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lante Days and Ways. The Pioneers of 
the Rockies. The Makers and Making. 
of Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washing- 
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PIIVKERTOX, William Allan, principal of 

Pinkerton's Nat. Detective Agency; 6. Dundee, 
III.. Apr. 7. 1S46; .s. Allan P. (noted detective) 
and Joan (Caifrae) P.; ed. pub. and pvt. schs., 
and Notre Dame Coll.; entered secret service 
div. U.S. Army, 1861; m. Margaret S. Ashling, 
of Blissfleld, Mich., Dec. 14. 1866 (died Apr. 5, 
1895). Served through Civil War, chiefly in 
Army of Potomac; became clerk in his father's 
office; later with his brother, chief asst. in 
the agency, succeeding to the business on 
death of Allan Pinkerton, July 1, 1884; opera- 
tions extended to all parts of the world. 
Home: 193 Lake Shore Drive. Otjice: 137 S. 5th 
Av., Chicago. 





VOL. I. 



Wonders of the Yellowstone in Scribner's Magazine 
The Ascent of Mount Hayden in Scribner's Mac^azine 







l^atljaniel ^itt Hangforti 





COPVRK.HT, 1890, 


All rights reserved. 


SEnknoton pioneers 




^eto (great SSEest. 


Intboduction xix 

CHAPTER I.— Spanish Intrigues. 

The Mississippi River — Foresight of Washington 

— Dissatisfaction of Western Settlers — Prophe- 
cies of Navarro — Union in Danger — Jealousy 
of Spanish Authorities — Wilkinson's Intrigues 

— State of Frankland — Invasion of Louisiana 
Threatened — French Jacobin Intrigue — Genet's , -^^ 
Plans — Treaty of Madrid — Napoleon — Pontal- 
ba's Memoir — Treaty of St. Ildephonso . . 1 

CHAPTER II.— Louisiana Purchase. 

Alarm of our Government at the Cession to 
France — Mr. Livingston appointed Minister to 
France — Talleyrand — His Reticence — Tedious 
Delay— Right of Deposit Prohibited — Effect 
upon Western People — Mr. Jefferson appoints 
Mr. Monroe Extraordinary Minister — Congress 

— Debate — Federal Opposition — War between 
France and England again imminent — Bonaparte's 
Proposition — Treaty agreed upon and signed — 
Action of Congress — Extent of Territory pur- 
chased 34 

viii Contents, 

CHAPTER III.— European Treaties. 

Mode of Defining the Western Boiindary of Louisi- 
ana — Great Britain no Right to any Portion of 
the Territory West of the Rocky Mountains — 
Discovery of the Cohimbia by Captain Gray — 
Lewis and Clarke's Expedition — Astor's Expedi- 
tion — Negotiations for the Settlement of the 
Claims of Great Britain and the United States — 
Florida Treaty — Russian Treaty — Renewal of 
the Treaty for Joint Occupation — Action of 
Congress — Debate, asd Einal Settlement of the 
Boundary 61 

CHAPTER IV.— Henry Plummer. 
Snake River — Its Scenery — Lewiston — Its Ap- 
pearance and Society — Loyalists and Secessionists 

— Arrival of Plummer and His Companions — 
A Domestic History — Plummer Leader of the 
Roughs — Jack Cleveland — Cherokee Bob — Bill 
Bunton and others 73 

CHAPTER v.— Society in Lewiston. 
Shebangs — Complaint of Nez Perces — ■ Recklessness 
of Roughs and Indifference of Citizens — Inci- 
dents at the Shebangs — Horse Robbery — Ex- 
press Riders — Mose — His Escape — Fearlessness 

— Severity of Winter — Effect upon Mining — 
Exposure to Crime — Condition of Lewiston in 
the Winter of 1861-2 — Kirby murders a Comrade 

— His Arrest and Acquittal — Murder of Hilte- 
brant — Citizens' Meeting — Roughs in the Ma- 
jority — Plummer's Interference — Hiltebrant's 
Brother ^ 

Contents. ix 

CHAPTEE VI.— Northern Mikes. 

Prospecting for Gold — Picture of a Veteran Pros- 
pector — Patrick Ford — Design of Roughs to 
kill him — He outwits them — Robbers leave 
Lewiston for Oro Fino — Robberies by the way 

— Entrance into Oro Fino — Assault on Ford's 
Saloon — Fight — Ridgely wounded — Ford killed 96 

CHAPTER VII.— Charley Harper. 

Charley Harper assumes to be " Chief " — Cherokee 
Bob — Theatre in the Mines — Deputy Sheriff 
Porter's Assault upon the Soldiers assisted by 
Cherokee Bob — Two Soldiers killed, Others 
wounded — Soldiers march into Town in Pursuit 
of Cherokee Bob — He escapes by Stealing a 
Horse and Fleeing in the Night to Lewiston — 
Ridgely shoots Gilchrist and escapes to Oregon . 105 

CHAPTER VIIL— Cherokee Bob. 

Gold Excitement — Robbers go to Florence — Rob- 
beries by the way — Cherokee Bob and Bill May- 
field — Cynthia — Jealousy — A Strange History 

— Bob " settled in Business " . . . .112 

CHAPTER IX.— Florence. 

Florence — Rule of the Roughs — Murder of a 
German Miner — One Rough shoots Another — 
Brockie killed by Chapman — Hickey killed by 
" Snapping Andy " — Matt Bledsoe — DifB.culties 
of Mining — Exposures — Pack Trains — Robbery 
of McClinchey's Train — Robbery of Berry Broth- 
ers, by Scott, Peoples, and English . . . 125 

X Contents. 

CHAPTER X. — First Vigilance Committee. 

Pursuit, Arrest and Execution of Scott, Peoples, and 
English — Arrest, Trial, and Banishment of " Hap- 
py Harry" — Escape of "Club-Foot George" — 
Charley Harper flees to Colville .... 136 

CHAPTER XI.— New Gold Discovebies. 

Immigration — Discoveries in Deer Lodge — At 
Boise — Ridgely recovers and goes to Elk City 

— Plummer and Cleveland go to Sun River — 
Spend most of the Winter there — Plummer in 
Love — Quarrels with Cleveland .... 142 

CHAPTER XIL— Desertion of Mining Camps. 

Effect of Decay in Mines — Florence in Decline — 
New Year's Ball — Cynthia goes and is expelled 

— Wrath of Cherokee Bob and Willoughby — 
Attack on Jakey Williams — Fierce Street Fight 

— Bob and Willoughby killed — Cynthia returns 
toMayfield 149 

Boone Helm — His Early Life — Murders Shoot in 
Missouri — Tried and convicted, and escapes by 
Stratagem to California — Kills Several Persons 
and flees to Dalles — Attempts a Journey on 
Horseback across the Territories to Camp Floyd 
in Utah — Disasters by the way — Cannibalism 

— John W. Powell's Letter — Murder at Salt 
Lake — Returns to Washington Territory — 
Fights with and kills Dutch Fred — Captured on 
Frazer River and taken to British Columbia — 

Contents. xi 


Suspected of killing and eating his Comrade — 
Confined in Penitentiary at Portland — The 
Helm Brothers — Coolness of " Old Tex "— Helps 
Boone on his Trial — Buys up Witnesses — Boone 
acquitted and goes to Boise ..... 156 

CHAPTER XIV.— Charley Harper. 

Charley Harper at Colville — New Year's Ball — 
Kicks and abuses a Woman — Is pursued by the 
People, upon whom he fires — Captured and hung 
— Vigilantes of Florence banish "Fat Jack" — He 
returns, is warned and leaves Town — Stops at 
Neselrode's Cabin — Company fire upon the Cabin 

— Kill Neselrode and "Fat Jack " — Who to 
Blame ... 176 


Character of Piukham — His Birthplace — His Life 
in California — Goes to Florence — Is appointed 
U. S. Marshal of Idaho — Character of Patterson 

— He kills Staples — Is acquitted of Murder — 
Difference in the Character of the two Men — 
Pinkham arrests Patterson — They meet at Warm 
Springs — Patterson kills Pinkham — Patterson 
arrested by Bobbins — Patterson's Cruelty — Or- 
ganization of Vigilantes — Confronted by a Sher- 
iff's Posse — Vigilantes disband — Trial of Pat- 
terson — Acquittal — Goes to Walla Walla — Is 
killed by Donahue 182 

CHAPTER XVI.— Early Discoveries of Gold. 

First Discovery of Gold in Montana — The Stuart 
Brothers — Narrative of Granville Stuart — First 

xii Contents. 

Arrival of Emigrants from the Missouri River — 

Shooting of Arnett — Arrest of his Companions 

— Trial and Execution of Spillman — Exodus 
of Miners from Colorado — Difficulties — Crossing 
of Smith Fork of Bear River — Crossing of Snake 
River — Arrival at Lemhi — Discouragements — 
Consultation — The Party divides — Arrival of 
Woodmansee's Train with Provisions — Great 
Joy in the Camp 212 

CHAPTER XYII.— Captain Fisk's Expedition. 

Northern Overland Expedition — Journey from St. 
Paul to Fort Benton — Arrival in Prickly Pear 
Valley — High Price of Provisions — Threatened 
Destitution — Trip of the Writer to Pike's Peak 
Gulch — Night Camp — Storm — Blackfeet In- 
dians — Critical Situation — Providential Escape 
— Arrival at Pike's Peak Gulch — Disappoint- 
ment — Journey to Grasshopper Diggings . . 229 

CHAPTER XVIIL— Baxxack ix 1862. 

Plummer's supposed Attempt at Reform — Dread 
of Cleveland — Cleveland suspected of Evans's 
Murder — His Conduct at Goodrich's Hotel — 
Plummer's Interference — Shoots Cleveland — 
George Ives and Charley Reeves appear — Hank 
Crawford and Harr}^ Phleger take Cleveland away 

— Cleveland's Death — Plummer's Interview with 
Crawford — Quarrel between Ives and Carrhart — 
Reconciliation — How Emigrants spent the Win- 
ter — J. M. Castner — Attack of Moore and Reeves 
upon the Indians — Killing a Chief and a Pap- 
poose — Shooting of Gazette . .... 241 

Contents. xiii 

CHAPTER XIX.— Moore and Reeves. 

Moore and Reeves flee — Mass Meeting of Citizens 

— They are Arrested — Trial and Acquittal of 
Plumm(ir for killing Cleveland — Mode of Trial 

— Incident at Blackfoot — Trial of Moore and 
Reeves — Incidents of the Trial — Sentenced to 
Banishment — Banishment and Return of Mitchell 252 

• CHAPTER XX.— Crawford and Phleger. 

Meeting and Decision of the Roughs — Plummer 
assigned to the Task of killing Crawford — Craw- 
ford's Exposures — Plummer seeks by various 
Designs to lure him into a Quarrel — Plummer's 
Skill with the Pistol — Quarrel in a Saloon — 
Harry Phleger to the Rescue — Plummer defeated 

— Another Saloon Affray — Phleger again — 
Plummer challenges Phleger — Crawford shoots 
and severely wounds Plummer — Leaves for Fort 
Benton — Is pursued, but escapes — Dr. Click 
dresses Plummer's wound — His Life threatened 268 

CHAPTER XXL— Broadwater's Stratagem. 

Departure of Moore and Reeves to Deer Lodge — 
Broadwater's and Pemberton's Improvements — 
Moore sick — Broadwater's Kindness — Moore's 
Gratitude — Broadwater's Ride to Deer Lodge — 
Night at Big Hole — Shoots an Indian — Meets 
Ives and Cooper — Is pursued by them — Arrives 
in Safety at Contway's Ranche — Leaves there 
by a Ruse, and completes the Trip to Deer 
Lodge 292 



CHAPTER XXII. — Organization of the Roughs. 

Plummer's Skill with his Left Hand — Selects 
Phleger for a Victim — Fails to embroil him in a 
Quarrel — Ellis threatened — Escapes to the Mis- 
souri — Plummer and Judge Dance — Plummer 
robs Davenport — Indifference of the Miners — 
Thorough organization of the Roughs — Depreda- 
tions in Town — Quarrel between Banfield and 
gapp — Death of Carrhart — Moore's Interference 
and Recklessness — Contemplated Attack upon 
"VYinnemuck's Band — Rescue of a White Captive 
from the Indians — Buck Stiuson's Barbarous Mur- 
der of '' Old Snag," a Bannack Chief . . .304 

CHAPTER XXIII.— A Masonic Funeral. 

People Spellbound — Death of Wm. H. Bell — 
Meeting of the Masons — Masonic Funeral — 
Masonic Gatherings — Watch of the Roughs — 
Plummer elected Sheriff — His Marriage with 
Miss Eliza Bryan — His Conversation with the 
Writer — Reasons for doubting his Sincerity — 
Life in Bannack 319 

CHAPTER XXIV. — Battle of Bear River. 

Indian Troubles — Battle of General Connor with 
the Bannacks — Obstinate Resistance of the In- 
dians—Their Defeat — Bravery of our Troops — 
Effect of the Victory 337 

CHAPTER XXV.— Alder Gulch. 

Discovery of Alder Gulch — Description of the 
Placer and Settlement of it — Murder of Dilling- 

Contents. xv 


ham by Stinson, Lyons, and Forbes — Their Trial 

— Condemnation of Stinson and Lyons — Acquit- 
tal of Forbes — Strange Acquittal, and departure 

of Stinson and Lyons, when ready for Execution . 352 

CHAPTER XXVL— Virginia City. 

Increase of Immigration — Settlement of Alder 
Gulch — Discovery of Smaller Gulches — Bivin's 
Gulch — Dempsey's and Daly's Ranches — Society 
in Virginia City — Sunday — Size of Territory — 
Distance from Capital — Arrival of D. S. Payne, 
U. S. Marshal — His Desire to have Virginia City 
represented — Offers the Writer the Selection of a 
Deputy Marshal — Question referred to Union 
League, which designates Plummer — Interview 
between Plummer and the Writer — Hauser's 
opinion of Plummer — Plummer not nominated 

— Threatens the Writer — Method of Conducting 
Robberies — Plummer's Popularity — Club-Foot 
George's Shop in Dance and Stuart's Store . . 375 

CHAPTER XXVII.— Coach Robberies. 

Wealth of Alder Gulch — Return of Miners to the 
States — Adaptation of the Country to Robbery 

— " Bummer Dan " — His Claim — Sale of it and 
Return to Virginia City — His Ruse to escape 
Robbery a Failure — Attack upon the Coach — 
Robbery of "Bummer Dan," Percy, and Madison 

— Bill Bunton a Stool-Pigeon — Quarrel of Jason 
Luce and Sam Bunton — Luce kills Sam Bunton 

in Salt Lake City — His Trial and Execution . 392 

• Contents. 

CHAPTER XXVIII.— Leroy Southmayd. 
Attack upon Oliver's Coach -Leroy Southmayd 
and Captain Moore robbed by Ives, Graves, and 
Zachary-Southmayd's Interview with Plummer 
at Bannack - Graves's Story to Caldwell - Ives s 
Boasts -Robbers frustrated in their Designs 
upon Southmayd on his Return to Virginia City . 410 


Designed and enfjraved binder the supervision of 
George ®. Stntitett). 

A Pack Train — Cinching . . . Frontispiece 

A Pioneer Title-page 

''Why doesn't he Write?" . . . Dedicatio7i 
(After a Sketch by E. C. Spencer, M.D.J 

James Stuart, who set the First Sluices in 
Montana 212 

Granville Stuart, who set the First Sluices 
in Montana 214 

Captain James L. Fisk, Commander of North- 
ern Overland Expedition .... 230 

Judge J. F. Hoyt, Miners' Judge at Trial of 
Moore and Reeves 267 

Judge Walter B. Dance, Miners' Judge at 
Bannack 308 

General P. E. Connor, Commander at Battle 
of Bear River 337 


IT is stated, on good authority, that soon after the 
first appearance of Schiller's drama of " The 
Robbers " a number of young men, charmed with 
the character of Charles De Moor, formed a band 
and went to the forests of Bohemia to engfao-e in 
brigand life. I have no fear that such will be 
the influence of this volume. It deals in facts. 
Robber life as delineated by the vivid fancy of 
Schiller, and robber life as it existed in our min- 
ing regions, were as widely separated as fiction 
and truth. No one can read this record of 
events, and escape the conviction that an honest, 
laborious, and well-meaning life, whether success- 
ful or not, is preferable to all the temporary 
enjoyments of a life of recklessness and crime. 
The truth of the adage that " Crime carries with 
it its own punishment " has never received a 
more powerful vindication than at the tribunals 
erected by the people of the North-West mines 
for their own protection. No sadder commentary 

XX Introduction. 

could have stained our civilization than to permit 
the numerous and bloody crimes committed in 
the early history of this portion of our country 
to go unwhipped of justice. And the fact that 
they were promptly and thoroughly dealt with 
stands among the earliest and nohlest character- 
istics of a people which derived their ideas of 
right and of self-protection from that spirit of 
the law that flows spontaneously from our free 
institutions. The people bore with crime until 
punishment became a duty and neglect a crime. 
Then, at infinite hazard of failure, they entered 
upon the work of purgation with a strong hand — 
and in the briefest possible time established the 
supremacy of law. The robbers and murderers 
of the mining regions, so long defiant of the 
claims of peace and safety, were made to hold the 
oibbet in g-reater terror there than in any other 
portion of our country. 

Up to this time, fear of punishment had exer- 
cised no restraining influence on the conduct of 
men who had organized murder and robbery into 
a steady pursuit. They hesitated at no atrocity 
necessary to accomplish their guilty designs. 
Murder with them was resorted to as the most 
available means of concealing robbery, and the 
two crimes were generally coincident. The coun- 

Introduction. xxi 

try, filled with canons, gulches, and mountain 
passes, was especially adapted to their purposes, 
and the unpeopled distances between mining 
camps afforded ample opportunity for carrying 
them into execution. Pack trains and companies, 
stage coaches and express messengers, were as much 
exposed as the solitary traveller, and often selec- 
ted as objects of attack. Miners, who had spent 
months of hard labor in the placers in the accu- 
mulation of a few hundreds of dollars, were never 
heard of after they left the mines to return to 
their distant homes. Men were daily and nightly 
robbed and murdered in the camps. There was 
no limit to this system of organized brigandage. 

When not engaged in robbery, this criminal 
population followed other disreputable pursuits. 
Gambling and licentiousness were the most con- 
spicuous features of every mining camp, and both 
were but other species of robbery. Worthless 
women taken from the stews of cities phed their 
vocation in open day, and their bagnios were the 
lures where many men were entrapped for rob- 
bery and slaughter. Dance-houses sprung up as 
if by enchantment, and every one who sought an 
evening's recreation in them was in some way re- 
lieved of the money he took there. Many good 
men who dared to give expression to the feelings 

jcxii introduction. 

of horror and disgust which these exhibitions in- 
spired, were shot down by some member of the 
gang on the first opportunity. For a long time 
these acts were unnoticed, for the reason that the 
friends of law and order suj)posed the power of 
evil to be in the ascendant. Encouraged by this 
impunity the ruffian power increased in audacity, 
and gave utterance to threats against all that por- 
tion of the community which did not belong to 
its organization. An issue involving the destruc- 
tion of the good or bad element actually existed 
at the time that the people entered upon the work 
of punishment. 

I offer these remarks, not in vindication of 
all the acts of the vigilantes, but of so many of 
them as were necessary to establish the safety and 
protection of the people. The reader will find 
among the later acts of some of the individuals 
claiming to have exercised the authority of the 
vigilantes some executions of which he cannot ap- 
prove. For these persons I can ofFer no apology. 
Many of these were worse men than those they 
executed. Some were hasty and inconsiderate, 
and while firm in the belief they were doing right, 
actually committed grievous offences. Unhappily 
for the vigilantes, the acts of these men have been 
recalled to justify an opinion abroad, prejudicial 

Introduction. xxiii 

to the vigilante organization. No;ihing could be 
more unjust. The early vigilantes were the best 
and most intelligent men in the mining regions. 
They saw and felt that, in the absence of all law, 
they must become a " law unto themselves," or 
submit to the bloody code of the banditti by 
which they were surrounded, and which was in- 
creasing in numbers more rapidly than themselves. 
Every man among them realized from the first 
the great delicacy and care necessary in the man- 
agement of a society which assumed the right to 
condemn to death a fellow-man. And they now 
refer to the history of all those men who suffered 
death by their decree as affording ample justifi- 
cation for the severity of their acts. What else 
could they do ? How else were their own lives 
and property, and the lives and property of the 
great body of peaceable miners in the placers to 
be preserved ? What other protection was there 
for a country entirely destitute of law ? 

Let those who would condemn these men try to 
realize how they would act under similar circum- 
stances, and they will soon find everything to ap- 
prove and nothing to condemn in the transactions 
of the early vigilantes. I have endeavored to nar- 
rate nothing but facts, and these will enable every 
reader to judge correctly of the merits of each case. 

xxiv Introduction. 

I would fain believe that this history, bloody 
as it is, will prove both interesting and instructive. 
In all that concerns crime of the blankest dye on 
the one hand, and love for law and order on the 
other, it stands without a parallel in the annals of 
any people. Nowhere else, nor at any former 
period since men became civilized, have murder 
and robbery and social vice presented an organ- 
ized front, and offered an open contest for sujDrem- 
acy to a large civilized community. Their works 
for centuries have been done by stealth, in dark- 
ness, and as far away from society as possible. 
I cannot now remember the instance, within the 
past three hundred years, when the history of any 
country records the fact that the criminal element 
of an entire community, numbering thousands, 
was believed to be greater than the peaceful ele- 
ment. Yet it was so here. And when the vigi- 
lantes of Montana entered upon their work, they 
did not know how soon they might have to en- 
counter a force numerically greater than their 

In my view the moral of this history is a good 
one. The brave and faithful conduct of the vigi- 
lantes furnishes an example of American character, 
from a point of view entirely new. We know what 
our countrymen were capable of doing when ex- 

Introduction. ^^"^ 

posed to Indian massacre. We have read history 
after history recording the sufferings of early 
pioneers in the East, South, and West, but what 
they would do when surrounded by robbers and 
assassins, who were in all civil aspects like them- 
selves, it has remained for the first settlers of the 
North Western mines to tell. And that they did 
their work well, and showed in every act a love 
for law, order, and for the moral and social virtues 
in which they had been educated, and a regard 
for our free institutions, no one can doubt who 
rightly appreciates the motives which actuated 


A people who had not been reared to respect 
law and order, and to regard the privileges which 
flow from a free government as greater than all 
others, in the regulation of society, would have 
been restrained by fear from any such united and 
thorough effort as that which in Montana actually 
scourged crime out of existence, and secured to 
an unorganized community all the immunities and 
blessings of good government. The terror which 
popular justice inspired in the criminal population 
has never been forgotten. To this day crime has 
been less frequent in occurrence in Montana than 
in any other of the new territories, and no banded 
criminals have made that territory an abiding place. 

xxvi Introduction. 

Although not the first exhibition of vigilante jus- 
tice, the one I here record was the most thorough 
and severe, and stands as an example for all new 
settlements that in the future may be similarly 
afflicted, for it was not until driven to it both by 
the frequent and unremitting villanies of the 
ruffians, and by the necessities of a condition for 
which there was no law in existence, that the people 
resorted to measures of their own, and made and 
enforced laws suited to the exigency. But enough ! 
If the history fails to remove the prejudices of 
my readers, nothing I can say will do so. It 
speaks for itself, and though there are a few of 
its later occurrences I would gladly blot, there 
is nothing in its early transactions, nothing in the 
design it unfolds, nothing in the results which have 
followed, that on a similar occasion I would not 
wish to see reproduced. 




The Mississippi Eiveb— Foresight of WASHiNOTOif — 
Dissatisfaction of Western Settlers — Prophe- 
cies of Navarro — Union in Danger — Jealousy 
OF Spanish Authorities — Wilkinson's Intrigues 
— State of Frankland — Invasion of Louisi- 
ana threatened — French Jacobin Intrigue — 
Genet's Plans — Treaty of Madrid —Napoleon 
Pontalba's Memoir — Treaty of St. Ildephonso. 

"The Mississippi river," says Bancroft, "is 
the guardian and the pledge of the union of the 
States of America. Had they been confined to 
the eastern slope of the Alleghanies, there would 
have been no geographical unity between them ; 
and the thread of connection between lands that 
merely fringed the Atlantic must soon have been 
sundered. The father of rivers gathers his waters 
from all the clouds that break between the Alle- 

2 Spanish Intrigues. 

ghanies and the farthest ranges of the Rocky 
Mountains. The ridges of the eastern chain 
bow their heads at the north and the south, so 
that long before science became the companion of 
man, Nature herself pointed out to the barbarous 
races how short portages join his tributary waters 
to those of the Atlantic coast. At the other side 
his mightiest arm interlocks with the arms of the 
Oregon and the Colorado ; and, by the conforma- 
tion of the earth itself, marshals highways to the 
Pacific. From his remotest springs he refuses to 
suffer his waters to be divided ; but as he bears 
them all to the bosom of the ocean, the myriads 
of flags that wave above his head are all the en- 
signs of one people. States larger than king- 
doms flourish where he passes ; and beneath his 
step cities start into being, more marvellous in 
their reality than the fabled creations of enchant- 
ment. His magnificent valley, lying in the best 
part of the temperate zone, salubrious and won- 
derfully fertile, is the chosen muster-ground of 
the various elements of human culture brouofht 
together by men, summoned from all the civilized 
nations of the earth, and joined in the bonds 
of common citizenship by the strong invincible 
attraction of republican freedom. Now that 
science has come to be the household friend of 

Spanish Intrigues. . 3 

trade and commerce and travel, and that Nature 
has lent to wealth and intellect the use of her 
constant forces, the hills, once walls of division, 
are scaled or pierced or levelled ; and the two 
oceans, between which the republic has unassail- 
ably intrenched itself against the outward world, 
are bound together across the continent bjf 
friendly links of iron. From the grandeur oi 
destiny, foretold by the possession of that rivei* 
and the lands drained by its waters, the Bourbons 
of Spain, hoping to act in concert with Great 
Britain as well as France, would have excluded 
the United States, totally and forever." 

In the early days of our repubUc the great 
national artery, so justly eulogized by our lead- 
ing historian, was the fruitful cause of the most 
dangerous intrigues, aimed at the perpetuity of 
our Union. The inhabitants of the Ohio and 
Mississippi valleys, cut off by the Appalachian 
range from all commercial intercourse with the 
Atlantic seaboard, were necessarily dependent 
upon the Mississippi for access to the markets 
of the world. The mouth of that river was, 
as to them, the threshold of subsistence. Exten- 
sive possessions, richness of soil, and immensity 
of production, were of little value, without the 
means which this great channel alone afforded 

4 Spanish Intrigues. 

for the establishment of commercial relations 
with other nations. The most prolific, as well 
as most unbounded, region of varied agricul- 
tural production in the world was comparatively 
valueless without this single convenience. 

At the time whereof I write the mouth of 
the Mississippi and the country adjacent was 
owned and controlled by Spain, then a powerful 
nation, jealous of her possessions in America, 
and unfriendly to the young republic which had 
suddenly sprung into existence on the northern 
borders of her empire. She had assented to the 
stipulation in the treaty between Great Britain, 
the United States, and herself in 1783, in which 
the independence of our country was recognized, 
that the navigation of the Mississippi from 
its source to its mouth should be and remain 
forever free and open to the subjects of Great 
Britain and the citizens of the United States. 
The privilege, sufficient for ordinary purposes 
in time of peace, was liable at any moment and 
on almost any pretence, as we shall hereafter see, 
to be absolutely denied, or to be hampered with 
oppressive duties, or to be used for purposes 
dangerous to the very existence of our govern- 

The first individual to see the evils which 

Spanish Intrigues. 6 

might flow from a dependence upon this outlet 
to the ocean by the people living west of the 
Alleghanies, was Washington himself. He had 
carefully noted the flow of the rivers beyond the 
Alleghanies, and the portages between them and 
the rivers flowing down their eastern slope, at 
the time of his first visit into that region before 
the Revolution, and was only hindered from form- 
ing a company, to unite them by an artificial 
channel, by the occurrence of the Revolution 
itself. The year after peace was declared he 
again visited the country bordering the upper 
waters of the Ohio, and at this time regarded 
the improvement, not only of immense impor- 
tance in its commercial aspect to the States of 
Maryland and Virginia, but as one of the neces- 
sities of government. " He had noticed," says 
Mr. Irving, " that the flanks and rear of the 
United States were possessed by foreign and 
formidable powers, who might lure the Western 
people into a trade and alliance with them. The 
Western States, he observed, stood as it were on 
a pivot, sc- that the touch of a feather might 
turn them any way. They had looked down the 
Mississippi, and been tempted in that direction 
by the facilities of sending everything down the 
stream ; whereas they had no means of coming 

6 Spanish. Intrignet<. 

to us but by long land transportation and 
rugged roads. The jealous and untoward dis- 
position of the Spaniard, it was true, almost 
barred the use of the Mississippi ; but they might 
change their policy and invite trade in that 
direction. The retention by the British Govern- 
ment, also, of the posts of Detroit, Niagara, and 
Oswego, though contrary to the spirit of the 
treaty, shut up the channel of trade in that quar- 
ter " [Irving's Life of Washington, vol. iv. p. 423]. 

His views were laid before the legislature of 
Virginia, and received with such favor that he 
was induced to repair to Richmond to give them 
his personal support. His suggestions and repre- 
sentations during this visit gave the first impulse 
to the great system of internal imj^rovements 
since pursued throughout the United States. 

While Washington was urging upon the peo- 
ple of Virginia the importance of a water com- 
munication between the head waters of the Poto- 
mac and the Ohio, and had succeeded so far 
as to effect the organization of two companies 
under the patronage of the Governments of 
Maryland and Virginia [Irving's Life of Wash- 
ington, vol. iv. p. 427], the people of the 
Western States, dissatisfied with the tax im- 
posed upon them to pay the interest on the debt 

Spmiish Intrigues. 7 

of the country to France, were many of them 
abandoning their dwellings and marching towards 
the Mississippi, " in order to unite with a certain 
number of disbanded soldiers, who were anxious 
to possess themselves of a considerable portion 
of the territory watered by that river." Their 
object was to establish the Western Independ- 
ence and deny the authority of the American 
Congress, as McGillivray says in a letter to the 
governor of Pensacola [Gayarre's " History of 
the Spanish Domination in Louisiana," p. 159]. 
This Alexander McGillivray, the head chief of 
the Talapo aches, or Creeks, was a half-breed, the 
son of Lachland McGillivray, a Scotchman, and 
a Creek woman. He was educated in Scotland. 
Pickett, the historian of Alabama, calls him the 
Talleyrand of Alabama ; and Gayarre, in an 
extended eulogy, says of him : " The individual 
who, Proteus-like, could in turn, — nay more, 
who could at the same time, be a British colonel, 
a Spanish and an American general, a polished 
gentleman, a Greek and Latin scholar, and a wild 
Indian chief with the frio^htful tomahawk at his 
belt and the war paint on his body, a shrewd 
politician, a keen-sighted merchant, a skilful spec- 
ulator, the emperor of the Creeks and Seminoles, 
the able negotiator with Washington in person 

8 Spanish Intrigues. 

and other great men, the writer of papers which 
would challenge the admiration of the most fas- 
tidious — he who could be a Mason among the 
Christians, and a pagan prophet in the woods; 
he Avho could have presents, titles, decorations, 
showered at the same time upon him from Eng- 
land, Spain, and the United States, and who could 
so long arrest their encroachments against him- 
self and his nation by playing them like puppets 
against each other, must be allowed to tower far 
above the common herd of men." McGilhvray 
died 17th February, 1793. He was buried with 
Masonic honors, in the garden of William Pan- 
ton, in Pensacola. His death spread desolation 
among his people. 

Martin Navarro, the Spanish intendant at 
New Orleans, united with remarkable sagacity 
and foresight a jealousy of the American popu- 
lation of the Western States, amounting almost 
to mania. His policy in regulating commercial 
intercourse with all neighbors was in the largest 
degree conciliatory and generous. From the 
hour of its birth, he predicted with singular 
accuracy the power and growth of the American 
republic. In 1786, speaking of the commercial 
relations between the province of Louisiana and 
the numerous Indian tribes which owned the 
adjacent territory, he says : — 

Spanish Intrigues. 9 

" Nothing can be more proper than that the 
goods they want should be sold them at an equi- 
table price, in order to afford them inducements 
and facilities for their hunting pursuits, and in 
order to put it within their means to clothe them- 
selves on fair terms. Otherwise they would 
prefer trading with the Americans, with whom 
they would in the end form alliances, which can- 
not but turn out to be fatal to this province." 

The surplus productions of the Western set- 
tlements at this time had grown into a very 
considerable commerce, which, having no other 
outlet than the Mississippi, was sent down that 
river to New Orleans, where it was subjected to 
unjust and oppressive duties. The flatboat-men 
complained of the seizures, confiscations, extor- 
tions, and imprisonments which in almost every 
instance were visited upon them by the Spanish 
authorities. Infuriated by the frequency and 
flagrant character of these outrages, and deny- 
ing the right of Spain under the treaty of 1783 
in any way to restrict the free navigation of the 
river, the Western people began seriously to con- 
template an open invasion of Louisiana, and a 
forcible seizure of the port of New Orleans. 
They laid their grievances before Congress and 
petitioned that body to renew negotiations with 

10 Spanish Intrigues. 

Spain, and secure for them sucli commercial priv- 
ileges as were necessary to the very existence of 
their settlements. 

Navarro seconded these views, and writing to 
his Government says : " The powerful enemies 
we have to fear in this province are not the Eng- 
lish, but the Americans, w4iom we must oppose 
by active and sufficient measures." He then, by 
a variety of reasons, urges that a restriction of 
commercial franchises will only increase the em- 
barrassment of Spain. '• The only way," he says, 
" to check them, is with a proportionate popula- 
tion, and it is not by imposing commercial restric- 
tions that this population is to be acquired, but 
by granting a prudent extension and freedom of 


By granting the Americans special privileges, 
donating lands to them, and affording them other 
subsidies, Navarro hoped to lure them from their 
allegiance to our Government. Very many, yield- 
ing to these inducements, moved their families 
into the Spanish province, and became willing 
subjects of His Catholic Majesty. The majority 
of those who remained, owing to the repeated 
failures and rebuffs they had suffered in their 
efforts to obtain free commercial privileges, were 
forced at length to consider the idea of forming 

Spanish Intrigues. 11 

a new and independent republic of their own. 
Tiieir separation by distance and mountain bar- 
riers from the Atlantic States rendered all com- 
mercial intercourse impracticable between the two 
portions of the country. They were surrounded 
by savages, against whose murderous attacks their 
Government was unable to afford them adequate 
protection, and their commerce was burdened with 
oppressive and ruinous duties before it could gain 
access to the markets of the world. Besides these 
considerations, they were oppressed with heavy 
taxation to pay the interest on the great war- debt 
to France. These reasons, to any one who can 
identify himself with the period of our history 
now under review, would certainly seem sufficient 
to overcome a patriotism which had always been 
measured by the amount of sacrifice it was cap- 
able of making without any return. Our Govern- 
ment, still under the old confederacy, no longer 
bound by the cohesive elements of the war, was 
ready to fall to pieces, because of its inherent 
weakness. The majority of the people, both East 
and West, had little confidence in its stability. The 
leading patriots of the Revolution, alarmed at the 
frequent and threatening demonstrations of revolt 
made in all parts of the country, were at a loss to 
know how to avoid a final disruption. 

12 Spanish Intrigues. 

" What, then," says Washington in a letter to 
John Jay, " is to be done ? Things cannot pro 
on in the same strain forever. It is much to be 
feared, as you observe, that the better kind of 
people, being disgusted with the circumstances, 
will have their minds prepared for any revolu- 
tion whatever. We are apt to run from one 
extreme to another. ... I am told that 
even respectable characters speak of a monarch- 
ical government without horror. From thinking 
proceeds speaking, then acting is often but a 
single step. But how irrevocable and tremen- 
dous ! What a triumph for our enemies to verify 
their predictions ! What a triumph for the advo- 
cates of despotism to find that we are incapable of 
governing ourselves, and that systems founded 
on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal and 
fallacious." [Irving's Washington, vol. iv. p. 450.] 

It was when the country was in this condition 
that the idea of a separate independence took 
form among the people west of the AUeghanies. 
Want of unanimity in the adoption of a basis for 
the new republic only prevented its organization ; 
for as soon as the question came under serious 
consideration, no less than five parties appeared, 
each claiming its plan to be the only one suited to 
the purjjoses in view. 

Spunish Intrigues. 13 

" The first was for being independent of the 
United States, and for the formation of a new 
repubHc unconnected with the old one, and rest- 
ing on a basis of its own, and a close alliance with 

" Another party was willing that the country 
should become a part of the province of Louisi- 
ana, and submit to the admission of the laws of 

" A third desired a war with Spain and the 
seizure of New Orleans. 

" A fourth plan was to prevail on Congress, by 
a show of preparation for war, to extort from the 
cabinet of Madrid what it persisted in refusing. 

" The last, as unnatural as the second, was to 
solicit France to procure a retrocession of Louisi- 
ana, and to extend her protection to Kentucky." 
[Judge Martin's Hist, of Louisiana, vol. ii. p. 10.] 

Encouraged in their designs to lure the Western 
people into Louisiana, by this public evidence of 
their disaffection toward their own country, the 
Spanish authorities from this moment conceived 
the idea of working a dismemberment of our con- 
federacy and attaching the vast country west of 
the Alleghanies to the other Hispano-American 
possessions. Separate plans for effecting this ob- 
ject were formed by Miro, the governor of Louisi- 

14 Spanish Intrigues. 

ana, and Gardoquoi, the Spanish minister at Phil- 
adelphia. These officials were jealous of each 
other, and though partners in design, frequently 
clashed in their measures. 

In June, 1787, General James Wilkinson, an 
officer of the Revolution, who had emigrated to 
the West a few months before, descended the 
Mississippi to New Orleans, with a cargo of flour, 
tobacco, butter, and bacon. His boat having 
been seized, Wilkinson, after a protracted inter- 
view with Governor Miro, parted from him with 
an order for its release and permission to sell his 
cargo free of duty. This arch-intriguer was per- 
mitted, during the entire period that his negotia- 
tions with Miro were in progress, to enjoy all the 
privileges of the New Orleans market free of 
duty. He sold large cargoes of tobacco, flour, and 
butter to the Spanish authorities on different oc- 
casions, and received from Miro very large sums 
of money at various times, to aid him in the Avork 
of dismemberment. We learn that at one time he 
sought to become a Spanish subject, but was dis- 
suaded by Miro, who, while he loved the treason, 
hated the traitor. At another time, in the midst 
of his intrigues, he besought Miro to obtain for 
him a portion of the country to which he could 
flee to escape the vengeance which would pursue 

Spanish Intrigues. 15 

him, in case his diaboHcal acts should be discov- 
ered by Washington. He remained in New Or- 
leans until September. During that period, at 
Miro's request, he furnished him with his views in 
writing of the political interests of Spain and the 
Western people. This document strongly advo- 
cated the free navigation of the Mississippi, and 
was sent to Madrid for the perusal of the king. 
But it was intended simply as a blind, to conceal 
the inception of an intrigue between Miro and 
Wilkinson for the separation of the Western set- 
tlements from the Union, and their adherence to 
Spain. It was soon ascertained that, coincident 
with the submission of this document, Wilkinson 
presented another to Miro, containing different 
representations, which was not made public. 

In the meantime, Gardoquoi, acting without 
Miro's compliance, had invited the people of 
Kentucky and the region bordering the Cumber- 
land river to establish themselves under the pro- 
tection of Spain in West Florida, and the Florida 
district of lower Louisiana, offering as induce- 
ments that* they might hold slaves, stock, provi- 
sions for two years, farming utensils and imple- 
ments, without paying any duty whatever, and 
enjoy their own religion. Allured by these 
promises, many Americans removed to Louisiana 

16 Spanish Intrigues. 

and became Spanish subjects. To encourage 
this work of emigration, Gardoquoi made a con- 
cession of a vast tract of land, seventy miles 
below the mouth of the Ohio, to Col. George 
Morgan upon his proposition to settle it with a 
large number of immigrants. In pursuance of 
this purpose, Morgan afterwards laid the founda- 
tions of a city there, which, in compliment to 
Spain, he called New Madrid. 

Gardoquoi, fearful lest his plans might be dis- 
turbed by Miro, sent an agent to New Orleans to 
obtain for them the support of that functionary. 
Miro was deeply embroiled in the intrigue with 
Wilkinson — an enterprise, if successful, that 
would prove vastly more important than that of 
Gardoquoi. Concealing his purpose from the 
latter, Miro, on one pretext and another, avoided 
committing himself to plans which were certain, 
if prosecuted, to clash with his own. In Jan- 
uary, 1788, he wrote to V aides, the minister for 
the department of the Indies : — 

" I have been reflecting for many days 
whether it would not be proper to communicate 
to D'Arges (Gardoquoi's agent) Wilkinson's 
plans, and to Wilkinson the mission of D'Arges, 
in order to unite them and dispose them to work 
in concert. , . . The delivering u\) of Ken- 

Spanish Intrigues. 17 

tiicky into His Majesty's hands, which is the 
main object to which Wilkinson has promised to 
devote himself entirely, would forever constitute 
this province a rampart for the protection of 
New Spain." 

In the course of this intrigue, Gardoquoi's 
agent stipulated to lead 1582 Kentucky families 
into the Natchez district. Miro ordered Grand- 
pre, the governor of Natchez, to make concessions 
of land to each family on its arrival, and require 
them to take the following oath : " We the 
undersigned do swear, on the Holy Evangelists, 
entire fealty, vassalage, and lealty to His Catholic 
Majesty, wishing voluntarily to live under his 
laws, promising not to act either directly or 
indirectly against his real interest, and to give 
immediate information to our commandants of 
all that may come to our knowledge, of Avhatever 
nature it may be, if prejudicial to the w^elfare of 
Spain in general and to that of this province in 
particular, in defence of which we hold ourselves 
ready to take up arms, on the first summons of 
our chiefs, and particularly in the defence of this 
district against whatever forces may come from 
the upper part of the river Mississippi, or from 
the interior of the continent." 

" Whilst presenting to them these considera- 

18 Spanish Intrirjues. 

tions," writes Miro, " you will carefully observe 
the manner in which they shall receive them, 
and the expression of their faces. Of this 
you will give me precise information, every time 
that you send me the original oaths taken." 

In furtherance of his enterprise, Wilkinson 
spent several months in the Atlantic States, after 
leaving New Orleans. He wrote to Miro in 
cipher, on his return to the West, that all his 
predictions were verifying themselves. "' Not a 
measure," he says, " is taken on both sides of the 
mountains which does not conspire to favor ours." 
About the same time he wrote to Gardoquoi in 
order to allay his suspicions. Receiving from 
Miro no immediate reply to his letter, he sent a 
cargo of produce down the river in charge of 
Major Isaac Dunn, whom he accredited to Miro 
as a fit auxiliary in the execution of their political 
designs. Dunn assured the Spanish governor 
that Kentucky would separate entirely from the 
Federal Union the next year. 

While these schemes were in progress, the set- 
tlers in the district of Cumberland, reduced to 
extremities by the frequent and bloody invasions 
of the Indians south of them, sent delegates to 
Alexander McGillivray, head chief of the tribes, 
to declare their willingness to throw themselves 

Spanish Intrigues- 19 

into the arms of His Catholic Majesty, as sub- 
jects. They said that Congress could neither 
protect their jjersons or property, or favor their 
commerce, and that they Avere desirous to free 
themselves from all allegiance to a power inca- 
pable of affording the smallest benefit in return. 

One of the difficult questions for the Spanish 
authorities to settle with the people they expected 
to lure to their embrace was that of religion. 
Spain was not only Catholic, but she had not 
abandoned the Inquisition, as a means of tortur- 
inff the rest of the world into a confession of that 
faith. Gardoquoi had promised all immigrants 
into Louisiana freedom of religious opinion. 
Miro, willing to make some concessions, would 
not concede entire freedom. Just at the time 
that a promise had been made of a large emigra- 
tion from the western settlements, Miro received 
a letter from the Reverend Capuchin Antonio 
de Sedella, informing him that he had been 
appointed commissary of tlie Iniquisition, and 
that, in order to carry his instructions into per- 
fect execution, he might soon, at some late hour 
of the night, deem it necessary to require some 
guards to assist him in his operations. A few 
hours afterwards, while this inquisitor was repos- 
ing, he was roused by an alarm. Starting upj 

20 SiJcinisli Intrigues. 

he met an officer and a file of grenadiers, who, 
he supjjosed, had come to obey his orders. " My 
friends," said he, " I thank you and his excel- 
lency for the readiness of this compliance with 
my request. But I have no use for your ser- 
vices, and vou shall be warned in time when you 
are wanted. Retire, then, with the blessing of 
God." The surprise of the Holy Father may be 
conceived when told that he was under arrest. 
^' What ! " he exclaimed, '^ will you dare lay 
hands on a commissary of the Holy Inquisi- 
tion ? " 

"I dare obey orders," was the stern reply, — 
and Father de Sedella was immediately conductec 
on board a vessel, which sailed the next day fot 

Miro, writing to one of the members of the 
cabinet of Madrid, concerning this unceremo- 
nious removal, says : " The mere name of the 
Inquisition, uttered in New Orleans, would be 
sufficient, not only to check immigration, which 
is successfully progressing, but would also be 
capable of driving away those who have recently 
come, and I even fear that in spite of my having 
sent out of the country Father Sedella, the most 
fatal consequences may ensue from the mere sus- 
picion of the cause of his dismissal." This was 

Spanish Intrigues. 21 

the first and last attempt of the Spaniards to 
plant the Inquisition in North America. 

In the midst of these intrigues and schemes, 
Navarro, the talented intendant, was recalled by 
his Government, and returned to Spain. The 
two offices of governor and intendant thus 
became united in Miro. In his last official 
despatch, Navarro expressed his views of the 
province with considerable detail. He depicted 
the dangers which Spain had to fear from the 
United States, — predicting that the " new-born 
giant would not be satisfied until he extended 
his domains across the continent, and bathed his 
vigorous young limbs in the placid waters of the 
Pacific." A severance of the Union was, in his 
opinion, the only way this could be prevented. 
Thfs was not difficult, if the present circum- 
stances were turned to advantage. " Grant," 
said he, " every sort of commercial privilege to 
the masses in the Western region, and shower 
pensions and honors on the leaders." 

While actively engaged in the prosecution of 
his intrigue with Miro, we learn from a letter 
written to that official in February, 1789, that 
in October of the previous year Wilkinson met 
with Col. Connelly, a British officer, who, he 
says, " had travelled through the woods to the 

22 Spanish Intrigues. 

mouth of the river Big Miami, from which he 
came down the Ohio in a boat." He claimed to 
be an emissary of Lord Dorchester, the governor- 
general of Canada. Ignorant of Wilkinson's 
secret negotiations with Miro, he met him by 
invitation, at his house, and upon Wilkinson's 
assurance of regard for the interests of His 
Britannic Majesty, Connelly unfolded to him the 
object of his mission. He informed Wilkinson 
that Great Britain was desirous of assisting the 
Western settlers in their efforts to open the navi- 
gation of the Mississipi^i. She would join them 
to dispossess Spain of Louisiana, and as the 
forces in Canada were too small to supply de- 
tachments for the purpose. Lord Dorchester 
would, in place thereof, supply our men with 
all the implements of war, and with money, 
clothing, etc., to equip an array of ten thousand. 
Wilkinson, in his letter to Miro, says : " After 
having pumped out of him all that I wished to 
know, 1 began to weaken his hopes by observing 
that the feelings of animosity engendered by 
the late Revolution were so recent in the hearts 
of the Americans that I considered it impos- 
sible to entice them into an alliance with Great 
Britain ; that in this district, particularly in that 
nart of it where the inhabitants had suffered so 

Spanish Intrigues. 23 

much from the barbarous hostilities of the In- 
dians, which were attributed to British influence, 
the resentment of every individual was much 
more intense and implacable. In order to justify 
this opinion of mine I employed a hunter, who 
feigned attempting his life. The pretext as- 
sumed by the hunter was the avenging the death 
of his son, murdered by the Indians at the sup- 
posed instigation of the English. As I hold the 
commission of a civil judge, it was of course to 
be my duty to protect him against the pretended 
murderer, whom I caused to be arrested and held 
in custody. I availed myself of this circum- 
stance to communicate to Connelly my fear of 
not being able to answer for the security of his 
person, and I expressed my doubts Avhether he 
could escape with his life. It alarmed him so 
much that he begged me to give him an escort 
to conduct him out of the territory, which I 
readily assented to, and on the 20th of Novem- 
ber he recrossed the Ohio on his way back to 

Such was the influence of Wilkinson with the 
people of the districts of Kentucky and Cumber- 
land, that between the years 1786 and 1792 he 
thwarted them four times in their designs to 
invade Louisiana, after preparations had been 

24 Spanish Intrigues. 

made for that purpose. His object was to unite 
the Western settlements Avith Spain, — not to 
maintain the integrity of the Federal Union. 
Circumstances which had occurred several years 
before this time gave birth to another intrigue of 
remarkable character, which developed itself in 
the fall of 1788. The Western portion of 
North Carolina, know^n as the Washingrton Dis- 
trict, in 1786 declared itself independent, and 
organized a government under the name of the 
State of Frankland. Congress interfered, put 
an end to the new State, and restored the country 
to North Carolina. Indignant at the interposi- 
tion, the secessionists 23ersisted in their designs, 
and through their displaced governor, on the 12th 
of September, informed the Spanish minister, 
Gardoquoi, that they " were unanimous in their 
vehement desire to form an alliance and treaty 
of commerce with Spain, and put themselves 
under her protection." The settlers of Cumber- 
land river, who were also under the jurisdiction 
of North Carolina, gave the name of Miro to a 
district they had formed, as evidence of their 
partiality for the Spanish Government. The 
promise of protection which the inhabitants of 
the two districts received from Gardoquoi was so 
modified by Miro that the scheme, though prose- 

Spanish Intrigues. 25 

cuted for a time with great vigor, finally failed 
from inability on the part of the secessionists to 
comply with the conditions of recognition. 

A company composed of Alexander Moultrie, 
Isaac Huger, Major William Snipes, Colonel 
Washino-ton, and other distinguished South Caro- 
linans w^as formed at Charleston in 1789, which 
purchased from the State of Georgia 52,900 
square miles of territory, extending from the 
Yazoo to the banks of the Mississippi near Natchez. 
The Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Spain claimed a 
portion of this territory. The ulterior designs of 
the company in the purchase and settlement of the 
country were carefully concealed for some time. 
Wilkinson, who was still engaged in the effort to 
dismember the Union, having heard of this pur- 
chase, lost no time in communicating his views 
to the company and expressing a desire to co- 
operate with them as their agent. At the same 
time he addressed a letter to Miro, in which, after 
telling him that he had applied to the company 
for an agency, he says : — 

"If I succeed, I am persuaded that I shall 
experience no difficulty in adding their establish- 
ment to the domains of His Majesty, and this they 
will soon discover to be to their interest. . . . 
You wdll have the opportunity to modify the plan 

26 Spanish Intrigues. 

of the company as your judgment and prudence 
will suggest, and the interest of the King may re- 
quire. I will keep you informed of every move- 
ment which I shall observe, and it will be com- 
pletely in your power to break up the projected 
settlement, by inciting the Choctaws to incom- 
mode the colonists, who will thus be forced to 
move off and to establish themselves under your 

Wilkinson's application for an agency was de- 
clined, because of the appointment of Dr. 0' Fallon 
before it was received. He wrote to Miro on the 
subject of the company's purposes. After speak- 
ing of the dissatisfaction of the members of the 
company with the Federal Government, he states 
that he has induced them to become subjects of 
Spain, " under the appearance of a free and inde- 
pendent state, forming a rampart for the adjoining 
Spanish territories, and establishing with them an 
eternal reciprocal alliance offensive and defensive. 
This," he continues, " for a beginning, when once 
secured with the greatest secrecy, will serve, I am 
fully persuaded, as an example to be followed by 
the settlements on the western side of the moun- 
tains, which will separate from the Atlantic por- 
tion of the Confederacy, because, on account of 
the advantages which they will expect from the 

Spanish Intrigues. 27 

privilege of trading with our colony under the 
protecSon of Spain, they will unite with it in the 
same manner, and as closely as are the Atlantic 
States with France, receiving from it every assis- 
tance in war, and relying on its power in the 
moment of danger." 

In a letter written to Miro on the 20th of 
June, Wilkinson fully endorses the plans of the 
company. Miro submits to the Court at Madrid 
the documents unfolding these plans, accom- 
panied by a despatch in which he sums up the 
advantages and disadvantages of "taking a 
foreign state to board with us." When near 
the conclusion, he explains how he has excited 
the hostility and secured the opposition of all the 
Indian tribes to the Americans. " I have recom- 
mended them," says he, " to remain quiet, and 
told them if these people presented themselves 
with a view to settle on their lands, then to make 
no concessions, and to warn them off; but to 
attack them in case they refused to withdraw; 
and I have promised that I would supply them 
with powder and ball to defend their legitimate 


Both Louisiana and the United States became 
at this time apprehensive that an invasion of the 
former would be attempted by the British from 

28 Spanish Intrigues. 

Canada. Such an event would impose upon 
our Government the necessity of determining a 
course proper to be pursued, should a passage be 
asked by Great Britain for his troops through 
our territory or should that passage be made 
without permission. The opportunity was 
deemed favorable to' the prosecution of our claim 
to the navigation of the Mississippi, and negotia- 
tions were opened with Spain for the purchase of 
the Island of New Orleans and the Floridas, — 
but Spain declined our offer of friendship, the 
only consideration we were then able to give, and 
the project failed. Miro's administration termin- 
ated in 1791. He was succeeded by the Baron 
de Carondelet. 

Such was the confidence inspired in the Gov- 
ernment by the adoption of the Constitution, 
and the firm and watchful administration of 
Washington, that, not only in the Eastern States, 
but in the Western districts also, all intrigues, 
cabals, and schemes of dismemberment, during 
the first three years of Carondelet's administra- 
tion, had seemingly expired. A brighter era had 
dawned upon the country ; hope had taken the 
place of doubt in the minds of the people, and 
the old patriotism, which had borne us through 
tho Ke volution, reinstated loyalty in the bosoms 

Spanish Intrigues. 29 

of thousands, whose thoughts had been for years 
ripeniug for revolt. But the danger was not all 
over. Some discontented and some ambitious 
spirits yet remained in the West. Great Britain 
cast a greedy eye occasionally at the mouth of 
the Mississippi, and poor torn, bleeding France, 
which had just murdered her King, sent a suffi- 
cient number of her maniac population to our 
shores to keep the spirit of misrule in action. 

Early in the year 1794 a society of French 
Jacobins, established in Philadelphia, sent a cir- 
cular to Louisiana which was widely distributed 
among the French population of the province, 
appealing to them to take up arms and cast off 
the Spanish yoke. The alarm which this gave 
the Baron de Carondelet was increased by a 
knowledge of the efforts put forth by Genet, the 
French minister to the United States, to organize 
and lead an expedition of French and Americans 
against Louisiana. Armed bands had assembled 
upon the Georgia frontier to join it, and French 
emissaries were everywhere stirring up the West- 
ern people to aid in the invasion. New Orleans 
was strongly fortified, and the grim visage of war 
was again wrinkled for the conflict. 

Fear of invasion over, Carondelet addressed 
himself with oreat vi<ror to the unfinished schemes 

30 Spanish Intrigues. 

of Miro for dismembering- the Union and winning 
over the Western settlements to Spain. Meantime, 
the negotiations so long pending between our Gov- 
ernment and Spain, on the 20th of October, 1795, 
culminated in the Treaty of Madrid. By this 
treaty a boundary line was established between 
the United States and the Floridas. Spain also 
conceded to our people the free navigation of the 
Mississippi from its source to the sea, and agreed 
to permit them, " for the term of three years, to 
use the port of New Orleans as a place of deposit 
for their produce and merchandise, and export the 
same free from duty or charge, except a reason- 
able consideration to be paid for storage and other 
incidental expenses ; that the term of three years 
may, by subsequent negotiation be extended ; or, 
instead of that town, some other point in the 
island of New Orleans shall be designated as 
a place of deposit for the American trade." 

It was believed by the provincial authorities 
that this treaty was formed for the purpose of 
propitiating the neutrality of our Government in 
the event of a war, at that time imminent be- 
tween Great Britain and Spain. They had no 
faith in its permanency, or that its provisions 
would be observed by Spain after her European 
embarrassments had been settled. Instead of ar- 

Spanish Intrigues. 31 

resting, it had the effect to stimulate the efforts of 
Carondelet in his favorite plan for the acquisition 
of the Western settlements. He made proposals 
to Sebastian, Innis, and other early associates of 
Wilkinson, and through his emissaries approached 
Wilkinson himself with promises, but it was too 
late. The Union had become consolidated. The 
wise counsels of Washington allayed discontent, 
and the successful campaign of Wayne had given 
assurance of protection. Wilkinson and his as- 
sociates, foiled in the designs formed and con- 
ducted under more favorable auspices, whatever 
their aspirations might have been, were too 
sagacious to revive an enterprise which neither 
policy nor necessity could excuse, and which a 
vigilant government was sure to punish. After 
a few more struggles the Spanish authorities, on 
the 26th of May, 1798, surrendered to Wilkinson, 
who, by the deatli of AVayne, had been promoted, 
the territory claimed by tlie Treaty of Madrid, 
and the Spanish power in America from that 
moment began to decline. 

Morales, the Spanish intendant, construing the 
letter of the treaty strictly, on the 17th of July, 
1799, chose to consider that three years had 
elapsed since its ratification, and, for the pur- 
pose of crippling the commerce of the Western 

32 Spanish Intrigues. 

people, issued an order prohibiting- the use of 
New Orleans as a place of deposit by them, with- 
out designating in accordance with the treaty any 
other suitable jDoint. This measure aroused the 
indignation of the West. An expedition against 
New Orleans was openly contemplated. President 
Adams ordered three regiments of regulars to the 
Ohio, with instructions to have in readiness a suf- 
ficient number of boats to convey the troops to 
New Orleans. Twelve new regiments were added 
to the army, and an invasion seemed inevitable, 
and would most certainly have been attempted, 
had not indications of a popular determination to 
elect Mr. Jefferson to the Presidency caused the 
postponement of a project which could not be 
completed before the close of Mr. Adams' ad- 

No public documents of the period, accessible to 
me, speak of the suspension by the Spaniards of 
this prohibitory order, but from the fact that it 
was renewed afterwards, as we shall have occasion 
to notice, there can be no doubt that terms of 
accommodation satisfactory to the Western people 
were for the time agreed upon. 

Napoleon, at this time First Consul, cast a long- 
ing eye at the mouth of the Mississippi. His min- 
isters had been instructed to obtain all possible 

Spanish Intrigues. 33 

information concerning Louisiana. M. de Pont- 
alba, who had passed an official residence of many 
years in Louisiana, prepared at tli^ir request a 
very remarkable memoir on the history and re- 
sources of that province, which was presented to 
the French Directory on the loth of September, 
1800. On the 1st of October following, a treaty 
between France and Spain was concluded at St. 
Ildephonso, of which the third article is in the 
following- words : — 

" His Catholic Majesty promises and engages to 
retrocede to the French Republic, six months after 
the full and entire execution of the above condi- 
tions and stipulations, relative to His Royal High- 
ness the Duke of Parma, the colony or province 
of Louisiana, with the same extent that it now has 
in the hands of Spain, and that it had when France 
possessed it, and such as it ought to be after the 
treaties subsequently entered into between Spain 
and the other States," 

France being- at war with England when this 
treaty was concluded, it was carefully concealed, 
lest England, then mistress of the seas, should 
take the country from her. 

34 Louisiana Purchase. 



Alarm of our Government at the Cession to Fraxck 

— Mr. Livingston appointed Minister to France 

— Talleyrand — His Eeticence — Tedious Delay 

— Right of Deposit prohibited — Effect upon 
Western People — Mr. Jefferson appoints Mr. 
Monroe Extraordinary Minister — Congress — 
Debate — Federal Opposition — War between 
France and England again imminent — Bona- 
parte's Proposition — Treaty agreed upon and 
signed — Action of Congress — Extent of Terri- 
tory purchased. 

The retrocession of Louisiana to France was 
not suspected bj our Government until March, 
1801, six months after the treaty of St. lldephonso 
was concluded. It was then brought to the 
notice of Mr. Madison, the secretary of State, by 
Mr. Rufus King, our minister at the Court of 
St. James. Mr. Madison seems to have shared 
the incredulity of England and other powers 
regarding the event, for he took no notice of 

Louisimia Purchase. 35 

the intimation conveyed by Mr. King's despatch 
until it was partially confirmed by another from 
the same source on the 1st of June thereafter. 
In the first letter on the subject, Mr. King had 
deemed it of sufficient importance to recommend 
the appointment of a minister to represent the 
interests of our Government near the Court of 
France. In the last he depicted as a possible 
effect of the acquisition that "it might enable 
France to extend her influence and perhaps her 
dominion up the Mississippi and through the 
lakes, even to Canada." 

Our Government took the alarm instantly. 
The negotiations it had effected with Spain, 
thougfh still embarrassed with some offensive 
conditions, had produced a state of comparative 
quiescence in the West ; all dangerous intrigues 
were at an end, and a further settlement had 
been projected which would harmonize all oppos- 
ing: interests and forever secure to our Western 
possessions the uninterrupted enjoyment of free 
navigation of the Mississippi to the ocean. Such 
an arrangement with France was deemed impos- 
sible. In the hands of Napoleon, Louisiana would 
be at once transformed into a powerful empire, 
and the Mississippi would be used as a highway 
to transport troops on errands of meditated inva- 

36 Louisiana Purchase. 

sion all over the continent of North America. 
In her eager desire to regain the Canadian pos- 
sessions taken from her by Great Britain, she 
would march her armies through our territories 
and inevitably embroil us in a war which would 
prove in the end fatal to the liberties we had 
just established. Heavy duties would necessarily 
be imposed upon our Western population, and all 
the prejudices now so fortunately allayed would 
be revived against the Government because of 
its powerlessness to relieve them. 

Mr. Madison addressed a despatch to Mr. 
Pinckney, our minister at Madrid, requesting 
him to ascertain whether a treaty had been made, 
and if so, the extent of the cession made by it. 
The Government appointed Mr. Robert R. Liv- 
ingston minister to France. 

In October, 1801, Mr. King succeeded in pro- 
curing a copy of the sscret treaty and forwarded 
it to Mr. Madison. In the midst of the alarm 
occasioned by this intelligence the war between 
France and England was terminated and articles 
of peace signed on the 1st of October, 1801. 
France commenced secret preparations to avail 
herself of the treaty and take early possession 
of Louisiana. In the meantime Mr. Livingston 
had arrived in Paris. On the 12th of December, 

Louisiana Purchase. 37 

in a despatch to Mr. Madison, he informed him 
that he had hinted to one of the ministers that 
a cession of Louisiana would afford them the 
means of paying their debts, — to which the 
minister replied : " None but spendthrifts satisfy 
their debts by selling their lands," adding, how- 
ever, after a short pause, " but it is not ours to 

Talleyrand was the Minister of Exterior Rela- 
tions. In all his interviews with Mr. Livingston 
relative to the purchase of Louisiana he fully 
exemplified one of the maxims of his life, that 
" language was made to enable people to conceal 
their ideas." All of Mr. Livingston's inquiries 
respecting the treaty were met Avith studied 
reserve, duplicity, and positive denial. Often 
when he sought an interview the minister was pre- 
occupied or absent. He not only failed to obtain 
information of the extent of the cession^ whether 
it included the Floridas, but so undemonstrative 
were the communications of the minister upon 
the subject, that often he left him doubtful of 
the intention of France to comply with the terms 
of the treaty at all. His despatches to Mr. Mad- 
ison, while they show no lack of exertion or 
expedient on his part to obtain the desired infor- 
mation, bear evidence of the subtlety, cunning, 

38 Louisiana Pui-chaae 

and artifice of one of the greatest masters of state- 
craft the world has yet produced. At one time 
he express?s his concern at the reserve of the 
French Govcrament, and importunes Talleyrand 
to inform him " whether East and West Florida 
or either of them are included in the treaty, and 
afford him such assurances, with respect to the 
limits of their territory, and the navigation of the 
Mississippi, heretofore agreed upon between Spain 
and the United States, as may prove satisfactory 
to the latter." 

" If," he continues in the same note, " the 
territories of East and West Florida be included 
within the limits of the cession obtained by 
France, the undersigned desires to be informed 
how far it would be practicable to make such 
arrangements between their respective govern- 
ments, as would at the same time aid the finan- 
cial operations of France and remove by a strong 
natural boundary all future causes of discontent 
between her and the United States." 

Six days afterwards he writes to Mr. Madison 
that he has received no reply to the above note. 
A month later in a despatch he says : " They have 
as yet not thought it proper to give me any 
explanations." One month afterwards he writes : 
" The business most interesting to us, that of 

Louisiana Purchase. 39 

Louisiana, still remains in the state it was. The 
minister will give no answer to any inquiries I 
make on the subject. He will not say what their 
boundaries are, what are their intentions, and 
when they are to take possession." 

Meantime the treaty of Amiens opened the 
ocean to Bonaparte's contemplated expedition to 
Louisiana. The anxiety of our Government was 
greatly increased. Mr. Madison, in a despatch 
full of complaint at the ominous silence of the 
French minister, among other intimations, con- 
veys the following : — 

" Since the receipt of your last communication, 
no hope remains but from the accumulating diffi- 
culties of going through with the undertaking, 
and from the conviction you may be able to 
impress that it must have an instant and power- 
ful effect in changing the relations between 
France and the United States." 

Fears were entertained that the British Gov- 
ernment might have acquiesced in the treaty, so 
as to impair the stipulations concerning the free 
navigation of the Mississippi, but these were dis- 
sipated by the assurance of Lord Hawkesbury, in 
reply to a letter addressed to him on the subject 
by Mr. King, that " His Majesty had not in any 
manner directly or indirectly acquiesced in or 
sanctioned the cession." 

40 Louisiana Purchase. 

Nearly one month after this last despatch to 
Mr. Madison, Mr. Livingston again informs him 
that " the French Government still continues to 
hold the same conduct with respect to his inquir- 
ies in relation to the designs on Louisiana," but 
assures him that nothing shall be done to impair 
the friendly relations between America and 
France. Eight days after this despatch was 
written, he writes again that he has acquired 
information on which he can depend, in relation 
to the intention of the French Government. 
" Bernadotte," says he, " is to command, CoUot 
second in command ; Adet is to be prefect ; " but 
the expedition is delayed until about September, 
on account of some difficulty, which Mr. Living- 
ston conceives to have " arisen from the different 
apprehensions of France and Spain relative to 
the meaning of the term Louisiana, which has 
been understood by France to include the Flor- 
idas, but probably by Spain to have been con- 
fined to the strict meaning of the term." 

On the 30th of July, 1802, Mr. Livingston 
informs Mr. Madison that he is preparing a 
lengthy memorial on the subject of the mutual 
interest of France and the United States relative 
to Louisiana; and that he has received the 
explicit assurance of the Spanish ambassador 

Louisiana Purchase. 41 

that the Floridas are not inchided in the ces- 

On the 10th of Auofust followino; he ao^ain 
writes the secretary that he has put his essay in 
such hands as he thinks will best serve our pur- 
poses. " Talleyrand," he says, " has promised to 
give it an attentive perusal ; after which, when I 
find how it works, I will come forward with some 
proposition. I am very much at a loss, however, 
as to what terms you would consider it allowable 
to offer, if they can be brought to sale of the 
Floridas, either with or without Ncav Orlears, 
which last place will be of little consequence if 
we possess the Floridas, because a much better 
passage may be found on the east side of the 

Mr. Livingston now followed up his inter- 
rupted negotiation with activity. He made sev- 
eral propositions for the purchase of Louisiana, 
but was informed by the minister that all offers 
were premature. " There never," says Mr. Liv- 
ingston in a despatch to the secretary of state, 
" was a Government in which less could be done 
by negotiation than here. There is no people, 
no legislature, no counsellors. One man is 
everything. He seldom asks advice, and never 
hears it unasked. His ministers are mere clerks ; 

42 Louisiana Purchase. 

and liis le<^islature and counsellors parade officers. 
Though the sense of every reflecting man about 
him is against this wild expedition, no one dares 
to tell him so. Were it not for the uneasiness it 
excites at home, it would give me none ; for I 
am persuaded that the whole will end in a relin- 
quishment of the country and transfer of the 
capital to the United States." 

Soon after this, Mr. Livingston had an inter- 
view with Joseph Bonaparte, who promised to 
receive any communication he could make to 
Napoleon. " You must not, however," he said, 
"suppose my power to serve you greater than it 
actually is. My brother is his own counsellor, 
but we are good brothers. He hears me with 
pleasure, and as I have access to him at all times 
I have an opportunity of turning his attention 
to a particular subject that might otherwise be 
passed over." He informed Mr. Livingston that 
he had read his notes and conversed upon the 
subject with Napoleon, who told him that he had 
nothing more at heart than to be upon the best 
terms with the United States. 

On the 11th of November Mr. Livinsfston wrote 
a hurried letter to Mr, Madison, informing him 
that orders had been given for the immediate em- 
barkation of two demi-brigades for Louisiana, and 

Louisiana Purchase. ' 43 

that they would sail from Holland in about twenty 
days. The sum voted for this service was two 
and one-half millions of francs. " No prudence,", 
he concludes, " will, I fear, prevent hostilities ere 
long ; and perhaps the sooner their plans develop 
themselves the better." 

This was the condition of affairs when the 
Western people, beginning to feel the effect of 
a proclamation suspending their right of deposit 
in New Orleans, were importuning our Govern- 
ment for relief. Some idea may be formed of 
the excitement which this act had produced, on 
reading the following, of many similar appeals 
addressed to Congress by them : — 

" The Mississippi is ours by the law of nature ; 
it belontrs to us by our numbers, and by the labor 
which we have bestowed on those spots which, 
before our arrival, were desert and barren. Our 
innumerable rivers swell it, and flow with it into 
the Gulf of Mexico. Its mouth is the only issue 
which nature has given to our waters, and we wish 
to use it for our vessels. No power in the world 
shall deprive us of this right. We do not prevent 
the Spaniards and the French from ascending the 
river to our towns and villages. We wish in our 
turn to descend it without any interruption to its 
mouth, to ascend it again, and exercise our privi- 

44 • Lovisiana Purchase. 

lege of trading on it, and navigating it at our 
pleasure. If our most entire liberty in this matter 
is disputed, nothing shall prevent our taking pos- 
session of the capital, and when we are once masters 
of it we shall know how to maintain ourselves there. 
If Congress refuses us effectual protection, if it 
forsakes us, we will adopt the measures which our 
safety requires, even if they endanger the peace 
of the Union and our connection with the other 
States. No protection, no allegiance." 

Perhaps at no period in the history of our 
Government was the Union in more immediate 
danger of dissolution. Had our citizens been fully 
apprised of our relations with France, and the 
neglect with which our ambassador was treated, 
nothing could have prevented an immediate seces- 
sion of the people west of the Alleghanies. Mr. 
Madison saw the gathering of the storm, and on 
the 27th of November, a few days before Con- 
gress assembled, addressed an earnest despatch 
to the American minister at Madrid. " You are 
aware," said he, " of the sensibility of our west- 
ern citizens to such an occurrence. This sensi- 
bility is justified by the interest they have at 
stake. The Mississippi to them is everything. 
It is the Hudson, the Delaware, the Potomac, and 
all the navigable rivers of the Atlantic States, 

Louisimia Purchase. 46 

formed into one stream. . . . Whilst you 
presume therefore, in your representations to 
the Spanish Government, that the conduct of its 
officer is no less contrary to its intentions than 
it is to its good faith, you will take care to ex- 
press the strongest confidence that the breach of 
the treaty will be repaired in every way which jus- 
tice and regard for a friendly neighborhood may 

Congress met, and President Jefferson, in a 
message on Louisiana, said : " The cession of 
the Spanish province of Louisiana to France, 
which took place in the course of the late war, 
will, if carried into effect, make a change in the 
aspect of our foreign relations which will doubt- 
less have just weight in any deliberations of the 
legislature connected with that subject." 

That body replied : " That, relying with perfect 
confidence on the wisdom and viofilance of the Ex- 
ecutive, they would wait the issue of such measures 
as that department of the Government sliould have 
pursued for asserting the rights of the United 
States, — holding it to be their duty at the same 
time to express their unalterable determination to 
maintain tlu boundaries and the rights of navi- 
gation and commerce through the river Missis- 
sipjji, as established by existing treaties." 

46 Louisiana Purchase. 

Party spirit at this time was but another name 
for party animosity. The Federalists, anxious to 
regain the power that they had lost by the elec- 
tion of Jefferson, seized upon the subject of Mr. 
Livingston's mission and the proclamation of pro- 
hibition by the Spanish intendant, and held them 
up before the people as the necessary and inevi- 
table product of Democratic principles. They 
were determined if possible to force the country 
into a war of invasion against New Orleans and 
the country including the mouth of the Missis- 
sippi, — a measure in which the Western people 
would generally co-operate. The administration, 
on the other hand, still adhered to the policy of 
negotiation, — and foreseeing that it must be 
expeditious to avoid the inevitable destruction of 
the party, and deprive the Federals of the prestige 
which their vigorous measures were acquiring for 
them, President Jefferson, on the 10th of January, 
1803, wrote to Mr. Monroe : — 

" I have but a moment to inform you that the 
fever into which the Western world is thrown by 
the affair of New Orleans, stimulated by the mer- 
cantile and generally the Federal interest, threat- 
ens to overbear our peace. In this situation we 
are obliged to call on you for a temporary sacrifice 
of yourself, to prevent this greatest of evils in the 

Louisiana Purchase. 47 

present prosperous tide of affairs. I shall to- 
morrow nominate you to the Senate for an extra- 
ordinary mission to France, and the circumstances 
are such as to render it impossible to decline ; 
because the whole public hope will be rested on 

The Senate confirmed the nomination. Mr. 
Jefferson again wrote to Mr. Monroe, urging him 
not to decline. " I know nothing," he says, 
" which would produce such a shock, for on the 
event of this mission depend the future destinies 
of this republic. If we cannot by a purchase 
of the country insure to ourselves a course of 
perpetual peace and friendship with all nations, 
then, as war cannot be far distant, it behooves 
us immediately to be preparing for that course, 
without, however, hastening it ; and it may be 
necessary (on your failure on the Continent) to 
cross the Channel." 

The session of Congress had advanced to the 
middle of February before any remedial meas- 
ures were proposed for the action of the Spanish 
intendant at New Orleans. Every fresh despatch 
from Mr. Livingston was a repetition of the old 
story of neglect and silence. Meantime the Fed- 
eral leaders, incited by the continued and grow- 
ing disaffection of the Western people, as mani- 

48 Louisiana Pureliase. 

fested by their inflammable appeals to Congress, 
had resolved upon recommending immediate hos- 
tilities as the dernier ressort o£ the Government. 
The memorable debate which involved a consid- 
eration of this question was opened by Mr. 
Ross, of Pennsylvania, on the lith of February, 
in a speech of remarkable force. The infraction 
of the treaty of Madrid of 1795, by which the 
right of deposit had been solemnly acknowledged, 
was claimed to be a sufficient justification for a 
resort to arms. In the further progress of this 
argument the speaker considered the opportunity 
as too favorable to be lost, because success would 
be more assured if a war were prosecuted while 
the Spaniards held possession of the country than 
it would be after it had passed under the domin- 
ion of France. With New Orleans in our pos- 
session we could dictate the terms of a treaty 
that would forever secure our citizens from fur- 
ther molestation. These views were enforced by 
urgent appeals to the patriotism of the people 
and the sternest denunciation of the tardy 
policy of the administration. At the close of 
his speech Mr. Ross presented a series of resolu- 
tions declaring the right of the people to the free 
navigation of the Mississippi and a convenient 
place of deposit for their produce and merchan- 

Louimma Purchase. 49 

dise in the island of New Orleans. The Presi- 
dent would have been authorized by their pas- 
sage to take possession of such place or places 
in the island or adjacent territories as he "might 
deem fit, and to call into actual service fifty 
thousand militia to co-operate with the regular 
military and naval forces in the work of inva- 
sion. They also provided for an appropriation 
of five millions of dollars to defray the expenses 
of the war. 

A long and exhaustive debate followed, in 
which the speeches on both sides were marked 
by distinguished ability and eloquence, — those 
of Mr. Clinton against and Mr. Morris in favor 
of the resolutions being among the ablest ever 
before or since delivered on the floor of Con- 
gress. Milder measures were finally substituted, 
authorizing the enrolment of an army of eighty 
thousand at the pleasure of the President, and 
Congress adjourned. 

Meantime Mr. Livingston reported some little 
progress in the work of negotiation, and had 
addressed a memorial to Bonaparte complaining 
of the conduct of the Spanish intendant. Just 
at this time hostilities were ao-ain about to be 
renewed between England and France. Mr. 
Addington, the British minister, in a conversation 

50 Louisiana Purchase. 

with Mr. King upon the subject, observed that 
in ease of war it would be one of the first steps 
of Great Britain to occupy New Orleans. On 
the 11th of April, in an interview with Talley- 
rand, that minister desired to know of Mr. Liv- 
ingston if our Government wished to purchase 
the whole of Louisiana. On receiving a negative 
reply, he remarked that if they " gave New 
Orleans, the rest would be of little value." 
" Tell me," he continued, '' wdiat you will give 
for the whole ? " At the close of the despatch 
conveying this information to Mr. Madison, Mr. 
Livingston appends a postscript saying : " Orders 
are given this day to stop the sailing of vessels 
from the French ports ; war is inevitable ; my 
conjectures as to their determination to sell is well 
founded. Mr. Monroe has just arrived." 

Fear that Great Britain would make an early 
attack upon New Orleans, now that war was cer- 
tain, favored the efforts of Mr. Livingston for 
an early purchase, and increased the anxiety of 
France to dispose of the entire province. Indeed, 
in a consultation with two of his counsellors on 
the 10th of April, Napoleon fully resolved to sell 
the whole of Louisiana. The little coquetry that 
followed between Talleyrand, Marbois, and Liv- 
ingston was simply to obtain as large a price as 

Louisiana Purehase. 51 

possible. Napoleon then said, " I know the full 
value of Louisiana, and I have been desirous of 
repairing the fault of the French negotiator, who 
abandoned it in 1763. A few lines of treaty 
have restored it to me, and I have scarcely 
recovered it when I must expect to lose it. But 
if it escapes from me, it shall one day cost 
dearer to those who oblige me to strip myself of 
it, than to those to whom I wish to deliver it. 
The English have successively taken from France, 
Canada, Cape Breton, New Foundland, Nova 
Scotia, and the richest portions of Asia. They 
are engaged in exciting trouble in St. Domingo. 
They shall not have the Mississippi, which they 
covet. Louisiana is nothing in comparison with 
their conquests in all parts of the globe, and yet 
the jealousy they feel at the restoration of this 
colony to the sovereignty of France acquaints me 
with their wish to take possession of it, and it is 
thus they will begin the war." 

The morning after this conference he sum- 
moned his ministers, and terminated a long in- 
terview in the following; words : — " Irresolution 
and deliberation are no longer in season. I 
renounce Louisiana. It is not only New Orleans 
I will cede, — it is the whole colony without any 
reservation. I know the price of what I abandon. 

52 Louisiana Purchase. 

and have sufficiently proved the importance that 
I attach to this province, — since my first diplo- 
matic act ^vith Spain had for its object its recov- 
ery. I renounce it with the greatest regret. To 
attempt obstinately to retain it would be folly. 
I direct you to negotiate this affair with the 
envoys of the United States. Do not even await 
the arrival of Mr. Monroe: — have an interview 
this very day with Mr. Livingston. But I require 
a great deal of money for this war, and I would 
not like to commence it with new contributions. 
I will be moderate in consideration of 
the necessity in which I am of making a sale. 
But keep this to yourself. I want fifty millions, 
and for less than that sum I will not treat ; I 
would rather make a desperate attempt to keep 
these fine countries. To-morrow you shall have 
full powers." 

On the 30th of April the treaty of cession 
was signed. Louisiana was transferred to the 
United States, on condition that our Government 
should consent to pay to France eighty millions of 
francs. Of this amount, twenty millions should 
be assigned to the payment of what was due by 
France to the citizens of the United States. 

Article 3rd of the treaty was prepared by 
Napoleon himself. It reads : — 

Louisiana Purchase. 53 

•' The inhabitants of the ceded territory shall 
be incorporated in the Union of the United 
States, and admitted as soon as possible, accord- 
ing to the principles of the Federdl Constitution, 
to the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages, 
and immunities of citizens of the United States, 
and in the meantime they shall be maintained 
and protected in the free enjoyment of their lib- 
erty, property, and the religion which they pro- 

After the treaty was signed, the ministers rose, 
shook hands, and Mr. Livingston, expressing the 
satisfaction which they felt, said : " We have lived 
long, but this is the noblest work of our whole 
lives. The treaty which we have just signed has 
not been obtained by art or dictated by force : — 
equally advantageous to the two contracting parties 
it will change vast solitudes into flourishing dis- 
tricts. From this day the United States take their 
place among the powers of the first rank ; — the 
English lose all exclusive influence in the affairs 
of America. Thus one of the principal causes of 
European rivalries and animosities is about to 
cease. However, if wars are inevitable, France 
will hereafter have in the New World a natural 
friend, that must increase in strength from year 
to year, and one which cannot fail to become 

54 Louisiana Purchase. 

powerful and respected in every sea. The United 
States will re-establish the maritime rights of all 
the world, which are now usurped by a single 
nation. These treaties will thus be a or-uarantee 
of peace and concord among commercial states. 
The instruments which we have just signed will 
cause no tears to be shed ; they prepare ages of 
happiness for innumerable generations of human 
creatures. The Mississippi and Missouri will see 
them succeed one another and multiply, truly 
worthy of the regard and care of Providence, in 
the bosom of equality, under just laws, freed 
from the errors of superstition and the scourge 
of bad government." 

When Napoleon was informed of the conclusion 
of the treaty, he uttered the following sententious 
prophecy : " This accession of territory strength- 
ens forever the power of the United States ; and I 
have just given to England a maritime rival that 
will sooner or later humble her pride." 

Neither of the contracting parties to this treaty 
was able to define the boundaries of the vast ter- 
ritory of which it was the subject. They were 
known to be immense, and in his message to 
Congress announcing the purchase, Mr. Jefferson 
says : — 

" Whilst the property and sovereignty of the 

Louisiana Purchase. 55 

Mississippi and its waters secure an independent 
outlet for the jjroduce of the Western States and 
an uncontrolled navigation through their whole 
course, free from collision with other powers and 
the dangers to our peace from that sourc-e, the 
fertility of the country, its climate and extent, 
promise in due season important aids to our 
treasury, an ample provision for our posterity, 
and a wider spread for the blessings of freedom 
and equal laws." 

It is not surprising that the public men of that 
day should have feared the consequences of en- 
larging our republican domain. It looked to them 
like the renewal of the troubles which they had 
just escaped by the purchase of New Orleans and 
the mouth of the Mississippi. It unsettled the 
ideas they had formed of a Constitutional Gov- 
ernment. They could not see, as we can in this 
day of railroads and telegraphs, how such an 
immense territory was to be subordinated to the 
control of a single general government. Hence 
we find such men as John Quincy Adams, Timothy 
Pickering, Rufus Griswold, James White, and 
Uriah Tracy, all men of enlarged, statesmanlike 
views, opposing the bill entitled " An Act author- 
izing the erection of a stock to the amount of 
eleven millions two hundred and fifty thousand 

56 Louisiayia Purchase. 

dollars, for the purpose of carrying into effect 
the convention of the 30th of April, 1803, 
between the United States and the French 

The speech of Mr. White against the passage 
of the bill is a fair reflex of the views entertained 
. by the leading public men of that day. Speaking 
of the treaty he says : — 

" I wish not, to be understood as predicting that 
the French will not cede to us the actual and 
quiet possession of the territory. I hope to God 
they may, for possession of it we must have : — 
I mean of New Orleans and of such other portions 
on the Mississippi as may be necessary to secure to 
us forever the complete and uninterrupted naviga- 
tion of that river. This I have ever been in favor 
of. I think it essential to the peace of the United 
States and the prosperity of our Western country. 
But as to Louisiana, this new, immense, unbounded 
world, if it should be ever incorporated into this 
Union, which I have no idea can be done but by 
altering the Constitution, I believe it will be the 
greatest curse that could at present befall us ; it 
may be productive of innumerable evils, and 
especially of one that I fear even to look upon. 
Gentlemen on all sides, with very few exceptions, 
ao-ree that the settlement of the country will be 

Louisiana Purchase. 67 

highly injurious and dangerous to the United 
States ; but as to what has been suggested of 
removing the Creeks and other nations of In- 
dians from the eastern to the western banks 
of the Mississipjji, and making the fertile regions 
of Louisiana a howling wilderness, never to be 
trodden by the foot of civilized man, it is im- 
practicable. . . . To every man acquainted 
with the adventurous, roving, and enterprising 
temper of our people, and with the manner in 
which our Western country has been settled, 
such an idea must be chimerical. The induce- 
ments will be so strong, that it will be impossible 
to restrain our citizens from crossing; the river. 
Louisiana must and will be settled, if we hold 
it, and with the very population that would 
otherwise occupy part of our present territory. 
Thus our citizens will be removed to the immenso 
distance of two or three thousand miles from the 
capital of the Union, where they will scarcely ever 
feel the rays of the General Government : their 
affections will become alienated ; they will gradu- 
ally begin to view us as strangers ; they will form 
other commercial connections ; and our interests 
will become distinct. 

