Black Bart Title

California's Infamous Stage Robber

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Black Bart
Photo courtesy
Calaveras County Historical Society.

Why? Well that is a good question. To a lot of people Black Bart was a fictional character right out of a dime novel. However, Black Bart was a real character, a real bad guy, a stage robber. Actually, I discovered that Black Bart was real and fictional. When asked after his capture why he chose the name Black Bart he said it just popped into his mind when he was writing the first poem, probably a memory from reading the dime novel about Black Bart some years before. What we do know for sure is that Black Bart was one of the most successful Wells Fargo stagecoach robbers in California history. He was not the vile villain of the dime novel, but a polite gentlemanly robber who made his demands with a "Please throw down the box" and a double-barreled shotgun

As a child I would play cowboys and there were good guys and bad guys. I played both sides. Sometimes I would be Wyatt Earp or Wild Bill Hickok (neither of these "good guys" were very nice people in real life). Sometimes I was the bad guy: Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Black Bart. How did Black Bart get into this group? I don't know. I did some research and after a while I was caught up in the mystique of the Legend of Black Bart. I compiled the following information about him. I tried to get as much accurate information as I could, but as with many of the bad guys of the old west, it is hard to get all the true facts.

Black Bart was not one of the most notorious 19th century California Bandits. They were Joaquin Murrieta, Tiburcio Vasquez, Chris Evens and John Sontag. These men were vicious and violent criminals. Bart, on the other, hand was non-violent, quaint and elusive. In the 1920s Bart's name started to appear in books and magazines, but it was Joseph Henry Jackson, writing first in the San Francisco Chronicle in the 1930s, who really publicized Black Bart's story.

This site will be constantly evolving as we get new data or correct inaccuracies. If you have information on Bart, please send it to us. We would be interested in seeing it and including it on the site.

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