The Twisted Character of James B. Hume

Portrait of James B. Hume

Early Years

James B. Hume, one of the Old West’s top lawmen, was born in Delaware County, New York on Jan. 23, 1827. In 1850 he and his brother migrated to the gold fields of California.

Jim learned the hard way riches couldn’t be pulled from the ground. Most of the big claims were owned by large corporations. Arrays of water cannons blasted the hillsides. Workers extracted gold dust from muddy run-off streaming down networks of wooden sluices.

Realizing few small-scale miners struck it rich, Jim opened a trade store. He joined the merchants supplying goods and services to the prospectors: hot meals, clean and dry places to sleep, mining tools, construction materials, hard liquor, gambling dens, female and male prostitutes.


In 1860 Jim became a peace officer. He served as deputy tax collector for El Dorado County. In 1864 he ran for City Marshall of Placerville, California and won. That same year, El Dorado County hired Jim as Under-sheriff. In 1865 Jim ran for office and held the title of Sheriff until 1870.

Wells Fargo & Company hired Jim in 1871. He took a year’s leave in 1872 to serve as deputy warden of Nevada State Prison. At this time he became one of the most prominent detectives in the region.

The Man Who Brought Black Bart To Justice

Jim Hume is best known as the man who ended the criminal career of Charles Bowles (Black Bart). Jim systematically visited the sites of each robbery and collected valuable information. He interviewed potential witnesses and eventually built a profile of the infamous robber: and older man of medium height and build carrying a bedroll. Jim figured the bedroll held the dust coat, hood, and shotgun used in the robberies as well as the stolen loot.

The big break came on November 3, 1883. Black Bart robbed a Wells Fargo stagecoach in Calvera County. During the course of the robbery, Bart was wounded. He fled the scene. Local law enforcement officers found a package of rations and a laundry-marked bloody handkerchief.

Jim and another special detective spent seven days visiting almost 100 laundries in San Francisco. The mark, F.X.0.7. was identified as belonging to C. E. Bolton, a man residing at a local boardinghouse.

Charles Earl Bowles AKA C. E Bolton and Black Bart confessed after being interrogated by Jim Hume at the Wells Fargo office in San Francisco.


Lawman James Hume was characterized four times on the long-running, syndicated television series Death Valley Days. Jim’s exploits as a range detective and investigator were highlighted.


Iv’e taken the real-life James Hume and molded a fictional character. The character first appeared in Outlaw Poet, a fictionalized account of the bandit Black Bart’s last robbery. While writing this short story I decided to expand on the range detective concept.

I wrote The Case of the Big Horn ConspiracyJim Hume, now a character in an alternate timeline, teams up with a British agent to investigate Custer’s Last Stand in this steampunk, weird western thriller

The second book in the series, The Case of the Barbary Coast Pirate, has Jim teaming up again with Agent Graham to track down an escaped British convict, a Russian pirate, and a German doctor.


Two more books are in the early stages of development:

The Case of the Comanche Werewolf, features a cowboys vs. monsters plot and introduces the character Van Helsing from Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

The Case of the Copied Man pits Jim and Agent Graham against two of the master criminals from an earlier story


One Reply to “The Twisted Character of James B. Hume”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s