First Wanted Notice for Sam Bass

79 [Outlaw] Union Pacific Railroad. DESCRIPTIONS OF MEN WHO ROBBED THE EXPRESS CAR AT BIG SPRINGS STATION, UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD, SEPT. 18, 1877. [No place but probably Omaha, Neb., 1877] Narrow 4to broadside, two stains but else fine, with contemporary blue pencil notations (probably for publication). The first ‘wanted poster’ for Sam Bass, this list of descriptions for five outlaws who are generally agreed to have conducted the first train hold-up. Bass and Joel Collins had been robbing stages in the Black Hills in 1876-77 when they decided to hold up the Union Pacific. They escaped with $60,000 in gold, but two accomplices (described on this sheet) were shortly killed – Bill Hefffridge and James Berry – there are blue pencil notations next to each description here ‘dead.’ At the top of the broadside is written in blue pencil, ‘Joel Collins was leader – Dead.’ Bass is described here as 5 foot 7 or 8 inches, 140 to 150 pounds, from 23 to 25 years old (he was 26); ‘quite young and boyish looking, dark complexion, hair black and cut short, moustache black and silky and not large; beard, black, thin and not very stiff showing a few weeks growth; has very white teeth, and shows his front teeth very much when laughing; is a slow talker and does not talk very much; drinks very little and does not use tobacco; is called a Texas man.’ There are similar detailed descriptions for the other outlaws. Bass escaped to Texas, but before he was killed in Round Rock the next year (1878) he managed to write himself into the legends of Texas outlaws. Not known in any private or institutional collection.

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