Carbone Brothers, ca. 1918?

First, a brief recap of the events. On the evening of April 14 ,1907, in the coal camp of Carneyville, Wyoming, near the bustling western city of Sheridan, tensions were running high after a bet on a dog fight between two groups of miners. A fight broke out that pitted a group of Italians against a group of what the newspapers described as “Americans.” One person died (James Hughey),   one was seriously injured (Charles Fuller), and a third  was beaten (Dan Reynolds). At least seven Italian miners were arrested. No one ever was charged with the murder of Hughey.

American vs DagosThe Wyoming press reported the incident throughout the state and did so with inflammatory, racial language, using slurs such as “dago” and other negative words with suggestive negative connotations for the Italians.

Tensions increased in the community and there seemed to be a justifiable fear of mob action against the Italian miners and their families. The Italian consul, Giuseppe Corte,  in Denver,  expressed concern to  Wyoming Governor Bryant Brooks and even traveled by train from to Cheyenne for a  meeting. There was no action taken except to alert the sheriff in Sheridan and for some unknown reason, the tensions seemed to decrease.

At a pre-trial hearing on April 30, four of the seven Italian miners were “bound over to court.”[1]  Tony Papalia,  Michael Bumbaca, and my great uncle, BrunoAntonio Carbone, were charged with the attack on miner Dan Reynolds. And a fifth miner, BrunoAntonio’s  oldest brother, Domenico, was held on the more serious charge of an attack on miner Charles Fuller, who allegedly was paralyzed. (The miners’ union collected funds to send Fuller back to his hometown in Pennsylvania  to be cared for by his family.) [2]

In a puzzling development at the hearing, a Sheridan citizen, William Garrard,  posted a $2,000 bond  for Domenico. Garrard was the treasurer of the Sheridan Press Brick and Tile Company, with no apparent connection to the Italian miners.[3] Garrard swore on the bond that he was worth at least $4,000 over and above any debts he might have.

How did Mr. Garrard come to know Domenico?  Was he just a kind soul who took pity on this Italian immigrant?  Perhaps his obituary provides some evidence as to his character.

Garrard died at home on October 12, 1916 at the age of 66. His obituary stated, “throughout his long residence in Sheridan County, Mr. Garrard won and constantly held the esteem and respect of his fellow citizens. Kind hearted to a fault, he was a friend of all whom he met.”[4]

Domenico was subsequently released until his court date.

On June 5, 1907, Charles Kutcher, prosecuting attorney in the fourth judicial district court in Sheridan, Wyoming,  issued a request for subpoena numbers 364-368 [corresponding to the five defendants] to  the following ten miners who were witnesses for the prosecution, but also part of the fight: J.D. Bone, George Fleming, T.J. Woodley, Bert McDonald, L. McKay, A. Snook, Ed Spence, Pal Mullen, George Ferguson, Duncan Carr.

Three days later, Sheridan County Sheriff, A.R. Benfiel, was able to  locate seven of the witnesses–Bone, Fleming, Woodley, McDonald, McKay, Spence, and Carr– at Carneyville,  and served them with the  subpoena.  After a “diligent search,” Benfiel was unable to locate the other three men– Mullen, Snook, and Ferguson– in Sheridan County.  Perhaps they resided in an adjoining county, or just decided to go into hiding.

The  subpoena ordered all ten prosecution witnesses to report to the district court on June 7 at 9:00 am. But, for some unexplained reason the trial actually did not start until ten days later, on June 17.[5]  The charges against both  BrunoAntonio and Domenico Carbone were the following, which I have combined  since the language was identical, except for the defendants’ and victims’ names:

[the two men], who stand charged with the offence that on or about the 14th day of April 1907 in the County of Sheridan, Wyoming the  said [defendants] did willfully, maliciously and disdainfully in a rude, insolent and angry manner unlawfully and feloniously touch, s[trike],cut and wound one [Charles Fuller  or Dan Reynolds] with intent did  and there and thereby [sic] harm the said [Charles Fuller or Dan Reynolds] feloniously unlawfully, purposely and with premeditated malice to kill and murder.[6]

Prior to the trial, one of the newspapers reported that the attorney for Domenico Carbone and BrunoAntonio Carbone,  Joseph  Stotts, moved to dismiss on the grounds the district court had no jurisdiction over this case.[7]He pleaded that the case was a misdemeanor and should have been tried in the county Justice Court [Justice of the Peace.][8]  The County Attorney, Charles Kutcher, stated that the district  court should hear the case as  per the Wyoming state constitution and Wyoming state statutes. The motion by Stotts was overruled by the court, even though the justice  court  had jurisdiction but not exclusive authority.[9]

Their trial began on June 17 in district court. In another unexplained  development,  two of the original witnesses for the prosecution,  John T. Curry and J.D. Bone, were subpoenaed to appear for the defendant, Domenico Carbone .[10]

On June 20, the jury passed their verdicts on the accused men. BrunoAntonio changed his plea of not guilty to guilty of assault and battery. He  was fined $50.00. [11]  Prosecuting attorney Kutcher  filed a motion of nolle prosequi for Domenico Carbone due to lack of evidence.  The change meant that Kutcher would no longer prosecute Domenico for  assaulting  to the more seriously injured Charles Fuller.  [12]

But the results were not so good  In another case:  Mike Bumbaca and Tony Papalia were convicted of  assault and battery upon the less seriously injured Dan Reynolds. The charge also included an intent to commit manslaughter.

