Snake charmers and robbers

The Past

April 21, 2011 

Here are a few more "Events from the Past" from the Coarsegold Historical Society's As We Were Told, Vol. II. The shot articles give an idea of happenings from the "good old days."

The Snake Charmer: There was a fellow named Jones who was a snake charmer. He was showing his trade with a snake in a saloon in Coarse Gold Gulch when the snake suddenly bit him. Jones had forgotten his snake medicine; he died.

Vanity: There were several robbers who were quite confident of themselves, for they consented to have a photograph taken while holding up a stagecoach in 1905.

Hoof prints and sardine cans: One highwayman wasn't too cautious, for he rode a horse that had a peculiar shoe made of leather. He was easy to track down. Another clever robber had taken two blocks of wood and affixed a horseshoe to each. On top of the blocks he tacked two empty sardine cans, then tacked on another block of wood with straps so he could tie the contraptions to his shoes. He was very difficult to track after holding up a stage because the scent of sardines masked his personal scent, and after getting rid of the "shoes" the tracking dogs could not follow. To our knowledge he was never caught.

Too Much to Handle? One of the largest holdups occurred in 1905 in an area close to Grub Gulch on the Raymond-to-Ahwahnee road (Road 600). Wearing a barley sack mask, with blackened hands and carrying a shotgun, a robber stopped a stage. While robbing the passengers, a freight wagon and lumber wagon arrived. The robber made the drivers line up alongside the road and proceeded to rob both passengers and drivers. Three more stages arrived and the thief went through the same routine.

While engaged in this thievery, a cavalry unit arrived -- soldiers patrolled Yosemite Valley before the United States Park Service was formed. The robber had the soldiers line up, and soon they were joined by more troops with their officers. Soldiers were not permitted to carry shells for their rifles at that time as they often times went to the local taverns, and after a few drinks, shot up the taverns. It was thought the robber could have been a soldier at one time as he was aware that the soldiers would be unarmed.

All told, the robber had seven wagons/stages with their passengers and drivers, plus the troops and several officers held at bay. He took his time and made off with his loot. The total take from this daring holdup was $280 taken from 34 men and five women. It took two and a half hours to accomplish the deed.

The bandit gave a driver his card that stated: "In case we ever meet again: The Black Kid." The Black Kid was suspected of numerous other robberies up to 1906. To our knowledge, he was never caught.

Note: This story can be found on an E Clampus Vitus Grub Gulch Chapter 41-49 monument, Road 600.

Comments may be sent to Kay Good at -- This book can be purchased locally.

Comments may be sent to Kay Good at — This book can be purchased locally.

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