As a young man Bill Miner tried his hand at mining gold in California and later had a mail delivery service in San Diego. Not doing well at either, he started looking for some easy money. So… Bill robbed his first stage. Not being a success at this either, he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in San Quentin. While in San Quentin Bill Miner “got religion” and was released after serving 10 years.

 
Moving to Colorado, Bill left California and his religion behind. He robbed a number of trains and stagecoaches until he was captured and imprisoned. A jailbreak was followed by more robberies and another arrest. This time he was sentenced to a 25-year term in San Quentin. Again Bill Miner got religion and was released after serving 10 years.
 
A trip to Georgia for contributions from various trains and banks got him arrested again. This time he was sentenced to a life term.The religion ploy having run its course, Bill went back to the escape route. But he wasn’t any more successful with this activity than any other in which he engaged. He tried escaping three times, only to be captured and brought back to prison. Finally, in 1913, Bill Miner died in his cell.

Now, the phrase that Bill Miner coined that is used today took place on March 18, 1881. During a stagecoach robbery Bill made sure the passengers couldn’t go for their guns by telling them “hands up.” This was the first time this phrase was used. Later robbers varied the phrase by telling their victims, “hold your hands up” which later identified their activity as a “hold up.”

Filed under: Old West Myth & Fact

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