" These, with other causes that human wisdom 
may not now foresee, will in time effect a separa- 

58 Louisiana Purchase. 

tion, and I fear our bounds will be fixed nearer 
to our houses than the water of the Mississippi. 
We have already territory enough, and when I 
contemplate the evils that may arise to these 
States from this intended incorporation of Louis- 
iana into the Union, I would rather see it given to 
France, to Spain, or to any other nation of the 
earth, upon the mere condition that no citizen of 
the United States should ever settle within its 
limits, than to see the territory sold for a hun- 
dred millions of dollars, and we retain the sov- 
ereignty. . . . And I do say that, under 
existing circumstances, even supposing that this 
extent of territory was a desirable acquisition, 
fifteen millions of dollars was a most enormous 
sum to give." 

Mr. Tracy, after delivering an elaborate argu- 
ment on the subject, in which he arrives at the 
conclusion that the purchase itself is constitu- 
tional, says : — 

" We can hold the territory ; but to admit the 
inhabitants into the Union, to make citizens of 
them and States by treaty, we cannot consti- 
tutionally do ; and no subsequent act of legis- 
lation, or even ordinary amendment to our 
Constitution, can legalize such a measure. If 
done at all they must be done by universal con- 



Louisiana Purchase. 59 

sent of all the States or partners of our political 
association : and this universal consent I am posi- 
tive can never be obtained to such a pernicious 
measure as the admission of Louisiana, — of a 
world, — and such a world, — into our Union. 
This would be absorbino- the Northern States and 
rendering them as insignificant in the Union as 
they ought to be, if by their own consent, the 
new measure should be adopted." 

Mr. Breckinridofe did not share in these fears. 
In the stirring reply which he made to them, he 
asks : — 

" Is the Goddess of Liberty restrained by water- 
courses ? Is she governed by geographical limits? 
Is her dominion on this continent confined to the 
east side of the Mississippi ? So far from believing 
in the doctrine that a republic ought to be con- 
fined within narrow limits, I believe on the con- 
trary that the more extensive its dominion, the 
more safe and durable it will be. In proportion 
to the number of hands you intrust the precious 
blessings of a free government to, in the same 
proportion do you multiply the chances for 
their prLservation." 

The measure finally became a law, and the 
United States thereby added to their original 
domain eight hundred and ninety -three thousand 

60 Louisiana Purchase. 

five hundred and seventy-nine square miles, being 
seventy-eight thousand eight hundred and ninety- 
nine square miles more than the area of the 
thirteen States. 

The fears entertained by our early statesmen 
are all forgotten. I have recalled them, not to 
illustrate any deficiency in the foresight or wis- 
dom of the men of that day, but to show how re- 
markable has been the progress of improvement, 
discovery, and invention, by which we have been 
enable:!, not only to incorporate the great Louisi- 
ana purchase, but others of still greater extent 
into the government of the Great Republic. 
And the future, which even now is teeming with 
the spirit of acquisition, justifies us in the utter- 
ance of the sentiment : 

" No pent-up Utica contracts your powers, 
But the whole boundless continent is yours." 

European Treaties. 61 



Mode of defixixg the Western Bouxdary of Louisi- 
ana — Great Britain no Eight to any Portion 
OF the Territory West of the Eocky Mountains 

— Discovery of the Columbia by Capt. Gray — 
Lewis AND Clarke's Expedition — Astor's Expe- 
dition — Negotiation for the Settlement of the 
Claims of Great Britain and the United States 

— Florida Treaty — Eussian Treaty — Eenewal 
of the Treaty for Joint Occupation — Action of 
Congress — Debate, and Final Settlement of the 

The western boundary of the vast territory 
ceded to the United States under the name of 
Louisiana was a geographical problem, incapable 
of any other than a forced solution. It was 
claimed that by the treaty of Utrecht, concluded 
in 1713, the 49th parallel of latitude had been 
adopted and definitively settled as the dividing 
line between the French possessions of Western 
Canada and Louisiana on the south, and the 
British territories of Hudson Bay on the north, — 

62 Surojjean Treaties. 

and that this boundary extended westward to the 
Pacific. So unreliable was the evidence in sup- 
port of this claim, that it was finally determined, 
in the settlement of the western boundary of 
Louisiana, to adopt such lines as Avere indicated 
by nature, — namely, the crest of the mountains 
separating the waters of the Mississippi from those 
flowino- into the Pacific. This left in an un- 
settled condition the respective claims of Spain, 
Russia, Great Britain, and the United States to 
the vast territory beyond the Rocky Mountains, 
extending along the 42nd parallel of latitude 
west to the Pacific on the south, thence north up 
the coast indefinitely, thence east to the crest 
of the Rocky Mountains, thence folloAving the 
crest, south, to the place of beginning. Both our 
country and Great Britain recognized an inde- 
feasible right in Spain to some portion of this 
country, but our relations with Spain were such, 
at the time, that this opinion was not openly 
promulgated. The territory included the mouth 
of the Columbia, the entire region drained by 
that river and its tributaries, and an extensive 
region still further north, independent of this 
great rivei-system. The most valuable portion 
of it at this early period in our history was that 
traversed by the Columbia and its tributaries. 

Eurojoean Treaties. 63 

Great Britain bad no right, by discovery or 
otherwise, to any portion of this part of the 
territory. " The opening," says Greenhow, 
" through which its waters are discharged into 
the ocean was first seen in August, 1776, by the 
Spanish navigator Heceta, and was distinguished 
on Spanish charts, within the thirteen years next 
following, as the mouth of the River San Roque. 
It was examined in July, 1788, by Meares, who 
quitted it with the conviction that no river 
existed there. This opinion of Meares was 
subscribed, without qualification, by Vancouver, 
after he had minutely examined the coast, 
* under Che most favorable conditions of wind 
and weather,' and notwithstanding the assurance 
of Gray to the contrary." The actual discovery 
of the mouth of the Columbia was made on the 
11th of May, 1792, by Captain Robert Gray, a 
New England navigator, who says in his log- 
book under that date : " Beheld our desired port, 
bearing east-south-east, distant six leagues. At 
eight A.M., being a little to the windward of the 
entrance of the harbor, bore away, and ran in 
east-north-east between the breakers, having 
from five to seven fathoms of water. When we 
were over the bar, we found this to be a large 
river of fresh water, up which we steered." 

64 European Treaties. 

Captain Gray remained in the Columbia from 
the 11th until the 20th of August, during which 
tniie he sailed up the river fifteen miles, gave to 
it the name it still bears, trafficked with the 
natives, and named the capes at the entrance and 
other points above. 

The United States had this claim by discovery 
to the mouth of the river, and the interior 
drained by it and its tributaries before the Louisi- 
ana purchase was made. After that was agreed 
upon, at the instance of Mr. Jefferson, Lewis and 
Clarke were appointed to explore the country up 
the Missouri to its source and to the Pacific. 
From the moment of their appearance on the 
Missouri, their movements were watched by the 
British, and as soon as the object of their expe- 
dition was discovered, the North-West Company, 
in 1805, sent out their men to establish posts 
and occupy territories on the Columbia. The 
British Company proceeded no farther than the 
Man dan villages on the Missouri. Another 
party, despatched on the same errand in 1806, 
crossed the Rocky Mountains near the passage 
of the Peace river, and formed a small trading 
establishment in the 51:th degree of latitude,— 
the first British post Avest of the Rocky Moun- 
tanis. Neither at this or any subsequent time 

European Treaties, 65 

until 1811 does it appear that any of the waters 
of the Columbia were seen by persons in the ser- 
vice of the North-West Company. 

Lewis and Clarke arrived iit the Kooskooskee 
river, a tributary of the Columbia, in latitude 
46° 34', early in October, 1805, and on the 7th 
of that month began their descent in five 
canoes. They entered the great southern tribu- 
tary, which they called Lewis, and proceeded to 
its confluence, giving the name of Clarke to the 
northern branch ; thence they sailed down the 
Columbia to its mouth, and wintered there until 
the middle of March, 1806. They then returned, 
exploring the streams which emptied into the 
Columbia, and furnishing an accurate geograph- 
ical description of the entire country through 
which they passed. 

Early in 1811 the men sent to the north-west 
coast in the interest of the Pacific Fur Company, 
by John Jacob Astor, erected buildings and a 
stockade with a view to permanent settlement, 
on a point of land ten miles above the mouth of 
the Columbia, which they called Astoria. With 
the exception of one or two trading posts on 
some of the small streams constituting the head 
waters of the river, the country had not at this 
time been visited by the English. Further detail 

66 Exiroijean Treaties. 

of the history and trials of the Pacific Fur Com- 
pany is unnecessary in this place, but the reader 
who desires to acquaint himself with it is 
referred to Irving's " Astoria " for one of the 
most thrilling narratives in American history. 

In 1818, after Astoria had been sold by the 
Americans to the British Fur Company, and 
the stockade occupied by British troops, it was 
restored to the United States under a provision 
of the Treaty of Ghent, without prejudice to any 
of the claims that either the United States, Great 
Britain, Spain, or Russia might have to the ulti- 
mate sovereignty of the territory. The claims 
of the respective nations were afterwards con- 
sidered by the plenipotentiaries of Great Britain 
and the United States. Messrs. Rush and Galla- 
tin, who represented our Government, proposed 
that the dividing line between the territories 
should be drawn from the north-western extrem- 
ity of the Lake of the Woods north or south as 
the case might require, to the 1:9th parallel of 
latitude ; thence west to the Pacific. The British 
commissioners, Messrs. Goldburn and Robinson, 
agreed to admit the line as far west as the Rocky 
Mountains. Our representatives on that occasion 
supported the claim of our Government by citing 
Gray's discovery, the exploration of the Colum- 

European Treaties. 67 

bia from source to mouth by Lewis and Clarke, 
and the first settlement and occupancy of the 
counti-y by the Pacific Fur Company. The 
British commissioners asserted superior claims, 
by virtue of former voyages, especially those of 
Captain Cook, and refused to agree to any 
boundary which did not give them the harbor at 
the mouth of the river in common with the 
United States. Finding it impossible to agree 
upon a boundary, it was at length agreed that 
" all territories and their waters claimed by either 
power west of the Rocky Mountains should be 
free and open to the vessels, citizens, and sub- 
jects of both for the space of ten years; pro- 
vided, however, that no claim of either or of 
any other nation to any part of thosG territories 
should be prejudiced by the arrangement." 

On the 22nd of February, 1819, Spain ceded 
Florida to the United States, and by the treaty it 
was aofreed that " a line drawn on the meridian 
from the source of the Arkansas northward to 
the 42nd parallel of latitude, and thence along 
that parallel westward to the Pacific, should form 
the northern boundary of the Spanish posses- 
sions and the southern boundary of those of the 
United States in that quarter." 

On the 5th of April, 1824, the negotiations 

68 European Treaties. 

between the United States and Russia were ter- 
minated by a convention signed at St. Peters- 
burg, by which, among other provisions, was one 
to the effect that " neither the United States nor 
their citizens shall, in future, form an establish- 
ment on those coasts or the adjacent islands 
north of the latitude of 54° 40', and the Rus- 
sians shall make none south of that latitude." 

These concessions on the part of Spain and 
Russia left the United States and Great Britain 
sole claimants for the entire territory described at 
the commencement of this chapter, — the claim 
of Great Britain having been fortified by a treaty 
with Russia in 1825, in which the Russian 
Government agreed, as they had done with our 
Government the previous year, that the line of 
54° 40' should be the boundary between their 
respective possessions. 

The period of ten years' joint occupation by 
our Government and Great Britain agreed upon 
in 1818 was now approaching a termination. A 
new negotiation was opened, and after submit- 
ting and rejecting several propositions for a set- 
tlement, it was finally agreed between the two 
Governments that they should continue in the 
joint occupancy of the territory for an indefinite 
period, either party being at liberty to demand a 

European Treaties. 69 

new negotiation on giving the other one year's 
notice of its intention. 

The relations thus established betAveen the 
two Governments continued without interruption 
until the attention of Congress was called to the 
subject by President Tyler in his message read at 
the opening of the session of 1842. The sub- 
ject was referred to the committees on foreign 
afPairs in both Houses of Congress, and a bill 
was introduced in the Senate for the occupation 
and settlement of the territory, and extending 
the laws of the United States over it. A pro- 
tracted debate followed, the bill passed the Sen- 
ate, was sent to the House, where a report 
against it was made by Mr. Adams, chairman 
of the committee on foreign afPairs, and the ses- 
sion expired without any debate on the subject. 
When the report of the debates in Congress 
reached England, it produced some excitement in 
the House of Commons, and in February, 1844, 
the Honorable Richard Packenham, plenipoten- 
tiary from Great Britain, arrived in Washington 
with full instructions to treat definitively on all 
disputed points relative to the country west of 
the Rocky Mountains. 

In Auo-ust followino- the British minister 
opened the negotiation by a proposition which 

70 Eiirojjean Treaties. 

would have ©"iven Great Britain two-thirds of 
the entire territory of Oregon, including the free 
navio-ation of the Columbia and the harbors on 
the Pacific. This was promptly rejected, and no 
further attempt at adjustment was made until 
the following year. An oifer was then made by 
President Polk, which being rejected, closed the 
door to further negotiation. The President rec- 
ommended to Congress that the agreement for 
joint occupation be terminated. 

A very animated debate, which continued until 
near the close of the session, sprang up, in which 
the question of boundary lost most of its national 
features in the sharp party conflict to which it 
was subjected. The Democrats, generally adopt- 
ing the recommendations of the President, advo- 
cated the extreme northern boundary of 54° 40', 
and were ready, if necessary, to declare that as 
the ultimatum. A few leaders among them, of 
whom Colonel Benton was, perhaps, the most 
prominent, united with the Whigs in opposition 
to this extreme demand, and the line was finally 
established by treaty on the 49th parallel. 

This mode of settlement probably averted a 
war between Great Britain and the United 
States, but after a careful survey of all the facts, 
including discoveries, explorations, and settle- 

European Treaties. 71 

ments, I cannot but feel that the concessions 
were all made by the United States, whose title 
to the whole of the territory was much more 
strongly fortified than that of Great Britain to 
any portion of it. 

Hon. James G. Blaine, in a speech delivered at 
Lewiston, Maine, on August 25, 1888, said : — 
"The claim of the Democrats to the whole of 
what now constitutes British Columbia, up to lati- 
tude 54° 40', was a pretence put forth during the 
presidential canvass of 1844 as a blind in order 
to show that they were as zealous to secure North- 
ern territory as they were bent on acquiring 
Southern territory. President Polk made his 
campaign on this claim. The next thing the 
country heard was that Mr. Polk's administration 
was compelled to surrender the whole territory 
to Great Britain, confessing that they had made 
pretences which they were unable to maintain or 
defend. Had they not forced the question to a 
settlement, the joint occupation which had come 
down from Jefferson to that hour would have 
peacefully continued, and with our acquisition of 
California two years afterwards and the immedi- 
ate discovery of gold, the thousands of American 
citizens who swarmed to the Pacific coast would 
have occupied British Columbia, and the final 

72 European Treaties. 

settlement would doubtless have been in favor 
of those who were in actual possession, and but 
for the blundering diplomacy of the Democratic 
party, which prematurely and without any reason 
forced the issue, we should to-day see our flag 
floating over the Pacific front, from the Gulf of 
California to Behring's Straits." 

This chapter is the merest outline of the facts, 
an extension of which will be found in Green- 
how's " History of California and Oregon," to 
which work I am chiefly indebted for the infor- 
mation herein contained. 

Henry Plummer. 73 



Snake River — Its Scexery — Lewiston — Its 
Appearance and Society — Loyalists and Seces- 
sionists — Arrival of Plummer and his Com 
PANiONs — A Domestic History — Plummer Lea- 
der OF THE Houghs — Jack Cleveland — Chero- 
kee Bob — Bill Bunton and Others. 

The Snake river or Lewis fork of the Colum- 
bia takes its rise in a small lake which is sepa- 
rated by the main range of the Rocky Moun- 
tains from the large lake of the Yellowstone, 
that being less than twenty miles distant from it. 
The Yellowstone, the Madison, Jefferson, and 
Gallatin, forminof the head waters of the Mis- 
souri, and the Snake, the largest tributary fork 
of the Columbia, all rise within or near the 
limits of the territory recently dedicated by the 
Government to the purpose of a National Park. 

As contrasted with the large rivers of regions 
other than the one it traverses, the Snake river 
would be a very remarkable stream, but there. 

74 Henry Plummer. 

where everything in nature is wonderful, it is 
simply one of the marked features in its physical 
geography. From its source to its junction with 
the Clarke fork of the Columbia, a distance of 
nine hundred miles, it flows through a region 
which, at some remote period, has been the scene 
of greater volcanic action than any other por- 
tion of North America. Unlike other streams, 
which are formed by rivulets and springs, this 
river is scarcely less formidable in its appearance 
at its commencement than at its termination. Tt 
leaps into rapids from the moment of its exit, 
and its waters, blackened by the basaltic bed 
through which it flows, roar and fret, and lash 
the sides of the gloomy canon which it enters, 
presenting a scene of tumult and fury, that 
extends far beyond the limits of vision. This 
initiatory character it maintains, alternated with 
occasional reaches of quiet large expansions, and 
narrow contractions, fearful and tremendous cata- 
racts, to its debouchure into the Columbia. Its 
channel and its course, alike sinuous, have ob- 
tained for it its name. Navigation is impeded 
by reason of fearful rapids, every few miles of 
the first five hundred after leaving the lake. 
The shores for most of the distance are barren 
rock, always precipitous, often inaccessible from 

Henry Plummer 


the river, and freciuently engorged by lofty 
mountains and rocky canons which shut its inky 
surface fiom tlie light of day. The scenery, 
though on the most tremendous scale, is savage, 
unatU-active, and frightful. Its waters lash the 
base of the three Tetons, so celebrated as the 
great landmarks of this portion of the continent. 
As they approach the Columbia they break into 
frequent cataracts, the largest of which, the 
great Shoshone Fall, with a perpendicular descent 
of two hundred and fifty feet, presents many 
points of singular interest. 

On the river, twelve miles above its mouth, at 
a point accessible from the Columbia by small 
steamboats, stands the little village of Lewiston, 
which, at the time of which I write, was the 
capital of all the vast territory that had been 
just organized under the euphonic name of 
Idaho. This territory then included Montana, 
which had not been organized. Lewiston, being 
the nearest accessible point by water to the re- 
cently discovered gold placers of Elk City, Oro 
Fino, Florence, and Warner Creek, grew with the 
rapidity known only to mining towns into an em- 
porium. In less than three months from the 
time the first immigrants commenced to establish 
a settlement thery, several streets of more than a 

'" Henry Plummer. 

mile in length were laid out, thickly covered on 
either side with dwellings, stores, hotels, and 
saloons, chiefly constructed of common factory 
cotton. A tenement of this kind could be ex- 
temporized in a few hours. The frame was of 
light scantling or poles, and the cloth in most 
cases fastened to it with tacks. Seen from a 
distance, the town had the appearance of being 
built of white marb.e, but truly 

" 'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view," 

for upon entering it the fragility of the material 
soon disabused the vision and the admiration of 
the beholder. At night, when lights were burn- 
ing in these frail tenements, a stranger would 
think the town illuminated. The number of 
drinking and gambling saloons was greatly in ex- 
cess of stores and private dwellings, and to nearly 
all of these was attached that most important 
attraction of a mining town, the hurdy-gurdy. 
The sound of the violin which struck the ear on 
entering the street, was never lost while passing 
through it, and at many of the saloons the evi- 
dence of the bacchanal orgies which were in 
progress inside was often apparent in the eager- 
ness exhibited by the crowd Avhich surrounded 
the building without. The voices of auctioneers 

Henry Plummer. 77 

on the street corners, the shouts of frequent 
horsemen as thej rode up and down the streets, 
the rattle of vehicles arriving and departing for 
the miners' camps, troops of miners, Indians, 
gamblers, the unmeaning babble of numerous 
drunken men, the tawdrily apparelled dancing 
women of the hurdy-gurdys, altogether present a 
scene of Hfe in an entirely new aspect to the per- 
son who for the first time enters a mining town. 
It is a feature of modern civilization which can- 
not elsewhere be found, search the whole world 
over. The thirst for gold is shared by all classes. 
Those who are unwilHug to labor, in their efforts 
to obtain it by less honorable means, flock to the 
mines to ply their guilty vocations. Hence there 
is no vice unrepresented in a mining camp, and no 
type or shade of character in civilized society that 
is not there publicly developed. The misfortune 
is, as a general thing, that the w^orst elements, 
being most popular, generally preponderate. 

Our civil war was raging at the time that 
Lewiston became a mining emporium. Sympa- 
thizers with each party fled to the mines, to escape 
the possible responsibilities they might incur by 
remaining in the States. They carried their poli- 
tical views with them, and identified themselves 
with those portions of society which reflected 

78 Henry Plurnmer. 

their respective attachments. Loyalty and Seces- 
sion each flourished by turn, and were the prolific 
causes of frequent bloody dissensions. There was 
no law to restrain human passion, so that each 
man was a law unto himself, according as he 
was swayed by the evil or good of his own nature. 
The temptations to evil, not so numerous, were 
much more powerful than were ever before pre- 
sented to a great majority of the immigrants. 
Gambling and drinking were made attractive by 
the presence of debased women, who lured to 
their ruin all who, fortunate in the possession of 
gold, could not withstand their varied devices. 

In the spring of 1861, among the daily arrivals 
at Lewiston, was a man of gentlemanly bearing 
and dignified deportment, accompanied by a lady, 
to all Tppearance his wife. He took quarters at 
the best hotel in town. Before the close of the 
second day after his arrival his character as a 
gambler was fully understood, and in less than 
a fortnight his abandonment of his female com- 
panion betrayed the ilHcit connection which had 
existed between them. Alone, among strangers, 
destitute, the poor woman told how she had been 
beguiled, by the promises of this man, from home 
and familv,' and induced to link herself with his 
fortunes.' A fond husband and three helpless 

Henry Plummer. 79 

children mourned her loss by a visitation worse 
than death. Lackino- moral courao-e to return to 
her heart-broken husband and ask foroiveness 
she sought to drown her sorrow by plunging- 
still deeper into the abyss of shame and ruin. 
Soon, alas ! she became one of the lowest inmates 
of a frontier brothel. This latest crime of Henry 
Plummer was soon forgotten, or remembered only 
as one of many similar events which occur in 
mining camps. 

He, meanwhile, in the pursuit of his profession 
as a gambler, formed the acquaintance of many 
congenial spirits. From their subsequent opera- 
tions it was also apparent that at his instigation 
an alliance was formed with them which had for 
its object the attainment of fortune by the most 
desperate means. Every fortunate man in any of 
the mining camps was marked as the prey, sooner 
or later, of this abandoned combination. Every 
gambler or rough infesting the camp, either 
voluntarily or by threats was induced to unite in 
the enterprise ; and thus originated the band of 
desperadoes which, for the succeeding two years, 
by their fearful atrocities, spread such terror 
through the northern mines. Plummer was their 
acknowledo-ed leader. 

Professional gamblers everywhere, in a new 

80 Heyiry Phunmer. 

country, form a community by themselves. They 
have few intimates outside of their own number. 
A sort of tacit understanding among them links 
them together by certain implied rules and reg- 
ulations, which they readily obey. Of the same 
nature, we may suppose, was the bond which united 
Plummer and his associates in their infernal 
designs of plunder and butchery. The honor 
which thieves accord each other, the prospect of 
unUmited reward for their vicious deeds, and the 
certainty of condign punishment for any act of 
treachery, secured the band and its purposes 
against any betrayal by its members. 

Nowhere are the conventionalities of social 
life sooner abandoned than in a mining camp. 
To call a man by his proper name there generally 
implies that he is either a stranger or one with 
whom you do not care to make acquaintance. 
The gamblers were generally known by dinnnu- 
tive surnames or appellations significant of then- 
characters. I shall so designate those of them 
who were thus known, in this narrative. 

Prominent among the associates of Plummer 
at Lewiston, were Jack Cleveland, Cherokee Bob 
and Bill Bunton. Cleveland was an old Cahfor- 
nia acquaintance, familiar with Plummer's early 
history. He used this fatal knowledge, as it 

Henry Phnnmer. 81 

afterwards proved, in a dictatorial and offensive 
manner, often presuming- upon it to arrogate a 
position in the band which by common consent 
was assigned to Plummer. 

Cherokee Bob was a native Georgian, and 
received his name from the fact that he was 
a quarter-blood Indian. He was bitter in his 
hatred of the loyal cause and all engaged in it. 
Before he came to Lewiston he had, in an affray 
of his own plotting, killed two or three soldiers 
in the Walla Walla theatre. He fled to Lewis- 
ton to escape the vengeance of their comrades. 

Bill Bunton was a double-dyed murderer and 
notorious horse and cattle thief. He had killed 
a man at a ball near Walla Walla, was tried for 
murder and acquitted on insufficient evidence. 
He afterwards killed his brother-in-law^, and in 
cold blood soon after shot down an Indian, and 
escaped the clutches of the law by flight. Pos- 
sessing himself of a ranche on Pataha creek, he 
lived there with his Indian wife, under the pre- 
text of farming. It was soon ascertained, how- 
ever, that his business was secreting and selling 
stolen stock. The officers made a dash upon his 
ranche, but the bird had again flown. Soon 
afterward, disguised in the blanket and paint of 
an Indian, he entered Lewiston, and lounged 

82 Henry Phnnmer. 

about the streets for several days without excit- 
ing suspicion. During this time he became a 
member of Plummer's murderous band. 

There were several others whose names are 
unknown, that entered into the combination 
formed for systematized robbery and murder at 
this time. Around this nucleus a larg-e number 
of desperate men afterwards gathered. They 
became so formidable in numbers, and their 
deeds of blood were so frequent and daring, that 
the mining camps were awed by them into tacit 
submission, and witnessed without even remon- 
strance the perpetration of murders and rob- 
beries in their very midst, of the most revolting 

Society in Lewiston, 83 



Shebangs — Complaint of Nez Ferces — Reckless- 

Incidents AT the kShebangs — Horse Robbery — 
Express Riders — Mose — His Escape — Fear- 
lessness — Severity of Winter — Effect upon 
]VIiNiN(; — Exposure to Crime — Condition of 
Lewiston in the winter of 1861-2 — Kirby mur- 
ders A Comrade — His Arrest and Acquittal — 
Murder of Hiltebrant — Citizens' Meeting — 
Roughs in the Majority — Plummer's Interfer- 
ence — Hiltebrant's Brother. 

Towards the close of the summer of 1862, 
the band organized by Phniimer having in- 
creased in numbers, he selected two points of 
rendezvous, as bases for their operations. These 
were called " shebangs." They were enclosed 
by mountains, whose rugged fastnesses were avail- 
able for refuge in case of attack. 

One was located between Alpwai and Pataha 
creeks, on the road from Lewiston to Walla 
Walla, about twenty-five miles from the former, 

84 Society in Leivii^fofi. 

and the other at the foot of Craig's Mountain, 
between Lewiston and Oro Fino, at a point where 
the main road was intersected l)y a trail for pack 
animals. The location of the latter was upon 
ground reserved by treaty to the Nez Perces 
Indians, and near a military post established for 
its protection. The chief of the tribe com- 
plained, to the resident agent of the Indians, of 
the aggression. He laid the complaint before the 
commandant of the post, who treated it with 
neglect. The robbers occupied the spot without 
molestation, and when they abandoned it it was 
of their own accord. 

There were several smaller stations nearer to 
Walla Walla and Lewiston, which were only 
occupied as occasion might require. A close 
communication was established between these 
localities, by which the operations of each were 
speedily known to all. Plummer, meantime, 
while secretly directing the affairs of the " she- 
bangs " and issuing orders continually to the 
men, contrived to ward off susjiicion from him- 
self, and preserve the appearance of a harmless 
and inoffensive citizen of Lewiston. His notori- 
ety as a gambler was shared by so many better 
men, and by a great majority of the miners 
themselves, that it really protected him in his 

Society in Lewiston. 85 

character as a robber. While, tharefore, he was 
prying into the financial condition of those with 
whom his profession brought him in daily contact 
in town, he was at the same time informing his 
confederates at the shebangs of every departure 
which boded success to their enterprise. 

Such of the population as Avere not, to a 
greater or less degree, involved in the gambling 
operations of the community, although perfectly 
coo'nizant of the desio-ns of the robbers, were too 
insignificant in numbers to offer any active oppo- 
sition. Being without organization, they hardly 
knew each other. Such was the state of feeling 
that, if a gambler or rough desired to possess 
any of the articles on sale by merchants or gro- 
cers, he entered a store, selected for himself the 
best the assortment afforded, and took it away 
with a request that it should be charged, or 
stated that some day when he was in luck he 
would pay for it. Rather than risk an affray, 
the dealer submitted to the imposition. Pay- 
ment was generally made, the gamblers entertain- 
ing, among themselves, a standard of honor in 
such matters which it was considered disgraceful 
to violate. 

The tAvo roads upon which the shebangs were 
located were the only thoroughfares in the coun- 

86 Society in Locisfon. 

try, and not a day passed that they were not 
traversed by people in going to and returning 
from the interior mining camps, and in coming 
into and departing from the country. The num- 
ber of robberies and murders committed by the 
banditti will never be known. Mysterious dis- 
appearances soon became of almost weekly occur- 
rence. The dansrer wdiich everv man incurred of 
being robbed or killed was demonstrated by 
numerous escapes made by horsemen who had 
been assaulted and fired upon, and escaped by 
the fleetness of their horses. It was fully under- 
stood that whoever passed over either of these 
roads would have to run the gauntlet in the 
neighborhood of the shebangs, and people gen- 
erallv went prepared. Crime was fearfully on 
the increase all through the secluded districts 
which separated the river from the distant min- 
ing camps. The country itself, about equally 
made up of mountains, foot-hills, canons, dense 
pine forests, lava beds, and deep river-channels, 
was as favorable for the commission of crime as 
for the concealment of its perpetrators. 

The two shebangs swarmed with ruffians. On 
one occasion a party of half-a-dozen, while riding 
in the vicinitv of Craig's Mountain, were stopped 
by a volley from the shebang, which, being 

Society in Lewiston. 87 

harmless, was returned. A number of well- 
mounted robbers started in pursuit. The party 
escaped by hard spurring, one of the number, to 
lighten his burden, throwing several large bags 
of gold dust into the grass. They were after- 
wards recovered. A butcher by the name of 
Harkness, of Oro Fino, was also assaulted, and 
fired upon, who owed his dehverance to the fleet- 
ness of his horse. Owners of pack trains never 
attempted to pass without force sufficient to 
intimidate the robbers. 

The other shebang was used as a receptacle 
for stolen horses. It was under the superinten- 
dence of a noted horse-thief by the name of 
Turner, who had been a partner in the business 
with Bill Bunton. Any member of the band, 
whose claim to recognition was founded upon 
success in any thieving or bloody enterprise, 
could leave his jaded steed here in exchange for 
a fresh one. A single incident will illustrate the 
manner in which many of the horses were ob- 
tanied. A gentleman riding a beautiful young 
mare, on his way from Oregon to Oro Fino, 
while she was drinking from the stream near by, 
was suddenly confronted by a man, who claimed 
her as his prop-rty. Several persons were wit- 
nesses to the meeting. Drawing a bill of sale of 

88 Society in Leicii^fon. 

the mare from his pocket, which he had obtained 
five hundred miles away, he dismounted, and was 
about to prove his ownership, when the ruffian 
jumped into the saddle, and, seizing the bridle, 
rode rapidly away. The wayfarer called upon 
the bystanders to assist in the recapture of the 
animal, instead of which they knocked him 
down, stripped him of everything in his pockets, 
and told him to leave. He entered Lewiston 
utterly destitute. 

No occupation in the northern mines tested the 
courage and honesty of men more severely than 
that of Express riders. Their duties, in riding 
from camp to camp frequently for hundreds of 
miles, where there was not a dwelling, carrymg 
large amounts of treasure, made them objects of 
frequent attack. Tried men were selected for 
this business — men as well known for personal 
bravery as for their adroitness in the use of 
weapons in personal encounter. The notoriety of 
this class was sufficient as a general thing to pro- 
tect them from attack, unless it could be made 
under every possible advantage. It is a remark- 
able fact, and speaks as little in favor of the 
courage of the desperadoes, as in praise of the 
daring nobility of these early Express riders, 
that few of the latter were interrupted in the 

Societtj in Lewisfon. 89 

discharge of their dangerous duties. They were 
ever upon the alert. It was the work of an in- 
stant only, when attacked, for them to draw and 
discharge their revolvers, with deadly effect, and 
follow up the smallest advantage with the no 
less fatal bowie-knife. One man has been known 
in an encounter of this kind to kill four assail- 
ants and escape unharmed. 

Tracy & Co., of Lewiston, had a pony express 
route from that town to Salmon river, a distance 
of seventy-five miles. Their messenger, whom 
we only know by the name of Mose, was a man 
of great intrepidity, and perfectly familiar with 
all the risks of his business. In single encounter 
he was understood to be more than a match for 
any man in the mountains. Some time in the 
early fall of 1862 a plan was laid by Plummer 
and his associates to capture Mose. The place 
selected for the purpose was the trail crossing of 
White Bird creek, at a distance of sixty miles 
from Lewiston and eighteen from Salmon river. 
At this point the creek runs between very abrupt 
banks densely covered with cotton-woods, render- 
ing both descent and ascent tedious and difficult. 
The robbers, in anticipation of the arrival of 
Mose, as usual on a keen lope, after darkness had 
set in had felled a tree across the trail at a suffi- 

90 * Society in Leivisfon. 

cient height to admit the passage of the horse, 
and at the same time strike the rider in the chest, 
and throw him suddenly from the saddle. They 
then intended to kill him and rob his eantinas, 
which it was supposed would contain several 
thousand dollars in gold dust. At Chapman's 
ranche. near the crossino-. Mose was told that 
several suspicious characters had been prowling 
in the neio'hborhood during; the afternoon, and 
with that keen sense which had been educated to 
scent danger from afar, he at once comprehended 
the whole plot. Carefully descending the bank, 
he discovered the snare, and turnino- to the left 
avoided it, hurried through the creek, and ascend- 
ing the opposite bank cast a look of derision 
back upon the foiled highwaymen. This fearless 
messeno;er continued in service lono- after this 
event, but his future trips were made under the 
escort of well-armed assistants. 

Winters are nowhere more dreary than among 
the miners. Frost and snow bi-ing then- labors to 
an end. and for three or four months they either 
remain in their camps in a state of listless inac- 
tivity, or seek for occupation and enjoyment in 
the excesses of the nearest populous settlement. 
Hundreds of them actually squander during the 
season of winter all that they have obtained by 

Society in Lewiston. 91 

the most severe toil during' the rest o£ the year. 
Witii the terrible example constantly before him, 
he must be a man of resolute will who can long- 
refrain from embracing vice in all its forms. 

Gambling becomes a favorite occupation, and 
whiskey a common beverage. The society of 
abandoned women lures him on, until every 
moral, social, and virtuous resolution is broken 
down, and the experience of a few months of 
such a life wholly unfits him for a return to his 
earlier pursuits. This is the experience of nine- 
tenths of the voung men who seek for fortune 
amono- the o-old mines. Most of this class who 
had been occupied in placer digging during the 
summer and fall, at the first approach of cold for- 
sook their mines, and crowded into Lewiston to 
spend the winter, bringing with them the hard 
earnino's of their toil. Following in their wake 
came the professional gamblers and sports, and, 
mino-iino- with the common mass, were the 
wretches who had reached the lowest depths of 
human depravity. A letter from one of the early 
settlers of Lewiston, written at the time, says : — 
" Late in 1862 a laro-e number conoTegated here 
to pass the winter. About seventy-five per cent. 
of these were cut-throats, robbers, gamblers, and 
escaped convicts. Honest men were in a fearful 

92 Society in I^ewisfon. 

minority, and dared not lisp of the arrest and 
punishment of criminals ; the villains had their 
own way in everything." 

I record the following as an incident which 
will better illustrate the condition of society than 
anything' I can Avrite. A gambler named Kirby 
borrowed of another a revolver. Secretlv with- 
drawing the charges from it, an hour later he 
returned it, and requested the owner to lend him 
a few ounces of gold dust, which was declined. 
Knowing that he had the money, Kirby, enraged 
at the refusal, put t'lie muzzle of a loaded revolver 
to his temple and blew out his brains. No arrest 
was attempted. The cold-blooded, mid-day mur- 
derer walked the streets of the town duringf the 
entire winter, mingled in the sports, and escaped 
unwhipped of justice. Three years afterward he 
was arrested in Oregon, and turned over to the 
Idaho authorities, upon the requisition of Gover- 
nor Lyon, but no witnesses appearing against him 
he was suffered to go at large. 

In a state of society where the majority of the 
people depend upon vicious })ursuits for a liveli- 
hood, want and destitution are the natural ele- 
ments. Increase of crime in all its forms 
follows. All through the winter of 1861-2, and 
until returns began to come in from the mines 

Society in Leioiston. 93 

the following spring, Lewiston was daily and 
nightly a theatre where the entire calendar of 
crime was exhibited in epitome. Mnrders were 
freqnent ; robberies and thefts constant ; gamb- 
ling, debauchery, drunkenness, and all their 
attendant evils, openly flaunted in the face of 
day in defiance of law. Money and food were 
so scarce that robbery with the sporting commu- 
nity became an actual necessity. How to protect 
themselves against it sorely taxed the wit and 
tried the courage of the unfortunate property 
holders. Canvas walls offered slight resistance 
to determined thieves, and life was not protected 
by them from murderous bullets. An exemplifi- 
cation is furnished in the following incident : — 

A German named Hiltebrant kept a saloon in 
a laro^e canvas building* in the centre of the town. 
It was the principal rendezvous for the Germans, 
and a popular retail establishment. Hiltebrant 
was known to possess a considerable amount of 
coin and gold dust, which the roughs resolved to 
appropriate. The barriers in . the way involved 
only the possible murder of the owner and two 
friends who occupied a large bed in the front of 
the saloon. Between twelve and one o'clock in 
one of the coldest nights of the first week of 
January, the door was suddenly broken from its 

94 Society in Lewiston, 

hinges, and a volley of balls fired in the direc- 
tion of the bed. Hiltebrant was instantly killed. 
His two companions, after returning- the fire of 
the ruffians, seized the treasure and escaped. 
On ' of the vill lins was wounded in the fino;er. 
When the firing ceased, the robbers coolly 
entered the building, lighted a candle, and pro- 
ceeded to search for the money. Finding none 
they departed, uttering curses upon their ill-fort- 
une, not, however, until several citizens aj)peared 
upon the scene, and witnessed the enormity of 
their crime. The murderers passed fearlessly 
and unconcernedly through the crowd, no effort 
being made to arrest them, lest a rescue might 
be attempted, which would prove fatal to all con- 
cerned, and possibly result in the burning of the 
town. The next day, however, a meeting of the 
citizens was held, for the avowed purpose of 
punishing the murderers, and devising measures 
to arrest the further progress of crime. 

This was the first effort at self-protection 
made by the people. The moment was a trying 
one. All knew that the roughs were in the 
majority, and none were bold enough to recom- 
mend open resistance to their encroachments, for 
fear of consequences. Henry Plummer took an 
active part in the proceedings, depicting with 

Societij in Lewiston. 95 

fervid eloquence " the horrors of anarchy " and 
solemnly warning the people to " take no steps 
that niig-ht bring disgrace and obloquy upon their 
rising young city." Known as a gambler only, 
and suspected by few of any darker associations, 
his winning manner had the effect to squelch in 
its inception the initiatory movement, which at no 
distant period was to burst forth and whelm him 
with hundreds of his bloody associates in its 
avenoino- vortex. 

The brother of the murdered Hiltebrant was 
in business at this time at the Oro Fino mines. 
Hearing of the murder, he openly avowed the 
intention of going immediately to Lewiston to 
bring the authors to justice. The banditti sent 
him a messaoe that he would not live to "et 
there, which had the effect to daunt him from his 
purpose, and the assassins, for the time, escaped 

96 Northern Mines. 



Peospecting for Gold — Picture of a Veteran 
Prospector — Patrick Ford — Design of Roughs 

TO KILL HIM — He outwits THEM — EoBBERS 

THE WAY — Entrance into Oro Fino — Assault 
ON Ford's Saloon — Fight — Eidgely wounded 
— Ford killed. 

Prospecting (as it is called) for gold placers 
and quartz veins has grown into a profession. 
No man can engage in it successfully unless he 
understands it. There are certain indications 
in the face of the country, the character of the 
rocks, the presentation of the strata, the form of 
the gulch, the gravel in streams or on the bars, 
the cement formation below it, or the shape of 
the mountains, which are known only to experi- 
enced prospectors, that determine generally the 
presence of the precious metals. Guided by 
these unmistakable signs, the veteran gold 
searcher is sustained in his solitary explorations 

Nortliemi Mines. 97 

by the consciousness of possessing knowledge 
which must sooner or later lead to success. Im- 
pressed with the idea that as many rich gulches 
and productive veins have been found, so others 
remain to be discovered, — and that as those 
already developed have made their owners rich, 
so some fortunate discovery may do the same for 
him, he mounts his pony, and with pick, shovel, 
and pan, a magnifying glass, a few pounds of 
bacon, flour and coffee, hfs trusty rifle and revol- 
ver at hand, and his roll of blankets and not 
unfrequently a quart flask of whiskey, he plunges 
into the unexplored recesses of the mountains, and 
for weeks and months is lost to all the world of 
humanity beside himself. Alone, but encouraged 
by that hope which outlives every disappointment, 
he wanders hundreds of miles into the unvisited 
wilderness, the hero of countless adventures and 
the explorer of the world's great solitudes. 

Men of this class are numerous in all gold- 
mining regions. Their very occupation makes 
them maniacs. They lose all relish for society. 
and think of nothing but the success they are 
one day to meet with in the pursuit of gold. 
Frequent as their discoveries often are, and prom- 
ising as many of them proved to be, the one they 
are in search of lies still further onward. Aban- 

98 Northern Mines, 

doning to those who follow them discoveries 
which would assure them all the wealth they 
need^ they lead on and on into the mountain 
labyrinth, pioneering the path of empire, to die 
at last alone, unfriended and destitute, beyond its 
utmost boundaries. It is to such men that we 
owe the discovery of all the gold regions which 
have contributed to our wealth since the days of 

Gold had been discovered west of the moun- 
tains in several portions of Washington Terri- 
tory previous to this time. As early as the year 
1852 H. M. Chase found it on a creek which 
flowed into the Grand Ronde river. He exhib- 
ited it at Portland, and such was the excitement 
it occasioned that several parties of discovery 
were organized, and plunged into the mountain 
recesses of that portion of Washington which 
afterwards became Idaho. Anions: others was 
one Pierce, who became infatuated with the idea 
that the river sands of this unexplored region 
were filled with diamonds. He searched for 
them very thoroughly, but the traditions of the 
time fail to inform me that he found anything 
more valuable than gold. An unimportant camp 
of the early miners, which received his name, has 
served to transmit his memory and mania to the 

Northern Mines. 99 

present period. These early explorations, lead- 
ing deeper and deeper into the mountain wilder- 
ness, finally resulted in the discovery of the 
Florence and Oro Fino mines. 

Thousands of people, lured by their discov- 
eries, had nearly worked out the placers of Oro 
Fino during the summer of 1861. The Pacific 
world, alive to the importance of a region which 
promised such great additions to its wealth, kept 
up a stream of emigration to the placers, which 
exhausted all the sources of supply more rapidly 
than they could be filled. The world was there 
in miniature. Meantime the indomitable pro- 
spector kept in the van. Crossing the Salmon 
River range, he soon unveiled the riches of 
those placers which afterwards became known as 
Florence and Elk City. They were immediately 
occupied by thousands, and other thousands of 
the far East, thrilled with the story of their rich- 
ness, were on their way to the new El Dorado. 
An hegira similar to that of 1849 again took 
place across the plains. Lewiston was no longer 
the base of operations. Among the earliest of 
those to abandon it for a point more favorable 
to the prosecution of their enterprise, were the 
banditti which had so long held its inhabitants 
in fear. Supplied with horses from the shebang 

100 Northern Mines. 

on the Walla Walla road, they departed from 
Lewiston in small parties, intending to recom- 
mence operations at a place afterwards to be 
selected, in the mountains of the interior. 

The daring, adventurous, and courageous ele- 
ments of character are necessarily developed and 
brought into frequent action in a mining coun- 
try ; and whenever these are found in combi- 
nation with high moral principle, they are held 
in continual fear by men of criminal life. One 
bold, honest man wall demoralize the guilty 
designs of a host of rascals. Nothing was so 
mucli dreaded by Plummer's murderous gang as 
the possible organization of a Vigilance Com- 
mittee ; and any man who favored it was 
marked for early destruction. Such a man w^as 
Patrick Ford, the keeper of a saloon in Lewiston. 
Ford was an active man in his own business, — 
eager in the pursuit of gain, but entirely upright 
inliis dealings, and the open and avowed enemy 
of the roughs. He, more than any other mem- 
ber of the community, had urged the people of 
Lewiston to unite for their protection, and hang 
every suspected individual in the place; and 
he taunted them with cowardice when they dis- 
banded without punishing the known murderers 
of Hiltebrant. As fearless as he was uncompro- 

NortJiern Mines. 101 

misiug, he denounced the ruffians in person, and 
warned them that a tmie would come ere long 
when they would meet, at the hands of an out- 
raged people, their deserts. He did not conceal 
from them his intention of following in the track 
of the prosperous miner, lead where it might, — 
which purpose they resolved to prevent. His 
death they regarded as necessary to their future 
prosperity. Having ascertained that he intended 
to leave Lewiston with a half-dozen dancing girls 
for the saloon he had established at Oro Fino, 
they laid a plan to insult him and involve him in 
a quarrel on his arrival at their shebang, and kill 
him. Ford was admonished of the design, which 
he foiled by avoiding the shebang. Being as- 
sured of his safe passage to Oro Fino, the rob- 
bers, led by Plummer, Ridgely, and Reeves, 
mounted their horses and started for the interior. 
Of the particular events of the early part of the 
trip, farther than that it was marked by the 
frequent robbery of travellers, I am unable to 
speak. When within seven or eight miles of 
Oro Fino, the robbers observed two Frenchmen, 
some distance apart, approaching them on foot. 
The one in advance was ordered to stop and 
throw up his hands, as in that position he was 
powerless and could not offer any resistance. 

102 Nortliern Mines. 

After a careful search of his person they found 
nothing- of vakie, and bade him move on as 
rapidly as possible, telling him that it was " a 
rough country to be in without money " and that 
he " had better get out of it as soon as possible." 
With the other, whom they subjected to a like 
process, they were more fortunate, and, despite 
his solemn denial, found in his pocket a purse 
containing a thousand dollars in dust, which they 
appropriated, dismissing him with the remark 
that if he " had done the square thing and not 
lied they would have given him enough to take 
him to the Columbia, — but" as it was, he might 
be thankful to get off with a whole carcass." 
Some idea may be formed of the daring and 
recklessness of this robbery when it is understood 
to have occurred at midday, near a town contain- 
ino- a population of several thousands, and on a 
thorouo-hfare thronofed with travellers. 

Uttering a shout of exultation, the robbers 
dashed into the town of Oro Fino with the impet- 
uosity of a cavalry charge. Reining up in front 
of Ford's saloon, which they entered, they called 
loudly upon the bar-keeper for liquor. Ford 
was absent. When they had drunk, they com- 
menced demolishing the contents of the saloon. 
Decanters, tumblers, chairs, and tables were 

Northern Mines. 103 

broken and scattered over the apartment. One of 
their number, more fiendish than the others, seized 
a lap-dog- from one of the females and cut off 
his tail. At this juncture Ford himself came 
upon the scene. Boldly confronting the rioters, 
pistol in hand, he ordered them instantly to leave 
his premises. He charged them with the rob- 
bery of the Frenchmen, and denounced them as 
thieves, robbers, and murderers. They saw and 
feared his determination, and obeyed his com- 
mands with alacrity. He followed them into the 
street, and threatened them with punishment if 
they remained in town. They were about to act 
upon this hint, when Ford, fully armed, came to 
them a second time, and demanded the cause of 
their delay. He was answered with a bullet, 
inflicting a dangerous wound. The fire was 
returned, and the fight became general, — three 
against one. The robbers were protected by their 
horses, while their antagonist was openly exposed 
to their fire. Ford emptied the charges from 
one six-shooter, made five shots with the other, 
and was in the act of aiming for the last, when 
he fell dead, riddled with the balls of his adver- 
saries. Ridgely was shot through the leg twice, 
and Plummer's horse disabled. 

Such was the melancholy fate of Patrick Ford, 

104 Northern Mines. 

— a man long to be remembered as the friend of 
law and order, — the first, indeed, in the north- 
ern mines who dared to urge the extermination 
of the robbers, as the only remedy for their 
depredations. He literally sealed his principles 
with his life's blood. 

Ridgely's wounds disabled him for service. 
He was taken by his companions to a ranche 
near the town, and as well cared for as circum- 
stances would admit. Leaving him there, the 
other members of the band, fearful of the friends 
of Ford, seldom ventured beyond the limits of 
their camp. 

Charley Harper. lOi 



Charley Harper assumes to be " Chief " — 
Cherokee Bob — Theatre in the Mines — Deputy 
Sheriff Porter's Assault upon the Soldiers as- 
sisted by Cherokee Bob — Two Soldiers killed, 
others wounded — Soldiers march into Town in 
pursuit of Cherokee Bob — He escapes by steal- 
ing A Horse and fleeing in the Night to Lewis- 
ton — Eidgely shoots Gilchrist and escapes to 

A NEW candidate for bloody laurels now appears 
in the person of Charley Harper. He arrived in 
Walla Walla in the fall of 1861- A young- man 
of twenty-five, of medium size, of erect carriage, 
clear, florid complexion, and profuse auburn hair, 
he could, but for the leer in his small inexpressive 
gray eye, have passed in any society for a gen- 
tleman. His previous life is a sealed book ; — 
but the readiness with which he enGfasfed in crime 
showed that he was not without experience. He 
told his landlord that he had no money, but that 
partners were coming who would relieve his neces- 

106 Charlei/ Harper. 

sities. The second night after his arrival, several 
hundred dollars in gold coin were stolen from a 
lodger who occupied the room adjoining his. 
While intoxicated, the next day, he exhibited by 
the handful eagles which he said were borrowed 
from an acquaintance. No one doubted that he 
had stolen them: — but where ofBcers were be- 
lieved to wink at crime, prosecution was useless. 
Charley was not even arrested upon suspicion. 
The money he had obtained introduced him to the 
society of the roughs, with whom he became so 
popular that he aspired to be their leader. This 
honor was disputed by Ridgely, whom we left 
wounded in the last chapter, and by " Cherokee 
Bob," both of whom claimed precedence from 
longer residence and greater familiarity with the 
opportunities for distinction. 

Circumstances soon occurred which enabled 
Charley, without disputation, to assume the role 
of chief of the Walla Walla desperadoes. Che- 
rokee Bob, heretofore mentioned as an associate 
of Plummer at Lewiston, was an uneducated 
Southerner. His mother was a half-blood Chero- 
kee, — hence his name. With a hatred of the 
North and the Northern soldiery born of preju- 
dice and ignorance, and a constitutional faith in 
the superior prowess of the Southern people, and 

Charle// Harper. l^'^ 

with mercurial passions inflamed by the contest 
that was still raging, this ruffian ^Yas nearly a 
maniac in his adherence to the cause of Seces- 
sion. He could talk or think of little else than 
the great inferiority of the Northern to the South- 
ern "soldiers, and was continually boasting of his 
own superior physical power. He would often 
taunt the soldiers of the garrison near Walla 
Walla. In ingenuity of vaunting expression, he 
far excelled Captain Bobadil himself ; — but like 
that h-3ro of dramatic fiction he was destined to 
experi-nce a reverse more humiliating, if possible, 
than that of his great prototype. With shotgun 
in hand and revolver in his belt, it was his fre- 
quent boast that he could take a negro along 
with him, carrying two baskets loaded with 
pistols, and put to flight the bravest regiment 
of the Federal army. 

No person who has witnessed a theatrical per- 
formance in a mining camp can forget the 
general din and noise with which the audience 
fill up the intervals between the acts. Whistling, 
singing, hooting, yalling, and a general shufaing 
of feet and moving about are so invariable as 
to form in fact, a feature of the performance. 
So long as they are unaccompanied by quarrel- 
some demonstrations, and do not become too 

108 Charley Harper. 

boisterous, efforts are seldom made to suppress 
them. The boys are permitted to have a good 
time iu their own way, and the lookers-on, accus- 
tomed to the scene, are often compensated for 
any annoyance that may be occasioned, by strokes 
of border humor more enjoyable than the play 

Cherokee Bob, eager for an opportunity when 
he could wreak his demoniac wrath upon some of 
the Federal soldiers, with the aid and complicity 
of Deputy Sheriff Porter, who like himself was 
a Secessionist, contrived the following plan as 
favorable to his purpose : it was agreed between 
them, that on a certain evening Bob and his 
friends should attend the theatre, fully armed. 
Porter, under pretext of quelling disturbances 
between the acts, should by his insulting lan- 
guage and manner j)rovoke an affray with the 
soldiers present, in the progress of which he 
would command Bob and those with him to 
assist, and thus undar the seeming protection 
of law, save them from the consequences of 
any actj of vengeance they desired to commit. 
On the evening appointed, six or saven soldiers 
were seated side by side in the pit, a single one 
occupying a seat in the gallery behind them. 
Porter was near them, and Bob and his associates 

Charley Barper. 109 

in a jjosition convenient to him. When the cur- 
tain fell upon the first act, the usual noises 
commenced, the soldiers joining in making- them. 
Porter sprang from his seat, and striding in front 
'jf them, vociferated, 

"Dry up there, you brass-mounted hirelings, 
jr I'll snatch you bald-headed." 

This insulting language produced the desired 
effect. Smarting under the implied reproach it 
conveyed, one of the soldiers sharply inquired, 

" Why do you single us out, when there are 
others more boisterous? " 

Porter waited for no further provocation, but 
drawing and cocking his revolver with one hand, 
and seizing the soldier nearest to him with the 
other, he dragged him ignominiously into the 
cn-cle where he was standing, ordering the 
deputy city marshal and Bob and his friends to 
assist in arresting him. The soldiers offered 
resistance. An immediate melee was the con- 
S3quence. The women and children in the 
audience screamed in affright. The other soldiers 
present rushed with drawn pistols to the rescue 
of their comrade. The one in the gallery sprang 
upon one of the officers with the ferocity of a 
wild beast. Clierokee Bob with a pistol in one 
hand and a bowie-knife in the other, his voice 

110 Charley Hai'per. 

wildly ringing above all other sounds, was in liis 
true element. More than a dozen pistol shots 
followed in quick succession. Two of the sol- 
diers were killed, and others fearfully mangled. 
Porter and his deputy assistant were each shot 
through a leg, the latter crippled for life. The 
work of blood was progressing, and but for the 
interference of an ofiicer of the garrison, Avould 
have ended only with the death of the assassins. 

The next day the soldiers appealed to their 
commanding officer for redress. He ordered 
those of them engaged in the affray to be placed 
under arrest, and dismissed the subject from his 
thoughts. Indignant at this unexpected treat- 
ment, about fifty of the soldiers armed them- 
selves, and marched into town, with the determin- 
ation to capture and hang Cherokee Bob, whom 
they knew to be the chief mover of the murderous 
assault. Disavowing all riotous intentions they 
informed the citizens of their design and com- 
menced a thorough search for the murderer. He, 
meanwhile, fearful of their revenge, eluded them 
by leaving the town before the dawn of morning 
on a stolen horse for Lewiston. 

The year before his appearance in Walla Walla 
Ridgely was living in Sacramento. During his 
sojourn there he acquired notoriety for his thiev- 

Charley Harper. Ill 

ish and villainous propensities. One of the 
police corps, detecting- him in the commission of 
a larceny, arrested him. He was convicted, and 
sentenced to imprisonment in the county jail. 
He vowed revenge against Gilchrist the policeman, 
but on his release fled to the gold mines. Soon 
after his arrival at Walla Walla he fell in with 
his old enemy, and secretly renewed the deter- 
mination to take his life. .Calling" upon a friend 
to accompany him, he boldly entered a saloon 
where he knew Gilchrist to be and fired several 
shots at him. Gilchrist fell at the first fire. 
Ridgely, believing he had killed him, left the 
saloon, saying as he went, " I have thrown a load 
off my mind, and now feel easy." Gilchrist was 
badly wounded, but recovered. Ridgely, escap- 
ing arrest on tlie night of the assault, ci'ossed the 
river into Oregon the next day, beyond the juris- 
diction of the authorities of Walla Walla, which 
was in Washington Territory. From thence he 
went to Lewiston and joined Plummer. 

Cherokee Bob and Ridgely being out of the 
way, Charley Harper, as next in rank on the scale 
of villainous preferment, became the Walla Walla 

112 Cherokee Bob. 



Gold Excttemkxt — Robbers (io to Florknck- — 
— Robberies by the Way — Cherokee Bob 
AXD Bill ]\[aykield — Cyxthia — Jealousy — A 


Intelligence of the discovery of extensive 
placers on the head waters of Salmon river, 
excelling- in richness any former locations, had 
been circulated throuo[:h all the border towns 
during the winter. The excitement consequent 
thereon was intense. Such was the impatience 
of the people to effect an early arrival there that 
many left Walla Walla and Lswiston in mi 1- 
winter, and on their way thither perished in 
the snows which engorged the mountain passes. 
Others, more cautious, awaited the coming of 
warm weather, and made the journey, — tedious, 
difficult, and dangerous at best, — with compar- 
ative safety. Among the latter number were 
Charley Harper and his band of brigands. 
Mounted on strong, Heet horses which they had 

CJierokee Boh. 113 

acquired during the winter, the criminal caval- 
cade Avith its chief at the head dashed up the 
river valley, insulting, threatening, or robbing 
every one so unfortunate as to fall in their way. 
Of the number prominent in the riotous column 
were Peoples, English, Scott, and Brockie — men 
whose deeds of villainy have blackened the crim- 
inal records of nearly all the larger cities of the 
Pacific slope. With none of the magnanimity 
which characterized Joaquin Murieta and the 
earlier brigands of California, and with all their 
recklessness of crime and murder, a meaner, 
baser, more contemptible band of ruffians per- 
haps never before disgraced the annals of the 
race. No crime was too atrocious for them to 
commit, no act of shame or wantonness was 
uncongenial to their grovelling natures. They 
were as totally depraved as a long and un- 
checked career of every variety of criminal 
induloence could make them. Afraid of nothino; 
but the law, and not afraid of that in these new 
and unorganized communities, they were little 
else than devils incarnate. Insensible to all 
appeals for mercy, and ever acting upon the 
cautious maxim that " dead men tell no tales," 
the only chance for escape from death for those 
whom they assaulted was in their utter inability 

114 Cherokee Bob. 

to do them injury. Human life regarded as an 
obstacle to their designs, was of no more impor- 
tance than the blowing up of a safe or any other 
act which stood between them and their prey. 
Of cours3 it was impossible that such a band of 
desperadoes should pass over the long and deso- 
late route from Walla Walla to Florence with- 
out adventure. 

On the second or third day after leaving 
Walla Walla, when nearing Florence, they met 
a company consisting of five men and a boy of 
sixteen, who w^ere on their way to a neighboring 
camp. The brigands surrounded them, and with 
cocked pistols well aimed, gave the usual ord^r, 
''throw up your hands." This order being 
obeyed, two of them dismounted to search the 
persons of their victims for treasure, the others 
meanwhile covering them with their revolvers. 
Five purses, containing amounts varying from 
fifty to five hundred dollars, Avere taken from 
them. The boy was overlooked, and had seated 
himself on a granite boulder by the roadside. 

Scott, as he tells the story himself, approached 
him more from curiosity than expectation, when 
the following conversation ensued : — 

"Come," said Scott, addressing him, "draw 
your weasel now." 

Cherokee Boh. 115 

" How do you know I've got any, stranger ? " 
queried the youth. 

" No fooling, I say. Hand out your buck- 

" You wouldn't rob a poor little devil like me, 
would you ? " 

" Don't keep me waiting longer, or I'll cut 
your ears off," — and Scott drew his bowie as if 
to carry the threat into execution. 

" Well, I only get half-wages, you know. Is 
your heart all gizzard?" 

" Get off from that stone and shell out, or I'll 
blow your brains out in a minute," said Scott. 

The boy sprung up hurriedly, and with 
affected reluctance thrust his hand into his 

" Well, stra-an-nger," he inquired with a pecul- 
iar drawl and quizzical expression of the eyes, 
" what do you take Salmon river dust at, any- 
how? " 

With this he drew forth an empty purse, and 
han ling it to Scott, said : — 

"If you think I've got any more, search me." 

Pleased with the pluck and humor of the lad, 
one of the band threw him a five-dollar piece, 
and they galloped furiously on towards Florence. 

Thundering into the town, they drew up 

116 Cherokee Bob. 

before the first saloon, fired their pistols, anrl 
urged their horses into the establishment. AVith- 
out dismounting they ordered liquor for the 
crowd. All the by-standers partook with them. 
Harper ostentatiously threw one of the purses he 
had just seized upon tli counter, tidling the bai- 
keeper to weigh out the amount of the bill, and 
after a few moments they left the saloon, " to 
see," as one of them expressed himself, " whether 
the town was biof enougfli to hold them." 

This irruption into Florence occurred while 
that city was comparatively in embryo. The 
pTeat floods of immi"ration from the east and 
Avest had not arrived. Some months must 
elapse before the expectations of the robbers 
could be realized. Meantime they distributed 
themselves among the saloons and bagnios, and 
by means of gambling and frequent robberies, 
contrived to hold the community in fear and 
pick up a subsistence until the great crowd came. 

Leavinc: them for a season, we will return to 
Cherokee Bob, whom we left in his ignominious 
flight from Walla Walla to Lewiston, on a stolen 
horse. That worthy had established himself in a 
saloon at Lewiston, and while there, renewed an 
acquaintance with an old pal known as Bill May- 

Cherokee Boh. H'^ 

Mayfield was a fugitive from justice from Car- 
son City, Nevada, where in the winter of 1861- 
62 he renewed an acquaintance with Henry 
Plummer, whom he had known before that tnne 
in California. The governor of California had 
issued a requisition for the surrender of Plum- 
mer, and a warrant for his arrest was in the 
hands of John Blackburn, the sheriff at Carson 
City. Though efficient as an officer, Blackburn, 
while in liquor, was overbearing and boastful of 
his prowess. His reputation was bad among the 
leading citizens of the town. Foiled in his 
search for Plummer, who, he believed, was in the 
territory, and knowing of Mayfield's intimacy 
with him, he accused the latter with concealing 
him. Mayfield denied the charge, and to avoid 
a quarrel with Blackburn, who was intoxicated, 
immediately left the saloon where the interview 
occurred, but as a measure of precaution armed 
himself with a bowie-knife. Blackburn, ren- 
dered desperate by liquor, soon followed in pur- 
suit of him, and at a later hour of the same day 
found him in another saloon. As he entered the 
front, Mayfield tried to leave by the rear door. 
Failing in this, he drew his knife, and concealed 
it in his sleeve. Approaching Mayfield in a 
bullying manner Blackburn said to him : — 

118 Cherokee Boh. 

" I wiU arrest Pliimmer, and no one can 
prevent it. I can arrest anybody, I can arrest 
you if I wisli to." 

" You can arrest me," replied Mayfield, " if 
you have a Avarrant for my arrest, but you can't 

" I tell you," rejoined Blackburn tauntingly, 
" that I can arrest you, or any one else," and 
added with an oath, '' I will arrest you anyhow," 
accompanying- this threat with a grasp for his 
pistol. Mayfield, with flash-like quickness, slipped 
his knife from its place of concealment, and 
gave him an anticipatory stab in the breast. 
Blackburn then tried to close with him, and 
beino- much the strong-er man would have killed 
him had not Mayfield jumped aside and plied his 
knife vigorously until Blackburn fell. He died 
almost instantly. Mayfield surrendered himself 
for trial, was convicted of murder, and sentenced 
to be hanged. 

While awaiting execution in the penitentiary, 
two miles distant from Carson, a plan for uiid r- 
mining the prison was successful, and he escaped. 
The friends who effected this were among' the 
best citizens of Carson. They deemed the sen- 
tence unjust, and as soon as he was out of con- 
finement, mounted him on a good horse, provided 

Cherokee Boh. 119 

him with arms, and bade him leave the State as 
rapidly as possible. When his escape was dis- 
covered the next morning the jailer started in 
pursuit. He struck the track of the fugitive, 
and by means of relays, gained rapidly upon 
him. Mayfield's friends meantime were not idle. 
They managed to be apprised of his progress, 
followed close upon his pursuers, and by a short 
cut at a favorable point, overtook him, and, 
doubling back, concealed him at a ranche in Pea 
Vine valley, on^\ forty miles fioui Carson City. 
There he remained six weeks, — many of the 
leading citizens of Carson meantime watching for 
an opportunity to aid his escape from the State. 
A careless exposure of his person led to his 
recognition and the discovery of his retreat. 
His friends were the first to learn of it, and 
before the officers could arrive at the ranche, 
Mayfield was on his way to Huffaker's ranche on 
the Truckee river, which Avas nearer Carson by 
half the distance than the ranche he had left. 
While the officers were scouring the country in 
i>ursuit of him, he remained there until spring, 
sharino' a box stall with a favorite race-horse. 
When spring was far enough advanced to afford 
pasturage and comfortable travel, he was fur- 
nished by his friends with a good " outfit," and 

120 Cherokee Boh. 

made the journey unmolested to Lewiston, where 
he joined his okl friends Phimmer and Cherokee 

Here he trumped up an intimacy with a woman 
calling herself " Cynthia," at that time stew- 
ardess of a hotel in Lewiston, and the fallen 
wife of a very worthy man. 

In June, Cherokee Bob, accompanied by May- 
field and Cynthia, left Lewiston for Florence. 
Soon after their arrival the jealousy of Mayfield 
was aroused by the particular attentions of Bob 
to his mistress. On his part Bob made no con- 
cealment of his attachment for the woman, and 
when charofed with harborino- an intention of 
appropriating' her affections, boldly acknowledged 
the soft impeachment. Cynthia possessed many 
charms of person, and considerable intelligence. 
She had, moreover, an eye to the main chance, 
and was ready to bestow her favors where they 
would command the most money. Bob was 
richer than Mayfield, and this fact won for him 
many encouraging smiles from the fair object 
of his pursuit. Mayfield's jealousy flamed into 
anger, and he resolved to bring matters to a 
crisis, which should either secure his undisturbed 
possession of the woman, or transfer her to the 
sole care of his rival. He had confidence 

Cherokee Boh. 121 

enough in Cynthia to beHeve that when required 
to choose between him and Cherokee Bob, her 
good taste, if nothing else, would give him the 
preference. He had not calculated on the 
strength of her cupidity. Confronting Bob, in 
her presence, he said, as he laid his hand on 
the butt of his revolver : — 

" Bob, you know me." 

" Yes," replied Bob with a similar gesture, 
" and Bill, you know me." 

" Well now. Bob, the question is whether we 
shall make fools of ourselves or not." 

" Just as you say, Bill. I'm al'ys ready for 
anything that turns up." 

" Bob, if that woman loves you more than 
me," said Maylield, " take her. 1 don't want 
her. But if she thinks the most of me, no 
person ought to come between us. I call that 
on the square." 

" Well, I do think considerable of Cynthia, 
and you are not married to her, you know," 
replied Bob. 

" That makes no difference. If she loves me, 
and wishes to live with me, no one shall interfere 
to prevent it." 

" Well, what do you propose to do about it ? " 
asked Bob, after a brief pause. 

122 Cherokee Boh. 

" Let the woman decide for herself," replied 
Majfield. " What say you, Cynthia ? Is it Bob 
or me c 

Thus appealed to, greatly to the surprise of 
Mayfield, Cynthia replied : — 

" Well, William, Robert is settled in business 
now, and don't you think he is better able to take 
care of me than you are ? " 

This reply convinced Mayfield that his influence 
over the woman was lost. The quarrel terminated 
in a o-raceful surrender to Bob of all his claim 
upon her. 

" You fall heir," said he to his successor, " to 
all the traps and things there are around here." 

Cherokee Bob insisted upon paying for them ; 
and Cynthia, true to the course of life she was 
pursuing, tried to soften the pangs of separation 
from her old lover by reiterating the question if 
he did not " think it the best thing that could be 
done under the circumstances." 

Cherokee Bob forced a generous purse upon 
Mayfield, who left him with the parting injunc- 
tion to take good care of the girl. 

The woman shed some tears and, as we shall 
see at a later stage of this history, showed by her 
return to Mayfield that she entertained a real 
affection ; and when, a year later, she heard of his 

Cherokee Boh. 123 

violent death, was heard to say that she woidd 
kdl his murderer whenever opportunity afforded. 
An explanation of the circumstances under 
which Bob became " settled in business " is not 
the least interesting- part of this narrative. The 
senior proprietor of the leading saloon in Oro Fnio 
died a few days before Bob's arrival. He was 
indebted to Bob for borrowed money. Calling 
upon the surviving partner soon after his arrival, 
Bob informed him of the indebtedness, and de- 
clared his intention of appropriating the saloon 
and its contents in payment. 

"How much," inquired the man, ''did you 
lend my partner? I'll settle with you, and pay 
liberal interest." 

''That's not the idee," rejoined Bob. "Do 
you think me fool enough to lend a fellow five 
hundred dollars, and then after it increases to five 
thousand, square the account with a return of 
what I lent and a little more? That's not my 
way of doing biz. How much stock have you 
got here on hand ? " 

Bob carefully committed to writing the invoice 
verbally furnished. 

" No-nv," said he, putting the memorandum in 
his pocket, " I'll hold you responsible for all these 
traps — the whole outfit. You've got to close 

124 Cherokee Boh. 

up and get out of this without any delay. I'll 
give you twenty-four hours to do it in. You 
must then deliver everything safe into my 

The unfortunate saloon-keeper knew that the 
law as administered in that mountain town would 
afford him no redress. He also knew that to 
refuse compliance with the demand of Cherokee 
Bob, however unjust, would precipitate a quarrel 
which would probably cost him his life. So when 
Bob, accompanied by two or three confederates, 
came the next morning to the saloon to take pos- 
session he was prepared to submit to the imposi- 
tion without resistance. Walking within the bar, 
Cherokee Bob emptied the money drawer and 
p'ave the contents to his victim. He then invited 
his friends to drink to the success of the new 
" outfit," and finding himself in undisturbed occu- 
pancy, increased the amount of his gift to the 
man he had expelled to several hundred dollars. 
This w^as the manner in which he became, as 
Cynthia said, " settled in business." 


Florence, 125 



Florence — Kule of the Roughs — Murder of 
A German Miner — One Rough shoots Another 

— Brockie killed by Chapman — Hickey killed 
BY " Snapping Andy " — Matt Bledsoe — Diffi- 
culties OF Mining — Exposures — Tack Trains 

— Robbery of McClinchey's Train — Robbery 
OF Berry^ Brothers, by Scott, Peoples, and Eng- 

Florence was now the established headquar- 
ters of the robbers. Its isolated location, its 
distance from the seat of government, its moun- 
tain surroundings, and, more than all, its utter 
destitution of power to enforce law and order, 
gave it peculiar fitness as a base to the criminal 
and bloody operations of the desperate gang 
which infested it. At all hours of the day and 
nio-ht some of them were to be seen at the two 
saloons kept by Cherokee Bob and Cyrus Skin- 
ner. When one company disappeared another 
took its place, and at no time were there less 
than twenty or thirty of these desperadoes at one 

126 Florence. 

or both of their haunts, plotting and contriving- 
deeds of phmder and robbery which involved 
the hard earnings, possibly the lives, of many of 
the fortunate miners of the vicinitv. The crowd 
from both east and west had arrived. The town 
was full of gold-hunters. Expectation lighted 
up the countenance of every new comer. Few 
had yet realized the utter despair of failure in a 
mining camp. In the presence of vice in all its 
forms, men who were staid and exemplary at 
home laid aside their morality like a useless gar- 
ment and yielded to the seductive inflaences 
spread for their ruin. The gambling shops and 
hurdy-gurdy saloons — beheld for the first time 
by many of these fortune-seekers — lured them 
on step by step, until many of them abandoned 
all thought of the object they had in pursuit 
for lives of shameful and criminal indulgence. 

The condition of society thus produced was 
fatal to all attempts at organization, either for 
protection or good order. Wholly unrestrained 
by fear or conscience, the robbers carried on their 
operations in the full blaze of mid-day. Affrays 
were of daily occurrence, and robberies took 
place in the public streets. Harper, the acknowl- 
edged chief, stained with the darkest crimes, 
walked the streets with the boldness and confi- 


Florence. 127 

dence of one who gloried in his iniquity. Peace- 
able, honest, well-meaning citizens, completely 
overawed, were fortunate to escape insult or 
abuse, as they passed to and fro in pursuit 
of their occupations. Woe to the unfortunate 
miner who entered the town if it were known or 
believed that there was any treasure on his per- 
son ! If not robbed on the spot, or lured into a 
hurdy-gurdy saloon, or cheated at a gambling- 
table, he was waylaid by disguised ruffians on his 
return to his camp, and by threats and violence, 
or when these failed, by death itself, relieved of 
his hard-bought earnings. For one of these 
sufferers to recognize and expose any of his assail- 
ants was simply to insure his death at his hands 
the first convenient opportunity. 

One of these side exploits was marked by 
features of peculiar atrocity. An aged, eccen- 
tric German miner, who lived alone in a little 
cabin three miles from town, was supposed to 
have a considerable amount of gold dust con- 
cealed in his dwelling. One morning, early in 
Auoust, a neiofhbor discovered that the house had 
been violently entered. The door was broken 
and scattered in pieces. Entering, he beheld the 
mangled corpse of the old man lying amid a 
general wreck of bedding, boxes, and trunks. 

128 Florenfie. 

The remains of a recent fire in a corner bore 
evidence of the faihire of the design of the rob- 
bers to conceal their crime by a general conflagra- 
tion. The miners were exasperated at an act of 
such wanton and unprovoked barbarity. A coro- 
ner's jury was summoned and such an inquest 
held as men in fear of their lives dared to ven- 
ture. The verdict, as might have been antici- 
pated, was " murdered by some person or jiersons 
unknown." Here the affair has rested ever since. 
Acts of violence and bloodshed were not un- 
frequent among the robbers themselves. Soon 
after the murder of the German, a company of 
them, who had been gambling all night at one 
of the saloons, broke up in a quarrel at sunrise. 
Before they reached the street, a revolver in the 
hands of Brockie was discharged, killing in- 
stantly one of the departing brawlers. The 
murderer surrendered himself to a justice of the 
peace, and escaped upon the singular plea that 
the shot was accidental and did not hit the per- 
son he intended to kill. One of the jury, in a 
letter to a friend, wrote : " The verdict gave 
universal satisfaction, the feeling over the homi- 
cide among good citizens being that Brockie 
had done a good thing. If he had killed two 
of the ruffians inst -ad of one, and then hung 

Florence. 129 

himself, good men would have been better 

Hickey, the intended victim, was one of the 
worst men in the band. The year following this 
occurrence, in a fit of anger induced by intoxi- 
cation, at a store in Placerville he made a desper- 
ate assault upon a peaceable, inoffensive indi- 
vidual who was known by the name of " Snap- 
ping Andy." Hurriedly snatching a pickhandle 
from a barrel, Andy, by two or three well- 
directed blows, brought his career of crime and 
infamy to a bloody close. 

For some reason, probably to place him be- 
yond the reach of the friends of the murdered 
robber, Brockie was assigned to a new position. 
Ostensibly to establish a ferry at the mouth of 
Whitebird creek, a few miles from town, but 
really for the purpose of furnishing a convenient 
rendezvous for his comjjanions, he took up his 
abode there. It was on the line of travel be- 
tween Florence and a gold discovery reputed to 
have been made on a tributary of the Boise 

About the middle of September, Arthur Chap- 
man, son of the surveyor-general of Oregon, 
while waiting for ferriage, was brutally assaulted 
by Brockie, who rushed towards him wdth pistol 

130 Florence. 

and knife, swearing that lie would "shoot him 
as full of holes as a sieve, and then cut him 
into sausage meat." With an axe which he 
seized upon the instant. Chapman clove his skull 
to the chin. Brockie fell dead in his tracks, 
another witness to the fulfilment of that terrible 
denunciation, " whoso sheddeth man's blood, by 
man shall his blood be shed." Chapman was 
honorably acquitted of crime. 

It will not be deemed out of place to record 
here the desperate fortune of one Matt Bledsoe, 
who became notorious as an independent free- 
booter, and killed several persons in the valley of 
the Upper Sacramento and Upper Willamette. 
His bloody character preceded his arrival at 
Florence in the fall of 1861. He acknowledged 
no allegiance to any band, and avowed as a ruling 
principle that he would " as soon kill a man as 
eat his breakfast." While engaged in a game 
of cards with a miner at a ranche on Whitebird 
creek in October, 1861, he provoked an altercation, 
but the miner being armed, he did not, as was 
usual with him, follow it up by an attack. The 
next morning, while the miner was going to the 
creek, he shot and killed him. Mounting his 
horse he rode rapidly to Walla Walla, surren- 
dered to the authorities, asked for a trial, and on 

Florence. 131 

his own statement that he "had killed a man in 
self-defence," was acquitted. 

A leap forward in his history to twelve o'clock 
of a cold w^inter nigfht of 1865 finds this same 
villain in company with another, each with a 
courtesan beside him, seated at a table in an 
oyster saloon in Portland. Some angry words 
between the women soon involved the men in a 
quarrel, which Bledsoe brought to a speedy ter- 
mination by a fatal blow upon the head of his 
antagonist. He was immediately arrested, tried, 
convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to the 
peuitantiary for a long term of years. During 
the following fall he escaped, was rearrested, 
and after trial, returned to prison to serve out a 
prolonged sentence. 

Perhaps in the early history of no part of our 
country were greater difficulties overcome in 
moving from one place to another than in the 
mining districts of Oregon and Idaho. Essen- 
tially a mountain region, and in all portions of 
it away from the narrow valleys formed by the 
streams filled with the remains of extensive vol- 
canic action, its surface, besides being broken 
into deep canons, lofty ridges, inaccessible preci- 
pices, impassable streams, and impenetrable lava 
beds, was also covered everywhere "with the sharp 

132 Florence. 

points and fissured hummocks which were cast 
out during a long and active period of primeval 
eruption. There were no natural roads in any 
direction. The trail of the Indian was full of 
obstacles, often indirect and generally impracti- 
cable. To travel with vehicles of any sort was 
absolutely impossible. The pack animal was the 
only available resource for transportation. The 
miner would bind all his earthly gear on the back 
of a mule or a burro and grapple with obstruc- 
tions as they appeared, cutting his way through 
forests almost interminable, and exposing himself 
to dangers as trying to his fortitude as to his 
ingenuity. The merchant who wished to transport 
goods, the saloon-keeper who had liquors and bil- 
liard tables, the hotel-keeper whose furniture was 
necessary, all had to employ pack animals as the 
only means of transportation from the towns on 
the Columbia to the mining camps of the interior. 
The owner of a train of pack animals was always 
certain of profitable employment. His life was 
precarious, his subsistence poor, his responsibili- 
ties enormous. He threaded the most dangrerous 
passes, and incurred the most fearful risks, — for 
all which he received adequate compensation. 

The pack-train was always a lively feature in 
the gigantic mountain scenery of Oregon and 

Florence. 133 

Idaho. A train of fifty or one hundred animals, 
about equally composed of mules and burros, 
each heavily laden, the experienced animal in the 
lead picking the way for those in the rear, amid 
the rocks, escarpments, and precipices of a lofty 
mountain side, was a spectacle of thrilling inter- 
est. At times, the least mis-step would have pre- 
cipitated some unfortunate animal thousands of 
feet down the steep declivity, dashing him to 
pieces on the rocks below. Fortunately the cau- 
tious and sure tread of these faithful creatures 
rendered such an accident of very rare occur- 
rence, though to the person who beheld them in 
motion for the first time the feeling was ever 
present that they could not escape it. The arri- 
val of one of these large trains in a mining camp 
produced greater excitement among the inhabi- 
tants than any other event, and the calculations 
upon their departure from the Columbia river and 
their appearance in the interior towns were made 
and anticipated with nearly as much certainty as if 
they were governed by a published time-table. 

The confidence of the owner of a train of 
pack-animals in their sagacity and sure-footed- 
ness relieved him of all fear of accident by 
travel, but he could never feel as well assured 
ao-ainst the attacks of robbers. All the men in 

134 Florence. 

chai'o-e of a train were well armed and in 
momentary expectation of a surprise. Fre- 
quently on the return trips they were entrusted 
by merchants with large amounts of gold dust. 
Opportunities of this character seldom escaped 
the vigilance of the robbers, — and any defect 
in the police of the departing train insured an 
attack upon it in some of the difficult passes on 
its route to the river. 

The packer of a train belonging to Neil Mc- 
Clinchey, a well-known mercantile operator of 
tlie Upper Columbia, in October, 1862, when four 
days out from Florence, on his return to Walla 
Walla, was stopped by a masked party of which 
Harper was supposed to be the leader, and for 
want of sufficient force robbed of fourteen 
pounds of gold. As he gave the treasure into 
the hands of the assailants, the villain who took 
it spvid in a consolinof tone : " That's sensible. 
If every man was as reasonable as you things 
would go along smoother." 

Shortly after this robbery, Joseph and John 
Berry were returning to the river with their 
train. They had gone but forty miles from 
Florence, when they were confronted by three 
men in masks, who, with levelled pistols, com- 
manded them to throw up their hands. Seeing 

Florence. 135 

that resistance was useless they obeyed, and were 
relieved of eleven hundred dollars. The pack- 
ers recognized the voices of David English and 
William Peoples, — and the third one was after- 
wards ascertained to be Nelson Scott. The vic- 
tims returned with all possible expedition to 
Lewiston, where the report of their loss excited 
the most intense indignation. 

136 First Vigilance Committee. 


Pursuit, Arrest, and Execution of Scott, PeopleSj 


OF "Happy Harry" — Escape of "Club Foot 
George " — Charley Harper flees to Colville. 

As soon as the Berrys were assured of the 
identity of the villains who had robbed them 
they appealed to the people to assist in their 
capture. The robbers had stripped them of all 
their hard earnings, and they had the sympathy 
of every honest man in the community. Noth- 
ing more was needed to kindle into a flame of 
popular excitement the long pent-up fires of 
smothered indignation. Public sentiment was 
clamorous for the capture and punishment of the 
robbers. It gathered strength day by day, until 
it became the all-absorbing topic everywhere. 
Men assembled on the street corners, in the 
stores, in the saloons, and at the outside mining 
camps to compare view^s and consult upon meas- 
ures of relief. Meantime, several parties, whose 


Firift Vigilance Committee. 137 

faith ill immediate action was stronger than in 
consultation, set out in pursuit of the robbers. 

