Old West Lifestyle & Stories

Camillo Orlando Hanks and Barbed Wire

Barbed WireBarbed wire had encircled the cattle. So, cowboys weren’t needed to ride the line, making sure cattle didn’t wander away. The railroads had been built down to Texas, so cattle drives weren’t necessary anymore. And many of the large ranches were being purchased by eastern conglomerates looking for a quick return for their money, or the ranches were simply broken up. So, many cowboys had to look for other means of employment.
One such cowboy was Camillo Orlando Hanks, also known as Deaf Charley. Deaf Charley was born in Texas in 1863. As a young man, he cowboyed, accompanying a herd of cattle up to Montana and stayed on several years until he could no longer find work. So Deaf Charley decided to take up another profession… that of a train robber. Unfortunately, he didn’t do too well at that profession, and he was captured. In 1892, he was sentenced to ten years in the pen.                 
Getting out in April of 1901, within three months he had hooked up with Butch Cassidy and the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang. In spite of his hearing loss, Deaf Charley’s job was keeping an eye on the train passengers while Butch, Sundance and the others stole their possessions. The gang got about $30,000 in bank notes from a train robbery in Montana. Wishing to spend his share of the money elsewhere, Deaf Charley went down to San Antonio, Texas. On October 22, 1902, Deaf Charley was in a saloon in San Antonio when the local law, Pink Taylor, confronted him. Guns were drawn, a shot was fired, and Deaf Charley was no more.           

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