|THE STAGE COACH ROBBER POET
Charles E. Bolton, aka: Black Bart, Charles E. Boles, T.Z. Spalding (1830-1917?) - Born in Jefferson County, New York in 1830, Bolton made his way to California in about 1850. Sometime later he decided to make his living as one of most unusual stagecoach robbers in American history. His first recorded robbery was in August, 1877 when he waylaid a Wells Fargo coach outside Fort Ross, taking a strongbox that contained $300. Over the next years, he would rob another 30 stagecoaches, never wounding anyone during the crimes, and often leaving notes of poetry behind in the strongboxes he looted.
During his hold-ups, he wore a flour sack over his head with the eyeholes cut out and never robbed the passengers. In 1883, after robbing another Wells Fargo stage, a lone rider following the coach, fired a shot and wounded Bolton in the hand. Wrapping his wound in a handkerchief and fleeing, the handkerchief was later found by a Wells Fargo detective. A laundry mark on the fabric led the detective to Bolton who was arrested. On November 17, 1883, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six years at San Quentin.
" So here I've stood
while wind and rain
Have set the trees a' sobbin'
And risked my life
for that damned stage
That wasn't worth the robbin' "