The blacksmith, a big man in a sleeveless vest, crouched over a forge and slammed his hammer against a piece of iron glowing red from the furnace’s flames. 


Wiping his sweat-lathered forearm across his forehead, he heard a disturbance outside.

When Henry Seymour, the smithy in Gillett, Arizona, decided to investigate, a local rancher entered his shop.

“Another stagecoach robbery, said the visitor. “Third one this month. “Sheriff’s got no idea who’s behind them. People are callin’ the robber the ghost bandit.”

Seymour expressed surprise at the description and asked about its origin.

“After he robs a stage, he just seems to vanish,” said the rancher. “No footprints. No horseshoe tracks. Nothing.”

Seymour turned his and stared into the dancing flames, a slight smile on his lips.

The robberies occurred around Squaw Creek Trail within walking distance of Gillett, a small mining community north of Phoenix. 

The small mill town for the nearby Tip Top Mine sat along the Agua Fria River in Maricopa County, Arizona Territory.

Founded in 1878 and consisted of six streets, several saloons, and a hotel.

Each of the three holdups had occurred after sundown by a rifle-toting masked gunman.

The so-called ghost bandit would conceal himself in the rocks beside the road and strike as the Black Canyon stagecoaches negotiated the twisty trail into town.

The first 1882 robberies netted the outlaw $20,000 in mine payroll money.

He made off with $26,000 after the second robbery and $22,000 on the next one. Lawmen had few clues to pursue.

Maricopa County Sheriff Lindley Orme, who believed the robberies were the work of two men, sent deputy and veteran lawman Enrique’ Henry Garfias to investigate.

Garfias, however, concluded only one man staged all three robberies, thanks to a tip-off from an expected source.

During his fact-finding, he talked with several children of Mexican miners who told him they spotted Henry Seymour, the blacksmith, heading out to hunt quail on the day of the last robbery.

He carried a rifle under his arm along with several gunny sacks.

The mention of Seymour carrying a rifle bothered Garfias. Hunters typically used shotguns for hunting quail.

The lawman, who later became the first marshal of Phoenix, decided to set a trap. 

In a conversation with Seymour, he confided the next stagecoach to Gillett would be transporting a sizable amount of cash to make up for the other three lost payrolls.

On the day the stagecoach would supposedly arrive, Garfias secluded himself in the foliage around Aqua Fria crossing and waited. Then, sure enough, he spotted Seymour and realized his hunch was correct.

Seymour had his feet wrapped in gunny sacks and carried a rifle. Garfias surprised Seymour, arrested him on the spot, and escorted him to jail.

The court sentenced Seymour to ten years in prison. He refused to reveal the whereabouts of the $68,000 in stolen money. 

After serving his time and leaving the prison, Seymour dropped out of sight and supposedly never returned to the Gillett area.

Some people believe the stolen loot remains buried somewhere in the vicinity.


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4 comments to “THE GHOST BANDIT”

  • Clever guy. I choose to believe that he hid the money, then went to its location after leaving prison and lived off it.

  • Hi Patti, thanks for visiting. He could have done a whole lot of livin’ with that bundle.

  • That is one of the things that keeps coming into my mind. Some of the famous robberies were so big that it would have let all of the gang members live a life of leisure for the rest of their life, yet they had to go for more.

  • Yes, Fred, it does boggle the mind. Early retirement. Kick back with a huge amount of money that they’d probably never spend. Why go for more and risk prison or death?

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