Sunday, August 2, 2009

Flyspeck Bill and his Gold Bars

Have you ever wondered where some of the nicknames for outlaws came from? I guess it doesn’t really matter as long as they left some treasure behind for us to look for.

This story is about a Nebraska outlaw by the name of Flyspeck Bill. He and his cohorts were part of a gang that robbed and rustled their way into big trouble. It is said that the gang Flyspeck Bill belonged to was being financed by some of the more important men in Sheridan County, Nebraska. These prominent and supposedly trustworthy citizens were the recipients of the livestock and some of the money the gang had stolen.

The gang became a little more popular than they expected, as they continued to steal from the locals who couldn’t really afford it they were making more enemies than friends. This lead to the local ranchers pitching in to hire a detective to catch the thieves. Unfortunately for the thieves, as quickly as they were caught and placed in jail a vigilante group was busting them out of jail and taking care of justice in their own way. Flyspeck and his buddies were dropping like flies! Oh come on, you knew that was coming!

For a twist to the story, it was thought that the vigilantes that were killing the outlaws were actually the prominent men in the county that had hired the gang and were receiving the stolen livestock from their raids. It appears as though these upstanding citizens were busting the gang members out of jail and killing them so they couldn’t talk about who they were actually working for. Can you say C.Y.A.?

You’re probably wondering when I’m going to get to the treasure. Patience people, patience. You have to have a little history to understand why this treasure is probably still hidden to this day. The treasure, $300,000 in gold bars, was stolen from the Deadwood-Sidney Freight Line in 1878. The bullion was being transferred from Deadwood, South Dakota to Sidney, Nebraska when it was intercepted by Flyspeck Bill and his gang. Now, here’s the important part. This gold was stolen by Flyspeck’s own small gang before they joined up with the larger gang that was stealing livestock and robbing the locals of Sheridan County.

The story goes that Flyspeck Bill and his gang hid the gold bars in a cave along the Niobrara River “due south of Gordon, Nebraska“. They later joined up with the other larger gang and started rustling horses for a living. Because of the horse rustling and subsequently being hunted and chased to their demise, no one in the gang lived long enough to retrieve the gold bars.
That’s the story anyway. As we all know, anything can happen. Keep in mind that the river might have changed course over the last 120 years so that cave might not be “along” the river anymore. It could be farther away than it originally was. This is where comparing the old and new topographical maps will come in handy.

Something else you should consider, in 1878 gold was selling for $20.67 per ounce which would mean there was about 900 pounds of gold that the gang stole and hauled into a cave. At today’s prices the gold bars would be worth over $13,000,000!!

I’m sure you’re wondering why they even got into horse stealing if they were sitting on $300,000 in gold. I would assume that back then as today, you couldn’t walk into a bar or store and lay down a 30-40 pound gold bar without attracting just a little attention. They may have been forced to steal horses for a living because they couldn’t get rid of the gold without being caught. Kind of a catch 22 type of deal.

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