Black Bart was not the Old West's only stagecoach robber, but he was the most famous. To many people, he was a folk hero: a robber who didn't threaten or harm passengers. He was a bandit with a sense of humor who wrote poetry. In robbing at least 28 Wells Fargo stagecoaches across Northern California between 1875 and 1883, he never fired a shot or injured anyone. His gun, it turned out, was never loaded.
Newspaper stories about the poet robber's exploits and about Jim Hume, the unyielding chief detective of Wells Fargo, became popular reading throughout the West. Black Bart seemed to enjoy the chase. During one robbery the driver told him, "They'll catch you one of these days." Bart answered, "Perhaps, but in the meantime, give my regards to J. B. Hume, will you?" For eight years, each new robbery—and each new story—made Hume even more determined to track him down.