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April 28, 2012
Exclusive of Local News Only.com - Nelson Thibodeaux

He Was Like a Ghost!
Do you remember the television series, “Tales of Wells Fargo?” If so, you probably realized that some of the story lines for the show were taken from Wells Fargo’s actual case records, and they were. But a lot of them were just written as good clean family entertainment. The good guys always won, and the bad guys paid the price. It may not have been realistic, but it was the way entertainment should be.

But you may not know that the real Wells Fargo company had a nemesis at one time. A fella who literally drove them nuts. His name was Charlie Boles. You probably remember him as Black Bart. Yep, there really was a Black Bart. And he was a stagecoach bandit. And one of the reasons you know that name today, is because his exploits were the stuff that newspapers and novelist live for.

In 1876, Black Bart was the most repeated name in the California newspapers. We know that he committed at least 29 stagecoach robberies, although he has been blamed for many more. He always worked alone. Never with a partner. He was always extremely polite, even to those he was robbing. He always stood on his feet, never mounted on his horse. He always appeared in the middle of the trail holding a huge fierce looking double barrel shotgun, and wore a black mask and hood. Which is how he became known as Black Bart.

No one ever saw him come or go. He was there, and then he was gone. Many tried to pick up his trail afterwards, but no one ever could follow it for more than a few hundred yards. And because he almost always held up Wells Fargo stages, many thought he had a vendetta against the company. Nope! They just hauled most of the money, and he knew it.

One other thing....Bart never fired his gun. Not once in all those robberies. Once, he was even shot and wounded during a hold up, but he didn’t fire back. Many tried to catch Black Bart, but only one did. And it wasn’t a Sheriff or a Marshall or a posse. It was a detective. Harry Morse a San Francisco detective was following his trail and found a handkerchief. One with a laundry marking on it.
Being the crack detective that he was, Harry went to every laundry in San Francisco until he found the right one. Then, he just sat and waited. Sure enough about three days later, Charlie Boles showed up to pick up his laundry and the infamous Black Bart was history. He was sent to prison alright, but believe it or not, for less than 4 years. Yeah, less than four years for 29 hold ups. 29 that they could prove, that is. Why such a light sentence?

Well, because detective Harry Morse found out a few more things about Black Bart along the way. Like the reason no one could ever track him. It’s a Little Known Fact that Charlie was never found previously because they were all looking for his horse tracks - but Charlie was terrified of horses and never rode one. Oh, and one more thing. The reason he never fired his gun, that big double barreled shot gun of his, was because he had never once loaded it!


NT and Grandma Thibodeaux Circa 1950
"Only Cajun French Spoken Here!"

Nelson Thibodeaux, Editor LNO

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