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Black Bart was mentioned in the book The Adventures of Pearley Monroe in chapter 20, “More Precious than Gold,” when two characters were having a shoot-off. They were arguing about why one of them had thrown down the box to Black Bart. Charles E. Bowles, known as Black Bart, was an infamous stagecoach robber. His career lasted 8 years beginning on July 26, 1875, and ended on November 3,1883. Nine days later he was brought to prison. During his robberies, there was no record of him ever firing a shot and people say that he never even had a loaded gun. He made many robberies, and his first and last robbery took place at the same place, Funk Hill.

-By Cooper

Black Bart was a stagecoach robber who lived to be about 60 years old. Black Bart’s legend began on a mountain pass named Funk Hill, in Calaveras County on July 26, 1875. He appeared in front of John Shine in a long, dirty cloth over his clothes with a flour sack covering his face with holes for eyes. John Shine was driving a stagecoach. Bart, facing Shine, pointed a “shotgun” at him. In reality the “shotgun” was actually a painted stick. Bart said, “Please throw down the box.”
After that, Bart said to his men: ”If he dare shoots, let’s give him a solid volley, boys.” Shine glanced around, and he saw 6 rifles that stuck out from some big boulders. Shine quickly reached under his seat and pulled out the Wells Fargo strongbox, which is a wood box fortified with iron bands and padlocked, that contained $348, and lightly threw the box and mailbag onto the ground. Shine cautioned his passengers to not do anything stupid so they wouldn’t get hurt. One of the female passengers tossed her purse out of the window. Black Bart reportedly picked it up and gave it back to her, saying, “Madam, I do not wish to take your money. I honor only the good office of Wells Fargo.” Bart motioned his hand to let Shine know that the robbery was over and to keep going. As Shine rode away, he looked back and saw Bart break the lock with a hatchet. Shine took off into the distance and stopped when Black Bart was out of sight. Shine came back to the robbery site and discovered the guns were actually painted sticks behind a boulder. This marked the beginning of Black Bart’s career as a stagecoach criminal with a heart.

-By Ben



On July 26, 1875, he robbed his first stagecoach when he was 46 years old, at Calaveras County. Bart was very polite and clever when he robbed. For example, on his first robbery, he said to the driver in a very polite manner, “Please throw down the box.” On July 13 1882, during his 23rd robbery George Hackett shot Bart while trying to rob a stagecoach filled with gold from La Porte, Texas. His last robbery was on November 3, 1883. He was arrested on November 12, 1883, and sent to jail on November 21, 1883, 18 days after his last robbery. Bart robbed 28 stagecoaches in about eight years and four months.

-By Nithin


On Wednesday, November 21, 1883, after his final robbery on Funk Hill, Bart began his six-year sentence in San Quentin Prison. During his stay, Bart either worked as a clerk or bookkeeper. Although there were many stories of Bart having visitors, there was no official record of him having any. On January 21, 1888, Bart walked out as a free man after serving four years and two months of a six-year sentence. It was said that his early release was because of the "Goodwin Act" that allowed prisoners time off for good behavior. Soon, reporters started to arrive. One asked if Bart would return to robbing stagecoaches; Bart replied he was done with crime. After the crowd of reporters dissipated, Bart returned to San Francisco and booked a room at the Nevada House, on 132 Sixth Street. During his time there, Wells Fargo kept a tight watch on him. Although Bart never returned to visit to his wife, Mary, in Hannibal, Missouri, he did write many letters to her.

-By Cooper

-By Nate

We think a great change descriptor for Black Bart is that change generates additional change. Black Bart caused additional change when he began robbing stagecoaches. The additional change occurred when the stagecoach driver would get angry at him and would try and shoot Black Bart. When a stagecoach driver realized that Black Bart didn’t carry a loaded gun, then the stagecoach driver would tell a lot of people; Black Bart then would be less successful. Black Bart’s stagecoach robberies caused change for travel by stagecoach because if one took a stagecoach they ran the risk of having all of their possessions they brought along robbed. Black Bart’s robberies also gave Wells Fargo a bad reputation. Since most of the stagecoaches were owned by Wells Fargo, passengers became fearful  of traveling on their coaches. Passengers probably thought Wells Fargo had bad security and would warn other people not to travel in Wells Fargo stagecoaches.

-By Nate, Nithin, Ben and Cooper

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