Historical Details

Hat Creek Dateline: 1877/11/23

Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 02/13/1991

Davis treated to hero's welcome
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer

Scott (Quick Shot) Davis was treated to a hero's welcome when he arrived in Cheyenne today with the captured road agents Dunc Blackburn and James Wall. He had also recovered eight horses that had been stolen from the stage company.

A large crowd, including Laramie County sheriff Jeff Carr and his deputies, were on the platform when the Overland Express of the Union Pacific thundered into Cheyenne. As he stepped off the train and was greeted by the stageline superintendent Luke Voorhees, Davis asked, with a puzzled expression, "Why the crowd?"

Voorhees assured him that "They came down to get a look at a man who had nerve enough to capture two road agents."

David had started in pursuit of the two nearly three weeks ago, having recovered from the wound in his hip received during a stage holdup on Sept. 26. Davis was riding as shotgun messenger on the treasure coach.

When the coach arrived at the Lance Creek Station he found out that Blackburn and Wall had just stolen eight of the stage company's horses. When the coach reached here, Davis telegraphed Voorhees and asked for authority to go after the thieves. Voorhees reply was waiting for Davis when he arrived in Fort Laramie.

Although two feet of new now covered the entire area Davis started out with a detail of four soldiers and a non-commissioned officer from Fort Laramie. Acting on pure "hunch," he headed northwest up the Oregon Trail and soon picked up what he believed to be the right tracks. Swiftly he led the escort to Fort Fetterman, then to old Fort Caspar, past Independence Rock, Devil's Gate, and on to Split Rock in the Sweetwater Valley. Heavy snow had been falling and the soliers refused to go farther. They said their horses were played out and stopped and put up at a ranch.

Knowing that every minute counted, Davis pushed on alone. Late that night, when his horse played out, he stopped at a barn where he found a horse tied in a stall. He exchanged horses, and pushed on, without consulting the horse's owner. He went on through South Pass, crossed the Continental Divide and continued to South Pass City and Atlantic City.

By then new snow had completely covered the trail so Davis took his saddle and guns and boarded the coach for Green River. Along the way he again followed a hunch and got off at the Alkali stage station. He woke up Brocho Jim, the man in charge, and asked him if he had anyone staying at the ranch or if he had seen any strangers with horses. Jim replied, "No." Just then a woman opened a door into the room and said, "You know very well that those men are sleeping in the hay stack."

Brocho Jim became excited and talked in a loud voice, trying to warn the outlaws, but Davis hurried to the hay stack. In the bright moonlight he could see two men asleep in a bedroll. Davis commanded, "Throw up your hands."...continued next week. (Information source: "The Black Hills Stage and Express Routes," by Agnes Wright Spring.)

The Lusk Herald
February 20, 1991
Davis captures two stagecoach robbers

Nov. 23, 1877 continued:
Scott (Quick Shot) Davis, captain of the shotgun messengers for the Cheyenne Black Hills Stage and Freight Line, was hot on the trail of Blackburn and Wall with horses they had stolen from the Lance Creek stage station. Davis's 375 mile ride across the barren, snow covered Wyoming Territory was about to pay off.

A short distance north of Green River at the Alkali Springs stage station, in the bright moonlight, Davis could see two men sleeping in a bedroll at the edge of a haystack.

"Throw up your hands," he commanded. The pair came up out of the bedroll and, according to Davis, "They came up shooting," then they started to run. Davis fired and the men returned the fire. One of the outlaws went down, wounded in both legs. The other one dodged around the corral and escaped into the night.

The man on the ground gasped, "You have put a pair of shackles on me that I can't get off." Davis at once recognized him as James Wall.

Davis did what he could to care for Wall's wounds and placed him in custody of Charles Brown, a deputy from Green River. Brown took the outlaw down on the next stage. Wall told Davis that Blackburn could not survive long in that extreme weather because he had fled without his coat, shoes, or hat. In the haystack, Davis found a pistol belonging to himself, which had been stolen in a stage coach robbery.

The eight horses stolen from the Lance Creek stage station were soon recovered by Davis. He took the horses to Green River, following the southbound stage.

Upon his arrival in Green River, Davis spread the word around town that he was expecting another outlaw to head that way. A man minus his coat and hat, and with his feet tied in a pair of under-drawers entered Barrett's store about eight o'clock that evening. His arrival was reported at once to the police and Davis by J. R. Morgan.

They immediately began to "keep cases on the new arrival." Within 15 minutes after he had gone into Barrett's store, the man emerged wearing a new hat, overcoat and rubber shoes. He then hurried to Pete Appel's restaurant. As soon as he had finished eating, he was arrested by Sweetwater County Deputy Sheriff, "Pawnee Charlie" Gorsuch.

At the time of his arrest, the man readily admitted that he was Dunc Blackburn. "I'd stand you off if I had my gun, but I hid it outside of town," he said as he surrendered. Later Blackburn showed Davis and the deputies where the gun was hidden. He gave it to "Pawnee Charlie" as a gift. When he was searched, Blackburn was found to have three buckskin money sacks containing some gold coins, about $150 in currrency and a watch.

Davis was treated to a hero's welcome as he returned to Cheyenne today with the road agents and the horses. A large crowd, including Sheriff Carr and his deputies, and Luke Voorhees were on the platform when the Overland Express of the Union Pacific thundered up to the depot.

(Information sources: "Pioneering on the Cheyenne River," by Malcolm Campbell)

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Brown, Charles (02/23/1922 - 02/26/1922) View Record
Obituary Campbell, Malcolm (11/06/1888 - 12/17/1978) View Record
Obituary Voorhees, Luke (11/29/1834 - 01/16/1925) View Record