Tales of the Overland Stage

The company, did just what he expected, summoned him at once to New York for a consultation upon this last prospective sale. He left his confederate with instructions to act upon telegraphic consent, as soon as the sale was sanctioned and ratified. His confederate had no money, and expected that it would be provided by the agent„ but as the whole business was done by winks and nods, and expressions like “I understand,” and “That’s all right,” no arrangements were made for the money, the confederate supposing it would require only a stroke of the pen by the agent to settle that part of the transaction.

Stagecoach with guard sitting on top, protecting whatever wealth it might  have been carrying.

The agent went to New York and was so successful in his efforts, that the confederate soon received a telegram from Wells, Fargo & Co., consenting to the sale for $40,000, spot cash to be deposited at once in Wells, Fargo & Co.’s bank at Salt Lake City, and the property to be delivered by the agent as soon as he could return from New York. The confederate had to think and act quick, and hastening in to Salt Lake City he made arrangements for a temporary loan of the money, knowing as he did that the property was well worth five times the price named. He did not dare telegraph the agent for an explanation or for instruction what to do, and he acted without hesitation and soon had the money deposited in the bank.

This fact was telegraphed, and acceptance signified on the return of the trusted agent to Salt Lake City. In a few days he arrived and at once started over the line with his confederate and a partner to make a transfer of the property. This was accomplished in a few days, and they returned to Salt Lake City to deliver the bill of sale and make formal delivery of the money.

This was done with as much expedition as was possible in fear of some “slip twixt the cup and the lip,” which hastened both parties. When all was finally accomplished and it was duly published to the world that Jack Gilmer, the former division agent of the overland, and a contemporary of Slade, was the owner of the Montana line, the agent called him aside and said: “Now we will fix our little business and arrange for your interest in the line.”

Then it was that the second schemer showed his hand, and Jack Gilmer, in his peculiar nasal treble tones that were known all through the West, said: “Not much; I’m the sole owner of the Montana stage line; I bought it, and have no partner, and don’t intend to have, for I got it pretty cheap.”

The trusted agent glared at Jack in speechless surprise. Jack glared back from under his tilted hat brim and elevated his cigar to an angle of 45 degrees, and simply added “That’s what’s the matter.” The agent could do nothing, and, completely crestfallen, he returned to the East, but he never squealed, while Gilmer waxed rich from his rascality.

Jim Jams – Article in the Reno Evening Gazette, May 28, 1891

Rocky Mountain stage driving, Frederic Remington, 1904

“Talking about the Jim-jams,” said an old timer, “the horrors and hallucinations are different with different people. Some of the cases I’ve seen were laughable and instead of awakening pity and compassion for the sufferer, caused the observer to rather envy the victim for the visions of extraordinary joy that his actions and mutterings indicated were present in his disordered fancies.

Now there was a celebrated stage driver on the old Pioneer line running from Hangtown to Carson and Virginia City. His drive ended at Carson, and when he had ’em real bad, the company would let him lay off at Carson until he got over ’em and was all right again. Well, do you know he never suffered any from the attacks, because the spasms didn’t act on him like with some. When the spells came on him, he’d just begin to laugh and point out the window of his room, and nobody but the doctor could get him to say a word or tell what he was laughing at. So the boys would hustle around and bring the doctor, who’d give him something to quiet his nerves, and sit and talk with him and then he’d tell.

Sometimes he saw all out doors filled with the forms and faces of most beautiful women that he’d describe as being just like angles; but when he laughed the hardest then the vision was that of a big field covered all over with pumpkin pies. Singular fancy wasn’t it? It seemed he liked pumpkin pies better than any other kind, and his thoughts would run on pie when rum got the best of him.,’ At this point a charitable friend asked the old- timer to take something, and moving up to the bar, he removed a quid, took three fingers straight, and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, said: “Still I always felt kind o’ sorry for poor old Hank.”

A Lone Highwayman – Article in the Reno Evening Gazette, February 27, 1891.

Highway Men

“Throw up your hands,” were the words that greeted a horseman as he turned a sharp curve on the upper grade leading into Austin, in the Spring of 1865. “Hand out your purse” was the next command, and he handed it out to the lone highwayman who had him covered with a villainous looking revolver. The highwayman was not masked, was perfectly cool and seemed in no hurry. Opening the purse, which contained a fair supply of bills, he took out one dollar, and handing the purse and its contents back to the traveler, said “Move on.” The traveler did so without delay and wondered if that was the man who kept the toll-gate. A few minutes’ ride took him into Austin and after stabling his horse he went into Marioni’s Rotisserie and ordered his breakfast. While waiting for it and reading the paper, he was aware of someone taking a seat opposite to him, and when breakfast was served he laid aside the paper and began eating.

Looking up, his surprise was quite pronounced, to discover in his view, the lone highwayman, just commencing his breakfast also. Neither one spoke, and each one leisurely finished his breakfast, and stepped to the counter about the same time to settle. The highwayman laid down in payment the same dollar that he had extracted from the other’s purse on the grade. The meal was seventy-five cents, and for the change he took a cigar, lit it and stepped out on the sidewalk.

The traveler, surprised at his coolness, accosted him and said “Excuse me, but haven’t we met before, this morning?” And the highwayman answered, “Yes, we have.” Still more surprised at his coolness, the traveler said, “Well, will you please explain the liberty you took with me?” “Certainly,” was the reply, “I am broke, and can’t get work, and d—-d if I’ll beg.” The explanation seemed sincere, and at least was so convincing, that the traveler opened his purse again, gave him $5, and said “Take that to eat on, and when it’s gone, if you have not found work, come to me and get more.” He took it with polite thanks, hunted work, secured it, and in time became a substantial citizen of Austin, and afterwards, the man he robbed never divulged the name of the daring highwayman, and the old residents there would acknowledge that the trait displayed was characteristic of the man, if his name was given.

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