Little-Known Wham Paymaster Robbery is Among Old Arizona’s Most Brazen

The arid desert south of Thatcher is the site of the Wham paymaster robbery which, despite the name, had nothing to do with “wham,” “bam” or other common Batman terms.

Gold CoinsIt’s so named because, on May 11, 1889, a band of robbers ambushed a group of soldiers carrying a U.S. Army payroll to Fort Thomas and Maj. Thomas W. Wham was in charge of the unit. After a lengthy gun battle, the outlaws made off with $28,345.10 in gold and silver coins.

Eleven men were arrested in connection with the robbery; only seven stood trial in Federal Court. But, despite overwhelming evidence from the soldiers, all were found not guilty and none of the money was ever recovered.

Maj. Wham was held accountable for the loss of the payroll until a court exonerated him. No one else was charged.

If you want to learn more, get all the nitty gritty details in Facts and Folklore Behind the Wham Paymaster Robbery by Larry T. Upton.


  1. SaraD says

    In today’s dollars, that $28,345.10 would be worth over $700,000.00. A haul worth fighting over, I reckon, no matter which side you were on.

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