#1 in our Accounts of the Old West series.
The “27 Club” refers to the famous who died way too early at the age of 27. In modern days Jimi Hendrix, Curt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Robert Johnson, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, and Amy Winehouse are renowned “members.”
Following a train robbery outside of Big Springs, Nebraska, Sam Bass and other outlaws got away with 3,000 twenty-dollar gold pieces, along with jewelry and money taken from the passengers.
After dividing the loot, the outlaws split up. Bass went to his hideout at Cove Hollow near Denton, Texas. Some believe he buried his treasure at Cove Hollow, although others believe he just as easily could have spent the money. He soon formed a gang, robbed more stages and added to his caches.
Bass made plans to rob the Williamson County Bank in Round Rock, Texas. But his friend from Denton, Jim Murphy had made a deal with the law to turn Bass in.
Murphy telegraphed the plan to officials causing Texas Rangers to be dispatched to Round Rock to apprehend the robbers.
Williamson County Deputy Sheriff Caige Grimes was waiting and watching a ways off. When Grimes started coming towards the store he was shot and killed.
Other lawmen, who had also been lying in wait, opened fire. A deputy named Moore fell, wounded. Bass also took a bullet, but was still on his feet. The robbers quickly went for their horses hoping to escape. One was hit and killed as he mounted his horse, but another got away.
While getting away, Bass was shot again in the back. Who actually shot Bass has been the subject of much controversy. Some say Texas Ranger George Herold shot him. Others say it was Private Dick Ware. Ware was in a barbershop getting a shave when the outlaws killed Grimes. With his shave only half done, Ware had rushed out of the shop and fired at the fleeing outlaws.
Several witnesses said Bass, even as he lay dying, said the man who shot him had shaving lather on his face. The outlaw, however, did get up and flee. Texas Rangers caught up with him in a nearby pasture.
Bass died from his wounds later on his birthday, July 21, 1878 at the age of 27, thus making him one of the original members of the 27 Club.
He was buried in the cemetery at Old Round Rock. A small monument was erected over his grave by a sister in 1879. Part of the inscription reads, “A brave man reposes in death here. Why was he not true?”
With his death went the knowledge of the location of his treasure caches at Cove Hollow.
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