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Hank Monk, one of Nevada's famous Stage Coach drivers

hank_monk-stagedriver-web.jpg Henry James “Hank” Monk One of the most famous Jehus was Henry James Monk, who drove the stage from Genoa, Utah to Placerville, California. Different names have been attributed to him, such as “Knight of the Lash,” or the “King of Coachmen.” Most people knew him as “Hank.” He would drive stages at breakneck speeds along the winding Sierra mountain roads. Hank became famous for the ride he gave Horace Greeley, a journalist for the New York Daily Tribune, over the Sierra Nevada mountains, from Virginia City, to Placerville. Greeley had complained to his driver, Hank, that the trip was going too slowly and he needed to reach Placerville, where he had a lecture engagement. It seems the constant grumblings from Greeley caused the driver to speed up and drive his team furiously. Hank yelled to Greeley, “Keep your seat, Horace; I’ll get you there on time!” Stories about the trip were written and retold in many mining towns. Even Mark Twain and Artemus West used the story to embellish their own lectures. Henry James Monk was born in Waddington, New York and at twenty-three years of the age crossed the Isthmus of Panama to arrive in California in 1852. (3) He was employed by James Birch on the Auburn stage line until 1857, when he became a driver along the Genoa and Placerville route, through Glenbrook, Carson City, Strawberry, and Sportsman Hall, (a stage stop still in business as a restaurant in Cedar Grove near Placerville). Later, he became associated with the Pioneer Stage Company, run by Louis McLane, along a route from the Sacramento Valley to Utah. (4) At the right: Stage driver Henry James "Hank" Monk. Courtesy of the California History Room, California State Library, Sacramento, California. According to the San Jose Pioneer newspaper dated March 1, 1883, Hank died of pneumonia on September 23, 1883 at Carson City, Nevada. The paper wrote, “It is said that strangers visiting Carson City would no more think of departing without having seen Hank Monk than a visitor to Rome would omit to take a look at St. Peter’s.” (5) He was buried in Nevada and upon his tombstone was inscribed, “Sacred to the memory of Hank Monk, the whitest, biggest-hearted and best-known stage driver in the West.” (6)

Wells Fargo Stage Coach Parts diagram

The Stage Coach diagram shows all the parts that made up the Wells Fargo Stage Coach.


Wells Fargo Stage Coach Coloring Page

The Stage Coach coloring page is one way to know more about this fascinating mode of transportation. 

An 1867 Wells Fargo Mail Route Advertisement1867_wf_mail_ad-web.gif and Stage Coach Ticket












 A song about Bally Green, Nevada Stage Coach Driver

The Pioneer Stage Driver Written and sung by Charley Rhoades Published by T.C. Boyd, San Francisco, 1865 1 I’m going to tell a story, and I’ll tell it in my song, I hope that it will please you, and I won’t detain you long; It’s about one of the old boys, so galas and so fine, He used to carry mails, on the Pioneer line. 2 He was such a favorite wherever he was seen, He was known about Virginia by the name of Bally Green; Oh! he swung a whip so graceful, for he was bound to shine, As a high-toned driver on the Pioneer line. 3 As he was driving up one night, as lively as a coon, He saw four men jump in the road, by the pale light of the moon; One sprung for his leaders, while another his gun he cocks, Saying, “Bally I hate to trouble you, but pass me out that box.” 4 When Bally heard him say these words, he opened wide his eyes, He didn’t know what the devil to do, it took him by surprise; But he reached down in the boot, saying, “Take it sir with pleasure,” And out into the middle of the road, went Wells & Fargo’s treasure. 5 Now when they’d got the treasure-box, they seem’d quite satisfied,— The man that held the horses, politely stepped aside, Saying, “Bally, we’ve got what we want, just drive along your team,” And he made the quickest time to Silver City ever seen. 6 If you say greenbacks to Bally now, it makes him feel so sore, It’s the first time he was ever stopped, and he’s drove that road before; But they play’d four hands against his one, and shot guns was their game, An if it had been in Bally’s place, I’d have passed it out the same. ~ ~ ~ In the mid-1860s, George “Baldy” Green drove for the Pioneer Stage Company between Placerville and Virginia City. On May 22, 1865, near Silver City, Nevada, three men robbed his stage of $10,000 in gold and greenbacks. From then on neither highwaymen nor newspapers would leave him alone. The Territorial Enterprise noted he narrowly escaped scalping, and someone placed a sign near the spot saying, “Wells, Fargo Distributing Office, Baldy Green, Mgr.” Two years later his stage was robbed twice on successive days, and in June 1868, three more robbers relieved him of $5,000. Green was discharged, but Charley Rhoades’ song about him, sung first in San Francisco’s melodeon companies, continued to retell his story. From Songs of the American West, compiled and edited by Richard E. Lingenfelter, Richard A. Dwyer & David Cohen, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1968.