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Sam Bass, friendly outlaw

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Ronnie and Donnie Lappe

Sam Bass was sandy haired and had a sandy haired mustache. Sam Bass and his gang robbed trains, but people liked him because he helped people in need. Some people even called him Robin Hood bandit, and others called him a vicious outlaw. He had only been in Texas about six years before his death.

One time he and his men robbed a train carrying gold to California. They got $10,000 in $20 gold pieces. It was told that he gave tips to Porters and Brakemen on the trains he robbed. Before he started robbing trains and stage coaches, he tried to get work as a ranch hand. But they thought that the work was too hard and the pay was too low.

One time some of the Bass gang rode up to a farm house and asked for a meal. The farmer's wife prepared them a meal. The farmer recognized a member of the Bass gang. They gave the farmer several $20 gold pieces. But the farmer figured they were from a robbery, because few people had $20 gold pieces. Also, it was the common practice that pioneers furnish meals to travelers. The farmer said they were glad to provide a meal to somebody in need. They would not take the money.

When the riders left, they left watches and other valuables on the table.

One time a rancher missed a sack of corn from his grain bin. The next day Bass rode up and gave him a $20 gold piece. He said he needed grain badly for his horses, and one of his men took a sack of grain. He came back to pay for it. The grain was worth a lot less that a $20 gold piece.

Two kids were carrying a bucket of water each from the well to their house. One brother had a disability. The Bass gang rode up and asked for a drink. The boys had a gourd in the bucket. They gave the men a drink. Bass gave them four silver dollars.

A man had butchered one of his cows and told a young man he would give him a dollar to take it to some men camped at the river, and not to ask any questions. The young man tied it behind his saddle on his horse, and rode down to the river. The saddle was a new saddle that he was proud of. It was the first saddle he had ever paid for from his own money.

When he found the men, they all had guns on and rifles laying nearby. He told them his neighbor had sent them the beef. One man, that seemed to be the leader told him he liked the saddle and asked the youth to trade for his. That man's saddle was older and worn. The man told the youth he was Sam Bass. The young man did not want to trade his new saddle for the old saddle, but he was intimidated by the men with all their guns, and the reputation of Sam Bass, the outlaw, so he agreed.

He rode back thinking that he had been robbed because he traded the saddle, but did not want to. He took the saddle off of his horse and threw it on the ground. He heard something rattle in the saddle bags and found their were 3 $20 gold pieces in each of the two saddle bags. He was able to buy a better saddle than he had, plus have extra money left over.

A man was working at a dry goods store alone because the owner was sick. Several men rode up. One came inside. The others stayed outside and kept looking around.

The man that came in bought a suit from a special kind of material that this store sold. He paid for the suit with a $20 gold piece. The employee went to a box to get change. There was a lot of money in the box.

The purchaser looked at the money, and said that the store kept a lot of money. The clerk said there was no bank in town, and the store kept money for towns people until it could be carried on the stage.

The purchaser told the clerk to be careful and never let patrons see the money and where it was kept. He thanked the clerk and left.

When Sam Bass was killed, he was identified as wearing a suit the clerk recognized was from the store, and the description of Bass matched the purchaser that came into the store.

There were rewards offered by banks and train owners for the capture of Sam Bass. A sheriff organized a posse to try to catch Sam Bass. Men joined for the reward.

One cowboy that needed work, signed up to join the posse. He went to buy supplies at a store. A stranger with a gun belt on asked him what he was doing. He told him he was going to join a posse to catch Sam Bass. The stranger said, “ You have found him. What are you going to do?” The cowboy swallowed hard, knowing that the stranger was armed, and said, “Nothing I guess.”

The stranger asked how many children the cowboy had. He told the stranger that he had a large family. The stranger went inside the store, and bought a large box of apples and candy and gave it to the cowboy. He told him to never tell anyone that he had seen Sam Bass and did nothing. The cowboy did not tell anyone until after Sam Bass was killed.

The Bass gang robbed a train that had $20 thousand dollars in new $20 gold pieces all minted the same year. They decided it would be too risky to start spending a lot of newly minted$20 gold pieces. There were four men. They each want a separate way. Bass buried the gold. Shortly after that one of the men was caught and killed in a gun fight, and not too long after that Bass was killed. From what is known, he did not reveal where the gold was buried. People still believe his gold is hidden and can be found. The Bass gang was believed to hide out in one of the caverns in the Hill Country. People believed that the buried gold is in that area also.

July 1878, at the age of 27, Sam Bass was killed while planning a bank robbery in Round Rock, Texas. There is not much evidence that he killed anyone until the time of his death. Deputy Sheriff George Grime recognized him in a store and told him to surrender and turn over his deputy. But he drew a pistol and killed the deputy.

Texas Rangers had an informant who rode with the Bass gang. He told them when the gang planned to rob a Bank in Round Rock. The Rangers were ready, and had a shoot out with the Bass Gang. Bass was wounded and later died.