Born in Laporte, Iowa as Sam Hassell, he headed westward when he was still a young man. He began his criminal career in Texas, where he was associated with several outlaw gangs. The law finally caught up with him in Gonzales County, Texas and he was convicted, in about 1889, of horse rustling and sentenced to a five-year prison term in Huntsville. However, just four months shy of completing his term, he escaped.
The three men would soon join up with Black Jack Christian’s High Fives Gang, at which time Sam Hassell began to use the name of Bob Hayes.
Hayes and other members of the gang attempted to rob the International Bank of Nogales, Arizona on August 6, 1896. Though the gang’s bank robbery attempt was unsuccessful, the men were quickly pursued.
On October 2, 1896, Hayes was with the gang during an attempted train robbery of the eastbound Atlantic and Pacific train in Rio Puerco, New Mexico. The plan was foiled when U.S. Deputy Marshal Will Loomis emerged from a passenger car and killed Code Young with his shotgun. The rest of the gang scattered without so much as a dollar from the train.
The next month, a posse caught up with the men at the Diamond A Ranch in the San Simon Valley of southwest New Mexico. In the inevitable gunfight that ensued, Hayes was killed by lawman Fred Higgins. One of the ranch cowboys who went by the moniker of “Sammy Behind the Gun,” transported Bob Hayes’ dead body to the railroad station at Separ.
In the meantime, Black Jack Christian and George Musgrove escaped. Still on their tail the following April, they tracked the fugitives to a cave near Clifton, Arizona, and yet another gunfight erupted. Christian was killed, but two others were able to flee.
© Kathy Weiser-Alexander, May 2018.
Hayes, Alden, C.; A Portal to Paradise; University of Arizona Press, 2000
Thrapp, Dan L.; Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography: G-O, Arthur H. Clark Company, 1988.
Tanner, Karen and John D.; Last of the Old-Time Outlaws: The George West Musgrave Story, University of Oklahoma Press, 2002