Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Iron Box.

Part of Wabaunsee County History.
Written in 1901.
In the spring of 1844 a mule train of forty-three wagons, owned by an American, but manned by Mexican drivers, while encamped 200 yards west of Log Chain Creek, near the Wabaunsee county line, was surprised at night, and of the forty-six men, twenty-seven were killed, and the mules, 500 in number, run off by the outlaws, undoubtedly the gang having their headquarters within one mile of the present site of Harveyville.
In one of the wagons was an iron box 18x12x8 inches containing $75,000 in gold. This treasure box was taken and with the 500 mules represented a fortune a lost fortune to the owner of the train, who
succeeded in getting safely away.

Within forty-eight hours he had ridden to Leavenworth and with a company of cavalry was on the way to the scene of the terrible massacre. But the wagons and harness were all that was left of the splendid outfit. After burying the dead Mexican trainmen the troops attempted to follow the trail of the robbers with the hope of returning to the owner the treasure box and the mules that he might continue his journey to the States. But the herd had been divided and driven in different directions and after unavailing effort to locate the robbers the Captain with his little band struck westward.

At the Little Arkansas an old trapper and plainsman by the name of H. B. Hobbs offering the most reasonable solution of the problem that perplexed the Captain his services were secured to trail the

Hobbs reasoned that the outlaws would not dare to take the mules either to the States or to Mexico but to the only place they could find a safe market-that, in his opinion, was Oregon. Taking a north-east direction the trail of the robbers with the mules was struck on the Smoky Hill. Following this until nearly the head of the stream was reached the troops encountered nineteen of the men in charge of the herd of mules.

In the hard fight that followed fourteen of the nineteen robbers were killed. The other five were taken to Fort Leavenworth, tried, and sentenced to the penitentiary at Alton, Ill., for life. The mules were turned over to the owner but the treasure box was missing. As two of the twenty-one outlaws comprising the gang were unaccounted for it was supposed that to them had been entrusted the keeping of the golden treasure. Diligent search was made in the vicinity of the robbery for the iron box but the result was a grievous disappointment both to the officer in command of the troops and the unfortunate proprietor of the train.

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