Historical Details

Hat Creek Dateline: 1878/08/02

Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 05/29/1991

Agent comes to help apprehend robbers
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer

Special agent John B. Furay of the Post Office Department came through on the up coach to Deadwood a few days ago. He was sent by the United States Government to help apprehend the road agents that began robbing the U.S. Mails in late July. Furay is a seasoned frontiersman who has soldiered under colonel William O. Collins with the 11th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, along the Oregon Trail in the '60's. Now with the Post Office Department, he has traveled about 4,000 miles in the last year throughout the state of Nebraska, and the territories of Wyoming, Dakota, Utah, Idaho and Montana inspecting the official bonds of their postmasters.

Shortly after his arrival in Deadwood, Furay was able to find a source of information about the activities of the outlaws. He has reported that: "The fact that Jackson Bishop, the Colorado murderer and outlaw, Frank Towie, Jack Campbell, Tom Reed and a deserter from the Third Cavalry, with Persimmon Bill were the six men who stopped the stage on July 25, is well known to me, still there is not a particle of legal proof of the fact as they were closely masked, and the passengers and driver could not, as they say, possibly identify them."

D.B. Parker, chief special agent of the Post Office Department in Washington, D.C., has been informed by Furay that there are several gangs of road agents at work along the Cheyenne and Black Hills trail. He said the whole northeastern corner of Wyoming Territory is "infested with various gangs of the most desperate outlaws (including Jesse James) to be found anywhere perhaps on this continent. They have various places where they receive food and information, which places are well known, but the buffalo are in the country in which they are staying and they profess to be "hunters" and when they rob the stages and mails, they know that they can not be identified sufficiently to make a conviction.

"The few settlers there are honest, will give no forfeit if it becomes known. The only way to get evidence is to buy up certain members of the 'confidence gang' at Custer, Lead City, Central and Deadwood, have them go out and join outlaws, be captured with them and then turn state's evidence."

There is no civil authority whatever in the country infested by the robbers. Furay further stated, that recent congressional legislation prevents the use of troops to guard the mails. Now that the highwaymen know there is nothing to fear from the armed forces, one band of renegades even dismounted and disarmed a cavalry escort of a mail coach between Fort McKinney and Fort Fetterman.

Furay estimated that it would cost from $3,000 to $7,000 to carry out his plan to buy up gang members and that he needed money not promises. (Note: That would be $120,000 to $280,000 in today's 1991 dollars.)

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

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