was perfected in Concord, New Hampshire.
Carriage builder J. Stephens Abbot and master wheelwright Lewis Downing built
the famed stagecoaches of Wells Fargo & Co.
Concord Coaches weighed about 2,500 pounds, and cost $1,100 each, including
leather and damask cloth interior.
The curved frame of the body gave it strength, and perhaps a little extra
elbow room. Perfectly formed, fitted, and balanced wheels stood up to decades
of drenching mountain storms and parching desert heat. The unique feature of
these coaches was the suspension. Instead of steel springs, the coach body
rested on leather "thoroughbraces," made of strips of thick bullhide. This
feature spared the horses from jarring and gave the stagecoach a (sometimes)
gentle rocking motion, leading Mark Twain to call it, "An imposing cradle on wheels."
While the Concord Coach was considered the 'Star of the Road,' the Passenger Wagon, also called the Celerity Coach,
was the true work horse. The advantage of the passenger wagon and the origin of its
nickname, Mud Wagon, was the lightness that enabled it to pass frequently over poor and soft roadways,
through mud holes, or up steep mountainous slopes. These light
semi-enclosed carriers are equipped with canvas or enameled leather storm curtains, and brakes for mountain travel.
The Mud Wagons are lighter and the wheels are three inches wide, as opposed to Concord’s two-inch wheels. With its
outside framing and square body they were less expensive to build and durable in service. These vehicles cost about 35% of
what the Concord cost to build. The body of these wagons are bolted to iron rockers that, in turn, rest on leather thoroughbraces.
The body measures from 6'10" to over 8' high, the track 5'2" (in the U.S.) or 4'8" (in Canada), and it weighs from 800 pounds,
for the commonest nine-passenger model, to 1200 pounds for a 18 passenger. It has two to three inside seats (no roof passengers),
and baggage is stored in the single rear boot or piled inside with the passengers. Up front is the driver and shotgun rider.
Selection of the type of stage to use might be determined
by availability, the terrain – such as mud or soft sand, and the passengers and cargo to be carried in each direction.
The Mud Wagon was often employed in hostile Indian country, where the Concords might be too valuable to risk. Indians were likely
to set the coach afire if they took it. For the driver's sake, the front boot and the seats were protected by sheet metal, heavy
enough to stop an arrow and perhaps a bullet.
Bartholomew Roberts, Pirate ---- aka The Great Pirate Roberts or Black
Bartholomew Roberts was tall, dark, handsome & very brave, though
this personal bravery was used for wicked purposes. He was a very
snazzy dresser, adorning himself in a rich waistcoat and breeches, a
hat with a red feather and his diamond cross which hung on a heavy gold
chain around his neck. During battle, he carried two pairs of pistols
at the end of a silk sling across his shoulder. His fellow pirates
thought he was a bit of a dandy when it came to his choice of attire,
though his valor was never questioned.
Roberts (Black Bart) was killed aboard his ship, the Royal Fortune, on
February 5, 1722, in a battle with the warship Swallow.
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