Joking Bandits

Isadore Solomon

With a stage robbery anything could happen. It depended on the robbers and the behavior of the passengers. A well-known and presumably well-liked stage robber up near Virginia City was Andrew Jackson “Big Jack” Davis. He was a likable outlaw who was reputed to serve hors de overes and champagne on a silk tablecloth to the passengers while his gang blew the strongbox.

The old Black Canyon Stage Line ran from Phoenix to Prescott had some steep grades making it a favorite for stage robbers. In August 1882 two highwaymen held up the stage. Among the passengers was a well-known merchant named Isadore Solomon.

After checking one man’s pockets and finding only thirty dollars the bandit remarked, “You are about as hard up as I am,” and gave the money back. Solomon surrendered a gold watch and fifty-five dollars.

The robbers, who seemed to be relaxed old hands at robbing stages, talked and joked with the passengers as they were tearing open the strong box and Solomon took the opportunity to compliment them on their good behavior and then asked if he could have his watch back. The outlaw smiled and gave it back.

Another passenger asked if he could borrow a dollar for breakfast and instead was given two. Solomon then said he was also dead broke and was “loaned” three dollars.

About that time the northbound stage from Phoenix approached and the highwaymen, armed with shotguns, brought it to a halt and ordered the passengers to get out.

After they’d gone through both strong boxes and cleaned out the passenger’s pockets the two bandits, wearing silk neckerchiefs to cover their faces, told everyone to get on board and get moving. As far as is known the two old pros were never apprehended.

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