The Trick by Which the Old Time Mining Man of Colorado Saved Himself and Sacrificed His Fellow Travelers and the Story Sequel.
This article from the June 5, 1909 edition of the Marin County Tocsin recounts the story of how a traveler fooled stage robbers in Colorado mining country.
“When the passengers In the old coaching days found themselves In the clutches of the ‘road agents’ they instinctively hurried, during the short time that driver and guard were being put In a proper state of helplessness, to secret money and valuables In the first safe place that suggested itself,” said a veteran Colorado mining man. “But such precautions were useless, for there was small time and smaller opportunity of place to hide anything in a mere shell of a coach. If a man was found without money, they stripped him and searched the stage as well.
“The experience of Pat Clohesy, an old time mining man of Colorado, is historic. One afternoon he took the stage from Silver Cliff camp, bound for the railroad, sixty miles away. In the coach were a dozen other passengers, none of whom knew him. As they reached the narrowest part of the gorge that leads out of Wet Mountain valley a loud command of ‘Hold up your hands’ brought the stage to a sudden standstill and every passenger in it to a swift realization that unless quick action was taken he would go broke. One crammed his wad of bills down his boot leg; another thrust his roll down the back of his neck; a third took off his hat, put his wallet inside and set it back on his head. Every man Jack of them attempted to secret his money except Pat Clohesy. and Pat sat perfectly quiet.
“In a few moments a rifle barrel appeared at the window, and there came the order, ‘Hands up and all out!’ Out the passengers tumbled and stood in line with lifted hands. Pat at the far end. When the searching highwayman went through the first man he found nothing. Irritated at this, he started through the second, with the same lack of success. Angry at this, the bandit turned to his fellow robber, who stood covering the line with his Winchester.
“They have been tryin’ to hide their stuff, d—n ’em!’ he exclaimed. ‘We’ll Just make ’em strip, and then we’ll go through the stage. They’ll pay for puttin’ us to all this trouble!’
“Then up spoke Pat Clohesy from the far end of the line. ‘Gentlemen,’ he said, addressing the highwaymen. ‘I know you’re In a hurry, and I know I’m a poor miner with all my property in the world—just the $l5 I’ve got—in my pocket. If you’ll leave me that little roll, I’ll tell you where these other fellows have hidden their swag, so’s you can collect It quick and skip out is it a bargain?’
” ‘Sure.’ said the man with the guarding rifle. Fifteen dollars meant nothing to the band compared to the risk. ‘Well,’ said Pat. pointing to the first in line, ‘that fellow’s money is stuffed down his right boot leg.’
“The holdup Investigated and drew forth a plump roll of bills from the boot leg. That next man.’ went on Pat, ‘has got his money hid under the hind seat In the stage.’ The bandit found a fat wallet stuffed under the cushion. The next has got bis money in his hat and the next crammed his stuff down the back of his neck, and the next’— Pat went down the line of them, while the highwayman drew forth money from all manner of places. Swiftly collecting their booty, they bundled the passengers back In the coach, set driver and guard back on their seats and told them to go ahead, not however, before they had given Pat a twenty dollar bill and a hearty slap of thanks on his Irish back.
“The storm that broke over his head inside that coach after It had rolled a safe distance from the bandits threatened his very life before he could get a hearing. Had It not been that the robbers had disarmed them all and Pat was a huge man he never would have got away alive.
” ‘Each of you figure up just how much you’ve lost,’ he said to his fellow passengers when at last they would listen, ‘and I’ll pay you back not only what that is, but an equal amount In addition, for the bother I’ve given you,’ and he pulled from an inner vest pocket a huge roll of bills. In bewilderment the travelers counted up their losses. Collectively It was about $1,000. Pat peeled off two $1,000 bills from the bulky mass of money and. handing them to a responsible passenger, asked him to make correct division when they reached the railroad.
“‘I’m sorry for the unpleasant quarter hour I caused you.’ he continued, ‘but it was the only thing I could do to save myself. I have Just sold a mine back in Silver Cliff for $60,000 cash and had no other way to bring the money out except In my pocket here is the bundle of it’ and he held up the fat roll. ‘When I heard the holdups outside I thought it was all up, for you can’t hide money from those hounds. But when you fellows pulled out your money to hide it and I saw that none of you had any large amount I thought I would work a game on the road agents and give you away to the villains in order to save myself. I surely did! They’ve got $1,000, but I’ve saved my money!’ “—Washington Post