As a vehicle, the stagecoach had been nearly perfected in its two centuries of use in America. There were many types: the Troy coach, the mud wagon, the Concord coach, and various coaches of local manufacture. (The Concord was the most famous of all such vehicles in commercial use.)

The key figure in stagecoach transportation was the driver. Although characterized in the literature of the day as taciturn, loquacious, sober, dependable, and all the rest, he had to be, first and foremost, a master at the reins. He was responsible for the comfort and safety of his passengers and had to be able to drive over roads at a fixed schedule from one station to the next, usually a distance of ten to twenty miles.

As commonplace as stagecoach travel grew to be, it was neither free from accident nor devoid of adventure. Runaway teams caused upsets or breakdowns. When a coach got stuck in the mud, the passengers were expected to get out and often lend a push through the boggy spot. Furthermore, robberies occurred with some frequency.

Between 1875 and 1903 there were 129 stagecoach robberies reported in the Arizona Territory. Five robberies involved two coaches each, bringing the total number of stagecoaches robbed to 134. More than half of those robberies remained as unsolved crimes.

More than 200 men and one woman engaged in the business of robbing stagecoaches. Most road agents remained unknown but 79 men and the only female stagecoach bandit in the Arizona Territory were identified. Most were tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison. One sentenced prisoner escaped and one prisoner died during an escape attempt while en route to his new home at the territorial prison. One stagecoach robber, the accomplice of the female bandit, escaped from the territorial prison and was never recaptured.

Five road agents were killed while resisting arrest. One man was executed and another was lynched for murders committed during a stagecoach robbery. No man was ever lynched or legally hanged in the Arizona Territory for robbing a stagecoach. Convicted stagecoach robbers received prison sentences, but never served an entire term, either because they received credit for good time as required by law or they were granted an early pardon. Most of the stagecoach robbers who served their sentence were granted pardons to restore citizenship, particularly their right to vote.

Interested in Advertising?

You've made a great decision! Send us a message and we'll be in touch.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt