|Jarbidge Stage Robbery -
18 feet, but when the snow melted in late spring, it exposed
the exaggeration of the newspaper reports, and about 80 percent of the
prospectors became disgusted and pulled up stakes and headed elsewhere."
|The Jarbidge Stage Robbery was the last stage robbery
in the Old West. On December 5, 1916, the driver of a small two-horse mail
wagon was ambushed as he was riding to the town of Jarbidge, Nevada. The
driver was killed and $4,000 was stolen, however, three suspects were arrested
shortly afterward, including a horse thief named Ben Kuhl. Kuhl would eventually
become the first murderer in American history to be convicted and sent
to prison by the use of palm print evidence. The stolen $4,000 was never
recovered and is said to be buried somewhere in Jarbidge Canyon. According
to author Ken Weinman, the Jarbidge Stage Robbery is one of the "best authenticated
buried treasure stories in Nevada's long history."
In 1916, Jarbidge, Nevada, was one of the state's most
isolated communities, located within Jarbidge Canyon, along the Jarbidge
River, about 100 miles north of Elko, Nevada, and sixty-five miles south
of Rogerson, Idaho. There was a Native American village nearby, called
Owyhee, but it was just as remote as Jarbidge. The town was founded as
a tent city in 1909, due to a gold rush, which brought about 1,500 people
to the area. The winters there are very severe though and by the spring
of 1910 the population had reduced to just a few hundred. Ken Weinman wrote:
"The miners had staked their claims on the snowdrifts covering the ground
to a depth of as much as
December 5, 1916
At Jarbridge, Nevada
1 dead (driver)
In many western states and territories, the turn of the
century was no great change. Technological advancements were often slow
in reaching isolated communities. Jarbidge was no exception. There was
only one treacherous dirt road that led to the town and only one means
of communication with the outside world, the United States Mail stage.
Furthermore, in winter, twenty to thirty foot snow drifts could cut off
the community for several weeks at a time. Automobiles had not yet made
it to Jarbidge, so riding horses and driving wagons were still the main
modes of transportation. Because Rogerson, Idaho was the closest railroad
town to Jarbidge, the wagon driver, Fred Searcy, made round trips to and
from, not only delivering mail, but also company payrolls for the local
December 5, 1916 was payday for the miners. When Searcy
failed to arrive in town at the expected time, a small group of men began
to assemble at the post office, assuming that heavy snow was the cause
of the delay. But, as the day went on, Searcy did not appear. Postmaster
Scott Fleming asked a man named Frank Leonard to ride up to the top of
Crippen Grade, a 2,000 foot decline in the road that led down to the canyon
floor and the town. Leonard returned a few hours later, saying he could
not find Searcy or the wagon. Fleming and the others were very concerned
at that point. Over four feet of snow had fallen that day, which made the
idea of sliding down the grade into the Jarbidge River seem like a real
possibility. Fleming quickly formed a search party, but before leaving
he telephoned a woman named Rose Dexter, who lived about a half mile north
of Jarbidge, along the grade. According to Ken Weinman, Rose Dexter said
that the stage had passed by her house earlier that day and that she waved
to the driver. She also said that the driver was "huddled up on his seat
with his collar pulled up over his face to form some protection from the
blinding snow." The search party quickly found the mail wagon, less than
a quarter of a mile from the town's main business district. The stage was
pulled over on the side of the road and hidden behind a patch of willow
trees. Fred Searcy was found "slumped in his seat and almost covered with
snow." An unopened mail pouch was also uncovered, but the second pouch,
containing $4,000 (approximately equivalent to $97,560 of 2019) was
missing. Weinman says that at first the search party thought that Searcy
had frozen to death in the extreme cold, but closer examination revealed
that he had been shot in the head at a very close range. Powder burns in
his hair and on his scalp were observed.
