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Robbers, Rustlers and Rogues

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Profiles

  • Ferdinand Ward (1851 - 1925)
    Ferdinand De Wilton Ward, Jr. (1851–1925), known first as the "Young Napoleon of Finance," and subsequently as "the Best-Hated Man in the United States," was an American swindler. The collapse of his...
  • Henry Born (1849 - 1921)
    Henry Born (Dutch Henry), outlaw, was born to German immigrant parents on July 2, 1849, in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. In the 1860s he moved with his family to Montague, Michigan, where he worked as a lumber...
  • Fred R. "Killer" Burke (1893 - 1940)
    Fred "Killer" Burke (May 29, 1893 – July 10, 1940) was an American armed robber and contract killer responsible for many crimes during the Prohibition era. He was considered a prime suspect in the St. ...
  • Major William "Bloody Bill" Cunningham (1756 - 1787)
    Probably not the son of James Cunningham "Bloody Bill" Cunningham (1756–1787) was an American loyalist infamous for perpetrating a series of bloody massacres in South Carolina's backcountry in the fall...
  • William Walter Loomis (1819 - 1896)

Bring over your ancestors who may not have always been on the right side of "the law ..."

Some definitions

Rogue

  • a dishonest or unprincipled man: "you are a rogue and an embezzler!"
  • a person whose behavior one disapproves of but who is nonetheless likable or attractive (often used as a playful term of reproof): "Cenzo, you old rogue!"

Rustler

  • n. One who works or acts with energy and promptness; an active, efficient person; a “hustler”; originally, a cowboy.
  • n. A cowman who procures his stock by capturing the cattle of other owners and branding them as his own; a cattle-thief.
  • * “The prosecution of these men was undertaken with something of the old vigor that characterized the pursuit of horse thieves, with this difference, that, whereas all the world had hated a horse thief as a common enemy, very much of the world found excuse for the so-called rustler, who was known to be doing only what his accusers had done before him.” The Story of the Outlaw: A Study of the Western Desperado

About Stagecoach Robbery

A real danger for stagecoach travelers on local or long haul lines was the risk of robbery by highwaymen, road agents, or bandits, right up into the early 20th Century. Cash payrolls and bank transfers were regularly carried by these scheduled stage lines. California saw the first stagecoach robbery in April 1852, when a Nevada City stage was robbed outside Illinoistown by a gang led by Reelfoot Williams.

Tom Bell led the earliest well-organized stagecoach robbery gang, using informants to alert them when a stagecoach had a shipment of gold or rich passengers aboard. His gang began and ended in 1856 but was followed by others, like Rattlesnake Dick, who used Bell's methods. One of the more successful individual road agents was Charles Bolles a.k.a. "Black Bart", known to have robbed California stages from 1875 to 1883. As gold mining spread across the West, so did the stagecoach robbers.

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