From the fact that they had passed south 
of Lewiston it was believed they had gone 
down the Columbia. Distributing themselves 
alono- the different roads and trails in that direc- 
tion, the pursuers made diligent search for them 
in every nook and corner which could afford 
them a hiding-place. Their diligence was suc- 
cessful. The robbers had separated, but were 
arrested in detail, — Peoples at Walla Walla, 
*Scott on Dry creek, near there, and English at 
Wallula, forty miles distant on the Columbia. 

The only surprise they manifested upon being 
arrested was at the temerity of their captors. 
In a community which had so long held them in 
fear any legal interference with their business 
was deemed by them an outrage. They did not 
pause to inquire whether their reign was near its 
termination, nor think that perhaps the people 
had decided as between longer submission to 
their villainies and condign punishment for their 
actual crimes. If they had, their efforts to escape 
would have been immediate. As it was, they 
rested easy, and reflected savagely upon the 
revenge in store for their captors after their 
friends had effected their rescue. 

188 First Viy dance Cvmmittee. 

They were taken in irons to Walla Walla. 
Judofe Smith ordered their removal to Florence 
for trial. Such was the indijiiiation of the citi- 
zens of Lewiston that on their arrival there it 
was determined they should be tried by the peo- 
ple. All confidence in the law and the courts 
was lost. Accordingly a committee was ap- 
pointed to investigate the circumstances of the 
robbery and declare the punishment. The pris- 
oners were taken in charge by the committee, 
and confined in an unfinished buildino- on the 
bank of the Clearwater, which was strongly 
guarded. To make their work thorough and 
terrify others of the band who were known to 
be prowling about the saloons of Lewiston, a 
number of persons were appointed, with instruc- 
tions to efiPect their immediate arrest. In antici- 
pation of this course all suspected persons except 
one escaped by flight. This one, known by the 
name of " Happy Harry," was a simple fellow, 
who denied all association with the band, con- 
fessed to a few petty offences, and was discharged 
on condition that he would instantly leave and 
never return to the country. He has never been 
heard of since. 

One of the shrewdest of the gang, who from 
a personal deformity was called " Club Foot 

First Vi(j 'dance t'oiin/iUtee. 139 

Georofe," well known as a robber and horse- 
thief, escaped arrest by surrendering- himself to 
the commandant of Fort Lapwai (a United States 
post twelve miles distant), who confined him in 
the guard house. 

The final disposition of the three villains in 
custody was delayed until the next day. A 
strong guard of well-armed men surrounded 
their prison. Just after midnight the sleeping 
inhabitants of the town were roused by several 
shots fired in the direction of the place of con- 
finement. In a few minutes the streets were 
filled with citizens. A former friend of Peoples, 
one Marshall, who kept a hotel in tow^n, had, in 
attempting his rescue, fired upon the guard. In 
return he received a shot in his arm, and was 
prostrated by a blow from a clubbed musket. 
The cause of the melee being explained, the 
people withdrew, leaving the sentinels at their 

The next morning at an early hour the people 
gathered around the prison. The guards w^ere 
gone and the door ajar. Unable to restrain their 
curiosity, and fearful that the robbers had been 
rescued, they pushed the door wide open. There, 
hanging by the neck, stark and cold, they belield 
the bodies of the three desperadoes. Just^i-a 

140 First Vigilance Committee. 

had been anticipated, and the first Vigilance 
Committee of the northern mines had commenced 
its work. No one knew or cared who had 
done it, but all felt that it was right, and the 
community breathed freer than at any former 
period of its history. 

Intelligence of the execution, with the usual 
exaggeration, spread far and wide through the 
mining camps. It was received with approval by 
the sober citizens, but filled the robber horde 
with consternation. Charley Harper, while on 
his way from Florence to Lewiston to gather fuU 
particulars, met a mountaineer. 

" Stranger," he inquired, " what's the news ?" 

" I s'pose you've heard about the hanging of 
them fellers?" 

" Heard something. What's the particulars ? " 

" Well, Bill Peoples, Dave English, and Nels 
Scott have gone in. They strung 'em up like 
dried salmon. Happy Harry got out of the way 
in time ; but if they get Club Foot George, his 
life won't be worth a cent. They're after a lot 
more of 'em up in Florence." 

" Do you know who aU they're after? " asked 

" Yes. Charley Harper's the big chief they're 
achin' for the most, but the story now is that 

First Vigilance Committee. 141 

he's already hung. A fellow weut into town 
day before yesterday, and said he saw him strung 
up out here on Camas Prairie. Did you hear 
anything of it back on the road?" 

Harper needed no further information. He 
felt that the country was too hot to hold him, 
and that the bloodhounds were on his track. As 
soon as the miner was out of sight, he turned 
to the right, crossed the Clearwater some miles 
above Lewiston, and pursued a trail to Colvdle 
on the Upper Columbia, where we will take leave 
of him for the present. 

142 New Gold Discoveries., 



Immigration — Discoveries in Deer Lodge — At 
Boise — Ridgely recovers and goes to Elk 
City — Plummer and Cleveland go to Sun 
River — Spend most of the Winter there — 
Plummer in Love — Quarrels with Cleveland. 

When the rumored discovery of extensive 
gold placers on Salmon river was confirmed, the 
intelligence spread through the Territories and 
Mississippi States like wildfire. Thousands of 
young men, thrown out of employment by the 
war, and other thousands who dreaded the evils 
which that great conflict would bring upon the 
nation, and still others actuated by a thirst for 
gain, utilized their available resources in provid- 
in<r means for an immediate mioration to the 
land of promise. Before midsummer they had 
started on the long and perilous journey. How 
little did they know of its exposures ! The 
deserts, destitute of water and grass, the alkaline 
plains where food and driidi v/ere alike aii'ected 

New Grold Discoveries. 148 

by the poisonous dust, the roving bands of hos- 
tile Indians, the treacherous quicksands of river 
fords, the danger and difficulty of the mountain 
passes, the death of their companions, their 
cattle, and their horses, breakage of their vehicles, 
angry and often violent personal altercations, — 
all these fled in the light of the summer sun, the 
vernal beauty of the plains, the delightfully pure 
atmosphere which wooed them day by day far- 
ther away from the abode of civilization, and the 
protection of law. The most fortunate of this 
army of adventurers suffered from some of these 
fruitful causes of disaster. So certain were they 
in some form to occur, that a successful comple- 
tion of the journey was simply an escape from 
death. The story of the Indian murders and 
cruelties alone, which befell hundreds of these 
hapless emigrants, would fill volumes. Every 
mile of the several routes across the continent 
was marked by the decaying carcasses of oxen 
and horses, which had perished during the period 
of this hegira to the gold mines. Three months 
with mules and four with oxen were necessary to 
make the journey, — a journey now completed in 
six days from ocean to ocean by the railroad. 

Some of the earliest of these expeditions, after 
entering the unexplored region which afterwards 

144 New G-old jyiscoveries. 

became Montana, were arrested by information 
that it would be impossible to cross, with teams, 
the several mountain rano;es between them and 
the mines. This discouraofement Avas followed 
up by intelligence that the placers were overrun 
bv a crowd of sfold hunters from CaKfornia and 
Oregon, and that large bands of prospectors 
were spreading over the adjacent territorv. Swift 
on the heels of this came the rumor that new 
placers had been found at Deer Lodge, on the 
east side of the mountains. 

The idea was readily adopted that the country 
was filled with gold placers, — that it was not 
necessary to pursue the track of actual discovery, 
but that each man could discover his own mine. 
Thus belie vino- the stream of emio-ration di- 
vero-ed, — some crossings the ranoe to Fort Lemhi 
on the Lower Salmon, and others pursuing a more 
southerly course, with the hope of striking an 
old trail leading from Salt Lake to Bitter Root 
and Deer Lodgfe vallevs. Some of this latter 
party remained on Grasshopper creek near the 
large caiion, where they made promising dis- 
coveries. The others went on to Deer Lodge, 
but being disappointed in the placers there, re- 
joined their companions and gave to their placer 
the name of Beaver Head Dio-oino-s, — thatbeincr 


Neu' Gold Discoveries. 145 

tho name given by Lewis and Clarke to the river 
into which the creek empties. 

While these discoveries were in progress on 
the east side of the mountains, a prospecting 
party which had been organized at Florence 
under the leadership of a Californian by the 
name of Grimes, discovered the mines on the 
Boise. They were one hundred and fifty miles 
south of Florence. Grimes and his party sunk 
their first shaft fifteen miles north-west of the site 
of Idaho City. While preparing to extend their 
explorations, they unfortunately fell into an In- 
dian ambuscade and their leader was slam. 

Intelligence of the Beaver Head and Boise 
discoveries unsettled all local projects for buHd- 
ing up the towns of Florence, Elk City, and Oro 
Fino. They were immediately deserted by all 
who could leave without sacrifice. West Bannack, 
at Boise, and East Bannack, at Beaver Head, 
sprung into existence as if by enchantment. 

Bidgely had now so far recovered from his 
wound as to be able to travel. Accompanied by 
him and Reeves, Henry Plummer left the vicinity 
of Florence and went to Elk City. There he 
met with several of his old California acquaint- 
ances who were familiar with his early history. 
Fearful of remaining lest they should deliver 

146 New Gold Discoveries. 

him up to the authorities and cause him to be 
returned to California, or that a Vigilance Com- 
mittee would visit him with heavier punishment, 
he suddenl}^ departed, and ten days later made 
liis appearance at Deer Lodge. He found the 
camp full of needy adventurers, the mines un- 
promising, and the chances few for replenishing 
his fortune by either gambling or robbery. 
After spending a few days of constantly increas- 
ing discouragement he started in company with 
Jack Cleveland for Fort Benton, intending to go 
down the Missouri by the first boat. Fortunate 
w^ould it have been had he carried this design 
into execution. If it would not have saved him 
from a felon's death, it would have preserved the 
lives of those who afterwards became his victims. 
Sixty miles from Benton, their horses jaded 
with travel, the two men stopped at the Govern- 
ment farm on Sun river for a few days' rest. In 
this secluded valley they ^vere out of the way of 
pursuers. Carpeted with bunch grass, it afforded 
grazing for their half-starved horses, and in Mr. 
Vail, the man in charge of the farm, they found 
a very hospitable host. Divided centrally by the 
large and peaceful river, the valley stretched 
away on either side to numberless plateaus, 
remarkable for the uniform height and tabular 

JVeir Gold Discoveries. 147 

recession with which they rose to the summits of 
the lofty foot hills, which in their turn swelled 
gradually into a cu-cumference of heaven-kissing 
mountains. Nothing but a few^ forests were 
w^anting to make the scene one of unparalleled 
grandeur. These were measurably supplied by 
the parks of cotton wood which stretched along 
either bank of the river, affording shelter for the 
herds of elk, antelope, and deer that roamed un- 
harmed over the boundless solitude. 

Here, sheltered by the arms of kind relatives, 
Henry Plummer first saw^ the only being which in- 
spired his bosom w'ith virtuous love. A young, 
innocent, and beautiful girl, artless and loving as 
a child, won 'by his attention and gentlemanly de- 
portment, and the tale seductive as that poured 
by the serpent into the ear of Eve, which he told 
of his love, as'ainst the advice of her sister and 
friends, crowned his happiness \\'\t\\ her heart and 
hand. No stories of his past career, no terrible 
picture of the future, no tears and petitions, could 
stay the sacrifice. She felt the sentiment so 
beautifully expressed by Moore, 

" I know not, I ask not, if guilt's in that heart, 
I but know that I love thee, whatever thou art," — 

and under its influence she linked her fortunes 

148 Neiv Grold Discoveries. 

with those of the robber, murderer, and outlaw, in 
the holiest of human ties. 

A quarrel, of which this young lady was the inno- 
cent cause, took jjlace between Plummer and Cleve- 
land before the marriage of the former. Their old 
friendship was never re-established. Often during 
their residence at Sun river an exchange of bitter 
epithets only relieved their pent-up wrath. Afraid 
of each other, neither would leave the farm alone. 
Accordingly they went to Bannack in company, 
early in the winter of 1862-63. There we will 
leave them while w^e return to Florence to inquire 
after the fortunes of Cherokee Bob, whom w^e left 
a few chapters ago " settled in business." 

Desertion of 3Iinin<j Canijjs. 149 



Effect of Decay ix Mixes — Florence ix declixe — 
New Year's Ball — Cyxthia goes axd is ex- 
pelled — Wrath of Cherokee Bob ax'd Wil- 
louohby — Attack ox Jakev Williams — Fierce 
Street Fight — Bob axd Willoughby killed — 
Ctx^thia returns to Mayfield. 

The decay of a mining' town is as sudden 
and rapid as its growth, and the causes which 
occasion it as problematical. Few, comparatively, 
of the great number of placer camps in the 
Rocky Mountains, once peopled with thousands, 
survive beyond the third year of their existence. 
As soon as the placers fail to remunerate the 
miners they are abandoned. The crowd de- 
parts, and if any remain, it is that sober, substan- 
tial class which is satisfied with small gain as the 
reward of unceasinsf toil. Iiitelliy;ence of new 
discoveries brought to a failing placer will cause 
the immediate departure of great numbers 
engaged in working it. These stampedes nre 
among the most notable features of mountain 

150 Desertion of Mining Camps. 

life. Sometimes when the discovery of a new. 
placer is announced, the entire population of a 
mining town strive with each other to be the 
first to reach it. Horses are saddled, mules are 
packed, sluices abandoned, and the long and 
unmarked route filled with or"old hunters. Awav 
they go, over mountains, across streams, through 
canons and pine forests, with the single object 
of making the first selection of a claim in the 
new location. Not unfrequently it is the case 
that a single company is the first to learn of the 
discovery of a new rich placer. If the claim it 
has worked is abandoned the succeeding morn- 
ing, it is received by the camp as incontestable 
evidence that a mine of superior richness has 
been found, — and hundreds start in pursuit of 
the missing company. Rumor is a fruitful caus3 
of stampedes. Disappointments are more fre- 
quently the consequences than rewards. In- 
stances are common where whole camps have 
been deserted to follow up a rumor, and be dis- 
appointed, and glad to return at last. There is 
nothing permanent in the life of a gold miner, 
— and beyond the moment, nothing strong or 
abiding in his associations. 

" Whither he goes or how he fares, 
Nobody knows and nobody cares." 

Desertion of Mini It;/ Camps. 151 

Florence had suffered from these causes. The 
roving portion of the population had gone, some 
to Boise, some to Baunack, and some to Deer 
Lodge. Cherokee Bob and Cynthia still re- 
mained, but Harper had Hed, and Peoples, 
English, and Scott slept the " sleep that knows 
no waking." Bill Willoughbj, a suspected mem- 
ber of Harper's gang, was Bob's only companion. 

The New Year was approaching. The good 
wives and daughters, in accordance with usual 
custom, proposed that it should be celebrated by 
a ball, — a proposition to which the other sex 
joyfully acceded. Extensive preparations were 
made for the supper and the ball-room attract- 
ively decorated. Cynthia made known to Bob 
her desii-e to go. He said in reply, " You shall 
go, and be respected hke a decent woman ought 
to be." So he asked Willoughby to take his 
" woman to the ball, and," said he, " if things 
don't go right, just report to me." Cynthia 
assented to the arrangement, and Willoughby 
promised compliance. The guests had arrived 
when Cynthia, hanging on the arm of Wil- 
loughby, made her appearance. Scowls and 
sneers met them on every hand. A general com- 
motion took place among the ladies. In little 
groups of five or six, scattered throughout the 

152 Desertion of Alining Canijys. 

room, they whispered to each other then- deter- 
mination to leave if Cynthia were permitted to 
remain. The managers held a consultation, and 
Willoughby was told that he must take Cynthia 
home. No alternative presenting, he obeyed. 

The gentlemen present were prepared to meet 
any further disturbance, but none occurred, and 
the ball passed off pleasantly. The next day 
Cherokee Bob marshalled his forces to aveng-e 
the insult, but was restrained by the evident 
preparation with which the citizens anticipated 
his design. He and his companions swaggered 
around town flourishing their pistols and bowie- 
knives, boasting of their prowess, but careful of 
giving personal offence. It would have been 
well for them had their resentment cooled here, 
but Bob's malice was not to be satisfied so 
easily. Two days had passed, and Cynthia's 
humiliation was unavenged. Before the close 
of another it must be propitiated with blood. 
Accordingly, the next morning it was agreed 
between Bob and Willoughby that they would 
precipitate the battle. 

The most efficient leader of the citizens Avas a 
saloon keeper by the name of Williams, famil- 
iarly called " Jakey." He was an athletic man, 
and a determined enemy of the robbers, by 

Desertion of Mining Camps. 153 

whom he was held in great fear. He had been 
the hero of more than one desperate affray, and 
was regarded l)y Bob and Willoughby as the 
only obstacle m the way of tlieir bloody project 
to kill the managers of the ball. The first act, 
therefore, in their contemplated tragedy was to 
dispose of him. " Jakey " at first sought to 
avoid them. They pursued him from house 
to house, till, tired of fleeing, he finally declared 
he would go no farthei'. Returning by a circuit- 
ous path, he was overtaken and fired upon by his 
pursuers while entering his saloon. He fired in 
return, and springing back, seized a loaded shot- 
gun, aud rushed into the street. Meantime, 
several citizens joined in the fight, which soon 
became general. The ruffians found themselves 
contending against fearful odds. Willoughby 
was slowly retreating with his face to his assail- 
ants, and firing as rapidly as possible. Cherokee 
Bob was pursuing the same strategy in an 
opposite direction. The twelfth fire exhausted 
Willoughby's pistols. He turned to run, with 
"Jakey" in full pursuit. Exhausted from loss 
of blood, which was pouring from sixteen wounds, 
he soon fell, and, throwing up his hands, ex- 
claimed to one of his pursuers who was in the 
act of firing : — 

154 Desertion of Mining Camps. 

" For God's sake, don't shoot any more. I'm 
dying now," and surrendered himself to death. 

Bob beat a retreat at the first fire. Dodging 
behind a corner, where his head only was 
exposed, he fired upon his pursuers until his 
pistols were nearly empty. While aiming for 
another shot, a ball fired from an opposite win- 
dow brought him to the earth, mortally wounded. 
He was taken to his saloon, and died the third 
day after the affray, in the full, and to him, con- 
solatory belief that he had killed " Jakey " Wil- 
liams at the first fire of his revolver. He had a 
brother Hving at Lewiston. His last words were, 
" Tell my brother I have killed my man and 
gone on a long hunt." His real name was 
Henry Talbert. 

Cynthia was now without a protector. At his 
request she soon joined her old lover, Bill May- 
field, at Boise. This reunion was destined to be 
of short duration. The following spring May- 
field went to Placerville, Idaho, for a brief so- 
journ. A quarrel over a game of cards sprung 
up between him and one Evans. Mayfield drew 
his revolver, intending to settle it by a fatal shot, 
but Evans interposed : — 

" I'm not heeled" — the mountain phrase for 
" I am not armed." 

Desertion of Mining Camps. 155 

" Then go and heel yourself," said May field, 
sheathing- his revolver, " and look out the next 
time you meet me, for I'm bound to kill you at 
sight. One of us must die." 

The next day, while Mayfield and two friends 
were walking in the suburbs, they came upon a 
muddy spot, across which a narrow plank had 
been laid. This necessitated crossins: it in sinjrle 
file. Mayfield was in the centre. Evans was in 
a cabin beside the crossing-, but a few feet dis- 
tant. Seizing a double-barrelled shotgun, he fired 
upon Mayfield from his place of concealment, 
through an open window. Mayfield grasped for 
his revolver, but fell without power to draw it, 
exclaiming- " I'm shot." He died in two hours, 
illustrating in his demise the Scriptural axiom, 
" with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured 
to you again." Evans was immediately arrested, 
but escaped from jail that night, and being fur- 
nished with a horse by a friend, fled the country, 
and was never apprehended. 

After Mayfield's death Cynthia entered upon 
that career of promiscuous infamy which is the 
certain destiny of all women of her class. It is 
written of her that " she has been the cause of 
more personal collisions and estrangements than 
anv other woman in the Rockv Mountains." 

lo6 Boone Helm^ 



BooxE Helm — His Early Life — Murders Shoot 
IN Missouri — Tried and coxvicted, axd es- 
capes BY Stratagem to California — Kills 
Several Persons and flees to Dalles — 
Attempts a Journey on Horseback across 
THE Territories to Camp Floyd in Utah — 
Disasters by the AYay — Cannibalism — John 
W. Powell's Letter — Murder at Salt Lake 
— Returns to Washington Territory — Fights 


Frazer River and taken to British Colum- 
bia — Suspected of killing and eating his 
Comrade — Confined in Penitentiary at Port- 
land — The Helm Brothers — Coolness of " Old 
Tex " — Helps Boone on his Trial — Buys up 
Witnesses — Boone acquitted and goes to P)0ise. 

Some men are villains by nature, others 
become so by circumstances. Hogarth's series 
of pictures representing- in contrast the career o£ 
two apprentices illustrate this truth better than 
words. Both commenced life under the same in- 
fluences. The predominance of good and evil 

Boone Helm. 157 

is exhibited by the natural tendency of one to 
overcome all unfavorable circumstances by close 
application to business, and by virtuous associa- 
tions, and of the other to idleness, vicious indul- 
gences, and corrupt companionship. The one 
becomes Lord Mayor of London, and in the dis- 
charge of official duty passes sentence of death 
upon the other. 

The wretch I am now about to introduce to 
the reader was one of those hideous monsters 
of depravity whom neither precept nor example 
could have saved from a life of crime. Boone 
Helm was a native of Kentucky. His parents 
emigrated to one of the newest settlements in 
Missouri while he was a boy. The rough pur- 
suits of border-life were cono-enial to his tastes. 
He excelled in feats of physical strength, and 
delighted in nothing more than a quarrel which 
brought his jjrowess into full display. He was 
an inordinate drinker, and when excited by 
liquor gave way to all the evil passions of his 
nature. One of the exploits recorded of him 
was that of hurling his bowie-knife into the 
ground and regaining it with his horse at full 
speed. On one occasion, while the circuit court 
was in session, the sheriff attempted to arrest 
him. Helm resisted the officer, but urging his 

158 Boone Helm. 

horse up the stairs into the court-room, astonished 
the judge by demanding with profane emphasis 
what he wanted of him. 

In the year 1848 he married a respectable 
girl, but neither her affection nor the infant 
daughter born to him a year later could prevail 
with him to abandon his vicious and profligate 
habits. His wife sought security from his ill- 
treatment in divorce, which was readily granted. 
This freed him from family responsibilities, and 
he at once determined to emigrate either to Texas 
or California. Littlebury Shoot, a neighbor, 
while Helm Avas intoxicated, had, for pacific pur- 
poses, promised to accompany him, — intending 
when he was sober to avoid the fulfilment of the 
promise by explanation. Helm was told of his 
intention. He called upon Shoot, who had re- 
tired, and meeting him at the door of his house, 
with his left hand on his shoulder, in a friendly 
tone thus addressed him : — 

" So, Littlebury, you've backed down on the 
Texas question, have you ? " 

Shoot attempted an explanation, but was 
stopped by the peremptory demand : — 

"Well, are you going or not? Say yes or no." 


At the utterance of this reply. Helm buried his 

Boone Helm. 159 

bowie-knife in the breast of the unfortunate man, 
who, without a struggle, fell dead at his feet. 
Mounting his horse immediately, he rode away. 
The brother of the victim and a few resolute 
friends followed in pursuit. They tracked him 
through several neighborhoods and captured him 
by surprise at an Indian reservation, and returned 
him to Monroe county for trial. He was con- 
victed of murder ; but his conduct was such 
while in confinement as to raise serious doubts of 
his sanity. After his conviction, under the ad- 
vice of physicians, he was consigned to the lunatic 
asylum, his conduct meantime being that of a 
quiet, inoffensive lunatic. His keeper, finding him 
harmless, indulged him so far as to accompany 
him on daily walks into the country siu'rounding 
the institution. On one occasion, on some urgent 
pretence. Helm asked permission to enter a willow 
copse, which was readily granted. Afterwards 
the desire to enter this copse whenever he ap- 
proached it seemed to take the form of mania. 
Suspecting no ulterior design, his keeper indulged 
him. One day, meeting a friend near the spot, 
the keeper, during Helm's absence, engaged in 
conversation. Time passed unnoticed at first, but 
as the stay of Helm was prolonged, the keeper, 
fearing" some accident had befallen him, made a 

IGO Boone HeJm. 

rajDid search through the thicket. But the bird 
had Bown. His stratagem was successful. He 
was never afterward seen in Missouri, but upon 
his escape he fled immediately to California. Sev- 
eral persons were killed by him while there, in 
personal rencontre. At length he committed act- 
ual murder, but escaped arrest by flight. In the 
spring of 1858 he arrived at Dalles, Oregon. 
Fearful of a requisition for his return to Califor- 
nia, Helm, in company with Dr. Wm. H. Groves, 

Elijah Burton, Wm. Fletcher, John Martin, 

Field, and McGranigan, attempted a journey 

on horseback to Camp Floyd, Utah, sixty miles 
south-west of Salt Lake City, by way of Fort Hall. 
A ride of several days brought them to the Grand 
Ronde river. During that time they had become 
sufficiently acquainted with each other to banish 
all thos9 feelings of distrust natural among stran- 
gers in a new country. Helm, who to his criminal 
qualities added the usual concomitant of being a 
hjud-mouthed braggart, while narrating his exploits 
said in a boastful tone to McGranigan : — 

" Many's the poor devil I've killed, at one time 
or another, — and the time has been that I've 
been obliged to feed on some of 'em." 

" Yes," replied McGranigan, casting a sinister 
glance at Groves, " and we'll have more of that 
feasting yet." 

Boone Selm. 161 

The cold sincerity with which these words were 
uttered struck a chill to the heart of Groves, 
which experienced no relief when a few moments 
afterwards Helm proposed a plan for organizing a 
band of Snake Indians, and returning with them 
on a predatory excursion against the Walla Wallas. 

'' The Walla Wallas," said he, " own about four 
thousand horses. With such a band of Snakes as 
we can easily organize for the enterprise, we can 
run off two thousand of the best of those animals, 
and after dividing with the Indians, take ours to 
Salt Lake and dispose of them to advantage." 

Groves, who had heard enough to satisfy him 
that a longer stay with this company would be 
accompanied by risks for which he had neither 
inclination nor fitness, mounted his horse at a late 
hour that night, and spurred back to the Dalles 
as rapidly as possible. On his arrival he sent 
intellioence to the chief of the Walla Wallas of 
Helm's contemplated foray, warning them to keep 
a careful watch upon their horses. His plans be- 
ing frustrated. Helm remained in the vicinity till 
autumn, when, in company with his five compan- 
ions, he continued his journey to Camp Floyd. 
Five hundred miles of this route lay through a 
wilderness of mountains, unmarked by a trail and 
filled with hostile Indians. It was late in October 

162 Boone Hehn-. 

when the party left Grand Ronde river. The 
mountains were covered with snow. Cold weather 
had set in for a season whose only chanoes for 
the next six months would be a steady increase of 
severities. The thermometer, seldom above, often 
marked a temperature thirty or forty degrees be- 
low zero in the mountains. The passes were snowed 
up to the depths of twenty and thirty feet. Wild 
game, however abundant in summer, had re- 
treated to the forests and fastnesses for food and 
shelter. Snow-storms and sharp winds were blind- 
ing and incessant. Deep ravines, lofty mountains, 
beetUng crags, and dismal caiions, alternated with 
impenetrable pine forests, inaccessible lava beds, 
and impassable torrents, encumbered every inch of 
the way. Death on the scaffold or escape through 
this terrible labyrinth gave the alternative small 
advantage of the penalty. Small as it was, Helm 
and his companions took the risk and plunged 
into the mountain wilderness. He alone escaped. 

In the absence of other narratives of this 
remarkable adventure, I record his own, as detailed 
to John W. Powell in April of the following 
year. Mr. Powell says : — 

" N. P. Langford, 

"Dear Sir : On the 10th of April, 1859, 
I was on my way from Fort Owen, Bitter Root 

B'jone Helm. 163 

valley, to Salt Lake City. My party consisted of 
one American named James Misinger, a Frencli- 
man called ' Grand Maison,' a French half-breed 
named Antoine, and three Indians. 

"I had crossed the Snake river just above 
Fort Hall, pitched my lodge, and was entering 
to indulge in a brief sleep, when I heard some 
one outside ask in a loud tone of voice, ' Who 
owns this shebang ? ' Stepping to the door and 
looking out, I saw a tall, cadaverous, sunken-eyed 
man standing over me, dressed in a dirty, dilapi- 
dated coat and shirt and drawers, and moccasins 
so worn that they could scarcely be tied to his 
feet. Having invited him in and inquired his 
business, he told me substantially the follow- 
ing : — 

'' His name was Boone Helm. In company 
with five others he had left Dalles City, Oregon, 
in October, 1858, intending to go to Camp Floyd, 
Utah Territory. Having reached the Raft river, 
they were attacked by a party of Digger Indians, 
with whom they maintained a runnhig fight for 
sjveral miles, but none of the party was killed 
or severely wounded. Late in the evening they 
reached the Bannack river, where they camped, 
picketed their horses near by, and stationed two 
sentinels. During the nijilit one of the sentinels 

164 Boone Helm. 

was killed, the savage who committed the deed 
escaping on a horse belonging to the party. 

'' Upon consnltation, it was decided that thev 
had better leave that jjlaco as soon as jiossible. 
The sky at the time was overcast with storm- 
clouds, and soon after they got into their saddles 
the weather culminated in a snow-storm, which 
increased in violence until it became terrific. 
Finally, being unable to see anything but sheets 
of snow, they became -bewildered, and knew not 
in what direction they were jiroceeding. Morn- 
ing brought no relief. In the midst of an ocean 
of snow, they were as oblivious of locality in day- 
light as if total darkness had encompassed them. 
They knew they were somewhere between Ross's 
Fork and the Bear river, and this was their most 
definite knowledge. 

" At last they reached Soda Springs on Bear 
river, where familiar landmarks came in view. 
They then travelled up that river until they 
reached Thomas's fork, where they were forced to 
stop, from the lean and exhausted condition of 
their horses and the depth of the snow. Here 
they found a very comfortable cabin, and perforce 
Avent into winter quarters. 

" Their provisions soon being all gone they 
commenced subsisting on their horses, killing one 

Boone Helm. 165 

after another, until they had eaten them all but a 
celebrated race-horse which had been valued on 
the Upper Columbia at over a thousand dollars. 
Seeing' now that they must all perish unless they 
soon reached a point where supplies could be 
obtained, the race-horse had to share the fate of 
the others. His meat was ' jerked ' or hastily 
dried, that they might the more conveniently 
carry it on their backs. They then made snow- 
shoes of the hides of the horses, and started back 
towards, and aimed to reach. Fort Hall, where 
they supposed they would meet with human 
beings of some kind, Avhite men, half-breeds, or 

" The party kept together until they had got 
beyond Soda Springs, where some had become so 
exhausted they could scarcely travel, — and their 
meat getting frightfully small in amount. Helm 
and a man named Burton concluded not to en- 
danger their own lives by waiting for the wearied 
ones, so they left them behind. 

^^ The two finally reached the Snake river, and 
moved down it in search of Fort Hall, having 
nothing to eat but the prickly -pear plant. When 
they had reached the site of Cantonment Loring, 
Burton, starving, weary, and snow-blind, was un- 
able to proceed ; and a good vacant house being 

166 Boone Helm. 

there, Helm left him, and continued on for Fort 

" Reaching the fort, he found it without an 
occupant. He then returned and reached Burton 
about da k. When out in the willows hard by, 
procuring- firewood, he heard the report of a 
pistol. Running back into the house, he found 
Burton had committed suicide by shooting him- 
self. He then concludod to try and find his 
way into Salt Lake valley Cutting off, well up 
in the thigh. Burton's remaining leg (he had 
eaten the other), he rolled the limb uj) in an old 
red flannel shirt, tied it across his shoulder, and 

" About eight miles out he met an Indian going 
in his lodge. He entreated the savage to take 
him along; but the Indian said he had nothing 
himself to eat, and that his family were starving. 
Helm exhibited handfuls of gold coin, when the 
Indian consented to his accomj^anying him. 

" He remained at this lodge about two weeks, 
paying the Indian ten dollars a meal. His food 
consisted of ants and an unpalatable herb, called 
in the mountains the ' tobacco plant.' 

" The above facts Helm gave me with tears in 
his eyes, and s.iid, ' I will give you all I have in 
the world, ~ which is onlv nine dollars, — to take 

Boone Helm. 167 

me to the settlements.' I told him I did not 
desire money for helping a man in his condition. 

"That same evening the Indian with whom 
Helm had been stopping, visited me. His name 
was Mo-quip. I had known him for several 
years. He fully corroborated Helm's story, in 
regard to the carrying and eating the body 
of" his companion. 'When I first tasted of the 
flesh,' said Mo-quip in his own tongue, ' I knew 
not what it was, but told the stranger it was 
hueno * game, — better than I had myself. The 
stranger then took hold of one of the corners of 
a red shirt that was around his pack, and jerked 
it up, when a white man's leg, the lower end 
ragged from gnawing, rolled out on the ground.' 
Ahogether Helm had paid Mo-quip two hundred 
and eighty dollars. 

" Havincr crjven him a new suit of buckskin, 
and furnished him with a horse, he set out with 
my party for Salt Lake City. Just after pitching 
my lodge the first evening after starting with him, 
' Grand Maison,' very much frightened, came to 
me with a sack of gold coin which he said Helm 
had asked him to conceal until they reached Salt 
Lake City. I took the money and counted it — 
it amounted to fourteen hundred dollars. 

" Though satisfied there was something wrong, 

* Good. 

168 Boone Helm. 

I said nothing, and took Helm on to the set- 
tlements. Havmg ascertained in the meantime 
that he was the worst kind of a desperado, I 
called him to me as soon as we had reached the 
end of the journey, and handed him his money, 
saying, ' You can now take care of yourself.' He 
coolly put the coin in his pocket, without express- 
ing a syllable of thankfulness for the assistance I 
had rendered him. 

" It was not long until he had squandered 
all he had in gambling and drinking, and was 
finally expelled from Salt Lahe v.illey for his 

" Hoping these facts may be of service to you, 
allow me to subscribe myself, 

" Your obt. servant, 

"John W. Powell." 

We have good reason for believing that before 
Helm fled from Salt Lake City he murdered, in 
cold blood, two citizens, at the instigation of some 
of the leading Mormons, who, after the deed was 
done, concealed him, and finally aided in his 
escape from arrest. Certain it is, that after leav- 
ing there, he travelled through southern Utah, 
and by a long circuit reached San Francisco, from 
whence he returned by water to the Dalles in 

Boone Helm. 169 

Here he engaged in fresli villainies. Several 
murders which were committed along: the route 
leading from the Columbia river to the gold 
mines were laid to his charge. At one time, in 
Washington Territory, he stole a herd of horses 
which he sold at Vancouver's Island. In this 
course of varied and hardened crime he passed 
his time till the spring of 1862, — with his usual 
good fortune escaping detection or arrest. In 
June of that year he made his appearance in 
Florence, where he soon found, among the 
roughs, congenial associates. 

A man of that mixed character which united 
the qualities of a gambler, a skilful pugilist, and 
an honest, straightforward miner in his single 
person, known only as "Dutch Fred," at this 
time enjoyed a local notoriety in Florence which 
had won for him among his comrades the appella- 
tion of " Chief." He was neither a rowdy nor 
desperado, and in ordinary deal, honest and 
generous; but he gambled, drank, and when 
roused, was a perfect Hercules in a fight. Helm 
having been plied with liquor, at the request of 
an enemy of Fred's sought him out for the pur- 
pose of provoking a fight. Entering the saloon 
where Fred was seated at a faro table. Helm, with 
many oaths and epithets and flourishes of hie 

170 Boone Helm. 

revolver, challenged Fred to an immediate deadly 
combat. Fred sprung up, drew his knife, and 
was advancing to close Avith the drunken brag- 
o-art, when the bystanders interfered, and de- 
prived both of their weapons, which they entrusted 
to the keeping of the saloon-keeper, and Fred 
returned quietly to his game. 

Helm apologized, and expressed regret for his 
conduct, and left the saloon. A few hours after- 
wards he returned. Fred was still there. Step- 
ping up to the saloon-keeper. Helm asked for his 
revolver, promising that he would immediately 
depart and make no disturbance. No sooner was 
it returned to him than he turned towards Fred, 
and uttering a diabolical oath, fired at him while 
seated at the table. The ball missed, and before 
the second fire, Fred, unarmed, with his arms 
folded across his breast, stood before his antago- 
nist, who, with deadlier aim, pierced his heart. 
He fell dead upon the spot. Helm cocked his 
pistol, and looking towards the stupefied crowd, 
exclaimed, — 

" Maybe some more of you want some of 

this ! " 

As no one deigned a reply, he walked coolly 


If Helm was arrested for this murder, he 

Boone Helm. I'l 

escaped: for the next we hear of him he was 
captured on Frazer river in the fall of 1862, as 
will appear from the following extract from a 
British Columbia paper : — 

" The man, Boone Helm, to whom Ave referred 
some weeks since, has at last been taken. He 
was brought into this city last night strongly 
ironed. The first clue of the detectives was the 
report that two men had been seen trudging up 
the Frazer river on foot, with their blankets and 
a scanty supply of provisions on their backs. The 
description of one corresponded with the descrip- 
tion given by the American ofBcers of Boone 
Heim^ Helm's conduct on the road is conclusive 
evidence that he was aware he was being pursued. 
He passed around the more populous settlements, 
or through them in the night time. When over- 
taken, he was so exhausted by fatigue and hunger 
that it would have been impossible for him to 
have continued many hours longer. He made no 
resistance to the arrest, — in fact, he was too 
weak to do so, — and acknowledged without 
equivocation or attempt at evasion that he was 
Boone Helm. Upon being asked what had be- 
come of his companion, he replied with the utmost 
sang fr old : — 

" ' Why, do you suppose that I'm a fool 

172 Boone Hehn. 

enough to starve to death when I can help it ? I 
ate him up, of course.' 

" The man who accompanied him has not been 
seen or heard of since, and from what we have 
been told of this case-hardened villain's antece- 
dents, we are inclined to believe he told the truth. 
It is said this is not the first time he has been 
guilty of cannibalism." 

While on his return for trial in the spring of 
1863, leave was obtained from the proper author- 
ities at Portland, Oregon, to confine him in the 
penitentiary there until provision could be made 
to secure him safely at Florence. There I will 
leave him for the present, as, after accompanying 
me thus far throuoh the horrible narrative of his 
adventures, my readers doubtless, now that he is 
fairly within the sharp fangs of the law, hope 
soon to learn that justice has finally overtaken 
him, and that the world is freed from his further 

Three brothers of Boone Helm came to the 
Pacific coast between 1848 and 1850. They all 
died violent deaths. At the time of the return of 
Boone Helm to Florence for trial for the murder 
of " Dutch Fred," one of these brothers, familiarly 
called " OVl Tex," was engaged in mining in 
the Boise diggings, two hundred miles south of 

Boojic IL'hn. 173 

Florence. He had a good reputation for honesty, 
Hberality, and courage. He was, moreover, a 
man of eccentric character. It is told of him 
that in one of the mining towns he threatened to 
shoot on sight a person with whom he had a per- 
sonal difficulty. His enemy hearing of this, swore 
to reciprocate the intention upon the first oppor- 
tunity. A chance soon after offering to carry his 
threat into execution, he said to " Old Tex," as 
he presented his pistol to fire, — 

" Tex, I heard that you said that you'd shoot 
me on sight." 

Looking around, " Tex " replied, " Well, didn't 
you say you would shoot mc, too?" 

" Yes, I did." 

" Well, why don't you do it then ? All you've 
got to do is to pull that trigger, and that's the last 
of ' Old Tex.' " 

This stoical bravery won the admiration of the 
man and defeated his bloody purpose. 

" Tex," said he, " I don't want to kill you." 

" Do you mean that ? " asked " Tex." 

"I do." 

" That suits me," replied " Tex," " let's go and 
take a drink." And thus their enmity ended in 
making them fast friends. " Tex " was killed by 
beino- thrown from a wild horse, in Walla Walla, 
in the year 1865. 

174 Booyie Helm. 

It was to this brother that Boone Helm, when 
he found all hope of escape at an end, applied for 
assistance. True to the fraternal instinct, " Tex " 
promptly responded, and soon made his appear- 
ance in Florence, with a heavy purse. He soon 
satisfied himself that unless the testimony could be 
suppressed, the trial must result in conviction ; 
and to this object he immediately addressed him- 
self. Some of the witnesses had left the country. 
" Tex " succeeded in buying up all that remained, 
except one. He wanted an extravagant sum. 
" Tex " finally agreed to pay it, if he would at 
once leave the country and never return. The 
extortionist accepted the conditions. Fixing his 
cold, gray eye on him, '' Tex," as he handed him 
the money, said : " Now, remember, if you do 
not fulfil the last condition of the bargain, you 
will have me to meet." 

Shylock knew the character of the man tocf well 
to trifle with him. 

The day of trial came, no witnesses appeared, 
the case was dismissed, and the red-handed mur- 
derer and cannibal was again at liberty to prowl 
for fresh victims. The true-hearted brother who 
had purchased his life, as soon as he was free, took 
him kindly by the hand, and in a voice choked 
with emotion, said to him, — 

Boone Helm. 175 

" Now, Boone, if you want to work and make an 
honest livino- o-o down to Boise with me. I have 
plenty of mining ground, and you can do well for 
yourself: — hut if you must fight, and nothing- 
else will do you, I will give you an outfit to go 
to Texas, where you can join the Confederate 
armies, and do something for your country." 

Boone accompanied his hrother to Boise, and 
for a while eno-ao-ed in minino- but it was not a 
congenial occupation. He soon signified his desire 
to go to Texas, and " Old Tex," true to his 
promise, furnished him clothing, a horse, and a 
well-filled purse. He set out in quest of new 
adventures, but, as we shall see hereafter, did not 
go to Texas. 

170 Charley Harper, 



Charlet Harper at Colville — New Year's Ball — 
Kicks and abuses a Womax — Is pursued by the 
People, UPON whom he fires — Captured and hung 
— Vigilantes of Florence banish '' Fat Jack " — 
He returns, is warned, and leaves Town — Stops 
at IsTeselrode's Cabin — Company fire upon the 
Cabin — Kill Neselrode and "Fat Jack" — Who 
to blame. 

We return now to Charley Harper, whom we 
left at Colville on the Upper Columbia, a fugitive 
from the Vioilantes of Florence. Fear had exer- 
cised a healthful restraint upon his conduct, and 
during the brief period that had elapsed since his 
flight, though by no means a model citizen, he 
had been guilty of no offences of an aggravated 
character. He was, however, known to be a 
favorite with the roughs, a gambler, a drunkard, 
and a man of desperate resources. Good men 
shunned and watched him. Had there been a 
Vigilante organization in existence then, he 
would have received its closest observation. But 

Chrrleij Harper. 177 

ill a condition of society where all classes iiiter- 
miiiglecl, he contrived to slip along without 

New Yearns Day brought with it the customary 
ball, to Avhich all were invited. Tlie preparations 
were on a scale commensurate with the wishes and 
means of the miners, who generally, upon such 
occasions, spare no expense while their money 
holds out. Everybody in the town was in at- 
tendance, Charley Harper among the numbei 
Attracted at an early hour of the evening by the 
sparkhng eyes and voluptuous person of a half- 
breed woman, he devoted to her his entire atten- 
tion, dancing with her often, and bestowing upon 
her many unmistaken civilities. As the evening 
wore on, Charley became boisterous, swaggering, 
and noisy. His inamorata declined his further 
attentions, and refused his hand for a dance. In- 
censed to madness by this act, crazy with liquor, 
he knocked her down, and beat and kicked her 
in a most inhuman manner after she had been 
prostrated. This roused the indignation of the 
by-standers, and Charley, seeing vengeance in 
their demonstrations, fled in terror before them. 
They pursued him through the streets, he retreat- 
ing and firing upon them until he had emptied 
his revolver The pursuit ended in his capture. 

178 (liarley Harper. 

a roj)e was procured, and in a few moments after- 
wards the lifeless form of the wretched desperado 
was swinging in the cold night wind from the 
liml) of the tree nearest the place of his arrest. 
Thus ended the life of one who, among his own 
associates, bore the name of being the meanest 
scoundrel of their gang. 

After the affray which terminated in the death 
of " Cherokee Bob " and Wilioughby, the Vigi- 
lantes of Florence met, passed congratulatory reso- 
lutions, and renewed their measures for the effec- 
tual suppression of crime in their midst. Their 
Executive Committee was instructed to warn all 
suspicious characters to leave the place immedi- 
ately, — and they determined to visit with con- 
dign punishment those who disobeyed. The lead- 
ing men among the offenders had fled in anticipa- 
tion of some public demonstration, so that those 
who remained were few and ]30werless. Among 
these was a tall, lean, cadaverous individual, de- 
risively called " Fat Jack," who, like " Happy 
Harry," belonged to that class of negative scoun- 
drels, whose love for crime is confined by fear to 
petty thefts. " Fat Jack " obeyed the order to 
leave, and went to Walla Walla. Brooding over 
his expulsion with increasing indignation, and en- 
couraged in the belief that he could return with- 

Charleij Harper. 179 

out molestation, after a short period he went back 
to Florence, muttering by the way violent threats 
asrainst those who had banished him. Two 
months had elapsed since his hegira. It was late 
in the afternoon of a cold, stormy, March day 
when he entered the town. At his first appear- 
ance he was promptly waited upon by the mem- 
bers of the Executive Committee, who ordered 
him to retrace his steps at once, or he would be 
hanged. Hard as this order may seem to the 
casual reader, to have neglected it would have 
endangered the efficiency of the committee and 
opened a way for a return of the roughs to their 
old haunts. 

Tlie poor wretch turned his face to the storm, 
and wandered through the darkness, sleet, and 
wind, despairingly, from cabin to cabin, in search 
of food and lodging. Every door was closed 
against him, and he was rudely and unpityingly 
told to "^ Be gone," by all from whom he sought 
relief. At a distance of four miles from Florence 
he stopped at a late hour of the night at the door 
of a worthy man by the name of Neselrode. Jack 
answered frankly the old man's questions. Nesel- 
rode admitted him, gave him supper, and a bed 
by his cabin fireside. A hired man was the only 
other occupant of the house. 

180 Charley Hatyer. 

At a later hour of the night, two men roused 
Mr. Neseh'ode, and demanded the person of " Fat 
Jack." Neseh^ode, on being told that they had 
no authority, refused to surrender him to an irre- 
sponsible party, as to do so would be on his part 
a violation of the laws of hospitality. His refusal 
was followed by the instant discharge of two 
double-barrelled shot-guns which riddled the door 
with buckshot, and stretched in death-throes both 
the kind-hearted host and his criminal guest. 
The one surviving man threw open the door, and 
bade the dastardly ruffians to enter, telling them 
the murderous effects of their shots. They availed 
themselves of the darkness to flee without recog- 
nition. None of the citizens of Florence were 
more indignant when told of this cruel assassina- 
tion than the Vigilantes themselves. A meeting 
was held denouncing the perpetrators, and pledg- 
ing the citizens to the adoption of every possible 
means for their early detection and punishment, 
Alas! the criminals remain to this day undis- 
covered. They belonged, doubtless, to that class 
of officious individuals, of whom there are many 
in the mining camps, who in point of moral char- 
acter and actual integrity are but a single remove 
from the criminals themselves, — men who live a 
cheating, gambling, dissipated life, and seek a 

Charley Harper. 181 

cover for their own iniquities by the energy and 
vindictiveness with which they pursue others ac- 
cused of actual guilt. If the various protective 
societies which at one time and another have 
sprung up in the mining regions to preserve 
peace and good order are liable to any charge of 
wrong, it was their neglect to punish those men 
who used the organization to promote their own 
selfish purposes, and in the name of Vigilante jus- 
tice committed crimes wdiich on any principle of 
ethics were w^holly indefensible. The fact that in 
some instances wrongs of this kind have occurred, 
only adds to the proof, that in all forms of 
society, whether governed by permanent or tem- 
porary laws, there are always a few who are 
adroit and cunning enough to escape merited 

182 Pinkham and Patterson. 



Character of Pinkham — His Birthplace — Hi? 
Life iJf California — Goes to Florence — Is 
appointed U. 8. Marshal of Idaho — Character 
OF Patterson — He kills Staples — Is acquitted 
of Murder — Difference in the Characters of 
the Two Men — Pinkham arrests Patterson — 
They meet at Warm Springs —Patterson kills 
Pinkham — Patterson arrested by Robbins — 
Patterson's Cruelty — Organization of Vigi- 
j^Aj^-xES — Confronted by a Sheriff's Posse — 
Vigilantes disband — Trial of Patterson — 
Acquittal — Goes to Walla Walla — Is killed 
by Donahue. 


No two men filled a broader space in the early 
history of the Florence mines than Pinkham and 
Patterson. Their personal characteristics gave 
them a wide-spread notoriety, and a sort of local 
popularity, which each enjoyed in his separate 
siohere. They were both leaders, after their own 
fashion, in the heterogeneous society in which they 
moved, and he was deemed a bold man who would 
gainsay their opinions, or resist their enterprises. 

Poikham and Pattirson. 183 

Tliej were both gamblers, and lived the free 
and easy life of that pursuit ; a pursuit which, 
in a new mining camp, next to that of absolute 
ruffianism, enabled its votaries to exercise a power 
as unlimited as it is generally lawless and insur- 
rectionary. Indeed, th-re, it is the master vice, 
which gives life and support to all the other vices, 
and that surrounds and hedo-es them in. 

The order of influences which govern and 
direct the social element of a mining camp in 
its infancy are exactly the reverse of those 
which govern and direct the social element of an 
Eastern village. The clergyman, the church, and 
the various little associations growing out of it, 
which make the society of our New England vil- 
lages so delightful, and, at the same time, so 
disciphnary and instructive, are superseded in a 
minnig community by the gambling saloon, cheap 
whiskey, frail women, and all the evils necessarily 
flowing from such polluted combinations. In the 
one case, religion and morality stand in the fore- 
ground, protected by the spirit of wise and in- 
flexible laws ; in the other, the rifle, the pistol, and 
the bowie-knife are flourished by reckless men, 
whose noblest inspirations are excited by liquor 
and debauchery. While all that is good and true 
and pure in society is brought nito unceasing 

184 Pinkham and Patterson. 

action in the one case, all that is vile and false 
and polluted reigns supreme in the other. We 
look to the one condition of society for all great 
and good examples of humanity, and to the other 
for such as are of an opposite character. 

If we are to credit the early history of New 
England, Miles Standish was a central character 
of Puritanic chivalry and fidelity. The peoj)le 
had faith in his Christian character, and entire 
confidence in his strong arm and fertility of 
expedients in the hour of danger. Some such 
sentiment, qualified by the wide difference in the 
moral character of the two men, attached the 
mining community of Florence to Pinkham. He 
was a bold, outspoken, truthful, self-reliant man, 
without a particle of braggadocio or bluster, care- 
ful always to say what he meant, and to do Avhat 
he said. Fear was a stranger to him, and des- 
perate chances never found him without desper- 
ate means. 

Pinkham was a native of Maine, and physi- 
cally a fine type of the stalwart New Englander. 
In stature he was more than six feet, and in 
weight upwards of two hundred pounds. To 
the agility of a mountain cat he added the quick, 
sharp eye of an Indian and the strength of a 
giant. Trained by years of frontier exposure, he 

Pinkham and Patterson . 185 

was skilled in the ready use of all defensive 
weapons. When aroused, the habitual frown 
upon his brow gathered into a fierce scowl, and 
the steely gray eyes fairly blazed in their sockets. 
At such times he was dano-erous, because it was 
his custom to settle all disputes with a word and 
a blow, and the blow almost always came first. 
The intensity of his nature could not brook 

Pinkham had been an adventurer ever since 
the discovery of gold in California. He was 
among the first of that great army of fortune- 
seekers which braved the perils of an overland 
trip to that distant El Dorado in 1849. If, 
before he left his New Enoknd home, no blioht 
had fallen upon his moral nature, it is certain 
that soon after his arrival in the land of o-old 
his character took the form which it ever after- 
wards wore, of a gambler and desperado. In 
this there was nothing strange, as he was but 
one victim in a catastrophe that wrecked the 
characters of thousands. The estimate is small, 
Mdiich places at one-half the number of the early 
Pacific gold-seekers, those who fell victims to the 
moral nun of life in the mining camp. It was 
the fruitful nursery of all those desperate men, 
who, after years of bloody experience, expiated 

186 Pinkhom and Patterson, 

their crimes upon the impromptu scaffolds of the 
Vigilantes, or in some of the violent brawls 
which their own recklessness had excited. Pink- 
ham's pursuits in California were those of the 
professional gambler. At one time he kept a 
common dance-house in Marysville. It is fair, 
in the absence of facts, to presume that his life 
in the Golden State was a preparatory fore- 
o'round for the one which followed in the moun- 
tains of Washington Territory. He was among 
the first, in 1862, who were lured to that Terri- 
tory by the reports of extensive gold discoveries. 
Among the desperate, reckless, and motley crowd 
that assembled at Florence immediately after the 
discovery of the mines, was Pinkham, with his 
faro boards and monte cards, " giving the boys a 
chance for a tussle with the tiger and the leop- 
ard." It was not long until he became a central 
figure in the camp. The wild, undisciplined, 
pleasure-seeking population, attracted by the out- 
spoken boldness and self-assertion of the man, 
quietly submitted to the influence which such 
characteristics always command. And no man 
better understood his power over his followers, 
or exercised it more warily, than Pinkham. The 
reputation which he enjoyed, of being a bold, 
chivalric, fearless man, ready for any emergency, 

P'uikham and Patterson. 187 

however desperate, gained for him the favor of 
every reckless adventurer who shared in his gen- 
eral views of the race. 

Unlike most of the gamblers and roughs, who 
for the most part sympathized with the Confeder- 
ates, Pinkham was an intense Union man. He 
never lost an opportunity to proclaim his attach- 
ment for the Union cause, and denounced as 
traitors all who opposed it. No fear of personal 
injury restrained him in the utterance of his patri- 
otic sentiments, and as he always avowed a readi- 
ness to fight for them, his opponents were careful 
to afford him no opportunity. At every election 
in Idaho City after the organization of the Terri- 
tory, he was found at the polls surrounded by a set 
of plucky fellows armed to the teeth, ready at his 
command for any violent collisions with seces- 
sionists that the occasion might inspire. His tall 
form, rendered more conspicuous by the loud and 
inspiring voice with which, to the cry of " negro 
worshippers," " abolitionists," and " Lincoln hire- 
lings," he shouted back " secessionists," "copper- 
heads," " rebels," and " traitors," was always the 
centre of a circle of men who would oppose force 
to force and return shot for shot. 

On his return to Idaho City from a business 
visit to the States, a few days before the anniver- 

188 Pinkliam and Patterson. 

sary of our national independence of the year in 
which he was killed, he was so indignant that no 
preparations had been made for a celebration, that 
when the day arrived he procured a National flag, 
hired a drummer and fifer, and followed them, 
wavinof the banner, throuoh the streets of the 
town, greatly to the disgust of the secessionists. 
The South had just been conquered, and the dem- 
onstration wore the appearance of exultation, but 
no one aggrieved by it had the hardihood to 
interrupt its progress. " Old Pink," as he was 
familiarly called, was much too dangerous a char- 
acter to meddle with. 

With all his rough and desperate characteristics, 
Pinkham had no sympathy for the robbers and 
murderers and thieves which swarmed around 
him ; and when Idaho was organized the governor 
of the Territory appointed him sheriff of Boise 
County. Soon afterwards he received the appoint- 
ment of United States marshal, an office which 
made him and his friends in some measure the 
represantatives of law and order. By promptly 
discharofino: the duties of these offices, he was held 
in great fear by the criminal population of the 
Territory, and won the respect of the best citizens 
for his efficiency and fidelity. 

Patterson was a native of Tennessee, from 

PinlcTiam and Patterson. 189 

w'heiice, in boyhood, be went witb bis parents to 
Texas, and grew to manbood among tbe desperate 
and bloody men of tbat border State. His char- 
acter, tastes, and pursuits were formed by early 
association with them. He was a gambler by 
profession, but of a nature too impulsive to depend 
upon it as a means of livelihood. When he came 
to California, he turned his attention to mining, 
alternating that pursuit with gambling, as the in- 
clination seized him. Like Pinkham, he was a 
man of striking presence, — in stature six feet, 
and of weight to correspond, with a fair complex- 
ion, light hair streaked with gray, sandy whiskers, 
and, when unaffected by liquor or passion, a sad, 
reflective countenance, lit up by calm but expres- 
sive blue eyes. His habitual manner w\as that of 
quiet, gentlemanly repose; — and to one unac- 
quainted with his characteristics, he would never 
have been suspected of a fondness for any kind 
of excitgment. In conversation he was uniformly 
affable when sober, and bore the reputation of 
being a very genial and mirth-loving companion 
when engaged with others in any exploring or 
dangerous enterprise. He was brave to a fault, 
and perfectly familiar with all the exposures and 
extremes of border life, — as ready to repair the 
lock of a gun or pistol as to use those weapons in 

190 Pinkham and Patterson. 

attack or defence. His kindness and tliouo-litful- 
ness for the comfort of any of his party in the 
event of sickness, and the resources with which he 
overcame obstack's in the numerous expeditions 
of one kind and another in which he participated, 
made him a o-reat favorite with all who knew him. 
and gave him a commanding- power over the 
society in which he moved. He was naturally a 
leader of those with whom he associated. Had 
these been his only characteristics, Patterson would 
have been one of the most useful men in the min- 
ing regions, — but whiskey always transformed 
him into a demon. Patterson was not a steady 
drinker, but gave himself up to occasional seasons 
of indulofence. He was one of that laro-e class of 
drinkers who cannot indulge their appetites at all 
without going through all the stages of excite- 
ment, to complete exhaustion. From the moment 
he entered upon one of these excesses to its close, 
he was danoerous. The whole man was chanoed. 
His calm, blue eye looked like a heated furnace 
and was suggestive of a thirst for blood. His 
quiet and gentlemanly manner disappeared. His 
breath was labored, and his nostrils dilated like 
those of an enraged buffalo. He remembered, 
on these occasions, every person who hnd ever 
offended him, and sought the one nearest to 

Pinklunii <(itil Patterson. 191 

him to engage him in quarrel. His whole 
bearing- was aggressive and belligerent, and his 
best friends always avoided him until he became 

His unfortunate propensity for liquor had 
involved hiui in several serious affrays before he 
came to the Idaho mines. On one occasion, in 
Southern Oregon, a man who had suffered injury 
at his hands while on a di'unken spree, shot him 
in the side by stealth. Patterson, with the 
quickness of lightning, drew his revolver, fired 
upon and wounded his assailant. Both fell, and 
Patterson, believino; the wound he had received 
would prove fatal, fired all the remaining charges 
in his pistol at his antagonist, and then called 
for his friends to take off his boots as quickly as 
possible before he died. 

The original expression " he will die with his 
boots on some day," uttered many years ago as 
the prediction of some comical miner that a mur- 
derer would be hanged or come to his death by 
violence, has grown into a fatalistic belief among 
the reckless and bloodthirsty ruffians of the Pacific 
coast. Patterson, who shared in this faith, in- 
tended, by having his boots taken off, to signify 
to those around him that he had never been guilty 
of murder. When we consider that of the great 

192 Pinkliam and Patterson. 

number of tliose who in the early history of the 
mining' regions were guilty of murder, nineteen at 
least of every twenty have expiated their crimes 
upon the scaffold or in bloody affrays, the faith 
in this frontier axiom seems not to be greatly 
misplaced : but why it should be any more po- 
tent as a human prediction than as the stern 
edict of the Almighty denounced against the 
murderer four thousand years ago, I leave for the 
solution of tliose modern thinkers who build theii* 
belief outside the lids of the Bible. 

Another bloody rencontre in which Patterson 
was engaged was with one Captain Staples in 
Portland, Oregon. Staples, an ardent Unionist, 
boisterously patriotic from liquor, insisted that all 
around him should join in a toast to Lincoln and 
the Union arms. Patterson refused^ and an 
unpleasant altercation followed, but the parties 
separated without collision. Later in the evening 
they met, and the difficulty was renewed, and in 
the fight Staples was killed. Patterson was tried 
and acquitted ; and became, in consequence of 
the quarrel and trial, a great favorite and cham- 
pion among the secessionists of Portland. 

Some time after this, in a drunken frenzy he 
scalped a disreputable female acquaintance. His 
own version of this affair was as follows : ''' I was 

Pinhham and Patterson. 193 

trying," said he, "to cut off a lock of her hair 
with my. bowie-knife, but she wouldn't keep her 
head still, and I made a mistake, and got part of 
her scalp with the hair." For this act he was 
arrested and recognized to await the action of 
the grand jury ; but before the term of court 
he left the State, and his bondsmen were com- 
pelled to pay the forfeiture. 

Patterson came to Idaho with the first dis- 
covery of gold in that section. His fellow-gam- 
blers, wdio never failed to take advantage of his 
unskilful playing, with one hand, were always 
ready to contribute to his necessities with the 
other. If he wanted money to stock a faro bank 
they furnished it. If a saloon keeper needed 
a man who united popularity and strength to 
arrest the encroachments of the roughs, he was 
ever ready to share a liberal portion of his profits 
with Patterson for such services. The difference 
between Pinkham and Patterson was that, w^iile 
the friends of the former looked to him for aid 
in their embarrassments, those of the latter 
afforded him the means of existence. 

About a year before the occurrence of the 
bloody affray between these men, Patterson and 
some of his friends, during a period of drunken 
excitement, took unlawful possession of a brew- 

19-4 Pii:L-ham and Patterson. 

ery in Idaho City, and engaged in the mannfac- 
tnre of beer. Pinkham was the only person in 
the city brave enongh to undertake their arrest. 
When he entered the buikling for the purpose, 
he informed Patterson of his object and was 
met with violent resistance. In the struofii'le 
Pinkham was successful, and Patterson was 
arrested and taken away. The citizens, know- 
ing the character of Patterson, and expecting 
nothing less than a shooting affray as the con- 
sequence of the arrest, were surprised at his 
submission. It was soon understood, however, 
that the bad blood provoked by the incident 
had severed all friendly relations between the 
champions, and that Patterson would avail him- 
self of the first opportunity to avenge himself. 
Months passed away without any collision. The 
subject, if not forgotten, was lost sight of as 
other occurrences more or less exciting trans- 

On the day he was killed, Pinkham, Avdth an 
acquaintance, rode out to the Warm Springs, a 
favorite bathing resort two miles distant from 
Idaho City. Meeting there with several friends, 
he drank more freely than usual and became 
quite hilarious. 

Patterson returned early the same day from 

Pinkham and Patterson. 195 

Rocky Bar, fifty miles distant. Half-crazed 
from the effects of protracted indulgence in 
drinking and a severe j^ersonal encounter, his 
friends, to aid his return to sobriety, took him 
to the springs for a bath. Among others who 
accompanied him was one Terry, a vicious, un- 
principled fellow, who, in a conflict with Patter- 
son a year before, begged abjectly for his life 
when he found himself slightly wounded, and 
ever after, spaniel-like, had licked the hand that 
smote him. When they arrived, Pinkham and 
his friends were singing the popular refrain of 
"John Brown," and had just completed the 
Une — 

" We'll hang Jeff Davis on a sour apple tree," 

as Patterson and his party stepped upon the 
porch. Jefferson Davis was at that time in 
custody. With the curiosity which exercised the 
Unionists one of the singers said to Pinkham : — 

" Pink, do you think they will hang Jeff 
Davis ? " 

" Yes," replied Pinkham, " in less than six 

Hearing a step on the threshold, he turned, 
and his gaze met the heated eyes of Patterson. 
Neither spoke, or, except by vengeful looks, gave 

196 Pinkham and Patterson. 

any token of recog-nition. Patterson advanced 
to the bar. Terry crowded behind him, and 
slipped a derringer into his pocket. With an 
oath and opprobrious epithet, Patterson said, — 

" Don't mind him. He is not worth the notice 
o£ a gentleman." 

Pinkham, looking steadily at Patterson, with 
his habitual frown deepened, passed out upon 
the porch. Patterson went through the oppo- 
site door to the swimming- pond, followed by 
Terry. After they were out, he handed the 
derringer back to Terry, and jn-oceeded with 
his bath. Terry returned to the bar, and going 
around to the desk, while unobserved by Turner, 
the landlord, thrust a revolver under his coat, 
and went back to Patterson. Doubtless he told 
Patterson that Pinkham and his friends intended 
to attack him, for Patterson was observed on the 
moment to be greatly excited. Pinkham's friend, 
who knew both Patterson and Terry, told Pink- 
ham that mischief was brewing, and suggested 
their immediate return to town. 

" No," replied Pinkham, " when he insulted 
me in the bar-room, I was unarmed, but now 
I am ready for him." 

" But it is better," suggested his friend, " to 
avoid a collision. No one doubts vour courao-e." 

Pmkham and Patterson. 19'i' 

" I will not be run off by the rebel hound," 
said Pinkham. "If I were to leave, it would be 
reported that I had 'weakened' and fled from 
Patterson, and you know that I would prefer 
death in its worst form to that." 

Patterson hurried out of the bath, dressed 
himself as quickly as possible, and with the 
revolver strapped to his side, came into the bar- 
room. Calling for a drink, in a loud tone and 
with much expletive and appellative emphasis, 
his blood-drinking eyes glaring in all directions, 
he demanded to know where Pinkham had gone. 
Turner, thinking to pacify him, replied in a 
mild tone, — 

" Away, I believe." 

Pinkham at this moment was standing by a 
bannister on the porch, and engaged in con- 
versation with a friend by the name of Dunn. 
He was unapprised of Patterson's return to the 
saloon, and, from the tenor of his conversation, 
believed he would be warned of his approach. 
For the impression that each entertained of 
the other's intention to fire upon him, and that 
both were awaiting the opportunity to do so, 
these men were indebted to the mischievous inter- 
ference of those friends whose wishes were parent 
to the thought. 

198 Pinkham and Patterson. 

" I will not be run off by Patterson," said 
Pinkham, " nor do I wish that through any 
undue advantagfe he should assassinate me. All 
I ask is fair play. My pistol has only five loads 
in it. 

" Stand your ground, Pink," replied Dunn. 
" I have a loaded five-shooter, and will stand by 
you while there is a button on my coat." 

These words were scarcely uttered, when Pat- 
terson stepped from the saloon upon the porch. 
Turning to the right, he stood face to face with 
Pinkham. The fearful glare of his bloody eyes 
was met by the deepening scowl of his antag- 
onist. Hurling at him a degrading epithet, he 
exclaimed, — 

" Draw, will you? " 

"Yes," replied Pinkham with an oath, "I 
will," and drawing his revolver, poised it in 
his left hand to facilitate the speed of cocking it. 

Patterson, with the rapidity of lightning, drew 
his, cocking it in the act, and firing as he raised 
it. The bullet lodged under Pinkham's shoulder- 
blade. Pinkham received a severe nervous shock 
from the w^ound, and delivered his shot too 
soon, the bullet passing over the head of Pat- 
terson, into the roof. At Patterson's second fire 
the cap failed to explode, but before Pinkham, 

Pinkham and Patterson. 199 

who was disabled by his w^ound, could cock 
his pistol for another shot, Patterson fired a 
third time, striking Pinkham near the heart. 
He reeled down the steps of the porch, and fell 
forward upon his face, trying with his expiring 
strenofth to cock his revolver. At the first fire 
of Patterson, Dunn forgot his promise to stand 
by Pinkham. Jumping over the bannister, he 
sought refuge beneath the porch. Stealing from 
thence when the firing ceased, he ran across the 
street, where, protected by the ample trunk of 
a large pine, he took furtive observation of 
the catastrophe. Pinkham's other friend came 
from the rear of the house in time to assist 
Turner in removing his body. 

Patterson's friends, some seven or eight in 
number, well pleased with the result, but fear- 
ing for his personal safety, mounted him on a 
good horse, armed him with revolvers, and 
started him for a hurried ride to Boise City. 
Half an hour served to carry intelligence of 
the encounter to Idaho City. The excitement 
was intense. Pinkham's friends were clamorous 
for the arrest and speedy execution of Patterson ; 
those of the latter avoided a collision by keep- 
ing their own counsel, and expressing no public 
opinion in justification of the conduct of their 

200 Phikham and Patterson. 

chamj^ion. Terry and James, the instigators of 
the contest, secreted themselves, and left town 
by stealth at the first opportunity. Indeed, many 
of Patterson's friends believed that Terry intended 
that the affray should terminate differently. The 
pistol which he furnished Patterson had been 
lost, and buried in the snow the entire winter 
before the encounter, and it was supposed by 
the owner, who was afraid to fire it lest it 
should explode, that the loads were rusted. 
Terry knew of this. He stood in personal fear 
of Patterson, and bore an old ofrudo-e ao-ainst 
him. Here was his opportunity. At the second 
attempt of Patterson to fire, the pistol failed, 
and the wonder is that it went off at all. 

In less than an hour after the trao-edy, 
Robbins, an old friend and former deputy of 
Pinkham, armed with a double-barrelled shot- 
gun and revolvers, mounted his horse, and left 
town alone, in swift pursuit of Patterson. He 
was noted for bravery, and had been the hero 
of several bloody encounters. At a little wayside 
inn, seventeen miles from the city, he overtook 
the fugitive, who had stopped for supper. Pat- 
terson came to tlie door as he rode up. 

"I have come to arrest you, Ferd," said he, 
at the same time raising his gun so that it 
covered Patterson. 

Pinkham and Patterson. 201 

" All right, Robbins, if that's your object," 
replied Patterson, as he handed Robbins his 
revolver. In a few moments they started on 
their return. Before they arrived at town, sev- 
eral of the sheriff's deputies met them, and 
claimed the custody of Patterson. Robbins sur- 
rendered him, and he was taken to the county 

After the account given of the fight by 
Patterson had been circulated, the community 
became divided in sentiment, the Democrats 
generally espousing the cause of the prisoner, 
the Republicans declaring him to be a mur- 
derer. There were some exceptions. Judge 

R , a life-long Democrat, and a Tennesseean 

by birth, was very severe in his denunciation of 
Patterson. He distinguished him as the most 
marked example of total depravity he had ever 
known, and related the following incident in con- 
firmation of this opinion : — 

Several years before this time, Patterson joined 
in an expedition in Northern California, to pursue 
a band of Indians, who had been stealing horses, 
and committing other depredations upon the prop- 
erty of the settlers. The pursuers captured a 
bright Indian lad of sixteen. After tying him 
to a tree, they consulted as to what disposition 

202 PinJcham and Patterson. 

should be made of him. They were unainmoiis 

in the opinion that he should not be freed, but 

were concerned to know how to take care of him. 

Some time hiving elapsed without arriving at 

any conclusion, Patterson suddenly sprung to his 

feet, and seizing his rifle, said with an oath that 

he would take care of him, and shot the poor boy 

throuo'h the heart. " That incident," said the 

judge, " determined for me the brutal character 

of the wretch. His whole life since has been 

of a piece with it. For years he has been a 

' bummer ' among men of his class. He has lived 

off his friends. He has had no higher aims 

than those of an abandoned, dissolute gambler. 

Pinkluim, though a gambler, had other and better 

tendencies. His schemes for the future looked 

to an abandonment of his past career, and he was 

in no sense a ' bummer.' " 

The justice of this criticism was unappreciated 
by Patterson's friends. He was provided with 
comfortable quarters in the jailor's room, and ac- 
corded the freedom of the prison yard. His 
friends supplied him with whiskey and visited 
him daily to aid in drinking it. No prisoner 
of state could have been treated with greater con- 
sideration. The gamblers and soiled doves gave 
him constant assurance of sympathy. Even the 

PinkJiam and Patterson. 203 

poor wretch he had scalped at Portland wrote to 
ascertain if she could do anything for "poor 

Pinkham's friends, enraged at the course pur- 
sued by the officers of justice, began to talk 
of taking: Patterson's case into their own hands. 
The example of the Montana Vigilantes excited 
their emulation. When they finally effected an 
organization, several of Patterson's friends gained 
admission to it by professing friendship for its 
object. They imparted its designs and progress 
to others. Patterson was informed of every 
movement, and counselled his adherents what 
measures to oppose to the conspiracy against his 
life. Meantime the Vigilantes appointed a meet- 
ing for the purpose of maturing their plans, to 
be held at a late hour of the evening, in a ravine 
across Moore's creek, a short distance from the 
city. Patterson having been apprised of it, was 
anxious to obtain personal knowledge of its de- 
signs. So when the hour arrived, representing in 
his own person one of the deputy sheriffs with 
the consent of the sheriff, he placed himself at the 
head of an armed band of six men as desperate as 
himself, and stole unperceived from the jail-yard 
to a point within three hundred yards of the ren- 
dezvous. Here they separated. Each with a 

204 PinJcham and Patterson. 

cocked revolver approached at different points, as 
near the assemblage as safety would permit. 
Three hundred or more were already on the 
ground, and others constantly arriving. It was a 
large gathering for the occasion, — and the occa- 
sion was not one to inspire with pleasurable emo- 
tions the mind or heart of the wTetch who was 
risking his life to gratify his curiosity. Neverthe- 
less, he crept forward till within seventy yards of 
the chairman's stand. 

The place of meeting was partially obscured 
by several clumps of mountain pines, which grew 
along the sides of the ravine, and enclosed it 
in their sombre shade. It was bright starlight. 
When the gathering was complete and had 
settled into that grim composure which seemed 
to await an opportunity for a hundred voices to 
be raised, the chairman called upon a Methodist 
clergyman present to open their proceedings with 
prayer. This request, at such a time, must 
appear strange to the minds of many of my 
readers. And yet, why should it ? It bore 
testimony to some sincerity and some solemnity 
in the hearts of the people, even though they 
had assembled for an unlawful, perhaps some 
of them for a revengeful, purpose. They felt, 
doubtless, that the law did not and would not 

PinJcham and Patterson. 205 

protect them, and if they had known that the 
person whose doom they were there to decide, 
at that very moment stood near, armed, a secret 
observer of their proceedings, with friends within 
the call of his voice to aid him or obey his 
orders, they might very properly have conclnded 
that the law exposed them to outrage and mur- 
der. Prayer had no mockery in it in such 
an exigency. Patterson afterwards jocosely re- 
marked that it was the first prayer he had lis- 
tened to for twenty years. Its various petitions, 
certainly, could not have fallen pleasantly upon 
his ears. 

Patterson returned unobserved to the jail at 
a late hour, fully possessed of the designs of 
the committee. A system of espial was kept up 
by his friends, by means of which the sheriff and 
his deputies were enabled to devise a successful 
counter-plot. At eleven o'clock in the morning 
of a bright Sabbath, a few men were seen con- 
gregating upon the eastern side of Moore's creek, 
below the town, for the supposed purpose of 
carrying out the decision of the previous even- 
hio- which was the execution of Patterson. Pat- 
fcerson and thirty of his friends, armed to the 
teeth, were in the jail-yard looking through loop- 
holes and knot-holes, anxiously watching them. 

206 Pinkham and Patterson. 

When their numbers had reached a hundred, 
a signal was given to the sheriif. He quickly 
summoned a jwsse of one hundred and fifty men, 
who had received intimation that their services 
would be needed. Fully armed, they marched 
slowly to a point on the west side of Moore's 
creek, where they confronted the Vigilantes. 
Nothing daunted at this unexpected demonstra- 
tion, the latter quietly awaited the arrival of 
several hundred more, who had promised to join 
them. Hours passed, but they came not. Not 
another man was bold enough to join them. 
Robbins, who, after much persuasion, had con- 
sented to act as their leader, was greatly dis- 
gusted, and for three hours declined all propo- 
sitions to disband. Every hill and housetop was 
crowded with spectators, citizens of Idaho and 
Buena Vista Bar, anticipating a collision. The 
newly elected delegate to Congress was on the 
ground, making eager exertions to precipitate a 

" Why don't you fire upon them ? " said he, 
with a vulofar oath to the sheriff. " You have 
ordered them to disperse, and still permit them 
to defy you." 

The sheriff, though a determined, was a kind- 
hoarted man, and wished to avoid bloodshed. He 

Pl'ukliam and Patterson. 207 

knew if his men fired the fire would be returned, 
and a bloody battle would follow. He was also 
aware that seven hundred or more had enrolled 
their names in the ranks of the Vigilantes; 
courageous men and good citizens, who would 
probably rally to the assistance of their comrades 
in case of an attack. The day wore on with 
nothing more serious to interrupt its harmony 
than the noisy exchange of profane epithets and 
vulvar threats between the two bands, until it 
was finally agreed that persons should be selected 
from both factions to work up the terms of a 
peace. The result was that the Vigilantes dis- 
banded, upon the sheriff's pledge that none of 
them should be arrested, and Patterson was con- 
veyed to prison to await the decision of a trial at 
law. After an unsuccessful effort of his attor- 
ney to have him admitted to bail, the sheriff 
remanded him to custody. 

The counsel on both sides prepared for trial 
with considerable energy. The evidence was all 
reduced to writing. The character of each jury- 
man, the place of his nativity, and his political 
predilections were ascertained and reported to 
the defendant's counsel. The judge and sheriff 
were required, by the Idaho law, to prepare the 
list of talesmen when the regular panel of jurors 

208 Pinkham and Patterson. 

was exhausted. In the performance of this duty 
in Patterson's case, the judge selected Repub- 
licans, and the sheriff Democrats. When the 
Kst was completed, and the venire issued, a copy 
of it was furnished to Patterson's friends, who 
caused to be summoned as talesmen such persons 
named in it as were suspected of enmity to the 
accused, in order that they might be rejected 
as jurors. The preliminary challenges allowed 
by law to the defendant were double those 
allowed to the prosecution. With all these 
advantages, the defendant's counsel could hardly 
fail in selecting a jury favorable to their client ; 
and after the jury was sworn, such was its gen- 
eral composition, that both the friends and 
enemies of the prisoner predicted an acquittal. 
Nor were they disappointed. When his freedom 
was announced from the bench, his friends 
flocked around him to tender their congratula- 
tions. But Patterson was not deceived. He felt 
that he was surrounded by enemies. Sullen eyes 
were fixed upon him as he walked the streets. 
Little o-atherino-s of the friends of Pinkham 
stood on every corner in anxious consultation. 
He very soon concluded that his only safety 
was in departure. At first he thought of return- 
ing to Texas, but the allurements around him 

Pinkham and Patterson. 200 

were too strong : besides, he owed considerable 
sums of money to the friends who had aided him 
in making his defence. He had, moreover, many 
attached friends, who, by promises of assistance, 
sought to dissuade him from leaving the country. 
Finally, two weeks after his trial, he left Idaho 
City for Walla Walla. 

One day the following spring, Patterson en- 
tered a barber's shop for the purpose of getting 
shaved. Removing his coat, he seated himself 
in the barber's chair. A man by the name 
of Donahue arose from a chair opposite, and, 
advancing toward him, said : — 

" Ferd, you and I can't both live in this com- 
munity. You have threatened me." As Pat- 
terson sprung to his feet, Donahue shot him. 
Staggenng to the street, he started towards the 
saloon where he' had left his pistol, and was 
followed by Donahue, who continued to fire at 
him, and he fell dead across the threshold of the 
saloon, thus verifying in his own case the fatal- 
istic belief of his class, " He died with his boots 

The only incident of Patterson's trial worthy 
of note was the following : Oiie of the attorneys 
who had been employed for a purpose discon- 
nected with the management of the trial, insisted 

210 Pinkham and Patterson. 

upon making an argument to the jury. This 
annoyed his colleagues, and disgusted Patterson's 
friends, but professional etiquette upon the part 
of the lawyers, and a certain indefinable delicacy 
from which even the worst of men are not 
wholly estranged, prevented all interference, and 
the advocate launched out into a speech of great 
length, filled with indiscreet assertions, slipshod 
arguments, and ridiculous appeals, at each of 
which, as they came up, one of the shrewder 
counsel for the defendant, seated beside his 
client, filled almost to bursting with indigna- 
tion, would whisper in his ear the ominous 
words : — 

" There goes another nail into your coffin, 

Wincing under these repeated admonitions, 
Patterson's eyes assumed their blood-drinking 
expression, and at last the mental strain becom- 
ing too great for longer composure, he exclaimed 
with a profane curse : — 

" I wish it had been he, in the place of Old 

Upon the trial of Donahue the jury failed 
to agree. He was remanded to prison, from 
which he afterwards escaped, fled to California, 
where he was rearrested, and released upon a 

Pinkham and Paffcrson. 211 

writ of habeas corpus, by the strange decision 
that the provision of the Constitution of the 
United States requiring one State to deliver up 
a fugitive from justice to another claiming him, 
did not apply to Territories. 

To certain of my readers, some explanation for 
detailing at such length the life of a ruffian and 
murderer may be necessary. Not so, however, 
to those familiar with mountain history. They 
would understand that both Patterson and Pink- 
ham were noted and important members of 
frontier society, representative men, so to speak, 
of the classes to which they belonged. Their fol- 
lowers regarded them with a hero-worship which 
magnified their faults into virtues, and their acts 
into deeds of more than chivalric daring. Their 
pursuits, low, criminal, and degrading as they 
are esteemed in old settled communities, were 
among the leading occupations of life among 
the miners. Said one who had been for many 
years a resident of the Pacific slope, after spend- 
ing a few weeks in the Atlantic States : " I can't 
stand this society. It is too strict. I must 
leturn to the land where every gambler is called 
a gentleman." 

212 Earlii Discoveries of Grold. 



First Discoveuv of Gold in Montana — The Stuart 
BrotheivS — Narrative of Granville Stuart — 
First Arrival of Emigrants from the Missouri 
River — Shooting of Arnett — Arrest of his 
Companions — Trial and Execution of Spillman 
— Exodus of Miners fro3I Colorado — Difficul- 
ties — Crossing of Smith Fork of Bear River — 
Crossing of Snake River — Arrival at Lemhi — 
Discouragements — Consultation — The Party 
divides — Arrival of Woodmansee's Train with 
Provisions — Great Joy in the Camp. 

Gold was first discovered in what is now known 
as Montana by Francois Findlay, better known 
as Be-net-see, a French half-breed, in 1852. 
He had been one of the early miners in Califor- 
nia, having gone there from his home in the 
Red river country soon after Marshall's discov- 
ery. At this time, however, he was engaged in 
trapping for furs and trading with the Indians. 
While travelling along the border of Gold creek 
he was induced by certain indications to search 

Who set the first sluices in Montana. 

Early Discoveries of Gold. 213 

for gold, which he found in the gravelly bed of 
the stream. 

Intelligence of this discovery was given to a 
party of miners who were on their return from 
California to the States in 1857, and thev imme- 
diately resolved to visit the creek and spend a 
winter there in prospecting. James and Gran- 
ville Stuart and Resin Anderson, since known. 
as prominent citizens of Montana, were of this 
party, and I insert here as an interesting bit of 
early history the narrative which Granville Stuart 
has since furnished of the discovery then made 
by them : — 

" We," he writes, " accordingly wintered on 
the Big Hole river just above what is known 
as the Backbone, in company with Robert 
Dempsey, Jake Meeks, Robert Hereford, Thomas 
Adams, John W. PoAvell, John M. Jacobs, and 
a few others. In the spring of 1858 we went 
over into the Hell Gate valley, and prospected a 
little on Benetsee's or Gold creek. We ofot 
gold everywhere, in some instances as high as 
ten cents to the pan, but, having nothing to eat 
save what our rifles furnished us, and no tools 
to work with (Salt Lake City, nearly six hundred 
miles distant, being the nearest point at which 
they could be obtained), and as the accursed 

214 Earlij Discoveries of Gold. 

Blackfeet Indians were continually stealing our 
horses, we soon quit 2)rospecting in disgust with- 
out having found anything very rich, or done 
anything to enable us to form a reliable estimate 
of the richness of the mines. 

" We then went out on the road near Fort 
Bridger, Utah Territory, where we remained until 
the fall of 1860. In the summer of that year 
a solitary individual named Henry Thomas, better 
known to the pioneers of Montana, however, as 
' Gold Tom ' or ' Tom Gold Digger,' who had 
been sluicing on the Pend d' Oreille river, came 
up to Gold creek and commenced prospecting. 
He finally hewed out two or three small sluice- 
boxes and commenced work on the creek up near 
the mountains. He made from one to two dollars 
a day in rather rough, coarse gold, some of the 
pieces weighing as high as two dollars. 

