Interesting bit of Western history
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    Member indigo's Avatar
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    Interesting bit of Western history

    Interesting bit of Western history

    TRUCKEE, Calif. — Western stagecoach companies were big business in
    the latter half of the 19th century. In addition to passengers and
    freight, stages hauled gold and silver bullion as well as mining
    company payrolls.

    Stage robbery was a constant danger and bandits employed many
    strategies to ambush a stagecoach. Thieves rarely met with much
    resistance from stage drivers, since they had passenger safety
    foremost in mind. The gang was usually after the Wells Fargo money box
    with its valuable contents. Passengers were seldom hurt, but they were
    certainly relieved of their cash, watches and jewelry. Before the
    completion of the transcontinental railroad over Donner Pass in 1868,
    the only transportation through the Sierra was by stage. Rugged
    teamsters held rein over six wild-eyed horses as they tore along the
    precipitous mountain trails. The stagecoaches were driven by skilled
    and fearless men who pushed themselves and their spirited horses to
    the limit.

    One of the most famous drivers was Charles Darkey Parkhurst, who had
    come west from New England in 1852 seeking his fortune in the Gold
    Rush. He spent 15 years running stages, sometimes partnering with Hank
    Monk, the celebrated driver from Carson City. Over the years,
    Pankhurst’s reputation as an expert whip grew.

    From 20 feet away he could slice open the end of an envelope or cut a
    cigar out of a man’s mouth. Parkhurst smoked cigars, chewed wads of
    tobacco, drank with the best of them, and exuded supreme confidence
    behind the reins. His judgment was sound and pleasant manners won him
    many friends.

    One afternoon as Charley drove down from Carson Pass the lead horses
    veered off the road and a wrenching jolt threw him from the rig. He
    hung on to the reins as the horses dragged him along on his stomach.
    Amazingly, Parkhurst managed to steer the frightened horses back onto
    the road and save all his grateful passengers.

    During the 1850s, bands of surly highwaymen stalked the roads. These
    outlaws would level their shotguns at stage drivers and shout, “Throw
    down the gold box!” Charley Parkhurst had no patience for the crooks
    despite their demands and threatening gestures.

    The most notorious road agent was nicknamed “Sugarfoot.” When he and
    his gang accosted Charley’s stage, it was the last robbery the thief
    ever attempted.

    Charley cracked his whip defiantly, and when his horses bolted, he
    turned around and fired his revolver at the crooks. Sugarfoot was
    later found dead with a fatal bullet wound in his stomach.

    In appreciation of his bravery, Wells Fargo presented Parkhurst with a
    large watch and chain made of solid gold. In 1865, Parkhurst grew
    tired of the demanding job of driving and he opened his own stage
    station. He later sold the business and retired to a ranch near
    Soquel, Calif. The years slipped by and Charley died on Dec. 29, 1879,
    at the age of 67.

    A few days later, the Sacramento Daily Bee published his obituary. It read;

    “On Sunday last, there died a person known as Charley Parkhurst, aged
    67, who was well-known to old residents as a stage driver. He was in
    early days accounted one of the most expert manipulators of the reins
    who ever sat on the box of a coach. It was discovered when friendly
    hands were preparing him for his final rest, that Charley Parkhurst
    was unmistakably a well-developed woman!”

    Once it was discovered that Charley was a woman, there were plenty of
    people to say they had always thought he wasn’t like other men. Even
    though he wore leather gloves summer and winter, many noticed that his
    hands were small and smooth. He slept in the stables with his beloved
    horses and was never known to have had a girlfriend.

    Charley never volunteered clues to her past. Loose fitting clothing
    hid her femininity and after a horse kicked her, an eye patch over one
    eye helped conceal her face. She weighed 175 pounds, could handle
    herself in a fistfight and drank whiskey like one of the boys.

    It turns out that Charley’s real name was Charlotte Parkhurst.
    Abandoned as a child, she was raised in a New Hampshire orphanage
    unloved and surrounded by poverty. Charlotte ran away when she was 15
    years old and soon discovered that life in the working world was
    easier for men. So she decided to masquerade as one for the rest of
    her life.

    The rest is history.

    Well, almost. There is one last thing. On November 3, 1868, Charlotte
    Parkhurst cast her vote in the national election, dressed as a man.
    She became the first woman to vote in the United States, 52 years
    before Congress passed the 19th amendment giving American women the
    right to vote!
    Fred, TopPredator, admiral and 6 others like this.
    John

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    -Thomas Jefferson to James Smith, 1822.

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    Junior Member 82fb's Avatar
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    Awesome story. Thanks!
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    Senior Member TopPredator's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing that story I enjoyed it
    Rick

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    Senior Member Dryden-Tdub's Avatar
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    Borneo would have enjoyed that. I suspect that he would have already known the story though. Very well read man.



    Tom
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    Senior Member phelonius's Avatar
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    I first read about charley in the fifties, and I think her story was dramatized on the TV show Death valley days back then.
    BTW, Calamity Jane got the name Calamity because of the number of men she infected with V.D.
    Smitty Blackstone likes this.
    Phelonius

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    Senior Member asphalt's Avatar
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    Don't know about the rest of you.....but sure miss BORNEO...not that way Phelonius...
    Dryden-Tdub and admiral like this.

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    Senior Member OurDee's Avatar
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    Where is Borneo now?
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    Member Weldangrind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phelonius View Post
    BTW, Calamity Jane got the name Calamity because of the number of men she infected with V.D.
    Perhaps Chlamydia Jane would have been more accurate.

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    Super Moderator littletommy's Avatar
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    Borneo has left the forum.
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    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

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    Senior Member Darth's Avatar
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    Gay? Bi? Trans? Cross dresser?
    All of the above?
    Or just one cool as hell ol' gal who did things absolutely her own way?
    She probably chuckled to herself before she died, about the surprise awaiting the undertaker!
    TopPredator likes this.
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    and wad up my bike somethin' awful...
    Still, I rise!
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