Because the snow storm that was raging showed no sign
of letting up, the search party returned to town with the intention of
continuing the investigation of the area on the following morning. So,
on the next day, the search party attempted to re-enact the crime using
evidence found at the crime scene. According to Weinman, it was determined
that the assailant must have hidden in the sagebrush along the road and
jumped aboard the little wagon to kill Searcy and take control. However,
the Nevada State Archivist, Guy Rocha, claims that Ben Kuhl later confessed
to the murder and said that he killed Searcy over a dispute about how to
split the money, alleging that Searcy was in on the crime. After the re-enactment,
another patrol around the area was made and the searchers found both human
and dog footprints in the snow. The tracks led down to the river and at
its bank a blood stained shirt was found lying on the ground. While the
search party was looking around, a stray dog that had been following the
group began scratching at the dirt. A few seconds later, the dog unburied
the second mail pouch. The bottom was cut open and $4,000 in bills and
gold coins was missing. The clue was an important find, but the fact that
the dog seemed to know right where it was buried raised suspicions that
the animal tracks the group was following were made by the very same animal.
The search party compared the dog's feet to the footprints in the snow
and it was a perfect match. Then they wondered about who the dog would
follow through the storm and they decided that Ben Kuhl was the one the
dog was most attached to.
Kuhl and two of his associates, Ed Beck and William McGraw,
were arrested at their cabin without any trouble and a .44 caliber ivory-handled
revolver was found in their possession. According to Ken Weinman, Kuhl
proclaimed his innocence, saying that he spent the night in the Jarbidge
saloon. Witnesses confirmed that they saw Kuhl in the saloon, but because
they could not say at what time their testimony was meaningless. Kuhl could
have left the bar, committed the crime, and then returned in a relatively
short amount of time. After his arrest, a background check revealed that
Kuhl had a long criminal record. In 1903, he served four months in jail
at Marysville, California for petty larceny and, at some other time, he
was sent to the Oregon State Penitentiary for stealing horses. Furthermore,
Kuhl had recently been released from jail on a $400 bond and had already
been arrested in Jarbidge previously, for trespassing on private property.
The trial was held in the Elko County Courthouse, District Judge Errol
J. L. Taber presided over the case and District Attorney Edward P. Carville
was the prosecutor. The evidence gathered by the search party was all circumstantial,
but two forensic scientists from California linked a bloody palm print
on an envelope to Kuhl. For this, Judge Taber sentenced Kuhl to death and
gave him a choice as to how it should be done. Kuhl chose execution by
firing squad, but the Nevada Board of Pardons later voted to commute his
sentence to life in prison. Beck received a life sentence as well and McGraw
turned state's evidence. All three were transferred to the Nevada State
Prison together in October 1917.
Kuhl spent almost twenty-eight years in prison before
his release on May 16, 1945. At the time of his release, Kuhl had served
more prison time in Nevada than anyone else in the state's history. Weinman
says that the $4,000 was never recovered and that Kuhl never admitted to
the crime or the existence of buried money, even though the police offered
him time off his sentence if he revealed its location. Beck was paroled
on November 24, 1923.
Today the town of Jarbidge remains a small and isolated
place with a population of less than 100. Many of the old buildings that
stood during the time of the robbery are still intact, including the jail
house in which Kuhl was held. In 1998, a plaque was placed in front of
the jail, it reads:
Jarbidge Jail. Built after the town
was removed from the U.S. Forest by a 1911 Presidential proclamation it
replaced the constable's home or Forest Service cabin to restrain rowdy
miners and hold suspects for arrival of a sheriff deputy. A colorful story
tells of a burly miner frequently using the bunk to raise the roof to slip
out and return to the saloon, climbing back in his cell before morning.
Most noted prisoner was Ben Kuhl, who robbed the Rogerson-Jarbidge stage
in December 1916, killing Fred Searcy the driver, the last mail stagecoach
robbery in the U.S. and the first conviction based on a bloody palm print.
It was last used about 1945. Dedicated June 13, 1998 by Lucinda Jane Saunders.
Chapter 1881 E. Clampus Vitus.
|Stagecoach attacks - from HistoryNet
More stories of real events. Read at HistoryNet.
|Hanging Trees (USA) - from Wikipedia
In the United States, a hanging tree or hangman's
tree is any tree used to perform executions by hanging.
Hanging trees by state
* Greaterville Hanging Tree: Oak tree outside
of the ghost town Greaterville, Arizona, where Pima County police officers
lynched two Mexican
men for alleged
cattle rustling and other crimes in 1915. Located along a dirt road in
the northern Santa Rita Mountains, near the historic
* Vulture City Hanging Tree: Ironwood tree
located in the ghost town of Vulture City, Arizona, next to the remains
of Henry Wickenburg's
stone cabin built
circa 1863. Eighteen men were hanged from this tree in the late 19th century
for "high grading" (stealing gold ore).
