Stage robbed at Pegleg Pocket in 1876

June 06, 2024

Edited by Jim Fish

Ozona—Back in the day, many of those who were stationed at Fort McKavett said it was one of the most pleasant posts in Texas. However, there was an incident at a stage stop about ten miles east of Menard's present-day town, known as Pegleg Pocket, near the San Saba River.

The old stage stand had been used earlier as a relay station when the Overland Mail Line was operating between San Antonio and Fort Mason, Fort McKavett, Fort Concho, and other frontier posts. A one-legged man by the name of Perkins ran the station, became known as “Pegleg,” and the surrounding area took the name of "Pegleg Pocket."

In a letter written by Lieutenant Harry Kirby then stationed at Fort McKavett, the young officer gave a very graphic account of a hold-up at Pegleg Pocket in late 1876:

“West Point; February 22, 1877… Now comes my one-hundred-and-eighty-mile stage ride across country from San Antonio to McKavett, the most interesting part of my trip. In fact, I would have preferred to have it less entertaining.

“Having heard in San Antonio of two recent murders on my road, I purchased a large revolver before leaving. I set out alone and about twelve miles out met a conveyance containing the corpse of a young man who had been murdered the night before but a few steps from the road. This did not make me feel very comfortable nor tend to lessen my vigilance. I reached Fredericksburg late at night, took a room at the hotel, and slept till five in the morning.

“Our coach was here changed for a vehicle resembling an ambulance but not so good, and having no hinged doors but simple openings which could be closed only by curtains fastened on the outside by small staples and pins. I again set out, this time in company with Mr. Blacker, a district judge in western Texas. At Mason, we were joined by a Jew from New Orleans and still later by a blacksmith in the employ of the stage company.

“Feeling now quite secure. I forgot all about danger, and about 11 p.m. dropped into a doze from which I was awakened by a man yelling at the driver to turn out of the road or he would blow his g--d----d head off. The Judge and I were on the back seat, the Jew on the front, and our packages and valises on the bottom. The curtain was fastened down on my side and I could only see or get out on the Judge's side.

“Looking through the opening, l saw a man about ten yards off, pointing a gun directly at the door. I seized my pistols, which I had unbuckled and laid on the seat, and offered one to the judge, asking him to use it, but he declined, saying, "There is no use; there's a large gang of them and we will all be killed if we resist."

“Then I offered it to the Jew, but he refused, being busy stowing away his money and, as he afterward said, looking to see if he could jump out and run.

“I aimed at the only man I could see, but the judge caught my pistol and begged me not to fire. I told him that I did not propose to be robbed - without lighting, but he insisted that there was a large gang and resistance would be rash. As by this time, the only man I could have shot had gotten out of view, I concluded that it would be better to surrender.

“The stage was driven about two hundred yards from the road, and we were ordered to get out, one at a time, without arms. As I was the last, I had time to take all my money except five dollars and put it down my left bootleg, putting my small pistol down my right boot and my watch in the case of a pillow that was lying in the seat. As soon as I was out, they took me to the rear of the coach and demanded my money. I gave them my purse and they, finding but five dollars, swore that I had more money and that if I did not tell them where it was, they would blow my brains out in case they found it.

“They then searched me, taking the studs from my shift and, not finding any money, repeated their threats. I told them they might search as thoroughly as they pleased and suggested that they look in my boots, but as I expected, they declined with an oath. I was then sent to join the other passengers at the head of the team, and they proceeded to search the coach, which they did so thoroughly that they found some money that the judge had hidden in the straw, and my watch.

“They cut our valises all to pieces, completely ruining them. They then searched me a second time, tearing the lining from my hat, and were about to let me go, when one of them said , "Make the g--d----d scoundrel pull off his boots, anyway." Now, if you have never looked down the barrel of a six-shooter within a few feet of your head, I can assure you that it is not pleasant, especially when it is held by a man whom you have no reason to doubt will pull the trigger under certain conditions, which conditions are pretty certain to be fulfilled in the next minute or two. I made a desperate resolve that should they find the money, I would close in with the nearest robber and sell my life as dearly as possible. I pulled off my right boot first, telling them I had a pistol in it. While they were searching that and looking at the pistol, I pulled the other boot off cautiously, pressing my heel against the roll of money and succeeded in throwing it out on the ground, and when they looked in the boot it was empty. They then gave me back the small pistol. We obeyed their order concerning noise and lights, but during the time I got out, crawled around on the ground, and found my money.

“When I arrived here (Fort McKavett), there were no single officers at the post, and I felt rather lonely, despite the kind attention of the married officers and their families. Since, however three companies of our regiment and one of the 10th Cavalry have returned, and it is much more lively for a "youngster."

“I like my regiment very much, and those who know say that McKavett is the most pleasant post in Texas. The country is very barren-looking, the vegetation being stunted and the reams few and shallow except during freshets, when they are impassable. There is a place on Bear Creek where the road passes about six feet above the bed of the stream, and the trash and grass from the last freshet showed that the water had been high enough to float off the hat of a man riding horseback. There have been five persons shot and killed within less than three-quarters of a mile of the post since I arrived, and it is said to be rather quiet compared to what it was some years ago.”

Ozona June