Owners of stage guard treasure run
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
After the three stage coach robberies on July 18th the owners of the stage line all went to Deadwood to look over the situation and develop a plan to stop the robberies. On the next treasure coach leaving Deadwood, Gilmer and Davis were the guards. John Thornton (Jack) Gilmer, one of the owners of the stage line armed himself with a double-barrel shotgun and strapped himself on the rear boot of the coach.
The driver was Fred Hopkins, "Quick shot" Scott Davis, captain of the shotgun messengers was in the front boot beside the driver. They took the coach and its valuable cargo through to Cheyenne without any resistance from the road agents. Perhaps this can be partially explained by the following events that were unfolding at Fort Laramie.
On July 22, Laramie County Deputy Sheriff Hays, at Fort Laramie, heard that some road agents were at the Six Mile Ranch. This ranch, located six miles south of Fort Laramie, has long been frequented by various outlaws and sporting women. It has also been the site of several killings.
Deputy Hays, with an assistant and Adoph Cuny of the three Mile Ranch left at once to follow up on the tip. They easily found and arrested two men who gave their names as Duncam McDonald and Billy Webster. They were later correctly identified as the "wanted" road agents Dunc Blackburn and Clark Pelton, alias "the Kid."
Cuny was guarding Blackburn and Pelton as Deputy Hays and his assistant searched for other members of their gang. Somehow Pelton managed to shoot and kill Cuny, these two outlaws then fled. Three days later they were seen by Henry Chase of the Castle Ranch about 20 miles north of Cheyenne. He sent two of his men to Cheyenne to notify Sheriff T. Jeff Carr.
Shortly thereafter it was reported that two horsemen robbed the watchman at one of the Union Pacific railway snowsheds near Sherman station.
Since it was apparent that the two desperadoes were heading for the Laramie plains, Sheriff Carr at once organized a posse to pursue them. He sent Deputy Jim Talbot, Sergeant Major Gome and a squad of four especially picked soldiers from Fort D.A. Russell (Fort Warren). The couriers from the Chase ranch also accompanied them.
After Deputy Talbot and his posse crossed Cheyenne pass, they stopped at Fort Sanders for fresh mounts. From there, they pushed on to the North Park Country, then back down the Big Laramie River as they returned to Fort Sanders.
They returned to Cheyenne empty-handed only to earn that at one time they were within two miles of their quarry. While they were at Fort Sanders, Blackburn had been in Laramie City buying supplies. While there he read in the newspaper that the posse was in the area hunting him. He did not waste any time getting back to his hideout, which was on Rock Creek - some 40 miles to the north.
(Information source: "the Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes," by Agnes Wright Spring.)