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Sheep Camp: 1897



"BLACK JAKE," TERROR OF THE A.T.


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Daily Iowa State Press / June 24, 1899

For Three Years His Gang of Desperadoes Has Gone Unpunished.

The man who secures the body, dead or alive, of a murdering bandit known as “Black Jake” along the frontier of the Southwest will get $5,000 cash and earn the thanks of many people and corporations in the Territories of New Mexico and Arizona.

For two years and a half a band of outlaws known as the “Black Jake” gang has robbed, marauded and murdered at intervals of a few months in widely separated and different parts of these Southwestern territories. The Southern Pacific Railroad Company has brought its most expert bandit catchers to this region from Texas, California and the Territories, and has spent a good-sized fortune in trying to lay hold of the outlaws.

The Santa Fe Railroad Company has had four different sets of cowboys and plains detectives each employed for a month at a time in pursuing “Black Jake” and his gang on a dozen different clews. Marshals of Arizona and New Mexico have been equally vigilant, and have been active in sending sagacious peace officers of the plains to catch the bandits, and the United States troops have galloped here and there along the frontier in vain quests of “Black Jake” and his followers. A reward of $5,000 is offered jointly by the executives of the territories for the capture of “Black Jake” dead or alive, and even now a score or two of men are searching over the wild, dreary and uninhabited mountain chain which stands on the border between Mexico and the United States, in the hope of earning the tempting reward offered for the taking of the outlaws.

The rise of the notorious gang dates from the early days of August, 1896. “Black Jake” is the frontier name for a former United States scout named Jacob Emmons. He enlisted in the military service at Fort Whipple, near Prescott, Ariz., after he had been a cowboy in the Territories for eleven years. He came originally from the vicinity of Vineland, N.J., and the cowboys and his comrades at the garrison say he had an unusual education.

But he was born tough. He shot and killed a barkeeper at Williams, Ariz., when he was but twenty, and narrowly escaped hanging. As a scout be was a failure, because no one had confidence in him. He was left $1,500 by a New Jersey relative in 1893, and when he got out of the service he spent all the money in a month in Phoenix and Yuma. Then he drifted down to Sonora, Mexico, and the few people who remembered him thought he was probably dead down there until the news came that he was the head of a reckless gang of bandits who were after gold coin at the sacrifice of any life that baffled their efforts.

On or about Aug. 8, 1896, several men employed in the general merchandise store of the Hualipi Mining Company, two miles north of Kingman, Ariz., were roused from their noonday siestas behind the counters one hot, blistering day, by four cowboys who walked in and asked to see some saddles. One of the store men started to go upstairs to show the strangers his stock of saddles. The others were too warm and sleepy to move, but the moment they saw each of the supposed purchasers whip out two long, murderous revolvers at full cock they were instantly very much awake.

When each of the store men looked into the muzzle of a pistol as if into the mouth of a railroad tunnel, he knew that be and his store companions were in the hands of bandits. While one bandit, a tall, dark complexioned man with deep set eyes and mammoth tattooed stars on his hands, went about the store seeking money and transportable valuables, the store men were kept looking at very close range into the muzzles of cocked revolvers. In ten minutes, perhaps, some $1,400 in coin was taken, for there is not the convenience of bank deposits in frontier settlements.

Then the storekeepers were bound and gagged- One of them, John A. Bishop, resisted, and in the scrimmage was stabbed to death. The bandits bound the other men tighter and, hastening out, were soon on their broncos outside. Before any of the men in the store could get loose and give the alarm the bandits were miles away on the alkali desert, where no one but a few poor, starved Hualipi Indians live in a territory of about 700 square miles.

The sheriff had no sooner set out to seek the bandits than the information came that the office force of the Resolute Mining Company, fifty miles over toward Ash Fork, had been held up, bound and gagged by the same gang on the day previous to the robbery and murder at Kingman. Some thirty ounces of gold and coin to the amount of $100 had been stolen from the safe.

In the latter part of the following month “Black Jake” and his gang robbed the bank at the rich cattle and mining town of Nogales, Ariz. It was a very bold deed. Three entered the bank. One covered the president, who was outside the railing; another stepped to the window and called the teller, who was sitting at some distance, and ordered him to hold up his hands. The teller promptly obeyed, and started to walk to the window, but was stopped before he could get there. The third man went down to the end of the railing to get behind it and at the cash. At the end he saw an open door leading into a room where several men were planning an irrigation scheme. He promptly held them up. Each man was thus busy holding some person with his six-shooter, and there was no one left to shovel the money into the bag.

Realizing that something must be done to change the combination, the man who had the irrigation convention at bay promptly shut the door on it. The slamming of the door attracted the attention of the gentleman at the teller’s window, and he turned to see what the trouble was. The instant the robber turned, the teller made a jump for his window, underneath which, on a shelf, reposed the bank six-shooter, which he grabbed and began shooting.

Over one hundred shots were fired inside o£ three minutes. Every man who could get a gun and a horse took the trail. A skirmish ensued among the rocks in the Los Animos cañon. “Black Jake” lost his horse, but got the one ridden by the sheriff of Pima county, and escaped into Sonora, Mexico.

Three months passed and the Arizona people began to hope and then to think that the Black Jake band had decided to remain permanently in the republic of Mexico. Late one night, in January, 1897, when the air was a little chilly in the semi-tropic regions, five men in masks walked in upon a faro game at Denning, N.M. While four of the masked men covered the eleven gamblers and kept their hands away above their heads, the tallest of the masked men gave his whole attention to the cashier of the layout. That official reached for his pistol, but he was too slow. He was shot in the face and he dropped forward on the green table. The robbers were gone in a twinkling.

Three murders were added in 1898 to the catalogue of crimes attributed to the notorious band. One was the shooting of a passenger on the stage from Tombstone to Grant Springs, in Arizona, when that vehicle was held up. and the passengers piled their watches, purses and other valuables in a heap for the use of the bandits. Another murder was that of a switchman for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company at Navajo, because, probably, he was suspected of having recognized the gang and of having plans for telling his suspicions to the sheriff.

The Santa Fe west-bound overland was held up by the gang west of Gallup last June. The express messenger was shot, the safe was dynamited, and a sack of gold and currency was secured. Sheriff Lawrence and twenty carefully picked men chased the gang for two weeks. Heavy rains fell, and not the faintest clew remained for trailing the outlaws across hundreds of miles of sunbaked soil in an uninhabited region. The general merchandise store of the Phelps Mining Company at Hueneme, in Yavapai county, A.T., was robbed one day last November, while two employes there were at dinner, and the two other men in the store were bound and gagged, but only a few dollars were had.

This gang is well acquainted with a large section of country to the southwest of here, and there are few men in that section, that will openly and single-handed do anything against them. In a posse it is different. A number of the men are their friends and help them with food, horses and information. Others are living on exposed ranches, where the robbers can come in, if they are revengeful, and kill the man who has helped an officer, or they can kill stock and run off horses. The gang is often seen by cowboys and men living on ranches, and to them the robbers have told their versions of their experiences.

The last congress overhauled the law regarding the emoluments of United States marshals, and now if a marshal sends out a man to make an arrest, and the deputy does not get the man he goes after, the government will not pay him anything. Under the provision of this law it was impossible for United States Marshal Hall to get men to take the trail. Even a deputy marshal wants to know that he will be paid for his time from when he starts on a trail until he is killed. He objects more to working for nothing than he does to getting killed.

 

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