Death of a “bad” man along the San Pedro, Part 3

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

By John Hernandez

Evans’ bullet missed Rapelji. Fred Jackson then stepped around Rapelji and fired his gun. One of the bandits was seen to throw his arms up and fall backwards apparently wounded.

Both sides began firing as rapidly as they could. The bandits retreated behind a pile of hay and manure as it was the only cover nearby. Although it gave Sontag and Evans cover, it did not stop the fusillade of bullets aimed at the haystack.

Both of the train robbers lay on their bellies behind the pile. Sontag had been hit in the arm. Jackson went around to the rear of the house to see if he could get a better shot.

Sontag spotted him and from his position fired his shotgun, hitting Jackson in his left leg between the ankle and knee, shattering the leg bone. Jackson crawled back to the other posse members and told them to keep firing and not to worry about him.

He was taken out of the fight and lay helpless on the floor. The posse members fired another volley into the haystack, this time hitting Sontag in the side. He was in great pain and bleeding badly.

Rapelje and Burns went out of the cabin and attempted to circle around the bandits. Rapelje spotted Evans who appeared to be wounded crawling on his belly away from the haystack. He fired on him and Evans took off running towards the woods.

Rapelje chased him firing as he ran but did not pursue him into the woods as it was now dark. Over 40 shots were reported to have been fired during the shootout which lasted about two hours. As no gunfire came from the haystack, the posse kept watch waiting to shoot at anything that moved.

Rapelje loaded Jackson on a wagon and drove him to Visalia while Burns and Gard watched the hay stack. In the morning, reinforcements had arrived with Rapelji. George Witty, Sam Springley, and Constable William English had rode to the scene as well as E.M. Davidson, a photographer and Jo P. Carroll, a reporter.

The posse spread out and cautiously approached the haystack where they found Sontag buried in the hay with only his face showing. He was helpless and had lost a lot of blood. Evans had escaped although he was badly wounded.

He had taken a bullet in one of his arms and had a bullet scrape his right eye brow that had taken out most of his eye. He walked six miles to a cabin and asked the people for help. He was captured a few days later at the cabin by local lawmen.

Sontag died while in jail from his wounds on July 3. Evan’s arm was amputated and he lost his right eye.

He was tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison. He would escape from jail, wound an officer and rob another train with an accomplice before being captured again. He then went to prison where he stayed until being paroled in 1911.

He would die in Oregon in 1917 having been banned from living in California. The hunt for and capture of Sontag and Evans was front page news in all of the California newspapers of the time and even made national news. Sontag and Evans became folk heroes.

A popular theatrical play was performed telling their story. Evans’ wife and daughter performed in the play as themselves. Whenever they came out on stage they received a standing ovation from the audience.

A few noted writers wrote stories portraying them as victims of the railroad corporations. Evans denied ever robbing a train and said he only killed in self-defense. As the Dalton gang was also robbing trains in the same area, Sontag and Evans may have been blamed for some of their robberies.

The four men that captured the gang after many larger posses had failed were lauded as heroes. Burns gained notoriety for being a member of the posse that captured Sontag and Evans. He had survived two shootouts with the gang and ridden with Gard, Jackson and Rapelji, who were well known as man hunters and men of “true grit.”

Marshal Gard received the $5,000 reward for the capture of John Sontag and split it with the posse members.

An argument ensued over the reward for the arrest of Evans. Gard, Rapelje, Jackson and Burns said they deserved the reward because they had wounded Evans so badly he couldn’t escape.

Tulare County Undersheriff William Hall, Deputy George Witty and Elijah Perkins said they had captured Evans and therefore deserved the entire reward. The argument became so heated at times that when they saw each other on the streets, threatening words were exchanged.

admin (7655 Posts)


facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
facebooktwitterby feather

Comments are closed.

  • Stories Just Posted

    Fiesta Golf Tourney scheduled for May 9

    23 hours ago
    by

    By Yolanda Najera-Ewing Saint Francis of Assisi Fiesta Committee has scheduled the annual Fiesta Golf Tournament for Saturday, May 9, at the Queen Valley Golf Club in Queen Valley.
    The tournament is


    Superior Sports Update

    23 hours ago
    by

    Baseball – Senior ace Rickey Longoria won his fifth-straight game of the season in as many starts, pitching a second consecutive complete-game shutout in the Panthers’ 6 – 0 victory against


    Superior Head Start Happenings – A visit from La Serna

    23 hours ago
    by

    Superior – Curious students met curious animals, as La Serna visited with the children of Superior Head Start for Curious George Day.


    Pastor’s Corner: Being God’s Friend

    23 hours ago
    by

    We read in John 14:23, “If anyone loves Me, he will obey My commands/teaching.”  This is Jesus speaking clearly.  He spent about three years teaching and training the disciples to


  • Stories Just For You

    Workers Struggle in a Mining town

    March 25th, 2015
    by

    T T T he towns of Clifton and Morenci, Ariz. are located in Greenlee County. The Morenci Mining District in 1903 would become the site of labor unrest that would lead


    Kearny originally declared ‘hostile, uninhabitable’

    March 25th, 2015
    by

    Pinal Nugget Kearny’s roots began in the 1800s as legendary Arizona explorer Father Kino sought to convert the Apache Indian communities in the area to Christianity.


    Visiting Badger Springs and Agua Fria National Monument

    March 25th, 2015
    by

    A A A gua Fria National Monument was established by executive order in 2000 and at 70,900 acres contains over 400 archeological sites and four major prehistoric settlements.


    Getting Lost in the Copper Corridor

    March 25th, 2015
    by

    Can you guess where in the Copper Corridor this photo was taken? If you guessed Oracle, then you would be correct.


  • Facebook

  • [Advertisement.]
  • Arizona Headlines & Current Weather