Maybe Black Bart wasn't
a poet laureate, like Robert Frost. But he was
the only "Po8," as he'd like to sign himself,
who robbed 27 Wells Fargo stagecoaches.
"A person of great
endurance. Exhibited genuine wit under most trying
circumstances. Extremely proper and polite in
behaviour, eschews profanity."
(3) (from the report of Wells Fargo's Detective
He'd leave Poems - The
Gold Rush in California attracted varmints from
as far away as Australia. But none stood out like
Black Bart. To distinguish himself from garden
variety bandits, he'd leave poems in place of
the treasure boxes . And sign them "the Po8."
A Derby Hat - His M.O.
was to suddenly appear on lonely stage roads,
wearing a light-colored duster and a flour sack
over his head with a derby hat perched on top
of it. He made his stagecoach assaults in wide-open
territory, near the crest of steep grades, where
horses would be winded and slower than normal.
But never Fired - He
always had his loose coat and his flour sack with
the eyeholes cut out, but there's some dispute
as to whether he wore a derby on top of the sack
in scarecrow fashion or underneath it to make
him appear taller. His rifle was in evidence but
The "rifles" used:
Sticks - On December 28, 1875 the stage
from North San Juan to Marysville in Yuba County
is robbed. A newspaper says it was held-up by
four men. This too has a description of the lone
robber and his "trademarks". The "three
other men" were in the hills around the stage.
The driver saw their "rifles". When
the posse arrive at the scene they find the "rifles"
A Gentleman - Morse
told reporters later that his first impressions
of the unmasked Bart were of a man "elegantly
dressed, carrying a little cane. He wore a natty
little derby hat, a diamond pin, a large diamond
ring on his little finger, and a heavy gold watch
and chain.... One would have taken him for a gentleman
who had made a fortune and was enjoying it...."
Agents Traced the Mark -
Wells Fargo detective James Hume and his agents
traced the mark through the 91 San Francisco laundries
to find that the handkerchief belonged to Charles
E. Bolton, a respectable mine engineer who was
staying at Room 40, 37 2nd Street, San Francisco.
Through with Crime -
Reporters swarmed around him when he was released.
They asked if he were going to rob anymore stagecoaches.
"No gentlemen," he smilingly replied,
"I'm all through with crime." Another
reporter asked if he would write more poetry.
He laughed, "Now didn't you hear me say that
I am through with crime?"
annual average "income" amounted to
$6000 --- a tidy sum for that day and age.
(1) - August 3, 1877 the stage
from Point Arena to Duncan's Mill in Sonoma County
is robbed of $300 in coin and a check for $305.52
from the Grangers Bank of San Francsico. Bart
was afraid to cash this check. The posse go back
to the sight to look for clues and find the first
poem written on a waybill, under a stone atop
a tree stump:
July 25, 1878 Black Bart leaves another signed
poem after stealing $379 and a diamond ring worth