Historical Origin And Design Inspiration
Charles Earl Bolles (1829"Disappeared 1888?), alias Black Bart, was an American Old West outlaw noted for his poetic messages left after each robbery. He was also known as Charles E. Boles, C.E. Bolton, Charles E. Bowles, and "Black Bart the Po8." A gentleman bandit, Black Bart was one of the most notorious stagecoach robbers to operate in and around Northern California and southern Oregon during the 1870s and 1880s. The fame he received for his numerous daring thefts is rivaled only by his reputation for style and sophistication.
It is believed that Black Bart was born in Norfolk, England. When he was two years old, his parents emigrated to Jefferson County, New York, where his father purchased a farm. In late 1849 Bolles and a cousin took part in the California Gold Rush. They began mining in the North Fork of the American River in California. His brother Robert joined them in 1852, but died in San Francisco. Bolles then returned east and married Mary Elizabeth Johnson in 1854. By 1860, the couple had made their home in Decatur, Illinois. In 1862, however, Bolles decided to go to war he was shot in the appendix wich was also his verifacation to sherrifs.
The last stagecoach robbery The last holdup took place at the site, fittingly enough, of his first holdup, on Funk Hill, just southeast of the present town of Copperopolis. The stage had crossed the Reynolds Ferry on the old stage road from Sonora to Milton. The stage driver was Reason McConnell. At the ferry crossing, the driver picked up Jimmy Rolleri, the 19-year-old son of the ferry owner.
The stage had to travel up a steep road on the east side of Funk Hill. Jimmy Rolleri had brought his rifle and got off at the bottom of the hill. He intended to hunt along the creek at the southern base of the hill and then meet the stage at the bottom of the western grade. However, on arriving at the western side of the hill he found that the stage was not there. He began walking up the stage road. On nearing the summit, he encountered the stage driver and his team of horses.
Rolleri learned that as the stage had approached the summit, Black Bart had stepped out from behind a rock with his shotgun. He made McConnell unhitch the team and return with them over the crest again to the west side of the hill, where Rolleri encountered him. Bart then tried to remove the strongbox from the stage. Wells Fargo had bolted the strongbox to the floor inside the stage (which had no passengers that day). It took Bart some time to remove the box.
McConnell informed Rolleri that a holdup was in progress, and Rolleri came up to where McConnel and the horses were standing. He saw Bolles backing out of the stage with the box. McConnell took Rolleri's rifle and fired at Bolles but missed. Rolleri then took his rifle and fired one or two shots. Bolles stumbled, dropped the items he had taken from the box, and fled. If he was actually wounded, it must have been very minor.
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