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