The very latest on Pony Bob

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The very latest on Pony Bob

Post by cowgirl » Wed May 31, 2017 3:29 pm

rooster davis:12308 wrote:I guess most of you know that I've taken an interest in the life and times of Robert Haslam, aka "Pony Bob", perhaps the most famous Pony Express rider there was. I've put considerable time into trying to learn more about him, and I've found out a lot. Some of it I had to deduce, some of it took studying images of old newspaper articles and city directories; I acquired a copy of his death certificate and all the records the cemetery has concerning his grave etc.

While Pony Bob was famous as a young man - known pretty much across the land from coast to coast just as 'Pony Bob' - his later life was not such a famous time for him. The skills which served him so well as a brave young express rider and expert horseman didn't translate into anything all that great for him in his later years. It doesn't appear that he was ever really very successful at anything else, though he did have numerous jobs over the years and did manage to 'pay his way' in life. He spent most of his last 25 or so years in Chicago.

It is almost never mentioned whether he was married. I found that he was married but then it was near impossible to learn anything about his wife because she was always signed as 'Mrs. Robert Haslam', never mentioning her first name. I found one Chicago city directory from the year he died, 1912, which at his last address lists the resident there as "Haslam, Jennie, widow Robt". With that I knew his wife's name and was able to find their marriage record - they were married in 1887 when she was about 20 and Bob was 47.

Another thing I had trouble learning was why his wife had buried him in a single grave section of the cemetery, when there was no way she could ever be buried beside him. At first I thought that they might have been estranged, but they seem to have lived together as husband and wife for 25 years, right til his death. So why didn't she have him buried where there would be room next to him for her, later?  According to news articles of the time, Bob suffered a stroke or some sort of paralysis and for the last couple years of his life, he and his wife were on very hard times. I can only guess that she simply could not afford the price of buying two side-by-side cemetery plots at the time, and buried him in a single plot area, perhaps thinking she might someday have him moved to another section of the cemetery where she could be buried next to him. That is just a guess on my part based on the circumstances.

Pony Bob's wife remarried some years later - he died in 1912, and she remarried in 1928 or so, a man whose first wife had died. That man died in 1939 and in 1940, the year of Bob's 100th birthday, Bob's wife - now having been widowed by two husbands - purchased the famous headstone at his grave, which refers to him as "Pony Bob, Famed Pony Express Rider".

It is commonly believed that Buffalo Bill Cody paid for that headstone but I have a copy of the actual work order for the headstone - made out to Bob's widow, in 1940. (It also shows the layout of the engraving of the name, dates, and the extra Pony Express references.) Up til 1940 either his grave had a very simple ground-level stone or else it was completely unmarked. However, that headstone of his could not have been paid for by Bill Cody, who had died in about 1917,  twenty three years before the stone was placed. That has been the common belief and I have found proof that it is simply not true.

Again, it seems to me that being on hard times, Bob's wife had not been able to afford more than the single grave for him, and it was not until many years later that she also had the very nice headstone made and placed. I don't know where she was eventually buried nor have I been able to determine when she died but she was born in 1867 and was alive yet as of 1940.

Finally - I have made contact with the author of Saddles and Spurs, a very good book about the Pony Express. The author, Christopher Corbett, was very impressed with the research work I'd done, and he said the book will be re-issued in the next year or two on the 150th anniversary of the Pony Express. I haven't yet asked him if he plans to make any additions or corrections in his chapter about Pony Bob. Like me, he also is a great admirer of Pony Bob and has an entire chapter in his book strictly about him, calling him 'a true rider of the purple sage.'

Is that enough news? I hope so. And I remain the contact person on file with the cemetery for Pony Bob's grave; I have a photocopy of the perpetual care record card. It lists Pony Bob, his wife... and me. Of course with her being long gone, I am the sole valid contact on file for his grave, and that gives me a very nice feeling.
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Re: The very latest on Pony Bob

Post by cowgirl » Wed May 31, 2017 3:30 pm

Stargazer:12327 wrote:Rooster, we should call you 'super sleuth'!  Great follow-up.  I do hope that Corbett uses the info you found out, that would be awesome for you and make an even better tribute to Pony Bob.
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Re: The very latest on Pony Bob

Post by cowgirl » Wed May 31, 2017 3:30 pm

Matthew:12328 wrote:That's great Rooster!!!! You will be forever a part of history! :cool:
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Re: The very latest on Pony Bob

Post by cowgirl » Wed May 31, 2017 3:30 pm

rooster davis:12343 wrote:
Matthew wrote:That's great Rooster!!!! You will be forever a part of history! :cool:
You know Matthew, I may not be part of history but I've gotten myself connected with Robert "Pony Bob" Haslam - in a way, more closely than anyone else is anymore. It's an awesome feeling. I found out that there is another former Pony Express rider buried in DeKalb, IL - not so very far from me, and next time I get out that way I may try and locate his grave.

Stargazer, I've been told I should have been a detective. I hope Corbett does update his chapter on Pony Bob. I gotta say, reading that chapter (even as-is, which is still 99% correct) and the whole time knowing that I'm linked up with that famous and brave express rider, is an indescribable feeling.
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Re: The very latest on Pony Bob

Post by cowgirl » Wed May 31, 2017 3:30 pm

chrisb6263:12400 wrote:EXCELLENT work, Rooster D!  You deserve to be Pony Bob's caretaker!! :grin:
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Re: The very latest on Pony Bob

Post by cowgirl » Wed May 31, 2017 3:31 pm

rooster davis:12446 wrote:
chrisb6263 wrote:EXCELLENT work, Rooster D!  You deserve to be Pony Bob's caretaker!! :grin:
It's mind-boggling to realize you've become responsible for the grave containing the final remains of an historic figure from the old West.
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Re: The very latest on Pony Bob

Post by cowgirl » Wed May 31, 2017 3:31 pm

chrisb6263:12482 wrote:I would think you would view it as an honor, though!
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Re: The very latest on Pony Bob

Post by cowgirl » Wed May 31, 2017 3:31 pm

rooster davis:12487 wrote:
chrisb6263 wrote:I would think you would view it as an honor, though!
Yes indeed, I do. Words can't express it.
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