Hat Creek Dateline: 1877/03/28
Stagecoach is full today
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
There are several interesting passengers on the up (northbound) coach today. This is the next run since Johnny Slaughter's final and fatal drive March 25. The coach was full! There were three men in the middle seat, Mr. Bolthoff, representing a Denver firm furnishing iron and machinery for the mines; W. R. Stebbins who along with Post intended to open a new bank in Deadwood, and had given out word that there would be plenty of currency in a few days; the third man was John Durbin, who was accompanying his sister-in-law to Deadwood to join her husband, Tom Durbin.
Three ladies were in the rear seat, one was older than the other two. Both of the young ladies were traveling with their babies. One of the ladies with a baby was the demure little dark eyed Hattie Durbin on her way to join her husband, Tom, who, along with a cousin had just bought the Golden Terry mine. They filled the seat so they had to sit dovetail to keep their knees from knocking.
Just before the coach had left Cheyenne, Mr. Post had handed a package to John Durbin who buttoned it into his overcoat. At the first stop for a change of horses, the passengers got out to stretch their legs. At this time John handed Hattie the package and told her, "This is some money. Put it in your handbag with the baby's bottles. No one will suspect you of having it." Hattie did not know how much money was in the bag, but she knew enough to keep her mouth shut about it.
They spent the second night of their trip at Fort Laramie. When they arrived here the third evening, the "old girl" got into the station first and got the only available bed. Therefore Hattie sat up all night with the bag containing the baby's things and the money behind her. There was a coverlet on the floor for the baby. Before they left here this morning, John and her made a plan so that Hattie could get the bed at the next overnight stop at the Red Canyon station (near Edgemont). When they arrived there, John would take the baby and Hattie could hurry ahead and get the bed.
The rest of their trip to Deadwood will not be easy because the road is still rough and muddy as the winter snow is beginning to melt and the frost is going out of the ground in places.
Note: Johnny Slaughter's body had not yet even been returned to Cheyenne for burial. The irony of this trip and the bag of money in the baby's things is that it was the $10,000 in this bag that the bandits had hoped to get when they had killed Johnny Slaughter in the hold-up attempt a few days earlier. Hattie Durbin and the rest of the passengers arrived late, but safely in Deadwood and W. R. Stebbins opened his bank which was honored by a ball at the Grand Central Hotel in Deadwood April 6.