Ask the Marshall
- Written by Marshall Trimble
- Published July 10, 2012
Who is Sheet-Iron Jack?
Jack arrived in California in the 1860s and worked as a barber in the gold camps. He sported tattoos of naked ladies on his arms, and entertained folks by singing and playing the guitar. He apparently was the well-educated son of a preacher.
Jack also made money on the side as a horse thief. Some boys caught him in the act and fired rounds of buckshot in his direction. They heard what sounded like rain on a tin roof—the pellets had hit his homemade bullet-proof vest. From that time on he was known as “Sheet-Iron” Jack.
Eventually caught and sent to San Quentin, Jack escaped while his lawyer was getting him a retrial. After holding up three stagecoaches in one week in 1876, Jack was caught and sent back to San Quentin. He served six years, then resumed his merry role as an outlaw, stealing horses and cracking safes until he was captured once more. That time they sent him to Folsom Prison.
After serving his term Jack disappeared. Some said he went off to live with the Indians, but he never lost his fondness for other people’s horses.