Upton County, Texas
CHARLES E BOWLES aka "BLACK BART"
Charles Earl Bowles, known as Black Bart, was an English-born outlaw noted for the poetic messages he left behind after his robberies. He was known by many names Charles Bolton, C.E. Bolton and Black Bart. According to Wells Fargo records, Black Bart is described as " a person of great endurance, a thorough mountaineer, who was probably unexcelled in making quick transit over mountains and steep grades. He was comparatively well educated, a general reader and well informed on current topics. He was cool, self-contained, with humorous tendencies, and after his arrest exhibited genuine wit under most trying circumstances. He was neat and tidy in his dress, highly respectable in appearance, polite in behavior, rather chaste in his language, never used profanity, and was not known to have gambled or to have bought pools in races, or every having dealt in mining stocks. He was a Civil War veteran, having been affiliated with Company B, 116th Illinois Infantry. He pleaded guilty to the charge of stage robbery, was taken to San Quentin prison on November 21, 1883, and discharged therefrom on January 22, 1888. A short time after his release he disappeared and was never heard from again."
Black Bart robbed a wells fargo stagecoach in July 1878 and stole $400 and a passenger's diamond ring and watch. When the empty box was recovered, a poem signed "Black Bart" was found inside:
Here I lay me down to sleep
to wait the coming morrow,
Perhaps success, perhaps defeat
And everlasting sorrow,
Yet come what will, I'll try it once,
My conditions can't be worse,
And if there's money in that box,
'Tis money in my purse.
THOMAS J HODGES aka "TOM BELL"
Tom Bell better known as the "Outlaw Doc" but, whose real name was Thomas J Hodges, was born in 1825, a decent man who became a surgeon, served in the mexican war. Tom was raised in Rome, Tennessee, the only son of a upstanding family. After the war he moved to California to hunt for gold. After failing to make his fortune from gold, Tom turned to robbing, it was for this he was sent to prison at Angel Island. It was in prison where he met Bill Gristy and escaped with him. This union was to prove his downfall. After a series of robberies they planned to rob on a stagecoach passing through carrying 100, 000 dollars. A woman passenger was killled, and two males were wounded during the robbery. People were outraged and a posse was sent out made up of vigilantes and law officers. Gristy was caught and to save himself he gave them the location of Bell to authorities. Bell was was found near Firebaugh's Ferry on October 4, 1856, an impromptu posse commanded by Judge George Gordon Belt had already hung him. Bell is credited with the first Stage coach robbery. After Tom's death some of his gang members joined up with Rattlesnake Dick.
EVANS - SONTAG GANG
John Sontag and George Contant were the sons of Jacob Contant and the former Maria Bohn. After the death of their father in 1867, John took the last name from his stepfather, Matthias Sontag, his mother's second husband, a veteran of the Union Army during the Civil War. ]Sontag's younger brother, George (born 1864), kept the name Contant. The two were frequent partners in crime and known as The Sontag Brothers. George Contant was sent to reform school in St. Paul, Minnesota after stealing from his employer. .A later conviction for theft would find George imprisoned at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Omaha.In the year 1889 John Songtag went to work on a farm in California for Chris Evans. John already angry with the railroad for them treatment of him during and after his employment readily joined up with Evans against the railroad.who was seizing up property from settlers. Songtag and Evans began robbing from the railroad. This gang consisted of Chris Evans and John Sontag and George Contant.
ROY G GARDNER
Early modern day outlaw Roy Gardner was born Jan 5, 1886 in Trenton, Missouri. His first robbery of the US Mails landed him in McNeil Island Federal Prison. During his robbery years he was dubbed as the"Smiling Bandit", the "Mail Train Bandit", and the "King of the Escape Artists". He was one of the most notorious offenders of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, one of the most notorious inmates at Alcatraz and one of the most ruthless criminals in American history.On Jan 10, 1940 he took his own life in a Motel room in San Francisco.
Better known as Richard " Rattlesnake Dick" Barter, was born in Quebec Canada. As did others he travelled west for the gold in California. During this time he was accused of several wrong doings that he was not responsible for. Eventually he decided to live up to his name and reputation and started stealing. While he was at San Quentin for grand larceny, he met Tom Bell. .After his release he joined up with Bell robbing stages. After Bell's death Dick joined by brothers, George and Cyrus "Cy" Skinner and they started relieving of their travellers loads of gold coming from Nevada City. On July 11, 1859, Barter and Candy Skinner were trapped in a mountain pass near Auyurn, California by Sheriff J. Boggs. In the gunfight that followed, Rattlesnake Dick was killed and a wounded Skinner was taken into custody and given a long prison sentence.
Inscription on his tombstone:
RICHARD H. BARTER, EARLY DAY RESIDENT OF RATTLESNAKE BAR, FAMED AS THE OUTLAW RATTLESNAKE DICK. FATALLY WOUNDED IN A GUN DUEL WITH THE LAW JULY 11, 1859 NEAR MARTIN PARK FIRE STATION IN AUBURN. ORIGINALLY BURIED IN THE OLD AUBURN CEMETERY ON EAST STREET, MOVED TO THIS SPOT IN 1893.
NO FURTHER SEEK HIS MERITS TO DISCLOSE NOR DRAW HIS FRAILTIES FROM THEIR DREAD ABODE. THERE THEY ALIKE IN TREMBLING HOPE REPOSE, THE BOSOM OF HIS FATHER AND HIS GOD
You can read more about him at our Calfornia Trails Site
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