Poetic 'notes' left at crime scenes by Charles E. Boles (b. 1829; d. after Feb 1888)  

AKA  Black Bart (The gentleman bandit)

The Outlaw & Poet Known as Black Bart


While browsing the web recently looking for classic poems, I came across an Old West History bit highlighting 25 July as marking 144 years since Black Bart committed his fourth hold up where he had once again left a poetic note at the crime scene.   


So I read on further, 'cause I'd never heard of this 'outlaw' (or that any from the Old West had ever left poems), and this is what I found out.  Granted, this is a bit different from our usual start of the week Classic poems series, but I hope you'll find it as interesting as I did when I learned more about this person.




Charles Earl Boles, aka Charles E. Boles (or Bowles), C.E. Bolton, and Black Bart (Gentleman Bandit), was an outlaw who robbed Wells Fargo stagecoaches at least 28 times from 1875 to 1883 around California and Oregon. 


Black Bart became known as the “Gentleman Bandit” for his polite conduct during robberies.  People referred to him that way, and as a man of style and sophistication, because he was very witty and he never loaded the gun he used or did he ever rob passengers. 


He also became known for the notes in verse he would leave at his crime scenes.  Many of these notes have survived, but only the following two were able to be authenticated as having been written by him:


03 August 1877:


     I’ve labored long and hard for bread
     For honor and for riches
     But on my corns too long you’ve tread
     You fine-haired sons of bitches.


25 July 1878:


     Here I lay me down to sleep
     To wait the coming morrow,
     Perhaps success, perhaps defeat,
     And everlasting sorrow.
     Let come what will, I'll try it on,
     My condition can't be worse;
     And if there's money in that box
     'Tis munny in my purse.


Upon his release from prison in January 1888, Black Bart was asked by reporters if he planned to resume robbing stagecoaches, and he replied with a smile on his face:  "No, gentlemen".  Then another reporter asked if he would write more poetry.  He laughed and said:  "Now, didn't you hear me say that I am through with crime?" - as reported by many websites I consulted about this man



What an intriguing character, wouldn't you say?  No one knows for sure what happened to him after February 1888.  It would seem he simply disappeared.


Although true his poetic notes wouldn't be classed among the top-notch classics of poetry, still, the context of why they were written is most irregular and unusual which stood out for me.  And in contrast to the greats, it just made me smile.  In the same token, they provide a further interesting recorded glimpse of who this notorious persona was. 


Obviously, glorifying a criminal isn't the intention here, but this man's blaring contradictory manner has nonetheless piqued my imagination and my curiosity going by all of the accounts pertaining to him!  A gentleman bandit poet?  That's a new one for me and it certainly leaves me with so many questions!


How about you?  



More information on Charles E. Boles




Written by:  Isabelle

Words by Editorial Team The PoetBay support member heart!
Read 330 times
Written on 2022-08-01 at 00:00

Tags American  Outlaw  Verses 

dott Save as a bookmark (requires login)
dott Write a comment (requires login)
dott Send as email (requires login)
dott Print text

Alan J Ripley The PoetBay support member heart!
I'm sure there are many poems to come out of the wild west , if no verification can be made on there source, isn't it better to
Publish them as author's unknown, then to lose them.
Enjoyed reading this. Regards Alan

MetaPoetics The PoetBay support member heart!
Such a curious fellow, I must say! Black Bart would've made headlines today and gone "viral." Thanks for the sketch about this obscure dacoit-cum-poet. A joy to read! :)

Uncle Meridian The PoetBay support member heart!
A joy to read these rhymes from an unlikely source! And I think that "fine-haired sons of bitches" is such a great put-down, with a particular punch being dealt by the adjective!

Lawrence Beck The PoetBay support member heart!
A very interesting and intriguing tale. Nobody knows what happened to him after he left prison. One story has him going to Japan.

jim The PoetBay support member heart!
This is great fun, and it does make a pleasant change from more traditional, classic poetry.