* Calabasas Hanging Tree: Oak tree once located
next to a small jail building in Old Town Calabasas, California. Died in
the 1960s and felled
by a storm in 1995.
A second tree that still stands in Calabasas is also rumored to have been
used for hangings, though there is debate as
to which tree was
the real hanging tree.
* Hangman's Tree: Juniper tree in Holcomb
Valley, California, where the legal executions of at least four condemned
men were performed in
the late 19th century.
* Hangman's Tree: Sycamore tree located
on the Irvine Ranch in Orange County, California. In 1857 General Andres
Pico hanged two bandits
from this tree. A historical
marker now commemorates the event.
* "Hangmans" Tree: Oak tree, now dead, in
the ghost town of Second Garrotte, California. First settled in 1849, Second
Garrotte is Spanish
for "Second Hanging".
As many as 60 people were hanged from this tree. The remaining tree stump
is now preserved and is located on
State Highway 120.
* Jackson Hanging Tree: Live oak tree that
once stood at 26 Main in Jackson, California, before being cut down following
1862 Jackson fire.
Ten men were lynched from
this tree between 1851 and 1855. A historical marker now marks its original
* New Almaden Hanging Tree: Oak tree located
at the New Almaden Mine site in San Jose, California.
* The Hangin' Tree: Located in Montrose,
Colorado, and used in the 1878 hanging of George Bikford, who was accused
of robbery and horse
theft. The tree,
now dead, has been preserved and a historical marker has been placed at
* Pueblo Hanging Tree: Formerly located
on Union Avenue in Pueblo, Colorado. Felled June 25, 1883.
* Savannah Hanging Tree: Live oak located
in Colonial Park Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia.
* Hangman's Tree: Located in the Boot Hill
Cemetery in Dodge City, Kansas.
* Gallows Hill: A large tree once located
at Proctor's Ledge, near the base of Gallows Hill in Salem, Massachusetts,
was probably the site of
19 executions in
the 1692 Salem witch trials.
* Hangman's Tree: Ponderosa pine tree once
located in Helena, Montana. Ten men were lynched from this tree between
1865 and 1870 by the
Helena Vigilantes. Felled
by landowner, Methodist Minister W. M. Shippen, in 1875. Two pieces of
the tree now reside in the collection of
the Montana Historical
Society in Helena.
* Jefferson County Hanging Tree: Ponderosa
pine tree allegedly used for hangings in the territorial period of the
state's history. Located near
Clancy, in Jefferson County,
* Chloride Hanging Tree: Large oak tree in
the ghost town of Chloride, New Mexico.
* Hangman's Elm: English Elm located in Washington
Square Park in Manhattan, New York.
* Patchogue Hanging Tree: Located along
the Swan River on Grove Street in Patchogue, New York.
* Creek Hanging Tree: A 200-year-old bur
oak used for the hanging of cattle rustlers and Creek tribesmen. Located
on Lawton Avenue in
* Dallas Hanging Tree: Oak tree used in the
1887 lynching of Oscar Kelty, who murdered his wife, and as recently as
1900 for legal hangings
as Polk County,
Oregon's official gallows. Located near the Polk County Courthouse in Dallas,
* Lafayette Hanging Tree: First used in
1863 and finally in 1887, when convicted murderer Richard Marple was hanged
in what became known
as "The Lafayette Gypsy
Curse" incident. Formerly located on private property in Lafayette, Oregon;
cut down by property owners in the
* Salem Hanging Tree: Located in Salem,
* Charleston Hanging Tree: Located in Charleston,
South Carolina, and reputed to be the site where Denmark Vesey and 34 of
were hanged in 1822.
* Hangman's Tree: Located on a ridge, formerly
known as Hangman's Hill, in Dinosaur Park in Rapid City, South Dakota.