" After spending a few weeks there, he con- 
cluded that he could find better diggings, and 
about the time that we returned to Deer Lodge 
(in 1860), he quit sluicing and went to prospect- 
ing all over the country. His favorite camping 
ground was about the Hot Springs, near where 
Helena now stands. He always maintained that 
that was a good mining region, saying that 
hj had got better prospects there than on 

Who set the first sluices in Montana. 

Early Discoveries of Grold. 215 

Gold creek. He told me after ' Last Chance,' 
' Grizzly/ ' Oro Fino,' and the other rich gulches 
of that vicinity had been struck, that he had 
prospected all about there, but it was not his 
luck to strike any of those big things. 

"About the 29th of April, 1862, P. W. 
McAdow, who, in company with A. S. Blake 
and Dr. Atkinson (both citizens of Montana), 
had been prospecting with but limited success 
in a small ravine which empties into Pioneer 
creek, moved up to Gold creek and commenced 
prospecting about there. About the 10th of 
May they found diggings in what we afterwards 
called Pioneer creek. They got as high as 
twenty cents to the pan, and immediately began 
to prepare for extensive operations. At this time 
' Tom Gold Digger ' was prospecting on Cotton- 
wood creek, a short distance above where the 
flourisliing burgh of Deer Lodge City now stands, 
but finding nothing satisfactory, he soon moved 
down and opened a claim above those of McAdow 
& Co. In the meantime we had set twelve joints 
of 12 X 14 sluices, this being the first string of 
regular sluices ever set in the Rocky Mountains 
north of Colorado. 

" On the 25th of June, 1862, news reached us 
that four steamboats had arrived at Fort Benton 

216 Early Dhcoveries of (rold. 

loaded with emigrants, provisions, and mining 
tools, and on the 29th Samuel T. Hauser, Frank 
Louthen, Jake Monthe, and a man named Ault, 
who were the advance guard of the pilgrims to 
report upon the country from personal observa- 
tion, came into our camp. After prospecting on 
Gold creek for a few days, Hauser, Louthen, and 
Ault started for the Salmon river mines by way 
of the Bitter Root valley. Jake Monthe, that 
harum-scarum Dutchman who wore the hat that 
General Lyon had on when he was killed in the 
battle of Wilson's creek, continued prospecting 
along Gold creek. 

" Walter B. Dance and Colonel Hunkins ar- 
rived on the 10th of July, and on the l-lth we 
had the first election ever held in the country. 
It was marked by great excitement, but nobody 
was hurt — except by whiskey. 

" On the 15th, Jack Mendenhall, ^sit\\ several 
companions, arrived at Gold creek from Salt 
Lake City. They set out for the Salmon river 
mines, but having reached Lemhi, the site of a 
Mormon fort and the most northern settlement 
of the ' Saints,' they could proceed no farther in 
the direction of Florence, owing to the impassa- 
ble condition of the roads, so they cached their 
wagons, packed th'ir goods on the best condi- 

Early Dhcoverles of Gold. 217 

tioned of their oxen, and turned off for Gold 
creek. They lost their way and wandered about 
until nearly starved, when they fortunately found 
an Indian guide, who piloted them through to 
the diooinos. On the 25th Hauser and his 
party, having failed to reaeli Florence, also 
returned nearly starved to death." 

The leading men among this little band of 
pioneers were admirably qualified to grapple with 
the varied difficulties and dangers incident to 
their exposed situation. The brothers Stuart, 
Samuel T. Hauser, and Walter B. Dance were 
among the most enterprising and intelligent 
citizens of Montana, and to the direction which 
they, by their prudence and counsel, gave to 
public sentiment, when, with twenty or thirty 
others, they organized the first mining camp in 
what is now Montana, was the Territory after- 
wards indebted for the predominance of those 
principles which saved the people from the 
bloody rule of assassins, robbers, and wholesale 
murderers. They were men bred in the hard 
school of labor. They brought their business 
habits and maxims with them, an.l put them 
rigidly in practice. Having heard of the laAvless- 
ness which characterized the Salmon river camps^ 
and of the expulsions which had taken place 

218 Early Discoveries of G-oJd. 

there, they were on the alert for every suspicious 
arrival from that direction. 

On the 25th of August William Arnett, C. W. 
Spillman, and B. F. Jernigan arrived at Gold 
creek from Elk City. They opened the first 
gambling establishment in Montana and satisfied 
the good people of Gold craek before the close 
of their first day's residence that they were the 
advance o-uard of the outcasts of Salmon river. 
Victims flocked around them in encouraging 
numbers. The highway of villainy seemed to 
stretch out before them with flattering promise. 
Four days had elapsed since their arrival. The lit- 
tle society was fearfully demoralized, and whiskey 
and dice ruled the hour, when the Nemesis 
appeared. Two men. Fox and Bull, came in 
])ursuit of the gamblers for horse-stealing. Steal- 
ing upon them while busy at play, the first 
notice the poor wretches had of their approach 
was to find themselves covered with double- 
barrelled guns which were instantly discharged, 
Arnett fell, riddled with bullets. Fox's gun 
missed fire. Jernigan tlirew up his hinds, and 
he and Spillman were arrested without resistance. 
Arnett died with a death clutch of his cards in 
one hand and revolver in the other, and was so 

Earlij Discoveries of Gold. 219 

The next day Jernigan and Spillman were 
fairly tried by a jury of twenty-four miners. 
The former was acquitted, the latter sentenced to 
be huno', which sentence was executed in the 
afternoon of the following day. This was the 
first expression of Vigilante justice in that por- 
tion of the North-West which afterwards became 
Montana. Mr. Stuart says, " Spillman was either 
a man of a lion heart or a hardened villain, for 
he died absolutely fearless. After receiving his 
sentence, he wrote a letter to his father with a 
firm, bold hand that never trembled, and walked 
to his death as unto a bridal." 

The news of the discovery of the Oro Fino 
and Florence mines was received at Denver in 
the winter of 1861-62, and caused a perfect 
fever of excitement. Colonel McLean, Wash- 
ington Stapleton, Dr. Glick, Dr. Levitt, Major 
Brookie, H. P. A. Smith, Judge Clancy, Edward 
Bissell, Columbus Post, Mark Post, and others, 
all left early in the spring, taking the route by 
the overland road, from which they intended to 
diveroe into the northern wilderness at some 
point near Fort Bridger. Another party, under 
the leadership of Captain Jack Russell, left soon 
after, going by the way of the Sweetwater trail. 
South Pass, and the Bridoer cut-off. 

220 Early BhcoverieH of Gold. 

My readers who have never seen the plains, 
rivers, canons, rocks, and mountains of the por- 
tion of our country travelled by these companies, 
can form but a faint idea from any description 
i^iven by them of the innumerable and formidable 
difficulties with which every mile of this weary 
march was encumbered. History has assigned a 
foremost place among its glorified deeds to the 
passage of the Alps by Napoleon, and to the 
long and discouraging march of the French army 
under the same great conqueror to Russia. If it be 
not invidious to com23are small things with great, 
we may assuredly claim for these early pioneers 
greater conquests over nature on their journey 
through the north-western wilderness than were 
made by either of the great military expeditions 
of Napoleon. In addition to natural obstacles 
equally formidable and of continual occurrence 
for more than a thousand miles, their route lay 
through an unexplored region, beset by hostile 
Indians, bristling with mountain peaks, pierced 
with large streams, and unmarked with a single 
line of civilization. Their cattle and horses 
were obliged to subsist upon the scanty herbage 
which put forth in early spring. Swollen by the 
melting snows of the mountains, the streams, 
fordable in midsummer, could now only be 

Early Discoveries of Gold. 221 

crossed by bocats, and frequently the passage of a 
sintjle creek consumed a week of time. Seekino- 
for passes around and through the ranges, 
ascending them when no such conveniences could 
be found, passing through canons, and clamber- 
ing rocks, filled the path of empire through 
western America with discouragement and dis- 

Several of these companies were obliged to 
wait the subsidence of the waters at the crossing 
of Smith's fork of Bear river. While thus de- 
layed, more than an hundred teams, comprising 
three or four trains, all bound for the new gold 
regions, arrived. Some of the companies were 
composed entirely of "pilgrims," a designation 
given by mountain people to new comers from 
the States. Michaud Le Clair, a French fur-trader 
and mountaineer of forty years' experience, had, 
in company with two others, built a toll bridge 
across the fork in anticipation of a large spring 
emigration ; but a party arriving in advance of 
this present crowd, exasperated at the depth of 
the mud at the end of the brido-e, burned it. 
Russell proposed to build another, but the pil- 
grims, having no faith in his skill, refused to 
assist. Russell completed the job on his own 
account, and charged the pilgrims one dollar each 

222 Earl J Discoveries of Gold. 

for crossing, and then offered to release his inter- 
est in the bridge for twenty-five dollars. Lo 
Clair, thinking that Russell would go on with his 
company, refused the offer. Russell, Brown, and 
Warner sent their train ahead, remaining at the 
bridge to receive tolls. Several trains passed 
during the two succeeding days, greatly to the 
annoyance of Le Clair and his comrades. They 
attempted to retaliate by cutting the lariats of 
the horses while tethered for the night ; and 
when they found that the animals did not stray 
far from camp, they sent the savages down to 
frighten Russell and his men. But they were 
old mountaineers, and felt no alarm. On the 
third day a much larger number of wagons 
crossed than on both the preceding days. The 
Frenchmen, tired of expedients, and satisfied that 
money could be made by paying Russell the 
price he demanded for the bridge, sent for him, 
and, after considerable negotiation, gave him the 
twenty-five dollars and a silver watch. The 
bridge temporarily erected by Russell was used 
as a toll bridge the following year, but it 
required very careful usage to prevent it from 
falling to pieces. The proprietors, fearful of 
accident, finally posted up the following placard, 
as a warning to travellers that heavily laden 

Early Discoveries of Gold. 223 

Avagons would not be permitted to meet upon 
the bridge : — 

No Vehacle draWn by moaR than one anamile 
is alloud to croS this BRidg in oPposit direxions 
at the sam Time. 

Le Clair also advised him against a prosecu- 
tion of his journey to the Salmon river region, 
assuring- him that from long: familiarity with the 
country, he knew he could not complete it in 
safety. The season was too far advanced and 
the streams were higher than usual. He then 
told him as a secret that there was gold at Deer 
Lodge and on the Beaverhead. The Indians 
had often found it there, and if gold was his 
object, he could find no better country than 
either of these localities for prospecting. 

" I have been," said he, " boy and man, forty 
years in this region, and there is no part of it 
that I have not often visited. You will find my 
advice correct." 

Russell placed great confidence in what Le 
Clair said. Hastening on, he overtook his com- 
panions, and they proceeded to Snake river near 
Fort Hall, an old post of the North-western Fur 
Company. Here they fell in with McLean's 

224 JSiirhj Discoveries of Gold. 

train, which, as we have seen, left Denver a few 
days hefore they did, and travelled by another 
route. One of this latter company, Columbus 
Post, was drov»^ned while attempting to cross the 
river in a poorly constructed boat, made out of 
a wagon-box. Russell found an old ferry-boat 
near the fort, Avhich the men repaired to answer 
the purpose of crossing their trains, and they 
proceeded on through the dreary desert of moun- 
tains and rock in the direction of the Salmon 
river. Superadded to the difficulties of travel- 
ling over a rough volcanic region, they were now, 
for successive days, until they left the valley of 
the Snake, attacked by the Bannack Indians, 
and their horses were nightly exposed to cap- 
ture by them. After many days of adventurous 
travel, the whole party, with a great number of 
pilgrims, arrived in safety at Fort Lemhi. Here 
they found themselves hemmed in by the Salmon 
river range, a lofty escarpment of ridges and 
rocks presenting an insurmountable barrier to 
further progress with wagons. They had yet to 
go several hundred miles before reaching the 
gold regions. A large number, more than a 
thousand in all, were now congregated in this 
desolate basin. They at once set to work to 
manufacture pack-saddles and other gear nee- 

Early Discoveries of Gold. 225 

essary to the completion of their journey. As 
time wore on, the prospect of being able to do 
so before cold weather set in became daily more 
discouraofiiiii'. At ienotli a meetino- was called 
to consider the situation of affairs, and if pos- 
sible, to devise and adopt measures of relief. 

Russell repeated to the assemblage the infor- 
mation he had received from Le Clair, expressing 
his belief that it was true, and recommended as 
a choice of evils that they should turn aside, 
and go to Deer Lodge and Beaverhead, rather 
than attempt a journey down the Salmon to the 
Florence mines, throusj-h a countrv of which their 
best information was disheartening- in the ex- 
treme. Several members of the Colorado com- 
panies spoke of having seen letters from James 
and Granville Stuart in which the discovery 
of promising gokl placers in Deer Lodge was 
mentioned ; but the pilgrims thought the infor- 
mation too indefinite, and concluded to risk the 
journey down the river. The Colorado men, 
most of whom were experienced miners, deter- 
mined at once to retrace their way to Deer 
Lodge and Beaverhead, and risk the chance of 
making new discoveries, if the information given 
by the Stuarts and Le Clair should not prove 
true. At the crossing of the Beaverhead, Russell 

226 Enrhj Di-icoveriea of Gold. 

found five cents in gold to the pan, and picked 
up pieces of quartz containing free gold. 

In the meantime, John White and a small 
party of prospectors had discovered the gold 
placer in the caiion of Grasshopper creek which 
afterwards became Bannack. When the com- 
panies of McLean and Russell arrived there, their 
stock of provisions was nearly exhausted. They 
went to Deer Lodge, hoping to find a more 
promising field, and some of them visited the 
placers on Gold creek. Pioneer, and at Pike's 
Peak Gulch, none of which were equal in rich- 
ness and extent to the one they had left behind 
them. They returned to Grasshopper. No pro- 
visions having arrived in the country, most of 
them decided to attempt a return to Salt Lake 
City. The chance of making a journey of four 
hundred miles to the nearest Mormon settle- 
ments was preferable to starvation in this deso- 
late region. They could but die in the effort, 
and might succeed. After they had started on 
this Utopian journey, Russell mounted his horse, 
followed them, and persuaded them to return. 
They then set to work in good earnest and 
found gold in abundance ; but, wdth the fortune 
of Midas, as their scanty supply of food lessened 
daily, they feared soon to share his fate also. 

Early Discoveries of Gold. 227 

and have aiotliing but gold to eat. Just at this 
crisis, however, theii' Pactolus appeared in the 
shape of a large train of provisions belonging 
to Mr. Woodniansee, and all fear of starvation 
vanished. Tlia step between the extremes of 
misery and happhiess was, in this case, very 
short. The camp was hilarious with joy and 

Upon the opening of spring, Russell left on 
his return to Colorado, where he arrived in 
safety after encountering dangers enough to fill 
a moderate volume. For two days, while pass- 
ing through Marsh valley, he was pursued by 
Indians, barely escaping being shot and scalped. 
His courage was often put to the strongest tests. 
At Wood river, twenty miles from Fort Lemhi, 
the Bannack Indians offered him money in large 
amounts for fire-arms and ammunition. They 
stole a pistol from him. Accompanied by one 
Gibson, he went to their camp and recovered it. 
Some of them were dressed in the apparel of 
women whom they had murdered, and whose 
bodies they had concealed in the fissures of the 
lava-beds on Snake river. More than two hun- 
dred emigrants had been killed by these wretches 
the preceding summer. 

Russell exhibited specimens of the gold taken 

228 Early JJiscoveries of Crold. 

from the " Grasshopper diggings," to his friends 
in Coh^rado. Tiie excitement it occasioned was 
intense, and when the spring of 1863 opened, 
large numbers left for the new and promising- 
El Dorado. 

In the fall of 1862 there stood, on the bank 
at the confluence of Rattlesnake creek and the 
Beaverhead river, a sign-post witli a rough-hewn 
board nailed across the top, with the following 
intelligfence daubed with wagfon-tar thereon : — 

Tu grass Hop Per digins 

30 myle 

Ji^^'kepe the Trale nex the bluffe 

On the other side of the board was the fol- 
lowing : — 

Tu jonni grants 
one Hunred & twenti myle. 

The " grass Hop Per digins" are at the town 
jf Bannack; and the city of Deer Lodge is 
Ouilt on '' jonni grants " ranche. 

Captain Fisk's Expedition. 229 



Northern Overland Expeditiox — Journey from 
St. Paul to Fort Benton — Arrival in Prickly 
Pear Valley — High Price of Provisions — 
Threatened Destitution — Trip of the Writer 
TO Pike's Peak Gulch — Night Camp — Storm — 
Blackfeet Indians — Critical Situation — Prov- 
idential Escape — Arrival at Pike's Peak Gulch 
— Disappointment — Journey to Grasshopper 

While the little community at Bannack were 
snugly housed for the winter, anxiously awaiting 
the return of warm weather to favor a resump- 
tion of labor in the gulch, numerous companies 
were in progress of organization in the States, 
intending to avail themselves of the same season- 
able change to start upon the long and adven- 
turous journey to Salmon river. The fame of 
Bannack and Deer Lodge had not yet reached 
them. In the summer of 1862 an expedition 
under the direction of the Government was 
planned in Minnesota for the ostensible purpose 

230 Captain Msk\s UrpeJition. 

of opening a wagon road between St. Paul and 
Fort Benton, to connect at the latter point with 
the military road opened a few years before 
by Captain John Mullen from Fort Benton to 
Walla Walla. This route of nearly two thou- 
sand miles lay for most of the distance through 
a partially explored region, filled with numerous 
bands of the hostile Sioux and Blackfeet. Gov- 
ernment had grudgingly appropriated the meagre 
sum of five thousand dollars in aid of the enter- 
prise, which was not sufficient to pay a compe- 
tent guard for the protection of the company. 
The quasi-governmental character of the expe- 
dition, however, with the inducement superadded 
that it would visit the Salmon river mines, soon 
caused a large number of emigrants to join it. 

The Northern Overland Expedition, as it was 
called, left St. Paul on the 16th of June, 1862. 
It was confided to the leadership of Captain 
James L. Fisk, whose previous frontier experience 
and unquestioned personal courage admirably 
fitted him for the command of an expedition 
which owed so much of its final success, as well 
as its safety during a hazardous journey through 
a region occupied by hostile Indians, to the vigi- 
lance and discipline of its commanding officer. 
His first assistant was E. H. Burritt, and second 


Commander of Northern Overland Expedition. 

Captain Fi/^k's Ex-pedition. 231 

assistant, the writer ; Samuel R. Bond, secretary, 
D.ivid Charlton, engineer. Dr. W. D. Dibb, 
suro-eon, and Robert C. Knox, wagon master. 
About forty men were selected from the com- 
pany, who agreed, for their subsistence, to serve 
as guards during the journey. One hundred 
and twenty-five emigrants accompanied the ex- 
pedition to Prickly Pear valley. This band 
was thoroughly organized, and ready at all times 
for instant service wdiile passing through Indian 
country. Fort Abercrombie, Devil's Lake, Fort 
Union, and Milk river were designated points 
of the route, and it was generally understood 
that the company should pursue as nearly as 
possible the trail of the exploring expedition 
under command of Governor Isaac I. Stevens in 

All the streams not fordable on the entire 
route were bridged by the company and many 
formidable obstacles removed. The company 
arrived without accident, after a tedious but not 
uninteresting trip, in Prickly Pear valley on the 
21st day of September. It was the largest 
single party that went to the Northern mines in 
18G2. About one-half of the number remained 
in the Prickly Pear valley, locating upon the 
creek where Montana City now stands. The 

232 Captain Fisk's Expedition. 

remainder accompanied Captain Fisk to Walla 
Walla. All who were officially connected with 
the expedition, except Mr. Knox and the writer, 
returned by way of the Pacific ocean and the 
Isthmus to Washinoj-ton. 

Gold had been found on Prickly Pear creek 
a short time before the arrival of our company. 
" Tom Gold Digger," or " Gold Tom," had pitched 
his lodgfe at the mouth of the caiion above our 
location and was " panning out " small quanti- 
ties of gold. The placer was very difficult of 
development and the yield small. Winter was 
near at hand. Many of the party who had left 
home for Salmon river, where they had been 
assured profitable employment could be readily 
obtained, now found themselves five hundred 
miles from their destination with cattle too much 
exhausted to attempt the journey, in the midst of 
a wilderness, nearly destitute of provisions, and 
with no chance of obtaining any, nearer than 
Salt Lake City, four hundred miles away, from 
which they were separated by a region of moun- 
tainous country, rendered impassable by deep 
snowS and beset for the entire distance by hostile 
Indians. Starvation seemingly stared them in 
the face. Disheartening as the prospect was, all 
felt that it would not do to give way to discour- 

Captain Flsk's Expedition. 233 

acrement. A few traders had followed the tide 
of emioration from Colorado with a limited 
supply of the bare necessaries of life, risking 
the dangers of Indian attack by the way, to 
obtain large profits and prompt pay as a right- 
ful reward for their temerity. Regarding their 
little stock as their only resource, the company 
set to work at once, each man for himself, to 
obtain means to buy with. Prices were enor- 
mous. The placer was still unpromising. Frost 
and snow had actually come. With a small pack 
supplied from the remains of their almost ex- 
hausted larders, the men started out, some on 
foot, and some bestride their worn-out animals, 
into the bleak mountain wilderness in pursuit of 
gold. With the certainty of death in its most 
horrid form if they fell into the clutches of a 
band of prowling Blackfeet, and the thought 
uppermost in their minds that they could scarcely 
escape freezing, surely the hope which sustained 
this little band of wanderers lacked none of 
those grand elements which sustained the early 
Settlers of our country in their days of disaster 
and suffering. Men who cavil with Providence, 
and attribute the escape of a company of half- 
starved, destitute men from massacre, starvation, 
and freezing, under circumstances like these, to 

234 Capfam FisFs Expedition. 

luck or chance or accident, are either destitute 
of gratitude or have never been overtaken by 
calamity. Yet these men all survived to tell the 
tale of their bitter experience. 

My recollection of those gloomy days, all the 
more vivid, perhaps, because T was among the 
indigent ones, was emphasized by a little incident 
I can never recall without a devout feeling of 
thankfulness. Intelligence was brought us that 
a company of miners was working the bottom 
of a creek in Pike's Peak Gulch, a distance of 
sixty miles from the Prickly Pear camp over the 
Rocky Mountain range. Cornelius Bray, Patrick 
Dougherty, and I started immediately on a horse- 
back trip to the new camp in search of employ- 
ment for the winter. One pack-horse served to 
transport our blankets and provisions. Our in- 
tention was to cross the main ranoe on the first 
day and camp at the head of Summit creek, 
where there was good grass and water. In fol- 
lowing the Mullen road through the canon, when 
about two miles from the ridge. Bray's horse 
gave out and resisted all our efforts to urge him 
farther. There was no alternative but to camp. 
The spot was unpromising enough. There was 
no feed for our horses, and our camp by the road- 
side could not escape the notice of anv band of 

Captain Fisk's Expedition. 235 

Indians that might chance to be crossing the 
range. It was the custom in this Indian country 
for packers and others to seek some secluded 
spot half a mile or more from the trail for camp- 
ing purposes ; but here we were cooped up in a 
canon not ten rods wide, and the only practicable 
pass over the range running directly through it. 
Of course we all mentally hoped that no Indians 
would appear. 

I had, while at Fort Benton, held frequent con- 
versations with Mr. Dawson, the factor at that 
post, who had spent many years in the country, 
and was perfectly familiar with the manners 
and tactics of the Indians. He had warned me 
against just such an exposure as that to which 
we were now liable, and when night came, know- 
ing that the country was full of roving bands of 
Bleods and Piegans, I felt no little solicitude for 
a happy issue out of danger. Evening was just 
setting in, when snow began to fall in damp, 
heavy flakes, giving promise of a most uncom- 
fortable night. Our only shelter was a clump 
of bushes on the summit of a knoll, where we 
spread our blankets, first carefully picketing the 
four horses with long lariats to a single pin, so 
that in case of difficulty they could all be con- 
trolled by one person. Dougherty proposed to 

236 Captain Fisk's Expedition. 

stand guard until midnight, when I was to 
relieve him and remain until we resumed our 
trip at early dawn. Bray and I crept into our 
blankets, they and the bushes being our only 
protection against a very heavy mountain snow- 
storm. Strange as it may seem to those unfa- 
miliar with border life, we soon fell asleep and 
slept sound until I was aroused by Dougherty to 
take my turn at the watch. I crawled from 
under the blankets, which were covered to the 
depth of five inches with " the beautiful snow," 
and Dougherty fairly burrowed into the warm 
place I had left. 

About three o'clock in the morning the horses 
became uneasy for want of food. Preparatory to 
an early departure I gathered in a large heap a 
number of small, fallen pines and soon had an 
immense fire. It lighted up the caiion with a 
lurid gloom and mantled the snow-covered trees 
with a ghastly radiance. The black smoke of 
the burning pitch rolled in clouds through the 
atmosphere, which seemed to be choked with the 
myriad snow-flakes. So dense was the storm I 
could scarcely discern the horses, which stood but 
a few rods distant. Wading through the snow 
to the spot where my companions slept, I roused 
them from their slumbers. I could liken them 

Captain Fisk's Expedition. 237 

to nothing but spectres as they burst through 
their snowy covering and stood haK-revealed in 
the bushes by the light of the blazing pines. It 
was a scene for an artist. Despite the gloomy 
forebodings which had filled my mind, at this 
scene I burst into a fit of loud and irrepressible 

It was but for a moment, for, as if in answer 
to it, the counterfeited neigh of a horse a few 
rods below and of another just above me, warned 
me that the danger I had feared was already 
upon us. It was the signal and reply of the 
Indians. Bray and Dougherty grasped their guns, 
while I rushed to the picket pin, and, seizing the 
four lariats, pulled in the horses. A moment 
afterwards, and from behind a thicket of willows 
just above our camp, there dashed down the 
canon in full gallop forty or more of the dreaded 
Blackfeet. In the light of that dismal fire their 
appearance was horribly picturesque. Their faces 
hideous with war paint, their long ebon hair 
floating to the wind, their heads adorned with 
bald-eagle's feathers, and their knees and elbows 
daintily tricked out with strips of antelope skin 
and white feathery skunks' tails, they seemed 
like a troop of demons which had just sprung 
out of the earth, rather than beings of flesh and 

238 Captain Fisk's Expedition. 

blood. Each man held a gun in his right hand, 
guiding his horse with the left. Well-filled 
quivers and bows were fastened to their shoul- 
ders, and close behind the main troop, driven by 
five or six outriders, followed a herd of fifty or 
more horses they had just stolen from a company 
of miners on their way to the Bannack mines, 
and who had encamped for the night at Deer 
Lodge. These animals were driven hurriedly by 
our camp, down the canon, the main troop, mean- 
time, forming into line on the other side of them 
so as to present an unbroken front of horsemen 
after they had passed, drawn up for attack. 
This critical moment we improved by rapidly 
looping the lariats into the mouths of our horses 
and bringing our guns to an aim from behind 
them over their fore-shoulders. As we stood 
thus, not twenty yards asunder, confronting each 
other, the chief, evidently surprised that the 
onslaught lingered, rode hurriedly along the 
front of his men and with violent gesticulations 
and much vehement jargon urged them to an 
instant assault. They strongly expostulated, and 
by numerous antics and utterances, which I after- 
wards ascertained meant that their guns were 
wet and their caps useless, finally persuaded him 
to resort to the bows and arrows. The chief was 

Captain Flak's K.rpedltion. 239 

very ang-ry, and from the violence of liis gestures 
and threatening manner I expected to see sev- 
eral of the Indians knocked off their horses. 
When the Indians, in obedience to his command, 
hung their guns on the pommels of their saddles, 
and drew their bows, the attack seemed inevi- 
table. Our guns were dry, and we knew that 
they were good for twenty-four shots and the 
revolvers in our belts for as many more. 

Satisfied that an open attack would eventuate 
in death to some of their number, nearly one- 
half of the Indians left the ranks and passed 
from our sight down the canon, but soon reap- 
peared, emerging from the thicket on the opposite 
side of our camp. We wheeled our four horses 
into a hollow square, and, standing in the centre, 
presented our guns at each assaulting party. As 
our horses were the booty they most wished to 
obtain, they were now restrained lest they should 
kill them instead of us. A few moments of 
painful suspense — moments into which days of 
anxiety were crowded — supervened. A brief 
consultation followed, and the chief gave orders 
for them to withdraw. They all wdieeled into 
rapid line, and with the military precision of a 
troop of cavalry dashed down the canon and we 
saw them no more. 

240 Captain Fink's Expedition. 

Thankful for an escape attributable to the 
snow which had unfitted their guns for use, and 
to the successful raid they had made upon our 
neighbors, we saddled our horses and hurried 
over the mountain range with all possible speed. 
While crossing, we found two horses which, jaded 
with travel, had baen abandoned by the Indians. 
We took them with us, and on our arrival at 
Grasshopper some days after, restored one to Dr. 
Glick, its rightful owner. 

" I have had seven horses stolen from me by 
these prowlers," said he, " but this is the first 
one that was ever returned." 

The little gulch at Pike's Peak was fully 
occupied when we arrived, and after remaining 
a few days, we mounted our horses and made a ted- 
ious but unadventurous journey to Bannack, then, 
and for nearly' a year afterwards, the most im- 
portant gold placer east of the Rocky Mountains. 

The fame of this locality had reached Salmon 
river late in tlie fall of 1862, and many of the 
people left the Florence mines for the east side. 
Among them came the first irruption of robbers, 
gamblers, and horss-thieves, and the settlement 
was filled with gambling houses and saloons, 
where bad men and worse women held constant 
vigil, and initiated tliat reign of infamy which 
nothing but the strong hand could extirpate. 

Bannack in 1862. 241 



Plummer's supposed Attempt at Reform — Dread 
OF Cleveland — Clevelaxd suspected of Evans's 
Murder — His Conduct at Goodrich's Hotel — 
Plummer's Interference — Shoots Cleveland — 
George Ives and Charley Reeves appear — 
Hank Crawford and Harry Phleger take 
Cleveland away — Cleveland's Death — Plum- 
mer's Interview with Crawford — Quarrel 
between Ives and Carrhart — Reconciliation — 
How Emigrants spent the Winter — J. M. 
Castner — Attack of Moore and Reeves upon 
THE Indians — Killing a Chief and a Pappoose 
— Shooting of Cazette. 

It is charitable to believe that Henry Pluminer 
came to Bannack intending to reform, and live 
an honest and useful life. His deportment justi- 
fied that opinion. His criminal career was known 
only to two or three persons as criminal as him- 
self. If he could have been relieved of the fear 
of exposure and of the necessity of associating 
with his old comrades in crime, it is not improba- 
ble that his better nature would have triumphed. 

24:2 Bannack in 1862. 

He possessed great executive ability — a power 
over men that was remarkable, a fine person, 
polished address, and prescient knowledge of his 
fellows — all of which were mellowed by the 
advantages of a good early education. With all 
the concerns of a mining camp experience had 
made him familiar, and for some weeks after his 
arrival in Bannack he was oftener applied to 
for counsel and advice than any other resident. 
Cool and dispassionate, he evinced on these occa- 
sions a power of analysis that seldom failed of 
conviction. He speedily became a general favor- 
ite. We can better imagine than describe the 
mixed nature of those feelings, which, fired with 
ambitious designs and virtuous purposes, beheld 
the way to their fulfilment darkened by a 
retrospect of unparalleled atrocity. So true it 
is that the worst men are the last to admit to 
themselves the magnitude of their offences, that 
even Plummer, stained with the guilt of repeated 
murders and seductions, a very monster of iniq- 
uity, believed that his restoration to the pursuits 
and honors of virtuous association could be es- 
tablished but for a possible exposure by some 
of his guilty partners. He knew their watchful 
eyes were upon him ; that they were ready to 
follow him as leader or crush him as a traitor. 

Bannack in 1862. 24S 

Of no one was he in greater dread than his 
sworn enemy, Cleveland. This man, who made 
no secret of his own guilty purposes, had fre- 
quently uttered threats against the life of Plum- 
mer, and never lost an opportunity publicly to 
denounce him. Their feud was irreconcilable. 
Cleveland had incurred suspicion as the murderer 
of a young man by the name of George Evans, 
and was regarded generally as a desperado of 
the vilest character. It was no credit to Plum- 
mer that he came in his company to Bannack. 
But their previous criminal connection was as 
yet unrevealed. 

A few days after the disappearance of Evans, 
a number of citizens were seated and in general 
conversation around the fire in a saloon kept by 
Mr. Goodrich. Among the number were Plum- 
mer, Jeff Perkins, and Moore. Suddenly the 
door was violently opened and Cleveland entered. 
With an air of assumed authority he proclaimed 
himself " chief," adding witlr an oath that he 
knew all the scoundrels from the " other side " 
and intended to o-et even with some of them. 
The covert threat which these words revealed 
did not escape the notice of Plummer, but Cleve- 
land upon the instant charged Perkins with hav- 
ing violated a promise to pay some money which 

244 Bannack in 1862. 

he owed him in the lower country. Perkins 
assured him it had been paid. " If it has," said 
Cleveland, " it is all right," but as if to signify 
his distrust of Perkins's statement, he commenced 
handling his pistol and reiterating the charges. 
To prevent Cleveland from carrying his apparent 
design of shooting Perkins into execution, Plum- 
mer fixed his eyes sternly upon him and in a 
calm tone told him to behave himself, that 
Perkhis had paid the debt and he ought to be 

Quiet was restored for the moment and Per- 
kins slipped off, intending to return with his 
pistols and shoot Cleveland on sight. Here the 
difficulty would have ended had not Cleveland, 
in an evil moment, in a defiant and threatening 
manner, with mingled profanity and epithet, 
declared that he did not fear any of them. 
Filled with rage, Plummer sprang to his feet, 
drew his pistol, and exclaiming, " I am tired of 
this," followed up the expression with a couple 
of rapid shots, the last of which struck Cleveland 
below the belt. He fell on his knees. Grasping 
wildly for his pistol, he appealed to Plummer 
not to shoot him while he was down. " No," 
said Plummer, whose blood was now up ; " get 
up." Cleveland staggered to his feet, only to 

Bannack in 1862, 245 

receive two more shots, the second of which 
entered below the eye. He fell to the floor, and 
Plummer, sheathing- his pistol, turned to leave 
the saloon. At the door he was met by Georg-e 
Ives and Charley Reeves, each of wliom, jjistol 
in hand, was coming to take part in the affray. 
Each seizing an arm, they -escorted Plummer 
down the street, meanwhile suofofesting- with areat 
expletive emphasis a variety of surmises as to 
the possible effect of the quarrel upon the public. 
Hank Crawford and Harry Phleger, two re- 
spectable citizens, hastened to the aid of the 
dying desperado, whom they conveyed to Craw- 
ford's lodgings. His bed being poorly furnished 
Cleveland sent him to Plummer's to get a pair 
of blankets belono-ino- to him. The interview 
between Crawford and Plummer on this occasion 
showed that the mind of the latter was ill at ease. 
Like Macbeth's dread of Banquo, so he felt that, 
while Cleveland lived, — 

" There is none but he 
Whose being I do fear ; and under him 
My genius is rebuk'd." 

In the brief colloquy which took place between 
them, Plummer asked Crawford no less than 
three times what Jack had said about him. His 

246 Bannack in 1862. 

past career of crime was all before him. Craw- 
ford as often replied, " Nothing," 

" 'Tis well he did not," at length responded 
Plummer, " for if he had I would kill him in his 

Crawford then told him that, in reply to sev- 
eral questions asked him, Cleveland had said : — 

" Poor Jack has got no friends. Hs has got 
it " (meaning his death-wound), " and I guess he 
can stand it." 

Crawford left with the impression that Plum- 
mer still thought Cleveland had exposed him, 
and was careful afterwards to go armed, as he 
felt that his own life was in dancrer, Cleveland 
lingered in great agony for three hours, and 
was decently buried by Crawford. Soon after 
he had been removed to Crawford's cabin, Plum- 
mer sent a man known as " Dock," a cook, into 
the cabin as a spy, where he remained until 
Cleveland died. He said that the only reply 
Phleger received to repeated questions concern- 
ing the difficulty between him and Plummer 
was, " It makes no difference to you." The 
secret, if secret there was, died with him. 

No immediate investiofation was made of the 
circumstances of this affray. It was thought by 
many that Plummer merely anticipated Cleve- 

Bannaek in 1862. 247 

land's intention by firing first. Shooting of 
pistols and duelling were so common as of them- 
selves to excite no attention. Many bloody 
encounters took place of which no record has 
been preserved, and which at the time, were 
regarded as very proper settlements of difficul- 
ties between the parties. 

A few incidents as illustrative of the customs 
of a mining-camp will not be out of place in 
this immediate connection. On one occasion dur- 
ing the winter a quarrel sprung up between 
Geor;Ta Ives and Georof-e Carrhart in the main 
street. After a long wordy war interlarded with 
much profanity and various opprobrious epithets, 
Ives ran into a saloon noar for his pistol, exclaim- 
ino", " I will shoot you." Carrhart followed him 
and both reappeared at the door of the saloon 
a moment thereafter, each armed with a revolver. 
Facing each other upon the instant, both parties 
raised their pistols and fired without effect. 
After a second fire with no better effect, both 
parties walked rapidly backwards till they were 
widely separated, at the same time firing upon 
each other. Ives having emptied his revolver, 
stood perfectly still while Carrhart took deliberate 
aim and shot him in the groin, the ball passing 
through his body, inflicting a severe wound. 

248 Bannack in 180 2. 

Soon afterwards tliey reconciled their difficulties, 
and Ives lived with Carrhart on his ranche the 
remainder of the winter. 

Many of the early emigrants arrived at Ban- 
nack so late in the fall that they could provide 
themselves with no better shelter from the 
Aveather during the winter than was afforded by 
their wa<>ons. Of this number were Dr. Biddle 
and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Short, and their hired 
man from Minnesota. While seated around 
their camp fire one dismal afternoon, engaged 
in conversation with Mr. J. M. Castner, a bullet 
whizzed so near the ear of Castner that he felt 
its sting for several days. Castner ascertained 
that it was fired by one Cy. Skinner, a rough, 
who excused himself with the plea that he 
thought they were Indians, and by way of 
amends invited Dr. Biddle and Castner to drink 
with him. Castner had the good taste to de- 

The very composition of the society of Ban- 
nack at the time was such as to excite suspi- 
cion in all minds. Outside of their immediate 
acquaintances, men knew not whom to trust. 
They were in the midst of a people which had 
come from all parts of this country and from 
many of the nations of the Old World. Laws 


Bannack in 1862. 249 

which could not be executed were no better than 
none. A people, however disposed to the preser- 
vation of order and punishment of crimes, was 
powerless for either so long- as every man dis- 
trusted his neighbor. The robbers, united by a 
bond of sympathetic atrocity, assumed the right 
to control the affairs of the camp by the bloody 
code. No one was safe. The miner fortunate 
enough to accumulate a few thousands, the mer- 
chant whose business gave evidence of success, 
the saloon-keeper whose patronage was supposed 
to be productive, were all marked as victims by 
these lawless adventurers. If one of them needed 
clothing, ammunition, or food, he obtained it on 
a credit which no one dared refuse, and settled it 
by threatening to shoot the person bold enough 
to ask for payment. Such a condition of society, 
as all foresaw, must sooner or later terminate in 
disaster to the lovers of law and order or to the 
villains v/ho depredated upon them. Which were 
the stronger? The roughs knew their power, 
but their antagonists, separately hedged about 
by suspicion as indiscriminate as it was inflexible, 
knew not how to establish confidence in each 
other upon which to base an effective opposition. 
Meantime the carnival of crime was progressing. 
Scarcely a day passed unsignalized by outrage or 

250 Bannach in 1862. 

murder. The numerous tenants of the little 
grave-yard had all died by violence. People 
walked the streets in fear. 

This suspense was at last broken by a murder 
of unprovoked, heartless atrocity, which the 
people felt it would be more criminal in them to 
overlook than it was in the perpetrators to com- 
mit. In January, 1863, that notorious scoundrel, 
Charley Reeves, bought a squaw from the Sheep 
Eater tribe of Bannacks. She soon fled from him 
to her friends to escape his abuse. The tepee 
was located on an elevation south of that portion 
of the town known as " Yankee Flat," a few rods 
in rear of the street. Reeves went after her. 
Finding her deaf to persuasion, he employed vio- 
lence to force her return to his camp. An old 
chief interfered and thrust Reeves unceremoni- 
ously from the tepee. Burning with resentment. 
Reeves and Moore fired into the tepee the next 
evening, wouriding one of the Indians. They 
then returned to town, where they were joined 
by William Mitchell, ^\\t\\ whom they counter- 
marched, each firing into the tepee, and this time 
killing the old chief, a lame Indian, a pappoose, and 
a Frenchman by the name of Gazette, who had 
come to the tepee to learn the cause of the first 
shot. Two other persons who had been influenced 

Baiinack in 18 6-. 251 

by similar curiosity were badly wounded. When 
the murderers were afterwards told that they had 
killed white men, Moore with a profusion of pro- 
fane appellations said "■ they had no business 

252 31oore and Reeves. 



ZEKs — They are arrested — Trial axd Acquit- 
tal OF Plummer for killing Cleveland — ]\[ode 
OF Trial — Incident at Blackfoot — Trial of 
Moore and Reeves — Incidents of the Trial — 
Sentenced to Banishment — Banishment and Re- 
turn OF Mitchell. 

Alarmed at the indignation which this brutal 
deed had enkindled in the community, Moore 
and Reeves, at a late hour the same night, fled on 
foot in the direction of Rattlesnake. They were 
preceded by Plummer, who it was supposed had 
gone to provide means for their protection. He, 
however, afterwards asserted that he left through 
fear that in the momentary excitement the peo- 
])le would hang him for shooting Cleveland. 

A mass meetinn* of the citizens was held the 
next morning, and a cordon of guards appointed 
to prevent the escape of the ruffians. When it 
was discovered that they had gone, on a call for 


Moore and Reeves. 253 

volunteers to pursue them, Messrs. Lear, Higglns, 
Rockwell, and Davenport immediately followed 
on their track. The weather was intensely cold. 
The route of the pursuers lay over a lofty moun- 
tain covered with snow to a great depth. After 
riding as rapidly as possible, they came up with 
the fugitives at a distance of twelve miles from 
town. They had taken refuge in a dense thicket 
of willows on the bank of the Rattlesnake. Be- 
ing challenged to surrender, they peremptorily 
refused. Pointing their pistols with well-directed 
aim at the approaching party, and interlarding 
their discourse with a flood of oaths, they or- 
dered them to advance no farther on peril of 
their lives. The advantao-e was on the side of 
the robbers, and they could easily have shot 
down every one of their pursuers. A parley 
ensued. The position of both parties was fully 
discussed. The conviction that it was equally 
impossible for the pursuers to effect a capture, 
and for the ruffians to escape such a pursuit as 
would be made if they did not return, induced 
the latter to agree to a surrender, upon the ex- 
press condition that they should be tried by a 
jury. The pursuing party gave a ready assent 
to this arrangement, and the fugitives returned 
in their custody to town. 

254 Moore and Reeves. 

Plummer was put upon his trial immediately. 
While that was progressing a messenger was 
sent to Godfrey's Caiion, ten miles distant, to 
summon Mr. Godfrey and the writer, who, with 
others, were erecting a saw-mill there Before 
their arrival at midnight, Plummer was acquitted, 
no doubt being entertained, on presentation of 
the evidence, that he had killed Cleveland in 
self-defence. Several Avitnesses testified that they 
had on various occasions heard Cleveland threaten 
to shoot Plummer on sight. 

At a late hour the people separated with the 
purpose of assembling for the trial of Moore, 
Reeves, and Mitchell early the next morning. 
Day broke clear and cold. All work was sus- 
pended in the gulch, stores and hotels were aban- 
doned, and the entire population, numbering at 
least four hundred persons, assembled in and 
about the laro'e log; buildino- which had been 
designated as the place of trial. Every man was 
armed, some with rifles and shot-guns, others 
with pistols and knives. The friends of the 
prisoners gave free utterance to threats, which 
they accompanied with much profane assumption 
of superior power and many defiant demonstra- 
tions. Pistols were flourished and discharged, 
oaths and epithets freely bestowed upon the citi- 

Moore and Reeves. 255 

zens, and whatever vehemence of gesture and 
expression could do to intimidate the people, was 
adopted. Amid all this bluster it was apparent 
from the first that the current of popular opinion 
set strongly against the prisoners. There was an 
air of quiet determination manifested in every 
movement preparatory for the trial. The citizens 
were ready for an outbreak, and the least indica- 
tion in that direction would have been the signal 
for a bloody and decisive battle. It is not im- 
probable that an attempt at rescue was prevented 
by the presence of the overpowering force of 
armed and indignant citizens. 

The efforts of the roughs to suppress the trial 
only increased the indignation of the people, and 
after electing a temporary chairman, a motion 
was made that the accused be tried by a miners' 
court. This form of tribunal grew out of the 
necessities of mining life in the mountams. It 
originated in the early days of California, when 
the country was destitute of courts and law, and 
still exists in inchoate mining communities as a 
witness to the fairness and honesty of American 
character. It is now the general custom among 
the property holders of a mining camp, as the 
first step towards organization, to elect a presi- 
dent or judge, who is to act as the judicial officer 

256 Moore and Reeves. 

of the district. He has both civil and criminal 
jurisdiction. All questions affecting the rights 
of property, and all infractions of the peace, are 
tried before him. When complaint is made to 
him, it is his duty to appoint the time and place 
of trial in written notices which contain a brief 
statement of the matter in controversy, and are 
posted in conspicuous places throughout the 
camp. The miners assemble in force to attend 
the trial. The witnesses are examined, either by 
attorneys or by the parties interested, and when 
the evidence is closed the judge states the ques- 
tion at issue, desiring all in favor of the plaintiff 
to separate from the crowd in attendance until 
they can be counted, or to signify by a vote of 
" aye " their approval of his claim. The same 
forms are observed in the decision of a criminal 
case. The decision is announced by the judge 
and entered upon his record. AYhere the punish- 
ment is death, the criminal is generally allowed 
one hour to arrange his business and prepare for 
death ; when it is banishment, a few hours are 
given him to leave the camp. If he neglects to 
comply with the sentence he is in danger of 
being summarily executed. Where the rights of 
parties are settled by the court, and the defeated 
party shows any resistance to the decision, it is 

Moore and Reeves. 257 

the duty of the court, if necessary, with the 
strong hand to enforce it. The court is com- 
posed of the entire population. To guard 
against mistakes, the party in defeat, in all cases, 
has the right to demand a second vote. 

The progress of a trial in one of these courts 
is entirely practical. Often the miners announce 
at the commencement that the court must close 
at a certain hour. Cross-examinations are gen- 
erally prohibited, and if lawyers are employed, it 
is with the understanding that they shall make no 
long arguments. Each party and their respective 
witnesses give their evidence in a plain, straight- 
forward manner, and if any of the listeners desire 
information on a given point in the testimony 
they request the person acting as attorney to ask 
such questions as are necessary to obtain it. The 
decisions of these tribunals are seldom wrong, 
and are always enforced in good faith. They have 
many advantages in mining regions over courts 
at law. None of the tedious incidents of pleading, 
adjournment, amendment, demurrer, etc., which 
at law so often consume the time of litigants and 
put them to unnecessary expense, belong to a 
miners' court. 

The miners themselves have little time to spare, 
and hence these courts are held on Sunday in all 

258 Moore and Reeves. 

cases where the exigency is not immediate. They 
are held in the open air. Whenever, from any 
seemingly unnecessary cause, their investigations 
are prolonged, as by argumentative display, there 
are always those present who, by the command 
" Dry up," " No spread-eagle talk," force them to 
a close. 

On one occasion at Blackfoot, in Montana, a 
rough was on trial for crimes which endangered 
his life. A motion had been made by his counsel 
that his life be spared on condition that he would 
leave the gulch in fifteen minutes, — which motion 
was carried by a small majority. In anticipation 
of this favorable result his friends had provided 
a mule to expedite his departure. The presiding 
miners' judge announced to him the condition of 
his freedom from death. Fearful that a recon- 
sideration might be demanded, the moment he 
was released he vaulted into the saddle, and look- 
ing around upon the crowd exclaimed, "Fifteen 
minutes ! ! Gentlemen, if this mule doesn't buck, 
five will do ! " and lashing the sides of the animal 
he disappeared at double-quick amid the shouts 
and laughter of the crowd. 

It was a trial by this court that the murderers 
dreaded, and to escape which they made a trial 
by jury the condition of their surrender. When 

Moore and Reeves. 259 

the motion was made to substitute the miners' 
court it fell into their midst like a thunderbolt. 
They regarded a trial by the mass as certain of 
conviction as a trial by jury would be of acquittal, 
not because the latter would be any less likely 
than the former to perceive their guilt, but because 
fear of personal consequences would prevent them 
from declaring it. Men whose identity was lost 
in a crowd would do that which, if they were 
known, would mark them as victims for future 
assassination. The friends of the prisoners showed 
the estimation in which they regarded this con- 
sideration when they openly threatened with death 
every individual who participated in the trial. 
They anticipated that, as none would dare in 
defiance of this threat to act upon a jury, all 
proceedings would ba suppressed, thus renewing 
the license for their continued depredations. 

The statement of the motion by the chairman 
was the sig-nal for a violent commotion amono- the 
roughs. One long howl of profanity, mingled 
with the most diabolical threats and repeated dis- 
charge of pistols, filled the room. Many shots 
ware turned from their deadly aim by timely hands 
and discharged into the ceiling. Knives were 
drawn and flourished in the faces of prominent 
citizens, accompanied with threats of death in case 

260 Moore and Beeves. 

the motion prevailed. The scene was fearful in 
the extreme. The miners in different parts ot 
the crowd could be seen getting their guns and 
pistols ready for a collision which at one stage 
of the tumult it seemed impossible to avoid. At 
length the repeated cries of the chairman for order, 
and the earnest voices of several persons who were 
desirous of discussing the proposition, allayed the 
noise and confusion, so that they could ^e heard 
The guilt of the prisoners was so palpable that 
the people deemed any sort of a trial which 
would not speedily terminate in their condem- 
nation a farce. A very large majority were 
in favor of a miners' court, because they foresaw 
that any other form of trial afforded opportunity 
for escape. Three hours were spent m determm- 
ino- the question. Many short, emphatic argu- 
ments were made. In the meantime the disturb- | 
ance made by the roughs waxed and waned to 1 
suit the different stages of the discussion, bhots f 
at one moment and shouts at another betrayed 
their approval or disapproval of the sentiments of 
the speaker. I had from the first made myself 
offensive to my own immediate friends and inti- 
mates by pertinaciously claiming for the prisoners 
a trial by jury, and mounting a bench I embraced 
an early opportunity to give, in a few pointed 

Moore and Reeves. 261 

words addressed to the assembled miners, my 
views. I reminded them o£ the constitutional 
provision which secured to every one accused of 
crime a trial by jury. It was a law of the land, 
as applicable on this as on any other occasion. 
The men were probably guilty ; if so, the fact 
should be proved; if not, they had the right 
by law, on proving it, to an acquittal. Moreover, 
they had surrendered at a time when they could 
not have been captured, upon the express condi- 
tion that they should be tried by jury. I asked, 
" Shall we io'nore the agfreement made with them 
by our officers ? " I concluded by offering a 
motion that they be tried by a jury. It was 
negatived by three to one. Immediately a cry 
rose in the crowd, " Hang them at once ; " this was 
followed by other cries of " String 'em up," " To 
the scaffold with 'em." Pistols were drawn and 
flourished more freely than before, and many 
personal colHsions, resulting in bloody noses, 
black eyes, and raw heads took place in all parts 
of the room. Another hour was spent in discus- 
sion, and finally by a bare majority it was agreed 
to give the prisoners the benefit of a trial by jury. 
It is impossible to portray with accuracy of 
detail the fearful effects of passion which were 
exhibited by the assembly while this question 

262 Moore and Reeves. 

was being determined. On a limited scale it 
could not have been unlike some o£ the riotous 
gatherings in Paris in the days of the first revolu- 
tion. It wanted numbers, it wanted the magnificent 
surroundings of those scenes, but as an exhibition 
of the passions of depraved men, when inflamed 
with anger, drink, and vengeance, it could not 
have been greatly surpassed by them. 

Order at length being restored, a portion of 
the room was enclosed with scantling, for the 
accommodation of the Court and jury. J. F. 
Hoyt was elected Judge, Hank Crawford sheriff, 
and George Copley, prosecutor. The jury was 
next chosen by a vote of the people. My own 
appointment on the jury was urged by the 
roughs, as a compliment for my efforts to obtain 
for them a jury trial. I was regarded by them 
as a friend, and they hoped confidently for 
acquittal through my influence. 

At first it was determined that the examination 
of the witnesses for both prosecution and defence 
should be conducted by George Copley, the 
prosecutor, but upon an appeal for justice in 
behalf of the prisoners it was at length decided 
by a small majority that the accused should 
be allowed the assistance of counsel, with the 
understanding that all the questions of their 

Moore and Reeves. 263 

counsel were first to be submitted to the prose- 
cutor. Hon. Wm. C. Rheem was chosen to 
defend the prisoners, and there were many 
threats of violence toward him for consenting to 
conduct the defence. It was agreed that the 
arguments to be made on either side should be 
brief, and that the trials should be urged to their 
conclusion with all possible expadition. Mr. 
Rheem's ability as a lawyer was unquestioned, — 
which fact furnished to those who objected to a 
jury trial their principal reason for opposing his 
employment as counsel for the prisoners. As the 
extent of Mitchell's criminality was uncertain, he 
was allowed a separate trial. His case was first 
brought under examination. It appeared in 
evidence that he accompanied Moore and Reeves 
on their second murderous visit to the tepee, but 
he was able to show that he did not once fire his 
gun, and consequently could not be guilty of 
murder. His trial was soon terminated. The 
jury recommended that he should be immediately 
banished from the gulch. 

The guilt of Moore and Reeves was fully 
established. This result was foreseen by their 
friends ; and while the trial was in progress they 
sought by threats and ferocious gesticulations to 
intimidate the jury. Gathering around the side 

264 Moore and Reeves. 

of the enclosure occupied by the jury, they kept 
up a continued conversation, the purport of 
which was that no member of that Court or jury 
would live a month if they dared to find the 
prisoners guilty. Occasionally, their anger wax- 
ing hot, they would draw their pistols and 
knives, and brandishing them in the faces of the 
jurymen, utter a number of filthy epithets, and 
bid them beware of their verdict. Crawford was 
an object of their especial hate. Their abusive 
assaults upon him and threats were so frequent 
and violent that at one time he tendered his 
resignation and refused to serve, but upon the 
promise of his friends to stand by and protect 
him he retained his position. The case was 
given to the jury at about seven o'clock in the 
evening. A friend of the prisoners in the court- 
room nominated me as foreman, but upon my 
refusal to serve under that nomination I after- 
wards received the appointment by a vote of my 

The jury were occupied in their deliberations 
until after midnight. No doubt was entertained, 
from the first, of the guilt of the prisoners, but 
the exciting question was whether they could 
afford to declare it. They all felt that to do so 
wouH be to announce their own death sentence. 

Moore and Reeves. 265 

They knew that the friends of the prisoners 
fully intended to have life for life. They had 
sworn it. One of the jurymen said that the 
prisoners ought never to have been tried by a 
jury, but in a miners' court, that he should not 
be governed in his decision by the merits of the 
case, but that, as he had a family in the States 
to whom his obligations were greater than to 
that community, he should have to vote for 
acquittal. After much conversation of this sort, 
which only served to intensify the fears of the 
jurymen, a vote was taken which resulted as 
follows: not guilty, 11; guilty, 1; myself, the 
supposed friend of the roughs, being the only 
one in favor of the death penalty- It was 
apparent that further deliberation would not 
change this decision, and the jury compromised 
by agreeing to a sentence of banishment, and a 
confiscation of the property of the prisoners for 
the benafit of those they had wounded. 

The Court met the ensuing morning, when the 
verdict, under seal, was handed to the judge. 
He opened and returned it to the foreman, with 
a request that he read it aloud. An expression 
of blank astonishment sat upon the face of every 
person in the room, which was followed by open 
demonstrations of general dissatisfaction, by all 

266 Moore and Reeves. 

but the roughs, who, accustomed to outrages and 
long immunity, hailed it as a fresh concession 
to their bloody and lawless authority. 

Mitchell returned to Bannack after a few days' 
absence, which was seemingly regarded as a full 
expiation of his sentence. A miners' court met 
soon after his return, and in view of the fact 
that his sentence was not enforced, revoked the 
sentence of Moore and Reeves, who again 
rejoined their fellow-miscreants. Thus the first 
scene in the drama, which had been ushered in 
by such a bloody prologue, terminated in the 
broadest farce. 

The trial of Moore and Reeves was one of 
the earliest instances in the Territory where the 
lovers of law and order on one side, and the 
criminal element on the other, were brought into 
open, public antagonism. No one knew at that 
time which of the two was the stronjjer. The 
roughs had full confidence in their power to run 
the affairs of the Territory in their own way ; — 
and while the trial was progressing sought, by 
brandishing their revolvers in the court-room, by 
much loud-mouthed profanity, and by frequent 
interruptions and threats of vengeance directed 
against the judge and jury, to intimidate and 
terrify all who were concerned in conducting the 

Miners' Judge at trial of Moore and Reeves. 

Moore and Reeves. 267 

proceedings, and arrest them in their purpose. 
The life of Judge Hoyt, the acting magistrate 
of the occasion, was often threatened ; but he not 
only manifested no fear, but was all the more 
active and efficient in the discharge of the duties 
of his difficult position. Being the central figure 
in the court, his calmness and firmness inspired 
all the other persons engaged in the prosecution 
with courage equal to the occasion, while it 
daunted the roughs and probably prevented 

Professor Thomas J. Dimsdale, in his account 
of this trial, says : " To the delivery of this 
unfortunate verdict may be attributed the ascend- 
ency of the roughs. They thought the people 
were afraid of them. The pretext of the prison- 
ers that the Indians had killed some whites, 
friends of theirs, in 1849, while going to Califor- 
nia, was accepted by the majority of the jurors as 
some sort of justification : — but the truth is, 
they were afraid of their lives, and, it must be 
confessed, not without apparent reason." 

Mr. Rheem, who defended the prisoners, says : 
" My conscience has more than once pricked 
me for interposing between the rogues and the 
halter, but I never believed till the last hour of 
their trial that they would escape hanging." 

268 Crawford and Fhleger. 



Meeting akd Decision of the Roughs — Plummer as- 
signed TO THE Task of killing Crawford — Craw- 
ford's Exposures — Plummer seeks by Various 


Skill with the Pistol — Quarrel in a Saloon — 
Harry Phleger to the Rescue — Plummer de- 
feated — Another Saloon Affray — Phleger 
AGAIN — Plummer challenges Phleger — Craw- 
ford shoots and severely wounds Plummer — 
Leaves for Fort Benton — Is pursued, but es- 
capes — Dr. Glick dresses Plummer's Wound — 
His Life threatened. 

The banishment of Moore and Reeves was re- 
garded by the roughs as an encroachment upon 
the system they had adopted for the government 
of the country. Long impunity had fostered in 
them the beUef that the citizens would not dare 
to question their power to do as they pleased. 
They held a meeting, and it was quietly agreed 
among them, that every active participant in the 
late trial should be slain. The victims were 


Crawford and Phleger. ' 269 

selected, the work deliberately planned, and each 
man allotted his part in its performance. This 
wholesale scheme of vengeance was to be effected 
secretly, or by provoking those at whom it was 
aimed into sudden quarrel, and shooting them in 
assumed self-defence. Any course more culpable 
would afford the assassin small chance of escaping 
the vengeance of the law-abiding citizens. 

Plummer was the recognized chief of the mur- 
derous band. To him was assigned the task of 
kiUing Crawford, who, as sheriff, had acted a 
prominent part in the trial of the exiles. This 
task was rendered doubly acceptable to Plummer, 
because he believed it would silence the tongue 
of the only man in the country who had any 
knowledge of his guilty career in California. 
One such person, in Cleveland, had already been 
slain ; but Plummer suspected that on his death- 
bed, Cleveland had told Crawford everything. 
Crawford knew intuitively of Plummer's suspi- 
cions, and felt that his life was in danger. He was 
careful never to be unarmed. His business, as 
the proprietor of a meat market, was one of con- 
stant exposure. It rendered occasional journeys 
to Deer Lodge, where he purchased cattle, neces- 
sary, and his trips to his ranche, several miles 
from town, were also frequent. Outwardly, 

270 Crawford and Phleger. 

Plumnier was friendly. One of Crawford's 
friends, Harry Phleger, confirmed his worst 
suspicions, by telling him that he had seen 
Pliimmer near the market one night, apparently 
on the watch for him. He had also noticed some 
suspicious movements of Plummer and a rough, 
familiarly called " Old Tex," which seemed to be 
directed against Crawford. 

(The " Old Tex " mentioned in this part of the 
history must not be confounded with Boone 
Helm's brother, who is mentioned under the same 
cognomen in its earlier pages. " Old Tex " was 
a common sobriquet in the mountains, for noted 
men who had spent a portion of their lives in 
Texas. Almost every territory has its respective 
"Buffalo Bill," "Whiskey Bill," "Bed Rock 
Joe," " Sour Dough Tom," and " Old Tex.") 

Plummer soon saw that Crawford understood 
him, and that the only safe method of executing 
his design, was to provoke him into a quarrel. 
Plummer was reputed to excel any man in the 
mountains in the use of a pistol, — an accom- 
plishment in which Crawford had no skill. Sev- 
eral little incidents p-rowino- out of Crawford's 
efforts to re-imburse himself for the expenses he 
had incurred in the care and burial of Cleveland, 
and in the trial of Moore and Reeves, in which 

Crawford and Phleger. 271 

Plummer voluntarily intermingled, discovered the 
deadly purpose of the latter. On one of these 
occasions, believing that a quarrel could not be 
avoided, he was unexpectedly confronted by five 
or six of Crawford's friends with their hands on 
their revolvers. His temper and courage cooled 
at once, and he sent Crawford an apology, desir- 
ing to meet him as a friend. They shook hands 
a few days after, and parted, seemingly on the 
best of terms. 

Anxious as Crawford was to be at peace, he 
was not deceived by this offer of friendship. It 
was but a new move in the deadly game which 
Plummer was playing for his life, and he knew it. 
A few days afterwards, while conversing in a 
saloon, a rough-looking individual asked him, 
in an impudent manner, what he was talking 

" None of your business," replied Crawford. 

" I dare you," replied the man, with an insult- 
ing epithet, " to fight me with pistols." 

Looking around, Crawford discovered Plummer 
among the listeners standing near, and compre- 
hended the situation in an instant. 

" You have the odds of me with a pistol," said 
he. " Why should I fight you ? " 

" Well, then," said the man, in a furious pas- 

272 Crawford and Phleger. 

sion, " try it with your fists. That'll tell which 
is the best man." 

Discovering that the man had no belt, Craw- 
ford unbuckled his own, and laid his pistol on the 
bar. Following his challenger into a dark corner 
of the room, he slapped him in the face. The 
man instantly drew from his coat a revolver, but 
before he could aim it, Crawford seized him by 
the throat and disarmed him. At this moment, 
Plummer joined the man in the attack on Craw- 
ford, and the two wrested the pistol from him, 
and, but for the timely interference of Harry 
Phleger, who came to Crawford's assistance and 
recovered possession of the pistol, Crawford would 
probably have been shot. Crawford and Phleger 
then left the saloon. It did not surprise Craw- 
ford, when told afterwards by the saloon-keeper, 
that the design was to entrap him into an out- 
door fight with pistols, when Plummer was ready, 
with his friends, to shoot him as soon as the battle 

This assault did not disturb Plummer's affected 
friendship for Crawford. Learning a few days 
afterwards that the latter was gr-oino- to Deer 
Lodge for cattle, he on the first opportunity told 
him that he should start for Fort Benton the next 
morninsf. Crawford knew that this was offered 

Crawford and Phleger. 273 

as an explanation in advance for his absence, and 
to throw him oft" his guard in the trip he contem- 
plated making after cattle. He replied at once, — 

" Wait a day or two and I'll accompany you 
part way." 

" No," said Plummer, " my business is urgent." 
Plummer left the next morning, accompanied by 
Georoe Carrhart. Crawford found it convenient 
to be detained by private business, and sent his 
butcher in his stead, who met Plummer at the 
crossino- of Bio^ Hole river, and that worthv, 
upon being informed that Crawford was not going 
to Deer Lodge, returned to Bannack. Crawford 
was afterwards told that Plummer had made three 
efforts at different times to waylay and murder 
him on the road to Deer Lodge. 

Among other devices employed, Plummer 
sought through his associates to accomplish the 
death of Crawford. He sent a notorious rough 
known as Bill Hunter, to engage him in a quar- 
rel and shoot him. Hunter, meeting Crawford, 
told him he had something against him. 

" If you want anything of me," said Crawford, 
with th^ emphasis of his hand upon his pistol, 
" you can get it right straight along." 

Seeing that he would probably be killed before 
he could draw his pistol, or, in the sententious 

274 Crawford and Pldeger. 

phrase of the country, that he could not " get 
the drop on him," Hunter left, discomfited by 
Crawford's bravery. 

The next Sunday while Crawford and George 
Perkins were in conversation, in one of the sa- 
loons, Plummer came in, seemingly in great 

" George," said he, addressing Perkins, " there's 
a little matter between you and Craw^f ord in which 
I am concerned, that's got to be settled." 

" Well, I can't imagine what it can be," Craw- 
ford laughingly replied. " I'm not aware of hav- 
ing said or done anything concerning you, that 
should excite your anger or call for a settlement." 

" Oh, you needn't laugh," responded Plummer 
with an oath. " It's got to be settled ; " and turn- 
ing to Perkins he continued, " you and Crawford 
have been telling around through the camp, that 
I was trying to court the squaw Catherine." Then 
applying to Perkins a disgraceful epithet, he said, 
" You are a coward. I can whip you and Hank 
Crawford both, and if you are anything of a man, 
you will just step out of doors and fight me." 

" I am, as you say," said Perkins, "' a coward, 
and no fighting man when I've got nothing to 
fight for. I would not go out of doors to fight 
with anybody." 

Crawford and Phleger. 275 

" Crawford won't admit that," said Plummer, 
" and if you refuse the challenge, I ask the same 
satisfaction of him. Let him go out with me if 
he dares." 

" Plummer," replied Crawford, " I neither know 
what cause there is for fighting you, nor why I 
should fear to go out of doors on your challenge. 
I do not believe that one man was made to scare 

" Come on, then," said Plummer, passing into 
the street, closely followed by Crawford. When 
they had walked a few steps, — 

" Now pull your pistol," said Plummer. 

Crawford was standing close beside Plummer. 

" I'll pull no pistol," he replied. " I never 
pulled a pistol on a man yet, and you'll not be the 

'' Pull your pistol," persisted Plummer. " You 
may draw it and cock it, and I'll not go for mine 
until you have done so, and uttered the word to 

" I'm no pistol shot," said Crawford, " and 
you know it, — and you wouldn't make me a 
proposition of this kind if you hadn't the ad- 


" Pull your pistol," retorted Plummer, with an 
oath, " and fight me like a man, or I'll give you 

276 Crmvford and Pldeger. 

but two hours to live, and then I'll shoot you 
down like a dog." 

" If that's your game, Plummer," said Crawford 
laying his hand on his shoulder^ and looking him 
steadily in the eye, " the quicker you do it, the 
worse for you. I'll present you a fair target." 

Turning upon his heel Crawford walked delib- 
erately away, well knowing that fear of conse- 
quences would prevent Plummer from firing at 
him, ^sathout some plausible excuse. This con- 
versation occurred at a late hour in the afternoon. 
Harry Phleger came into town early in the even- 
ing. Crawford sent a message to him, requesting 
him to come at once to Peabody's saloon. As he 
entered, Crawford told him that Plummer had 
given him two hours to live, and the time had 
nearly expired. 

"I expect," said Crawford, "he will keep his 

" If he attempts it," replied Phleger, " we will 
try and give him as good as he sends. It's clever 
at any rate to inform one of his intentions. He 
will expect you to be prepared." 

In a few minutes five or six men, armed with 
revolvers, entered the saloon, followed by Plum- 
mer. He had remained long enough outside to 
deposit a double-barrelled gun over the door. 

Crawford and Pldeger. 277 

" Deaf Dick," who accompanied the crowd, was 

" Come on, boys," said Phleger, " let's take a 

All stepped back in refusal of the invitation. 

" Well, Dick," said Crawford, addressing- him 
in a key that he could hear, " you'll drink any- 

'' Not I," said Dick with an oath. " I drink 
with no coward such as you have proved yourself 
to be by refusing to fight Plummer." 

" You're the wrono- man to brand me as a 
coward, at any rate," said Crawford, advancing 
toward him as if with the intention of striking. 

Plummer at once stepped up and handed Dick 
his revolver, and the crowd gathered around him 
and Crawford. Harry Phleger at this moment 
drew his pistol, and Crawford said to him, — 

" Harry, I suppose these men have come to 
kill me. You are my only friend, and I'll make 
you a present of my six-shooter. I suppose I've 
cot to die." 

" Who will kill you ? " asked Phleger, 

" Plummer, I suppose. He tL/eatened it," was 
the reply. 

" Not a man here dare shoot you," said Phleger, 
at the same time looking around upon the 

278 Crawford and Phleger. 

crowd, and characterizing it bj a degrading 

Plummer at this jumped forward, and seizing 
Phleger's revolver, tried to wrest it from him. 
In the grapple Plummer was thrown, when Phle- 
ger drawing another pistol from his belt, presented 
both ready cocked to the crowd, which was now 
pressing threateningly towards him, and calling 
to Crawford, said, — 

" Come on. Hank, let's get out of this," and 
both backed out into the street facing their assail- 
ants, who did not follow them. 

Phleo'er and Crawford started for the lodorinos 
of the latter, passing on the way the meat mar- 
ket, where they were joined by Johnny Shepard 
and another man, who, taking all the arms they 
could find, went with them. As soon as they ar- 
rived at the room, Crawford, comj^letely unnerved, 
lay down and cried himself to sleep. Phleger 
was made of sterner stuff, and watched all night. 
Some one rapped at the door at midnight, but 
was told by Phleger that if he attempted to enter, 
he would shoot him " on siofht." 

On the morning of the second day after this 
occurrence, Plummer came up the street, gun in 
hand, peeping by the way into the saloons and 
market for Crawford. Not finding him, he as- 

Crmvford mid Phleger. 279 

sumecl a watchful attitude, and stood leaning on 
his gun, twenty steps distant from the door of the 
market. Crawford not appearing, after half an 
hour he walked on w ith " Deaf Dick " to Phleger's 
room. Phleger met him at the door, and invited 
him in. 

" No," said Plummer, " you've set yourself up 
for a game-cock, and to let you know that I hold 
you in no fear, I've come up to give you a chance 
to display your skill. Get your gun and we'll try 
an exchange of shots at ten paces." This invita- 
tion was interlarded with the usual complement 
of oaths and epithets. Harry felt the abuse of 
Plummer keenly, but knew too well his skill with 
fire-arms to consent to the murderous ^proposition. 

" No, thank you, Plummer," he replied, laugh- 
ing, " I'm not looking around for any one to 
shoot this morning, and have no special regard 
for any one who is. If you are, and you really 
want to shoot, you'd better turn loose." 

It so happened that at the time of this conver- 
sation, Crawford, armed for the purpose, was 
searching for Plummer, with the intention of 
shooting him. As is usual on all such occasions, 
friends interfered to prevent a collision, but Craw- 
ford, believing that either he or Plummer must 
die on their next meeting, gave no heed to their 


Crawford and PMeger. 

advice. When this was understood by Plummer's 
friends, they resorted to various devices to throw 
Crawford off his guard. At one time they told 
him that Plummer was about to leave town. 
This only made him the more watchful. Plum- 
mer, meantime, was careful to have one or more 
friends constantly in his company, so that Craw- 
ford could not fire at him without endanor-erino- 
the lives of others. This situation of affairs be- 
tween the two men continued for several days. 
The entire community was prepared to hear of 
the death of one or both at any moment, and 
each was now encouraged in his purpose by his 
friends. Plummer was frequently seen near the 
butcher shop, but never alone. He finally disap- 
peared, and sent a friend to Crawford with the 
proposition that they should drop all hostile in- 
tentions and meet as strano-ers. 

" Tell Plummer," said Crawford, " that the 
trick is too shallow. I know him. His word of 
honor, so repeatedly broken, I regard no more 
than the wind. He or I must die or leave the 

Soon after this, one of Crawford's friends dis- 
covered that Plummer and his friends had laid a 
plan to shoot him in his own doorway, under 
cover of a house directly opposite, and told Craw- 

Crawford and Phleger. 281 

ford of it. While Crawford was on the lookout, 
a lady living in a cabin in the rear of the Bannack 
Restaurant called to him to come and get a cup of 
coffee. While he was drinking it, Frank Raj 
approached him, and telling him that Plummer 
was searching for him, placed in his hands Buz 
Cavan's double-barrelled rifle. At this moment, 
Plummer, armed with a similar weapon, came up 
on the opposite side of the street, and stopping in 
front of the door, with one foot elevated and rest- 
ing upon a spoke of a wagon-wheel, placed his 
rifle across his knee, his right fore-arm lying hori- 
zontally along the stock, which he grasped as if 
prepared to fire at a moment's notice. Crawford's 
friends urged him to improve that opportunity to 
shoot him. He went out quickly, and resting the 
rifle across a log projecting from the corner of the 
cabin, shot Plummer in the right arm, the ball 
entering at the elbow, and lodging in the wrist. 

" Fire away, you cowardly ruffian," shouted 
Plummer, straightening himself and facing 

Crawford fired a second time, but the bail 
missed ; and Plummer walked down to his cabin, 
carrying his gun, and followed by several of his 

Crawford knew that Plummer's friends would 

282 Crawford and Phleger. 

kill him, unless he outwitted them on his escape 
from the country. He left for Fort Benton 
immediately, travelling the entire distance of two 
hundred and eighty miles by a trail that only 
those who had passed over it could trace. He 
was followed by three roughs, but arrived at the 
Fort in advance of them, where he was protected 
by Mr. Dawson, the factor at the post. He 
remained there until spring, and then took pas- 
sage on a Mackinaw boat to the States. 

^Crawford's friends, and the miners generally, 
who had regarded this quarrel as a personal 
difficulty between him and Plummer, rejoiced at 
his escape. It had terminated injuriously as they 
felt, to the party who was most in fault, and they 
were glad the result was no worse. Few knew 
or ever suspected that it had any deeper origin 
than the frequent collisions incident to Crawford's 
attendance upon Cleveland, after he was shot, and 
his action as sheriff at the trial of Moore and 
Reeves. Had it been understood at this time that 
the roughs had not only decreed the death of 
Crawford, but of every other man who partici- 
pated in that trial, the people would have placed 
themselves on a war footing, and organized them- 
selves to resist the encroachments of the ruffians, 
which finally left them no other alternative. So 

Crawford and Phleger. 283 

fully did they carry out their avowed purposes, 
that, within five months after the trial, not more 
than seven of the twenty-seven men who partici- 
pated in it as judge, prosecutor, sheriif, witnesses, 
and jurors, were left alive in the territory. Eight 
or nine are knov/n to have been killed by some 
of the band, and others fled to avoid a like 

Plummer's wound was very severe. The ball 
entered at the elbow. Passing down the arm, it 
broke each bone in two places. Dr. Glick, the 
surgeon in attendance upon him, after a careful 
examination of the wound, was of the opinion 
that amputation alone could save his life. The 
ball could not be found, and the arm swelled to 
thrice its natural size, and the passage made by 
the ball was filled for its entire length with bony 

Plummer had in a previous affray lost the 
ready use of his other hand, and knowing that 
the loss of this arm would necessarily deprive him 
of his position of chief among the roughs, and 
that his life depended upon his skill in drawing 
his revolver, — as he had numerous enemies, who 
would endeavor to kill him but for the advantage 
which this skill gave him, — declared that he 
might as well die as lose his arm, and peremptorily 

284 Crawford and Plileger. 

refused to consent to the operation, but insisted 
that the ball must be found and removed- 

Dr. Glick, who was highly accomplished in 
surgery, explamed to him the danger of such an 
o[)eration, but Plummer said he would rather die 
in the effort to cure the arm than live without it. 
With great reluctance, and little faith in his 
ability to save the arm, the doctor undertook the 
thankless task, and made preparations to operate 
accordingly. When the arm was bared, and the 
doctor was about to commence, " Old Tex " and 
Bill Hunter entered the room, the latter armed 
with a double-barrelled shot-srun. 

"I just thought," said he to the doctor, " that 
I'd tell you, that if you cut an artery, or Plum- 
mer dies from the operation you are going to per- 
form, I'm going to shoot the top of your head 

The operation was successfully performed, and 
a large amount of spiculae and disorganized tis- 
sue removed, — but the bullet could not be found. 
For several days the result was uncertain. Dr. 
Glick gave to the wound, which w^as terribly 
inflamed, his unremitting attention. He had 
incurred the hatred of Plummer's friends because 
of his active support of law and order. They 
pretended to believe that he did not wish for 

Crawford and Phleger. 285 

Plummer's recovery, and told him that they would 
hold him responsible with his life, for the safety 
of his patient. What was to be done ? Escape 
from the country in the midst of an inclement 
season seemed impossible. In order to effect it, 
he must follow Crawford over an unknown trail 
to Fort Benton or to the Bitter Root valley, or 
run the gantlet of the hostile Indians at Bear 
river over a route of four hundred miles to Salt 
Lake. Plummer's wound was daily getting worse. 
The doctor, well knowing that the ruf&ans would 
put their threat into execution, prepared for his 
escape. Suspecting his intention, the friends of 
Plummer kept a close watch upon him. Despite 
their vigilance, however, a trusty friend secured 
his horse, saddled and bridled, in the bushes 
behind his cabin on the night that the crisis in 
the inflammation arrived. The doctor instructed 
Plummer's attendants to awaken him, in order 
that he might make his escape, if the swelling 
did not begin to abate by midnight, and lay down, 
booted and spurred, to get a little rest. But the 
favorable change which took place, while it saved 
to Montana one of her best citizens in Dr. GHck, 
lengthened out for a darker fate than that 


which had threatened it, the guilty life of Henry 

286 Crawford and Phleger. 

Dr. Glick came to Bannack with a party of 
emigrants of which he was captain, in 1862. 
The company were bound for Salmon river, but 
were arrested in their progress by the reputed 
richness of the Grasshopper mines. Glick bad 
lost a handsome property in the early part of the 
war, and came to the gold mines to replenish his 
broken fortunes. He was accomplished in his 
profession, especially in surgery, and was the only 
physician in practice who had the confidence of 
the people, — Dr. Leavitt, also an able practitioner, 
— being, at the time, engaged in mining. 

His services were in almost daily demand by 
the road agents, to dress wounds received in 
broils among themselves, or while engaged in the 
commission of robbery. It was impossible, from 
his frequent contact with them, and the circum- 
stances with which ofttimes he found them sur- 
rounded, for him to avoid a knowledge of their 
guilty enterprises. But he neither dared to de- 
cline to serve them, nor to divulge their villany, 
well knowing that in either case, he would fall a 
victim to that summary vengeance, so promptly 
and fearlessly exercised in the case of Dillingham. 
He foresaw also, that a time must come, when all 
the guilty misdeeds which he had been obliged to 
conceal, would be revealed, and that then the 

Crawford a7id Phleger. 287 

lovers of law and order would suspect the integ- 
rity of his motives, and possibly class him among 
the men of whom he justly stood so much in fear. 
But there was no remedy. He knew that his 
actions were narrowly watched, and that a word 
or glance indicating his suspicions would cost him 
his life. It was a happy day for him when, by 
the death of Plummer, his lips were unsealed. 

The robbers, in other instances than the one 
recorded of his attendance upon Plummer, were 
in the habit of using threats to control the doc- 
tor's conduct. On one occasion in July, 1863, 
Plummer invited him to accompany him on a 
horseback excursion to his ranche on the Rattle- 
snake. Finding no one at the cabin on their ar- 
rival, Plummer asked the doctor to go with him 
down the creek and pick some berries. They 
soon came upon a large clump of birch bushes. 
Pulling them aside, Plummer disclosed an open 
space cut within the clump, in which were seated 
several men, seeing whom Glick drew back, but 
was told by Plummer to come in. He entered, 
and found himself amid five or six men with 
masked or blackened faces, of whom he recog- 
nized Moore and Billy Terwiliger. The latter 
was lying on a blanket, wounded in the leg by a 
bullet received in some affray. 

288 Crawford and Phleger. 

After dressing the wound, the doctor started 
with Plummer on the return to Bannack. While 
crossing the plateau between Rattlesnake and 
Bannack, Plummer suddenly wheeled in front of 
the doctor, and, cocking his pistol, thrust it into 
his face, saying, — 

"Now you know all. These are my men. I'm 
their chief. If you ever breathe a word of what 
you've seen, I'll murder you." 

Under this kind of surveillance, the doctor 
lived until the robber band was destroyed. His 
discretion, only equalled by his kindness of heart, 
saved both his life from destruction by the rob- 
bers, and his good name from the public odium 
of the people. Montana has had no worthier or 
more useful citizen. 

Henry Plummer was a man of wonderful ex- 
ecutive ability. He was well educated. In stat- 
ure he was about five feet ten inches, and in 
weight, one hundred and sixty pounds. His fore- 
head was partially concealed by the rim of the hat 
which he rarely removed from his head, and his 
eyes were mild and expressive. In demeanor he 
was quiet and modest, free from swagger and 
bluster, dignified and graceful. He was intelli- 
gent and brilliant in conversation, a good judge 
of men, and his manners were those of a polished 

Crawford and PJdeger. 289 

gentleman. To his enemies his magnanimity was 
more seeming than real. He always proffered 
them the advantage in drawing the pistol, but he 
knew that the instance would be very rare, where, 
even thus favored, his antagonist could anticipate 
him in its deadly use. 

Hon. Wm. C. Rheem, in a letter to the Helena 
(Montana) Herald, writes of Henry Plummer as 
follows : — 

" I remember Plummer very well. He was fre- 
quently in my cabin, and I often came in contact 
with him while he was exercisino; the office of 
sheriff. His form and face were familiar to the 
first settlers in Bannack. He was about five feet 
eleven inches in height, and weighed a hundred 
and fifty pounds. He was straight, slender, spare, 
agile, and what Western men call withy. He was 
a quiet man and talked but little ; when he did 
speak, it was always in a low tone and with a 
good choice of language. He never grew bois- 
terous, even in his cups, and no impulse of anger 
or surprise ever raised his voice above that of 
wary monotone. His countenance was in perfect 
keeping with his utterance. Both were under the 
same vigilant command. If one was like the low, 
continuous purr of the crouching tiger, the mus- 
cles of the other were as rigid as those of the 

290 Crawford and PMeger. 

beast before he springs. Affection, fear, hate^ 
grief, remorse, or any passion or emotion, found 
no expression in his immovable face. No color 
ever flushed his cheeks. With mobile and ex- 
pressive features, he would have been handsome 
— all except the forehead ; this, with the con- 
formation of the skull, betrayed the murderer, and 
Plummer knew it. The observer beheld a well- 
cut mouth, indicating decision, firmness, and in- 
telligence ; but not a line expressive of sensuality ; 
a straight nose and well-shaped chin, and cheeks 
rather narrow and fleshless, still, in their outlines, 
not unhandsome. But one might as well have 
looked into the eyes of the dead for some token 
of a human soul as to have souoht it in the lig-ht 
gray orbs of Plummer. Their cold, glassy stare 
defied inquisition. They seemed to be gazing 
through you at some object beyond, as though you 
were transparent. While other men laughed or 
pitied or threatened with their eyes, his had the 
same half-vacant stare, no matter how moving the 
story or tragic the spectacle. 

" I have said that Plummer knew he had a bad 
front : he tlierefore kept it jealously covered with 
the turn-down rim of his slouch hat. When not 
in the mood or act of slaughter or rapine, his 
politeness was notable and well timed in demon- 

Crawford and Pldeger. 291 

stration. He understood the formulas of courtesy, 
but the one of uncovering his head he failed to 

An examination of Plummer's arm after his 
death, disclosed the fact that the lower fracture 
of the radius never united, but formed a false 
joint. The bullet passed into the marrow of 
the lower end of the bone, and was stopped in 
its progress by the bones of the hand. From sub- 
sequent use of the hand, wdiile Plummer was 
sheriff, the bullet became worn as smooth as 
polished silver. 

