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Clipped signature from the legendary Black Bart. Extremely Rare!
"Charles E. Boles", 2x½. The signature was removed from a September 1864 receipt for military stores for Company B, 116th Illinois Infantry. Boles signed as First Sergeant, witnessing the other signatures. During the siege of Vicksburg, May 18-July 4, 1863, Boles had been promoted to First Sergeant. He was with General Sherman's army, and on May 26, 1864, he received a severe wound in the right abdomen. Boles returned to his unit in August and continued the "March to the Sea" with Sherman. After the war, in 1867, Boles went to the silver mines of Idaho and Montana then, in 1871, to the gold fields of California. On July 26, 1875, the Sonora to Milton stage in Calaveras County, California was robbed by a man wearing a flour sack over his head with two holes cut out for the eyes. He carried a double-barreled shotgun and wore a long linen duster and sacks on his boots as well. His voice was deep and resonant and the only thing he said was: "Please throw down the box!" He was polite and used no foul language. These became his trademarks. Boles, like many others, read "Dime Novel" style serial adventure stories that ran in the newspapers. In the 1870s, the "Sacramento Union" ran a serial called The Case of Summerfield. The story's villain, Bartholomew Graham, had unruly black hair, a large black beard and wild gray eyes and dressed in black. Called "Black Bart", he was wanted for crimes including robbing Wells Fargo stages. Boles decided to build on this fictional legend. On August 3, 1877, the stage from Point Arena to Duncan's Mill in Sonoma County was robbed of $300 in coin. The posse that went to the site of the robbery found a poem on a sheet of paper under a stone atop a tree stump. It began: "I've labored long and hard for bread/for honor and for riches/But on my corns too long you've tred (sic)/You fine haired sons of Bitches/Black Bart...." On July 25, 1878, after stealing $379 and a $200 diamond ring, Boles left another poem, signing it "Black Bart". From 1875-1883, there were 28 recorded robberies attributed to Black Bart, whose annual "income" was a respectable $6000. When Black Bart held up the stage from Sonora to Milton on November 3, 1883, he dropped his handkerchief, which had a laundry mark. It was traced to a San Francisco laundry. The laundry's owner said it belonged to a respectable mining engineer named Charles E. Bolton. It was Boles. Coincidentally, both his first and last robberies were the Sonora to Milton stage. Boles was sentenced to six years and was taken to San Quentin prison on November 21, 1883. He was released after four years for good behavior on January 22, 1888. He was seen at the Nevada House in San Francisco on February 28, 1888. The next day he disappeared and was never heard from again. Light diagonal crease touches the "l". Closely cut signature. Fine condition.

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