Charley Phelps

Charley Phelps, victim of stagecoach robbery, is buried in Malad.

A photo of the gravestone at the Malad City Cemetery for Charley Phelps


Forty-three year-old Charley Phelps, accompanied by Joe Pinkham, was driving a stage through the Portneuf Canyon near Robber’s Roost in the summer of 1873. The two men heard a voice call out for the stage to stop, but as the story goes, instead of stopping, the two men fired at the sound of the voice. As shots were returned, Charles Phelps was killed.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported in two stories on July 19 and July 21, 1873.

“Attempted Stage Coach Robbery

“Private dispatches received from Malad last evening, gave intelligence of a daring attempt to rob the stage in Port Neuf Canyon, Idaho, near the place known as ‘Robbers Roost.’ The attack was made from both sides of the road, simultaneously, the highwaymen discharging their guns at the coach, the discharge only wounding the driver, Charles Phelps, in the body. This brave man, notwithstanding his injuries, plied his whip to the horses, and escaped with the passengers and treasure. Dr. Graham, of this city left here this morning to attend on Mr. Phelps. The officers of Oneida County are out in search of the rascals, and we hope they’ll capture them dead or alive. We learn that the driver died last night from the effects of his wounds. We hope the pursuers will be successful in arresting the murderers. – Corinne Reporter.”

“Death of Charles Phelps

“Since writing our account of the murderous attack on the Montana stage, we have received intelligence of the death of Charles Phelps, the heroic driver whom the robbers shot on Wednesday night. He expired early yesterday morning, from the effect of the wound received, and will be interred today at Malad City. Colonel Reed left here this morning for the latter place, to attend the funeral, and give decent burial to the brave man who died at his post of duty like a soldier. Mr. Phelps was originally from Western New York, and, at the time of his death was about fifty years of age. He had been in the service of the Overland Stage Company for several years, and was highly respected by his employers and all the people who knew him. – Corinne Reporter.”

Phelps is buried in the Malad City Cemetery where the following inscription is engraved on his headstone: 

“In memory of Charles Phelps, of St. Lawrence County, New York. 

“Driver on the Overland Stage Line, who was mortally wounded, July 16, 1873, in an attack on his coach by highwaymen, in Portneuf Canyon, Idaho, and died on the following day. 

“Age 43 years. 

“He fell, as all true heroes fall. 

“While answering to his duty’s call. 

“This stone is erected by his friends and companions, who loved and respected him, and sincerely mourn his death.”