black-bart_Who successfully robbed more Wells Fargo Stages in the West?

Just released: BLACK BART: THE POET BANDIT, ISBN # 0-7414-5138-7, by Northern California authors/historians, Gail L. Jenner and Lou Legerton. The book’s illustrations and cover art were done by Glenn Harrington and the novel features the fifth-known photograph of Charles E. Boles and family, provided by his great-niece and never released before now.The novel is actually the first written about the man who successfully held up 28 of 29 Wells Fargo stages in northern CA and southern OR. It is based on six years of research.

BLACK BART: THE POET BANDIT follows the life of the infamous and enigmatic outlaw and scourge of Wells Fargo. The 55,000+ word novel explores the person behind the flour-sack mask and plugged shotgun, Charles E. Boles, aka BLACK BART. He became famous, of course, for the “verse” he left at the sites of two of his holdups, after which he became as noted for his humor as his rhyme. He was often called the gentleman bandit because he was polite and never held up a passenger, even returning a purse to one young woman who threw it out the window in great fear.

As to Charles¹ earlier life: he tried gold mining, teaching, and farming; he served nobly in the Civil War, where he was wounded twice and served as a quartermaster sergeant. He also abandoned his wife and three daughters. There was a fourth child, a son, who died — although the exact date of the son’s death was never concrete. Some research suggests he died as an infant, some suggest the boy (Arian) was as old as three.

But his family never knew what happened after he left for the “mines of Montana” until his capture in 1883. At that point, he wrote to his family, confessing, “Yes, tis only too true, Œtis me…..” His wife, Mary Elizabeth, wrote him while he was in San Quentin and thought that he might return to her, but he never did. Reportedly he had an affair with a woman (another Mary) and then, after release, they disappeared.

Many believe he traveled to Alaska, perhaps Japan. Others believe he returned to his New York birthplace. Some suspect that Wells Fargo paid him a stipend in order to keep him from robbing any more stages. His end is as mysterious as his motives, but one thing is true: Wells Fargo, to this day, offers a reward for the whereabouts of Black Bart. For more about this book, visit or, or visit booksellers locally!

Published in: on April 22, 2009 at 10:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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