Black Bart in Butte County


Charles E. Boles 1829-???

On July 25, 1878, the notorious outlaw “Black Bart” held up a stagecoach on the Oroville-Quincy Road. Twenty-eight stagecoach robberies are credited to Charles E. Boles (aka “Black Bart”) and this was his fifth.

Boles had not had a great deal of success as a gold miner, so in order to finance his fancy for the good life in San Francisco, he turned to a career of crime, holding up stagecoaches from Calaveras to Siskiyou counties. If he hadn’t lost a handkerchief with a laundry mark, he might have gotten away with more.

The Butte County holdup was reported in the Weekly Butte Record for August 3, 1878.

Month JULY Issue Date AUGUST 03 1878 page 1(1)

Five years later, after Boles’s capture, the same newspaper recalled the incident, and included the verse Bart left at the scene.


Weekly Butte Record 17 November 1883

The second verse actually comes from a previous robbery, and the editor has kindly put blanks where Bart wrote some rather coarse language. Editors were more sensitive to their readers fine sensibilities in 1883. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks.

Black Bart disappeared from public notice after his release from prison in 1888. There is a theory (and a book) claiming that he spent the rest of his life as a druggist named Charles Wells in Marysville. If you want to read more about Black Bart, a good place to start is


About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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