292 Broadwater' s Stratagem. 



Departure of Moore and Reeves to Deer Lodge — 
Broadwater's and Pemberton's Improvements — 
Moore Sick — Broadwater's Kindness — Moore's 
Gratitude — Broadwater's Ride to Deer Lodge 
— Night at Big Hole — Shoots an Indian — 
Meets Ives and Cooper — Is pursued by them — 
Arrives in Safety at Contway's Ranche — Leaves 
THERE by a Ruse, and completes the Trip to Deer 

After sentence of banishment was pronounced 
upon them, Moore and Reeves went to the mining 
camp in Deer Lodge valley, located near the 
present site of Deer Lodge City. Messrs. Broad- 
water and Pemberton, two young men who came 
into the territory a few weeks before, had selected 
this spot as an eligible location for a town, and 
were engaged in laying it out at the time the 
guilty exiles arrived. They had already erected 
two cabins, one of which they occupied, the other 
being vacant. It was the middle of February, 
and the weather was intensely cold. Moore and 

Broadtvaters Stratagem. 293 

Reeves made their camp in a clump of willows 
upon the bank of the Deer Lodge river. With 
no better protection than their blankets, against 
the wintry blasts which swept down the valley 
and the frequent storms that gathered in the lofty 
ranges overhanging it, and with no food except 
beef and coffee, these men suffered severely. 
Moore soon fell sick of mountain fever, and 
would probably have died had not Broadwater 
caused his removal to the vacant cabin, and sup- 
plied him with food and medicines necessary 
to his recovery. Soon after he had sufficiently 
recovered to leave his bed, a messenger from Ban- 
nack brought the intelligence that the miners, at 
a recent meeting, had revoked the sentence of 
banishment against him and Reeves, and that they 
were at liberty to return. During his illness the 
Indians had stolen Moore's horse. Broadwater 
placed one at his disposal, and Moore rejoined his 
comrades at Bannack. 

In the following spring, Broadwater engaged 
in the cattle business, — buying in Deer Lodge 
and selling his herds at Bannack. The proceeds 
of these sales often amounted to thousands of 
dollars in gold dust. On one of these occasions 
he was preparing to return to Deer Lodge with 
six thousand dollars in gold. Moore called upon 

294 Broadwater s Stratagem. 

him, with a request for a few moments' confiden- 
tial conversation. 

" Make a free breast of anything you have to 
communicate," said Broadwater. " I will listen 
and be silent." 

" It's for your own safety, Broad," replied 
Moore, " and there is not another man in the 
country for whom I'd take the risk ; but you were 
my friend when I needed friendship : you saved 
my life, gave me food and shelter and care ; 
and I can never forget to be grateful — but you 
must pledge your honor not to betray me." 

" Freely, freely, Moore ; I would lose my life 

" Then," said Moore, " I give you friendly 
warning, that there is a band of road agents 
here, that know of your having received a large 
quantity of gold dust during the past three days. 
They are informed of the time of your intended 
departure for Deer Lodge, and intend to waylay 
and murder you on the way, and corral your gold. 
You are ' spotted ' for slaughter. My advice to 
you is to leave town secretly, and to be constantly 
on your guard, and under no circumstances let 
any one, not even your most intimate friend, know 
when you will leave." 

" I intended going to-morrow morning," replied 

Broadwater's Stratagem. 295 

Broadwater, " but if matters are as you tell me, 
I think I'll start to-night." 

At this Moore exclaimed, " Why, you fool ! 
there you go, shooting off your mouth to me the 
first thing. Didn't I caution you not to tell any 
one ? And in less than a minute you tell me just 
what you're going to do." 

It would be curious to know by what system of 
ethics Moore was governed in this strange admo- 
nition ; whether it was to impress upon Broad- 
water the necessity of a caution which should 
withhold confidence even from the person who 
warned him of a danger, or whether there was a 
conflict between gratitude to Broadwater and 
fidelity to his confederates. It is not improbable 
that he was bound by strong obligations to com- 
municate to his associates the very information 
which Broadwater had given him. 

Satisfied that Moore belonged to the gang, yet 
confiding in the truthfulness of his disclosure, 
Broadwater mounted his horse early in the even- 
ing, and at two o'clock the next morning was at 
the crossing^ of the Bior Hole river. There he 
intended to rest, but fearful that his horse might 
be stolen by some Pend d'Oreille Indians camped 
near, he rode on, six miles, to Willow creek. 
Fastening the lariat firmly to his wrist, and rely- 

29G Broachvafers /Stratagem. 

ing upon the sagacity of his horse, to warn him 
of the approach of any of his red neighbors, he 
lay down upon the grass, and fell asleep. An 
hour before daylight he was aroused by a sudden 
plunge and snort of his horse, which, with braced 
feet, was gazing intently at a patch of wild rye 
growing near. He retained his prostrate position, 
and, with his eyes riveted in the same direction, 
and his faithful revolver grasped ready for use, 
quietly awaited further developments. At length 
a slowly creeping object became dimly visible in 
the morning twilight. He delayed no longer, but 
taking deliberate aim, fired. Instantly an Indian 
rose above the rye stalks, and with a fearful yell, 
sped away into darkness. More frightened than 
the redskin, whom he afterwards learned he had 
severely wounded, he mounted his horse with the 
least possible delay, and hurried away from the 
dangerous neighborhood. 

His route now lay directly over the main range 
of the Rocky Mountains, by a pass whose ascent 
and descent are so imperceptible, that persons 
unacquainted with its peculiarities can never deter- 
mine where the one ends, or the other begins. 
It is covered with bunch grass for its entire dis- 
tance, and its very summit is crowned with one of 
the finest cattle rangfes in the mountains. The 

Broadwater s Stratayem. 297 

waters of the creek flowing naturally along its 
summit down its eastern slope to the Big Hole 
river, are carried by ditches and races over its 
western slope, for mining purposes, into the 
beautiful valley of the Deer Lodge, thus contrib- 
uting to swell on the one side the volume of the 
Miss'^uri, and on the other, that of the Columbia. 
The broad savannas which spread away on either 
side of this remarkable passage lend enchantment 
to a shifting and ever-varying scene of mountain 
beauties not excelled upon the continent. 

Just before daylight, Broadwater began to 
descend the declivity at whose foot flowed one of 
the forming streams of the Deer Lodge river. 
Glimpses of the valley could be obtained at every 
bend in the tortuous road. Day was just break- 
ing, and the perpetual snow on the distant peak 
of ''Mount Powell shone dimly through the haze. 
He was congratulating himself that the dangers 
of his trip were over, and he could complete it by 
a leisurely ride through one of the most delight- 
ful valleys in the world. These thoughts received 
a sudden check when, turning an abrupt angle in 
the road, he saw seated by a camp fire, the very 
persons, as he then felt, against whom Moore had 
warned him. One of them, George Ives, was 
reoarded as the most daring ruf&au in the moun- 

298 Broadwater's Strataye^n. 

tains; the other, Johnny Cooper, was known to 
be one of his chosen associates. They manifested 
great surprise at his approach. The quick eye of 
Broadwater took in all the advantagfes of the sit- 
nation. He saw their horses feeding upon the 
foot-hills, two or three miles away, and knew if 
he had been expected so soon, they w^ould have 
been saddled and ready for pursuit. They hailed 
him as he passed, urged him to wait until they 
could get their horses, and they would accompany 
him, telling him that as the road agents were 
abroad, it would be safer for him to do so. He 
replied that he was in a hurry, and as his horse 
was jaded with travel, they would soon overtake 
him, — and rode slowly on. To allay suspicion, 
he alighted from his horse and led him slowly up 
a steep hill, looking back when under way to the 
top, and calling to them, — 

" Get up your horses : you can overtake me 
over the hill." 

The horse, which was greatly fatigued, was 
favored by this device. Broadwater felt all the 
peril of his situation, and knew that nothing but 
coolness and decision could save him. He was 
twenty miles from the second crossing of the Deer 
Lodge, where a Frenchman by the name of David 
Coutway, was living with his Indian wife, prepar- 

Broadwater s Stratagem. 299 

iug to take up a ranclie. This was the nearest 
place of safety. Casting another glance at the 
freebooters, he saw, as he passed over the sum- 
mit of the hill, that they were making active 
preparations to pursue him. There was no time 
to be lost. It was to be a race for hfe, and his 
chances for escape depended upon the advantage 
he could win during the brief period his pursuers 
would require in getting ready to start. As soon 
as he was lost to their sight he remounted his 
horse, and, spurring him to his utmost speed, 
descended into the broad and open valley. His 
course now lay over a level plain denuded of trees, 
and rank with prairie vegetation. Every move- 
ment he made within any attainable distance, he 
knew would be seen by the men who were on his 
track. The clumps of willow which defined the 
course of the river were too small to afford even 
temporary shelter. His horse, liable at any mo- 
ment to give out, obeyed the urgency of the occa- 
sion, under whip and spur, with great reluctance. 
But his rider kept him up to his speed, more than 
once inclined to diverge from the trail toward the 
pine forest, which covered the foot-hills, four or 
five miles distant, on either side of the valley, and 
seek a covert there. When half the distance had 
been travelled, he looked back, and amid a cloud 

300 Broadwater s Stratagem. 

of dust, less than three miles away, he saw the 
robbers in full pursuit, seemingly gaining rapidly 
upon him. His poor, panting steed, whose sides 
were bleeding from the frequent lacerations of the 
spur, seemed on the point of exhaustion, and the 
thu'ty pounds of gold dust strapped to his person 
bore with terrible weight upon hmi. But there 
was no time to calculate any other chance for es- 
cape, than that of reaching the goal. On and on 
he spurred the jaded animal, often casting furtive 
glances back at the approaching death, and ex- 
pecting at every turn in the trail, to feel the fatal 
bullet. At length the little lodge of Contway 
peered above the willows. The horse renewed 
his vigor at the sight. The hurrying tramp of 
the pursuers was heard in the rear. A last and 
desperate effort was made to urge the horse to 
greater speed, and he dashed up to the door, fall- 
ing, on his arrival, with complete exhaustion. He 
was ruined, — but he had saved the life of his 
master. Ives and Cooper, less than fifty rods be- 
hind, reined their horses to a walk, and rode slowly 
up, while Broadwater was removing the saddle 
from his broken-down animal. Their horses were 
foaming with perspiration. 

" Well, you beat us on the ride," said Ives, 
addressing Broadwater. 

Broadwater' 8 Stratagem. 301 

" Yes," replied Broadwater : " you must have 
had trouble in catching your horses. I travelled 
slowly at first, but as you didn't come up, and I 
was anxious to get through, I afterwards hurried." 

The coolness of this colloquy betrayed to nei- 
ther party what was passing in the mind of the 

The horses were all turned out upon the adja- 
cent hills, and the three men shared alike the 
hospitality of Contway. But the race was only 
half finished. Twenty miles of distance inter- 
vened between Contway's and Deer Lodge, and 
how to pass over it, and escape with life, was 
the momentous question for Broadwater to solve. 
As a measurement of wit between himself and 
the ruffians, it involved consequences too impor- 
tant for any pride in the strife. It was simply a 
matter of life or death with him, with the added 
certainty that the smallest mistake in his calcula- 
tions would end in the latter. He knew that in 
Contway's herd was one of the fleetest horses in 
the Territory. Unobserved by his pursuers, he 
contrived to inform Contway of his situation, and 
found him ready to assist in his escape, by all 
means in his power. 

"Go and saddle Charley," said Broadwater, 
" and bring him up, on the pretence that you are 

302 Broadwater s Stratagem. 

going after your cows. Do it immediately ; and 
after he is hitched, I will ask you, in the presence 
of these men, for permission to ride him to Deer 
Lodge. With your assent, reluctantly given, I 
will mount and ride away, while their horses are 
grazing on the foot-hills." 

^^ Zat is all ver' goot," replied Contway. " By 
Gar, you have got him fixed all right : " — and 
away he went, returning in a quarter of an hour, 
mounted on a horse of great strength and beauty. 
Hitching him to a post in front of his lodge, he 
made the remark that his cows had been missing 
for a day or two, and he must go in pursuit of 

" Ho ! Contway," said Broadwater, " that is the 
very horse I want to complete my trip. My own 
is broken down, and I will leave him in your care, 
and return this one to you by the first opportu- 

" By Gar, I don't know," replied Contway : 
" zat horse is great favorite. I would not have 
him hurt for anvthing;." 

"But I'll pay you well," said Broadwater. 
" I'm in a great hurry to get home. Let me take 
him, — that's a good fellow. If I hurt him, I'll 
pay you your OAvn price." 

" You say zat here, before zese men. Zey will 

Broadwater s Stratagem. 303 

remember, and on zose conditions you may take 
ze horse." 

It was but the work of a moment for Broad- 
water to chanofe saddles and mount. 

" Hold on, Broad," said Ives. "• This is no 
way to leave a fellow. Wait till we get up our 
horses, and we'll all ride on together. It'll be 
more sociable." 

" Should be glad to do so, George, but it is of 
the utmost importance that I reach Deer Lodgo 
as soon as possible. I cannot wait ; but if you 
will get up your horses, and ride fast enough, 
you'll overtake me." 

So saying, Broadwater put spurs to his horse, 
and rode the twenty miles at a double-quick pace, 
arriving at Deer Lodge a little after two o'clock, 
completing the entire trip of one hundred and 
seven miles from Bannack to Deer Lodge, includ- 
ing stoppages, in eighteen hours. Ives and 
Cooper, finding themselves outwitted, followed 
leisurely, arriving early in the evening. 

804 Organization oj the liuaghs. 



Plummer's Skill with his Left Haxd — Selects 
Phleger for a Victim — Fails to embroil him ix 
A Quarrel — Ellis threatened — Escapes to the 
Missouri — Plummer axd Judge Daxcb — Plu:\i- 

NERS — Thorough Organization of the Roughs — 
Depredations in Town — Quarrel between Ban- 
field AND Sapp — Death OF Carrhart — Moore's 
Interference and Kecklessness — Contemplated 
Attack upon Winnemuck'.s Band — Rescue of a 
White Captive from the Indians — Buck Stinson's 
Barbarous Murder of " Old Snag," a Bannack 

While recovering- from his wound, Plummer, 
by constant practice, had acquired an expertness 
in the use of the pistol with his left hand, nearly 
equal to that o£ which Crawford's shot had de- 
prived him. Crawford being- out of his way, he 
was not satisfied that the quarrel which had ter- 
minated so injuriously to him should be propi- 
tiated without redress. He accordingly selected 

Organization of the Roucjhs. 305 

Phleger for a victim. With every outward demon- 
stration of friendship, he would, whenever they 
met, press him to drink, or to an interchange of 
such other civihties as would bring them together, 
and afford opportunity or pretence for sudden 
quarrel. Phleger never accepted any of these 
"invitations, without his hand upon his pistol. 
Plummer, often when in company with Phleger, 
would make an ostentatious display of his regard 
for him. " Once," said he, " Harry, I would have 
killed you ; but I could not now, when I think 
matters all over, find it in my nature to injure 
any true man, who would stand by another as 
you did by Crawford." Phleger could not be 
flattered by these honeyed words, even into mo- 
mentary forgetfulness of the diabolical motives 
which prompted them. He maintained a quiet 
but unmistakable attitude of defence. He was 
freighting at this time, and had several teamsters 
in his employ. 

" If," said he to them, " Plummer or any of 
his associates come for me, and I make the first 
shot and you fail to make the second, I'll shoot 
you. Just remember that." 

On one occasion, Plummer, as if for an excuse 
to draw his pistol, commenced talking of its 
merits to Phleger, who also drew his upon the 

306 Organization of the Houghs. 

instant. In the course of the conversation, 
Phimmer, while illustrating- some quality of the 
weapon, pointed it directly at Phleger ; but when 
he saw the muzzle of Phleocer's at the same mo- 
ment directed at his heart, he took the hint, 
sheathed his pistol, and departed. Phleger was 
not afterwards troubled w^ith his attentions. 

A miner by the name of Ellis, who had given 
important testimony against Moore and Reeves, 
by whom he was wounded in the 7nelee which re- 
sulted in the death of Gazette, was next singled 
out for slauofhter. He owned a minino- claim in 
the gulch, which he was working with the hope 
of speedily acquii-ing means to take him from the 
country. Cyrus Skinner, a noted ruffian, as- 
saulted him while on his way to the claim, and 
beat him unmercifully. He left him with the as- 
surance that if he ever saw him in the town he 
would kill him. Throuo:h fear that he or some 
of his associates would execute this threat, he 
used to steal out of his cabin and 2:0 to his work 
by an old game trail over the spur of the moun- 
tain, to escape observation. But his steps were 
dogged. He could not move in any direction 
without a rough upon his track, watching for an 
opportunity to shoot him. His life was rendered 
miserable by the conviction that he was liable at 

Orgmiization of the Roughs. 307 

any moment to secret assassination. Resolved to 
escape if possible, he left -for Fort Benton. The 
roughs soon discovered his absence, and sent 
three or four of their number in pursuit of him. 
He foiled them by turning from the main trail 
into an unexplored region. After several days 
he reached the Missouri river below Benton, 
where he constructed a wiofwam in which he 
dwelt, subsisting upon roots, berries, and the rem- 
nants of his provisions, until the Mackinaw boats 
descended the river from Fort Benton in the 
spring. Hailing one of them he was taken on 
board, and returned in safety to the States. 

The writer of this history was early marked 
for summary retaliation. I had disappointed the 
expectations of the roughs at the trial of Moore 
and Reeves, by voting for the death penalty, 
after having supported their demand for a jury. 
They made no secret of their threats against my 
life, and that of my friend, Judge Walter B. Dance. 
We never went to our claims without a loaded 
gun and a revolver. Dance, being a man of great 
physical strength, and courage to match, was not 
one to be easily frightened. In personal contest 
he would have proved more than a match for the 
strongest of his enemies. On one occasion, when 
Judge Dance and I were quietly walking down 

308 Organization of the Roughs. 

the street, we saw Plummer approaching. Dance 
drew a small bowie-knife, and picking up a 
stick, commenced whittling. Plummer came up, 
and casting a suspicious glance at the knife, 

asked, — 

" Judge, why do you always begin to whittle 

when you meet me? " 

The answer, accompanied by a look of blended 
sternness and indignation, came promptly, — 

" Because, sir, I never intend that you shall get 
the advantage of me. You know my opinion of 
you and your friends. I will not be shot down 
like a dog by any of you, if I can help it." 

The roughs held Dance in great fear. To 
those qualities I have mentioned, he added re- 
markable force of character. He was bold and 
fearless in his expression of opinion, and they 
well understood that no man in the settlement 
could vAM a stronger influence over the minds of 
the community, in support of law and order, and 
the prompt punishment of crime. 

Moore and Reeves had now returned. The 
storm of indignation which had driven them out, 
was succeeded by a calm of sluggish incertitude. 
The prominent actors in that event, abandoned 
by those upon whose support they had depended, 
were obliged to protect themselves as best they 

Miners' Judge at Bannack. 

Organization of the Roughs. 309 

could against the persecutions and bloody designs 
of their vindictive enemies. No true spirit of 
reform had yet animated the people. When 
appealed to for combination and resistance to the 
fearful power now growing into an absolute and 
bloody dictatorship, they based their refusal upon 
selfish and personal considerations. They could 
not act without endangering their lives. They 
intended to leave the country as soon as their 
claims were worked out. They would be driven 
from their claims, and robbed of all they had 
taken from them, if they engaged in any active 
opposition to the roughs ; whereas, if they re- 
mained passive, and attended to their own busi- 
ness, there was a chance for them to take their 
money back to their families. It was impossible 
to assemble a meeting for the purpose of consid- 
ering and discussing with safety, the condition and 
exposure of the people. 

Meantime the roughs were thoroughly organ- 
ized, and were carrying out their plans for whole- 
sale plunder in every direction. Every day added 
to the number and magnitude of their depreda- 
tions. The Walla Walla express had been robbed, 
as it afterwards appeared, by Plummer's direction. 
An attempt to rob the store of Higgins and 
Worden at Missoula would have succeeded, had 

310 Organization of the Roughs. 

not the merchants been apprised of it, in time to 
conceal their gold. 

A man by the name of Davenport, who, it was 
known to the roughs, had a little money in Ban- 
nack, left with his wife, intending to go to Ben- 
ton, and thence by steamboat to the States. They 
stopped to lunch at the springs between Bannack 
and Rattlesnake. A man whose face was con- 
cealed, came from behind a pile of rocks standing 
near, drew a revolver, and presenting it, demanded 
their money. Mrs. Davenport asked, — 

"Who are you?" 

He replied,"" The Robber of the Glen." 

" Oh ! " she said inquiringly, " are you Johnny 
Glenn ? " 

" No," he answered. " I'm the Robber of the 
Glen, and want your money." 

Mrs. Davenport surrendered the three purses 
containing the money, together with her gold 
watch, remarking as she did so, that two of the 
purses and the watch belonged to her. With 
much gallantry of manner the robber restored 
them to her immediately, retaining only the single 
purse belonging to her husband. The plundered 
coupTe then proceeded to Benton, and Mrs. 
Davenport secured an early passage to the States. 
They never knew who the robber was. 

Organization of the Roughs. 311 

While confined with his wound, Plummer 
repeatedly asked permission of Doctor Glick to 
take a ride on horseback. The necessity for quiet 
while the wound was healing obliged the doctor 
invariably to refuse him. One morning he called 
as usual to see how the cure was progressing, and 
Plummer was not at home. The doctor supposed 
he had gone out into the town, and at a later hour 
called, and, on examination of the wound, was 
satisfied that he had been taking violent exercise. 
On questioning him, Plummer, who knew that 
the doctor dared not betray him, told him of the 
robbery of Davenport, which he had that day 

The robbers next broke into and rifled a bakery 
belonging to one Le Grau, a Frenchman, who 
Hved on a back street in Bannack. Preparations 
were made for burning the house, but the design 
was not carried out. 

While atrocities like these were daily increas- 
mg, a reign of terror more fearful in character 
and results pervaded the settlement. Every man's 
life was endangered by the free and reckless use 
of fire-arms. The crack of pistols and guns, 
which weapons were always the first resort of the 
roughs in setthng disputes, was heard at all hours 
of the day and night, in the saloon and restaurant. 

312 Organization of the Roughs. 

Frequent and bloody affrays among themselves, 
often terminated in the death of one or both of 
the parties engaged, and sometimes of one or 
more of those who happened to be within range 
of the reckless firing while the quarrel was in 
progress. It was dangerous to pass along the 
streets, where stray bullets were not an exception, 
more dangerous still to attempt to allay a broil 
among desperadoes, who settled all difficulties 
with bowie-knives and revolvers. 

On one of the days of this dismal period, two 
young men, named Banlield and Sapp, the first 
a gambler, the latter a miner, engaged in a game 
of poker in Cyrus Skinner's saloon. During the 
game, Sapp saw Banfield abstract a card from the 
deck, by the aid of which he was enabled to 
declare a " flush " hand. He chars^ed him with 
the theft. Jumping to his feet, Banfield drew 
his revolver, which he levelled at the head of his 
antagonist, who was unarmed. Jack Russell, who 
was watching the game, now interfered, and quiet 
being restored, the men resumed play. In a few 
moments Sapp again charged Banfield with cheat- 
ing. Banfield fired at him without effect. Sapp 
being unarmed, Dr. Bissell thrust a revolver into 
his hand, and the two men at once engaged in a 
pistol fight, dodging around the posts which sup- 

Organization of the Roughs. 313 

ported the roof, and firing at random until their 
revolvers were emptied. They then clinched, 
and Russell tried to separate them. Moore and 
Reeves were in one of the bunks fastened to the 
wall of the saloon, asleep. Roused by the firing 
both got up, and Moore, pistol in hand, at once 
joined in the fight. Placing the muzzle of his 
revolver in Russell's ear, he pulled the trigger, 
and the cap failing to explode, he pulled a second 
time, with a like result. So rapid had been the 
movements of Moore, that it was not until after 
the second failure that Russell could turn his face 
toward him and exclaim, — 

" What do you mean ? " 

Moore, who had not recognized him until that 
moment, dropped his arm, replying, — 

" Oh, is that you, Jack ? " 

Russell said in explanation, — 

" These are friends of mine, and I want them 
to stop quarrelling." 

Moore now assisted Russell, and they succeeded 
in a few minutes in separating the combatants. 

" Let's all take a drink," said Moore, " and be 

To this Sapp and Banfield, as neither had in- 
jured the other, assented. As they stood with 
their glasses raised, Moore heard a groan, and 

314 Organization of the Roughs. 

going towards the table, saw Buz Cavau's dog 
just expiring. 

" Boys," said he, turning towards the two 
reconciled men who were waiting for hira to rejoin 
them at the bar, "you've killed a dog." 

Banfield called immediately for more drinks, 
when another o^roan was heard. On ooino- to the 
bunk from whence it came, they found George 
Carrhart writhing in extreme agony. Dr. Bissell 
lifted him from the bunk to the table, and after 
a brief examination of his body and pulse, made 
the announcement, — 

" He is dying." 

Moore wdio stood by, on hearing this, called to 
Reeves and Forbes who were standinp' in another 
part of the room, — 

" Boys, they have shot Carrhart," and with an 
emphatic stroke of his fist upon the counter, he 
added with an oath, — 

" Let's kill 'em," simultaneously raising his 
pistol and firing at both Sapp and Banfield. Rus- 
sell at the moment seized his arm, with a view to 
prevent his shooting, and in the struggle mis- 
directed his aim. Meanwhile, Reeves fired at 
Banfield, who dodged under a table and crept out 
of the back door wdth a shot in his knee. Sapp, 
wounded in the little finger, also retreated under 

Organization of the Roughs. 315 

the fire of the road agents, — a friend, Goliah 
Reillj, rushing to his assistance, who also, upon 
turning to escape, received a bullet in his heel. 

George Carrhart was a fine-looking, intelligent, 
gentlemanly man. He had been a member of 
the lesfislature of one of the Western States. 
Whiskey transformed him into a rowdy, made the 
company of ruffians congenial, and led him on 
to his unfortunate fate. 

Dick Sapp was a brave, generous young man, 
and very popular with the people. The next 
morning, accompanied by several Colorado friends, 
he returned to Skinner's saloon. Skinner, who 
had seconded without participating in the attempt 
of Moore and Reeves to kill him the evening 
before, when he saw him enter, was alarmed for 
his own safety, and sought to propitiate him by 
invitins: him and his friends to drink with 

" No," said Sapp, " I want none of your whis- 
key. Last night I came here unarmed to indulge 
in a little game of poker, and you all tried to kill 
me. Now I'm here to fight you all, singly, and 
I've brought some friends, to see that I have fair 

Moore and Skinner apologized, and begged him 
to overlook it ; but Sapp refused to accept their 

316 Organization of the Roughs. 

apologies, and left. Afterwards some friends of 
Moore and Skinner, at their request, went to 
Sapp, and with no little difBculty effected a 

Poor Banfield intrusted the care of his wound 
to an unskilful physician, and died soon after, for 
the want of proper treatment. 

Early in the spring of 1863, Winnemuck, a 
warrior chief of the Bannacks, and his band of 
braves, camped in the sage brush above the town. 
One of the citizens of Bannack made known the 
fact that he had been informed by a white lad, 
whom he had met at the time of his escape from 
these Indians several years before, that they had 
slain his parents, and captured two sisters and 
himself. The elder of the sisters died of harsh 
treatment. A white girl who had been seen in 
Winnemuck's band, was supposed to be the other. 
A few citizens met at my cabin to devise means 
for her ransom, as any attempt at forcible rescue 
would provoke the Indians to violence. Skinner 
called the roughs together at his saloon. They 
decided that the circumstances were sufBciently 
aggravating to justify the slaughter of the band, 
and made preparations for that object. Mean- 
time a half-breed apprised Winnemuck of his 
danger. Nowise alarmed, the old chief ranged 

Orr/aiiizafioti of the Roughs. 317 

His three Imiulred warriors along the valley, where 
they could command the approach of an enemy, 
however formidable. So confidant was he of vic- 
tory in the threatened encounter, that he prom- 
ised to follow it up by a general massacre of every 
white person in the gulch. Fortunately at this 
time, whiskey came to the rescue. The leaders 
got drunk, the allied citizens were disgusted, and 
a murderous enterprise that would probably have 
cost many lives, was abandoned. In pursuance 
of the arrangements first made at the meeting in 
my cabin, Mr. Carroll, for a very small considera- 
tion, effected the ransom of the little girl, and took 
her to his cabin. 

The inadequacy of the price roused in all a 
suspicion that the Indians intended to recapture 
the child. Carroll was enjoined to secrete her 
against such a possibility. The Indians loitered 
around his cabin, and finally made an attempt to 
carry her off. An alarm was given, the citizens 
and roughs rallied, the Indians released the child, 
and ran to escape the attack of the citizens. In 
the melee, Hayes Lyons, one of the roughs, fired 
at and wounded an Indian who was on the retreat, 
and who at the time was shouting " good Indian," 
to intimate his friendly disposition. " Old Snag," 
a Bannack chief, who had come with his band 

318 Organization of the Boughs. 

into town a few days before, and who when the' 
alarm was given was in Carroll's cabin, now came 
out, and was talking with his daughter, when Buck 
Stinson, another of the ruffian gang, without the 
least intimation of his design, walked close beside 
him, and shot him in the side and head. The old 
man, who had always been friendly to the people, 
fell dead in his tracks ; and Skinner, with savage 
brutality, came up and scalped him. 

A Masonic Funeral. 319 



ING OF THE Masons — Masonic Funeral — Masouic 
Gatherings — Watch of the Roughs — Plummer 
ELECTED Sheriff — His Marriage with Miss Eliza 
Bryan — His Conversation with the Writer — 
Reasons for doubting his Sincerity — Life in 

Had it been possible at any time during the 
period I have passed under review, for the 
peaceable citizens of Bannack to return to their 
old homes in safety, such was the terror that 
environed them, I doubt not that nearly all would 
joyfully have gone. The opportunity for speedy 
accumulation of fortune from a prolific gold 
placer, offered small compensation for the daily 
risk of life in obtaining it, and the possibility of 
ultimate destruction to the entire settlement. The 
people were spellbound, and knew not what to 
do. They assented almost passively to the be- 
lief that the ruffian population, when disposed, 
was strono; enouoh to crush them ; and when a 

320 A Masonic Funeral. 

murder was committed, or a robbery made, 
expressed no stronger feeling than that of thank- 
fuhiess for their own escape. 

While public sentiment was gradually settling 
down into a state of helpless submission to the 
ruffian element, William H. Bell, a respected 
citizen, died of mountain fever. This was the 
first natural death that had occurred in the settle- 
ment. After his illness had assumed a dangerous 
form, he made known to myself and others, that 
he was a Mason, and expressed a desire to be 
buried with Masonic ceremonies. At first we 
deemed it impossible, but after his death, con- 
cluded to comjjly with his request, if a sufficient 
number of Masons could be assembled to conduct 
the exercises. A request for all the Masons in 
the gulch to meet on Yankee Flat at the cabin of 
Brother C. J. Miller, on the evening of the day 
of Mr. Bell's death, greatly to our surprise, was 
so numerously responded to, that we found it 
necessary to adjourn to more commodious quar- 
ters. It was past midnight before the forms of 
recognition were fully administered, and prepara- 
tions completed for the funeral. So delighted 
were all to meet so many of the order, that before 
we separated it was virtually understood that 
early application should be made for authority to 

A Masonic Funeral. 321 

open a lodge. In the mean time, we agreed to 
hold frequent meetings. 

The funeral ceremonies, the next day, were 
conducted by myself. The strange peculiarities 
of the occasion added a mournful interest to the 
impressive truths of the ritual. A large congre- 
gation had assembled. Near by, and surrounding 
the grave, stood the little band of brethren, linked 
by an indissoluble bond to him for whom they 
were now performing the last sad office. With 
clasped hands and uncovered heads they reverently 
listened to the solemn lanouagfe which in that far- 
off land committed one of their number to his 
mother earth ; while farther away, and encircling 
them, stood a curious multitude, whose eager gaze 
betrayed that they there for the first time beheld 
a Masonic burial ceremony. Among this latter 
number might be seen many whose daily lives 
were filled with deeds of violence and crime, — 
who mayhap at the moment might be meditating 
murder and robbery, — who, for the first time in 
many years, were listening to language which 
recalled the innocence of boyhood, the early teach- 
ings of parents, and hopefully pointed the way to 
an eternity of unmixed enjoyment. How strange 
it seemed to see this large assemblage, all armed 
with revolvers and bowie-knives, standing silently, 

322 A Masonic Funeral. 

respectfully, around the grave of a stranger, their 
very features, — distorted by the lines which their 
hardened lives had planted, — now saddened by 
a momentary fleeting thought of the grave and 

Nor was this all. They learned from what they 
saw, that here was an association, bound together 
by bonds of brotherly love, that would stand by 
and protect all its members in the hour of danger. 
They saw the scroll deposited which signified so 
plainly, that death alone could break a link in the 
mystic chain which bound them together. They 
saw each brother drop the evergreen as a symbol 
of the surrender of him they mourned, to the 
eternal care of a higher power. And while the 
brethren, as they regarded each other in the light 
of their strong obligations, felt that in themselves 
there was a power equal to the necessities of then- 
exposed condition, we may reasonably suppose 
that the ruffians who had marked them for ulti- 
mate destruction felt that a new and formidable 
adversary had thrown itself across their bloody 


The ceremonies were conducted to a peaceful 
conclusion, and the assembly quietly dispersed. 
But from this time onward, the Masons met often 
for counsel. Among them there was no lack of 

A Masonic Funeral. S2S 

confidence, and very soon they began to consider 
measures necessary for their protection. These 
meetings were carefully watched by the roughs, 
but they w^ere quietly told that the Masons met 
to prepare for organizing a lodge. This threw 
them off their guard, and they continued in their 
lawless course. 

After the Masonic fraternity at Bannack had 
decided to organize a regular lodge, and a dis- 
pensation for that purpose had been applied for, 
Plummer expressed publicly a strong desire to be- 
come a Mason. Such were his persuasive powers, 
that he succeeded in convincing some members 
of the order, that in all his affrays, he had been 
actuated solely by the principle of self-defence, 
and that there was nothing inherently criminal in 
his nature. There were not wanting several good 
men amons' our brotherhood, who would have 
recommended him for initiation. 

It is a remarkable fact that the roughs were 
restrained by their fear of the Masonic fraternity, 
from attacking its individual members. Of the 
one hundred and two persons murdered by Henry 
Plummer's gang, not one was a Mason. 

It is worthy of comment that every Mason in 
these trying hours adhered steadfastly to his 
principles. Neither poverty, persuasion, tempta- 

324 A Masonic Funeral. 

tion, nor opportunity had the effect to shake a 
single faith founded on Masonic principle : and 
it is the crowning glory of our order, that not 
one of all that band of desperadoes who expiated 
a life of crime upon the scaffold, had ever crossed 
the threshold of a lodge-room. The irregulari- 
ties of their lives, their love of crime, and their 
recklessness of law, originated in the evil associa- 
tions and corrupt influences of a society over 
which neither Masonry nor Religion had ever 
exercised the least control. The retribution 
which finally overtook them had its origin in 
principles traceable to that stalwart morality which 
is ever the offspring of Masonic and Religious 
institutions. All true men then lived upon the 
square, and in a condition of mutual dependence. 
Many persons who had been cooped up in Ban- 
nack, with nothing to do during the winter, sal- 
lied forth in quest of new discoveries as soon as 
the snow disappeared, in the spring of 1863. A 
number of new gulches were found, and the 
population of Bannack thinned out considerably 
under the inducements they offered for the im- 
provement of fortunes. All these newly discov- 
ered placers were, however, known by the general 
name of East Bannack, the prefix being used to 
distinguish the locality from West Bannack, a 

A Masonic Funeral. 825 

mining camp in that portion of Idaho lying west 
of the main range of the Rocky Mountains. As 
rapidly as any of these new camps were settled, 
the miners adopted laws for their government, 
and elected judges to enforce them. No slieriff 
had, however, been elected to fill the place of 
Crawford. The miners held a meeting at which 
they concluded to elect one sheriff who should 
reside at Bannack, and appoint his deputies for 
the new locations. A day for the election was 
accordingly designated. 

Plummer busied himself among the miners to 
obtain the nomination, and as an evidence not less 
of the unst3ady purpose of this population than 
of the personal magnetism of this remarkable 
man, he succeeded. Men, who a few weeks 
before were clamorous for his execution as a mur- 
derer, deceived by the plausibility of his profes- 
sions, and the smoothness of his eloquence, were 
now equally urgent for his election to the most 
important office in the settlement. Such of the 
number as were unwilling to support him, nomi- 
nated a good man by the name of Jefferson Dur- 
ley, but the majority for Plummer, decided the 
election largely in his favor. A marked change 
immediately took place in his conduct. Soon 
after he was married to Miss Eliza Bryan, the 

B26 A Masonic Funeral. 

young lady with whom, as I have related in a 
former chapter, he contracted an engagement 
while spending the winter with her brother-in-law, 
Mr. Vail, at the government farm on Sun river. 
Whether he honestly intended to reform at this 
time, or " assumed the thing he was not " for the 
better concealment of his criminal designs, can 
never be certainly known. There was much 
apparent sincerity in his conduct and professions. 
He forsook the saloons, and was seldom seen in 
the society of his old associates. His duties were 
promptly attended to. On one occasion in a con- 
versation with me, of his own seeking, he spoke 
regretfully of his early life : — 

" I confess," said he, " that the bad associa- 
tions which I formed in California and Nevada 
have adhered to me ever since. I was forced in 
sheer self-defence on different occasions, to kill 
five men there — and of course was undeservedly 
denounced as a desperado and murderer. This 
is not true, — and now that I am married and 
have something to live for, and hold an official 
position, I will show you that I can be a good 
man among good men. There is a new life 
before me, and I want you to believe that I am 
not unfitted to fill it with credit to myself, and 
benefit to the community." 

A Masonic Funeral. 327 

As he stood thus, in a beseeching voice plead- 
ing for some abatement of the harsh judgment 
which he knew his conduct merited, it was not 
without an effort that I mentally denied to him 
that confidence so truly characterized by Pitt in 
his memorable reply to Walpole, as " a plant of 
slow growth." Very soon after, the justice of 
this opinion was confirmed by an undercurrent of 
circumstances, which plainly showed that he was 
either drifting back into the whirlpool of crime, 
or had assumed the guise of virtue that he might 
better serve the devil. His face, usually clear and 
white, betrayed in its weatherbeaten appearance, 
that several times when there was no occasion for 
it, he had been exposed to the inclemencies of a 
fearful niffht storm. Where had he been? 
What was the character of that business which 
could woo him from his home, to face the angry 
elements, and require his return and appearance 
on the street by daylight ? At one time, having 
occasion to go to the ranche where my horse was 
kept, I saw there a very superior saddle-horse. 
Having never seen it before, on inquiry, I was 
informed that it belonged to Plummer, who often 
visited the ranche to exercise it ; but never rode 
it into town, or used it for any long journey. It 
was represented to possess greater qualities of 

328 A Masonic Funeral. 

speed and endurance than any horse in the coun- 
try. Why was he keeping this horse, unused, 
and away from the public view, if not for the 
purpose of escaping from the country in case of 
failure in his criminal enterprise ? Many other 
circumstances, equally demonstrative as to the 
designs which Piummer was secretly carrying on, 
satisfied me that I had not misjudged his true 

Life in Bannack at this time was perfect isola- 
tion from the rest of the world. Napoleon was not 
more of an exile on St. Helena, than the newly 
arrived immigrant from the States, in this recess 
of rocks and mountains. All the stirring battles 
of the season of 1862, — Antietam, Fredericks- 
burg and Second Bull Run, — all the exciting 
debates of Congress, and the more exciting com- 
bats at sea, first became known to us on the arrival 
of the first newspapers and letters, in the spring 
of 1863. Old newspapers went the rounds of 
the camp until they literally dropped to pieces. 
Pamphlets, cheap publications, and yellow-covered 
literature, which had found their way by chance 
into the camp, were in constant and unceasing 
demand. Bibles, of which there were a few 
copies, were read by men who probably never 
read them before, to while away the tedium of the 

A Masonic Furieral. 329 

dreary days of winter. Of other books there 
were none then, nor for a year or more after- 
wards. Euchre, old sledge, poker, and cribbage 
were resorted to until they became stale, flat, and 
diso"ustino\ When, afterwards, the first small 
library was brought into the Territory, the owner 
was at once overwhelmed with borrowers, who, 
after reading, loaned his books without leave, 
until the loss or destruction of many of them, 
drove him to the adoption of means for the pres- 
ervation of the remainder. He placarded over 
his library, where all could read it, the following- 
passage from Matthew xxv. 9 ; " Not so ; lest 
there be not enough for us and you ; but go ye 
rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves." 
This gentle hint served better as a joke than an 

As a counterpoise to this condition of affairs, 
the new-comer found much in the rough, Avild 
scenery, the habits, customs, and dress of the 
miners, and iji the pursuits of the camp, to inter- 
est his attention. There was a freedom in moun- 
tain life entirely new to him. The common 
forms of expression, rough, unique, and full of 
significance, were such as he had never been 
accustomed to hear. The spirit of a humor full 
of fun, displaying itself practically on all occa- 

330 A Masonic Funeral. 

sions, often at his own expense, presented so 
many new phases of character, that he was sel- 
dom at a loss for agreeable pastmie, or indeed 
profitable occupation. 

The wit of a mining* camp is sid generis. It 
partakes of the occupation, and grows out of it as 
naturally as the necessities. Indeed, it is of itself 
a necessity, — for the instance of a miner without 
humor or a relish for it, if it be of the appreciable 
kind, is very rare. One must be versed in the 
idiom of the camp to always understand it. As 
for example, if, in speaking of another, a miner 
says, " I have panned that fellow out and couldn't 
get a color," it means the same as if he had said, 
" He's a man of no principle, dishonest, or a 
scamp." So if of another, he says, " He's all 
right, clear down to bed-rock," it means, " He is 
honest and reliable." A hundred expressions of 
this kind are in common use in a mining camp. 
Common parlance has long ago wrung the humor 
from all these oddities of expression ; but every 
now and then something new springs up which 
has its run through mining communities as a bit 
of fun, before its final incorporation into the epi- 
demic vernacular. 

It occasionally happens that a genuine loafer 
turns up. This is not common ; for a man with- 

A Masonic Funeral. 331 

out money or employment among miners, especially 
if he evinces an indisposition for work, is a piti- 
able object. Nobody cares for him. His very 
necessities are subjects for ribaldry, and his lazi- 
ness affords ample excuse for a neglect which may 
end in absolute starvation. There is no lack of 
kindness among miners, — their generosity is only 
bounded by their means in meritorious cases, but 
it is cruelly discriminative against bummers and 
loafers. They must live by their wits, — and 
sometimes this resource is available. 

A singular genius known as " Slippery Joe," 
whose character reflected the twofold qualities of 
bummer and loafer, hung around the saloons and 
restaurants in the early days of Bannack. He 
worked when compelled by necessity, and was 
never known to buy " a square meal." One 
evening he was an on-looker at a party of miners 
who were playing euchre in Kustar's bakery. 
Their frequent potations, as was often the case, 
developing first noise, then dispute, then quarrel, 
finally culminated in a fight and general row. 
Pistols and knives were drawn, one man was badly 
stabbed, and several shots fired. The bystanders 
stampeded through the door and into the street, 
to avoid injury. One man was prostrate, and 
another bent over him, with an upraised knife. 

332 A Masonic Funeral. 

Kustar and his bartender were engaged in quell- 
ing the melee. Seizing this opportunity, Bum- 
mer stole behind the counter, and taking a couple 
of pies from the shelf, mashed them out of shape 
with his knuckles, and laid them, still in the tin 
plates, on the floor near the combatants. He did 
not dare to steal the pies, knowing that detection 
would result in his banishment from the gulch. 
Kustar, discovering them after the fight was over, 
supposed from the appearance they presented, 
that they had been jarred from the shelf and 
trodden upon. He was about casting them into 
the street, when Bummer stepped forward, and 
offered twenty-five cents for them, pies at the time 
being sold at a dollar apiece. Glad to sell them 
at any price, Kustar regarded the quarter of a 
dollar as clear gain, and the sneak owed his sup- 
per to his criminal ingenuity. 

This same slippery individual was the hero of 
another foraging exploit, which, however we may 
regard it in a moral aspect, was not discreditable 
to his strategic perspicacity. Two partners in a 
mining claim had quarrelled, fought, and so far 
reconciled differences, as to agree to live together. 
One day a load of potatoes, the first that we had 
had for eight months, and a great luxury at sixty 
cents per pound, arrived from the Bitter Root 

A Masonic Fu7ieral. 333 

valley. The two miners bought several pounds, 
and agreed upon having a holiday, with an old- 
fashioned stew for dinner at three o'clock p.m. 
Bummer had epicurean tastes, and longed for a 
dish of the stew. He stationed himself near the 
door of the cabin. Just after it was taken from 
the pan, and placed, steaming hot, between the 
partners, and one was in the act of slicing the loaf, 
Bummer entered, and with much adroitness in- 
troduced the subject of former difference. This 
brought on a dispute, and the two men rose from 
the table and rushed into the street to engage in 
a fist fight. While thus employed. Bummer made 
a single meal of the entire stew. 

In the early days of gold hunting in California, 
many young men of religious proclivities, who 
had been reared by Christian parents, went there 
to make speedy fortunes and return home. Fail- 
ing to do so, unwilling to work, and still intent 
upon suddenly acquiring wealth, they have 
wandered from camp to camp among the moun- 
tains ever since. These mining vagabonds are 
often met with. Their lives have been full of 
vicissitude and disappointment, and nature has 
covered them with signs and labels, which render 
their character unmistakable. Lost to all self- 
respect, ragged, uncombed, often covered with 

334 A Masonic Funeral. 

vermin, they seem to have no definite object in 
life, and are content to earn enough to eke out a 
meagre subsistence. Sometimes we meet with 
one, who betrays in the glow of conversation, the 
remains of a cultivated foreground ; but generally 
the slang of the camp and the rough manners 
of the miner have wrought a radical transfor- 
mation in both mind and body. 

Such an one was Bill — with whom I first 
became acquainted in 1863. Passing Mather's 
saloon, one day in the fall of 1872, I caught 
a glimpse of him, and stepped in to renew 
my acquaintance. He stood by the bar talking 
with a friend whom he had known at Boise City, 
Idaho, in 1862. The conversation had reference 
to those early days. 

"Jim," he inquired, "when did you hear of 
Yeast Powder Dave last?" A little farther on 
in the conversation, after taking a drink, Jim 
inquired in return, " Whatever became of Tin 
Cup Joe ? " then the conversation flagging, 
another drink was indulged, and the inquiry fol- 
lowed, " How late have you heard where Six Toed 
Pete hangs out ? " At last Bill, fully warmed up 
to the subject, remarked, — 

"Jim, you haven't forgot the parson, have 


A Masonic Funeral. 835 

" Parson ■who ? " inquired Jim dubiously. 

" Parson Crib — you know." 

At the mention of the name, tears came into 
the eyes of both. It was evident the memory of 
the man was very pleasant. Bill continued, — 

" Jim, they don't have no such preachers nowa- 
days as the parson was. These new-comers, most 
of 'em feel above us 'cause we wear ragged 
clothes, and then they are so slow and lamb-like, 
that their talks have Httle effect on such fellows 
as you and me ; but the old parson used to rattle 
up the boys every clatter, and when he'd got 
through they'd think their chances of salvation 
were mighty slim. And he was such a good man, 
so charitable and so kind — and how beautifully 
and eloquently he would explain the Christian 
reliofion as he talked to us of our duties to the 
Master. He was a real good man. There ain't 
many like him." Brushing a tear from his 
cheek, he added sorrowfully, "Jim, do you know 
I never did quite forgive Sara Jones, for shooting 
the parson, for stealing that sorrel mare." 

It must have been a warm affection which 
would fail to approve of an act regarded so just 
as shooting or hanging for " cribbing " a horse 
in a mining camp. The parson is supposed to 
have held forth near Boise City. 

335 A Masonic Funeral. 

Those o£ my readers who resided in Bannaek 
at the time, doubtless remember the " Miners' Ten 
Commandments," written copies of which were 
circulated freely throughout the camp. I recall 
two of them. If the first one here given, serves 
to illustrate the prevailing customs of a mining 
camp, the other contains a warning which the dis- 
honest and covetous did not fail to heed. 

FOURTH COMMANDMENT. Tbou shalt not remember what thy 
friends do at home on the Sabbath day, ^-t U.e r.u.mbrauce may 
not compare favorably with what thou doest Six da s thou 
mavst di- or pick all that thy body can stand under but the other 
Ty Sunday, when- thou shalt wash all thy soiled shuts, darn all 
thy ockin J tap all thy boots, mend all thy clothing, chop all n 
who week's firewood, make up and bake thy bread, and boi thy 
;rk and thy beaus, that thou wa. not when thou --^^ f- 
thvlon- tour weary. For in six days' labor only, thou canst not 
weaH^t thy'hody in two whole years; but if thou workest hard 
on Sunday also thou canst do it in six months, and thou, and thy 
!on nd tlj dkughter, thy male friend, and thy female friend, thy 
r;X am/thy conscience, he none the better for it but reproach 
thee shouldst thou ever return with thy worn-out bodj to thy 
mothe 's fireside, and thou strive to justify thyself, because he 
Trade and the merchant, the carpenter and the blacksmith, the 
ratltrs and the Jews, defy God and civilization, by keep n^^^^^^ 
the Sabbath day, and wish not for a day of rest such as memoiy 
nnd home and youth made hallowed. 

N XTH COMMANDMENT. Thou shalt uottcll any false tales abou 
.' .ood di^<^in<^s in the mountains " to thy neighbor, that thoumayst 
benefit tiT dend who hath mules and provisions and b lankets and 
n'^ng tools he cannot sell; lest in deceiving ^ ^^^^^^ 
L returneth through the snow with naught save his nfle. he pic- 
l^nterthee with the contents thereof, and like a dog thou shalt 
fall down and die. 

Commander at Battle of Bear River. 

Battle of B,ear River. 


IxDiAX Troubles — Battle of General Connor 


THE Indians — Their Defeat — Bravery of our 
Troops — Effect of the Victory. 

During the year preceding- the period whereof 
I write, and in fact from the time of the discovery 
of the Sahiion river mines, nearly every train or 
single company of emigrants going in that direc- 
tion was attacked, robbed, the animals belonging- 
to it stolen, and frequently many of the persons 
composing it slain, by predatory bands of Ban- 
nack Indians, which tribe possessed the entire 
country for a distance of five hundred miles north 
of Salt Lake. Their rapacity and cruelty had 
become the great terror of a journey otherwise 
full of difficulty and discouragement. So fre- 
quent and terrible had been this warfare, that 
nearly all communication between the distant 
mines and Salt Lake was suspended ; yet the 
wretches who conducted it, conscious of their 

338 Battle of Bear River. 

superior jDOwer, hesitated not, meantime, to visit 
the settlements, and maintain an apparent friend- 
liness towards the people. Several attacks had 
been made upon them by detachments of troops 
from Camp Douglas, attended with more or less 
success, but none of them had the effect to allay 
their murderous depredations. Success had made 
them defiant as well as bloodthirsty, and long 
impunity begot in them the belief that they were 

When the winter began to close in, rich in the 
spoils of their bloody forays, a large band of 
nearly three hundred Bannacks, under their 
chiefs Sand Pitch, Sag Witch, and Bear Hunter, 
established quarters for the cold months in a 
ravine on the west bank of Bear river, about 
four days' march distant from the federal camp. 
Gen. P. Edward Connor, the officer in command 
at Camp Douglas, had carefully watched their 
movements with the intention of inflicting the 
severest punishment upon them for the enormities 
they had committed. The example to be salutary, 
must be terrible, and Connor contemplated noth- 
ing less than the destruction of the entire band. 
It was a measure of safety. Many thousand 
people in the States and Territories were engaged 
in active preparation to make the journey to the 

Battle of Bear River. 339 

northern mines, on the return of warm weather, 
and the Kves and property of many of them 
depended, as General Connor knew, upon the 
success of his contemplated expedition. 

The Indians selected their camp because of the 
protection it afforded from the inclemencies of 
the weather. The general southwest course of 
the river was, by a bend, changed so as to be 
nearly due west where it passed their encamp- 
ment. The nook or ravine, open on the bank, 
stretched tortuously between high precipitous 
banks, north from the river several hundred 
yards, until lost in the abrupt ascent of a lofty 
overhanging mountain. Clumps of willows grew 
irregularly over the surface of the little dell, 
amid which the Indians pitched their buffalo 
tents, and fastened their ponies for better protec- 
tion asfainst wind and snow. Their women and 
children were with them, and all the conveniences 
and comforts known to savage life were clustered 
around them. 

Perceiving soon after they took possession of 
the spot, that it united with its other advantages 
admirable means of defence against an approach- 
ing enemy, they went to work, and improved, by 
excavation and otherwise, every assailable point, 
until satisfied that it was perfectly impregnable. 

340 Battle of Bear River. 

During the occasional visits of their chiefs and 
head men to the settlements, they had learned 
and came to believe, that an attack of some kind 
would be made upon them before spring. They 
relished the idea as a good joke, and with more 
than customary bravado declared their readiness 
to meet it, boldly challenging the whites to come 

The winter sped on. Colder than usual even 
in these high latitudes, both Indians and whites 
felt that if nothing else would prevent an attack, 
the cold weather was sufficient. General Connor 
kept his own counsel, but matured his plans with 
consummate skill. The citizens of Salt Lake, 
seeing no military preparations in progress, grew 
restive under the delay, charged the garrison with 
neglect of duty, and finally appealed to the civil 
authorities. In the latter days of January, when 
General Connor's plans were approaching matu- 
rity, Chief Justice Kinney issued warrants for the 
arrest of Sand Pitch, Sag Witch, and Bear 
Hunter, for murders committed by them on emi- 
grants passing through the Territory. The officer 
directed to serve these writs, on one of the coldest 
days of the middle of January, applied to Gen- 
eral Connor, at Camp Douglas, for an escort. 

" I have an expedition against the Indians in 

Battle of Bear River. 341 

contemplation," said the general, " which will 
march soon. You can go under its escort ; but as 
I do not intend to take any prisoners, I cannot 
tell you whether you will be able to serve your 
writ or not. My opinion is you will find it diffi- 

Whether the intimation conveyed in this clos- 
ing remark touched the official pride of the mar- 
shal, or not, I cannot say. Certain it is that he 
concluded at once to accompany the expedition, 
and arrest the accused chiefs. 

The Indians were on the watch for an attack, 
and had their runners out with instructions to 
bring theui the earliest information of an approach- 
ing foe. On the morning of the 22d, Captain 
Samuel N. Hoyt, with forty men of Company K 
of Infantry, two howitzers, and a train of fifteen 
baggage wagons, left Camp Douglas with secret 
orders to march leisurely in the direction of the 
Indian encampment. The Indian spies, under 
promise of secrecy, were told by some who as- 
sumed to know, that this was the army sent to 
exterminate the Indians. They carried the intel- 
ligence to the Indians, where it excited great deri- 
sion. The little company marched very sloAvly, 
makinp' their roads throuofh the snows of the 
divides, and were careful to afford the Indian 

342 Battle of Bear River. 

scouts full opportunity to learn their strength 
and armament. The chiefs unconcernedly gave 
orders to their warriors to prepare for a warm re- 
ception of the foe, while they visited the settle- 
ments. On the morning of the sixth day's march, 
Captain Hoyt and his men reached the vicinity of 
the present town of Franklin, within a few hours' 
march of the Indian stronghold. Bear Hunter, 
who was there at the time, seeing how few the 
men were in number, left immediately in high glee, 
at the prospect of cutting them oif the next day. 
At midnight that night, after a ride of four 
nights, one of sixty miles, the others of easier 
marches, through deep snows and a piercing, bit- 
ter wind that nearly disabled a third of the com- 
mand. Major McGarry, at the head of two hun- 
dred cavalry, accompanied by General Connor 
and his aids, rode into the little camp, and 
bivouacked with the infantry. The Indians 
knew nothing of this arrival. So far the plan 
for their destruction was successful. The troops 
slept on their arms. Orders were given to the 
infantry to march an hour after midnight. They 
were oblio[-ed to break their road throus^h the 
snow, which completely covered the entire region 
to the depth of one or two feet. The heavy 
howitzers were dragged through it, over the 

Battle of Bear River. 343 

unequal surface, with great difficulty, and for 
the purpose of concealment, kept in the rear. 
Several hours after the infantry started, the cav- 
alry dashed by them and drew up on the south 
bank of Bear river before the dawn broke over 
the Indian camp. The savages were pre[)ared for 
the attack. The ravine rang with their fearful 
and defiant howlino-. 

The passage of the river was very difficult. 
Covered at the bottom to the depth of a foot or 
more with anchor-ice, its rapid current, too strong 
for congealment at its surface, was filled with 
floating masses of ice, whose sharp edges and 
great weight threatened disaster to every horse 
which ventured the treacherous passage. But 
there was no alternative. The troops who had dis- 
mounted to load their pistols, now remounted 
their horses, and led by Majors McGarry and Gal- 
lagher, by slow, tedious, and careful effort, suc- 
ceeded in reaching the northern bank in safety. 
Before the passage was completed, however, the 
companies of Captain Price and Lieutenant Chase, 
which were the first to land, had drawn up in line 
of battle. Captain McLean and Lieutenant 
Quinn, with their commands, had barely joined 
them, when the Indians opened the fight with a 
shower of balls, wounding one of the men. 

344 Battle of Bear River. 

General Connor had instructed McGarry to sur- 
round the ravine, and was himself at this moment 
awaiting the arrival of the infantry on the south 
side of the river. He had not anticipated so early 
a commencement of the fight, but leaving his 
orders to be given by his aid, he hastily crossed 
the river and joined McGarry. That officer 
finding it impossible with the two companies 
at his disposal to outflank the Indians, ordered 
them to advance as skirmishers. Up to this time 
the Indians had been tantalizing our troops by 
their appearance upon the benches over which it 
was necessary to pass, before an attack could be 
made from the east on their stronghold. At the 
approach of the skirmishing party they retreated 
under cover of the precipitous bank, where, entirely 
protected from our guns, they opened a galling 
and deadly fire, killing and wounding several of 
Connor's men. The General ordered his men to 
protect themselves as much as possible, and sent 
McGarry forward with a detachment to scale the 
mountain which enclosed the ravine on the north, 
and outflank the Indians on the left, while the 
companies on the benches attacked them in front. 

At this stage of the fight, the most disastrous 
to our troops. Captain Hoyt arrived with the 
infantry on the south bank of the river. He had 

Battle of Bear River. 345 

heard the firing at a distance, and hurried forward 
his men, who in their eagerness for the fray, 
attempted to ford the river, but found it impos- 
sible. Wet and chilled they crossed the river on 
cavalry horses sent from the north side, and gal- 
loped up to the battle, just in time to enable 
McGarry, with their assistance, to complete his 
flanking movement. Captain Hoyt now came up 
with a portion of his men on the west side of the 
ravine, extending the cordon so as to form about 
three-fourths of a circle, embracing three sides of 
the Indian camp. The fight now became very 
brisk. By the enfilading fire from the east, west 
and north sides of the ravine, the Indians were 
gradually driven to the centre and south. Their 
stronghold proved a complete cul de sac, and 
they were completely at the mercy of the troops. 
Taken at this great disadvantage, and seeing their 
chiefs and head men falling around them, they 
fought with desperate bravery, moving slowly 
toward the mouth of the ravine on the west side 
of which General Connor had stationed a detach- 
ment of cavalry to cut off their retreat. The 
great slaughter occasioned by the incessant fire of 
the troops, at length broke the Indians' line. 
Each man soup'ht how best to save himself. 
Many of them ran in the most disorderly manner 

846 Battle of Bear River. 

to the mouth of the ravine, where they fell in 
heaps before the deadly fire of the rifles. Some 
attempted to cross the river, but did not live to 
effect it. Others crawled into the willow clumps 
with the hope of escaping notice, but the troops 
were ordered to scour the bushes, and dislodge 
them. Many of these latter disclosed their places 
of concealment, by firing from them upon the 
troops, as if resolved to sell their lives as dearly 
as possible. The last Indian foe waited his oppor- 
tunity. While Major Gallagher was leading a 
detachment into a thicket, the savage fired upon 
him. The ball passed through his left arm into 
his side. Again the Indian fired, and a cavalry- 
man fell from his horse beside General Connor. 
The flash of his rifle revealed his hiding-place, 
and a volley from the detachment ended the 
bloody contest. 

The details I have here given of this battle, 
while they sufficiently demonstrate the skill and 
bravery of the officers and men by whom it was 
fought, would be wanting in justice to them did 
I fail to mention other incidental facts connected 
with it, which entitle them to additional claims 
upon our gratitude and admiration. Few people 
who have never experienced a winter in the Rocky 
Mountains know how to appreciate the elemental 

Battle of Bear River. 347 

difficulties attending the march of such an expe- 
dition as this one of General Connor's. The 
sudden storms, the deep snows, the trackless 
wastes, the rapid, half-frozen mountain torrents, 
the lofty divides, the keen blasts, and the pinch- 
ing nights, coupled with all the unavoidable 
demands which must encumber the movements of 
troops and artillery through a country that for 
most of the distance is entirely desolate, should 
give this expedition a conspicuous place among 
the remarkable events of our country's history. 
Seventy-four of the number engaged in it had 
their feet frozen by exposure. The night rides 
of the cavaby to overtake the infantry would 
furnish as thrilling a theme for song as any of 
the rides during our National struggle, which have 
been thus immortalized. The transportation of 
munitions, camp equipage and heavy artillery, 
through eighty miles of snow, which for most of 
the distance was unmarked by a road, over moun- 
tains, through canons, and across unbridged 
streams, furnishes a chapter that can find no par- 
allel in our former military experience. I mention 
them, that my readers may form some idea of the 
amount of labor and care necessary to carry such 
an enterprise through with success, and give the 
proper credit to those who accomplished it. 

3-48 Battle of Bear River. 

Through the kindness of General Connor I am 
enabled to give the names and rank of those who 
were killed and wounded. All the officers and 
men fought with great bravery. General Connor 
himself, diirins" the entire four hours the battle 
was in progress, was always in the thickest of it, 
and seldom out of range of the deadly rifles of 
the Indians. The historian of the battle says, — 

" General Connor exhibited high qualities of 
command, and his perfect coolness and bravery 
are the universal theme of praise. Possibly some 
might have been better pleased with less expos- 
ure of their commander, but I have the best 
authority for saying it was the call of duty, and 
not indifference." 

The object of the fight was fully accomplished. 
Two hundred and sixty-seven Indians were killed, 
several of their leadiuQf chiefs among: the number. 
Not fifteen escaped to tell the story of the battle. 

This victory removed at once and forever the 
greatest impediment in the way of emigration to 
the new Territory and a safe exit from it for those 
who wished to return to their homes in the States. 
Previous to it people could not, with safety, pass 
in either direction except in large and strongly 
armed companies ; and with certain exposure to 
the Indians on the one hand, and the robbers and 

Battle of Bear River. 349 

brigands on the other, with no other possible out- 
let for escape except by crossing the Territory to 
Fort Benton or over the Coeur D'Alene Moun- 
tains to Walla Walla, both very uncertain and 
dangerous routes, the inhabitants of the Territory 
were completely at the mercy of their assailants. 
No more fortunate event could have occurred at 
the time, than this successful extermination of a 
dangerous foe. 

The lesson this battle taught the Bannacks, has 
never been forgotten. The instance of an attack 
by other bands upon the emigrants, has never 
been known since that day. It so reduced their 
tribe in number, that they have ever since been 
a broken and dispirited people. They are the 
vagrants of the mountains ; as remarkable for 
their pusillanimity, as, in the days of Bonneville, 
they were for their bravery, and the commanding 
position they held among the mountain tribes. 

The following is a list of the killed and 
wounded in the fiofht : — 


Killed. — Privates, James W. Baldwin, George German. 

Wounded. —JaqwI. D. J. Berry; Privates, John W. Wall, 
James S. Montgomery, John Welsh, William H. Lake, William 

Frozen. — Corporal Adolph Spraggle ; Privates, John D. Mar- 
ker, J. Kearney, Samuel L'Hommidieu, K. McXulty. G. Swan. 

350 Battle of Bear River. 


Killed. — Privates, John K. Briggs, Charles L. Hallowell. 

Wounded. — Capt. Daniel McLean, Sergeant James Cantillon;* 
Corporals, Philip Schaub and Patrick Frauley; Privates, Michael 
O'Brien,* H. L. Fisher, John Franklin, Hugh Connor, Joseph 
Clows, Thomson Ridge, James Logan, Bartele C, Hutchinson, 
Frank Farley.* 

Frozen. — Sixteen names not obtained. 


Killed. — Privates, Lewis Anderson, Christian Smith, Shel- 
bourne C. Reed, Adolphus Rowe, Henry W. Trenipf. 

Wounded. — Lieut. Darwin Chase,* Sergeant Sylvanus S. Long- 
ley, Corporal Benjamin Landis; Privates, William Slocum,* Albert 
N. Parker, John S. Lee, Walter B. Welton, Natli'l Kinsley, Patrick 
H. Kelly, Eugene J. Brady, Silas C. Bush, John Daly, Robert 
Hargrave, Morris Illig, Alonzo A. P. V. McCoy. 

Frozen. — Sergeant Wm. L. Beach ; Corporals, Wm. L. White 
and James R. Hunt; Privates, Stragder- Ausby, Matthew Almone, 
David Bristow, Fred W. Becker, Nath'l Chapman, Sam'l Caldwell, 
Joseph Chapman, John G. Hertle, Chas. B. Howe, Joseph Hill, 
George Johnston, Jefferson Lincoln, Arthur Mitchell, James 
McKown, Alonzo R. Palmer, Charles Wilson. 


Killed. — Wagoner, Asa F. Howard; Privates, Geo. C. Cox, 
Geo. W. Hoton, Wm. Davis. 

Wounded. — Sergeants, Anthony Stevens * and Lorin Robbins, 
Corporal L. W. Hughes; Privates, W. H. Wood, L. D. Hughes, J. 
Legget, E. C. Chase, F. Barcafer, R. Miller, M. Forbes, John 
Stevens, P. Humbert; Bugler, A. Hoffner. 

Frozen. — Sergeant John Cullen ; Corporals, A. P. Hewitt and 
Wm. Steel ; Privates, W. W. Collins, James Dyer, John McGonagle, 
A. G. Case. 

Killed. — Privates, John E. Baker, Sanuiel W. Thomas. 
Wounded. — Major P. A. Gallagher; Sergeants, A. J. Austin 
and E. C. Hoyt; Privates, John Hensley, Thomas B. Walker. 

* Died of wounds. 

Battle of Bear River. 


Frozen. — Sergeants, C. J. ITerron and C. F. Williams; Corpo- 
rals, Wm. Bennett, John Lattraan, and John Wingate; Privates, 
Joseph German, James Urquhart, Wm. St. John, Algeiay Rams- 
dell, James Epperson, A. J. T. Randall, Wm. Farnham, John 
Baurland, Giles Ticknor, Alfred Pensho, B. B. Bigelow, J. Ander- 
son, F. Bacralso, F. Branch, A. L. Bailey, Wm. Carlton, D. Dona- 
hue, C. H. Godbold, J. Haywood, C. Heath, J. Manning, Wm, 



2nd Cavalry, Co. A 
2nd Cavalry, Co. H 
2nd Cavalry, Co. K 
2nd Cavalry, Co. M 
3rd Infantry, Co. K 
Total . . . . 


























852 Alder Grulch. 



Discovert of Alder Gulch — Description op the 
Placer and Settlement of it — Murder of Dil- 
lingham BY Stinson, Lyons and Forbes — Their 
Trial — Condemnation of Stinson and Lyons — 
Acquittal of Forbes — Strange Acquittal, and 
Departure op Stinson and Lyons, when ready 
FOR Execution. 

Early in June, 1863, a company of miners, 
while returning from an unsuccessful exploring 
expedition, discovered the remarkable placer after- 
wards known as Alder Gulch. They gave the 
name of one of their number, Fairweather, to the 
district. Several of the company went imme- 
diately to Bannack, communicated the intelli- 
gence, and returned with supplies to their friends. 
The effect of the news was electrical. Hun- 
dreds started at once to the new placer, each 
striving to outstrip the other, in order to secure a 
claim. In the hurry of departure, among many 
minor accidents, a man whose body, partially con- 

Alder Gulck B53 

cealed by the willows, was mistaken for a beaver, 
was shot by a Mr. Arnold. Discovering the fatal 
mistake, Arnold gave up the chase and bestowed 
his entire attention upon the unfortunate victim 
until his death, a few days afterwards. The great 
stampede with its numerous pack-animals, pene- 
trated the dense alder thicket which filled the 
gulch, a distance of eight miles, to the site selected 
for building a town. An accidental fire occurring, 
swept away the alders for the entire distance in a 
sinofle nioht. In less than a week from the date 
of the first arrival, hundreds of tents, brush 
wakiups, and rude log cabins, extemporized for 
immediate occupancy, were scattered at random 
over the spot, now for the first time trodden by 
white men. For a distance of twelve miles from 
the mouth of the gulch to its source in Bald 
Mountain, claims were staked and occupied by 
the men fortunate enough first to assert an owner- 
ship. Laws were adopted, judges selected, and 
the new community were busy in up-heaving, 
sluicing, drifting, and cradling the inexhaustible 
bed of auriferous gravel, which has yielded under 
these various manipulations, a greater amount of 
gold than any other placer on the continent. 

The Southern sympathizers of the Territory 
gave the name of Varina to the new town which 

354 Alder Gulch. 

had sprung up in Alder Gulch, in honor of the 
wife of President Jefferson Davis. Dr. Bissel, 
one of the miners' judges of the gulch, was an 
ardent Unionist. Being called upon to draw up 
some papers before the new name had been 
generally adopted, and requested to date them at 
" Varina City," he with a very emphatic expletive, 
declared he would not do it, and wrote the name 
Virginia City, — by which name the place has 
ever since been known. 

The road agents were among the first to follow 
in the track of the miners. Prominent among 
them were Cyrus Skinner, Jack Gallagher, Buck 
Stinson, and Ned Ray, — the last three as deputies 
of Plummer in the sheriffalty. Ripe for the 
commission of any deed, however atrocious, 
which gave the promise of plunder, jackal-like 
they watched the gathering crowd and its various 
industries, marking each and all for early and 
unceasing depredation. 

The Hon. Washington Stapleton who had 
been at work in the Bannack mines from the time 
of their discovery, a miner named Dodge, and 
another man, each supposed to possess a consider- 
able amount of gold, having determined to go to 
Virginia City, Dodge was privately informed by 
Dillingham, one of Plummer's deputies, on the 

Alder Griilch. 355 

eve of their intended departure, that Buck Stin- 
son, Hayes Lyons, and Charley Forbes had laid 
plans for robbing them on the way, and had 
requested him (Dillingham) to join them in the 
robbery. When the time for their going came, 
Dodge expressed his fear of an attack, and 
announced his determination to remain. His 
friends rallied him, until, smarting under their 
taunts, he revealed the information given by 
Dillingham. Stinson, Lyons, and Forbes heard 
of it, and determined to kill the informer. 
Stapleton left his companions, and started for 
Virginia City alone. At Rattlesnake he en- 
countered Hayes Lyons, who rode up and asked 
him if he had heard of the robbery which Dil- 
lingham alleged had been planned against him. 
Stapleton replied in the negative ; but when tell- 
ing the story since, says that he has felt more 
comfortable even when sleejjing in church, than 
when he saw that scoundrel approaching him. 
He told him, he says, that this was the first he had 
heard of it, adding, " If you want my money, I 
have only one hundred dollars in greenbacks. 
You had better take that, and let me go." 

Lyons replied with an oath that the story was a 
lie, and that he was then on his way to kill 
Dillingham for putting such a story in circulation, 

356 Alder Crulch. 

but he feared Dillingham had heard of his inten- 
tion and left the country. 

Stapleton accomplished his trip without moles- 
tation. Lyons and Forbes rode on to Virginia 
City, also, and finding Dillingham there, they, in 
company with Stinson, met the next day and ar- 
ranged for his assassination. 

A miners' court for the trial of a civil case was 
in session the following^ mornino- near the bank of 
the creek frontino- the town. To the observation 
of a person unaccustomed to the makeshifts and 
customs of a mining community, the picture pre- 
sented by this court of justice would have ex- 
hibited many amusing features — not the least of 
which was the place wherein it was held. The 
Temple of Justice was a wakiup of brush and 
twigs, gathered from the different coppices of 
willow and alder growing upon the banks of the 
creek, thrown together in conical form, and of 
barely sufficient capacity to accommodate the 
judge, clerk, parties, and jurors. Spectators were 
indebted to the interstices in this primitive struc- 
ture, for a view of the proceedings ; and as no 
part of the person except the eyes, was visible to 
those within, the appearance of those visual orbs 
bore no inapt comparison to a constellation in a 
brush heap. 

Alder Gulch. 357 

Dr. Steele, president of the gulcli, acted as 
judge. He united with much native good sense 
great modesty of demeanor. He was not a law- 
yer. On his trip from the States, while crossing 
the plains, an unfriendly gust had swept his only 
hat beyond recovery, and he came into Montana 
with his brows bound in a parti-colored cotton 
handkerchief, which, for want of something more 
appropriate, not obtainable at the stores, he had 
worn until some friendly miner possessing an extra 
hat presented him with it. Proving too small to 
incase his intellectual organs, the doctor had, by 
a series of indented slits encircling the rim, in- 
creased its elasticity, so that, saving a succession 
of gaps, through which his hair bristled " like 
quills upon the fretful porcupine," it answered the 
purpose of its creation. With this upon his head 
he sat upon the bench, an embodiment of the dig- 
nity, law, and learning of this little mountain 
j adiciary. 

In the progress of the trial, the defendant's 
counsel asked for a nonsuit, on account of some 
informality of service. 

" A what? " inquired the judge with a puzzled 
expression, as if he had not rightly understood 
the word. 

" A nonsuit," was the rejoinder. 

358 Alder Gulch. 

" What's a — " The question partly asked, 
was left incomplete. The judge blushed, but re- 
flecting that he would probably learn the office of 
a nonsuit in the course of the argument, he broke 
through the dilemma by asking, — 

" Upon what ground ? " 

The argument followed, and the judge, soon 
comprehending the meaning of a nonsuit, decided 
that unless the defendant could show that he had 
suffered by reason of the informal service, the 
case must proceed. Some of the friends of the 
magistrate, seated near the door, understanding 
the cause of his embarrassment, enjoyed the scene 
hugely, and as it presented an opportunity for re- 
turning in kind some of the numerous jokes 
which he had played at their expense, one of 
them, thinking it too good to be lost, with much 
mock sobriety of manner and tone, arose and 
said, — 

" Most rig'hteous decision ! " 

All eyes were turned upon the speaker, but 
before they could comprehend the joke at the 
bottom, another arose, and with equal solemnity, 
exclaimed, — 

" Most just judge ! " 

Dr. Steele, though embarrassed by this ill- 
timed jocularity, was so well satisfied with his 

Alder Guloh. 359 

sagacity in finding out what a nonsuit meant, 
without betraying his legal unlearnedness, that 
the joke was taken in good part, and formed a 
subject of frequent merriment in after times. 

Charley Forbes was the clerk of the court, and 
sat beside the judge taking nctes of the trial. 
After the decision denying the motion, the plain- 
tiff passed around a bottle of liquor, of which 
the court and jury partook. Not to be outdone, 
the defendant circulated a box of cigars. And 
it was while the spectators were giving expression 
in various forms to their approval of the decision, 
that Stinson and Lyons came into the court, and 
proceeding to the seat occupied by Forbes, en- 
gaged with him in a whisj^ered conversation in- 
audible to the bystanders. After a few moments, 
Forbes suddenly rose in his place, and, with an 
oath, exclaimed, — 

" Well, we'll kill the scoundrel then, at once," 
and accompanied Stinson and Lyons out of the 
wakiup. The audience, startled by the announce- 
ment, hurriedly followed. Dillingham had come 
over from Bannack in his capacity as deputy sher- 
iff, to look for some stolen horses. He had come 
on the ground a moment before, in search of Mr. 
Todd, the deputy at Virginia City, for assistance. 

An assemblage of u hundred or more miners 

36.0 Alder Grulch. 

and others was congregated in and about the 
place where the court was in progress, — some 
intent upon the trial, others sauntering through 
the crowd and along the bank of Alder creek. 
The three ruffians, after a moment's conversation, 
approached in company the spot where Dillingham 

" We want to see you," said Lyons, addressing 
him. " Step this way a moment." 

Stinson advanced a few paces, and looking over 
his shoulder said to his companions, — 

" Brino- him alonof. Make him come." 

Dillingham waited for no second invitation. 
Evidently supposing that they had some matter 
of business to communicate, he accompanied them 
to an open spot not more than ten paces distant. 
There they all stopped, and facing Dillingham, 
with a muttered curse Lyons said to him, — 

" Take back those lies," when with the quick- 
ness of thought, they drew their revolvers, — 
Charley Forbes at the same time exclaiming, 
" Don't shoot, don't shoot," — and fired upon him 
simultaneously. The groan which Lyon's ball 
drew from the poor victim as it entered his thigh, 
was hushed by the bullet of Forbes, as it passed 
through his breast, inflicting a mortal wound. He 
fell, and died in a few moments. Jack Gallagher, 

Alder Guleh. 361 

who was in the plot, rushed up, and in his capacity 
as a deputy sheriff, seized the pistols of the three 
ruffians, one of which, while unobserved, he re- 
loaded, intending thereby to prevent the identifi- 
cation of the villain who fired the fatal shot. 

The deed was committed so quickly, that the 
bystanders hardly knew what had happened till 
they saw Dillingham stretched upon the ground 
in the death agony. The court broke up instantly, 
and the jury dispersed. Aghast at the bloody 
spectacle, for some moments the people surveyed 
it in speechless amazement. The ruffians mean- 
while sauntered quietly away, chuckling at their 
own adroitness. They had not gone far, until 
several of the miners, by direction of Dr. Steele, 
arrested them. The re-action from terror to 
reason was marked by the adojDtion of vigorous 
measures for the punishment of the crime, and 
but for the calm self-possession of a few individ- 
uals, the murderers would have been summarily 
dealt with. An officer elected by the people, with 
a detail of miners, took them into custody, and 
having confined them in a log building, prepara- 
tions were made for their immediate trial. 

Here again, as at the trial of Moore and Reeves, 
the difficulty of a choice between a trial by the 
people, and by a jury of twelve, occasioned an 

362 Alder Gulch. 

obstinate and violent discussion. The reasons for 
the latter, though strongly urged, were finally 
overcome by the paramount consideration that the 
selection of a jury would devolve upon a deputy 
sheriff who was in league with the prisoners, and, 
as it was afterwards ascertained, an accomplice in 
the crime for Avhich they were arrested. 

The people assembled en masse upon the very 
spot where the murder had been committed. Dr. 
Steele, by virtue of his office as president of the 
gulch, was appointed judge, and at his request 
Dr. Bissell the district judge and Dr. Rutar, asso- 
ciates, to aid with their counsel in the decisions of 
such questions as should arise in the progress of 
the trial. E. R. Cutler, a blacksmith, and James 
Brown acted as public prosecutors, and H. P. 
A. Smith, a lawyer of ability, appeared on behalf 
of the prisoners. 

A separate trial was assigned to Forbes, because 
the pistol which Gallagher had privately reloaded, 
was claimed by him, a fact of which he wished to 
avail himself. In fact, however, the pistol be- 
longed to Stinson. It was mid-day when the trial 
of Lyons and Stinson commenced. At dark it 
was not concluded, and the prisoners were put 
under a strong guard for the night. They were 
confined in a small, half-roofed, unchinked cabin^ 

Alder Gulch. 363 

overlooking Daylight creek, which ran through a 
hollow filled with willows. Dr. Six and Major 
Brookie had charge of the prisoners. Soon after 
dark their attention was attractsd hy the repeated 
shrill note of a night-hawk, apparently proceeding 
from tli3 willows. After eacdi note, Forbes com- 
menced singing. This being noticed by the 
guard, on closer investigation they discovered 
that the note was simulated by some person as a 
signal for the prisoners. Thej immediately 
ordered Forbes to stop singing. He refused. 
They then proposed to chain the prisoners, they 
objecting, and Forbes remarking. — 

*' I will suffer death before you shall do it." 

He receded, however, under the persuasion of 
six shot-guns drawn upon a line with his head, 
and in a subdued tone, said, — 

" Chain me." 

During the night Lyons sent for one of the 
citizens, who, under cover of the guns of the 
guard, approached and asked him what he wanted. 

'^ I want you," said he, " to release Stinson 
and Forbes. I killed Dillingham. I came here 
for that express purpose. They are innocent. I 
was sent here by the best men in Bannack to kill 

^' Who sent you ? " inquired the citizen. 

364 Alder aulch. 

After naminof several of the best citizens of 
Baniiack, who knew nothing of the murder until 
several days after it was committed, he added, — 

" Henry Plummer told me to shoot him." It 
was afterwards proven that this was true. 

Hayes Lyons was greatly unnerved, and cried 
a great part of the night ; but Buck Stinson was 
wholly unconcerned, and slept sound. 

The trial was resumed the next morninor*. At 


noon, the arguments being concluded, the ques- 
tion of " guilty or not guilty," was submitted to 
the people, and decided almost unanimously in the 

" What shall be their punishment ? " asked the 
president of the now eager crowd. 

" Hang them," was the united response. 

Men were immediately appointed to erect a 
scaffold, and dig the graves of the doomed crimi- 
nals, who were taken into custody to await the 
result of the trial of Forbes. This followed im- 
mediately ; and the loaded pistol, and the fact that 
when the onslaught w\is made upon Dillingham, 
he called out, " Don't shoot, don't shoot," were 
used in evidence with good effect. When the 
question was finally put, Forbes, wdio was a young 
man of fine personal appearance, and possessed 
of good powers as a speaker, made a personal 

Alder Gulch. 365 

appeal to the crowd, which so wrought upon 
their sympathies, and was so eloquent withal, that 
they acquitted him by a large majority. In 
marked contrast with the spirit which they ex- 
hibited a few hours before while condemning 
Stinson and Lyons to a violent death, the people, 
upon the acquittal of Forbes, crowded around 
him with shouts and laughter, eager to shake 
hands with and congratulate him upon his escape. 
Months afterwards, when the excitement of the 
occasion, with the memory of it, had passed from 
men's minds, Charley Forbes was heard vaunt- 
ingly to say that he was the slayer of Dillingham. 
He was known to deride the tender susceptibili- 
ties of the people, who gave him liberty to renew 
his desperate career, and chuckle over the exercise 
of powers of person and mind that could make 
so many believe even Truth herself to be a liar. 
Among all the villains belonging to Plummer's 
band, not one, not even Plummer himself, pos- 
sessed a more depraved nature than Forbes ; and 
with it, few, if any, were gifted with as many 
shining accomplishments. He was a prince of 
cut-throats, — uniting with the coolness of Augus- 
tus Tomlinson, all the adaptability of Paul Clif- 
ford. On one occasion he said to a gentleman 
about to leave the Territory, — 

366 Alder Crutch. 

" You will be attacked on your way to Salt 

" You can't do it, Charley," was the reply. 
" Your boys are scattered, we are together, and 
will prove too many for you." Nevertheless, the 
party drove sixty miles over the mountains the 
first day out, and thus escaped molestation. 

His early life was passed in Grass valley, Cali- 
fornia. While comparatively a youth, he was 
convicted of robbery. On the expiration of his 
sentence, he visited his old friends, and on his 
promise of reformation, they obtained employment 
for him in McLaughlin's gas works. For a while 
his conduct was unexceptionable, and he was 
rajDidly regaining the esteem of aU ; but in an 
evil hour he indulged in a game of poker for 
money. From that moment he yielded to this 
temptation, until it became a besetting vice. 
Not long after he entered upon this career, he pro- 
voked a quarrel with one " Dutch John," who 
threatened to kill him. 

Forbes told McLaughlin, saying in conclusion, 
" When Dutch John says so, he means it." 