Jury-State of Wyoming vs Mike Bumbaca-June 17, 1907So for the record,  not one of the men who served on the jury of twelve to convict Mike and Tony was of Italian heritage..  For Mike Bumbaca, the jury foreperson, George Ackerly, wrote:

”It is therefore ordered, adjudged and decreed by the court that you Mike Bumbaca, the defendant be taken by the Sheriff of Sheridan County Wyoming to the Wyoming State Penitentiary situated at or near the City of Rawlins, County of Carbon and State of Wyoming, and there delivered to the Warden or other officer  in charge of said Penitentiary and therein confined for the term of one year at hard labor. Thereupon the said defendant was remanded to the custody of the Sheriff of Sheridan County, Wyoming, who was directed to deliver the said Mike Bumbaca defendant at his earliest convenience at the afore mentioned Penitentiary and for him to fail not.[13]  

Thus, on June 27, the “knife-affray” trial ended for my great uncles, BrunoAntonio and Domenico. They were released, and at least for Domenico, the criminal charges had been dismissed.

From the  beginning of the April 14 incident, the Sheridan Post  used exaggerated language and misstatements of fact, the most egregious was the report that Charles Fuller had died, when in fact, it was another miner, James Hughey, for which no arrests had been made. They also incorrectly stated the date of the incident as February 14, it was April 14, and mis-characterized the fight as a “riot.”

It is interesting to note how the newspapers had inflated the number of Italians and undercounted the number of “Americans.” As an example, one  newspaper claimed “ twenty armed Italians attacked five unarmed Americans.” [14] Ten American witnesses, who were at the fight,   were subpoenaed  and five Italians were charged with crimes.

There were many misspellings of the Italian names in the newspapers: “Carbona,” “Cassari,” for Carbone; “Brumbaka,” “Bumbacca,” for Bumbaca; “Sergi,” “Paplia,” “Papilli,” for Papalli; and “Clements,” for  Clemente. The American names, except for “Huey” for Hughey”, were always correctly spelled.

There was also bias in at least one newspaper account for the prosecution.  In  the last sentence of the June 21 article, the reporter praised prosecuting attorney Charles Kutcher as, [having] made a record heretofore unequaled and is deserving of the highest commendation. [15]

This  type of reporting was sloppy and not objective, especially heaping high praise for the prosecuting attorney and not even mentioning the job done by the defendant’s attorney in assisting the accused miners.

The next and final installment will discuss the imprisonment and early release of Bumbaca and Papalli at the Rawlins State Penitentiary.


[1] “Italians to Stand Trial-Three Implicated in Carneyville Affair Bound to the District Court,”  Cheyenne Daily Leader no. 209 May 03, 1907, page 1, , Wyoming State Library, Wyoming Newspaper Project (https://newspapers.wyo.gov/ : accessed 5 April 2020).
[2] “Miners’ Union To Assist Mr. Fuller Victim of the Cutting Affray,” Semi-Weekly Enterprise no. 17 May 24, 1907, page 1, Wyoming State Library, Wyoming Newspaper Project (https://newspapers.wyo.gov/ : accessed 5 April 2020). I have found no evidence that Fuller returned to Pennsylvania, but this was not an exhaustive search.
[3] R.L.Polk and Company-Sheridan and Sheridan County Directory, 1907, entry for Garrard, William, p.112, image in U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995, Ancestry, (ancestry.com : accessed 28 April 2020).
[4] “William Garrard Crosses Divide-obit-Sheridan Post no. 44 October 13, 1916,
[5] District Court, Sheridan County, Wyoming, Defendant Dominic Carbone, indictment for felonious Assault,”Information,” Wyoming State Archives; District Court, Sheridan County, Wyoming
[6] District Court, Sheridan County, Wyoming, “Information: Defendant Dominic Carbone, indictment for felonious Assault,” Wyoming State Archives; District Court, Sheridan County, Wyoming, ”Information: Defendant Bruno Carbone, indictment for felonious Assault,” Wyoming State Archives, email Carl Hallberg to Jerry Carbone, 17 December 2017 email Carl Hallberg to Jerry Carbone, 17 December 2017.
[7] “District Court,” Semi-Weekly Enterprise no. 23 June 14, 1907, page 1,
[8] “About the Courts,” Wyoming Judicial Branch, (https://www.courts.state.wy.us : accessed 30 April 2019). Scroll down to the section, “More History of Wyoming’s Judicial System,” for an explanation of Justice of the Peace courts.
[9] “District Court,” Semi-Weekly Enterprise no. 23 June 14, 1907.
[10] Ibid, Subpoena for John T. Curry and J.D. Bone, 17 June 1907
[11] “District Court: Three More Men slated for terms at the Penitentiary,” Sheridan Post, 21 June 1907, no. 34, page 1, col 2., Wyoming State Library, Wyoming Newspaper Project (https://newspapers.wyo.gov/ : accessed 5 April 2020).
[12] Micah Schwartzbach, “What’s the difference between nolle prosequi and dismissal of charges,?” Nolo (nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia : accessed 30 April 2020). Home> Legal Topics >Criminal Law >Steps in a Criminal Case- Arrest to Appeal >Early Stages of a Criminal Case> How Criminal Cases Get Started.
[13] District Court, Sheridan County, Wyoming, “State of Wyoming vs Mike Bumbaca, Verdict of Jury,” Wyoming State Archives. Documents mailed to Jerry Carbone from Carl Hallberg, Reference Archivist, 7 June 2017.
[14] “Italians to Stand Trial-Three Implicated in Carneyville Affair Bound to the District Court,”  Cheyenne Daily Leader no. 209 May 03, 1907, page 1
[15] “District Court: Three More Men slated for terms at the Penitentiary,” Sheridan Post, 21 June 1907.