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Aull, Charles Letters discussing 'Cherokee Bob', 1890.
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Letters discussing 'Cherokee Bob', 1890
Charles Aull letters discussing 'Cherokee Bob', 1890


Aull, Charles, 1849-1899, creator


Two letters from Charles Aull to F.I. Vassault (addressed as F.J. in one letter), dated Aug. 28 and Aug. 29, 1890. Letters are on stationery with the letterhead: Office of the Warden, State Prison at Folsom. They are typescript copies identified as "Stenographic Dictation" and appear to be signed by Charles Aull. The Aug. 28th letter has minor handwritten corrections.
Charles Aull had been appointed Warden at Folsom Prison on Dec. 26, 1887; he had been a Wells Fargo agent, Deputy Sheriff and Head Turnkey at San Quentin before going to Folsom. Aull is replying to a letter from F.I. (Ferdinand Isham) Vassault, a San Francisco journalist who often wrote for the 'Overland monthly'. The letter was occasioned by the appearance in the July issue of an article by M.W. Shinn (Millicent Washburn Shinn, then editor of the magazine).
In the article, 'Cherokee Bob, the original Jack Hamlin', Shinn discussed her theory that one of Bret Harte's most familiar characters was modeled on a "gentlemanly gambler" known as 'Cherokee Bob' and she recounted tales told about him by contemporaries to support her argument. The 'Cherokee Bob' that she presents was living in Oregon in the early 1860s and died there in a gun battle. Vassault's question to Aull was if this 'Cherokee Bob' was the same person known to have been in California in the 1850s.
Aull replied on Aug. 28th: "In reply to your letter I will state, that there were a great many persons in this state known as 'Cherokee Bob', but there were only two who attained any special notoriety." These he identifies as Robert Talbot and Robert Poore and then provides brief biographies of the two men and their activities in California during the late 1850s. It is Talbot he believes to be the 'Cherokee Bob' in question.
The next day Aull writes again, having then read the article and responding to the details that Shinn had presented there. In his biography of Talbot, Aull states that he was hanged in Boise, Idaho, by a Vigilance Committee in 1862. Thus, he could not have been the 'Cherokee Bob' that Shinn discusses who died in Oregon. Nevertheless, Aull still believes Talbot was the inspiration for Harte's character and goes on to state his reasons. He concludes: "I may be able to find out some more incidents connected with their lives if you desire it. This, in proper hands could be woven into a readable story, but as it was facts you asked me for, and not romance, I have confined myself to that alone."
Note: In 'Lawmen and desperadoes' William B. Secrest provides a biography of Henry J. Talbot, aka 'Cherokee Bob'. Details of his California life confirm what Aull provided, but Secrest has Talbot dying in Oregon as in the Shinn article.


1890 (issued)


Aull, Charles -- 1849-1899 -- Correspondence
Cherokee Bob -- Biography
Talbot, Henry J -- Biography
Poore, Robert -- Biography
Outlaws -- California -- Biography
Harte, Bret -- 1836-1902 -- Characters
Shinn, Milicent Washburn -- 1858-1940


Charles Aull letters discussing 'Cherokee Bob', 1890
Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.



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2 items







Copyright Note:

Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.