* Bandera Hanging Tree: Oak tree, also known
as the "Tragedy Tree." Site of the July 25, 1863, hanging of seven of nine
immigrants by Confederate
soldiers on patrol from Camp Verde during the Civil War, for reasons unclear
and still disputed. Members of the
patrol decided to execute
the immigrants on pretense of fleeing military service, even though they
had willingly surrendered and were
accompanying the patrol
back to base to sort out the nature of their travel. Their remains were
looted and left naked and un-buried, leading
many to believe they had
been murdered by the roving patrol for their belongings. Some of the soldiers
with the 25-strong contingent that
apprehended the immigrants
rode for base when they learned over night camp that their comrades planned
to change plans and hang the
captives, while the remaining
soldiers and commanding officer were seen the next day passing back through
Bandera wearing the
immigrants' clothing and
leading their horses. $900 known to have been carried by one of the immigrants
for the purchase of livestock was
never found, along with
a teenage boy who had accompanied them. Located on the Hanging Tree Ranch
south of Bandera,
* Brazoria Hanging Tree: Located in Brazoria,
Texas. Known as the Masonic Oak for the formation of the first Texas Masonic
Lodge by early
Texans (including Anson
Jones, future third Republic of Texas President) who met under its branches
in 1834, it is preserved and located in
a park of the same name.
Urban legend has it that from this same tree "two slaves were unjustly
hanged" and their ghosts now haunt the
area, causing horses to
freeze under the tree and cars to stall. However, no details, evidence,
or source material to confirm this internet claim
can be found. The Brazoria
area, which contains low moss-laden oaks, dense marshy woods and lots of
wildlife along the river bottom, is
the subject of many such
fantastic horror tales, including other hangings of "unidentified" people,
screams from the woods in the night,
and devil worship.
* Centerville Hanging Tree: Formerly located
in front of the courthouse in Centerville, Texas. Used to hang two outlaws
shortly after the end
of the American Civil
War and later in 1915 to hang a black man accused of murdering Centerville
resident Jim Sinclair.
* Coldspring Hanging Tree: Oak tree in Coldspring,
Texas, near the historic San Jacinto County jail building.
* Columbus Hanging Tree: Live oak located
just outside Columbus, Texas. Long after Texas enacted laws banning the
named Bennie Mitchell, Jr. and Ernest Collins were lynched from this tree
in 1935, after being forcibly taken
from the Sheriff's protective
custody by a masked mob who surrounded his car as he transported the young
men to court. The teens had
confessed to raping and
murdering a local 19-year old high school valedictorian named Geraldine
Kollman, but were too young to face
any severe penalty under
the law. The two teens had also implicated a third older man, who had earlier
been questioned and released, but
he could not be found
again. The tree still stands on the outskirts of Columbus, Texas, not far
from where Miss Kollman had been murdered
near her family's home.
* Goliad Hanging Tree: Large oak tree in
Goliad, Texas. For 24 years the Goliad County court was held under this
tree. Many hangings were
including several during the 1857 Cart War between American and Mexican
* Hallettsville Hanging Tree: Live oak tree
located in the Hallettsville, Texas, city park. Used for the September
12, 1879, execution of a Native
American man known as
"Pocket," who was found guilty of murdering an Englishman named Leonard
Hyde in 1878. After breaking into the
family home of a
former slave named Frank Edwards, a drunken Pocket threatened to kill Edwards
after Edwards had "knocked him down."
Pocket then rode
his horse on an attempt to procure weapons, a pistol and shotgun, the latter
from a farmer whom Hyde happened to be
claimed he needed the shotgun for hunting a flock of wild turkeys he had
just spotted, but when Hyde attempted to
on the alleged hunt, Pocket killed him with the pistol.
* Kyle Hanging Tree: Oak tree in Kyle, Texas.
According to local lore, in the 1840s a group of cowboys stumbled across
this tree and found
a dead man hanging from
it. The cowboys cut the man down and buried him at the base of the tree.
Later the Kyle Cemetery formed up
around the tree.
* Orange Hanging Tree: Pin oak tree once
located on Main Street in Orange, Texas. In use between the 1840s and 1880s.
Cut down in 1892.
* Page's Tree: Used in the 1837 execution
of a murderer named Page and two others. Located in the Clarksville, Texas,
* The Old Hanging Oak: 400-year-old live
oak tree in Houston, Texas. Said to have been used to hang eleven individuals
between 1836 and
1845, and this or an unknown
tree close to nearby Founder's Cemetery, several murderers after the Civil
War. Now preserved by the City of
Houston Civic Center Department.
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