Elopement by Stagecoach

High in the mountain town of Weaverville, a charming young girl was bedazzled by a wily rogue, and planned to run away with him. Her father, anxious to save his daughter, spirited her to Shasta City where they boarded a stage for the thirty-mile journey to Sacramento, where they would catch a river boat for the bay area. En route a barkeeper at Hall’s Hotel, who was sympathetic to the rogue’s designs, told the coach driver a fanciful tale and gave him a note to secretly pass to the girl at the first opportunity. Aware that the young lady was clearly suffering from emotional duress, the driver gave the girl the note, gratified that it seemed to lift her spirits. But later that same evening over supper, the driver learned the identity of her suitor from the other passengers: it was the notorious Joseph McGee. Just three weeks prior to the planned elopement McGee had been arrested—after first fleeing the scene—for shooting and wounding two men in a local saloon, narrowly escaping the hangman’s noose at Weaverville through the intercession of a few “influential friends.” The stage driver hastily drew the father aside, apologized for his active part in the scheme, and advised him to stay over a day when the stage reached Marysville instead of continuing on the through schedule to Sacramento. This prudent course avoided a probable fatal confrontation, as the father had sworn to die before relinquishing his child, and McGee was equally determined to recapture the young lady at all costs. The scoundrel was armed and waiting for her in Sacramento on the day she should have arrived—just as his note had said. Passing through town the following day, the father safely delivered his daughter into the care of a college of nuns in San Jose, as he had intended. The ultimate fate of the would-be seducer is unknown.

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