Different areas have their Old West outlaw heroes. Jessie James is Missouri’s. New Mexico has Billy the Kid. And then there is Utah’s Butch Cassidy. As for Texas, it’s Sam Bass.
On Texas cattle drives, many a cowboy calmed the cattle at night by singing, “The Ballad of Sam Bass.” It seems that, although Sam Bass led a gang that robbed and killed, Sam was a likable guy who just enjoyed the excitement of what he was doing.
As a young man, Sam went to Texas, and did pretty well racing horses.
Using the money he had accumulated, Sam went into partnership with a Texas cattleman on 500 head of beef. Sam and friends drove the cattle up to Kansas and sold them. With the money in hand, and some distance between him and his partner, Sam decided to keep it all.
Hanging out in Deadwood in the Dakota Territory, the boys spent the money on liquor and women, who were even faster than Sam’s horses. When the money ran out, Sam and several of his friends decided to form a gang and rob some stagecoaches. Although they were hitting stagecoaches so often that the drivers knew them by name, their take was little more than coffee money.
Then in September of 1877, they decided to rob a train. And it was a jackpot…sixty thousand in gold coins. They started taking on banks next.
Although county sheriffs, the Pinkertons, United States marshals, and Texas Rangers were on the tail of Sam and his gang, things went well until July 21, 1878, when they arrived in Round Rock to rob the bank. They were recognized. And in the process, Sam Bass was shot.
When a dying Sam Bass was asked for the names of his confederates, he responded: “It is against my profession to blow on my pals.” Now, that’s what legends are made of.