TALE OF THE DAY
By Anthony J. Pallante
From Page 9
April, 2001 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2001 Lost Treasure, Inc. All rights reserved.
In 1881 a bandit named James Thomas held up a stagecoach just outside the town of Conejos in southern Colorado. Thomas got away with some gold ingots and a large amount of gold coins. But as was often the case with semi-professional highwaymen, he made no provisions for transportation of the loot. As he tried to escape along the Conejos Creek he found the extra weight of all that gold was fast wearing out his horse. Thomas stopped and hastily buried a portion of the gold. With the sheriff now in full pursuit, he took off again but had to stop a couple of miles further and bury the rest along the banks of the creek. It made no difference. Thomas horse was spent, and the sheriff picked up his trail. He was captured and taken back to town and identified as the robber and placed in jail.
While awaiting trial, Thomas got word to his younger brother who hastily assembled a small group of gunmen to effect an escape. Kid Thomas and the three toughs he recruited gathered in Silverton in one of the 40 infamous saloons on Blair Street where the three gunmen proceeded to get drunk and shoot up the place a common occurrence in those days. When Marshal Clayton Ogsbury arrived to quell the disturbance he was accidentally shot and killed by a stray bullet. The three gunmen quickly hightailed it out of town, but the younger Thomas, since he was unarmed and could not have done the shooting, thought it best to remain where he was; he was wrong. Frustrated vigilantes, unable to locate the real shooters, dragged him from the jail and hanged him from the crossbeam of the courthouse shed. James Thomas was sentenced to a lengthy prison stay and never returned to Conejos.
In 1910 a storm washed several of the gold ingots still bearing their identifying stamps out of the banks of the Conejos Creek, but the bulk of the treasure is still missing.