Road agents stop down stage
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
A series of interesting events have taken place along the stage route north of here in the last 10 days. At about 8:30 on the morning of June 14 the down stage was stopped by road agents about 25 miles north of here (northwest of Red Bird). The road agents, with their faces blackened, sprang in front of the stage team in a narrow ravine. One of the robbers covered Skinner, the shotgun messenger and the driver with his rifle, while the other one ordered Skinner to throw out the treasure box. There are conflicting reports as to the contents of the box, one that it was empty, the other that there was $3,050 in the box obtained by the road agents.
A week later, Deadwood stage agent Isaac Gray sent the following telegram to stage line superintendent Luke Voorhees:
Deadwood D.T., June 21. Last Tuesday three horse thieves, Louis Curry, James Hall and A.J. Allen were captured near this place and horses stolen from the stage company were taken from them, the thieves were lodged in the jail at Rapid City. On Wednesday night the jail was broken open and the thieves taken out and hanged by unknown parties.
In the meantime, the body of W. McLachlan, who had disappeared some time ago while hauling supplies for the stage line was found. It appeared that he had been shot down in cold blood, by thieves making off with his horses. It is generally thought that the three hanged thieves were guilty of McLachlan's murder, stealing his horses and the robbery of the 14th. Some think that young Hall may have been innocent and was just in the company of Curry and Allen by unusual circumstance.
After the hanging near Rapid City, the bodies were buried in a triple grave. A pine board was erected over the grave which read:
A.J. Allen/Age 35; Louis Curry/Age 29; Jas. Hall/Age 19
HORSE THIEVES BEWARE
Here lies the bodies of Allen, Curry and Hall
Like other thieves, they had their rise, decline and fall.
On yon pine tree they hung till dead
And here they found a lonely bed.
Then be a little cautious how you gobble horses up,
For every horse you pick up here, adds sorrow to your cup;
We're bound to stop this business, or hang you to a man,
For we've hemp and hands enough in town to swing the whole damn clan.
(Information sources: "Pioneer Days In The Black Hills," by J.S. McClintock; "Pioneer Years In The Black Hills," by Richard B. Hughes; "The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes," by Agnes Wright Spring.)