Historical Details

Hat Creek Dateline: 1878/01/12

Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 03/06/1991

Davis receives reward money for capturing road agents
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer

Our Laramie County Commissioners, after considering several claims for the reward, allowed the claim of Scott Davis "for the arrest and conviction of Blackburn and Wall, in the sum of four hundred dollars." (Note: In today's dollars this reward would represent $20,000)

Scott Davis also received the praise of the Wyoming Territorial legislature which was in session when he captured Wall and Blackburn, George Draper introduced the following resolution of thanks that was adopted by the law makers:

RESOLVED by the Council, the House of Representatives, concurring, that the indefatigable exertions and signal bravery displayed by Mr. Scott Davis in the recent capture of the notorious "road agents," Dunk Blackburn and (James) Wall, deserves recognition by the fifth legislative assembly of Wyoming Territory, and that the thanks of the assembly are hereby tendered him for his services in bringing these marauders to justice.

"Resolved, that the Hon. G. W. French, Secretary of the Territory of Wyoming, be requested to furnish Mr. Scott Davis with a copy of this resolutions."

After their capture and arrest by Davis in late November 1877, both Blackburn and Wall were arraigned in district court in Cheyenne, early in December. They both plead guilty to four separate indictments; for obstructing the United States mails, for highway robbery, assault with intent to murder, and for grand larceny. Each of them was sentenced to the state penitentiary for eight years with a $99 fine.

Blackburn, while awaiting removal to the Territorial penitentiary, along with three other prisoners attacked Laramie County Sheriff T. Jeff Carr in an attempted jail break. However on Christmas Day 1877, Deputy Sheriff Martin took Blackburn, Wall and three other prisoners to Laramie City in a caboose, attached to a guarded Union Pacific pay car. From the Laramie railway station they were whisked "over the river" to the penitentiary as quickly as possible. At last they are barred from future depredations along the Cheyenne and Black Hills trail.

Blackburn claimed to have come from a respectable family. He said he came west in 1870, worked as a teamster, then had taken hay and wood contracts until he began "trading horses."

The detail of four men and a non-commissioned officer who left Fort Laramie with Davis in pursuit of Blackburn and Wall, stopped in the Sweetwater Valley. By the time Davis had trailed the pair of outlaws 375 miles through deep snow, captured them near Green River and returned to Cheyenne with the outlaws and the stolen horses, the soldiers had not yet reported back to Fort Laramie. When they did come straggling in, they were courtmartialed for neglect of duty, convicted and sent to the federal penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

(Information source: "The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes," by Agnes Wright Spring.)

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