My story Wanted takes place near Flagstaff, Arizona in late 1880, where outlaws were still a real threat. A real life hold-up inspired the back story for my western tale, though my story has a happier ending.
In 1881, thirty-five miles east of Flagstaff at Canyon Diablo, a stagecoach carrying passengers also stopped to take mailbags with them. The stagecoach took the California-Santa Fe Trail toward Flagstaff where the passengers would meet the next stagecoach headed to Needles, California. The trail along the San Francisco Peaks is steep and the horses climb steadily until they reach a flat divide. Five riders break from the trees and surround the stagecoach with their six guns drawn and ready to use. The leader motions for two of the outlaws to go to the back of the coach. They take only two mailbags and leave the rest. They don’t rob the passengers. They send stagecoach on their way without hurting anyone.
Once the stagecoach reaches Flagstaff, the terrified passengers tell the station agent about the robbery. Everyone is confused why the outlaws would want mailbags. The stage master soon learns that the two missing bags contained a shipment of gold and silver bound from Albuquerque Bank to a San Francisco Bank. Wells Fargo, who had been plagued by stagecoach robberies, had attempted to fool the outlaws, by packing the gold and silver in two five-gallon whiskey kegs in each mailbag. It appeared the stagecoach outlaws had an inside source at Wells Fargo.
A posse set out immediately, but the outlaws had too far a head start. Wells Fargo demanded the help of the U.S. Army and the patrol of the 6th U.S. Calvary to find the outlaws. Two Indian scouts were enlisted to help also. They picked up the trail and found the men holed up in a log cabin near Veit Springs. The outlaws opened fired and the cavalry returned the gesture. In the end, all five outlaws lay dead. The authorities went through the outlaws’ belongings, but didn’t find the gold or silver. Word spread fast and the next day, men arrived to look for the hidden loot. The entire area was dug up, but nothing was found.
For years treasure hunters have dug all over the slopes, the dirt floor of the cabin, around the spring and even in the nearby ice caves, but to this day, no one has claimed they found the loot.
A Christmas Collection Anthology–Stimulating
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Blurb for ‘Wanted’:
Sheriff Jace Kelly’s wife died giving birth to his remarkable daughter, Emma. She inherited the families’ seer abilities, but being only six-years old, she has the tendency not to know the difference between a vision and just an ordinary dream. So Jace doesn’t put too much faith in Emma’s recent premonition: marriage for him and a new mother for her, all because she wished upon a Christmas star.
When JoBeth Riley arrives in town, Emma is convinced this is the woman she dreamed about: dark hair, green eyes and shamrocks in her pocket. Only there’s one problem, she’s the notorious outlaw, Baby Face Jo.
JoBeth’s stay in the lumber town is meant to keep Shane Maverick, the leader of the outlaw gang from finding her and breaking her out of jail before the authorities have time to devise a plan to capture him.
JoBeth finds the Kellys a strange lot. A little girl, who believes her dreams are tales of the future and the rugged sheriff whose kindness proves a distraction. She’s an outlaw for heaven’s sake, but Jace is bound and determined to steal her heart.