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BLACK BART

Real Name: Charles E. Bolton

Identity/Class: Normal human (Old West era)

Occupation: Outlaw, fugitive;
   formerly Confederate soldier (sergeant)

Group Membership: None;
   formerly Quantrell's guerrilla gang;
   formerly Confederate Army

Affiliations: Mr. Cowely, Marcia Kane, Quantrell and his guerrilla gang;
   formerly Morgan Clarke

Enemies: Morgan Clarke, sheriffs and lawmen, Wells Fargo and stagecoach companies, other victims;
   formerly Union soldiers

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: None

Date of Birth: April 12, 1838
Date of Death: July 8, 1883

Base of Operations: In and near San Francisco, California, USA;
   briefly Nevada;
   formerly mobile in the western USA, especially California;
   formerly Vicksburg, Mississippi

First Appearance: Western Outlaws and Sheriffs#66/1 (April, 1951)

Powers/Abilities: Charles Bolton is a bold fighter and brazen outlaw. He is skilled with rifles and handguns, and is an accomplished equestrian.

Height: 5'10" (by approximation)
Weight: 170 lbs. (by approximation)
Eyes: Dark brown
Hair: Dark brown

History:

(Western Outlaws and Sheriffs#66/1 (fb)) - Born 1838, Charles Bolton was a Confederate soldier (sergeant) during the American Civil War and formed a loose friendship with fellow soldier Morgan Clarke in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Bolton originally thought hard work was satisfying and rewarding, but the war saw him dismiss his ideal of a future farm in favor of taking whatever he could and his dry humor locked into rhyming poetry. Bolton and Clarke became separated when Union soldiers advanced. Soon after, Bolton joined Confederate Quantrell and his roving group of violent guerrilla raiders. Over six months, Bolton joined in destroying property and killing civilians; this left him hard and scheming. However, he was not a killer by nature and left the raiders' camp one night.

(Wyatt Earp#3/4) - Maintaining a gentlemanly demeanor, Bolton arrived in California. He adopted a fancy disguise and the moniker Black Bart, holding up only stagecoaches in remote areas of California and left short taunting poems behind. A regional sheriff went after the bandit, almost catching him after a heist. But Black Bart accidentally dropped a handkerchief with a laundry mark. Following the distinctive mark, detectives apprehended Bolton and he was sentenced to prison. Finishing his term early, he became a farmer in remote Nevada.

(Western Outlaws and Sheriffs#66/1) - A few years later, dissatisfied with farming life, Bolton recklessly returned to California intending to resume stagecoach banditry. He based himself in San Francisco and rented a room from Mr. Cowely. Bolton took on the look of a wealthy businessman and gained the trust of Wells Fargo stagecoach drivers at a nearby restaurant to find out timetables and shipments. He deliberately took on the contrasting look of a reckless highwayman and found a place in the woods where he could quickly change clothes. With each robbery, he made sure to broadcast the name of Black Bart to his victims. Bolton would cover his disappearances during his crimes as business trips. In town, Bolton courted laundry owner Marcia Kane. Soon, Morgan Clarke, now an adept detective trailing Black Bart, met Bolton, but he was also attracted to Kane. Clarke set a trap for Black Bart by having Wells Fargo send a gold shipment. Black Bart raided the stagecoach, intending it to be his last, and made off with the loot, but again dropped a handkerchief in his hasty getaway. Clarke found it and recognized Kane's laundry mark. Alongside Kane, Clarke confronted Bolton, who angrily confessed and surrendered after a short gunfight. Bolton was charged and sentenced; he was hanged in 1883.

Comments: Adapted by uncredited writer & artist.

This is based on the real-life stagecoach robber Charles E. Boles (sometimes known also as Bolton) (1829-1888) who went by the moniker Black Bart. These two stories portray the same man (Charles Bolton) but with different added details, so I've combined them here as one profile. The Western Outlaws story states that there were 2 years where Bolton's activities were undocumented, so the Wyatt Earp story sort of fits in there. Of the two stories, the one in Wyatt Earp#3 seems more accurate with the sackcloth mask, gentlemanly demeanor, rifle and eventual imprisonment and release. The Western Outlaws story includes his Confederate soldier history and eight-year crime spree, but adds extra romance drama and a fictitious nemesis, turns him into a highwayman on horseback (he was apparently afraid of horses in real life and did his robberies on foot) with shooting handguns (he apparently never fired a weapon) and incorrectly identified him as executed for his crimes. The broader details in both stories of him robbing only stagecoaches and eventual capture from a dropped handkerchief are accurate. (Interestingly, the real-life Black Bart had a later one-off copycat stagecoach robber and would-be poet in 1888).

Black Bart (Charles Bolton) ran with Quantrell's raiders like the Yahoo Kid's nefarious father; nice to have recurring background villains, although recurring names for different main characters (like Black Bart and Dakota Kid) makes things a bit confusing. Quantrell is a reference to the historical figure William Quantrill.

Profile by Grendel Prime.

CLARIFICATIONS :
Black Bart has no known connections to:


Morgan Clarke

Morgan Clarke was a corporal in the Confederate Army alongside Charles Bolton, but they were separated during a battle in Vicksburg, Mississippi during the American Civil War. Years later, Clarke had become an accomplished detective based in San Francisco. Wells Fargo called him in when their stagecoaches were being robbed by the audacious bandit Black Bart (secretly Charles Bolton). Clarke met Bolton soon after taking on the case and became attracted to Marcia Kane, whom Bolton was courting. Clarke set a trap to capture Black Bart that initially failed, but the outlaw dropped a handkerchief that Clarke traced back to Bolton. Clarke and Bolton confronted each other; Clarke shot the villain in the shoulder as Kane declared her love for Clarke. Bolton was arrested.

 

 

 

 

 

 

--Western Outlaws and Sheriffs#66/1


Marcia Kane

Marcia Kane was a widow who ran a commercial laundry in San Francisco. Charles Bolton (secretly the outlaw Black Bart) fell in love with her and courted her, but soon detective Morgan Clarke, a former colleague of Bolton's but now pursuing Black Bart, also became attracted to her. Both men hoped to marry Kane but first tackled a stagecoach delivery; Black Bart robbed it as his last raid while Clarke failed to stop him. However, the outlaw accidentally dropped a handkerchief and Kane later identified it as Bolton's. A rapid gunfight between Bolton and Clarke saw the lawman victorious and Kane declared her love for Clarke.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

--Western Outlaws and Sheriffs#66/1


images: (without ads)
Western Outlaws and Sheriffs#66/1, p1, pan1 (main image, 2nd bandit outfit)
Western Outlaws and Sheriffs#66/1, p2, pan2 (headshot as soldier)
Wyatt Earp#3/3, p1 (1st bandit outfit, standing)
Western Outlaws and Sheriffs#66/1, p4, pan5 (civilian guise, green suit)
Western Outlaws and Sheriffs#66/1, p7, pan6 (Clarke)
Western Outlaws and Sheriffs#66/1, p7, pan6 (Kane)


Appearances:
Western Outlaws and Sheriffs#66/1 (April, 1951) - uncredited writer & artist(s), Stan Lee (editor)
Wyatt Earp#3/4 (March, 1956) - uncredited writer, Norman Maurer (pencils & inks), Stan Lee (editor)


First posted: 10/15/2020
Last updated: 10/15/2020

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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