Stagecoach Driver

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 An unusual stagecoach driver.- You'll really enjoy this short...
history of a stagecoach driver.
 
Good read, surprise ending.
 
 
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 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.
 
 NO PATIENCE FOR CROOKS - 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 company until he decided to retire and then he moved near a ranch
at 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 older 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
seat of a coach. It was discovered when friendly hands were preparing him for
burial, he was NOT LIKE OTHER MEN, ER, WOMEN?
 
Once it was discovered that Charley was a woman, there were plenty of people
to say they had always thought he wasn't exactly like most men and that they
noticed that his hands were small and smooth. She slept in the stables with his
beloved horses and was never known to have had a girlfriend.  Charley never
socialized much after a horse kicked her, and an eye patch over one eye helped
conceal her face.
 
She weighed 175 pounds, could handle herself in a fist fight and drank whiskey
like one of the boys.
 
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, as they say, 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 the19th amendment
 
 
   Charley Parkhurst - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
   en.Wikipedia.org> Charley Darkey Parkhurst, born
   Charlotte Darkey Parkhurst (1812–1879),
   1] also known as One Eyed Charley or Six-Horse Charley,
   was an American stagecoach driver ...
 




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