For more than a century, some $28,000.00 in
gold and silver coins have been missing after the little known Wham
Paymaster Robbery occurred near Pima,
Arizona. Though eight suspects were
caught and tried for the crime, they walked away free men. The tale of the
robbery and the mystery that surrounds remains unsolved today.
In the early morning hours of May 11, 1889,
U.S. Army Paymaster, Major Joseph Washington Wham was preparing for a trek
from Fort Grant to
Fort Thomas to pay the
salaries. The day before, he had made payments to the troops and Fort
Grant, but the men at Fort Thomas, Camp San Carlos and
Fort Apache were awaiting their pay.
Wham, along with his
clerk, William Gibbon, and Private Caldwell, his servant and mule
tender, climbed into a canopied ambulance driven by
Soldier, Private Hamilton Lewis for the 46 mile trip to Fort
Thomas. The payroll of more than $28,000 in gold and silver coins was
locked in an oak strongbox in the ambulance.