" Take my revolver out of the case," said 
McLaughlin, " put it in your breast-pocket, and 
defend yourself as occasion may require." 

Forbes obeyed. Soon after, as he was passing 

Alder aulch. 367 

along with a ladder on his shoulder, an acquaint- 
ance said to him, — 

" Dutch John is looking for you to kill you." 

" So I hear," replied Forbes. " He'll find me 
sooner than he wants to." 

A few rods farther on he saw John coming 
from the Magnolia saloon, where he had been 
looking for Forbes. Forbes sprang towards him, 
exclaiming with an oath, — 

'' Here I am," and immediately fired four shots 
at him. John fired once in return, and throwing 
up his hands in affright at the rapid firing of 
Forbes, ejaculated, — 

" mein Gott ! will I be murdered ? " 

A bystander who had witnessed the meeting, 
and saw that John, who had expected an easy 
victory, was paralyzed with fear, called to him, — 

" Turn your artillery loose ! " 

Forbes was tried for this crime, and acquitted. 
He was afterwards convicted of crime of some 
kind in Carson City, and imprisoned. On New 
Year's day he succeeded in removing his handcuffs, 
broke jail, and went to the sheriff's house, as he 
said upon entering, " to make a New Year's call." 
The officer returned him to prison. From this 
time, his career of crime knew no impediment. 

On his first arrival in the mountains he corre- 

368 Alder Gulch. 

sponded for some of the California and Nevada 
papers. His letters were highly interesting. His 
true name was Edward Richardson. 

To return to Stinson and Lyons. After the 
demonstrations of joy at Forbes's escape had sub- 
sided, the people remembered that there was an 
execution on the tapis. Drawing up a wagon in 
front of the building- where the criminals were 
confined, they ordered them to get in. They 
obeyed, followed by several of their friends, who 
took seats beside them. Lyons became almost 
uproarious in his appeals for mercy. The women, 
of whom there were many, began to cry, begging 
earnestly for the lives of the criminals. Smith, 
their lawyer, joined his petitions to those of the 
women, and the entire crowd began to give way 
under this pressure of sympathy. Meantime the 
wagon was drawn slowly towards the place of 
execution. When the excitement was at its high- 
est pitch, a man demanded in a loud tone that the 
people should listen to a letter which Lyons had 
written to his mother. This document, which had 
been prepared by some person for the occasion, 
was now read. It was filled with expressions of 
love for the aged mother, regret for the crime, 
repentance, acknowledgments of misspent life, 
and strong promises of amendment, if only life 

Alder Gulch. 369 

could be spared a little longer. Every sentence 
elicited fresh grief from the women, who now 
became perfectly clamorous in their calls for 
mercy to the prisoners. After the letter was read, 
some one cried out, in derision, — 

" Give him a horse, and let him go to his 

Another immediately moved that they take a 
vote upon that proposition. Sheriff Todd, whose 
duty it was only to carry out the sentence of the 
court, consented to this, and the question was 
submitted to ayes and noes. Both parties claimed 
the victory. It was then agreed that those in 
favor of hanging should go up, and those opposed, 
down the side of a neighboring hill. Neither 
party being satisfied, as a final test, four men 
were selected, and those who wished the sentence 
enforced were to pass between two of them, and 
those who opposed, between the other two. The 
votes for liberty were increased to meet the occa- 
sion, by a second passage of as many as were 
necessary to carry the question. An Irish miner, 
while the voting was in progress, exclaimed in a 
loud voice, as a negro passed through the ac- 
quittal bureau, — 

" Bedad, there's a bloody nagur, that's voted 
three times." 

370 Alder Gulch. 

But this vote, dishonest as it was, settled the 
question ; for Jack Gallagher, pistol in liand, 
shouted, — 

" Let them go. They're cleared." 

This was a signal for a general uproar, and 
amid shouts from both parties, expressive of the 
opinions which each entertained, some one mounted 
the assassins upon a horse standing near, which 
belonged to a Blackfoot squaw, and cutting the 
lariat, started them off at a gallop down the 
gulch. At this moment one of the guard pointed 
to the gallows, and said to another, — 

" There stands a monument of disappointed 

Immediately after sentence of death had been 
passed upon Stinson and Lyons, Dr. Steele 
returned to his cabin, two miles down the gulch. 
The result of the trial had furnished him with 
food for sad reflection, — especially as the duty 
of passing the death sentence had devolved upon 
him. Other considerations followed in quick 
succession. He has since, when speaking of it, 
said that he never indulged in a more melancholy 
reverie, than while returning home from this trial. 
The youth of the convicts ; their evident fitness, 
both by culture and manners, for any sphere of 
tive business j the effect that their execution 


Alder aidch. 371 

must have upon distant parents and friends, — all 
thes8 thoughts presented themselves in sad array 
before his mental vision ; when, as he was about 
entering his cabin, a quick clatter of hoofs roused 
him, and turning to see the cause, he beheld the 
subjects of his gloomy reflections both mounted 
upon the Indian pony, approaching at the animal's 
swiftest pace. He had hardly time to recover 
from his surprise, and realize that the object was 
not a vision, until the animal with its double 
rider passed him, — and Lyons, nodding famil- 
iarly, waved his hand, accompanying the gesture 
with the parting words, — 

" Good-by, Doc." 

The body of the unfortunate Dillingham lay 
neglected upon a gambling table in a tent near 
by, until this wretched travesty was completed. 
Then a wagon was obtained, and, followed by a 
small procession, it was hurriedly buried. The 
tears had all been shed for the murderers. 

" I cried for Dillingham," said one, on being- 
told that his wife and daughters had expended 
their grief upon the wrong persons. 

" Oh, you did," was the reply. " Well thought 
of. Who will pray for him? Will you do it, 
judge ? " 

Judge Bissell responded by kneeling upon the 

S72 Alder Guleh. 

spot and offering up an appropriate prayer, as the 
body of the unfortunate young man was consigned 
to its mother earth. 

Soon after the murder of DiUingham, Charley 
Forbes suddenly disappeared. No one knew 
what became of him, but it was supposed that he 
had fallen a victim to the veng-eance of his com- 
rades for the course he had taken in securing' for 
himself a separate trial. This supposition was 
afterwards confirmed by some of the robbers 
themselves, who stated that in a quarrel with 
Moore at the Big Hole river, Forbes was killed. 
Fearing that the friends of the murdered ruffian 
would retaliate, Moore killed Forbes's horse at the 
same time, and burned to ashes the bodies of 
horse and rider. This fact was known to Plum- 
mer only, at the time of its occurrence. 

Dillingham was a straightforward, honest young 
man, and his office as deputy sheriff was given 
him, under the supposition that he would readily 
affiliate with the roughs. Lyons, Stinson, and 
Forbes, who were also deputies, supposed him to 
be as bad as they were. On my trip east in 18G3, 
the Overland coach in which I had taken passage 
was detained a night by snow at Hook's Station 
in Nebraska. Ascertaining that I was from Ban- 
nack, a young man at the station asked me many 

Alder Gulch. 373 

questions about Hayes Lyons, telling me that he 
had heard that he narrowly escaped hanging the 
previous summer. I narrated to him the cir- 
cumstances attending the murder of Dillingham, 
and the trial. 

" He is my brother," said the young man, and 
invited me to go with him and see his mother and 
sister. I learned that Hayes had been well 
brought up, but was the victim of evil associa- 
tions. His mother wept while deploring his 
criminal career, which she ascribed to bad com- 

Later in the winter I received a letter from the 
father of Dillingham, who resided at North 
Orange, New Jersey, inquiring after his son. I 
replied, giving the particulars of his son's death, 
and the trial and escape of his murderers, and of 
my subsequent meeting with the mother of Lyons. 
In the mean time, Lyons had been hanged. 

The father was almost heartbroken at the intel- 
ligence of his son's death, but in his letter, writ- 
ten in a kindly and Christian spirit, he says : — 

" While the shocking details of the sad narra- 
tive are inexpressibly distressing to us, it is a great 
alleviation to our grief to know that an act of 
manly virtue and honor was the superinducing 
cause that excited our son's murderers in their 

374 Alder Gulch. 

bloody purpose. Death under such circumstances, 
so far as it relates to the poor sufferer himself, is 
praiseworthy in the highest degree, and inspires 
us with thankfulness to God for our son's integ- 
rity, and with humble trust that it may be over- 
ruled in infinite wisdom for our good ; and is 
certainly a thousand times to be preferred by the 
afflicted survivors, to a knowledge of, compliance 
with, and successful prosecution of, the infamous 
scheme proposed. Our hearts truly and deep y 
sympathize with the sorrowing mother and family 
of the criminal young Lyons. Truly, indeed, 
may it be said that only God can assuage the 
poignancy of such sorrow as must fill their bosoms. 
May he sustain and comfort them. 

" It is satisfactory to know that summary meas- 
ures were finally, and in a good measure effect- 
ually, adopted by your citizens, for ridding their 
interesting region of country of these worse than 
savacres. Retributive justice is almost invariably 
sure^ sooner or later, to overtake all such heaven- 
daring outlaws. . . . 

" Very sincerely yours, 

" W. S. Dillingham." 

Virginia City, 375 



Increase of Immigration — Settlement of Alder 
Gulch — Discovery of Smaller Gulches — Biyin's 
Gulch — Dempsey's and Daly's Ranches — Society 
in Virginia City — Sunday — Size of Territory — 
Distance from Capital — Arrival of D. S. Paynp:, 
U. S. Marshal — His Desire to have Virginia 
City represented — Offers the Writer the Selec- 
tion of a Deputy Marshal — Question referred 
TO Union League, which designates Plummer — 
Interview between Plummer and the Writer — 
Hauser's Opinion of Plummer — Plummer not 



Clubfoot George's Shop in Dance and Stuart's 

No longer in fear of attack by the Indians, 
immigrants had been steadily pouring into the 
Territory over the Salt Lake route during the 
month of June. Many came also over the 
mountains from Salmon river. The opportune 
discovery of Alder gulch relieved Bannack of a 
large and increasing population of unemployed 

376 Virginia City. 

oold-himters, who, lured by the overdrawn reports 
o£ local richness, had exhausted all their means 
in a long and perilous journey, to meet only dis- 
appointment and disaster at its close. Almost 
simultaneously with the settlement at Virginia 
City, other settlements lower down and farther up 
the gulch were commenced. Those below were 
known by the respective names of Junction, Ne- 
vada, and Central ; those above. Pine Grove, High- 
land, and Summit. As the entire gulch for a 
distance of twelve miles was appropriated, the in- 
tervals of two or three miles between the several 
nuclei were occupied by the cabins of miners, who 
owned and were developing the claims opposite to 
them, so that in less than three months after the 
discovery, the gulch was really one entire settle- 
ment. One long stream of active life filled the 
little creek, on its auriferous course from Bald 
Mountain, through a canon of wild and picturesque 
character, until it emerged into the large and fer- 
tile valley of the Pas-sam-a-ri. Pas-sam-a-ri is 
the Shoshone word for " Stinking Water," and the 
latter is the name commonly given in Montana to 
the beautiful mountain stream which was called by 
Lewis and Clarke in their journal, - Philanthropy 
River." Lateral streams of great beauty pour 
down the sides of the mountain chain bounding 

Virginia City. 377 

the valley, across which they run to their union 
with the Pas-sam-a-ri, which, twenty miles beyond, 
unites with the Beaverhead, one of the forming 
streams of the Jefferson. Gold placers were 
found upon these streams, and occupied soon after 
the settlement at Virginia City was commenced. 
One of these at Bivin's gulch, in the mountains 
twelve miles from Virginia City, though limited 
in extent, was sufficiently productive to afford 
profitable employment to a little community of 
twenty or more miners. Twenty miles below 
Virginia City on the route to Bannack, a man by 
the name of Dempsey located a ranche, and built 
a large cabin for the accommodation of travellers. 
Seven miles above, and between that and Viro-inia 
City, another similar building for like purposes 
was owned by Peter Daly, and three miles above 
Daly's was another owned by Mr. Lorrain. 
These establishments are only important as they 
serve to locate occurrences connected with this 

Of the settlements in Alder gulch, Virginia 
City was the principal, though Nevada, two miles 
below, at one time was of nearly equal size and 
population. A stranger from the Eastern States 
entering the gulch for the first time, two or three 
months after its discovery, would be inspired by 

378 Virginia Oity. 

the scene and its associations with reflections of 
the most strange and novel character. This 
human hive, numbering at least ten thousand 
people, was the product of ninety days. Into it 
were crowded all the elements of a rough and 
active civilization. Thousands of cabins and 
tents and brush wakiups, thrown together in the 
roughest form, and scattered at random along the 
banks, and in the nooks of the hills, were seen 
on every hand. Every foot of the gulch, under 
the active manipulations of the miners, was under- 
going displacement, and it was already disfigured 
by huge heaps of gravel, which had been passed 
through the sluices, and rifled of their glittering 
contents. In the gulch itself all was activity. 
Some were removing the superincumbent earth to 
reach the pay-dirt, others who had accomplished 
that were gathering up the clay and gravel upon 
the surface of the bed-rock, while by others still 
it was thrown into the sluice boxes. This exhibi- 
tion of mining industry was twelve miles long. 
Gold was abundant, and every possible device 
was employed by the gamblers, the traders, the 
vile men and women that had come with the 
miners to the locality, to obtain it. Nearly every 
third cabin in the towns was a saloon where vile 
whiskey was peddled out for fifty cents a drink in 

Virginia City. 870 

gold dust. Many of these places were filled with 
gambling tables and gamblers, and the miner who 
was bold enough to enter one of them with his 
day's earnings in his pocket, seldom left until 
thoroughly fleeced. Hurdy-gurdy dance-houses 
were numerous, and there were plenty of camp 
beauties to patronize them. There too, the suc- 
cessful miner, lured by siren smiles, after an 
evening spent in dancing and carousing at his 
expense, steeped with liquor, would empty his 
purse into the lap of his charmer, for an hour of 
license in her arms. Not a day or night passed 
which did not yield its full fruition of fights, 
quarrels, wounds, or murders. The crack of the 
revolver was often heard above the merry notes of 
the violin. Street fights were frequent, and as 
no one knew when or where they would occur, 
every one was on his guard against a random 

Sunday was always a gala day. The miners 
then left their work and gathered about the pub- 
lic places in the towns. The stores were all open, 
the auctioneers specially eloquent on every corner 
in praise of their wares. Thousands of j^eople 
crowded the thoroughfares, ready to rush in any 
direction of promised excitement. Horse-racing 
was among the most favored amusements. Prize 

QgQ Virginia City. 

rings were formed, and brawny men engaged at 
fisttafEs until their sight was lost and their 
bodies pommelled to a jelly, while hundreds of 
on-lookers cheered the victor. Hacks rattled to 
and fro between the several towns, freighted with 
drunken and rowdy humanity of both sexes. 
Citizens of acknowledged respectability otten 
walked, more often perhaps rode side by side on 
horseback, with noted courtesans m open day 
throuo-h the crowded streets, and seemingly sut- 
fered'no harm in reputation. Pistols flashed 
bowie-knives flourished, and braggart oaths filled 
the air, as often as men's passions triumphed over 
their reason. This was indeed the reign of un- 
bridled license, and men who at first regarded it 
with dis-ust and terror, by constant exposure soon 
learned to become part of it, and forget that they 
had ever been aught else. All classes of society 
were represented at this general exhibition 
Judges, lawyers, doctors, even clergymen, could 
not claim exemption. Culture and religion 
afforded feeble protection, where allurement 
and indulgence ruled the hour. 

Underneath this exterior of recklessness, there 
was in the minds and hearts of the miners and 
business men of this society, a strong and abiding 
sense of justice, -and that saved the Territory. 

Virginia City. 381 

While they could enjoy what they called sport 
even to the very borders o£ crime, and induloe in 
many practices which in themselves were criminal, 
yet when any one was murdered, robbed, abused, 
or hurt, a feeling of resentment, a desire for retal- 
iation, animated all. With the ingathering of new 
men, fear of the roughs gradually wore away, — 
but the desire to escape responsibility, to acquire 
something and leave in peace, prevented any 
active measures for protection ; and so far as 
organization was concerned, the law and order 
citizens, though in the majority, were as much at 
sea as ever. 

Previous to the organization of the Territory 
of Idaho on the 3d of March, 1863, all of that 
which is now Montana west of the Rocky Moun- 
tains, was part of Washington Territory, with 
Olympia on Puget Sound for a capital. All east 
thereof belonged to Dakota, the capital of which 
was Yankton on the Missouri, which by the near- 
est available route of travel, was two thousand 
two hundred miles distant. The existence of 
Bannack was not known there at that time, to say 
nothing of the impossibility of executing any Ter- 
ritorial laws, at such arm's-length, even if it had 
been. Our legal condition was not greatly 
improved by the organization of the new Territory 

gg2 Virginia City. 

o£ Idaho. Lewiston, ths capital, was seven hun- 
dred miles away, on the western side of the moun- 
tains Eio-hteen months had passed since we 
became part of that Territory, before we received 
an authentic copy of the Territorial Statutes, and 
when they came we had been half a year in 

Montana. , tt •, i a^ j. 

In Au-ust, 1863, D. S. Payne, the United States 
Marshal of Idaho, came over from Lewiston to Ban- 
nack, to district the eastern portion of the lerri- 
tory, and effect a party organization of the Kepub- 
Hcans. Our people felt little interest m the meas- 
ure Some of the leading citizens had requested 
some time before, that I should make application 
in person for them, at the next session of Congress, 
for a new Territorial organization, east ot the 
Coeur D'Alene Mountains. Payne was urgent 
for a representation of this part of the Territory 
in the Legislative Council, and as an inducement 
for me to consent to the use of my name as a 
candidate, offered to appoint any person whom I 
might name, to the office of Deputy United 
States Marshal in the east side district. ^ ^ 

A Union League had been for some time in 
existence in Bannack, of which I was President. 
I asked the advice of the members in making the 
appointment, first cautioning them to ballot 

Virginia City. 383 

secretly, as by that means those who otherwise 
would not support Plummer, who was known to 
be a candidate, would escape detection by him. 
Neither Mr. Rheem, the Vice-President of the 
League, nor myself, voted. The votes cast, about 
thirty in number, were unanimous for Plummer. 
Some one informed him of it. He expressed his 
gratification at the result, and told me that the 
confidence of the League in him should never be 
betrayed. I immediately informed him that he 
must not expect the appointment. He gave this 
reply a favorable interpretation, and even after it 
was repeated, turned upon his heel, laughing, and 
saying as he went, — 

" It's all right, Langford. That's the way to 
talk it to outsiders." 

Soon after this, in a conversation with Mr. 
Samuel T. Hauser, I informed him of the recom- 
mendation of the League. Hauser replied, — 

" Whoever lives to see the gang of highway- 
men now infesting the country broken uf), will 
find that Henry Plummer is at the head of it." 

Amazed at the expression of an opinion so 
much stronger than my own, I at once decided to 
reject the advice of the League, rather than incur 
the responsibility of recommending so dangerous a 
person for the office. Plummer heard of it, and 

384 Virginia City. 

lost no time in asking an explanation, affecting to 
believe that I had promised to recommend him. 
We sat down upon an ox-shoeing frame, and 
talked over the whole matter. He had his pistol 
in his belt. I was unarmed. He said many pro- 
voking things, and used many oaths and epithets, 
in his attempt to provoke a quarrel, but all to no 
purpose. Finding that no excuse would be given 
him for a resort to violence, he arose, and as we 

parted, said, — 

" Langford, you'll be sorry for this before the 
matter ends. I've always been your friend, but 
from this time on, I'm your enemy ; and when I 
say this, I mean it in more ways than one." 

These were the closing words of our last con- 
versation. We met afterwards, but never spoke. 
Daring that fall I was engaged in purchasing 
lumber at Bannack to sell at Virginia City, where 
no sawmills had yet been put in operation. The 
business required frequent trips between the two 
places ; and the ride of seventy miles through a 
lonely country, whose surface alternated with 
canons, ravines, foot-hills and mountains, afforded 
such ample opportunity for secret robbery and 
murder, that it required considerable ingenuity to 
throw the villains off the track. With the threat 
of Plummer hanging over me to be executed upon 

Virginia City. 385 

the first favorable opportunity, my position was 
by no means an enviable one. I would send 
forward the loaded teams, which were four days 
on the trip, and on the morning of the fourth 
would follow, mounted on a good horse, and 
arrive in Virginia City the same evening. On my 
arrival my horse was immediately put in charge 
of a rancher, or person who made the care of 
horses a specialty. He would send it with a herd 
to a convenient grass range, where it would feed 
in the care of herders night and day until wanted. 
Then it was brought into town and delivered at 
the office of the rancher. The order for a horse 
was oriven the nio^ht before it was wanted, in order 
to have the animal ready the following morning. 

Georsre Ives, who turned out to be one of the 
most desperate of the gang of robbers, was the 
rancher's clerk at Virginia City. Whenever appli- 
cation was made for a horse, unless the applicant 
was on his guard, Ives could, by a careless inquiry, 
learn his destination. By communicating this to 
his confederates, they could pursue and rob, or kill 
the rider without delay or suspicion. To escape 
this system of espionage it was my custom, when 
ready to leave for Bannack or elsewhere, to send an 
order by a friend to the rancher or Ives, request- 
ing him to let the bearer have the horse to go to 

386 Virginia City. 

some point in an opposite direction from the 
place of destination. The friend would receive 
and mount the horse, and ride out of town, 
beyond observation, where I would meet him and 
go on my way. Thirty journeys of this kind 
were safely made between Virginia City and Ban- 
nack during the fall, none, however, without the 
precaution of carrying a pair of revolvers in my 
cantinas, and a double-barrelled gun across my 

During a brief stay in Omaha several years 
ago, I met with Dr. Levitt, who was a resident of 
Bannack while Plummer dwelt there. He related 
the following incident, which is repeated here, for 
the insight it affords of Plummer's malignancy. 

" One night in October, 1863," said the doctor, 
" 1 was walking along the roadway of Main 
Street in Bannack. The moon, obscured by 
clouds, shed a dim light, by which I could see 
for a few yards quite distinctly. As I passed 
your boarding-house, my attention was attracted 
by a noise at my left. I stopped, and on close 
observation saw a dark object under the window. 
My curiosity was excited to know what it could 
be. Judge of my surprise on approaching it to 
behold a man with a revolver in his hand, on his 
knees at the window, peering into the room 

Virginia City. 387 

through a space of less than an inch between the 
curtam and the window casing. I watched him 
unobserved for some seconds. Disturbed by my 
approach, he sprang to his feet and darted around 
the corner of the building — but not so rapidly 
as to escape recognition. 

" ' Why, Plummer,' I exclaimed, ' what in the 
world are you doing there ? ' 

" Seeing that he was known, he came forward, 
laughing, and replied, — 

" ' I was trying to play a joke on my friend 
Lanofford. He and Gillette board here, and I 
heard their voices.' 

"I was puzzled to conceive what sort of a joke 
he was playing with a loaded revolver, but thought 
I had better not be too curious to ascertain. 
Plummer accompanied me home. He said that 
you and he were great friends ; that you had 
done him many favors, and there was no person 
in the w^orld he esteemed more highly. I thought 
nothing more of the matter, until I heard that 
Plummer had threatened your life for refusing to 
recommend his appointment as Deputy United 
States Marshal. I had no doubt then, and have 
none now, that he was trying to get a sight 
through the window for the purpose of shooting 
you. Your departure for Salt Lake a day or two 

388 Virginia City. 

after I heard of your difficulty with him pre- 
vented me from informing you of it at the time." 
Miners and others who had worked out or sold 
their claims, were almost daily leaving the coun- 
try. Often it was known that they took with 
them large amounts of gold dust. Various were 
the devices for its concealment. On one occasion 
a small company contrived to escape plunder 
by packing their long, slim buckskin jjurses 
into an auger hole, bored in the end of their 
wagon tongue, and closing it so as to escape ob- 
servation. Others, less fortunate, lost, not their 
money only, but their lives, in some of the deso- 
late canons on the long route to Salt Lake. 
Many left who were never afterwards heard of, 
and whose friends in the States wrote letters of 
inquiry to the Territory concerning them, years 
after they had gone. Whenever a robbery was 
contemplated which the freebooters supposed 
would be attended with unusual risk to them- 
selves, Plummer's presence was required to con- 
duct it. Knowing' that his absence would excite 
suspicion, he arranged that for such occasions, he 
should be sent for, as an expert, to examine a 
silver lode. But few discoveries had at this time 
been made of this mineral, and Plummer's Ne- 
vada experience was thought to qualify him for 

Virginia City. 389 

determininsT its value with considerable accuracy. 
A rough-looking prospector, dressed for the pur- 
pose, would ride into town, exhibit his specimens, 
and urge Plummer, who feigned reluctance, to go 
with him and examine his discovery, promising 
him a claim as an inducement. Often would un- 
suspecting citizens offer to aid Plummer in any- 
work he mis'ht then have on hand to enable him 
to go out, and, under pretence of examining a 
silver lode, superintend the commission of a dar- 
ing robbery. Sometimes this same object was 
accomplished by trumping up a charge against 
some imaginary delinquent, and obtaining a war- 
rant for his arrest from the miners' judge, which 
Plummer, as sheriff, rode away to execute. 

The following is one instance of Plummer's 
method of obtaining recruits. He called upon 
Neil Howie in the fall of 1883, whom he found 
hard at work mining, but barely earning a sub- 

" Neil," said he, " this is a hard way to get a 

" I know it," replied Howie. 

" I can tell you of an easier way." 

" I'd like to know it." 

" There are plenty of men making money in 
this country," said Plummer, "and we are entitled 
to a share of it." 

390 Virg'mia City. 

Doubtful as to his meaning, or whether he 
understood him aright, Howie regarded Plummer 
with a puzzled expression, making no reply. 

" Come with me," said Plummer, " and you'll 
have all you want." 

" You've picked up the wrong man," replied 

" All right," said Plummer coolly. " I suppose 
you know enough to keep your mouth shut." 

Howie remembered the fate of Dillingham, and 
heeded the admonition. 

The placer at Alder gulch was immensely 
prolific. Probably its yield in gold dust was not 
less than ten millions of dollars before the close 
of the first year's work upon it. Money was 
abundant. Merchants and bankers were obliged 
to exercise great ingenuity and caution in keeping 
it, as there were no regular means for sending it 
out of the country. The only stage route was 
between Bannack and Virginia City, — and a 
stretch of unsettled country, four hundred and 
seventy-five miles in width, lay between the latter 
place and Salt Lake. There was no post-office in 
the Territory. Letters were brought from Salt 
Lake to Virginia City, first at a cost of two dol- 
lars and a half each, and later in the season at 
one dollar each. All money, at infinite risk, was 

Virginia City. 391 

sent to the nearest express of6.ce at Salt Lake 
by private hands. In order to gain intelligence 
of these occasional consignments, Plummer in- 
duced some of the leading merchants to employ 
members of his gang. When this could not be 
effected, they were occupied so near and on such 
familiar terms, that they could observe without 
suspicion all business operations, and give him 
early notice of the transmission of treasure. 

Dance and Stuart commenced business in 
Virginia City in the fall of 1863, with a large 
stock of goods. George Lane, better known as 
" Clubfoot George," whose history in the Salmon 
river mines I have already given, came to them 
with a pitiful story of his misfortunes, and asked 
for a place in their store for his shoemaker's 
bench. Though cramped for their own accommo- 
dation, they made room for him. He commenced 
work, meantime watching all their business opera- 
tions, for the purpose of reporting when and by 
whom they sent money to their Eastern creditors. 

392 Coach Robberies. 



Wealth of Alder Gulch — Returx of Miners to 
THE States — Adaptation of the Country to 
EoBBERY — " Bummer Dan " — His Claim — Sale 
OF IT AND Return to Virginia City — His Ruse 
TO ESCAPE Robbery a Failure — Attack upon the 
Coach — Robbery of " Bummer Dan," Percy, and 
Madison — Bill Bunton a Stool-Pigeon — Quar- 
rel OF Jason Luce and Sam Bunton — Luce 
KILLS Sam Bunton in Salt Lake City — His 
Trial and Execution. 

The placer at Alder gulch was so extensive, 
so easy of development and so prolific, that many 
of the miners who commenced work upon it in 
the early days of its discovery, fortunate in their 
acquisitions, and disgusted with their associations, 
Avere ready to return to the States in the fall. 
Failing in this, they knew that they would be 
doomed to a long winter of idleness, exposed to 
the privations incident to a new and isolated 
region, and to the depredations of a large and 
increasing criminal population. The hegira, at 

Coach Robberies. 393 

first small, increased in numbers, so that by the 
first of November it could be numbered by hun- 
dreds, who were on their return to their old 
homes. Many — perhaps the greater portion — 
of those wayfarers travelled in the conveyances 
which brought them to the country ; others on 
horseback ; and a large number leaving Virginia 
City on one of the two lines of coaches for Ban- 
nack, trusted to chance for an opportunity to con- 
tinue the journey beyond that place. How many 
of these persons fell victims to the road agents, 
on their long and perilous journey, it is impossible 
to tell ; but the inquiries of relatives and friends 
for hundreds of them for months and even years 
after their departure, leave no chance for doubt 
that the villains drove a bloody and prosperous 

Several of their most daring exploits occurred 
on the route between Virginia City and Bannack, 
a region admirably adapted to their purposes. 
Its frequent streams, canons, mountain passes, 
rocky ledges, willow thickets, and deep embosomed 
valleys, afforded ample means of concealment, and 
advantages for attack upon passing trains, with 
very few chances for defence or escape. The 
robbers had their established points of rendezvous 
on the road, and worked in concert by a system 

394 Coach Robberies. 

of horseback telegraphy, as unfailing as electri- 
city. Whenever it was known that a person with 
money was about to leave by coach, a private 
mark was made upon the vehicle, which would be 
recognized wherever seen, at Daly's, Baker's, 
Dempsey's, or Bunton's, the several ranches where 
the coach horses v/ere changed. Bunton, who 
kept the Rattlesnake ranche, was the same villain 
who was associated with Piummcn' in the shebanofs 
near Walla Walla, of which an account has 
already been given. 

When the approach of the coach was perceived 
at either of these changing stations, the herder 
in charge mounted his horse, and rode hurriedly 
off to drive up the horses for the next route, 
which were generally feeding in sight of the sta- 
tion. Sometimes they strayed off, and the coach 
would be delayed until they were found, but 
this was of infrequent occurrence. Precisely the 
same system was followed here as upon the 
plains in the days of the overland mail stages. 

The horses in use when not of the cayuse 
breed, were bronchos, or wild horses from Cali- 
fornia, neither in quality nor breed suited for 
the service, unreliable, and easily broken down. 
They were driven very rapidly, and when their 
speed gave out were turned out as no longer 

Coach Robberies. 395 

fit for use. As a consequence it was one of 
the chief difficulties of a stage proprietor to 
secure horses which would insure the punctual- 
ity of his trips. The trip between Virginia City 
and Bannack was ordinarily completed between 
the rising and setting of the sun. 

Among the miners earliest to arrive and stake 
a claim in Alder gulch, was an Irishman by 
the name of Daniel McFadden, who soon became 
familiarized to the sobriquet of " Bummer Dan." 
Why he was thus designated was never known, 
but It may be presumed that he early developed 
some of the peculiarities, which, in the opinion 
of the people, justified it. He was fortunate in 
securing one of the richest claims in the gulch, 
and, making good use of his time, had saved 
two thousand dollars or more in dust by the 
middle of October, Having sold his claim, with 
this gold m his possession, he made prepara- 
tions for a journey to Bannack. Securing it 
in buckskin purses, he put them in a larger bag, 
and by means of a strap across the shoulder, and 
a belt, contrived to conceal the treasure under 
his clothing, and carry it very conveniently. 
One raw, gusty day, toward the close of the month, 
he left Virginia City on foot, and walked down 
the valley to Dempsey's ranche, on the Stinking- 

396 Coach Robberies. 

water, where he waited the arrival of Peabodj & 
Caldwell's coach on its w^ay to Bannack. 

Owing to the sickness of the driver, William 
Riimsey was pressed into the service for the trip, 
and the coach left Virginia City at the usual hour 
in the morning, with Messrs. Madison, Percy, and 
Wilkinson, as passengers. One of the heavy 
snowstorms peculiar to this season and latitude 
set in soon after the coach was under way, and 
continued during the drive of the first ten miles, 
rendering their progress slow and cumbersome. 
At Baker's ranche the passengers were obliged 
to wait until the herder, who had been housed 
during the storm, could drive up the horses. He 
returned after an hour's search with an indiffer- 
ent team, which was driven on a run to Demp- 
sey's ranche, to recover the time lost by the delay. 
Here " Bummer Dan " took passage, and the same 
speed was maintained to " Point of Rocks," the 
locality known in Lewis and Clarke's travels as 
Beaver Head Rock. The wearied horses gave 
place here to a fresher team, which continued 
on a keen run to Bunton's ranche on the Rat- 
tlesnake. It was now sunset, and yet twelve 
miles to Bannack. The herder w^ho had brou2"ht 
up the horses for the change at the usual hour, 
finding that the coach did not arrive on time, 

Coach Robberies. 397 

had, under Bunton's orders, turned them out 
again, an hour before. Bunton pretended that 
he did not expect the coach. The herder was 
sent out immediately after the horses, and re- 
turned at dark with the report that he could not 
find them. Rumsey then requested " Little Frank," 
a Mexican boy in whom he had confidence, to go 
in search of the horses. He too soon returned 
with the report that they could not be found. 
This " Little Frank," a few weeks afterwards, 
told Rumsey that the horses were near at the 
time, but that before he started to look for 
them, Bunton told him that if he did not report 
them to be missing he would kill him. 

A night with Bill Bunton was unavoidable, and 
the passengers at once determined to "make a 
night of it." Bunton entered into the spirit of 
the occasion with them. Whiskey was provided. 
They drank themselves hilarious, sang, related 
adventures, and caroused until daylight ; but, to 
Bunton's disappointment, without becoming in- 
toxicated, and never forgetting, meantime, their 
exposure to robbery, or the convenience of a re- 
volver in the belt. 

At daylight two herders were sent for the 
horses. One returned at eight o'clock, with the 
report that they could not be found. An hour 

398 Coach Robberies. 

afterwards the other broug-ht in the same horses 
that came with the coach the previous evening. 
" Necessity knows no law," and so with a pair of 
these for leaders, and two worn-out wheelers, the 
coach was soon declared ready for a start. Just 
at this time, Oliver's coach from Bannack drove 
up, en route for Virginia City, and fresh drinks 
were called for. In the mean time a rouoh by the 
name of Bob Zachary, who was sfoino; to Bannack 
with a couple of horses, insisted that Wilkinson 
should bear him company and ride one of them. 
They departed on a canter in advance of the coach, 
and were soon out of sight. Bunton, who had 
been distributing liquor among the passengers of 
the coaches, and trying to make himself gener- 
ally agreeable, came out with the bottle and a 
tumbler to give Rumsey a drink. 

" Wait a few minutes, Billy," said he, " and I 
will ride to Bannack with you. These passen- 
gers will be gone in a moment." 

" Get up on the box with me," replied Rumsey. 
" These old ' plugs ' at the wheel will need pretty 
constant whipping, and my exercise in that line 
yesterday has lamed my arm." 

" I'm a good whipper," Bunton responded, 
laughing, " and if there's any ' go ' in them, I 
can bring it out. They're a pair of ' played out ' 

Coach Rohheries. 399 

wheelers that had been turned out to rest, and I 
think we'll fail to get them beyond a walk, — but 
we'll give them a try." 

The weather was cold and blusterinsr. The cur- 
tiins of the coach were fastened down. Percy, 
Madison, and " Bummer Dan " got in, and Bun- 
ton mounted the box beside Rumsey. The horses 
began to weaken before they reached the crossing 
of the creek, less than a mile away. There the 
road entered the gulch. Bunton, who had suc- 
ceeded, as he intended, in tiring the horses, sur- 
rendered the whij) to Rumsey and got inside the 
coach. He knew what was coming. Rumsey 
whipped up the wheelers, but could not urge them 
into any faster gait. Cursing his " slow poke of 
a team," his eye caught the figures of two horse- 
men entering the gulch from a dry ravine a few 
rods in front of the coach. They were wrapped 
in blankets, with hoods over their heads, and 
armed with shotguns. Instantly the thought 
flashed through his mind that they were robbers. 

" Look ! boys, look ! " he shouted. " See 
what's coming. Get out your arms. The road 
agents are upon us." 

The eyes of every man in the coach were peer- 
ing through the loopholes at the approaching 
bandits. Madison, the first to discover them, was 

400 Coach Robberies. 

searching for his pistol, when the robbers rode up, 
and in broken Irish, and assumed tones, with their 
g-uns aimed at the coach, yelled, — 

" Up with your hands every one of you." 

This formula, always used, was generally con- 
cluded with an abusive epithet. Bill Bunton, 
who had a part to enact, threw up his hands and 
in an imploring voice, exclaimed, — 

" For God's sake don't kill me. You are 
welcome to all my money, — only spare my life." 

The other inmates raised their arms as com- 

" Get out," shouted the robbers, " and hold up 
your hands. We'll shoot every man who puts 
his down." 

The passengers descended hurriedly to the 
ground and stood with their arms upraised, await- 
ing further orders. Turning to Rumsey, who 
remained on the box holding the reins, the robbers 
ordered him to get down, and remove the arms 
from the passengers. 

Not easily frightened, and anxious to escape a 
service so distasteful, Rumsey replied, — 

" You must be fools to think I'm going to get 
down and let this team run away. You don't 
want the team. It can do you no good." 

" Get down," said the robber spokesman with 

Coach Robberies. 401 

an oath as he levelled his gun at Rumseyj " or 
I'll shoot the top of your head off." 

" There's a man," said Rumsey, pointing to 
Bunton, " who is unarmed. Let him disarm the 

" Oh ! " replied Bunton in a lachrymose tone, 
" I'll hold the horses — I'll hold the horses, while 
you take off the pistols. Anything — anything, 
only don't shoot me." 

" Go then, and hold the horses, you long-legged 
coward," said the robber ; " and now," he con- 
tinued, levelling his gun at and addressing Rum- 
sey, " get down at once, and do as you've been 
ordered, or you'll be a dead man in half a 

The order was too peremptory to be disobeyed. 
Rumsey tied the reins to the brake-handle, and 
jumped to the ground. 

" Now take them arms off," said the robber, 
" and be quick about it too." 

Removing the two navy revolvers from " Bum- 
mer Dan," Rumsey sidled off slowly, with the 
hope of getting a shot at the ruffians ; but they, 
comprehending his design, ordered him to throw 
them on the ground. As the choice lay between 
obedience or death, he laid them down, and was 
proceeding very slowly to remove the pistols from 

402 Coach Rohheries. 

the other passengers, with the hope that by some 
fortunate chance a company of horsemen or some 
friendly train would come to the rescue before 
the villains could complete their work. 

" Hurry up there," shouted the robber. " Don't 
keep us waiting all day." 

After the passengers were freed of their arms, 
and the arms piled up near the road agents, the 
speaker of the two ordered Rumsey to reUeve 
them of their purses. Bunton, who had all 
the time been petitioning for his life, took out 
his purse, and throwing it towards Rumsey, ex- 
claimed, — 

" There's a hundred and twenty dollars, — ail 
I have in the world. You're welcome to it, only 

don't kill me." 

All this while, the men, not daring to drop 
their hands, directed Rumsey in his search for 
their purses. He had taken a sack of gold dust 
from Percy, one from Madison, and two from 
" Bummer Dan," and supposed his work to be 

" Have you got all? " inquired the robber. 

" All I could find," replied Rumsey. 

Turning to Madison, the robber asked, pointing 
to the sacks, — 

" Is that all you've got ? " 

Coach Robberies. 403 

"No," said Madison, nudging his pocket with 
his elbow, " there's another in this pocket." 

The road agent, in an angry manner, cursing 
Rumsej for trying to deceive him, ordered him to 
take it out : — 

" Don't you leave nothing," was the stern, 
ungrammatical command. 

Rumsey took the purse, and having added it to 
the pile, was about to resume his seat on the box. 

" Where are you going ? " shouted both the 

"To get on the coach, you fools," retorted 
Rumsey. " You've got all there is, and we want 
to go on now." 

" Go back there, and get the big sack from that 
Irish bummer," said one of the robbers; and 
pointing his pistol at Dan, he added, " You're the 
man we're after. Get that strap off your shoul- 

Poor Dan ! His money was very dear to him, 
but his life was dearer. As he could not save 
both, he commenced at once to remove the strap. 
Rumsey came up, and tried to pull it out, but 
finding it would not come, stepped back, while 
Dan was engaged in unbuckling the belt. 

"Jerk it off," shouted the robber, "or I'll 
shoot you in a minute." 

404 CoacTi Robberies. 

" Give him time," interposed Rumsey : " you'll 
not kill a man when he's doing all he can for 


" Well, hurry up, then, you awkward black- 
t>-uard. We have no time to lose." 

As soon as the belt was loosed, Dan drew forth 
a large, fringed, buckskin bag containing two 
sacks, which he handed to Rumsey, who tossed it 

on the heap. 

"That's what we wanted," said the robber. 
" Now get aboard all of you, and get out of 
this as fast as you can; and if we ever hear 
a word from one of you, we'll shoot you on 


They obeyed with alacrity. Bunton resumed 
his seat beside the driver, and commenced whip- 
ping the horses, observing, as they rode off, that 
it was the hottest place he was ever in. At a 
turn in the road, Bunton looked back. The 
bandits had dismounted. One held the horses; 
the other was picking up the plunder, which, in 
all, amounted to twenty-eight hundred dollars. 
After gathering up their booty, the robbers gal- 
loped rapidly over the Indian trail leading to 
Bannack, arriving there in advance of the coach. 
When intelligence of the robbery reached 
Bannack, public indignation was aroused, but the 

Coach Robberies. 405 

time had not yet arrived for action. Had the 
robbers been recognized, they would have fared- 
hard on their return to Bannack, but the people 
felt that it was better not to strike, than strike at 

George Hilderman, one of the robber gang, 
was present at the express-office on the arrival of 
the coach, seemingly as much surprised as any 
one at the intelligence of the robbery. His real 
object, however, was to observe whether the pas- 
sengers had recognized the ruffians. If so, he 
was to report it to them, that they might keep out 
of the way. " Bummer Dan," doubtless, had in 
his employ some person in the confidence of the 
robbers ; otherwise, his efforts to avoid them might 
have been successful. 

It was afterwards ascertained that Frank Par- 
ish and Bob Zachary were the men who com- 
mitted the robbery. Bill Bunton, being in the 
secret, aided as much as possible in delaying the 
coach over-night at Rattlesnake, and supplying it 
with worn-out horses for the trip from his ranche 
to Bannack. "Bummer Dan" and Percy recog- 
nized the robbers, but were restrained by personal 
fear from exposing them. 

No man in this company was more feared by 
the ruffians than Rum say. They could not 

406 Coach Robberies. 

frighten him, and no warning o£ his friends 
prevented him from fully expressing and venti- 
lating his opinions concerning them. Nothing 
would silence his denunciations, but his death ; 
and this being resolved upon by the robbers, they 
prepared to improve the opportunity afforded by 
his return to Virginia City, to accomplish it. It 
was so late in the day when he arrived at Demp- 
sey's, that he concluded to pass the night there. 
Boone Helm, who had been awaiting his appear- 
ance, met him in the bar-room soon after his 
arrival, and invited him and other persons present 
to drink with him. Rumsey drank with the com- 
pany two or three times. Helm called for more 

" I've had enough," said Rumsey, declining to 
drink more. 

" Take another, take another," said Helm. 
"It's good to keep the cold out." 

" Not another drop," replied Rumsey : " I 
know my gauge on the liquor question, and 
never go beyond it." 

" You shall drink again," said Helm, with an 
oath, casting a malicious glance at Rumsey. 

"I won't drink again," was the immediate 
reply, " and no man can make me." 

'' No man can refuse to drink with me and 

Coach Robberies. 407 

live," replied Helm, seizing his revolver as if to 
draw it. 

Rurasey was too quick for liim. Before the 
desperado could draw his pistol, Rumsey had his 
levelled at his head. Addressing him in a calm, 
steady tone, he said, — 

" Don't draw your pistol, or I'll shoot you, sure." 

The men gazed sternly upon each other for a 
minute or more, Helm finally loosing his grasp of 
his pistol, and saying, — 

" Well, you're the first man that ever looked 
me down. Let's be friends." 

The courage of Rumsey inspired the robber 
with a respect for him whicli probably saved his 
life, as no further molestation was offered him on 
his way to Virginia City. 

Percy was the proprietor of a bowling alley in 
Bannack. The roughs, in frequenting his saloon, 
would leav3 their horses standing outside the 
door ; and he had so often seen the animals and 
accoutrements of each, that he easily recognized 
the robbers by their horses and saddles. When 
the coach arrived, Percy saw Frank Parish take 
Henry Plummer to one side, and engage in con- 
versation with him. In a few minutes, Plummer 
came to Percy, and asked him if he knew the 
robbers. Percy replied, — 

408 Coach Bobberies. 

" No ; and if I did, I'd not be such a fool as 
to tell who they were." 

Plummer tapped him on the shoulder, and re- 
plied, — 

" You stick to that, Percy, and you'll be all 
right. There are about seventy-five of the worst 
desperadoes ever known on the west side of the 
mountains, in the country, in a band, and I know 
who they are." 

Bunton, after this robbery, used occasionally to 
accost Percy in a playful manner, with such lan- 
guage as, "Throw up your hands;" or, "We 
were fools to be robbed, were n't we ? " Percy, 
knowing that Bunton was one of the gang, soon 
tired of this ; and one day at a race-course, when 
thus saluted, remarked, with unmistakable dis- 
pleasure, — 

" That's played out." 

The words were scarcely uttered, when Bunton 
raised his pistol and fired at him. The ball 
grazed Percy's ear. Jason Luce, a driver of Mr. 
Oliver's express, stepped up and said to Bunton, — 
" If you want to fight, why don't you take a 
man of your own size, instead of a smaller one ? " 
Later in the day, while intoxicated. Luce called 
Bunton a coward, in the presence of his brother, 
Sam Bunton. The latter whipped him severely 

Coach Robberies. 40'? 

on the spot. Three days later, Luce carried the 
express to Salt Lake, Sam Bunton following four 
or five days thereafter. Luce met him at the Salt 
Lake House. 

" We had," said he, addressing him, " a little 
difficulty in Bannack, and now we'll settle it." 

" It's already settled," said Bunton. 

" You're a liar," replied Luce, and drawing his 
knife cut Bunton's throat, killing him on the 
spot. Luce was arrested, tried, and found guilty 
of murder. By the Territorial statute of Utah, 
he was authorized to choose the mode of his exe- 
cution, from the three forms of hanging, shoot- 
ing, or beheading. His choice was to be shot, 
and he was executed in that manner. 

Bill Bunton and Sam Bunton were natives of 
Ohio. Their parents moved to Andrew County, 
Missouri, in 1839, and thence to Oregon in 1842, 
when they were respectively sixteen and fourteen 
years old. The father was a rough, drinking, 
quarrelsome man, clever, but uneducated. 

410 Leroy Southmayd. 



Attack upon Oliver's Coach — Leroy Southmayd 
AND Captain Moore robbed by Ives, Graves, and 
Zachary — Southmayd's Interview with Plum- 
mer, at Bannack — Graves's Story to Caldwell 
— Ives's Boasts — Robbers frustrated in their 
Designs upon Southmayd on his Return to 
Virginia City. 

Early in the afternoon of a cold day late in 
November, 1863, Leroy Southmayd, Captain 
Moore, and a discharged driver known as " Billy " 
took passage in Oliver's coach at Virginia City, 
for Bannack. A ruffian equally well known by 
the cognomen of " Old Tex " and " Jim Crow " 
stood near, watching the departing vehicle. As 
Moore's eyes alighted upon him, he said to 
Southmayd, — 

" I am sorry to see that rascal watching us ; 
he belongs to the gang. It bodes us no good." 

" Oh," replied Southmayd, laughing, " I think 
there's no danger. Robbery has ' played out.' 
These fellows are bes^inniuo; to understand that 

Leroy Southmayd. 411 

the people will hold them accountable for their 

Little more was said about it, the conversation 
turning- to more congenial topics. About three 
o'clock, the coach, which had made slow progress, 
drove up in front of Lorrain's, eleven miles from 
town. While Tom Caldwell, the driver, was 
chanofino- horses, Georg-e Ives and Steve Marsh- 
land rode up, dismounted, and asked if they could 
procure a change of horses. Having ascertained 
that they could not do so, they ordered feed for 
those they had been riding, Ives in the mean time 
carefully avoiding Southmayd. The company 
fell into a desultory conversation, which Ives 
abruptly terminated by remarking that he had 
heard from " Old Tex." 

" He is," said he, " at Cold Spring ranche. I 
must hasten on and overtake him." 

The coach soon departed, and Ives and Marsh- 
land immediately ordered their horses, and riding 
rapidly, passed it a short distance below Lorrain's. 

Cold Spring ranche was eight miles farther on 
the stage route. That " Old Tex," who was 
watching the coach when it left Virginia City, 
should be there, awaiting the arrival of these two 
ruffians, occasioned our passengers great uneasi- 
ness. They knew almost intuitively that a robbery 

412 Leroy Southmayd. 

was in contemplation. When the coach arrived 
at Cold Spring, the first objects which met their 
gaze on alighting from it, were the three ruffians 
Ives, Marshland, and " Old Tex" in close conver- 

After a few moments' detention, Caldwell drove 
on to Point of Rocks, where the passengers 
remained until morning. Leaving at an early 
hour, they proceeded to Stone's ranche, and during 
their brief stay there, Ives, who had been joined 
by Bob Zachary and William Graves, known as 
" Whiskey Bill," made a detour, and passed the 
coach unperceived. The three gentlemanly soli- 
citors of the road trotted slowly on towards Ban- 
nack. They were in complete disguise, each one 
incased in a blanket of green and blue. " Whis- 
key Bill " wore a silk hat, at that time, perhaps, 
the only one in the Territory. His sleeves were 
rolled above the elbows, and his face concealed 
behind a black silk handkerchief, through the 
eyelets in which his ferret eyes shone like a couple 
of stars, in partial eclipse. The gray horse he 
bestrode was enveloped in a blanket so completely, 
that only his head, legs, and tail were visible. 
The horses of his associates were similarly over- 
spread. Ives was masked with a piece of gray 
blanket, and Zachary with a remnant of hickory 

Leroy Southmayd. 413 

shirting. No one, unsuspicious of their presence, 
however familiar with their persons, would have 
recognized them. 

The coach horses moved forward at their usual 
rapid rate, bringing the passengers in sight of the 
horsemen a little before eleven o'clock. Their 
attention was first attracted by the peculiar cos- 
tume, and the gun which each man held firmly 
across his saddle-bow. As they approached them 
more nearly, Southmayd observed to Caldwell, the 
driver, — 

" They're queer-looking beings, Tom, anyhow." 

" They're road agents, Leroy ! you may depend 
upon it," replied Caldwell. 

" Well," said Southmayd, " I believe they are, 
but we can't help ourselves now." 

As he said this, the leaders were nearly up 
with the horsemen. They rapidly wheeled their 
horses, and presented their guns, — Graves taking 
in range the head of Caldwell ; Ives, that of 
Southmayd ; and Zachary alternately aiming at 
Moore and Billy. 

" Halt ! " commanded Ives ; " throw up your 
hands," and on the instant the arms of every 
man in the coach were raised. 

" Get down, all of you," he added. 

All but Southmayd jumped to the ground. 

414 Leroy SoutTimdyd. 

He lingered, with the hope that an opportunity 
might offer to fire upon them. 

" Get down," repeated Ives, adding a senten- 
tious epithet to the command. 

Still hesitating to comply, Ives glanced his eye 
along his gun-barrel as if to shoot, and in that 
subdued tone always expressive of desperation, 
once more issued the command. 

Southmayd withstood it no longer, but while 
making a deliberate descent threw open his coat, 
thinking that an opportunity might offer for him 
to use his revolver. Ives, perceiving his object, 
levelled his gun, and hissed out, in words terribly 
distinct, — 

" If you do that again, I'll kill you ! " 

The passengers stood with upraised hands by 
the roadside, under cover of the guns of the rob- 
bers. Addressing Zachary, Ives said, — 

" Get down and look after those fellows." 

This was an unwelcome task for Zachary. 
Villain as he was, Southmayd says that while he 
was engaged in searching his person, he quivered 
like an aspen. Throwing Southmayd's pistol and 
money on the ground, he was about to renew the 
search, when Billy, tired of the position, dropped 
his hands. 

" Up with your hands again," roared Ives with 

Leroy Southnayd. 415 

an oath, at the same time bringmg the terrible 
muzzles to bear upon the person of the frightened 
driver. Billy, who felt that it was no time to 
bandy proprieties, threw them up with more speed 
than pleasure, realizing that the buck-shot were 
safer in the barrels than in his luckless carcass. 

Zachary now commenced searching Moore, and, 
taking from his pocket a sack, inquired, — 

" Is this all you have ? " 

" All I have in the world," replied Moore. 

Zachary threw it on the heap and came to 

" Give me your pistol," said he. Billy placed 
the weapon in his hands. 

" Is it loaded ? " inquired Ives. 

" No," replied Billy. 

" Give it to him again," said Ives to Zachary. 
" We don't want any empty weapons." 

'' My God ! " exclaimed Caldwell, as Zachary 
next approached him. " What do you want of 
me ? I have nothing." 

" Let him alone," said Ives ; and addressing 
Caldwell, he inquired, " Is there anything in the 
mail we want ? " 

" I don't think there is," answered Tom. 

Zachary mounted the box, and commenced 
an examination, but found nothing. Caldwell 

416 Leroy Southmayd. 

scanned the villain narrowly while thus employed, 
for the purpose, if possible, of recognizing him. 

" Don't you do that, if you want to live," said 
Ives, rattling- his gun into dangerous range. 

" Well, then," said Tom impudently, '' may I 
look at you ? " 

The robber nodded a ready assent, as much as 
to say, " Find me out, if you can." 

The search over, Zachary picked up his gun, 
and stepped back. 

" Get up and skedaddle," said Ives to the plun- 
dered group. The horses had grown restive 
while the robbery was progressing, but Tom had 
restrained them. 

" Drive slowly, Tom," said Southmayd to 
Caldwell in an under-tone, as he ascended the 
box. " I w^ant to reconnoitre a little," and turned 
his face to the robbers. 

" Drive on," shouted Ives. 

Southmayd still continued looking at the rob- 
bers as the coach departed, which Ives observing, 
the villain raised his gun, and yelled, — 

" If you don't turn around and mind your busi- 
ness, I'll shoot the top of your head off." 

The three robbers then stood together, watch- 
ing the coach until it was lost to their view. 

" By George ! " said Leroy, laughing, " I looked 

Leroy Southmayd. 417 

down into those gun-barrels so long that I 
thought I fairly saw the buckshot leap from their 
imprisonment. It would have afforded me pleas- 
ure to squander the bullets in my pistol, on the 

Southmayd lost four hundred dollars in gold, 
and Captain Moore one hundred dollars in treas- 
ury notes. As was usual, quite a large number 
of people were awaiting the arrival of the coach, 
when it drove up to the express-office at Bannack. 
Inquiries were immediately made as to the cause 
of its detention so much later than common. 

"Was the coach robbed to-day?" inquired 
Plummer of Southmayd, as he jumped from the 

" It was," replied Leroy, taking him by the 
arm, and by his confidential manner signifying 
that he was about to impart to him, as sheriff', all 
he knew about it. Just at this moment, Dr. Bis- 
sell, the miners' judge at Virginia City, gave 
Southmayd a slight nudge, and catching his eye, 
winked significantly for him to step aside. 

" Be careful, Leroy, — very careful what you 
say to that man." 

Leroy gave an appreciative nod, and rejoined 

" So you have been robbed," sa^d the latter. 

418 Leroy Soutkmayd. 

" I'm not surprised, — and I think I can tell you 
who were the robbers." 

"Who were they ? " eagerly asked Southmayd. 

" George Ives was one of them," said Phimmer. 

"Yes," responded Southmayd, " and the others 
were ' Whiskey Bill ' and Bob Zachary ; and I'll 
live to see them hanofed before three weeks." 

Southmayd did not know that Plummer's ac- 
cusation was made for the purpose of detecting 
his knowledge of the robbers. Bissell, who had 
overheard Southmayd' s revelation to Plumraer, 
said to him soon after, — 

" Leroy, your life isn't worth a cei t." 

George Crisman, who was standing by, added, — 

" They'll kill you sure," 

Business detained Southmayd in Bannack the 
succeeding three days. During that time he 
never met Plummer, who left him immediately 
after they held the conversation above narrated. 

Two day afterwards, while on his way to Vir- 
ginia City, Caldwell, the driver, met with " Whis- 
key Bill " at the Cold Spring ranche. 

" Did you hear of the robbery, Bill, on my trip 
out ? " he inquired. 

" Sure, I did, Tom," replied Bill. " Do you 
know any of the fellows who committed it?" 

" Not I," replied Caldwell, " and I wouldn't 

Leroy Southmayd. 419 

for the world. If I did, and told of them, I 
shouldn't live long." 

" That's so, Tom," rejoined Graves. " Yon 
wouldn't live twenty-four hours. It's always best 
to be io^norant in matters of that kind. I've had 
experience, and I know. I'll just tell you, by way 
of illustration, about my being robbed in Califor- 
nia. One night as my partner and I were riding 
along, two fellows rode up and told us to throw 
up our hands. We did so, and they took from us 
two thousand dollars in coin. I said to 'em, 
* Boys, it's pretty rough to take all we've got.' 
They said so it was, and gave us back forty dol- 
lars. A week afterwards I saw 'em dealing faro. 
One of 'em saw me looking at him, and arose 
and came up to me, and said in a whisper, ' Ain't 
you one of the men that was robbed the other 
night ? ' — ' Not at all,' says I, for I thought if I 
said ' yes ' he would find a way to put me out of 
the way. ' Oh, well,' says he, ' honor bright ! I 
want you to own up- I know you're the man. 
Now, I'm going to give you four thousand dollars, 
just for keeping your mouth shut.' And he kept 
his promise. So you see, Tom, that I saved my 
life, and got four thousand dollars for keeping 

Tom wished somebody would treat him so, but 

420 Leroy Southmayd. 

when telling the story, said that he " lacked 
confidence in human nature, especially where the 
road agents were concerned." He even ventured 
the assertion that he " did not believe Graves's 
story, anyway." 

Ives went to Virginia City the day following 
the robbery. While in a state of intoxication 
at one of the fancy establishments, he boasted 
openly of having made Tom Caldwell throw up 
his hands, and that he intended to do it again. 
Talking of the robbery with one of the drivers, 
he said, — 

" I am the Bamboo chief that committed that 

" Don't you believe Caldwell knows it ? " 
inquired the driver. 

" Certainly he knows it," replied Ives. " He 
recogfnized me at once." 

As Ives and the driver were riding side by side 
into Virginia City, on their return from Nevada, 
the driver saw Caldwell approaching. He mo- 
tioned him to keep away. Caldwell turned and 
went away, and was afterwards told that Ives 
knew he had recognized him in the robbery, and 
would probably kill him on sight. The driver, 
who expected that Ives would shoot at Caldwell, 
had his revolver in readiness to shoot him at the 

Leroi) Soiitlimayd. 421 

time alluded to, in case Ives manifested such a 

Meantime, Southmayd, having finished his 
business at Bannack, was ready to return to 
Virginia City by the next coach. His friends were 
importunate for him to remain. On the day he 
was to leave. Buck Stinson and Ned Ray, on be- 
ing told of it at the express-office, avowed their 
intention of accompanying him. The agent then 
searched for Southmayd, and said to him, — 

" For God's sake, Leroy, don't go. These 
fellows mean to kill you." 

" I've got to go," replied Southmayd ; " and if 
you'll get me a double-barrelled shot-gun, I'll 
take my chances." The agent complied with this 
request, and the coach left Bannack with South- 
mayd, Stinson, Ray, and a lad of sixteen years 
for passengers, and Tom Caldwell the driver. 
The coach was an open hack. Southmayd sat on 
the driver's seat with Caldwell, and the boy took 
the back seat, and facing him were Stinson and 
Ray on the middle seat. Southmayd said to the 
boy on starting, — 

" If we have any trouble, do you shoot, or I'll 
ijlioot you." 

" You may be sure I'll do it, too, Southmayd," 
said the boy. " I'm not afraid of them." 

422 Leroy Southmayd. 

Southmayd kept watch of the two robbers. 
The drive through the day was undisturbed, until 
the coach reached the crossing- of the Stinkino;- 
Water. In the three persons standing in front of 
the station, Southmayd recognized Bob Zachary, 
Bill Graves, and another noted rough known as 
Alex Carter. Stinson shouted, addressing them 
as road agents. Each was fully armed with gun, 
pistol, and knife. Southmayd whispered to 
Caldwell, — 

" Tom, I guess they've got us." 

" That's so," replied Caldwell. 

Caldwell drove on to Cold Spring station fol- 
lowed by the three roughs on horseback, who soon 
came up. This was the supper station. Two of 
the robbers left their guns at the door. Carter's 
was strung upon his back. They entered the 
house in a boisterous manner, with Zachary, 
feigning drunkenness, in their lead. 

" I'd like," said that ruffian with brutal empha- 
sis and gesture, " to see the man who don't like 
Stone." The banter was made for the purpose of 
exciting a quarrel. " Just show me the man that 
don't like him, or let any man here just say he 
don't like him, if he wants a healthy fight on his 
hands," blustered the villain. 

No one replied. Seemingly every one present 

Leroy Southmayd. 423 

entertained a high opinion of Mr. Stone. Failing 
to rouse a quarrel, he ordered "drinks all round," 
bought a bottle of whiskey, and preserved the 
swagger and braggadocio of a drunken ruf&an 
through supper time. 

After supper, and while preparing to leave, 
Southmayd said privately to Caldwell, — 

" Tom, I see through it all. You must take 
Stinson on the seat with you. I'll sit behind and 
watch him, and the boy can watch Ray." 

When ready to start, and this arrangement was 
made known to Buck Stinson, he did not relish 
it, and said, — 

" I don't want to ride up there." 

" Well, you will," replied Southmayd sternly, 
pointing to the seat. 

"This is pretty rough, isn't it?" said Stinson 
with an oath, as he mounted to the seat. 

The three mounted ruffians, Zachary, Graves, 
and Carter, started on in advance of the coach. 
Southmayd and the boy sat with their guns across 
their knees, watching the motions of their sus- 
pected companions. It was near nightfall. Less 
than half a mile distant from the station, the 
robbers, who had been riding at an even pace, 
suddenly wheeled, and in a loud tone gave the 
command to halt, simultaneously with which, 

424 Leroy Soutlimayd. 

Southmayd levelled his gun upon Carter, and 
Caldwell and the boy theirs on the other two 

Carter, stammering with alarm, made out to 
say, " We only want you to take a drink." 

The bottle was passed around, Southmayd and 
Caldwell barely touching it to their lips. Hand- 
ing it to the boy, Southmayd gave him an 
admonitory touch with his foot, — comprehending 
which, he did not drink. As Carter had not 
drunk from the bottle, Southmayd feared that the 
liquor had been poisoned. Returning the bottle, 
the roughs who received it inquired politely if they 
did not want any more. The three then wheeled 
their horses, exclaiming, — 

" We're off to Pete Daly's," and, clapping 
spurs to their horses, they were soon out of 

The coach went on six miles, passed Daly's 
ranche, and drew up at Lorrain's. From this 
ranche to Virginia City, the road for most of the 
distance is rough, narrow, and lies through the 
caiion of Alder Gulch. Nature never formed 
a fitter stretch of country for successful robbery. 
Of this our passengers were fully aware, and, 
anticipating that the designs of the robbers must 
culminate ou this part of the route, Southmayd 

Leroij SoatUmayd. 425 

took Caldwell aside to consult as to the proper 
course to pursue. 

" It's a rough night's work, Tom," said South- 
mayd, " but the worst is to come. If they attack 
us iu the canon, there is no possible chance for 

" They'll do it, sure," replied Caldwell. " It's 
only driving into their hands to attempt to go on 
to-nio'ht. Let's leave the coach here and take 
to the brush. We may then avoid them ; 
or if we meet, it will be where the chances are 

Buck Stinson, who had been on the watch for 
some new arrangement, overheard this conversa- 
tion. Anxious as he was that the robbery and 
murder should take place, he knew that if the 
men escaped, as they assuredly would by the 
means contemplated, they would bring the whole 
community of Virginia City on the track of him- 
,self and his fellow ruffians. This must be avoided, 
even though they were frustrated in their design. 
So he stepped forward, and said to Southmayd 
and Caldwell in his blandest manner, — 

" Gentlemen, I pledge you my word, my honor, 
and my life, that you will not be attacked between 
this place and Virginia City." 

"If you mean that," replied Southmayd, "we 

426 Leroy Southmayd. 

will go on ; but if we are attacked, we will cer- 
tainly make it hot for some of you." 

Soon after the horses started, Stinson commenced 
singing in a very loud voice, and continued to do 
so without intermission until nearly exhausted. 
Then, at his request, Ray took up the chorus and 
kept it up until their arrival in Virginia City. 
This was a signal to the robbers to keep away. 
Had the singing ceased, the attack would have 
been made. Ray called on Southmayd the next 
day, and warned him, as he valued his life, to 
mention the names of none of those among" the 
ruffians whom he had recognized, as the ones who 
robbed him while on his way to Bannack. 











iDatliauici J^itt HangforD 





COPVRIC.HT, 1890, 

All rights reserved. 


CHAPTER I.— JouRNKY TO Salt Lake. 

Oliver's Express to Salt Lake — Hauser and the 
Writer contemplate a Trip to the States — Wri- 
ter goes to Bannack — Is detained by Injury — 
Stinson and Ray on the Scent — Money to be 
conveyed to St. Louis — Hauser and Plummer 
arrive from Virginia City — Hauser's Stratagem 
— Engage Passage to Salt Lake — Robbers in Pur- 
suit — First Night Out — Incidents of the Journey 1 

CHAPTER II. — CoL. Sanders and Gallagher. 

Rumors o| Silver Lode Discoveries — Plummer 
leaves Bannack for Rattlesnake — Followed by 
Colonel Sanders — A Ruse — Arrival of Jack 
Gallagher — Seeks a Quarrel with Sanders — Good 
Feeling restored in the Usual Way — Sanders 
summoned back to Bannack — Anxiety for his 
Safety — Henry Tilden's Narrative — Plummer's 
Craftiness ........ 18 

CHAPTER III.— Robbery of Moody's Train. 

Robbery of Moody's train by Dutch John and Steve 
Marshland — First Meeting of the Robbers in 
Black Tail Deer Canon — Second Meeting and 

vi Contents. 

Attack on Red Rock Divide — Both Robbers 

wounded and escape — Reprisals by the Pursuing 

Party 37 

CHAPTER 17.— George Ives. 

History of George Ives — Robberies and Murders 
committed by him — Murder of Tiebalt — A 
Company pursue Ives from Nevada — He ' is 
captured — Escape — Recapture — Is brought in 
Safety to Nevada 46 

CHAPTER v.— Trial of George Ives. 

Trial of George Ives — Attempts to prove an Alibi 

— Long John turns State's Evidence — Suspense 

— Fearlessness of Colonel Sanders — Conviction 

— Appeals for Delay — A Rescue Imminent — 
Execution ........ 66 

CHAPTER VI.— Result of Ives's Execution. 

Effect of Ives's Execution — Long John and^' Tex " 
acquitted — George Hildennan tried, convicted, 
and banished — Formation of a Vigilance Com- 
mittee — Pursuit of Alex Carter — Meet with 
Yager ("Red") in Deer Lodge — Disappointment 

— Return by Way of Point of Rocks — Arrest of 
*' Red " at Rattlesnake, and of Brown at Demp- 
sey's — " Red " discloses the Names of Many of 
the Members of Plummer's Band — " Red " and 
Brown executed on the Pas-sam-a-ri . . .77 

CHAPTER VII.— Lloyd Magruder. 
Hill Beachy's Dream — Lloyd Magruder's Trip from 

Contents. vii 

Lewiston to Bannack — Followed by Ho-ward, 

Romaine, Lowry, Page, and Zachary — Completes 
his Sales at Virginia City, and sets out on his 
Eeturn — Howard, Lowry, Eomaine, and Page 
employed as Assistants on the Route — The 
Brothers Chalmers, Charles Allen, and Edward 
Phillips, accompany them — Murder of Magruder, 
the Chalmers Brothers, Phillips, and Allen — 
Subsequent Plunder of the Train — Cruel Slaughter 
of the Herd — Robbers foiled in attempting to 
cross the Columbia River — They arrive at Lewis- 
ton — Recognized by Beachy — Leave Lewiston 97 

CHAPTER VIII.— Hill Beachy. 

Beachy's Devices to ferret out the Murder — His 
Trip up Snake River with Tom Farrell — Dis- 
appointment — Finds the Animals ridden by the 
Murderers — The Story of the Saddle — The In- 
dian Boy — Recognition of the Horse — Beachy's 
Pursuit of the Robbers — Providential Occurrences 
— Arrival at Portland — Successful Ruse — De- 
parture Overland for San Francisco — Telegraphs 
from Yreka — Robbers arrested — The Law's 
Delay — Return with Prisoners — Page admitted 
as State's Evidence — Conviction and Execution 
of Howard, Lowry, and Romaine — Violent Death 
of Page 117 

CHAPTER IX. — Howie and Fetherstun. 

Fluttering among the Robbers — Dutch John's 
Attempted Escape — Arrest by Neil Howie in 
Beaver Canon — Howie and Fetherstun convey 

viii Contents. 

him to Bannack — Incidents by the way, and at 

Bannack — Dutch John examined and adjudged 

Guilty — Fetherstun takes him in Custody . 145 

OHAPTER X. — Execution of Plummer. 

Reaction in Public Sentiment — Miners all become 
Vigilantes — Alarm of Plummer — Messengers 
to Bannack — Arrest and Execution of Plummer, 
Ray, and Stinson — Interview with Plummer's 
Brother — Plummer's Craftiness .... 162 

CHAPTER XL — Death of Pizanthia. 

Attack upon the Cabin of Jo Pizanthia, a Mexican 
Freebooter — He shoots George Copley and Smith 
Ball — Copley dies of the Wound — Outraged 
Citizens shell the Cabin — Pizanthia's Capture 
effected with much Difficulty — His Body is rid- 
dled with Bullets while he is being hanged — The 
Cabin fired, and the Body burned to Ashes . . 173 

CHAPTER XII.— Execution of Dutch John . 179 

CHAPTER XIIL — Virginia City Executions. 

Virginia City surrounded by Vigilantes from all 
Parts of the Gulch — Frank Parish, Boone Helm, 
"Clubfoot George," Jack Gallagher, and Hayes 
Lyons arrested, tried, and executed — Bill Hunter 
escapes through the Line of Guavds . . .134 

CHAPTER XIV. — Pursuit of Road Agents. 

Pursuit, Capture, and Execution of Steve Marsh- 
laud, Bill Bunton, Cyrus Skiuner, Alex Carter, 

Contents. ix 

Johnny Cooper, George Shears, and Bob Zachary 

— Incidents by the way 207 

CHAPTER XV. — Execution of Hunteb. 

Search for Bill Hunter — His Place of Concealment 
discovered — Party start in Pursuit — Incidents 
by the way — Arrival at the Cabin — Arrest — 
Start for Virginia City — Consultation — Execu- 
tion — Reflections 224 

CHAPTER XVI. —The Stkanger's Story. 

Preparations for a Home — Disasters — Disappoint- 
ments — Hermit Life — Boone Helm — His De- 
parture — A Strange Visitant — Romantic His- 
tory — Return of Helm and two Companions — 
His Murderous Designs thwarted — Return to 
Civilization — Meeting with Benefactress . . 235 

CHAPTER XVII. — White and Dorsett. 

Prospecting on the Big Boulder — John White and 
Rudolph Dorsett — They iind one Kelley in Dis- 
tress—All return to Virginia City — Prepara- 
tions for returning to the Boulder — Kelley de- 
layed — The Stolen Mule — Departure of Dorsett 

— Anxiety for his Safety — Meeting of Kelley 
by a Stranger — Thompson and Rumsey set out 
in Search of Dorsett and White — Discovery of 
their Bodies — Pursuit of Kelley — He flees to 
Portland, Ore., thence to San Francisco — Thomp- 
son foiled — Kelley returns to Portland — In 
Port Keuf Canon Robbery 257 

X Contents. 

CHAPTEE XVIII. — Langford Peel. 

Suffering in Kansas in the Winter of 1856 — Peel's 
Kindness to Conley and Eucker — Their Ingrati- 
tude — Peel's Destitution — Eobinson's Generos- 
ity — Death of Eucker — Peel wounded — Threat- 
ened with Death — Escapes to California — 
Downward Career — Arrives at Carson City — 
Prize Fight and Death of Muchacho — Peel fights 
Dick Paddock — Kills El Dorado Johnny in a 
Fight — Principles of the Eoughs — Peel suffers 
Lannan to arrest him — Character of ISTevada 
Eoughs — Fight between Earnhardt and Peasley 

— Both killed — Character of Peasley — Peel 
leaves Nevada — Goes to Salt Lake, and thence to 
Helena — Quarrel with John Bull — Is killed by 
him — Inscription on his Tombstone . . , 270 

CHAPTEE XIX. — Joseph A. Slade. 

Overland Stage Eoute — Desperate Employes — 
Jules Eeni — Jules shoots Slade — Slade resolves 
to kill Jules — Carries his Eesolve into Effect — 
Comes to Virginia City — Quarrel with the Writer 

— Encounter with Bob Scott — Lawlessness in 
Virginia City — Threatens the Life of Judge 
Davis — Vigilantes assemble — Arrest of Slade — 
His Execution 288 

CHAPTEE XX. — A Modern Haman. 

Beidler — Woman for Breakfast — Mysterious Mur- 
der of a Chinawoman in Helena — Arrest and 
Discharge of Hanson — Claggett's Eifle — Elec- 
tion Day — Effects of Negro Suffrage — Murder 

Contents. xi 

of Hayes by Leach — Arrest of Leach by X. — 

Hynson's Conduct on the Occasion and afterwards 

— X. suspects Hynson of the Murder of the 
Chinawoman — Finds Claggett's Eifle in his Pos- 
session, and restores it to the Owner — Arrests 
Hynson — He is put in Jail — His Threats — 
Cowardly Conduct when released by John Fether- 
stun — Threatens X. — Goes to Benton — Cow- 
ardice and Humiliation on meeting X. — Asks 
his Assistance, and receives a Place as Night 
Watchman — Gets a Job and betrays his Trust — 
X. makes a Seizure as Marshal — Abusive Treat- 
ment of Williams by Hynson — Hynson builds a 
Scaffold, and is hanged thereon — Letter from his 
Mother 321 

CHAPTER XXL — James Daxiels. 

Career in California — Murder of Gartley — Ar- 
rested by the Vigilantes — Tried by Court and 
found Guilt}^ of Manslaughter — Sentence — Par- 
don — Hung by the Vigilantes — Vigilantes in the 
Wrong 336 

CHAPTER XXII. — David Opdyke. 

Early Life of Opdyke — His Wandering and Success 
in Mining — Appearance in Boise City — Public 
Suspicion — His Stable Headquarters for the 
Roughs of the Territory — History of Parks — 
His Murder and Robbery by the '' Opdyke Gang" 

— Opdyke's Complicity in the Port Neuf Rob- 
bery — Frank Johnson — Beech — Hank Buckner 
the Murderer of Brown — His Mysterious Escape 

xii Contents. 

from Montana — Appearance in Idaho — Neil 

Howie sent to return him to Montana — Fails — 
Opdyke elected Sheriff — Contemplates Destruc- 
tion of Payette Vigilantes — Humiliating Results 

— Is a Defaulter and prosecuted — Pays the De- 
falcation — Threatens Grand Jury — Indian Ex- 
pedition — Opdyke Leader — Aden's Pack Train 

— Opdyke claims it, and is defeated on Raymond's 
Testimony — Clarke shoots Raymond — Is hung 
by the Citizens — Vengeance threatened by the • 
"Opdyke Gang" — Vigilant Measures of Citizens 

— Roughs disappear — Opdyke and Dixon leave 
Boise City — Are followed by Vigilantes and hung 

— Breaking up of the " Gang " . . . . 340 

CHAPTER XXIII.— Sa.x Andreas in 1849. 

San Andreas — The Mexicans — Disappearance of 
Captain Ben Osborne — The Fonda — Mexican 
Prospecting Party — Pursuit — The Mexican Camp 
surrounded — Examinations — The Cuban — A 
Pathetic Appeal — Successful Ruse — Confession 
— Return to San Andreas — The Fonda deserted 

— Discovery of the Body of Captain Osborne — 
Escape of his Murderers 354 

CHAPTER XXIV. — An Interesting Adventure. 

Routes of Yellowstone and Missouri in Mackinaws 

— Description of Yellowstone — Wonders at its 
Source — Lower Canon — Remarkable Erosions — 
Pompey's Pillar — Bad Lands — Three Forks — 
Great Falls — Gate of the Mountains — Fort Ben- 
ton — Jack Simmons's Narrative — Johnny — 

Contents. xiii 

Eroded Rocks — Fight with Grizzlies — Herd of 
Buffaloes — Wood-cutters — Battle with the Sioux 
— Indian Mode of making Medicine — War Dance 
— Terrible Onslaught — Departure and Death 
Wail of the Indians — Johnny on the Watch — 
Fort Buford — Hospitable Eeception — Arrival 
of the "Luella" — Johnny's Story — A Start- 
ling Revelation ....... 373 

CHAPTER XXV.— The Stage Coach. 

Holliday's Overland — Hazardous Jourueyings — 
Port Neuf Canon — Massacre of 1865 — Treach- 
ery of the Driver — Santa Fe Route — Mexican 
Charley — Captured by Road Agents — Robbers 
foiled — Strange Disclosure — Boise Route — 
" Dowdle Bill " — Ludicrous Funeral Services . 417 

CHAPTER XXVI.— Retrospection . . .446 
Index ...» 455 


Designed and engraved under the supervision of 
(©eorje ^. anbreto. 

A Vigilante Execution .... Frontispiece 

Head of Pack Mule .... Title-page 

Governor Samuel T. Hauser, Ex-Governor of 
Montana .2 

Colonel Wilbur E. Sanders, Principal Prose- 
cutor OF George Ives . . . . .68 

Hill Beachy, Lloyd Magruder's Avenger . 117 

Neil Howie, Captor of Dutch John . . . 145 

John Eetherstun, Overland Express Messen- 



John X. Beidler, Leading Vigilante and Ex- 
press Messenger 321 

Nathaniel Pitt Langfobd 417 




Oliver's Express to Salt Lake — Hauser and the 
Writer contemplate a Trip to the States — 
Writer goes to Bannack — Is detained by In- 
jury — Stinson and Ray on the Scent — Money 

TO BE conveyed TO St. LoUIS HaUSER AND PlUM- 

AGEM — Engage Passage to Salt Lake — Robbers 
IN Pursuit — First Night Out — Incidents of the 

Mr. a. J. Oliver had been running -a letter 
express between Bannack and Salt Lake City dur- 
ing the year, and early in the autumn had sub- 
stituted for a single saddle horse and pack animal, 
a small lumber wagon, with conveniences for the 
transportation of a few passengers. It was, at 
best, a very precarious mode of conveyance ; but 
as it was the only public one, it was always full. 

2 Journey to Salt Lake. 

Mr. Samuel T. Hauser (afterwards appointed Gov- 
ernor of Montana by President Cleveland) and I 
had been for some time contemplating- a trip to 
the States, and being now ready, I left Virginia 
City for Bannack, expecting to find the express 
on my arrival, and make arrangements for our 
passage to Salt Lake on its return trip. The day 
before I left, one Ed French had shot at me. 
The bullet slightly grazed an eyeball, doing no 
further damage than that of shaking the eye in 
its socket, and inflicting considerable pain. I 
contracted a severe cold on the ride to Bannack, 
which settled in the eye, producing inflammation 
and temporary blindness. For two weeks I shut 
myself in a dark room, ulceration in the mean time 
bringing relief, and restoring sight. 

While thus confined, friends occasionally called 
upon me, and one day I was informed that Ned 
Ray was in town, and had been making particular 
inquiries after me. The next day I was told that 
Buck Stinson was there on the same errand. 
When I left Virginia City, both of these ruffians 
were at that place. I was convinced that they 
had left there to pursue me on the road to Salt 
Lake City. Ray was observed to watch my 
boarding-house, on repeated occasions, very closely. 

Upon applying to Mr. Oliver for transportation, 

Ex-Governor of Montana. 

Journey to Salt Lake. 3 

that gentleman informed me that snow was falling 
on the Pleasant Valley divide, and that he should 
abandon the wasfon and return to Salt Lake with 
a pack mule. Disappointed in my expectation of 
finding a conveyance, I wrote to Mr. Hauser, who 
came over immediately. 

Messrs. Dance and Stuart, wholesale merchants 
of Virginia City, had arranged to send by us to 
their creditors at St. Louis, fourteen thousand 
dollars in g^old dusto It was contained in a buck- 
skin sack, and sealed. Clubfoot George, whose 
honesty none of us suspected, had heard us hold 
frequent discussions in the store of Dance and 
Stuart, as to the chances of safely getting through 
with it to the States. 

Hauser was somewhat surprised on entering the 
coach at Virginia City, to find that he had 
Plummer for a fellow-passenger. Believing, upon 
reflection, that Plummer was ooino- to Bannack to 
plan means for robbing him, he resolved to act 
as if he had the most implicit confidence in his 
integrity. He accordingly made no effort to hide 
the sack from view, or conceal the fact that he 
was going to the States; talked freely and 
confidentially, and seemed entirely at ease in 
Plummer's society. The trip was made in safety, 
though Hauser confessed that while passing 

4 Journey to Salt Lake. 

through Rattlesnake caiion, he did not forget the 
unenviable notoriety which frequent robberies 
had gained for it. When the coach drove up to 
Goodrich's hotel in Bannack, he felt greatly 
relieved, and with the sack of gold enveloped in 
the several folds of his blankets, entered the 
sitting-room, where he was met by some old 
friends, and, as was customary in those days, con- 
gratulated on his safe arrival. In a few moments 
he drew forth the sack, and in the presence of 
Judge Edgerton and several other leading citizens, 
turned to Plummer who was standing near, and 
thus carelessly addressed him : — 

" Plummer, I hear that any man who has 
money isn't safe in this town over-night. I've 
got fourteen thousand dollars in this bag, which 
I'm going to take to the States with me when I 
go, and I want you, as sheriff, to keep it for me 
till I start." 

Plummer took the gold, with a promise for its 
safe return, which he fulfilled ; depositing it for 
safekeef)ing in George Crisman's store. 

Hauser's friends expressed to him privately 
their surprise that he should intrust so large an 
amount to a man of such doubtful reputation. 

" Why ? " replied he, laughing: " do you think 
he'll keep it?" 

Journey to Salt Lake. 6 

" I should be afraid of it," said one, " espe- 
cially if he's the man many represent him to be." 

" Suppose he should," said Hauser. " You 
and half a dozen other good citizens saw him 
take it, and heard him promise that it should be 
safely returned. He knows, as well as I do, that 
if he fails to keep this promise, or through any 
pretence attempts to appropriate the gold, it will 
go hard with him ; whereas, if I should attempt 
to keep it, he, with others of the roughs knowing 
that I had it, would kill me if necessary to obtain 
it. The gold is safer where it is ; and while there, 
is a security for my life." 

This was a bold piece of strategy on the part 
of Hauser, evincing an intuitive insight into the 
character of Plummer ; but not one man in a hun- 
dred similarly situated would have thought of 
adopting it. If Plummer had entertained an 
idea that Hauser suspected his motives in accom- 
panying him to Bannack, this act of gratuitous 
confidence must have allayed it at once. 

Hauser and I engaged a passage to Salt Lake, 
of one of a company of eight Mormon freighters, 
who were to leave Bannack at noon of the 14th 
of November. We did not wish to leave until 
seven o'clock in the evening ; and the man, impa- 
tient of any delay beyond the departure of his 

6 Journey to Salt Lake. 

companions, finally agreed, for an extra ten dol- 
lars paid in advance, to wait for us until five 
o'clock P.M. If we were not ready then, he would 
retain the ten dollars, and leave town without us, 
so as to overtake the other teams, which were to 
camp that night at Horse Prairie, twelve miles 
distant. These arrano-ements were made in 
George Crisman's store where Plummer had an 
office, and in the hearing of one of his deputies, 
who immediately communicated the information 
to his chief. 

