Monday, July 4, 2016

Late 1800s Railroad Robbery told by Bob Bowman

My story, Gabe, Book One of the Thornton Trilogy, is based outside of Bastrop, Texas.  I love finding Texas Tales from years past!  I can always find interesting stories by Historian, Bob Bowman.  ENJOY!  Following this little ditty is a teaser from my story, Gabe.  I would love to give a copy of Gabe to a drawn commenter.  Be sure to leave your email address!

by Bob Bowman

Railroaders love to tell stories, and the one they relish the most is about the railroad president and the holdup man.

Confirmed as true by Cotton Belt Railway historians, the story occurred in the late l800s as a plush business coach carrying a group of Cotton Belt officials, including president Colonel Samuel W. Fordyce, rolled north into Arkansas during an inspection tour.

At twilight the train stopped at the Red River, waiting for a drawbridge to lift.

As Fordyce and his officers rested in their car, a shot rang out several cars ahead. Fordyce jumped to his feet, stepped on the platform at the rear of the coach, and found himself staring down the barrel of a pistol held by a masked man.

"Get back inside," ordered the man.

As the Colonel stepped back, the masked man seemed startled. He seemed to recognize his victim. At the same time Fordyce recognized the bandit's voice.

It was an old friend, Shag Doland, who had been a freight conductor in Ohio when the colonel worked as a station agent. Doland later turned up in Hot Springs, and he and the Colonel met again.

In Hot Springs Fordyce helped Doland land a job as a policeman, but he killed a man and was sentenced to life in an Arkansas prison. After serving a short time, he was freed through the Colonel's help.

As the two men stared at each other on the Red River, the Colonel said, "Shag, aren't you ashamed of yourself, robbing a railroad as poor as the Cotton Belt? Why don't you rob the Iron Mountain; they're a lot richer." Doland was startled. He pulled off his mask and extended his hand. "Excuse me, Colonel," he said, "If I'd known this was yore train, I wouldn't have held it up. I'll go and stop the boys."

With that, the train robbers left the railroad and fled into the night. A few nights later, Doland took the Colonel's advice and held up an Iron Mountain train near Texarkana.

Several weeks later Colonel Fordyce received a keg of moonshine liquor, along with a note from Doland. He said he and his gang were hiding out in the hills and had found a whiskey still. The liquor was so fine, he said, that he wanted the Colonel to have some.

In his memoirs, Colonel Fordyce recalled: "I took great delight later in giving a federal judge some of that liquor and then told him the revenue tax had never been paid on it."

Gabe Thornton inherits the Double Bar Ranch from good friend and neighbor Bill (Pappy) Thomas, but there are conditions.   Last Will and Testament states five hundred acres have been set aside for his only niece, or interested heirs.  The property must be lived on for a year or said acreage will revert back to Gabe.

Molly Blackburn shows up in Bastrop, Texas, to claim the land her great uncle has left her.  Though she knows nothing about cattle ranching, she has no other choice when her father passes away.
Gabe is sure she won’t last a month and he tells her so, but greenhorn or not, she swears she will be there till the bitter end, no matter what!  

Will she give up her land or will she find more than just a cattle ranch in Bastrop?


“I happen to also own a hand gun but..well I didn’t think to purchase bullets for it.”
“Perfect!” Gabe said, shaking his head.  “There’s also wood to be cut and hay and water to be hauled plus a million other things.”  He laid the gun against the wall, opening the door.  “You won’t last the week and if you had half a brain you’d know it!”
“Get out of my house,” she hollered.  He walked out into the cold morning but she was right on his heels, taking his coat off.  “Wait!”  He turned and she threw his coat in his face.  “Thank you for the use of your coat but I’ll thank you to stay off my property!”
Gabe advanced a step her way but a discreet cough stopped him.  There were his mother and sister, sitting on their horses.  He swung up on his horse, staring at his new neighbor.  “See if you can’t talk some sense into her!” he ground out before riding away. 

I write for all ages, from the early reader to adults.  My books range from pictures books for the little ones, to fantasy, time-travel adventures for ages 9 to 13. I also write adult stories, including a family drama and contemporary, paranormal and historical westerns romances, under P. A. Estelle.

I was a school secretary for 21 years.  My husband and I moved to our retirement home in Kingman, AZ, on very rural 54 acres, living on solar and wind only. 

For more information about me and my stories check out the following links:

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  1. Penny, I enjoyed the teaser for Gabe. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Love the railroad story. Too fun.

    Always knew Gabe would be a winner. Angela/Doris