Hat Creek Dateline: 1878/09/11
Letter helps locate Whoop Up Canyon robber of July 2
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
A letter that came to Cheyenne a couple of weeks ago has helped locate one of the road agents involved in the stage holdup on Whoop Up canyon on July 2. Through the letter Charley Ross, alias James Patrick, and by some thought to have been “Jack Campbell,” was traced to Eureka, Nev., and apprehended. At times he has also been confused with or identified as Charley Carey, the leader of the gang at the Canyon Springs robbery. He was brought back to Wyoming by Laramie County Sheriff T. Jeff Carr.
Charley Ross has been tried for his part in the Whoop Up canyon robbery. During this robbery a passenger by the name of Daniel Finn resisted, drew a revolver and shot one of the robbers. As Finn was about to shoot again, Ross, who was lying in ambush, shot him through the nose and mouth. The shot inflicted a painful, but not serious wound on Finn.
Ross was found guilty and sentenced to 12 years in the penitentiary, to be served in Lincoln, Neb.
Nathaniel K. Boswell, known as the “Fearless man of the plains,” had just rounded up a gang of outlaws that included Joe Manuse, who was involved in a stagecoach robbery on Old Woman’s fork, a few miles north of here on Sept. 13. At the time he was arrested, Manuse had in his possession an overcoat that had been worn by shotgun messenger Boone May that night.
Boswell, acting on a tip that a gang, planning to rob a hotel and a train, was hiding near Rock Creek, organized a 13 man posse, and went after them. Even though it was 30 degrees below zero and near midnight when they arrived on a special train, the posse went right to work. Boswell hastily gathered horses and riding equipment and led his men across the rough country in search of the camp.
Representing the Rocky Mountain Detective Association, Boswell captured the following men: Joe Manuse, “Dutch Charlie,” Frank Ruby, A.C. Douglas, Hank Harrington and Charles Condon. Shortly after these men were placed in jail in Laramie City, and other member of the gang was arrested in Cheyenne. John Irwin, who had been sent to Cheyenne for provisions, was arrested and detained on a charge of firing his revolver while in McDaniel’s Theater. He was taken at once to Laramie City by Boswell as a suspect in the murder of Robert Widdowfield and Tip Vincent near Medicine Bow in August. (Note: Douglas was sentenced to one year in the penitentiary, Manuse and Ruby each received four years, Irwin, the captain, and Condon were sentenced for life. While in jail in Laramie City, Irwin confessed to Bowsell that he had taken part in the Black Hills stagecoach robbery on September 13. Frank Towle, a pal of Irwin’s was killed during this holdup
(Information sources: “Empty Saddles, Forgotten Names—Outlaws of the Black Hills and Wyoming,” by Doug Engebretson; “The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes,” by Agnes Wright Spring.)