Early in the forenoon Plummer called upon 
Hauser and presented him with a woollen scarf of 
a bright scarlet color, saying, " You will find it 
useful these cold nights." A few hours after- 
wards, a report was circulated of the discovery of 
a silver lode in the vicinity of Rattlesnake. The 
person bringing in this intelligence, requested 
Plummer, who from his experience in Nevada was 
supposed to be a good judge of the quality of 
silver ore, to go immediately and examine it. He 
left early in the afternoon on the Rattlesnake road, 
but as soon as he was beyond observation, turned 
southward toward Horse Prairie. Col. Wilbur 
F. Sanders, who soon followed in the direction of 
Rattlesnake, returned the next day with the 
intelligence that he had been unable to trace him. 

Journey to Salt Lake. 7 

The circumstance of Plummer's departure, and 
the presence in town of Stinson and Ray, so 
wrought upon the fears of our friends for our 
safety, that it was not without much persuasion 
that they would permit us to undertake the 
journey. We were satisfied, however, that, go 
when we might, we shoukl have to incur the same 
risk. As a precautionary measure, I carefully 
cleaned my gun, and loaded each barrel with 
twelve revolver balls. George Dart, a friend, 
observing this, asked why I was filling my gun 
so full of lead. I replied that we were fearful of 
an attack, and that the indications were that it 
would be made that hight, if at all. Some of 
our friends endeavored to persuade us to defer our 
journey till a more favorable time. This we 
would have done had we not believed that the 
risk would have to be incurred whenever we took 
our departure. At the hour of five we were not 
ready, but the Mormon teamster was prevailed 
upon to wait for us two hours longer. 

Just after seven o'clock, and as we were putting 
our provisions which we had prepared for our 
journey in the wagon, Henry Tilden, a member 
of the household of Sidney Edgerton, then chief 
justice of Idaho, came in with the report that he 
had been robbed about midway on his ride from 

8 Journey to Salt Lake. 

Horse Prairie, by three men, one of whom he 
thought was Plummer. This created much 
excitement ; and if our friends had not supposed 
that we had ah'eady left town, we would probably 
have been forcibly detained. 

Either our failure to appear at the time at 
which our appointment to leave at five o'clock 
justified him in expecting us, or the belief that 
Tilden had circulated the news of his robbery, 
and thereby delayed our departure, caused Plum- 
mer to return by a circuitous route to town. He 
inquired for me at my boarding-house, and being 
told that both Hauser and I had gone, left town 
immediately in hot pursuit. 

In the wagon with us was one Charles White- 
head, a gambler, who had made arrangements 
Avith another of the Mormon teamsters for con- 
veyance to Salt Lake City; but having some 
business to detain him in town, he availed himself 
of the circumstance of our late departure, to 
give it attention. I had frequently seen him in 
town, but knew nothing about him, save that he 
was a professional gambler. He might, I thought, 
belong to the gang and be in some way connected 
with their present enterprise, and we kept a close 
watch upon his movements. We rode with our 
guns double-charged and cocked, lying upon our 

Journey to Salt Lake. 9 

laps. It was after eleven o'clock when we reached 
the camp of the advance party. The night was 
clear and cold ; the atmosphere crisp vrith frost. 
Whitehead, who had sent his blankets forward bv 
the other teams, found that they had been appro- 
priated by one of the teamsters, who had con- 
cluded that we had delayed our departure from 
town till the following morning. As he was in 
delicate health, I gave him my place with Hauser 
in the wagon, and taking a buffalo robe, stretched 
myself upon the ground beside the wagon. 

I could not sleep for the cold, and about three 
o'clock in the morning, thoroughly chilled, I arose, 
took my gun in my hand, and walked briskly back 
and forth before the camp. Finding that this 
exercise did not greatly increase my comfort, I 
went down to the bank of the creek thirty yards 
distant and commenced gathering dry willows to 
make a fire. While thus employed I strayed 
down the stream about twenty rods from the 
camp. Suddenly I heard a confused murmur of 
voices, which at first I thought came from the 
camp, but, while walking towards it, found that 
it was from a different direction. Curiosity now 
overcame all thought of cold. I dro23ped the 
armful of sticks I had gathered, and carefully 
disentangling the little copse of willows which 

10 Journey to Salt Lake. 

sheltered me from view, peered through, and saw 
in the dim moonlight three footmen approaching 
on the other side of the stream. The thought 
struck me that they might be campers in search 
of horses or mules that had strayed. I walked 
noiselessly down the stream, to a point where I 
could obtain through a vista an unobstructed 
view, my trusty gun held firmly in the hollow of 
my hand. The three men approached the open- 
ing through which I was gazing, and I now dis- 
covered that their features were concealed by 
loosely flowing masks. I no longer do ubtefd their 
identity or purpose. Some little noise that I made 
attracted their attention to the spot where I was 
standing. They saw me, and, perceiving that I 
had recognized them, changed their course, and 
disappeared beyond a clump of willows. 

My first imj)ulse was now to return to camp, 
and arouse the men, but I concluded not to do so 
unless it became necessary. One of the Mormons, 
as I passed by him, roused himself sufficiently to 
ask me why I was up so early. I replied that I 
was watching for prowlers. In a few moments I 
returned to the bank of the creek, and followed 
it down thirty or forty rods, till I came to a ripple 
where the water was not more than six inches 
deep. Stepping into the stream, I waded noise- 

Journey to Salt Lake. 11 

lessly across. The opposite bank was about two 
feet high, and covered with a willow thicket 
thirty feet in width. Through this I crawled to 
the opening beyond, where was the moist bed of 
a former stream, its banks lined with willows ; and 
in this half-enclosed semicircle, not fifty feet dis- 
tant from where I was lying, stood four masked 
men. One of them had been holding the horses — 
four in number — while the others were taking 
observations of our camp. After a brief consulta- 
tion, they hurriedly mounted their horses, and 
rode rapidly off towards Bannack. These men 
we afterwards ascertained were Plummer, Stinson, 
Ray, and Ives, The fortunate change in my lodg- 
ings, and the coldness of the weather, and conse- 
quent sleeplessness, saved us from an attack whose 
consequences may be better imagined than de- 
scribed. We made the journey to Salt Lake City 
in safety ; but from the frequent inquiries made of 
us while there, concerning others who had at- 
tempted it before us, we concluded that many had 
fallen victims who left the mines with better pros- 
pects of escape than those which encouraged us. 
It was the common custom of Mormon freighters 
to extend their day's journeying far into the even- 
ing. Plummer was cognizant of this fact, and 
there can be no doubt that his purpose in present- 

12 Journey to Salt Lake. 

ing Hauser with the scarf was, that he might 
single him out from the rest of the party after 
nightfall. It is a coincidence that Plummer was 
hanged on the succeeding anniversary of Hauser's 
birthday, January 10, 1864. 

Our trip of fifteen days, with the thermometer 
ranging from zero to twenty degrees below, was 
not unrelieved by occasional incidents which we 
recall with pleasure. Among these, of course, 
we cannot include the cold nights we were obliged 
to pass upon the frozen earth. But we found an 
inexhaustible store of amusement, not unmingled 
with admiration, in the character of our Mormon 
conductors. Simple-hearted, affable, and unsophis- 
ticated, with bigot faith in their creed, studious 
observance of its requirements, and constant re- 
liance upon it both for assistance in difficulty and 
pastime, they afforded in all their actions a singu- 
lar contrast as well to the unregenerate Gentiles, as 
to the believers among older sects. They were 
not only sincere in their belief, they were enthu- 
siastic. It was the single element which governed 
their lives : they idolized it, and neither reason, 
which they at once rejected, nor ridicule, which 
they silently abhorred, could shake their religious 
credulity. We engaged in frequent discussions 
with them, prolonging the evening camp-fire sit- 

Journey to Salt Lake. 13 

tings with arguments which broke like the waves 
of a summer sea upon the rock of simple faith. 
Theology with them was restricted to the revela- 
tions of Joseph Smith, and the counsels of Brig- 
ham Young. These contained the precious ele- 
ments of their belief. 

While passing over one of the divides, I re- 
cited to Hauser with such marked emphasis as I 
could command, Milton's description of " The 
meetinir of Satan and Death at the orates of Hell." 
The stirring passage immediately absorbed the 
attention of our Mormon driver. The serious 
cast of his features during the recitation attracted 
our attention ; and soon after we had camped for 
the night, while supper was in the course of prep- 
aration, he was heard to remark to a brother 
teamster, — 

" I tell you, the youngest of those men in my 
wagon, the one that always carries that double- 
barrelled shot-gun, is a powerful talker. I heard 
him harangue t'other one to-day for half an hour, 
and he talked mighty fine. He can overlay Orson 
Hyde and Parley Pratt, both, and I rather think 
it would trouble Brigham Young to say nicer 
things. And after all, he hid pretty much the 
same ideas that we have." Evidently, the man 
had regarded the recitation and its delivery, as an 
impromptu exercise. 

14 Journey to Salt LaJce. 

When the labor of the day was over, and they 
were seated around the evening camp-fire, their 
thoughts were engrossed with matters appertain- 
ing to their religion. Temporal cares were seem- 
ingly forgotten. Fully instructed in the doctrinal 
points of their faith, they readily met and disposed 
of our arguments upon principles familiar to all 
Christian denominations. The golden plates of 
the book of Mormon, the inspirational powers of 
Joseph Smith, the transforming virtues of the 
Urim and Thummim, were as sacred in their 
creed as the miracles of the Saviour. No argu- 
ment could shake their confidence in Brigham 
Young, whom they regarded as the vicegerent of 
the Almighty himself. This belief was sanctified 
by an immutable promise, that the time would 
come wdien the Mormon religion would embrace 
the whole family of man. When we spoke 
lightly of these things, or expressed doubt con- 
cerning them, they reproved us kindly, and ex- 
pressed their regret at our stubbornness and 
impiety. These discussions, which were frequent, 
and indulged in more for pastime than instruc- 
tion, convinced us of the sincerity of the Mor- 
mons as a people. They believe with enthusiasm 
too, and among them may doubtless be found 
many who would suffer martyrdom as readily as 

Journey t'o Salt Lake. 15 

did Ridley and Latimer, for the precious promises 
of their faith. Often when not occupied in dis- 
cussion, they would all join in singing a religious 
hymn. A verse from the one which most fre- 
quently taxed their vocal powers, I well remem- 
ber : — 

" Brigham Toiing is the Lion of the Lord. 
He's the Prophet and revealer of his word. 
He's the mouth-piece of God unto all mankind, 
And he rules by the power of the Word." 

Sometimes they would unite in a household song 
— the leader, representing the head of the family, 
commencing, — 

" The Mormon man delights to see 
His Mormon family all agree; 
His prattling infant on his knee, 
Crying, ' Daddy, I'm a Mormon.' " 

Then all would join in the chorus, as the repre- 
sentatives of the female part of the household, — 

"Hey, the happy! Ho, the happy! 
Hi, the happy Mormon! 
I've never known what sorrow is, 
Since I became a Mormon; " 

occasionally varying it thus, — 

"Hey, the happy! Ho, the happyl 
Hi, the happy Mormon! 
I never knew what joy was 
Till I became a Mormon; " 

16 Journey to Salt Lake. 

the word joy being divided in the singing to 
jaw-wy, to accommodate the metre. 

On the evening of the day before we entered 
the Mormon settlements, the leading man of the 
company beckoned me aside, and referred to our 
trip down, which he said had been a pleasant 

" We have had," said he, " some warm discus- 
sions about our religion, and you gentlemen, as 
our boys think, have been rather hard on us. 
But the journey is now about over, and we'll not 
mind it. I sought this opportunity, however, to 
give you a word of caution, for I feel friendly to 
you. While you are at Salt Lake City you 
mustn't talk as you have to us." 

" Why ? " I inquired. 

" Because they don't allow it. Were you ever 
at Salt Lake ? " 


" Well, you'll find out when you get there how 
it is. They are very severe upon people who talk 
as you have talked to us. Should you do it, you 
may be assured you'll never leave the city alive. 
I thought I'd put you on your guard." As he 
left me, he added, — 

" Don't say a word to the boys about what I've 
told you, but keep an eye to your conduct. If 

Journey to Salt Lake. 17 

the bishop knew I had told you this, it would go 
hard with me." 

Thankinsf him for the advice, we soon after 
separated ; and on our arrival at Salt Lake City, a 
day or two afterwards, in conversation with a lead- 
ing Mormon with whom we had business, we told 
him of the advice we had received, without com- 
mitting our friend by name. 

" That was good advice," he replied, with a 
significant nod, " and if adhered to will keep you 
out of trouble." 

18 Colonel Sanders and Gallagher, 


Rumors of Silver Lode Discoveries — Plummer 


BY CoLOXEL Sanders — A Ruse — Arrival of Jack 
Gallagher — Seeks a Quarrel with Sanders — 
Good Feicling restored in the Usual AVay — 
Sanders summoned back to Bannack — Anxiety 
for his Safety — Henry Tilden's Narrative — 
Plummer's Craftiness. 

On the day of the departure of Hauser and 
myself for Salt Lake City, as described in the 
preceding chapter, an episode occurred affecting 
Colonel Sanders, which illustrates in some degree 
the condition of society at that time. 

During the day a number of young men of 
Bannack City, all known in the town, and some 
living there, saddled their horses and rode from 
saloon to saloon, indulging in drink, and other- 
wise busying themselves until about three o'clock 
P.M. Among these was Plummer. 

Vague rumors had been extant for some time, 
that there were in this portion of Idaho (now 

Colonel Sanders and G-allagher. 19 

Montana), quartz lodes of silver ; but none up to 
this time had been discovered, or, if discovered, 
the fact had not been made known publicly. A 
number of quartz lodes of gold of very consider- 
able value had been recorded, but they were 
considered in the popular mind as of secondary 
value. The " Comstock " lode was at this time 
pouring forth its treasures ; silver had not fallen 
under the ban which subsequently environed it, and 
there was a great eagerness on the part of miners 
and other citizens to acquire interests in silver 

It was apparent that the horsemen on the 
streets w^ere making ready for some journey into 
the country, and it took but a moment to arouse 
suspicion that they knew where these reported 
silver mines were, and were going out to organize 
a minino' district, and record the claims. 

Col. Samuel McLean, the first delegate in Con- 
gress from Montana, who had an eager eye for 
mines, and an equally eager desire to obtain them, 
told Colonel Sanders that unquestionably the 
hope of these men was to record the silver mines 
already discovered, and was quite anxious that he 
should accompany the party. 

In response to this request, Colonel Sanders 
volunteered to ascertain whether this was the 

20 Colonel Sanders and GrallagJier. 

errand of this party or not, and at once proceeded 
to find Plummer, and interrogate him as to his 

Plummer professed to be on some errand for 
the piibHc good — rescuing a herd of horses 
belonging to citizens, from Indian thieves, who, he 
said, would certainly make way with them, unless 
they were at once taken charge of by himself. 

Colonel Sanders was incredulous as to this 
story, and so expressed himself to Mr. Plummer, 
saying that he was satisfied that the party were 
going to the new silver mines, with the purpose 
of stakin"- them off and recordinof them. Plum- 
mer denied any such destination, or, at least, said 
if that was the intention of his colleagues, he had 
no knowledge of it, and that if such should turn 
out to be the case, contrary to his expectations, 
he would cheerfully secure for Colonel Sanders a 
claim. To this it was replied that his party might 
object to his securing a claim for an absentee, and 
the colonel expressed a purpose to accompany the 
party. Plummer cordially invited him to do so, 
probably knowing that there was not a horse in 
any of the stables in town that was obtainable 
for such a journey ; but suddenly reflecting upon 
the matter, he replied that there was no such er- 
rand in view, and if his comrades objected to his 

Colonel Sanders and Gallac/Jier. 21 

obtaiuinjr a claim for Colonel Sanders because he 
was an absentee, he would very cheerfully convey 
his own to him, saying that he could obtain quartz 
lode claims whenever he so desired. 

With this understanding, which Colonel San- 
ders sought to impress upon his mind so that he 
would not forget it, the party, in knots of two and 
four, left the town in an easterly direction towards 
the point where Plummer had stated they were 
going that evening, which was about fifteen 
miles distant, and where he said they would 
remain over-night at the ranche of Parish, Bunton 
and Co., on Rattlesnake creek, and the next morn- 
ing would proceed to obtain the horses that were 
in such dano^er of beinof stolen. 

This ranche was perhaps the best known of any 
in the Beaverhead country at this time. Plum- 
mer himself had denounced its proprietors as 
cattle thieves, and had threatened to have them 
arrested for that high crime, but had never done so. 
At this particular time the senior member of 
the firm was sick with fever, and it was thought 
that he could not long survive. 

The morning coach which had brought Plum- 
mer and the other passengers from Virginia City, 
had also brought one Dr. Palmer, a medical 
practitioner at Virginia City, who had been sent 
for to attend and treat the case of Mr. Parish. 

22 Colonel jSanders and Grallagher. 

The wife of Parish was a Bannack squaw ; and 
Plummer had stated that he had examined Parish 
when at his ranche in the morning, and had con- 
cluded that he could not survive more than a day 
or two, and that, the instant he died, his wife 
would take all the horses belonging to parties for 
whom Parish, Bunton and Co. were keeping them, 
and would join her tribe on the west of the 
mountains near Fort Lemhi ; and in order to 
save these horses for the owners, it was necessary 
that the sheriff should proceed to take them 
on general principles, and without any writ for 
that purpose. 

Never doubting but that Plummer was relating 
the truth, the people of Bannack saw his party 
quietly climb the eastern hill, and disappear over one 
of its declivities. A single member, delayed from 
some cause or other, lingered behind in the town. 

After the party had left town, several gentle- 
men suggested to Colonel Sanders, that he should 
endeavor to overtake them, and volunteered to 
furnish a horse and saddle if he would do so, 
with a view to obtaininof for himself and them- 
selves^ if possible, some interest in the silver 
quartz mines which they believed would the next 
morning be staked off and recorded. 

Colonel Sanders proceeded to his house, took 

Colonel Zanders and (xallagJier. 23 

the inevitable accompaniments of a traveller, his 
blankets, robes, revolvers, etc., and returned to 
the town, where a somewhat diminutive mule, 
saddled and bridled and ready for the fray, was 
presented to him for his journey. Mounting the 
animal, he started on the trail of the party, who 
had one hour or more the start of him, on his 
way to Rattlesnake ranche, the property of Par- 
ish, Bunton and Co. 

The mule at times was recalcitrant in the early 
part of the journey, but finally settled down and 
jogged along at a mild speed towards his desti- 

Tracks of the horsemen were plainly discernible 
in the road until he reached a point near the sum- 
mit of the ranoe of mountains between the Grass- 
hopper and Rattlesnake, when they disappeared. 

Upon arriving at the top of the hill, as is not 
unusual on the top of these mountain ranges, a 
snow storm burst upon the lone traveller, accom- 
panied by a high wind, and in half an hour the 
disintesfrated sfranite in the road, which was drv, 
mixed with the snow so as to cause the mule to 
accumulate on his hoofs large quantities of the 
dust and snow, to such an extent as to make speed 
impossible, and travelling very difficult. 

The colonel dismounted and drove his mule in 

M Colonel iSanders and Gfallar/her. 

front of him, eiglit miles, to the ranche, where he 
confidently expected to find a good-natured, hila- 
rious crowd spending the evening. Judge of his 
surprise, when he entered the room, to find the 
only person in it was Erastus Yager, whose actual 
name not one in a thousand knew, but who was 
universally known as " Red." He was the Boni- 
face and 7najor-do7}io of the place. 

To the inquiry, "Where is Plummer?" he re- 
plied that he was not there, and had not been 
there ; and so, after reflecting a moment, the 
colonel had his mule put in the corral. He then 
sat down by the side of a very cheerful fire, made 
of the dry cottonwood obtainable not far distant, 
which blazed in a very ample fireplace such as in 
modern times is practically unknown, beguiling 
his disappointment as best he could. 

Dr. Palmer was already asleep in the room, so 
the colonel unrolled his blankets, preparatory to 
making his bed on the floor, whereupon Yager 
invited him to sleep on the bed, a straw tick filled 
with swale grass, quite ample in its size, lying 
upon the floor in front of the fire ; and, accept- 
ing this hospitable offer, he spread his blankets on 
the tick, and in a few moments had retired. 

William Bunton, one of the proprietors of the 
establishment, appeared from the back room where 

Colonel Sanders and Gallayher. 25 

his partner lay ill, and retired also upon the straw 
tick, and shortly after, Yager followed suit, when 
the three, in one bed, were all soon in a sound 

About two hours after they had retired, a bois- 
terous noise was made upon the door by some 
individual who was outside, who also hallooed as 
loud as he could for admittance. 

Yager got out of bed and proceeded around to 
the back of the bar where the liquid refresh- 
ments, so called, were dispensed, and lighted a 
candle, and taking in his hands a large shot-gun 
which stood in the corner, started to the door and 
demanded to know who was there. After some 
hesitancy, he was told it was " Jack," whereupon 
he proceeded to take down the bar that was across 
the door, and so fastened at each end as to effect- 
ually serve the purpose of a lock. He then 
opened the door, and in stalked a member of 
Plummer's party, the one who had remained in 
town behind the rest, and known all over that 
mining country as " Jack " Gallagher. 

He was in very ill-humor. He had been look- 
ing for his party, and had been disappointed in 
not finding them, finally seeking shelter from the 
storm at the Rattlesnake ranche. 

He said the snow had so covered the road that 

26 Colonel Satiders and GallayJier. 

it could not be distinguished. He had been lost 
on the prairie and finally found the Rattlesnake. 
He said he had ridden up and down the valley a 
number of miles and failed to find the ranche. 
He complained that they had no light burning. 

He said he was very hungry and that he wanted 
a drink. A bottle was set out for him, and he 
imbibed pretty freely once or twice. He then 
wanted something to eat without delay. He was 
informed that there was nothing to eat in the 
house, that the lady of the house had all she could 
do to take care of her husband, who was very ill 
and who would not probably recover, and that 
they were not prepared to entertain guests. 

He expressed an entire indifference to the mis- 
fortunes of the household, and said he must have 
something" to eat if it was no more than some 
bread, and became so importunate that Yager 
went to the back part of the house, and soon re- 
turned with a large tin pan partially filled with 
boiled beef. The pan was placed upon the bar, 
and Gallagher did ample justice to its contents, 
refreshing himself from time to time by frequent 
libations from the bottle of whiskey. 

He told Yager that he could not stop all night, 
but must find his party. He thought it would be 
necessary for him to have a fresh horse, and he 

Colonel Sanders and Crallafjher. 27 

wanted to trade a very excellent animal which he 
had ridden to the ranche for a fresh one. 

Yager thereupon told him that he had no horse 
that he desired to trade, but Jack affirmed that he 
had, and furthermore insisted that he should ac- 
commodate him by trading. 

Their wrangling had awakened Colonel Sanders, 
and also Mr. Bunton, who finally called Yager to 
the bedside and told him to trade off that horse of 
Oliver's that was in the corral, if Jack would have 
a horse trade. 

The importunities of Gallagher for a fresh 
horse were continuous ; and finally Yager coyly 
confessed that they did have a horse in the corral, 
which was not such a horse as Gallagher wanted, 
and one that they did not desire to get rid of, 
being a favorite animal for riding, — not specially 
desirable for its speed, but for wonderful bottom, 
able to travel a hundred miles in a day, and after 
being turned out at night, it would be ready for 
a like journey the next day. In fact, it was so 
good a horse that Yager wanted it for his own 
use, and it was not for sale, — much less did he 
desire to trade it for as poor a horse as the one 
Gallagher had ridden there (which in truth was 
a very noble animal). 

After a great deal of negotiating and a good 

28 Colonel Sanders and G-aUaglier. 

many drinks, Gallagher agreed to pay sixty 
dollars to boot, and they consummated the trade. 

Colonel Sanders had been very much disap- 
pointed at not finding the party he was in search 
of, and having an opportunity at the close of the 
horse trade, he inquired of Gallagher if he knew 
where Plummer was. It seemed to him a harm- 
less question, and he did not expect any one 
would become excited by so simple an inquiry, as 
he lay on his back on the straw tick. 

The instant the question was asked, Gallagher 
jumped from the bar where he was standing to 
the side of the bed, and placed his cocked 
revolver at the colonel's head, all the while hurl- 
ing imprecations upon him, and threatening to 
" shoot the whole toj) of his head off." 

The result, for the instant, upon the colonel is 
described by himself as being very peculiar. He 
said he could count each particular hair in his 
head, and that it felt like the quill of a porcu- 
pine. Not enjoying the situation, he made a 
quick movement, getting his head out of range 
of Gallagher's revolver, and springing to his feet, 
in an instant was behind the bar, where "' Red " 
was standino'. Sanders seized the shot-^un which 
was used bv Yao'er in admitting^ his onests in the 
night, and levelled it across the bar directly at 

Colonel Sanders and Gallagher. 29 

Gallagher. The oj^portunity which had been 
afforded Gallagher to shoot Sanders had not been 
improved by him till it was too late ; and as soon 
as the o'un was aimed at him, with an air of 
bravado he placed his revolver on a pine table 
that stood near him, the normal use of which 
was card-playing, and pulling aside his blue 
soldier's overcoat which he wore, he said, 

Colonel Sanders replied that he had no desire 
to shoot, but if there were any shooting to be 
done, he did desire to have the first shot. 

At this somewhat exciting stage of the game, 
Bunton, who had hitherto kept silence, repri- 
manded the actors in this little drama somewhat 
severely, saying that his partner was at the point 
of death in the back room, and he would not 
have any noise in the house- 
Yager also joined in the conversation, and 
deprecated any such difficulty, saying to Gallagher 
that he was blamable for having been the cause 
of the disturbance, Gallagher meanwhile standing 
with his coat open, as if waiting to be shot down. 
Yager continued his suave and conciliatory 
remarks to Gallagher, and said finally that he 
thought Jack owed Sanders an apology, and that 
all had better take a drink. 

30 Colonel Sanders and GraUagher. 

A double-barrelled shot-gun is a powerful fac- 
tor in an argument ; its logic is irresistible and 
convincing ; and under its influence Jack finally 
relented, and said that he guessed he had made a 
fool of himself, and invited the colonel, who up 
to this time had maintained a position of hostility, 
to have a drink ; but, becoming satisfied of the 
sincerity of Gallagher's assurances, he placed the 
shot-gun behind the 1)ar, and the entire party 
joined in a pledge of amity over a bottle of 
" Valley Tan," a liquor well known throughout 
the mountains, and a production of the Mormons 
of Salt Lake valley. 

Some controversy then arose as to who should 
pay for the liquor. Yager claimed the, privilege, 
but Gallagher said it was his row, and it should 
be his treat, and that the man who wouldn't 
drink with him was no friend of his. The affair 
was finally compromised by allowing Gallagher 
to order another bottle of " Valley Tan," and the 
actors in this scene dared fate by taking another 
drink. This was, doubtless, the easiest method of 
settling the difficulty and appeasing the wrath of 
Gallagher; and my readers will doubtless agree 
with Sanders in thinking that the circumstances 
of duress which surrounded him, ought not to 
impair his standing as a Son of TemjDerance. 

Colonel Sanders and Gallagher. 31 

After this renewed pledge of friendship be- 
tween all the parties, Yager and Gallagher with- 
drew to exchange horses, and in a few moments 
the latter was on the road in pursuit of his com- 
rades. Yaoer returned to bed, and all at the 
ranche were soon sound asleep. About two 
hours thereafter, there was heard another tumultu- 
ous rapping at the door, and the voice of some- 
body, seemingly very angry, demanding admit- 
tance. Yager exercised the same precaution as 
before, with his light and gun, and finally opened 
the door, when in came Jack Gallagher, with his 
saddle, bridle, blankets, and shot-gun, and threw 
them all down upon the floor, saying that he had 
been lost since he left the ranche, that his horse 
was not good for anything, and he wanted the 
fire built up. 

He was accommodated ; and as there was not 
room for more than three on the bed, he spread 
his blankets on the floor at its foot, in front of 
the fire, and soon all were asleep once more. 
However, they were not destined to enjoy this 
peace very long, for shortly after they had all 
dropped asleep, there came another tumultuous 
rapping at the door. Yager arose, armed himself 
once more, and going to the door demanded to 
know what was wanted. It proved to be Leonard 

S2 Colonel Sanders and Giallayher. 

A. Gridley and George M. Brown, from Bannack. 
They inquired for Colonel Sanders, and being 
informed that he was there, and invited in, they 
declined, and asked that he come out. 

The colonel went out and joined the two men, 
when he was told that they had been sent by his 
wife to ascertain his whereabouts and brintr him 
home ; and they related to him the events now to 

On the morning of the preceding day, a young 
man named Henry Tilden, who had accompanied 
Chief Justice Edgerton and Colonel Sanders from 
their homes in Ohio to Bannack City, had been 
sent to Horse Prairie, ten miles south of Bannack, 
to gather together a herd of cattle owned by 
them and to drive the same into town. 

It was rather late when he left Bannack, and 
as the cattle were somewhat scattered, night came 
upon him before he had got them all together. 
He therefore put those he had found in a corral, 
and having decided to go to the town and spend 
the night, and return the next day to find the rest, 
he started in the darkness for Bannack. 

He was a young man used to quiet and peace, 
and wholly untrained in the experiences he was 
about to undergo. Midway between Horse 
Prairie creek and Bannack, as he was riding 

Colonel /Sanders and Gallagher . 3.^ 

along at a gallop, he saw in front of him several 
horsemen. He was somewhat startled, as he was 
not prepared to meet men under such conditions 
and in such a country. He gathered courage as 
he rode, and proceeded along the highway until 
he came up with the horsemen, who produced 
their revolvers and told him to throw up his 
hands and dismount, a request with which he 
quickly complied, notwithstanding the impolite 
manner in which it was conveyed. They "went 
through" his pockets, he meanwhile maintaining 
a very awkward position with his hands in the 
air above his head. Finding nothing, they told 
him to mount his horse and proceed on his way, 
telling him further that if he ever dared to open 
his mouth about the circumstance, he would be 
murdered, or, in their expressive language, they 
would l)low the top of his head off. 

The young man started towards Bannack, and 
as soon as he was out of sight of the robbers, rode 
his horse at its utmost speed. 

He finally reached Colonel Sanders's house on 
what was known as "Yankee Flat," not, however, 
until he had l)een thrown from his horse, while 
crossing a mining ditch, and had lain on the 
ground for a period of time which he could not 
himself determine, l)eing unconscious. 

S4 Colonel Sanders and Crallagher. 

He told his story of having met the robbers, and 
further stated, that he knew the parties, who had 
" held him up," particularly one of them, who 
had held a revolver at his head and who seemed 
to be a leader among them, and this man was 
Henry Plummer. 

Mrs. Sanders then went with him to the house 
of Chief Justice Edgerton, where he related 
again the story of his meeting the highwaymen, 
and was cautioned to say nothing about it. 

As the party whom Colonel Sanders had 
started to find and travel with had been found 
going in an opposite direction, and engaged as 
highway robbers, it naturally excited and alarmed 
hi^ family, and the result was, that they, finding 
a team which had come into town late that night, 
procured the horses, and mounted Gridley and 
Brown and sent them to the Rattlesnake ranche to 
find the colonel. The next morning Plummer 
and all the men who had gone with him were in 
town, appearing as unconcerned as if nothing un- 
usual had occurred. 

Colonel Sanders did not at first share Tilden's 
belief concerning the j^ersonnel of the troop of 
robbers and his identification of Plummer, but 
nevertheless, as a precautionary measure, he ad- 
monished Tilden not to communicate his beliefs 

Colonel Sanders and Gallagher. 35 

to any one, assuring him that if his conjectures 
were correct, and an expression of them should 
ever reach Plummer's ears, it would go hard with 
him. Two or three days thereafter, Plummer ap- 
proached Tilden, and gazing fixedly upon him, 
abruptly asked if he had any clew by which the 
robbers could be identified. Tilden, though 
greatly frightened by this inquiry, gave him an 
answer which allayed whatever suspicion the wary 
robber might have entertained. But Tilden him- 
self, in relating the incident to his friends, never 
wavered in his convictions. There were many 
anion": the better class of citizens of Bannack who 
had for a long time suspected Plummer, and be- 
lieved him to have been engaged in numerous 
murders and highway robberies, which were of 
such frequent occurrence as to scarcely cause 
comment ; and when it was determined on the 
afternoon of January 10, 1864, that Plummer 
should be hanged, Tilden was sent for and related 
his story in detail, which convinced all who heard 
it, of Plummer's guilt. 

Within sixty days after Colonel Sanders's adven- 
ture at the Rattlesnake ranche, he was the sole 
survivor of the party there assembled, the others 
having been executed by the Vigilance Committee, 
and Plummer and his associates in the attempted 

36 Colonel Sanders and Gallagher. 

robbery of Hauser and myself had met the same 

But little is known of Gallagher's early history. 
He was born near Ogdensburg, New York. He 
was at Iowa Point, Doniphan County, Kansas, in 
October, 1859, and in Denver from 1862 till early 
in 1863. At this latter place he killed a man in 
an affray, and fled, next making his appearance in 
the Beaverhead mines. During the summer of 
1863, he shot at and badly wounded a blacksmith 
by the name of Temple, for interfering to prevent 
a dog-fight. After this he became uneasy, and 
finally determined upon leaving the country, and 
started for Utah. On the Dry Creek divide he 
met George Ives, who persuaded him to return to 
Virginia City, and join Plummer's band. 

Rohherii of Moody's Train. S7 



Robbery of Moody's Traix i:y Dutch John and Steve 
Makshlaxd — First Mioetinu of the Robbers in 
Black Tail I)ki:r Canon — Second Meeting and 
Attack on Red Rock ])ivide — Both Robbers 

wounded and escape reprisals by the pursuino 


One cold morning, a few days after the at- 
tempted robbery of Mr. Hauser and the writer, a 
train of three wagons, with a pack-train in com- 
pany, left Virginia City for Salt Lake. Milton 
S. Moody, the owner of the wagons, had been en- 
gaged in freighting between the latter place and 
the mines ever since their first discovery. His 
route on the present trip lay through Black Tail 
Deer, Beaverhead, and Dry Creek canons, so 
named after the several streams by which they 
are traversed. Bannack was left twenty miles to 
the right of the southern angle in the road at 
Beaverhead canon, and, with the exception of 
three or four ranches, there were no settlers on 
the route. 

38 Robheri/ of Moody'' s Train. 

Among the packers were Messrs. John McCor- 
mick, M. T. Jones, William Sloan, John S. Rock- 
fellow, J. M. Bozeman, Melanchthon Forbes, and 
Henry Branson, — energetic business men, who 
had accumulated a considerable amount in gold 
dust, which they took with them to make pay- 
ments to Eastern creditors. Buckskin sacks, con- 
taining about eighty thousand dollars, were 
distributed in cantinas through the entire pack 
train, no one pair of cantinas containing a very 
large sum. Besides this amount, there was in a 
carpet sack in one of the wagons, fifteen hundred 
dollars in treasury notes, enclosed in letters to 
various persons in the States, and sent by their 
friends and relatives in the mines. 

The men in the train were well armed, and an- 
ticipated an attack by the robbers at some point 
on the route, but they determined upon fighting 
their way through. Plummer had been on the 
watch for their departure a week or more before 
they left, and through his spies was fully informed 
of the amount they took with them. He made 
preparations for surprising them in camp after 
nightfall, on their second day out, well knowing 
that some would then be seated, others lying 
around their camp fires, and others still spreading 
their blankets for the nig-ht. Two of the boldest 

Robber If of Moody'' s Train. 89 

men m the band, John Wagner, known as " Dutch 
John," and Steve Marshhmd, were selected for the 
service. They followed slowly in track of the 
train. Coming in sight of the camp-fire in Black 
Tail Deer canon, after dark on the evening ap- 
pointed, they hitched their horses in a thicket at 
a convenient distance, and, with their double-bar- 
relled guns loaded with buck-shot, crawled up, 
Indian fashion, within hfteen feet of the camp. 
By the light of the fire, they were enabled to take 
a survey of the party and its surroundings. The 
campers were dispersed in little groups engaged in 
conversation, ignorant of the approach of the 
robbers, but fully prepared to meet them. Mr. 
McCormick, who had done some friendly services 
for Ives, was warned l)y him, wheji on the eve of 
departure, not to sleep at all, never to be off his 
guard, nor separate from his comrades, but to 
keep close in camp until after they had crossed 
the range. As soon as the robbers comprehended 
the situation, they withdrew to the thicket and 
held a consultation. Wagner, the bolder of the 
two, proposed that they should steal again upon 
the campers, select their men, and kill four with 
their shot-guns, it being quite dark ; that they 
should then, by rapid firing, (piick movements, 
and loud shouting, impress the survivors with the 

40 liohhery of Moody'' s Train. 

belief that they were attacked by a numerous 
force in ambush. 

" They will then," said Wagner, " run away, 
and leave their traps, and we can go in and get 

This scheme, none too bold or hazardous for 
Wagner to undertake, presented a good many 
embarrassments to the more timid nature of his 
companion. Bold as a lion at the outset, he now 
found his courage, like that of Bob Acres, " ooz- 
ing out of his fingers' ends." The more Wagner 
urged the attack, the stronger grew his objections, 
until at length he flatly refused, and the experi- 
ment was abandoned until the next mornino*. 


The campers knew nothing of this. One by one 
they sank to rest, and arose early the next morning 
to pursue their journey. While s?ated around 
the camp-fire at breakfast, near a sharp turn in 
the road, their attention was suddenly arrested by 
a voice issuing from the thicket, uttering the fol- 
lowinof ominous words : — 

" You take my revolver and I'll take yours, 
and you come right after me." 

In a twinkling every man sprang for his gun 
and cocked his revolver. The sharp click, that 
" strange quick jar upon the ear," probably satis- 
fied the robbers that they had been overheard, 

Robbery of Moody's Train. 41 

for in a few moments after up rode Wagner and 
Marshland, with their shot-guns thrown across 
their saddles, ready for use. The confused ex- 
pression of the robbers when they saw that every 
man was prepared for their approach, betrayed 
their criminal designs. Recovering themselves in 
a moment, Marshland, who recognized Sloan, in a 
friendly tone called out, — 

" How do you do, Mr. Sloan ? " 

" Very well, thank you,''' replied Billy, laying 
particular stress upon the complimentary words, 
the sisfnificance of which would have been more 
apparent, had he known that Marshland's coward- 
ice the night before had probably saved his life. 

The road agents inquired if the party had seen 
any horses running at large, or whether they had 
any loose stock in their train. 

" We have not," was the prompt reply. 

" We were told by some half-breeds we met," 
said Marshland, " that our animals were running 
with your train, and we rode on, hoping to find 

" It's a mistake," was the answer, " we have 
no horses but our own." 

With this assurance the robbers professed to 
be satisfied, and galloped on. 

These successive failures only strengthened the 

42 Robbery of Moody's Train. 

villains in their determination to rob the train. 
They awaited its arrival in Red Rock valley two 
days after leaving it, with the intention of attack- 
ing it there, at the hour of going into camp. 
When near the summit of the ridoe which divides 
the waters of the Red Rock from those of 
Junction creek, the packers, according to custom, 
rode on ahead of the wagons to select a suitable 
stopping-place for the night. Three or four men 
only were left in charge of the teams. The 
robbers supposed that the treasure was hidden 
away in some of the carpet sacks in the wagons, 
now near the top of the divide. The brisk pace 
of the pack-horses soon took them out of sight 
and hearing of their companions in the rear. 
Assured of this, the robbers, disguised in hoods 
and blankets, dashed out of a ravine in front of 
the wagons, and in a peremptory tone, covering 
the drivers with their shot-guns, commanded them 
to halt. Gathering the drivers together, they 
ordered them not to move, at their peril ; and 
while Dutch John sat upon his horse, with his 
gun aimed at them, Marshland dismounted, and 
engaged in a speedy search of both drivers and 
vehicles. Unperceived by the robbers. Moody 
had slipped a revolver into the leg of his boot. 
He also had a hundred dollars concealed in a 

Robbery of Moody'' s Train. 43 

pocket of his shirt, which escaped notice. The 
other drivers had no money on their persons. 
After disposing- of the men, Marshland went to 
the wagons, where he was fortunate enough to 
find the carpet sack containing the letters in 
which were enclosed the fifteen hundred dollars in 
greenbacks. Pocketing this, and still intent upon 
finding the gold, he proceeded to the rear wagon, 
which fortunately was occupied by Forbes and a 
sick comrade. As soon as Marshland climbed to 
the single-tree, Forbes, who had been in wait for 
him, fired his revolver through a hole in the cur- 
tain, wounding him in the breast. With an oath 
and yell, the robber fell to his knees, but recover- 
ing himself, jumped from the wagon, fell a second 
time, regained his feet, and ran with the agility 
of a deer to the pine forest. Dutch John's horse, 
frightened at the shot, reared just as its rider 
discharged both barrels of his shot-gun at the 
teamsters. The shot whizzed just above their 
heads. Moody now drew his revolver from his 
boot, and opened fire upon the retreating figure 
of Dutch John, the ball taking effect in his 
shoulder. Urging his horse to its utmost speed, 
John was soon beyond reach of pursuit ; but 
had Moody followed him on the instant, he might 
have brought him down. The packers who had 

44 Rohhery of Moody'' s Train. 

gone into camp, were no less gratified to hear of 
the successful repulse, than astonished at the bold 
attack of the freebooters. Marshland's horse, 
arms, equipage, and twenty pounds of tea, of 
which he had rifled a Mormon train a few days 
before, were confiscated upon the spot. 

Eockfellow and two other packers rode back 
to the scene of the robbery, where, striking 
Marshland's trail, they followed it, searching for 
him till eleven o'clock. He admitted afterwards, 
when captured, that they were at one time within 
fifteen feet of him. They found, scattered along 
the route, all the packages of greenbacks he had 
taken. He gained nothing by his attack, was 
badly wounded, froze both his feet on his retreat 
to Deer Lodge, and lost his horse, arms, and pro- 
visions. Both of Dutch John's hands were 
frozen, but he was fortunate in meeting J. X. 
Beidler, who bound them up for him, not knowing 
at the time the villain's occupation. " X," as he 
is called by all the mountaineers, always accounted 
this kindly act to the retreating ruffian, as a stroke 
of bad fortune. " Had I only known," says he 
when telling the story, " I would have bandaged 
his hands with something stronger than a 

The serious part of the transaction being over, 

Robbery of Moody's Train. 46 

our wayfarers had abundant sport for the remain- 
der of their long journey, in determining the 
rights of the respective claimants to the booty. 
Forbes claimed Marshland's horse and accoutre- 
ments, because it was his shot that caused the 
robber to take flight. Moody insisted upon his 
right to an equal share, in compensation for the 
wounds he gave Dutch John. The two teamsters 
set up a claim, upon the principle that all ships in 
sight are entitled to a share in the prize. If 
steersmen represented schooners at sea, teamsters 
were the proper representatives of " prairie schoon- 
ers." The subject was debated at every camp 
made on the journey, and finally determined by 
electing a judge from their number, impanelling 
a jury, and going through all the forms of a 
regular trial. The verdict gave Forbes the pos- 
session of the property on payment of thirty 
dollars to Moody, and twenty dollars to each of 
the teamsters. The party arrived at Salt Lake 
without further molestation. 

46 Gieorge Ives, 



History of George Ives — Robberies and Murders 

committed by him murder of tiebalt a 

Company pursue Ives from Nevada — He is 
CAPTURED — Escape — Eecapture — Is brought in 
Safety to Nevada. 

George, Ives, whose name is already familiar- 
ized to the readers of this history, by the promi- 
nent part he acted in the robberies of the coach, 
and the contemplated attack upon Hauserandthe 
writer, was at the time regarded as the most for- 
midable robber of the band with which he was 
connected. The boldness of his acts, and his 
bolder enunciation of them, left no doubt in the 
public mind as to his guilt. But the people were 
not yet ripe for action ; and, while Ives and his 
comrades in crime were yet free to prosecute their 
plans for murder and robbery, the miners and 
traders were content, if let alone, to pursue their 
several occupations. The condition of society was 
terrible. Not a day passed unmarked by crimes 
of greater or lesser enormity. The crisis was 

George Ives. 47 

seemingly as distant as ever. Men hesitated to 
pass between the towns on the gulch after night- 
fall, nor even in mid-day did they dare to carry 
upon their persons any larger amounts in gold 
dust than were necessary for current purposes. 
If a miner happened to leave the town to visit a 
neighboring claim, he was fortunate to escape 
robbery on the way. And if the amount he had 
was small, he Avas told that he would be killed 
unless he brouoht more the next time. Often 
wayfarers were shot at, sometimes killed, and 
sometimes wounded. 

During this period, it was a custom with George 
Ives, when in need of money, to mount his horse, 
and, pistol in hand, ride into a store or saloon, 
toss his buckskin purse upon the counter, and re- 
quest the proprietor or clerk to put one or more 
ounces of orold dust in it '" as a loan." The man 
thus addressed, dare not refuse. Often, while the 
person was weighing the levy, the daring shop- 
lifter would amuse himself by firing his revolver 
at the lamps and such other articles of furniture 
as would make a crash. This was frequently 
done for amusement. It became so common that 
it attracted little or no attention, and people sub- 
mitted to it, under the conviction that there was 
no remedy. 

48 Greorge Ives. 

Anton M. Holter, owner of a train of wagons, 
while on the route from Salt Lake to Virginia City 
with a large party of emigrants, was overtaken by 
a fierce mountain snowstorm, during the last days 
of November, on Black Tail Deer creek. Fear- 
ing that the road would be blocked, he and a Mr. 
Evanson pushed on as rapidly as possible to the 
Pas-sam-a-ri, crossing the stream with their teams 
with great difficulty, the water reaching midway 
up the sides of the wagon-boxes. Once over, 
they made a camp near by, to await the abatement 
of the storm. A Mr. Hughes who had been 
travelling in company with them, came up with 
his wagon, at a late hour in the evening, to the 
cabin at the crossing, at the door of which he was 
met by " Dutch John," its only occupant. John, 
at his request, went in search of Evanson, who 
came and assisted in getting the horses and wagons 
across the river. The night was half spent before 
the object was accomplished. During all this 
time, John, in pursuance of Plummer's general 
instructions for obtaining information, plied Evan- 
son with questions about Holter' s property and 
ready means in gold, — possessing himself of all 
the information that an unsuspicious man would 
be likely to communicate. 

A few days later, Holter moved on with his 

Gfeorge Ives. 49 

train to Ramshorn creek, and after making camp, 
went to Virginia City with two yokes of oxen for 
sale. On his way he passed Ives and Carter, who, 
he observed, eyed him suspiciously. Failing to 
sell his cattle, he left on his return to camp the 
next day, intending to spend the night at Mr. 
Norris's ranche. He had gone well down into the 
valley, and it was nearly sundown, when he saw 
Ives, accompanied by one Irving, approaching on 
horseback. Hoiter did not know Ives, and had 
no real fear of an attack ; but with that instinc- 
tive feeling which regards every stranger with suspi- 
cion in a country infested with robbers, he imme- 
diately drew and examined his pistol. It was so 
badly rusted that he could not make it revolve. 
He replaced it, and, remembering that he had no 
money, felt equally satisfied to escape or to hazard 
an adventure. Ives and Irving rode up in front 
of him, and Ives, impudently, as Hoiter thought, 
inquired, — 

" Where are you going ? " 

" Down to Norris's place," replied Hoiter. " Do 
you know where he lives?" 

" Yes, I know well enough," answered the high- 
wayman, and drawing closer to him he asked, 
" Have you got any money ? " 

Hoiter drew back in surprise, but answered im- 
mediately, " No, I'm dead broke." 

50 G-eorge Ives. 

" Well, we'll see about that," said Ives, draw- 
ino- and cocking his revolver. 

"^^ You can see for youVself," said Holter, draw- 
ing forth a memorandum book. 

" Hand it over here," said Ives, reaching and 
takino- it. He then proceeded to examine it with 
some^'care, but finding nothing in it, with an ex- 
pression of disgust he threw it away. Turning to 
Holter, and levelHng his pistol full upon him, he 

continued, — • tr i •+ 

" You've got money, and I know it. Hand it 

over, or I'll shoot you." ^ 

'^ You're surely mistaken," rephed Holter. i 
left what I had at the camp, and had to borrow 
ten dollars in town." 

" I tell you, you have got money," was the sav- 
age rejoinder. " Turn your pockets inside out — 
and be quick about it, too." 

Holter complied, and found a few greenbacks, 
which, as they were not in use, he had forgotten. 
" Hand 'em over here," said Ives, and cram- 
ming them hurriedly into his pocket, he said,-- 
" Now, turn your cattle out of the road, and 
don't follow our tracks ; and when you come this 
way again, bring more money with you." 

As Holter turned his cattle to obey, he glanced 
furtively over his shoulder, and saw Ives in the 

George Ives. 51 

very act of firing' at liim. Dodging instinctively, 
the ball jDassed through his hat, ploughing a fur- 
row down to the scalp, which it grazed, through 
his heavy hair. Stunned by the shot, Holter 
staggered and almost fell, just as Ives aimed and 
pulled the trigger again. Fortunately, the cap 
snapped ; and Holter, now sufficiently recovered, 
started on a run, and took refuge in an old beaver- 
dam. Ives followed him closely for another shot, 
but a teamster with a load of poles at this moment 
appeared upon the road, which circumstance de- 
terred Ives from firing, and probably saved Hol- 
ter' s life. 

During this same season, a man who had been 
whipped for larceny at Nevada, under some modi- 
fication of his punishment, agreed to disclose 
certain transactions of the robbers. Ives heard 
of it, and watching his opportunity, met the poor 
fellow on the road between Virginia City and 
Dempsey's. Riding up to him, he deliberately 
fired at him with his o-un charo-ed with buckshot. 
From some cause the shot failed of effect. Ives 
immediately drew his revolver, and while loading 
him with oaths and execrations, shot him through 
the head. The man fell dead from his horse, 
which Ives took by the bridle and led off to the 
hills. This cold-blooded murder was committed 

52 G-eorge Ives. 

in open day on the most populous tliorouglifare 
in the country, in plain view of two ranches, 
and while several teams were in sight. Travellers 
who arrived at the spot half an hour after its 
occurrence, aided by the neighboring ranchmen, 
paid the last sad offices to the still warm but life- 
less body. Ives sought concealment in the "wakiup 
of George Hilderman, where he remained until 
satisfied that no public action would be taken to 
avenge the crime. 

He then again sallied forth to watch for fresh 
opportunities for plunder and bloodshed. His 
name had become the terror of the country. No 
man felt safe with such a monster at large, and 
yet no one was ready to initiate a plan for his 
destruction. His malevolence was only equalled 
by his audacity, — and this was, if possible, sur- 
passed by his gasconade. The dark features of 
his character were unrelieved by a single generous 
or manly quality. Avarice, and a natural thirst 
for bloody adventures, controlled his life. 

About this time, a young German, by the name 
of Nicholas Tiebalt, who was in the employ of 
Messrs. Burtchy and Clark, sold to them a fine 
span of mules which were in charge of the herders 
at Dempsey's ranche. They had advanced the 
money for the purchase, and sent Tiebalt after 

Cieorge Ives. 53 

the mules. As several days elapsed without his 
return, they concluded that, like many others, he 
had probably swindled them out of the money, 
and left the country with the mules ; a conclu- 
sion all the more regretted by them, from the fact 
that he had won their confidence by his fidelity 
and sobriety. 

Nine days after Tiebalt had left Nevada, Mr. 
William Palmer, while hunting in the Pas-sam-a-ri 
valley, shot a grouse, and on going to the place 
where it fell, found it, dead, upon the frozen 
corpse of Tiebalt. He immediately went to the 
wakiup occupied by John Franck — better known 
as Long John — and George Hilderman, a quarter 
of a mile below, to obtain their assistance in 
lifting the body into the wagon. 

" I will take the body to town," said he, " and 
see if it cannot be identified." 

" We'll have nothing to do with it," said Long 
John. " Dead bodies are common enouofh in this 
country. They kill people every day in Virginia 
City, and nobody speaks of it, nobody cares. 
Why should we trouble ourselves who this man 
is, after he's dead ? " 

Shocked at this brutality. Palmer returned to 
the corpse, which he contrived to place in his 
wagon, and drove on to Nevada. The body was 

54 G-eorge Ives. 

exposed for half a day in the wagon, and was 
visited by hundreds of people from Nevada, 
Virginia City, and the other towns in the gulch. 

In reply to the question, " How did you find 
it ? " Palmer answered, — 

" It was providential. The Almighty pointed 
the way, or it would never have been found. I 
had my gun in my hand, and was looking care- 
fully about for game, when a grouse rose sud- 
denly at my approach. I had little thought of 
killing it when I fired, as the shot was a chance 
one. The bird flew some distance before it fell, 
but seeing that I had wounded it, I ran as rapidly 
as I could, and went directly to it, and found it on 
the breast of the murdered man. The body was 
lying in a clump of heavy sage-brush, completely 
concealed, — away from the road, where no one 
would ever have gone except by chance, — and 
but for the fact that it was frozen hard, would 
long before this time have been devoured by the 

The body of Tiebalt bore the marks of a small 
lariat about the throat, which had been used to 
drag him, while still living, to the place of con- 
cealment. The hands were filled with fragments 
of sage-brush, torn off in the agony of that 
terrible process ; and the bullet wound over the 

G-eorge Ives. 55 

left eye showed how the murder had been 

These appalHng witnesses to the cruelty and 
fiendishness of the perpetrator of this bloody 
deed roused the indignation of the people to a 
fearful pitch. They went to work to avenge the 
crime with an alacrity sharpened by the conscious- 
ness of that long and criminal neglect on their 
part, but for which it might have been averted. 
They felt themselves to be, in some degree, parti- 
cipants in the diabolical tragedy. In the presence 
of that dead body the re-action commenced, which 
knev/ no abatement, until the country was entirely 
freed of its bloodthirsty persecutors. That same 
evening, twenty-five citizens of Nevada subscribed 
an obligation of mutual support and protection, 
mounted their horses, and, under the leadership of 
a competent man, at ten o'clock started in pursuit 
of the murderer. Obtainino; an accession of one 
good man on their route, and avoiding Dempsey's 
by a hill trail, they rode six miles beyond it to a 
cabin, and with the aid of its proprietor found 
their way to the point of destination. At an 
early hour in the morning, they crossed Wisconsin 
creek, breaking through the frozen surface, and 
emerging from it with clothing perfectly rigid 
from frost and wet. A mile beyond this they 

56 George Ives. 

were ordered to alight and stand by their horses 
until daybreak. An hour or more passed, when 
they remounted and rode quietly on, until in sight 
of Long John's wakiup. A dog was heard to 
bark ; and in anticipation of the alarm it might 
occasion, they dashed forward at full speed, sur- 
rounding the wakiup, each man halting with his 
gun bearing upon it. Jumping from his horse, 
the leader discovered eight or ten men wrapped 
in their blankets, sleeping in front of the 
entrance. Raising his voice, he exclaimed, — 

" The first man that rises will get a quart of 
buckshot in him before he can say ' Jack Robin- 
son.' " 

It was too dark to distinguish the sleepers. 
With half of his company at his back, he strode 
on to the entrance. Peering into the darkness, 
he asked, — 

" Is ^ Long John ' here?" 

" I'm here," responded a voice, instantly recog- 
nized to be that of the person addressed. " What 
do you want ? " 

" I want you," was the rejoinder. " Come out 

" Well," said John, " I guess I know what you 
want me for." 

" Probably," replied the leader. " But hurry 
up. We've no time to lose." 

George Ives. 57 

" One moment. I'll be with you as soon as I 
can get on my moccasins," said John. 

" Be quick about it," shouted the leader. 

" Long John " was taken in charge by the 
company, and as soon as it was light enough to 
enable them to sse distinctly, the leader, with four 
men, escorted him to the spot where Tiebalt was 
found. The remainder of the company kept 
guard over the men found sleeping near the 
wakiup. When they arrived upon the ground, 
the leader said to him, — 

" Long John, we have arrested you for the 
murder of Nicholas Tiebalt. We believe you to 
be guilty, and have brought you up here to the 
spot where his body was found to hear what you 
have to say." 

Palmer, who was one of the company, then 
proceeded to explain all the circumstances con- 
nected with the discovery, the position of the 
body, and the conversation he held with Long 
John when he applied to him for assistance. 

" Boys," said John, in a serious tone, " I did 
not do it. As God shall judge me, I did not." 

One man, more excited than the rest, now 
began handling his pistol, saying to John, mean- 
while, — 

" Long John, you had better prepare for 

53 George Ives. 

another world." What more he might have said, 
or what done, it is easy to conceive, had he not 
been interrupted by the leader, who, steppmg for- 
ward, remarked, — 

" This won't do. If there is anything to be 
done, let us all be together." 

Long John was then taken aside by three of 
the company, who sat down in the faint morning 
light to examine him. Just as they were seated, 
they saw through the haze at no great distance, 
" Black Bess," the mule which Tiebalt rode from 
Nevada when he started for Dempsey's. She 
seemed to be there at this opportune moment as a 
dumb witness to the assassination of her master. 
Pointing to the animal, one of the men inquired, — 
" John, whose mule is that ? " 
" That's the mule that Tiebalt rode down here," 
he answered. 

" John," was the reply, " you know whose mule 

that is. Things look dark for you. You had 

better be thinking of your condition now." 

" I am innocent," murmured John. 

The mule was caught and led up to him. 

" Where are the other two mules ? " was the next 


" I do not know," he replied. 

" John," said his interrogator, " you had better 

G-eorge Ives. 59 

he looking forward to another world. You are 
* played out ' in this one, sure." 

" I did not commit that crime," was his reply, 
" and if you'll give me a chance, I'll clear myself." 

The leader now said to him, " John, you can 
never do it, for you knew of a man lying dead 
here, close to your home for nine days, and never 
reported his murder. You deserve hanging for 
that alone. Why didn't you come and tell the 
people of Virginia City ? " 

" I was afraid," said John. " It would have 
been as much as my life was worth to have done 
it. I dared not." 

" Afraid ? Whom were you afraid of ? " in- 
quired the leader. 

" I Avas afraid of the men around here," he 

"What men? Who are they ?" persisted the 

" I dare not tell who they are," said John, in a 
frightened tone : " there's one of them around 

" But you must tell, if you would save your- 
self. Where is the one you speak of?" 

" There's one at the wakiup, — the one that 
killed Nick Tiebalt." 

" Who is he ? What's his name ? " 

60 Greorge Ives. 

" George Ives," said John, after a moment's 

" Is he down at the wakiup ?" 

" Yes : I left him there when I came out." 

"Men," said the leader, addressing them, 
" stay here and keep watch over John, while I 
go down and arrest Ives." 

Selecting from the number at the wakiup a 
person answering the description of Ives, he asked 
his name, which was very promptly given. 

" I want you," said the leader. 

" What do you want me for ? " inquired Ives. 

" To go to Virginia City," rejoined the leader. 

" All right," said Ives : " I expect I'll have to 
go." He was immediately taken in charge by the 

" Old Tex" was standing near by at the time, 
and the leader turning to him, said, — 

" I believe we shall want you, too." The 
ruffian made an impudent reply, to which the 
leader simply rejoined, — 

" You must consider yourself under arrest," — 
words whose fearful import he understood too 
well to disobey. 

The other men now emerofed from their blan- 
kets. They were Alex Carter, Bob Zachary, 
Whiskey Bill, and Johnny Cooper, and two 

George Ives. 61 

inoffensive persons who had fallen in with them 
the evening before, and craved permission to pass 
the night under their protection. Fortunately, 
these confiding individuals had no money, and 
escaped assassination ; but when told of the 
character of their entertainers, one of them, 
pointing to Carter, remarked, — 

" There's one good man, anyhow. I knew him 
on the other side of the mountains, where he was 
a packer, and there was no better man on the 
Pacific slope." 

Just at this moment, the leader saw some 
movement which indicated to him that a rescue 
of the three prisoners would be attempted by 
their comrades, and in a loud tone of command, 
said, — 

" Every man take his gun and keep it." 

Five men were ordered to search the wakiup, 
and the others, meanwhile, to keep off intruders. 
The searchers soon came out with seven drasoon 
and navy revolvers, nine shot-guns, and thirteen 
rifles, as the fruit of their spoil. Among other 
weapons was the pistol taken from Leroy South- 
mayd at the time of the coach robbery described 
in a previous chapter. Having completed the 
search and broken up the nest of the marauders, 
the scouting party started with their prisoners on 

62 Greorge Ives. 

the return to Nevada. At Dempsey's they found 
George Hilderman, who, after offering various 
excuses, consented, under the mild persuasion of 
a revolver, to accompany them. The prisoners 
were disarmed but not bound, nor prevented from 
riding at pleasure among their captors. A 
stranger, on seeing or joining with the cavalcade 
while in motion, would never have supposed that 
it was an escort with four murderers in charge ; 
nor, from the merry, jovial conversation and song 
singing of the company, as it rode gayly and 
rapidly onward, have distinguished the accusers 
from the accused. Whenever the subject of his 
offence was mentioned, Ives asserted his innocence, 
and declared that he would be only too happy to 
have an opportunity to prove it. With a fair 
trial by civil authority in Virginia City, he had 
no fear of the result ; but as he once had the 
misfortune to kill a favorite dog in Nevada, he 
felt that he would have the prejudices of the 
people against him if put upon trial there. This 
idea was elaborated, because if adopted, Plummer, 
being sheriff, would have the selection of the 
men from whom the jury would be impanelled. 
Ives affected great amiability and a ready compli- 
ance with every order and request made by his 
captors. One subject suggested another, and 

G-eorge Ives. 63 

many of the rough and pleasant phases of 
mountain life passed in review, until that of 
racing, and the comparative speed of their horses, 
was introduced. On this theme Ives was specially 
eloquent, and being mounted on his own pony, 
which had some local popularity as a racer, he 
ventured finally to propose a trial of speed with 
several of the guard, and even challenged them 
to race with him. After one or two short scrub 
races, in wliicii he suffered himself to be beaten, 
the spirit of the race-course seemed suddenly to 
animate the company, and, one after another, all 
were soon engaged in the exciting sport. It 
increased in interest and excitement for several 
miles, and until within a short distance of Daly's 
ranclie. At this point, Ives's horse, which had 
been kept under before, was now pressed to his 
utmost speed ; and when the party were least pre- 
pared for it, they saw him not only as the winner 
in the race, but leading the cavalcade, and bearing 
his master away at a fearfully rapid rate over the 
level stretch towards Daly's. Instantly, every 
horse was urged into the pursuit. On rode the 
desperado, and on followed the now broken 
column of scouts, two of whom pressed him so 
closely that he could not stop long enough at the 
ranche to exchange his pony for his favorite 

64 George Ives. 

horse, which, by order of some of his friends 
who had pushed on from the wakiup in advance 
of the scouts, had been saddled and was standing 
ready for his use. His pursuers, more fortunate, 
found a fresh horse and mule standing there, 
which had come down from Virginia City. These 
they mounted, and resuming the pursuit, when 
three miles away from the main road near the 
Bivins gulch mountains, they saw the hotly 
pressed fugitive jump from his exhausted pony, 
and take refuge among the rocks of an adjacent 
ravine. Quicker than it can be told, they alighted, 
and, fresher on foot than the jaded steeds, they 
were soon standing on the edge of the sheltering 
hollow. Ives was nowhere visible. Certain that 
he was near, Burtchy and Jack Wilson plunged 
into the ravine, and commenced a separate search 
among the rocks. It was of brief duration, for 
Burtchy soon discovered him, crouching behind 
a large bowlder, and directed him to come out 
and surrender himself. 

Ives laughingly obeyed, and in a wheedling 
manner was approaching Burtchy, who was 
separated from his comrade, evidently with the 
purpose of wresting his gun from him. Burtchy 
understood the movement, and with his eye still 
coursing the barrel, now but a few feet from the 

G-eorge Ives. 65 

heart it would have been emptied into in a 
moment more, he said, — 

"That is far enough, Mr. Ives. Now stand 
fast, or I shall spill your precious life-blood very 

Wilson, who had been searching in a different 
direction, now came up and aided in securing the 
prisoner, with whom they soon rejoined the rest 
of the company. The two hours which had 
elapsed between the escape and recapture, were 
pregnant with wisdom for the almost disheartened 

" Let us raise a pole and hang him at once," 
said one of them, as the captors rode up with 
their prisoner. 

Several voices raised in approval of this 
recommendation, were at once silenced by a very 
decided negative from the remainder of the com- 
pany. Ives, meantime, commenced chatting gayly 
with the crowd, and treated them to a " drink all 
round." The cavalcade, formed in a hollow 
square, with their prisoner in the centre, then rode 
quietly on to Nevada, arriving soon after sunset. 

gg Trial of G-eorge Ives. 



Trial of George Ives —Attempts to prove an Alibi 
-LoxG John turns State's Evidence - Suspense 
-Fearlessness of Colonel Sanders - Conviction 
-Appeals for Delay - A Kescue Imminent- 

Intelligence of the capture of Ives preceded 
the arrival of the scouts at Nevada. That town 
was full of people when they entered with their 
prisoners. A discussion between the citizens ot 
Virginia City and Nevada, growing out ot the 
claims asserted by each to the custody and trial 
of the prisoners, after much protestmg by the 
friends of Ives, resulted in their detention at 
Nevada. They were separated and chained, and 
a strong inside and outside guard placed over 
them The excitement was intense; and the 
roughs, alarmed for the fate of their comrades, 
despatched Clubfoot George to Bannack with a 
message to Plummer, requesting him to come at 
once to Nevada, and demand the prisoners for 

Trial of Creorge Ives. 67 

trial by the civil authorities. By means of fre- 
quent relays provided at the several places of ren- 
dezvous of the robbers on the route, he performed 
the journey before morning. Johnny Gibbons, a 
rancher, in sympathy with Ives, proceeded imme- 
diately to Virginia City, and secured the legal 
assistance of Ritchie and Smith, the latter being 
the same individual who had figured in the 
defence of the Dillingham murderers. But the 
time for strategy was over, — the people were de- 
termined there should be no delay. 

Early the next morning, the road leading 
through the gulch was filled with people hasten- 
ing- from all the towns and minino^ settlements to 
Nevada. Before ten o'clock, fifteen hundred or 
two thousand had assembled and were standing in 
the partially congealed mud of the only public 
thorouirhfare of the town. The weather was 
pleasant for the season, with no snow, but a little 
frostwork of ice bordered the streams, and the 
sun shone with an October warmth and serenity. 
The urchins of the neighborhood were dodging 
in and out among the crowd, in merry pastime : 
and the great gathering, with all its appointments, 
wore more of a commemorative than retributory 
aspect. And as this was the day preceding 
" Forefathers' Day," one unacquainted with the 

68 Trial of G-eorge Ives. 

sterner matters in hand, might readily have mis- 
taken it for an old-time New England festival. 
The illusion, however, would have been instantly 
dispelled on listening to the various opinions ad- 
vanced by the miners, while arranging the mode 
of trial. It was finally determined that the in- 
vestigation should be made in the presence of the 
entire assemblage, — the miners reserving the 
final decision of all questions. To avoid all in- 
justice to people or prisoners, an advisory commis- 
sion of twelve men from each of the districts was 
appointed ; and W. H. Patton of Nevada, and W. 
Y. Pemberton of Virginia City, were selected to 
take notes of the testimony. 

Col. Wilbur F. Sanders and Hon. Charles S. 
Bagg, attorneys, appeared on behalf of the prose- 
cution, and Messrs. Alexander Davis and J. M. 
Thurmond for the prisoners. Ives was the first 
prisoner put upon trial. It was late in the after- 
noon of the 19tli before the examination of wit- 
nesses commenced. The prisoner, secured by 
chains, was seated beside his counsel. The re- 
mainder of that day, and all the day following, 
had been spent; and when the crowd assembled 
on the morning of the 21st, the prospect for 
another day of unprofitable wrangling, long 
speeches, captious objections, and personal alterca- 

Principal Prosecutor of George Ives. 

Trial of G-eorge Ives. 69 

tions, was as promising as the day before ; but the 
patience of the miners being exhausted, they 
informed the court and people that the trial must 
close at three o'clock that afternoon. This an- 
nouncement was received with great satisfaction. 

I am unable from any facts in my possession to 
recapitulate the testimony. Long John was ad- 
mitted to testify under the rule of law regulating 
the reception of State's evidence. Among other 
things it was established that Ives had said in a 
boastful manner to his associates in crime, — 

"When I told the Dutchman I was going to 
kill him, he asked me for time to pray. I told 
him to kneel down then. He did so, and I shot 
him through the head just as he commenced his 

Two alibis set up in defence failed of proof, 
because of the infamous character of the wit- 
nesses. Many developments of crimes committed 
jointly by the prisoner and some of his sympa- 
thizino- friends, were made, which had the effect 
to drive the latter from the Territory before the 
close of the trial, but for which his conviction 
might possibly have been avoided. 

The prisoner was unmoved throughout the 
trial. Not a shade of fear disturbed the immo- 
bility of his features. Calm and self-possessed, 

70 Trial of George Ives. 

he saw the threads of evidence woven into strands, 
and those strands twisted into coils as inextricable 
as they were condemnatory, and he looked out 
upon the stern and frigid faces of the men who 
were to determine his fate with a o-aze more de- 
liant than any he encountered. There were those 
near him who were melted to tears at the revela- 
tion of his cruelty and bloodthirstiness ; there 
were even those among his friends who betrayed 
in their blanched lineaments their own horror at 
his crimes ; but he, the central figure, equally in- 
different to both, sat in their midst, as inflexible 
as an image of stone. 

The scene, by its associations and objects, could 
not be otherwise than terribly impressive to all 
who were actors in it ; it wanted none of the 
elements, either of epic force or tragic fury, which 
form the basis of our noblest poems. A whole 
community, burning under repeated outrages, sit- 
ting in trial on one of an unknown number of 
desperate men, whose strength, purposes, even 
whose persons, were wrapped in mystery ! How 
many of that surging crowd now gathered around 
the crime-covered miscreant, might rush to his 
rescue the moment his doom should be pronounced, 
no one could even conjecture. No man felt cer- 
tain that he knew the sentiments of his neighbor. 

Trial of Creorge Ives. 71 

None certainly knew that the adherents of the 
criminal were weaker, either in numbers or power, 
than the men of law and order. It was night, 
too, before the testimony closed ; and in the pale 
moonlight, and glare of the trial fire, suspicion 
transformed honest men into ruffians, and filled 
the ranks of the guilty with hundreds of re- 

The jury retired to deliberate upon their ver- 
dict. An oppressive feeling, almost amounting 
to dread, fell upon the now silent and anxious 
assemblage. Every eye was turned upon the 
prisoner, seemingly the only person unaffected by 
surrounding circumstances. Moments grew into 
hours. " What detains the jury ? Why do 
they not return ? Is not the case clear enough ? " 
These questions fell upon the ear in subdued 
tones, as if their very utterance breathed of fear. 
In less than half an hour they came in with 
solemn faces, with their verdict, — Guilty ! — but 
one juror dissenting. 

" Thank God for that ! A righteous ver- 
diet!" and other like expressions broke from the 
crowd, while on the outer edge of it, amidst min- 
gled curses, execrations, and howls of indignation, 
and the quick click of guns and revolvers, one of 
the ruffians exclaimed, — 

72 Trial of George Ives. 

" The murderous, strangling- villains dare not 
hang him, at any rate." 

Just at this moment a motion was made to the 
miners, " that the report be received, and the jury 
discharged," which, with some little opposition 
from the prisoner's lawyers, was carried. 

Some of the crowd now became clamorous for 
an adjournment ; but failing in this, the motion 
was then made, " that the assembly adopt as their 
verdict the report of the committee." 

The prisoner's counsel sprung to their feet to 
oppose the motion, but it was carried by such a 
large majority, that the assemblage seemed at 
once to o^ather fresh life and encouraofement for 
the discharge of the solemn duty which it im- 
posed. There was a momentary lull in the pro- 
ceedings, when the people found that they had 
reached the point when the execution of the 
criminal was all that remained to be done. They 
realized that the crisis of the trial had arrived. 
On the faces of all could be read their unex- 
pressed anxiety concerning the result. What 
man among them possessed the courage and com- 
manding power equal to the exigencies of the 
occasion ! 

At this critical moment, the necessity for 
prompt action, which had so disarranged and 

Trial of George Ives. 73 

defeated the consummation of the trial of Stin- 
son and Lyons, was met by Colonel Sanders, one 
of the counsel for the prosecution, who now 
moved, — 

" That George Ives be forthwith hanged by the 
neck, until he be dead." 

This motion so paralyzed the ruffians, that, 
before they could recover from their astonishment 
at its being offered, it was carried with even 
greater unanimity than either of the previous 
motions, the people having increased in courage 
as the work progressed. Some of the friends of 
Ives now came up, with tears in their eyes, to bid 
him farewell. One or two of them gave way to 
immoderate grief. Meantime, Ives himself, begin- 
ning to realize the near approach of death, 
begged piteously for a delay until morning, mak- 
ing all those pathetic appeals which on such occa- 
sions are hard to resist. " I want to write to my 
mother and sister," said h^ ; but when it was re- 
membered that he had written, and caused to be 
sent to his mother soon after he came to the 
country, an account of his own murder by 
Indians, in order to deceive her, no one thought 
the reason for delay a good one. 

" Ask him," said one of the crowd, as he held 
the hand of Colonel Sanders, and was in the 

74 Trial of G-eorge Ives. 

midst of a most touching appeal for delay, " ask 
him how Ions: a time he oave the Dutchman." 

He, however, made a will, giving everything to 
his counsel and companions in iniquity, to the 
entire exclusion or his mother and sisters. Sev- 
eral letters were written under his dictation by 
one of his counsel. 

In the mean time, A. B. Davis and Robert 
Hereford prepared a scaffold. The butt of a 
small pine, forty feet in length, was placed on the 
inside of a half-enclosed building standing near, 
under its rear wall, the top projecting over a 
cross-beam in front. Near the upper end was 
fastened the fatal cord, and a large dr3^-goods box 
about five feet high was placed beneath for the 

Every preparation being completed, Ives was 
informed that the time for his execution had 
come. He submitted to be led quietly to the 
drop, but hundreds of voices were raised in oppo- 
sition. The roofs of all the adjacent buildings 
were crowded with spectators. While some crie*d, 
"Hang the ruffian," others said, "Let's banish 
him," and others shouted, " Don't hang him." 
Some said, " Hang Long John. He's the real 
murderer," and occasionally was heard a threat, 
" I'll shoot the murdering souls," accompanied by 

Trial of G-eorge Ives. 75 

curses and epithets. The flash of revolvers was 
everywhere seen in the moonlight. The guards 
stood grim and firm at their posts. The miners 
cocked their guns, muttered threats against all 
who interfered, and formed a solid phalanx which 
it would have been madness to assault. 

When the culprit appeared upon the platform, 
instant stillness pervaded the assembly. The 
rope was adjusted. The usual question, " Have 
you anything to say ? " was addressed to the 
2)risoner, who replied in a distinct voice, — 

" I am innocent of this crime. Alex Carter 
killed the Dutchman." 

This was the only time he accused any one ex- 
cept Long John. 

He then expressed a wish to see Long John, 
and his sympathizers yelled in approbation ; but 
as an attempted rescue was anticipated, the re- 
quest was denied. 

When all the formalities and last requests were 
over, the order was given to the guard, — 

" Men, do your duty." 

The click of a hundred gun-locks was heard, as 
the guard levelled their weapons upon the crowd, 
and the box flew from under the murderer's feet, 
as he swung " in the night breeze, facing the pale 
moon, that lighted up the scene of retributive 

76 Trial of Creorge Ives. 

justice." The crowd of rescuers fled in terror at 
the click of the guns. 

" He is dead," said the judge, who was standing 
near him. " His neck is broken." 

Henry SjDivey, the juror who voted against the 
conviction of Ives, was a thoroughly honest and 
conscientious man. He was not satisfied that the 
evidence showed Ives to be guilty of the murder of 
Tiebalt, and as this was the specific charge against 
him, he could not vote against his conscience. He 
said that if Ives had been tried as a road agent, 
he would have voted for his conviction. 

The highest praise is due to Colonel Sanders for 
the fearlessness and energy he displayed in the con- 
duct of this trial ; for it furnished an example which 
was not lost upon the law and order men in all 
their subsequent efforts to rid the Territory of the 

Result of lues's Execution. 77 


Effect of Ives's Execution — Loxg John and "Tex" 

LANCE Committee — Pursuit of Alex Carter — 
Meet with Yager (''Red") in Deer Lodge — 
Disappointment — Return hy Way of Point op 
Rocks — Arrest of "Red "at Rattlesnake, and 
of Brown at Dempsey's — "Red" discloses the 
Names of jMany of the Members of Plummer's 
Band — " Red " and Brown executed on the 

The confederates of Ives spared no efforts, 
while his trial was in progress, to save him. 
When intimidation failed, they appealed to sym- 
pathy ; and when that proved unavailing, it was 
their intention, by a desperate onslaught at the 
last moment, to attempt a forcible rescue. They 
were deterred from this by the rapid cKcking of 
the gun-locks at the moment of the execution. 
All through the weary hours of the trial, their 
hopes were encouraged with the belief that 

78 Result of Ives's -Execution. 

Plummer, their chief, would come, and demand 
the custody of Ives ; and if refused, obtain it by 
a writ of habeas corjnis, in the name of the civil 
authorities of the Territory. But if he obeyed 
the summons of Clubfoot Georgfe, which is 
at best problematical, he acted no consj^icuous 
part. A saloon-keeper by the name of Clinton 
w^as very positive that he saw him drink at his bar 
a few moments before the execution, and that he 
immediately went out to lead the " forlorn hope " 
of the roughs. Some other person was probably 
mistaken for the robber chief, as he v/as not rec- 
ognized by any others of the crowd present at the 
time. In fact he had enough to do, to make provis- 
ion for his own safety ; for Rumor, with her thou- 
sand tongues, had carried the intelligence of the 
arrest of Ives to Bannack, before the arrival there 
of Clubfoot George. He found the people wild 
with excitement over a version of the arrest, which 
Plummer himself had already circulated, coupled 
with a statement that a Vigilance Committee had 
been formed at Virginia City, a number of the 
best citizens hanged, and that from three hundred 
to five hundred armed men were on the march 
to Bannack, with the intention of hanging him, 
Ned Ray, Buck Stinson, George Crismau, A. J. 
McDonald, Thomas Pitt, and others. This antici- 

Result of Ives's Execution. 79 

patory announcement was made with the hope 
that by mingling the respectable names of Cris- 
man, McDonald, and Pitt, with those of Stinson, 
Ray, and his own, he might divert, or at least 
divide, the attention which would otherwise incul- 
pate only the real villains. It produced a momen- 
tary sensation, but failed of effect. 

George Ives was no common desperado. Born 
of respectable parents, he was reared at Ives's 
Grove, Racine County, Wisconsin. The fore- 
ground of his life was blameless ; and it was not 
until he came to the West, that he developed into 
the moral monster we have seen. His career as a 
miner in California, in 1857-8, though wild and 
reckless, was unstained by crime. No accusation 
of dishonesty was made against him, until after his 
employment as a herder of government mules 
belonging to the military post at Walla Walla, in 
Washington Territory. The heavy storms of that 
latitude, often destructive to herds in the moun- 
tains, afforded him opportunity from time to time, 
by reporting the fatality to the herd in his charge, 
greater than it was, to obtain for himself quite a 
large number of animals. The deception was not 
discovered until after his departure. He was by 
turns a gambler and a rowdy in all the mining 
settlements made on Salmon river. His down- 

80 Result of Ives's Execution. 

ward course, once commenced, was very rapid. 
On one occasion he surprised the man who had 
employed him as a herder, by riding into a saloon 
kept by him, at Elk City. After the man had 
seized the horse by the bridle, Ives drew and 
cocked his pistol to shoot him, but was prevented 
by a fortunate recognition of his old employer. 
He apologized, and withdrew ; and on several 
occasions afterwards, proffered him the gray horse 
he rode as a present, which the gentleman, con- 
vinced that Ives had stolen the animal, as often 
declined to accejDt. He was only twenty-seven 
years of age at the close of his bloody career in 
Montana. His appearance was prepossessing. In 
stature nearly six feet, with light complexion, 
neatly shaven face, and lively blue eyes, no one 
would ever have suspected him of dishonesty, 
much less of murder, and cold-blooded heartless- 
ness. And yet, probably, few men of his age 
had ever been guilty of so many fiendish crimes. 
George Hilderman was fortunate in being put 
upon trial immediately after the execution of Ives. 
Ten days later he would have been hanged upon 
the same evidence. It was proved that he knew 
of the murder of Tiebalt, and of the murder of 
the unknown man near Cold Spring ranche, 
neither of which he had divulgr-ed. He had even 

Result of Ives's Ex'^cution. 81 

concealed the stolen mules, and knew the per- 
sons enofasred in the stag-e robberies, and was found 
guilty upon general principles, but recommended 
to mercy. Upon being informed of the verdict, 
he dropped upon his knees, and exclaimed, — 

" My God ! is it so ! " 

He then made a statement confirming all that 
Lono- John had testified to concerning* Ives. 

The people commiserated his hajjless condition. 
He was an old man, weak, somewhat imbecile. 
They concluded that his silence had been enforced 
by the threats of Ives and his associates, and that, 
as there was no proof implicating him directly 
with robbery or murder, they would sentence him 
to banishment from the Territory. Ten days were 
given him in which to leave. Glad to escape with 
his life, he applied to Plummer for assistance. 
Plummer advised him to remain ; but the old man 
took wiser counsel from his fears. He decided to 
go. Plummer gave him a pony and provisions, 
and he left Montana forever. 

Hilderman was possessed of a coarse humor, which 
he had lost no opportunity to demonstrate, while a 
sojourner at Bannack. It made him quite a favor- 
ite with the miners, until they became suspicious 
of his viUanous propensities. He was also a 
notorious " bummer," and was oftener indebted 

82 Result of Ives's JExecution. 

to his humor, which was always at command, than 
his pocket, which was generally empty, for some- 
thing to eat. In width, his mouth was a deform- 
ity, and the double row of huge teeth firmly set 
in his strong jaws gave to his countenance an 
animal expression truly repulsive. He was the 
original of the story of '' The Great American 
Pie-biter." This feat of spreading his jaws so as to 
bite through seven of Kustar's dried-apple pies, had 
been frequently performed by him, in satisfaction 
of the wager he was ever on hand to make of his 
ability to do it. On one occasion, however, he 
was destined to be defeated. A miner, who had 
been victimized by him, arranged with Kustar, the 
proprietor of the Bannack Bakery, to have two 
of the pies inserted in the pile without removing 
the tin plates in which they had been baked, the 
edges of which were concealed by the overlapping 
crusts. Hilderman approached the pile, and 
spreading his enormous mouth, soon spanned it 
with his teeth. The crunch which followed, 
arrested by the metal, was unsuccessful. He 
could not understand it, but, despite the vice-like 
pressure, the jaws would not close. The trick not 
being discovered, he paid the wager, declaring 
that Kustar made the toughest pie-crust he had 
ever met with. 

Result of Ives's Execution. 83 

Long John purchased his freedom by his testi- 
mony, and nothing appearing against " Tex " at 
the time, he also was released. 

The execution of Ives had a terrifying effect 
upon the ruffian horde ; though a few of them 
put a bold face upon the matter and were as loud 
in their threats as ever. The prominent actors in 
that drama were singled out for slaughter, but no 
serious instance of personal assault occurred. The 
ruffians felt secure, as long as they were unknown, 
and the only revelation yet made was insufficient 
to implicate any of them with the numerous mur- 
ders and robberies that had been committed. 
Facts had appeared upon the trial, making it 
probable that Carter was accessory to the murder 
of Tiebalt. The assassination of Dillingham was 
unavenged. Either of these causes, in the ex- 
cited state of the public mind, was sufficient to 
remind the people that the work they had to per- 
form was but just begun. If what they had 
done was right, it would be wrong to permit 
others equally gnilty to escape. Carter, Stinson, 
and Lyons must be punished. 

This spontaneity of thought brought a few of 
the citizens of Virginia and Nevada into consulta- 
tion the day following the execution ; and before 
the close of the succeeding day, a league was 

84 Result of Ives's Execution. 

entered into, in which all classes of the community 
united, for the punishment of crime and the pro- 
tection of the people. Before the organization 
of this committee was completed, a fresh impulse 
was given to the puhlic indignation on receipt of 
intelligence that Lloyd Magruder, a merchant of 
Elk City, and the independent Democratic candi- 
date for Cono'ress, who had been tradino^ in Vir- 
ginia City during the fall, had, while on his 
return to his home, with four others, been cruelly 
murdered and robbed by a number of the gang, 
in the Bitter Root mountains. Full particulars of 
this terrible tragedy will be given in the two fol- 
lowing chapters. 

Magruder was very popular with the people of 
Virginia City. The committee went to work im- 
mediately. Twenty-four of them, well mounted, 
and provisioned for a long ride, started in pursuit 
of Carter. That villain, accompanied by William 
Bunton, Graves, and several others, in anticipa- 
tion of arrest, left as soon as the trial of Ives was 
over, for the west side of the range. The pur- 
suers followed on his trail as rapidly as possible, 
into the Deer Lodge valley. While riding down 
the valley, the vanguard of the scouts met Eras- 
lus Yager, who from the redness of his hair and 
whiskers was familiarly called " Red." He in- 

Result of Ives's Execution. 85 

formed tliem that Carter and his companions were 
lying drunk at Cottonwood (since Deer Lodge 
City), and that they avowed themselves good for 
at least thirty of any men that might be sent to 
arrest them. 

The party had suffered severely from the wintry 
blasts and storms, especially while crossing the 
divide ; and they were glad that both strategy and 
comfort favored their detention for the next 
twenty hours, at the ranche of John Smith, seven- 
teen miles above Cottonwood. At three o'clock 
in the afternoon of the next day, they left for 
Cottonwood, expecting to surprise and capture 
the fugitive without difficulty. How great was 
their disappointment, to find that both he and 
his companions had fled. A distant camp-fire in 
the mountains at a later hour convinced them 
that further pursuit at that time would end 
in failure. They learned upon inquiry that the 
ruffians had received a message from Virginia 
City, warning them of the approach of the 
Vio;ilantes. And this intellio'ence was afterwards 
confirmed by a letter which was found at their 
camping-ground, the writing of which was recog- 
nized as that of one George Brown, who was 
supposed to belong to the gang. It afterwards 
transpired that " Red " or Yager was the messen- 

86 Result of Ives's Execution. 

ger who brought this letter, and that he had killed 
two horses on the expedition. Disappointed in the 
object of their search, the scouts now determined 
to return by the way of Beaverhead Rock, and, 
if possible, arrest both Brown and " Red " for 
their criminal interference. 

Their sufferings from exposure to the keen 
December storms were intense. Arrivinof at 
Beaverhead, they camped in the willows, without 
shelter or fire, except such as could be enkindled 
with green willows. Some of their animals 
strayed to a canon to escape the severity of the 
storm. After remaining in camp at this place for 
two days, they ascertained that " Red " was at 
Rattlesnake, twenty miles distant. A small party 
of volunteers started immediately to arrest him, 
while the others, on the route to Virginia City, 
stopped at Dempsey's to await their return. 

At Stone's ranche the pursuers obtained fresh 
horses from the stage stock of Oliver & Co., and 
resumed their dismal journey to Rattlesnake. 
The weather was intensely cold, but this offered 
no impediment to the pursuit of their journey. 
Arriving at Rattlesnake, they surrounded the 
ranche, while one of their number entered. Stin- 
son and Ray, both present, had in their capacity 
as deputies of Plummer arrested a man, whom 

Result of Ives's Execution. 87 

they held in custody. Stinson, who disliked his 
visitor, confronted him with his revolver ; but 
seeing a like implement already in the hands of 
the scout, who " had the drop " on him, he 
returned his weapon to its sheath. 

" I have come to arrest ' Red ' for horse- 
stealing," said the scout. 

On hearing this, Stinson and Ray released their 
prisoner, on his promise to go immediately to 
Bannack and surrender himself. The man started 
forthwith to comply with his promise. 

Meantime the scout joined his party outside, 
and they all rode hurriedly to a wakiup a few hun- 
dred yards up the creek, which they surrounded 
while the leader entered, observing as he did so, — 

" It's a mighty cold night. Won't you let a 
fellow warm himself ? " Advancing towards the 
fire, his eyes fell upon " Red." Raising his 
revolver, he said, " You're the man I'm looking 
for. Come with me." 

" Red " asked no questions, and exhibited no 
terror. Putting on his hat, and gathering his 
blankets under his arm, he did as he was ordered, 
with as much apparent nonchalance as if he 
were going on a holiday excursion. When told 
that he would be taken to Virginia City, he 
simply manifested by a glance that he fully com- 

88 Result of Ives's Execution. 

prehended the situation, and acted in all respects, 
while a prisoner, like one who knew that his doom 
was irrevocable. The scouts took him down to 
the ranche, where they passed the night. 

They left early the next morning ; " Red " 
unarmed, on his own horse, and riding beside one 
of the scouts. The dreary ride through snow and 
wind was enlivened by the stumbling mule of the 
leader, which on one occasion roUed over, and 
after safely depositing its rider, made two or three 
somersaults down a steep bank, plunging head- 
long into a snowdrift at the bottom, which 
completely enveloped him. 

At Dempsey's the captors joined the main 
party. Fatigued with the journey through the 
drifts, they took supper, provided for the security 
of their prisoner, and enjoyed a night's repose. 
Brown, the man who had written the warning 
missive to Carter, was the bar-keej)er, and a sort 
of (general factotum of the ranche. He had been 
for some time suspected as a petty thief and 
robber, without the courage needful to engage in 
<rraver offences. The Vio^ilantes saw that he was 
terrified, as soon as they arrived ; though uncon- 
scious of the evidence they had obtained against 

In the morning the captain of the Vigilantes, 

Result of Ives's Execution. 89 

in a private interview with " Red," charged him 
with being connected with the robber horde. 
" Red " denied all knowledge of its existence. 

" Why, then," inquired the captain, " should 
you have been at such pains to apprise the rascals 
that the Vigilantes were on their track?" 

" It was the most natural thing in the world," 
" Red " replied. " I stopped here on my way to 
Deer Lodge, and Brown, on being told of my 
destination, asked me to take a letter to Alex 
Carter and some friends. I knew no reason why 
I should refuse, and did so." 

Brown was then called in, and " Red " repeated 
the statement in his presence. Brown did not 
deny it, but betrayed by his blanched cheeks and 
trembling limbs that it was true. The captain, 
laying his hand upon his shoulder, and looking 
him steadily in the eye, said, — 

"Brown, you must consider yourself under 
arrest; we will at once proceed to a full investi- 
gation of this matter. It looks very dark for 

He was put under guard, to await the termina- 
tion of the trial of " Red," which was at once 
commenced. When this was over, Brown was 
subjected to a second examination before the 
entire company. 

90 Reifult of Ives's Execution. 

" Did you write this letter of warning ? " in- 
quired the ca}3tain. 

"I did," replied Brown. 


" ' Red ' came to Dempsey's and said he was 
going to see the boj^s, and asked me if I had any 
word to send them, offering to carry it for me. I 
wrote them that the Vigilantes were after them, 
and advised them to leave." 

No other explanation was given ; and on their 
own confessions, and some additional proof show- 
ing that " Red " had made inconsistent statements 
to different persons belonging to the Vigilantes, 
while passing them on his return from Cotton- 
wood, with a view to deceive them as to the 
whereabouts of Carter, — the company withdrew 
to the Stinking-water bridge, to dccidG upon the 
guilt or innocence of the prisoners. 

" Boys," said the captain, addressing the assem- 
blage, "you have heard what these men have had 
to say for themselves. I want you to vote ac- 
cording to your consciences. If you think 
they ought to suffer punishment, say so ; if you 
think they ought to go free, vote for it. Be 
very careful to do the right thing for yourselves, 
as well as for the prisoners. All those in favor 
of hanging them, step to the right side of the 

Result of Ives's Execution. 91 

bridge; and those who are for letting them go, 
to the left side." 

So thoroughly convinced were the men, of the 
guilt and complicity of the prisoners with the 
road-agent gang, that every man passed immedi- 
ately to the right. 

The culprits started immediately, under the 
escort of seven men and a leader, in the direction 
of Viro'inia City. Two hours afterwards they 
arrived at Lorrain's ranche, where they were 
joined at sundown by the other members of the 
company, who, after a brief consultation, rode on 
to Virginia City. After they had gone, the leader 
lay down in his blanket on the parlor floor, to 
snatch a few hours of repose. Precisely at ten 
o'clock, he was awakened by a slight shake, and 
the words, — 

"The hour has arrived. We mean business, 
and are waiting for you." 

He arose and went to the bar-room, where 
Brown and "Red" lay in the corner asleep. 
" Red " was the first to awaken. Rising to his 
feet, he addressed the leader in a sad and despond- 
ing tone, — 

" You have treated me like a gentleman," said 
he. "I know that my time has come. I am 
going to be hanged." 

92 Residt of Ives's Execution. 

" That's pretty rough, * Red,' " interjected the 

" Yes. It's pretty rough, but I merited it years 
ago. What I want to say is, that I know all 
about this gang. There are men in it who de- 
serve death more than I do ; but I should die 
happy, if I could see them hanged, or know it 
would be done. I don't say this to get off. I 
don't want to get off." 

" It will be better for you, ' Red,' " said the 
Vigfilantes, " at this time to grive us all the infor- 
ination in your possession, if only for the sake of 
your kind. Times have been very hard. Men 
have been shot down in broad davlisfht, not alone 
for money, or even hatred, but for mere luck and 
sport, and this must have a stop put to it." 

" I agree to it all," replied " Red." " No poor 
country was ever cursed with a more bloodthirsty 
or meaner pack of villains than this, — and I 
know them all." 

On beins: urijed bv the leader to furnish their 
names, which he said should be taken down, " Red " 
told him that, — 

Henry Plummer was chief of the band ; BiU 
Bunton, stool pigeon and second in command; 
George Brown, secretary ; Sam Bunton, roadster ; 
Cyrus Skinner, fence, spy, and roadster ; George 

Besult of Ives's Execution. 93 

Shears, horse thief, and roadster ; Frank Parish, 
horse thief and roadster ; Hayes Lyons, telegraph 
man and roadster ; Bill Hunter, telegraph man and 
roadster ; Ned Ray, council-room keeper at Ban- 
nack City; George Ives, Stephen Marshland, 
Dutch John (Wagner), Alex Carter, Whiskey 
Bill (Graves), Johnny Cooper, Buck Stinson, 
Mexican Frank, Bob Zachary, Boone Helm, 
Clubfoot George (Lane), Billy Terwiliger, Gad 
Moore, were roadsters. 

These men were bound by an oath to be true to 
each other, and were required to perform such ser- 
vices as came within the defined meaning of their 
separate positions in the band. The penalty of 
disobedience was death. If any of them, under 
any circumstances, divulged any of the secrets or 
guilty purposes of the band, he was to be followed 
and shot down at sight. The same doom was 
prescribed for any outsiders who attempted an 
exposure of their criminal designs, or arrested any 
of them for the commission of crime. Their 
great object was declared to be plunder, in all 
cases without taking life if possible ; but if mur- 
der was necessary, it was to be committed. Their 
pass-word was " Innocent." Their neckties were 
fastened with a sailor's knot, and they wore mus- 
taches and chin whiskers. He was himself a 
member of the band, but not a murderer. 

94 Result of Ives's Execution. 

Among other disclosures, " Red " attributed his 
hapless condition to Bill Hunter, at whose instiga- 
tion, years before, he had entered upon a career 
of infamy. He hoped the committee would not 
spare him. He gave the particulars of the rob- 
beries of the coaches, and the names of all 
engaged in them, and in the commission of many 
other crimes. 

After listening to this frightful narrative, and 
making such memoranda as they might need for 
future operations, the little party of Vigilantes 
carefully reconsidered the vote they had taken, 
and decided that the two culprits should be exe- 
cuted immediately. In the course of the narra- 
tive, " Red " had fully implicated Brown. In the 
Indian campaign in Minnesota in 1862, Brown 
was a scout for Gen. William R. Marshall, who 
regarded him as not a notoriously bad man, but 
as one who had little moral principle or force of 
character, and who was easily influenced by his 

Less than a quarter of a mile distant, in rear 
of Lorrain's, on a beautiful curve of the Pas- 
sam-a-ri, stood several majestic cottonwoods, by 
far the finest trees in all that region. Two, 
which stood side by side, were selected as the 
scaffolds. It was a dim starlit night, and a lantern 

Mesult of Ives's Execution. 95 

was necessary to complete the preparations for the 
execution. The cold blast from the immediate 
mountains howled fearfully as the little procession 
tramjjed through the snow, with their prisoners in 
charge, to the fatal spot. The night was not 
darker than the gloom which had settled upon the 
minds and hearts of these condemned wretches. 
" Red," however, was perfectly collected. Not a 
sigh escaped him, nor a tear dimmed his eyes. 
Brown was all excitement. He begged piteously 
for mercy, and prayed for his Indian wife and 
family. They were in Minnesota. " Red," more 
aifected by the terror and moans of his comrade 
than his own hapless condition, said to him in a 
sad but firm tone, — 

" Brown, if you had thought of this three 
years ago, you would not be here now, or give 
these boys this trouble." 

A few branches were clipped from a lower limb 
of each of the trees, and the ropes suspended. 
Two stools brought from the ranche, by being 
placed one upon the other, served the purpose of 
a drop. A Vigilante, while adjusting the noose 
to the neck of Brown, stumbled, and both he and 
Brown fell together into the snow. Recovering 
himself, he said, by way of apology, — 

" We must do better than that. Brown." 

96 Mesiilt of Ives^s Execution. 

It was a chance remark, proceeding from a 
motive which it failed to express ; better inter- 
preted by those who heard it, tlian I fear it will 
be by my readers. 

When all was ready. Brown, with the petition 
upon his lips, " God Almighty save my soul," 
was launched from the platform, and died without 
a struggle. 

" Red " witnessed the scene unmoved. When 
his turn came, and he stood upon the frail trestle, 
he looked calmly around upon his executioners. 

" I knew," said he, " that I should be followed 
and hanged, when I met the party in Deer Lodge 
valley ; but I wish you would chain me, and not 
hang me until after I have seen those punished 
who are guiltier than I." 

Just before he fell, he shook hands with all, 
and then turning to the Vigilante who had 
escorted him to Lorrain's, he said, — 

" Let me beg of you to follow and punish the 
rest of this infernal gang." 

" ' Red,' " replied the man, " we will do it, if 
there's any such thing in the book." 

" Good-by, boys," said " Red," " you're on a 
good undertaking. God bless you." 

The stools fell, and the body of the intrepid 
freebooter swung lifeless in the midnight blast. 

Lloyd Ma<jruder. 97 


Hill Beacht's Dream — Lloyd Magruder's Trip 

PLETES HIS Sales at Virginia City, and sets out on 
HIS Return — Howard, Lowry, Romaine, and Page 
employed as Assistants on the Route — The 
Brothers Chalmers, Charles Allen, and Edward 
Phillips, accompany them — Murder of Ma- 


Allen — Subsequent Plunder of the Train — 
Cruel Slaughter of the Herd — Robbers foiled 

in attempting to cross the columbia river 

They arrive at Lewiston — Recognized by 
Beachy — Leave Lewiston. 

" In the name of all that Is wonderful, Hill, 
what has kept you uj) till this late hour?" was 
the eager inquiry of Mrs. Maggie Beachy of her 
husband, when that gentleman entered his house 
at two o'clock in the morninof. 

" Well, Maggie," replied her husband, " you 
remember my dream &,bout Lloyd Magruder ? I 

98 Lloyd Magruder. 

fear it has all come true. Indeed, I am perfectly 
certain poor Lloyd has been murdered." 

"Nonsense, Hill," rejoined the wife. "Will 
you never have done with your unfounded suspi- 
cions? You will make yourself the laughing- 
stock of the whole country, and bring all the 
roughs in it about your ears, if you don't cease 
talking about Magruder." 

"I can't help it, wife," persisted Beachy, 
" Those three rascals, Doc. Howard, Chris Lowry, 
and Jim Romaine, with another hanirdopr-lookino' 
fellow, came into town to-night in disguise, and, 
under assumed names, took passage in the coach 
to Walla Walla. They followed Magruder to 
the Bannack mines, and have doubtless killed him 
while on his way home. Their cantinas are filled 
with his gold dust." 

" How improbable, Hill," said Mrs. Beachy, 
smihng. " Why, only yesterday Lloyd's wife re- 
ceived a letter from him, saying that he would not 
start for twelve days, and that he would have a 
strong company with him." 

"Well, well, Maggie, let's drop the subject. 
Time will tell whether my suspicions are correct." 

Let us inquire into the cause of Hill Beachy's 
terrible suspicion. 

Three months before this conversation occurred, 

Lloyd Magruder. 99 

Lloyd Magruder, a wealthy merchant of Elk City, 
loaded a pack train Avith merchandise, and made 
the long and dangerous journey of five hundred 
miles, by an Indian trail over the mountains to the 
Bannack mines in that part of Idaho afterwards 
embraced in the boundaries of Montana. The 
night preceding his departure. Hill Beachy, the 
landlord of the Luna House in Lewiston, a warm 
personal friend of Magruder, dreamed that he 
saw Chris Lowry dash Magruder's brains out with 
an axe. He related the dream to his wife the 
next morning, and expressed great fears for the 
safety of his friend. She was desirous of telling 
Magruder ; but as his investment was large, and he 
was ready to start upon his journey, Beachy 
thought it would only introduce a disturbing ele- 
ment into the enterprise, without effecting its 
abandonment, and expose him to the laughter 
and sneers of the public. But he did not con- 
ceal the anxiety which the dream had occasioned 
in his own mind, and was greatly relieved when 
news came, six weeks afterwards, of the safe ar- 
rival of Masrruder at Bannack. 

On the morning of the day after Magruder 
left Lewiston, Howard, Lowry, and Romaine, in 
company with Bob Zachary and three other 
roughs, departed with the avowed intention of 

100 Lloyd Magruder. 

going to Oregon. As soon, however, as they had 
proceeded a sufficient distance in that direction to 
escape observation, they turned towards Bannack, 
and after a few days' journey were joined by 
William Page, an old mountain teamster. The 
party followed on in the track of Magruder's 
train, which they overtook when within three days' 
journey of Bannack, and accompanied it to its 
place of destination. 

Magruder was disappointed, on his arrival at 
Bannack, to learn that the camp had been de- 
serted by most of the miners, who had gone to 
the extensive placer mines in Alder gulch at Vir- 
ginia City, seventy-five miles distant, where the 
writer was then residing. Three days afterwards, 
however, he was well satisfied, on his arrival there, 
to find an active mining camp of six thousand 
inhabitants, all eager to purchase his wares as 
rapidly as they could be displayed. Howard, 
Lowry, Romaine, and Page found comfortable 
quarters in the building occupied by Magruder, 
and were provided by him with employment dur- 
ing his six weeks' stay in Virginia City. No one, 
except himself, knew better than they the amount 
of his accumulations. His confidence in them 
was unbounded. On his offer to pay them two 
hundred dollars each, they had agreed to accom- 

Lloyd Magruder. 101 

pany him as assistants and guards on his return 
to Lewiston. The neg^otiations with Magruder 
for their employment were conducted by Howard, 
who was a physician of marked ability, and whose 
pleasing address was well calculated to allay all 
suspicion concerning their real motives in joining 
the party. Howard, Lowry, and Romaine, while 
at Lewiston, were classed among the vilest roughs 
of the town. The former two were understood 
to be escaped convicts from the California peni- 
tentiary. They had been concerned in numerous 
robberies, and were suspected of connection with 
Plummer's infamous gang. Magruder, whose 
residence was at Elk City, was entirely unac- 
quainted with their history, and, from the simu- 
lated fidelity of their conduct while in his employ, 
had no reason to suspect them of criminal designs. 
He was very fortunate in the disposition of his 
merchandise, realizing therefor twenty-four thou- 
sand dollars in gold dust, and a drove of seventy 
fine mules. 

A few days before his departure from Virginia 
City, Charley Allen, a successful miner, and two 
young men, brothers, by the name of Horace and 
Robert Chalmers, who had just arrived in the 
mountains from Boonville, Missouri, and William 
Phillips, an old pioneer in the country, arranged 

102 Lloyd Magruder. 

to unite their trains with his, and all make the 
trip together as one company. Romaine tried to 
dissuade Phillips from going with the others, but 
gave no reason" for what seemed to the latter a 
strange request. 

It was a brip-ht October mornino" when the train 
left Virginia City, and moved slowly down Alder 
creek, into the picturesque valley of the Pas-sam- 
a-ri. The sun shone ; the mountain atmosphere 
was crisp and exhilarating. The long plain 
stretching away to the base of the Ruby range, 
reflected upon its mirror-like surface that magni- 
ficent group of pine-covered mountains, along 
whose sides glinted in the sunbeams the bewitch- 
inof hues that <A\e them their name. Towerinsf 
on the right, rose the twin pinnacles of Ramshorn 
and Mill Creek ; and, afar in the distance, painted 
upon the horizon, was the superb outline of the 
main range of the old Rockies, and Table Moun- 
tain lifting its glittering plateau of snow far 
above the surrounding peaks. Filled with the 
inspiration naturally enkindled by these majestic 
views, the men, with all the animation and aban- 
don of uncaged schoolboys, shouted and sung as 
they galloped along and hurried the train across 
the widespread valley. Into the hills, over the 
mountains, across the streams, through the canons 

Lloyd Magruder. 108 

they scampered, entering Bannack the third day, 
just as the sun was setting-. 

Business detained them at Bannack the three 
following days. With the design of misleading 
the villains at Lewiston who might be on the 
watch for his return, Magruder sent by a company 
which left the morning after his arrival, a letter 
to his wife, telling her of his success, and that he 
would leave for home with a train strongly 
guarded, in twelve days. While he was thus 
planning the way for a safe return, Howard was 
equally busy in maturing a scheme to rob him on 
the route. This infernal project, the fruit of 
long contemplation, he now for the first time 
unfolded to Lowry and Romaine, who gave it their 
eager compliance. Meeting with Bob Zachary, 
he confided it to him ; but, on learning that it 
could not be effected without the possible murder 
of Magruder, and the four persons accompanying 
him, Zachary, villain as he was, declined all parti- 
cipation in it. It was understood by the three, 
that on the eighth day of the journey, when the 
train would make camp in the Bitter Root moun- 
tains, at a distance of one hundred miles or more 
from any white settlers, they would carry their 
diabolical design into execution. Howard de- 
clared that it could not be done without killins: 

104 ^ Lloyd Magruder. 

the five owners of the trains. Page was to be 
kept in ignorance of the plot until the eve of its 

Animated with the hope of an early re-union 
with his family, Magruder, with his companions, 
left Bannack one bright autumnal morning, and 
dashed with bis train into the manifold intricacies 
of the mountain labyrinth. The burden of care 
with which one is oppressed, while travelling 
through an uninhabited region, exposed continu- 
ally to the attacks of Indians and robbers, is 
always relieved by a sort of wild exhilaration 
inseparable from the shifting of scenery, and the 
varied occupations and incidents of the journey. 
And when day after day passes, without any 
change in the same monotonous round of employ- 
ment, men sometimes desire the variety of a brush 
with the Indians, or a deer chase, or an antelope 
hunt, to ward off their mental depression. But 
save an occasional foray upon a herd of antelopes, 
the train moved safely onward, without impedi- 
ment. The three ruffians were particularly atten- 
tive to the duties required of them, winning golden 
opinions from those they intended to destroy. 

On the evening of the sixth day, the train 
descended into the valley of the Bitter Root. 
The lofty range of mountains which now forms 

•Lloyd Magruder. 105 

the boundary between Montanca and Idaho 
stretched along- the horizon displaying alternate 
reaches illumined by the departing rays o£ the 
sun, and darkened by the shadows of overhang- 
ing clouds. 

" In three days more," said Masfruder, " we 
shall descend the range into Idaho, and all danger 
will be over." 

Near tlie close of the second day thereafter, as 
the mules were slowly creeping up the trail, when 
near the summit, Howard rode alono-side of Pao-e, 
and in a tone of fearful earnestness said to him, — 

" Page, when we go into camp, to-night, drive 
the mules half a mile away, and remain with 
them till supper time. We are going to kill 
Magruder and his four friends. You can help 
dispose of the bodies when the work is done, and 
share in the plunder. As you value your own 
life, you will not breathe a word of this to any 

Had a thunderbolt fallen at the feet of Page, 
he could not have been more terrified. Reckless 
as his life had been, no stain of blood was on his 
soiil. Gladly would he have warned Magruder, 
but the fearful threat of Howard was in his way. 
Besides, as Howard had grown into great favor, 
he felt that he would not be believed. He 

106 Lloyd Magruder. 

decided the conflict with conscience, by resolving- 
to follow the directions of the conspirators. 

The spot was not unfamiliar. It had been 
often occupied for camping purposes, and was 
specially favored with water and pasturage. It 
was also sheltered by the impenetrable foliage of 
a clump of dwarf pines and redwoods. Five 
minutes' clamber of the vertebrated peak w^hich 
rose abruptly above the camp-fire, would enable 
one to survey for many miles the vast volcanic 
region of mountains, hills, and canons over which 
the trail of the traveller, like a dusky thread, 
stretched on tovv^ards Lewiston. 

The train drew up on the camping ground a 
little before dark. The sky was overcast with 
snow clouds, and the wind blew chill and bleak. 
Every sign indicated the approach of one of those 
fearful snowstorms common at all seasons in 
these high latitudes. All the men except Page, 
who was with the herd, were gathered around the 
camp-fire, awaiting supper. As Page, staggering 
under the burden of his guilty secret, came to the 
camp in answer to a call to supper, Howard met 
him, and in an ominous whisper, warned him to 
retire as soon as his meal was finished, and not to 
be seen about the camp until he was wanted. 

Magruder and Lowry were assigned to stand 

Lloyd Magruder. 107 

guard and watch the herd until ten o'clock, — the 

hour agreed upon for the commission of the crime. 

Pao-e had built a fire for their accommodation. 

As they rose to leave the camp, Lowry, picking 

up an axe, remarked, — 

" We shall probably need some wood, and I'll 

take the axe along." 

Their departure was regarded as a signal for 

all to retire. Page had spread his blankets and 

lain down some time before, " not," as he after- 
wards said, " to sleep, but to await the course of 
events." Allen crept in by his side. The 
Chalmers brothers had made their bed twenty 
yards distant from the camp-fire ; and Romaine, 
armed to perform the part assigned to him, 
stretched himself beside Phillips, his unsuspecting 
victim. Howard, the arch and bloody instigator 
of the brutal tragedy, demon-like, roamed at 
large, ready for any service, when the hour came, 
necessary to finish the deed. 

The evening wore on. The sleep of toil- 
worn men comes when it is sought ; and soon the 
only wakeful eyes in the camp were those of the 
watchers at the herd, Howard, Romaine, and the 
wretched Page. 

The friendly conversation between Magruder 
and Lowry, as they sat side by side at the fire, 

108 Lloyd Magruder. 

was not interrupted, until the former looked at 
his watch. 

"It is nearly ten," said he, filling his meer- 
schaum, while unconsciously announcing the hour 
of his doom. 

" I will put some wood on the fire," said Lowry, 
picking up the axe, and rising. 

Magruder bent forward towards the fire to 
light his meerschaum, when the axe wielded by 
Lowry descended with a fearful crash into his 
brain. Howard, who had been concealed near, 
sprung forward, and snatching the axe from 
Lowry, who seemed for the moment paralyzed at 
the deed he had committed, struck several addi- 
tional blows upon the already lifeless body of the 
unfortunate man. The villains then hurried to 
the spot where the Chalmers brothers were lying, 
and while they were despatching them with the 
axe, Romaine plunged a bowie knife into the 
abdomen of Phillips, exclaiming at the moment, 
with an oath, — 

" You old fool, I have to kill you. I told you 
at Virginia City not to come." 

Allen, wakened by the death groan of young 
Chalmers, had risen to a sitting posture, and was 
rubbing his eyes, when Howard stole behind him, 
and blew out his brains, by a simultaneous dis- 

Lloyd Magruder. 109 

charge of buck-shot from both barrels of his gun 
into the back part of his head. 

The work of assassination was complete. The 
murderers, unharmed, were in possession of the 
gold which had caused the dreadful deed. 

Pao-e, who had not left his bed, was now sum- 
moned by Howard to assist in the concealment of 
the bodies. Knowing that his life would pay the 
forfeit of disobedience, he hurried to the camp- 
fire, where Lovvry greeted him with the soul-sick- 
ening words, — 

" It's a grand success, Bill. We never made 
a false stroke." 

A heavy snowstorm now set in. The assassins 
occupied the remainder of the night in destroying 
and removing the evidences of their guilt. The 
bodies of their victims were wrapped in blankets, 
conveyed to the summit of an adjacent ridge, and 
cast over a precipice into a caiion eight hundred 
feet deep, where it was supposed they would be 
speedily devoured by wolves. The camp equi- 
page, saddles, straps, blankets, guns, pistols, every- 
thiuii not retained for immediate convenience, 
were burned, and all the iron scraps carefully 
collected, put into a sack, and cast over the preci- 
pice. All the while these guilty deeds were in 
progress, the storm was increasing. When the 

110 Lloyd Magruder. 

morning dawned, not a vestige of the ghastly 
tragedy was visible. The camp was carpeted to 
the depth of two feet with snow, and the tempest 
still raged. The murderers congratulated each 
other upon their success. No remorseful sensa- 
tions disturbed their relish for a hearty breakfast. 
No contrite emotions affected the greedy dehght 
with which each miscreant received his share of 
the blood-bought treasure. No dread lest the 
eye of the All-seeing, who alone had witnessed 
their dark and damning atrocity, should betray 
them, mingled with the promises they made to 
themselves of pleasures and pursuits that this ill- 
gotten gain would buy in the world where they 
were going. One solitary fear haunted them, — 
that concerning their escape from the country. 

When this all-absorbing subject was mentioned, 
they saw and felt the necessity of avoiding Lew- 
iston ; their presence there would excite suspicion. 
Howard advised that they should go to a ford 
of the Clearwater, fifty miles above Lewiston, 
and cross over and make a hurried journey to 
Puget Sound. There they could take passage on 
a steamer to San Francisco or to British Colum- 
bia, as after events might dictate. This counsel 
was adopted. Mounting their horses, they made 
a last scrutinizing survey of the scene of their 

Lloyd Mag ruder. Ill 

hellish tragedy, now covered with snow, and plunged 
down the western slope of the mountains, amid 
the rocks and canons of Northern Idaho. The 
expression of Howard, as he reined his horse 
away from the bloody theatre, may be received as 
an indication of the sentiments by which all were 

" No one," said he, " will ever discover from 
anything here the performance in which we have 
been engaged. If we are only true to each other, 
boys, all is safe." 

The animals, with the exception of one horse 
and seven mules, were abandoned, but, accustomed 
to follow the tinkle of the bell still suspended to 
the neck of the horse, the herd soon appeared 
straggling along the trail behind the company. 
The heartless wretches, thinking to frighten the 
animals away, at first shot them one by one as 
they came within rifle distance. Finding that the 
others continued to follow, they finally drove the 
entire herd, seventy or more in number, into a 
canon near the trail, and mercilessly slaughtered 
all the animals composing it. 

Avoiding Elk City by a circuitous route, the 
party, after several days' travel, arrived at the ford 
of the Clearwater. Two broad channels of the 
river at this crossing encircled a large island. A 

112 Lloyd Magruder. 

mountain torrent at its best, the river was swollen 
by recent rains, and its current running with 
frightful velocity. Page, who was perfectly 
familiar with the ford, dashed in, and was followed 
by Lowry. They were obliged to swim their 
mules before reaching the island, and had still a 
deeper channel to cross beyond. Romaine and 
Howard, who had witnessed the passage from the 
bank, were afraid to risk it. A long parley 
ensued, which finally terminated in the return of 
Page and Lowry, and an abandonment of the 
ford. A single day's rations was all the food the 
company now possessed. None could be obtained 
for several days, except at Lewiston, the mention 
whereof brouoht their crime before the ruffians 
with terrible distinctness. But there was no 
alternative. Risk of detection, while a chance 
presented for escape, was preferable to physical 
suffering, from which there was none. They 
encountered the risk. Near Lewiston they fell in 
with a rancheman, to whom they committed their 
animals, with instructions to keep them until their 
return, and, concealing their faces with mufflers, 
entered the town at a late hour of the evening. 

With the design of stealing a boat, and making 
a night trip down Snake river, to some point 
accessible to the Portland steamboats, they pro- 

Lloyd Magruder. 113 

ceeded at once to the river bank fronting the 
town. Piling their baggage into the first boat 
they came to, they pushed out into the stream. 
The wind was blowing fearfully, and the mad- 
dened river rolled a miniature sea. They had 
proceeded but a few rods when a sudden lurch of 
the boat satisfied them that the voyage was 
impracticable, and they returned to shore. 

Their only alternative now was to secure a pas- 
sage that night in the coach for Walla Walla, or 
remain in Lewiston at the risk of being recognized 
the next day. It was a dark, blustering night. 
Hill Beachy, whose invariable custom it was to 
retire from the office at nine o'clock, from some 
inexplicable cause became oblivious of the hour, 
and was seated bv the stove, g-lancino" over the 
columns of a much-worn paper. His clerk stood 
at the desk, preparing the way-bill for the coach, 
which left an hour later for Walla Walla. The 
street door was locked. Suddenly the silence 
without was broken by the heavy tramp of ap- 
proaching footsteps. A muffled face peered 
through the window. Beachy's attention was 
arrested by a hesitating triple knock upon the 
door, which seemed to him at the time ominous 
of wrong. Catching the lamp, he hurried to the 
door, on opening which a tall, well-proportioned 

114 lAoyd Magruder. 

man, in closely buttoned overcoat, with only his 
eyes and the upper portion of his nose visible, en- 
tered, and with a nervous, agitated step, by a 
strangely indirect, circular movement, advanced 
to the desk where the clerk was standino-. 

Addressing the clerk in a subdued tone, he 
said, " I want four tickets for Walla Walla." 

" We issue no tickets," replied the clerk, " but 
will enter your names on the way-bill. What 
names ? " he inquired. 

For a moment the stranger was nonplussed. 
Recovering himself instantly, with seeming non- 
chalance, he gave the names of John Smith and 
his brother Joseph, Thomas Jones and his brother 
Jim ; and, throwing three double eagles upon the 
desk, he hastily departed. 

As he closed the door, Beachy said to the clerk, 
" I'm afraid there will be a stage robbery to-night. 
Go to the express office and tell the agent not to 
send the treasure chest by this coach. Don't wake 
the passenger in the next room. I will see the 
citizens who have secured passage, and request 
them to wait until to-morrow." 

Still reflecting upon the suspicious conduct of 
the visitor, Beachy determined to get a sight of 
his companions. " There are too many Smiths 
and Joneses to be all right," he said to himself, 

Lloyd Magruder. 115 

as he slipped the hood over his dark lantern and 
took his way to the hotel where they lodged. 
Ascertaining- that their apartment fronted the 
street, he stole quietly up to the window, which 
was protected by shutters with adjustable lattice. 
This, by a cautious process, he opened, and, peer- 
ing through, beheld the four inmates, three of 
whom he recog-nized as the ruffians who had left 
Lewiston and oone to Bannack three months 



More deeply confirmed than at first in the be- 
lief that a robbery was intended, he awaited the 
approach of the coach, designing to make a care- 
ful survey of the group after they were seated 
preparatory to departure. Fifteen or twenty per- 
sons, who had heard of Beachy's suspicions, seve- 
ral of whom were old associates of Howard and 
his companions, followed the coach from the barn 
to the hotel. 

Enveloped in overcoats and blankets, their faces 
concealed by mufflers, and their hats drawn dow^n 
to hide their eyes, the four men clambered into 
the coach. Just as the driver gathered up his 
lines Beachy opened his lantern, and before the 
men could wrap their blankets around them, his 
quick eye detected that two of the number had 
each a pair of well-filled cantinas on his lap. After 

116 Lloyd Magruder. 

the coach had driven off, he turned to Judge 
Berry, who was standing near, and, in a low but 
meaning tone, said, — 

" Lloyd Magruder has been murdered." 

" What makes you think so ? " inquired the 
judge. " Do you recognize these fellows? " 

" Yes, three of them : Howard, Lowry, and Ro- 
maine. Their cantinas are filled with Magruder's 
money. I'll furnish horses and pay all expenses 
if you and the sheriff will join me, and we'll arrest 
them to-night." 

"Arrest them for what?" asked the judge. 

" On suspicion of having murdered Magruder." 

" Why, Hill, the whole town would laugh at 
us. We certainly could not detain them without 
evidence. Besides, your suspicions are ground- 
less. Mrs. Magruder told me last evening that 
she did not expect her husband for ten or twelve 
days. Let matters rest for the present." 

'^ I know that Magruder is dead, and that these 
villains killed him, as well as if I had seen it 
done," rejoined Beachy. " From this time forth, 
I am on their track." 

Bidding the judge good-night, he wended his 
way home, and, on entering his house, held the 
conversation with his wife with which this chap- 
ter opens. 


Lloyd Magruder's Avenger 

Hill Beachy. 117 



Beachy's Devices to ferret out the Murder — His 
Trip up Snake Eiver with Tom Farrell — Dis- 
appointment — Finds the Animals ridden by 
the Murderers — The Story of the Saddle — 
The Indian Boy — Kecognition of the Horse — 
Beaohy's Pursuit of the Robbers — Providen- 
tial Occurrences — Arrival at Portland — Suc- 
cessful Ruse — Departure Overland for San 
Francisco — Telegraphs from Yreka — Robbers 
arrested — The Law's Delay — Return with 
Prisoners — Page admitted as State's Evidence 
— Conviction and Execution of Howard, Lowry, 


Mr. Beachy's convictions gave him no rest. 
Without a shadow of evidence to sustain him, or 
a clew to guide him, he went to work to ferret out 
the crime. His friends laughed at and discour- 
aged him. The roughs of Lewiston threatened 
him. A few charitably attributed his conduct to 
mental derangement. The face of every person 
he met wore a quizzical expression, which seemed 

118 Hill Beachy. 

to imply both pity and ridicule. Often, when 
thwarted, he half resolved to abandon the pursuit, 
but a voice within whispered him on with assur- 
ance of success, and he could not, if he would, 
recede. Three days were spent in a fruitless 
search for the animals which he knew must have 
borne the men to town. At the close of the third 
day a party arrived from Bannack. The first 
inquiry he addressed to them after the usual salu- 
tation was, — 

" Where is Mag'ruder ? " 

" Hasn't he arrived ? " was the surprised re- 
joinder. " He left four days before us, intending 
to come through as quickly as possible." 

Beachy heard no more. 

" He is dead," said he, " and I know the 

'■ Tut, tut, Hill, you're too fast. He has prob- 
ably gone around by Salt Lake. He'll be in all 
safe in a few days." 

Beachy resumed his search for the animals. In 
a few days a man came in from some point above 
Lewiston, and reported having seen, on his ride 
down the river, a party of four men encamped in 
a solitary nook on the opposite bank. The 
thought flashed through Beachy's brain that they 
were the murderers, who, thwarted in their effort 

Hill Beachy. 119 

to leave the country at Walla Walla, had returned 
by a circuitous route, in search of a point more 

In Tom Farrell, a harum-scarum dare-devil of 
the town, Beachy found one man who shared his 
suspicions. He consented to go with and aid him 
in arresting these men. It was freezing weather, 
and the trail was rough and mountainous. Both 
men were well armed and of undoubted courasfe. 
Urging their horses to their utmost speed, they 
rode on till past the hour of noon, when Tom 
descried a thin column of smoke ascendinsf from 
the camp of the supposed freebooters. Securing 
their horses in a thicket, they crept to a point 
where, concealed by the wallows, they could 
observe all parts of the camp, Alas for their 
hopes ! The suspected robbers developed into a 
hunting party of honest miners, who were enjoy- 
ing a little holiday sport in the mountains. Worn 
down with fatigue and anxiety, they returned to 
Lewiston, to encounter afresh the gibes and sneers 
of the people at the failure of this sorry expedi- 

Another day of patient search was rewarded 
with the discovery of the rancheman who had 
possession of the animals, Beachy returned from 
a visit to his ranche, bringing with him one horse 

120 Hill Bcacliy. 

and seven mules, and the saddles, bridles, and 
other accoutrements, which he submitted to the 
inspection of the citizens. Not an article was 
identified as the property of Magruder. One 
man thoug-ht an old saddle resembled one that he 
had seen in Magruder's possession, but, as old 
saddles were plenty, this one, without any distinc- 
tive marks, was valueless as evidence. 

Thus far Beachy's investigations had only 
involved the subject in deeper mystery ; but as 
day after day passed, bringing no tidings of his 
friend, he felt an increasing conviction of the 
great evil that had befallen him. Reflecting upon 
the partial identification of the saddle, " Perhaps," 
thought he, " this may furnish a clew. If the 
saddle ever belonged to Magruder, some of his 
family will identify it. I have it. Jack will 
certainly know it. I can but try him." He sus- 
pended the saddle on a small peg attached to the 
stall occupied by his pacing-horse. 

Jack was an Indian boy who had been 
Magruder's hostler for several years. Late in the 
afternoon Beachy met him. 

" Jack," said he, accosting him, " don't you 
want to take a ride ? " 

" I am always ready for that, Mr. Beachy." 

" Well, our cow^s haven't come home to-night. 

Eill Beachj. 121 

I'll have my pony in the stable in ten minutes, 
and you can saddle him, and have a good time 
hunting them. Will you go ? " 

" All right," replied Jack, " I'll be there." 

Beachy immediately went to the stable, and, 
ascending to the haymow, placed himself in a 
position where he could observe the actions of 
Jack when he saddled the pony. The boy 
was punctual. Leading the pony from the 
stall, he took down the saddle and placed it on 

" It's a failure," reflected Beachy, as the boy 
fastened the girth, and seized the pommel prepar- 
atory to mounting. 

Just at this moment Jack's eye caught sight of 
the stirrup. He paused, and, taking it in his 
hand, surveyed it narrowly. An expression of 
surprise stole over his face. Dropping the stirrup, 
he caught up the. crupper and examined it more 
carefully. He then looked at other parts of the 
saddle in detail. At length he mounted, and, 
while leaving the stable, looked back with aston- 
ished interest upon the crupper. The cows at 
this time were discovered on their way home. 
Jack rode around and drove them up, and, dis- 
mounting, said to Beachy, who met him at the 
stable door, — 

122 Hill Beachy. 

" Mr. Beachy, this is Massa Magruder's saddle. 
He took it with him when he went to Bannack. 
How came it here ? " 

" How do you know it is his, Jack? " 

" By that crupper. There's where I mended it 
myself with a piece of buckskin. I know it's the 
same old saddle. I've ridden on it a hundred 

" A clew at last ! " said Beachy. " I'll follow 
it up. Jack cannot be mistaken." 

Calling to some friends who were passing, he 
told them the result of his experiment. The old 
saddle was produced, and Jack was examined. 
Alarmed at the scepticism of his interroga- 
tors, Jack wavered in faith, and his testimony 
only confirmed the belief that Beachy was 

The following day a train was seen descending 
the mountain by the Nez Perce .trail. A tall man, 
seemingly the leader, who wore a peculiar hat, like 
Magruder's, was pointed out as the missing man. 
Hundreds of eyes watched the slow descent of the 
mules into the valley. The wife of Magruder, 
whose thouo'hts and feelino;s had been alternatinof 
between hope and fear for a week or more, awaited 
with delighted surprise the certain approach of 
her husband. Hill Beachy looked on with doubt- 

Hill Beachy. 123 

ful interest, hoping, but faithless. Alas ! it was 
not Magruder. 

'' For him no more the blazing hearth shall burn, 
Or busy housewife ply her evening care." 

When the train-master, in reply to their eager 
inquiries, expressed his own surprise, and told 
them that Magruder should have reached home 
ten days before, the people for the first time felt 
that he might have fallen a victim to robbers. 
Still they doubted. The crime was too great, in- 
volved too many lives, and the probability that he 
had changed routes and was returning by the way 
of Salt Lake was greater than that he and his 
large train had been destroyed. 

Firm in his belief, Beachy, like a sleuth-hound, 
continued to follow the track leading to discovery. 
" They do not know the desperate character of 
those villains," he said, as he turned from the 
crowd to pursue the clew furnished by Jack. His 
wife, who until this time had feared for his safety 
at the hands of the town ruffians, now for the first 
time gave him encouragement. 

Falling in company with the men who had just 
arrived from Bannack, he plied them with inquiries 
concerning Magruder's operations there. 

" Why," observed one, " he told me on the 

124 Hill Beachy. 

morning lie left that he should surprise his wife^ 
for he had written her the day before that he would 
not leave for ten days. ' She will tell this to all 
inquirers,' said he, ' and the roughs of Lewiston 
will be thrown o£P their guard. I shall reach 
home about the time they think I will leave here.' " 

" Would you know any of the stock ? " inquired 

" Yes ; there was one large, white-faced sorrel 
horse belonging to some of the party, that was a 
very good race-horse. I saw him run one night, 
when some of the boys were at our camp. I think 
I should know him. They intended to bring him 
here, and make a race-horse of him." 

The only horse which Beachy had found in pos- 
session of the rancheman corresponded wi^h this 
description. He placed him in one of a long range 
of stalls in his stable, in each of which was a horse, 
and requested his informant to select him, if pos- 
sible, from the number. When the man came to 
the sorrel, he said, — 

" If this horse were two or three sizes larger, I 
should think he might be the one I saw ; but he 
is too small, and 1 know nothing of the others." 

Knowing how much the size of a horse is seem- 
ingly increased when in motion, Beachy saddled 
the sorrel, and told his hostler to lead him to the 

Hill Beachy. 125 

end of the street, mount, and rim him at his best 
speed back to the stable. As he dashed down to 
the spot where Beachy and the man were stand- 
ing, the latter involuntarily raised his hands and 
exclaimed, — 

" My God ! that is the identical animal." 

" You are sure ? " said Beachy. 

" I would swear to it," was the instant reply. 

'^ And now," thought Beachy, " I have a white 
man on my side. The evidence is sufficient for 
me. To-morrow I start for the murderers." 

Armed with requisitions upon the governors of 
all the Pacific States and Territories, the next 
morning Beachy, accompanied by the indomitable 
Tom Farrell, made preparations for his departure. 
When all was ready, his wife, who had felt more 
keenly than he had the ridicule, sneers, indiffer- 
ence, and malignity with which his efforts had been 
regarded, with tearful eyes approached him, and, 
taking him by the hand, in a tone softened by the 
grief of parting, said to him, — 

" Hill, you must either return with those vil- 
lains, or look up a new wife." 

" The look which emphasized these words," says 
Beachy, " the expression, the calm, sweet face 
which said stronger than words that failure would 
kill her, filled me with new life. They were worth 

126 Hill Beachy. 

more than all the taunts I had received, and I 
bade her adieu with the determination to succeed." 

While Mr. Beachy was speaking- thus fondly 
of his wife, whose death had occurred but a few 
months before he narrated to me these incidents, 
the tears rolled down his cheeks, — and he added 
in a voice broken with emotion, " I then felt that 
the time had come when I needed somethino- 
more than human help, and I went out to the 
barn and got down upon my knees and prayed 
to the Old Father, — and that's something I 
haven't been much in the habit of doing in this 
hard country, — and I prayed for half an hour ; 
and I prayed hard ; and I promised that if He'd 
only help me this time in catching these villains, 
I'd never ask another favor of Him as long as I 
lived, and I never haveT 

Three changes were made in the transmission 
of the mail over the route between Lewiston and 
Walla Walla. The log dwellings and stables at 
the several stations were the only evidences of 
settlement for the entire distance. Beachy was 
the proprietor of the stage line. His station- 
keepers had been in the habit of transporting way 
travellers over parts of the road, for pay, at times 
when the horses were unemployed. This practice 
had been strictly forbidden by Beachy. But 

Hill Beachij. 127 

when he and Tom Farrell drove up to the first 
station, such was his anxiety to overtake the 
fugitives, that he did not stop to reprimand the 
unfaithful employe, who had just harnessed the 
stage horses to a light wagon, with the intention 
of turning a dishonest penny. He took the 
waofon himself, and without delav drove to the 
next station^ arriving there in time to hitch a 
pair of horses just harnessed by the hostler for his 
own use, to his wagon, and hurry on to another 
station. Here, as he and Tom alighted, a light 
buggy with a powerful horse came alongside. 
The driver was an old acquaintance. He was 
going to Walla Walla in haste for a physician. 
Beachy offered to do his errand if he would allow 
him to proceed in his buggy. The gentleman 
assented. The horse's flanks were white with 
foam when, at dark, Beachy and Tom Farrell rode 
into Walla Walla. 

Before entering the tow^n, Beachy concealed his 
face in a muffler, to avoid recognition. Half-way 
up the street he observed a man, of whom he 
expected to obtain information, engaged Avith 
another in conversation. Jumping from the 
wagon he approached him cautiously, and, by a 
significant grip, drew him aside and made known 
his business. 

128 EiU Beachy. 

" They left four days ago for Portland," said 
the man, " with the avowed intention of taking 
the first boat to San Francisco. They were here 
two days, lost considerable at faro, but took 
plenty of gold dust with them." 

" Did they explain how they obtained their 
money .'' 

" Yes. Howard said that they, in company 
with five others, had purchased a water ditch in 
Boise Basin, and had been renting the water to 
the miners at large rates. The miners became 
dissatisfied with their prices, and a fight ensued. 
Men were killed on both sides, and they were the 
only members of the ditch company that escaped. 
They were now on their way out of the country, 
to escape arrest. They feared the authorities 
were pursuing them." 

While engaged in this conversation, Captain 
Ruckles, the agent of the Columbia River Steam- 
boat Company, happened to pass. Beachy hailed 
him, and told his story. Ruckles gave him 
authority to use a Whitehall boat in descending 
the river from Wallula, and an order upon the 
captain of the downward bound steamer from 
Umatilla, to consult his convenience on the trip 
to Portland. 

The evening was far advanced when Beachy 

Hill Beady. 12& 

and Farrell started on a midnight drive of thirty 
miles to Wallula. Day was breaking- when they 
drove up to the landing. The river, at all times 
boisterous, had been swollen by the flood into a 
torrent. Rousing a wharfinger, they were 
informed that all navigation was suspended until 
the waters should abate, that no steamboats had 
been there for several days, and to attempt the 
passage of Umatilla rapids in a Whitehall boat 
would be madness. 

Fortunately, the next man Beachy met was 
Captain Ankeny, an old river pilot, who knew 
every crook and rock in the channel. 

" It's a dangerous business," said the captain, 
after listening to his story, " but I think we can 
make it in a Whitehall boat. At all events, if it's 
murderers you're after, it's worth the risk. I'll 
take you down if anybody can." 

At daylight the three men, with the pilot at the 
helm, pushed out into the stream, every spectator 
on shore predicting disaster. It was, indeed, a 
lively passage, and not a few hairbreadth escapes 
were attributable to the skill of the man who knew 
the channel. The boat dashed througfh the 
rapids, and rounded to at Umatilla, twenty-two 
miles below, two hours after it left Wallula. 

Beachy found a willing coadjutor in the captain 

130 Eill Beachy. 

of the steamboat at Umatilla, and, to expedite the 
departure of the boat, employed eighteen men to 
assist in discharofing* the carjxo. When the boat 
had blown her last whistle and rung her last bell, 
two large wagons laden with emigrants, who had 
just arrived after a tedious journey across the 
plains, thundered down to the wharf to be taken 

" Too late," shouted the captain. " The boat 
cannot be delayed. Cast off." 

The spokesman for the emigrants pleaded hard 
for a passage. Beachy relented. 

" Take them on board for luck," said he to the 

No other cause for detention occurring, the 
boat swung off, and proceeded down the river, 
arriving at Celilo, eighty-five miles below, late in 
the evening. From that point navigation is im- 
peded by rapids for sixteen miles, which distance 
is travelled by railroad. The cars would not leave 
until the next morning, — a delay which might 
afford the fugitives time for escape. In this exi- 
gency Beachy applied to the emigrants, and by 
pledging the boat as security for the return of 
their horses, and paying a round sum, hired three 
of them to convey Captain Ankeny, Farrell, and 
himself to the Dalles. It was after one o'clock in 

Hill Beachy. 131 

the morning when they entered Dalles City. Ank- 
eny and Farrell rode down to the hotel to recon- 
noitre, and report to Beachy, who awaited their 
return in the outskirts. It was a bright, starlight 
night. A man, whose form Beachy recognized, 
passed hurriedly by the spot where he stood. 
Hailing him, he unfolded the object of his mis- 
sion, and learned that three of the party he was 
pursuing had left the Dalles on a steamboat for 
Portland two days before. The other, he was 
afterwards informed, had gone since. 

In company with Tom Farrell, he took passage 
on the next steamer for Portland, arriving there 
twenty-four hours after the fugitives had left for 
San Francisco. Farrell hurried on to Astoria, the 
only port where the steamer stopped on its pas- 
sage to the ocean, to ascertain if they had landed 
there, while Beachy put in execution a little scheme 
by which he hoped to obtain full information con- 
cernino: their future movements. 

A year before this time, Beachy had concealed 
from the pursuit of the Vigilantes at Lewiston a 
young man accused of stealing, whom he had 
known in boyhood. During his concealment, with 
much other information, he told Beachy of the 
robbery of a jewelry establishment at Victoria, in 
British Columbia, in which he was concerned with 

182 Hill Beachy. 

Howard, Lowry, and Romaine. They deposited 
their pkinder with an accompKce at Portland. 
This man still resided at Portland, and had prob- 
ably met with Howard and his companions during 
their stay. H so, he was doubtless possessed of 
information which would aid in their detection. 

At every place where they had stopped on the 
trip to Portland, the guilty men had told the same 
story about their collision at, and flight from, Boise 
Basin. Acting upon the belief that they had re- 
peated it to their old confederate at Portland, 
Beachy, on the same evening of his arrival, 
wrapped in blanket and muffler, sallied forth to 
a remote quarter of the towii, where he resided. 
No one responded to his rap upon the door. He 
crossed the street to a clump of bushes to watch. 
A half-hour passed, and a woman entered the 
dwelling. Recrossing, he repeated the alarm. 
The woman met him at the door. With much 
simulated nervousness, and mystery of manner and 
tone, he inquired for the man. 

" He is very busy, and will not be home until 
late, if at all," replied the woman. 

'' I must see him immediately," urged Beachy, 
with increasing earnestness. " My life depends 
upon it. Here, madam," he continued, thrusting 
a hundred dollars into hjr hands, "secure me an 

Hill Beachy. 133 

interview as soon as possible. He is the only per- 
son here who can aid my escape. 1 dare not be 
seen, but will conceal myself in the clump until 
he comes." 

Beachy says he never was satisfied whether it 
was gold or pure womanly sympathy for his ap- 
parent distress which obtained for him a speedy 
meeting. By assuming the character of a partner 
in the Boise enterprise who had miraculously es- 
caped arrest, and was then m pursuit of his com- 
panions, he learned that the men he was pursuing 
intended to remain in San Francisco until they 
could have their dust, amounting to seventeen 
thousand dollars, coined, when they would go to 
New York by way of the Isthmus, and return to 
Virginia City in the spring. To make the delu- 
sion perfect, Beachy, at the close of the interview, 
gave his informant one hundred and fifty dollars, 
with which he purchased for him a horse, which 
he delivered to him at a late hour of the even- 
ing, at East Portland, on the opposite bank of 
the Willamette river. Bidding him good-by, 
Beachy mounted the horse, and was soon lost to 
view in the 2:»ine forest, his dupe believing that he 
had enabled him to escape the authorities of Boise. 
In two hours afterwards the horse was returned to 
its owner, and the purchase-money restored. 

134 Hill Beachy. 

How to reach San Francisco in time to arrest 
the fugitives before their departure for New York, 
was not easy of solution. No steamer would 
leave Portland for ten days, and an overland 
journey of seven hundred miles, over the muddiest 
roads in the world, was the only alternative. The 
nearest telegraph station was at Yreka, four hun- 
dred miles distant. Wearied with the unremit- 
ting travel and excitement of the previous week, 
Beachy hired a buggy and left Portland at raid- 
night, intending to overtake the coach which had 
left the morning before his arrival. This he 
accomplished at Salem, late in the afternoon of 
the next day. When the coach reached the 
mountains, its progress was too slow for his 
impatience, and he forsook it, and, mounting a 
horse placed at his disposal by an old friend, rode 
on, hoping to come up with the advance coach. 
He fell asleep while riding, and, on awakening, 
found himself seated upon the horse in front of 
its owner's stable, at a village twenty miles distant 
from the one he left. Here he hired a buggy 
and overtook the coach the next morning. 

Two days afterwards he arrived at Yreka. He 
immediately sent a telegram to the chief of the 
San Francisco police, and was overjoyed upon his 
arrival at Shasta, twenty-four hours afterwards, 

Hill Beachy. 135 

to receive a reply that the men he was pursuing 
were in prison, awaiting his arrival. At midnight 
of the second day following, he was admitted to 
the cell where the prisoners were confined. 

They had been arrested by stratagem two days 
before. As Howard and Lowry w^ere escaped 
convicts from the California penitentiary, they 
naturally supposed that they had been arrested 
upon recognition, to be returned for their unex- 
pired term. This they were planning to escape 
by bribing the officers, whom they had told of 
their deposit in the mint, denying at the same 
time that Page had any interest in it. 

When therefore the chief of police entered the 
cell, and turned on the gas, disclosing the presence 
of Hill Beachy, had Magruder himself appeared, 
they would not have been more astonished. 
With dismay pictured upon his countenance, 
Howard was the first to break that ominous 
silence by a question intended either to confirm 
their worst fears, or re-animate their hopes of 

" Well, old man," said he, gazing fixedly upon 
Beachy, " what brought you down here ? " 

" You did," was the instant reply. 

" What for, pray?" persisted Howard, assuming 
an indifferent air. 

136 Hill Beachy. 

" The murder of Lloyd Magruder and Charley 

The eyes of the questioner dropped. He drew 
a long breath. A deadly pallor stole over his face. 

" That's a rich note," said Lowry, affecting to 
laugh. " We left Magruder at Bannack, well and 

"We shall see. Good-night, boys," said 
Beachy, and he offered each his hand. 

Page clasped his hand heartily, and, by several 
scratches upon the palm, signified that he had 
somethinor which he wished to communicate. 

Four weeks Avere spent in San Francisco, in the 
effort to obtain the custody of the prisoners. As 
fast as one court w^ould decide to surrender them, 
another would grant a writ of habeas corpus for 
a new examination. At length the Supreme 
Court of the State decided in favor of their 
surrender to the authorities of Idaho for trial. 
In anticipation of a series of similar legal delays 
in Oregon, Beachy, before leaving, obtained froni 
General Wright, the commander of the Depart- 
ment of the Pacific, an order upon the military 
post of the Columbia, directing an escort to meet 
the prisoners at the mouth of the river, and 
deliver them with all possible despatch to the civil 
authorities at Lewiston. 

Hill Beacliy. 137 

On the voyage from San Francisco to the 
mouth of the Cohimbia, the prisoners occupied 
the state-room adjoining- Beachy's. An orifice 
was made in the base of the partition between 
the apartments, under the berth occupied by 
Howard and Lowry. After they had retired, 
Beachy would apply his ear to it, to glean, if 
possible, from their conversation, any circum- 
stances confirming- their guilt. On one occasion 
he heard Lowry observe that " Magruder had a 
good many friends," and Howard reply that " all 
five of them had friends enough." This satisfied 
him that others beside Magruder had been killed, 
and that he was on the right track. At the 
mouth of the Columbia, a small steamer with a 
military escort received the prisoners. They were 
conveyed immediately to Lewiston. A large 
assemblage had gathered upon the wharf, intend- 
ing to conduct the prisoners from the boat to the 
scaffold. Protected by the military, Beachy suc- 
ceeded in removing them to his hotel, amid loud 
cries of " Hang 'em," " String 'em up," by the 
pursuing crowd. He then appeared in front of 
the building, and in a brief address informed the 
infuriated people that one of the conditions on 
which he obtained the surrender of the men was 
that they should have a fair trial at law. He had 

138 Rill Beachy. 

pledged his honor, not only to the prisoners, but 
to the authorities, that they should only be hanged 
after conviction by a jury. This pledge he would 
redeem with liis life if necessary. He made it, 
believing that his fellow-citizens of Lewiston would 
stand by him. " And now," said he, " as many 
of you as will do so, will please cross to the oppo- 
site side of the street." The movement was 

" Be gorra ! Mr. Beachy," exclaimed an Irish- 
man, after he had passed over, " you're the only 
mon in the whole congregation that votes against 

The prisoners were heavily ironed and strongly 
guarded in an upper room of the hotel. No legal 
evidence of their guilt, no evidence that a murder 
had been committed, had yet been obtained. Page 
was reticent, though believed by all to have been 
the victim of circumstances. A week elapsed, 
and no disclosures were made upon which to base 
a hope of conviction. Tired of waiting, it was at 
length arranged with the district attorney that Page 
should be permitted to testify as State's evidence. 

Beachy now concerted, with several others, a 
plan for getting at the truth. In a vacant room, 
accessible from the main passage of the build- 
ing, he suspended from the ceiling four ropes with 

Hill Beachy. 139 

nooses, and under each placed an empty dry-goods 
box. Every preparation was seemingly made for 
a secret and summary execution. 

In a room on the opposite side of the hall he 
spread a large table, with paper, pens, and ink, 
and obtained from the county clerk three plethoric 
legal documents, which were put in the hands of 
persons seated at the table. A clerk was also 
there, who had seemingly been engaged in writ- 
ing out the confessions of Howard, Lowry, and 
Romaine, w^hich were represented by the docu- 
ments already referred to. 

When these preparations were completed, two 
guards entered the room occupied by the four 
prisoners, and conducted Howard downstairs to a 
room in the basement. An hour or more elapsed, 
and the same ceremony was observed with Lowry, 
and after another hour with Romaine. The sol- 
emnity of this proceeding was intended to impress 
Pagfe with the belief that his comrades had been 
severally executed by the Vigilantes. When, 
an hour later, the guards returned, they found 
him in a cold perspiration, and scarcely able to 

He was met by Beachy at the door. 

" Page," said he, " I have done all in my power 
to save you, because I believed you less guilty than 

140 Hill Beachy. 

the others, but I find I can do no more. Whether 
you five or die now remains with yourself. Your 
old friend, Captain Ankeny, has worked hard for 

As he said this, the party came to the door of 
the room where the ropes were suspended, which 
had been purposely opened. The hideous prepa- 
rations glanced upon the terror-stricken vision of 
the trembling prisoner. Beachy slammed the door 
with a crash, exclaiming, with well-simulated 
anger, as he turned to the attendants, — 

" I told you to keep that door closed," and re- 
sumed his conversation with Page. 

" There is," said he, " a bare chance remaining 
for you. Your comrades are still living. They 
have each made a confession, and now the oppor- 
tunity is afforded you. If you make a clean breast 
of it, and tell the truth, it is possible you may 
escape by turning State's evidence ; but if not, 
there is no alternative but to hang you all. One 
thing let me say : if you conclude to accept this 
possible chance for life, tell the truth." 

" I certainly will do so, Mr. Beachy," said the 
terrified man. 

He was then seated in front of the clerk at the 
table. Beachy sat on one side, holding one of the 
documents, as if to compare his testimony with it, 

mil Beachy. 141 

and Captain Ankeny and another person, each 
with a similar document, sat 023posite. The build- 
ing was o£ logs. A gathering outside could be 
heard through the chinks, discussing the propriety 
of admitting Page to testify. 

" He is as guilty as the others, and should suffer 
the same fate," said one. 

" It's nonsense to try them," said another. 
" The Vigilantes should hang them all immedi- 

" It'll do no harm to hear what he has to say," 
said a third, " but he'll probably lie." 

" Not if he regards his life. He'll be easily 
detected in that, and then he'll be hung without 
mercy," remarked another. 

These surroundings, terrible to a guilty con- 
science, were not alleviated by the frequent inter- 
ruptions of Beachy and Ankeny, who, to all out- 
ward seeming, were closely comparing the state- 
ments of Page with those of his companions. The 
confession thus obtained bore internal evidence of 
truthfulness ; and, when it was finished. Page en- 
treated Beachy not to return him to the room with 
the other prisoners. 

" They will kill me if they suspect me of be- 
traying them," said he, " and the fact that we 
have all been requested to confess will make them 

142 Eill Beacfiy. 

Page was heavily ironed, and confined in a sepa- 
rate room on the side of the hall opposite the room 
occupied by the other prisoners, who, in the seem- 
ing severity with which he was treated, received 
the impression that he was singled out as the real 
criminal. Acting under Beachy's instructions. 
Page occasionally stood in the doorway of his 
apartment, so that the other prisoners could see 
him, and they improved these opportunities by 
making significant signs to him to be silent. 
Howard would break out into a song, into which 
he would improvise words of caution for Page to 
observe. At length, at their own request, the 
prisoners were occasionally permitted to perambu- 
late the hall, and at those times opportunity was 
given to converse with Page. They finally would 
enter his room, and in a conversation with him, 
while, as he supposed, he was enjoying one of these 
stolen interviews, Beachy heard Lowry tell Page 
that the body of Brother Jonathan — meaning 
Magruder — could never be found, whether the 
others were or not. It was a great satisfaction to 
Beachy to learn, from this and several other little 
incidents that occurred while the murderers were 
in custody, that he had made no mistake in arrest- 
ing them. 

Twenty-four hours before the trial, the prison- 

Bill Beachy. 143 

ers, as required by the laws of Idaho, were served 
with a copy of the indictment found against them, 
with a list of witnesses, in which it appeared that 
the charge was substantiated by the testimony of 
Pasre. This was the first intimation thev had 
that he was to be received as State's evidence. 
Lowry read enough of the indictment to learn 
this fact. Handing it to Beachy, he exclaimed 
with an oath, — 

" I have read far enouo-h. If old Pag-e is to 
testify, the jig is up. I don't wish to know any 

.More than a hundred persons summoned as 
jurors were rejected in selecting an impartial jury. 
Good counsel was provided for the prisoners ; and 
after a careful and protracted trial, in which no 
legal effort was spared both to convict and to 
defend, the prisoners were found guilty, and 
sentenced to be hanged on the fourth day of 
March, 1864:, six weeks after the trial. 

During this interval, they were confined in their 
old quarters, where they received every attention 
from Mr. Beachy and his wife. As the day of ex- 
piation drew nigh, both Lowry and Romaine con- 
fessed to their participation in the murder, and 
the truth of Page's testimony ; but Howard 
denied it to the last. 

144 Hill Beachy. 

The scaffold was erected in a basin encircled 
by abrupt hillsides, from which ten thousand 
people, including almost the entire Nez Perce 
tribe of Indians, witnessed the execution. 

A few weeks afterwards, Beachy and a few 
friends, under the guidance of Page, visited the 
scene of the murder, and returned with the 
remains of the unfortunate victims, which were 
decently buried in the cemetery at Lewiston. 

Page remained in the employ of Beachy several 
months — an object of general reproach and 
execration. A year had little more than elapsed 
when he became involved in a drunken brawl, and 
was killed by a shot from the pistol of his 

Mr. Beachy, after repeated rebuffs, succeeded 
in getting the seventeen thousand dollars, which 
the murderers had deposited in the mint at San 
Francisco. This was given to the widow and 
heirs of Magruder. After a delay of some years, 
the Legislature of Idaho ap^^ropriated an amount 
sufficient to defray the expense he had incurred 
in the capture and prosecution of the murderers ; 
and he subsequently removed to San Francisco, 
where he died in the year 1875, esteemed by all 
who knew him, not less for his generosity of 
heart, than the other manly and noble qualities 
of his character. 


Captor of Dutch John. 

tfowle and FetKerstun. 145 



Fluttering among the Robbers — Dutch John's 
Attempted Escape — Arrest by Neil Howie in 
Beaver Canon — Howie and Fetherstun convey 
HIM TO Bannack — Incidents by the Way, and 
at Bannack — Dutch John examined and ad- 
judged Guilty — Fetherstun takes him in Cus- 

Several days after the execution of " Red " 
and Brown, when their bodies were taken down 
for burial, there was found, fastened to each, a 
monograph which has few parallels for brevity in 
the annals of necrology. " Red ! Road Agent 
and Messenger ! " " Brown ! Corresponding 
Secretary ! " Laconic, but explicit, they fitly 
epitomized the history, both in life and death, of 
these ill-fated men. 

The little company of Vigilantes arrived in 
Nevada early the morning after the execution. 
The Committee assembled immediately to consider 
what action should be pursued with reference to 

146 Howie and Fettierstun. 

the disclosures made by " Red," but, as the results 
of their recommendations will hereafter appear, 
no further allusion to the subject is necessary at 
this time. 

The fluttering among the robbers, when it 
became known that two men of their number had 
fallen, was very perceptible both at Bannack and 
Virginia City. Many of them fled at once ; others, 
who would have accompanied them, had they 
heard of the disclosures made by " Red," believed 
themselves secure, until some testimony should 
appear against them. Not anticipating treachery 
from any of their comrades, they regarded such 
treachery as wholly unattainable. 

Dutch John was not of this number. Alarm 
grew upon him day by day, after the execution 
of Ives. He knew that, with the unhealed bullet 
wound in his shoulder, his identity with the rob- 
bers who attacked Moody's train would be clearly 
established. He went to Plummer with his fears. 
Plummer advised him to leave the Territory. In 
pursuance of this advice, he shouldered his saddle 
and left Bannack in the direction of Horse 
Prairie. A person who saw him leave, suspecting 
that he had designs upon a fine gray horse, wrote 
to the owners of the animal, warning them of his 
approach. They lay in watch for the thief, and 

Howie and Fetherstun. 147 

discovered him sitting in the underbrush. They 
immediately hedged him in, and captured him. 
After a severe lecture and taking his saddle, they 
gave him an old mule and blanket, and bade him 
depart. Accompanied by a Bannack Indian, he 
rode slowly down the road leading to Salt Lake. 

A few days after the execution of Ives, John 
X. Beidler, who had officiated on that occasion, 
went down the Salt Lake road to meet a train 
which was expected from Denver. Meeting it at 
Snake river, he returned with it to Beaverhead 
valley, where he was told of the attack, by Dutch 
John and Marshland, on Moody's train, and fur- 
nished with a description of the robbers. His in- 
formant, believing that Moody's shot would prove 
fatal, told him that he would know the body of the 
robber by his leggings. 

" I need a pair of leggings," replied X., " and, 
if I find the man dead, will confiscate them." 
Beidler turned back, and met Dutch John and the 
Indian in Beaver caiion, at the toll-gate. Failing 
to recognize him as the robber, he offered him a 
drink from a bottle of schnapps. John's hands 
were so severely frozen that he could not grasp 
the bottle. Beidler soaked them in water, to take 
the frost out. While thus employed, John asked, — 

" Is it true that George Ives has been hanged ? " 

148 Howie and Fetherstun. 

" Yes/' replied Beidler ; " he's dead and buried." 

" Who did it ? " inquired John. 

" Oh, the Virginia and Nevada people." 

" Did they find out anything ? " 

" They found out some things," said Beidler, 
" and are now after the robbers of Moody's train. 
One of them, Dutch John, was shot, and I expect 
to find him dead upon the trail. If I do, I shall 
confiscate his leggings, for I need a pair very 

" Would you take his leggings if you found 
him ? " inquired Dutch John. 

" Of course I would, if he was dead," said 

They continued to chat till late in the evening, 
passing the night together, Beidler never suspect- 
ing him to be the robber he was in pursuit of. 
The next morning Beidler dressed John's frozen 
hands, and they separated. 

The next day, while making his way through 
Beaver caiion, John was saen and recognized by 
Captain Wall and Ben Peabody, who were en- 
camped there by stress of weather, with a pack 
train, en route to Salt Lake. They saw him and 
the Indian take shelter in a vacant cabin at no 
great distance beyond their camp, and went im- 
mediately with the information to John Fether- 

Hoivie and FethevMiui. 140 

slim, wIk» was also near at hand with eight teams 
and dl•i^•el■s, awaiting an abatement of the tempera- 
ture. Fetherstun recommended that John shouhl 
lie hanged to one of the logs projecting from 
the end of the cabin. Wall and Peabody wanted 
him to be returned to Bannack. Being unable to 
agree, Wall and Peabody proceeded down the 
road to the camp of Neil Howie, who was on his 
return from Salt Lake, in charge of three wagons 
laden with groceries and flour. If they had 
searched the world over, they could have found 
no fitter man for their purpose. Brave as a lion, 
and as efficient as brave, Neil Howie inherited from 
nature a royal hatred of crime and criminals in 
every form. He laid his plans at once for the cap- 
ture and return of John to Bannack. The men 
belonging to his train promised him ready assist- 
ance. In a short time John and the Indian ap- 
peared in the distance, and the courage of Neil's 
friends, which began at that moment to weaken, 
'^grew small by degrees, and beautifully less," 
as the stalwart desperado approached, until, to 
use an expression much in vogue in those days, 
they concluded that as they " had lost no murder- 
ers," the reasons given for the arrest of this one 
were not sufficiently urgent to command their as- 
sistance in such a formidable undertaking. In 

150 Howie and Fetherstun. 

plain words, they backed out of their promise. 
Neil, whose contempt for a coward was only 
equalled by his abhorrence of a murderer, still 
determined upon the capture. It would be a libel 
upon the honest Scotch inflexibility which had 
come down to him through his Covenanting pro- 
genitors to recede from a resolution which his 
conscience so fully approved. Dutch John rode 
up and asked for some tobacco. 

" We have none to spare," said the train mas- 
ter. " Go to the big train below. They will 
supply you." 

He cast a suspicious, uneasy glance at the men, 
and, with the Indian by his side, rode on. Neil 
looked after him until nearly lost to sight, then 
mounted his pony and rode rapidly in pursuit, 
with the hope of obtaining aid from the big train, 
which belonofed to James Vivion. He soon over- 
took the fugitive, wdiom he found with rifle in 
hand, ready to defend his liberty. The Indian, 
too, apprised of Neil's approach, passed his hands 
over his quiver, seemingly to select an arrow for 
instant use. Carelessly remarking, as he passed, 
that he had to borrow a shoeing hammer to pre- 
pare the stock for crossing the divide, Neil rode 
on under the muzzle of John's rifle, without draw- 
ing his reins until he arrived at the train. The 

Howie and Fetherstun. 151 

remark disarmed John's suspicions, or he would 
doubtless have fired upon him. 

Neil related the particulars of John's career. 
" It is a burning shame — a reproach to the Terri- 
tory, and will be an eternal reproach to us if we 
permit so great a villain to escape. Just reflect, — 
he is a horse-thief and a murderer, stained with 
blood, and covered with crimes. Let us arrest 
him at once." 

All to no purpose. The men, one and all, 
declined having anything to do with it. Mean- 
time John came up and asked for some tobacco. 

" Have you any money ? " inquired one of the 

" Not a cent," was the reply. 

" Then," said his interrogator, " we have no 
tobacco for you." 

'• Oh ! let him have what he wants," interposed 
Neil. " I wiU pay for it." 

John's face wore a grateful expression. He 
thanked Neil, and with the Indian took his 
departure. Neil made another hurried appeal, 
not to let the murderer and road agent escape, 
but the men refused to help. 

" Then," said he, " I will arrest him alone," and 
he strode rapidly after John, shouting, — 

" Hallo, captain ! hold on a minute." 

152 Howie and Fetherstim. 

John wheeled his mule half round, and sat 
awaiting the approach of Neil. To the stature 
and strength of a giant, John added a nature 
hardened by crime, and the ferocious courage of 
a tiger. His face, browned by exposure, reflected 
the dark passions of his heart, and was lighted 
up by a pair of eyes full of malignity. Nature 
had covered him with sio^ns and marks indicative 


of his character. Neil, on the other hand, was 
rather under the medium size, with nothing in his 
general make-up that denoted uncommon strength 
or activity, though, when aroused, no mountain 
cat was more active in his movements, and 
strength seemed always to come to him equal to 
any emergency. His clear gray eye, calm and 
gentle in repose, became very powerful and com- 
manding under excitement. 

With his gaze fixed steadily uj^on the ruffian, 
he marched rapidly towards him. John slewed 
his rifle around, grasping the barrel with his left, 
and the small of the stock with his right hand, as 
if preparing for a deadly aim. Neil's hand fell 
with an admonitory ring upon the trusty revolver 
in his belt, which had never failed him. For an 
instant only, it seemed that either the rifle or 
pistol would decide the adventure ; but the ruffian 
quailed before the determined gaze of Howie, 

Howie and Fetherstun. 153 

who passed unharmed beyond the muzzle of his 
rifle, and stood with his hand upon the flank of 
the mule. Looking John steadily in the eye, 
in a quiet but authoritative tone, Neil said to 
him, — 

" Give me your gun and get off your mule." 

With blanched face and trembling hands, John 
complied, at the same time expressing his willing- 
ness to submit to the capture. 

" You have nothing to fear from me," said he 
as he alighted, and handed the reins to Howie. 
It is said that occasions will always find men suited 
to meet them. This occasion found, among a 
crowd of twenty or more experienced mountain- 
eers, only Neil Howie as the man endowed with 
moral and physical courage to grapple with It. 

The prisoner accompanied his captor to the 
camp-fire. The weather was intensely cold. 
Many of the oxen belonging to the trains had 
died from exposure, and others wery so severely 
frozen that they lost their hoofs and tails the 
succeeding spring. As soon as Howie and his 
prisoner were thoroughly warmed, Neil said to 
him, — 

" John, T have arrested you for the part you 
took in the robbery of Moody's train last month. 
Every man in that company charges you with it." 

154 Hoivie and Fetherstun. 

" It's a lie," said John. " I had no hand in it 
at all." 

" That question can be easily decided," replied 
Neil, " for the man they supposed to be you was 
wounded by a shot in the shoulder. If you are 
not the person, there will be no bullet mark there. 
I don't wish to make a mistake, and your denial 
of the charge makes it necessary that I should 
examine. Just remove your shirt." 

John reluctantly complied, all the while pro- 
testing his innocence. When, however, the shoul- 
der was bared, the scarcely healed perforation 
settled all doubts in Howie's mind concerning the 
personal identity of his prisoner. 

" How is it," said he, " if vou are not the man. 
that you have this scar ? " 

" I got it accidentally while asleep by my camp- 
fire. It was cold, and I lay near the fire. My 
clothes caught fire, and the cap ignited, discharg- 
ing my pistol, which was strapped to my side." 

" Let me prove to you that this story cannot 
be true," said Neil. 

Placing a cap upon a stick, he held it in the 
hottest blaze of the camp-fire. Minutes elapsed 
before it exploded. 

" Do you not see," he continued, " that long 
before the cap on your pistol would have exploded, 

Motvie and I^etKerstun. 155 

you would have been burned to death ? But 
there is still another reason. If it had exploded, 
as you say, the ball could never have wounded 
your shoulder. You must go with me to Bannack. 
If you can prove your innocence there, as I hope 
you may, it will all be well with you." 

Leaving his prisoner in charge of the train 
company, Neil started in pursuit of a person to 
aid in conveying him to Bannack. Unsuccessful 
in this, he left with John in company, and pro- 
ceeded to Dry creek, where was a camp of 
fifty or sixty teamsters. Such was their fear of 
the roughs, that they one and all refused to assist 
him. While deliberating what next to do, a man 
by the name of Irvine suggested to him that if 
Fetherstun could be induced to aid, he would be 
a suitable man for the purpose. Neil went 
immediately to Fetherstun's camp, fully deter- 
mined, if again rebuffed, to attempt the journey 
with his prisoner alone. Fetherstun volunteered 
without hesitation, and for the two following days 
while awaiting an al)atement in the weather, took 
the prisoner in charge and conlined him, under 
guard, in the cabin he had left but the day 

On the third day Howie and Fetherstun started 
with fFohn for Bannack, the weather still so severe 

156 Howie and Pethersiurii 

that they were obliged every few miles to stop and 
build fires to escape freezing. On one of these 
occasions, while Fetherstun was holding the horses 
and Howie building a fire, their guns having been 
deposited some forty feet away, the prisoner, under 
pretence of gathering some dry wood which was 
in a direct line beyond the guns, walked rapidly 
towards them, intending evidently to possess him- 
self of the weapons, and fight his way to an es- 
cape. His design, however, was frustrated by his 
captors, who fortunately secured the guns before 
he could reach them. 

During the night when they were encamped at 
Red Rock, misled by the apparent slumber of his 
captors, John rose up, but, upon gazing around, 
met the fixed eye of Howie, and immediately re- 
sumed his recumbency. As the night wore on, 
the two men, worn with fatigue, again sunk into 
repose. Assured by their heavy breathing, John 
again rose up, but scarcely had he done so when 
Neil, rising too, said quietly, — 

" John, if you do that again, I'll kill you." 
The ruffian sunk upon his blankets in despair. 
He felt that he was in the keeping of one who 
never slept on duty. Still the hope of escape was 
uppermost. Seeing a camp by the roadside, he 
naturally concluded that it belonged to a company 

Howie and Fetheratun. 157 

of his comrades, and commenced shoutins" and 
singing to attract their attention. As no response 
followed and no rescuers appeared, he soon became 
silent and despondent. 

This trip of three days' duration, with the ther- 
mometer thirty-five degrees below zero, and no 
other food than the shank of a small ham, uniting 
with it the risk of assassination and of personal 
contest with robbers, exposure to an arctic atmos- 
phere, and starvation, while it Ijore ample testi- 
mony to the moral intrepidity and physical endur- 
ance of Howie and Fetherstun, and marked them 
for a pursuit which they ever after followed, was 
also rife with associations which bound these brave 
spirits in a friendship that only death could sever. 
It is no injustice to any of the early citizens of 
Montana to say that, not less for its present ex- 
emption from crime and misrule than for the active 
and vigilant measures which, in its early history, 
visited the ruffians with punishment, and fright- 
ened villany from its boundaries, is the Territory 
indebted to the efficient co-operative labors of 
these self-sacrificing, heroic men. They were 
pioneers who deserve to rank in future history 
with such men as Boone and Kenton ; and long 
after the names of many now oftener mentioned 
in connection with circumstances of trifling im- 

158 Hoivie and Fetherstun. 

port are forgotten, theirs will be remembered and 
honored. Noble Howie ! how short a time it 
seems since he was cut down in the very prime 
of his manhood, upon the distant shores of Guiana. 
Many, many years must pass before the memory 
of his heroic actions, his genial nature, his warm, 
impulsive friendship, will be forgotten by those 
who knew and loved him in his mountain 

To return to the narrative. When the captors 
had arrived at Horse prairie, twelve miles from 
Bannack, Fetherstun encamped with the prisoner, 
while Howie rode on to the town to reconnoitre. 
Fears were entertained that the roughs would at- 
tempt a rescue. It was understood that if Howie 
did not return in three hours, Fetherstun should 
take the prisoner into town. Accordingly, he pro- 
ceeded with him without molestation to Sears's 
Hotel. Soon afterwards Howie, meeting Plum- 
mer, said to him, — 

" I have captured Dutch John, and he is now 
in my custody at Sears's Hotel." 

" You have ? " replied Plummer with a leer. 
" What is the charge against him ? " 

" Attacking Moody's train," 

" Well, I suppose you are willing he should be 
tried by the civil authorities. This new way our 

Howie and Fetherstun. 159 

people have of hanging men without law or evi- 
dence isn't exactly the thing. It's time a stop 
was put to it. I'll take John into my custody as 
sheriff, and relieve you from all further responsi- 

" Not exactly, Plummer," replied Howie. " I 
shall keep John until the people's tribunal decides 
whether they want him or not. I've had a good 
deal of trouble in brino-ino; him here, and don't 
intend he shall escape, if I can help it." 

After a few^ more w^ords they separated. Mean- 
time Fetherstun had left Sears's Hotel wdth his 
prisoner, and gone down the street to Durand's 
saloon. Fetherstun, being an entire stranger, 
kept close watch of his prisoner. They sat down 
at a table and engaged in a game at cards. Howie 
came in, and warned Fetherstun to be on the alert 
for a rescue, promising to return in a few minutes. 
Buck Stinson and Ned Ray soon after made their 
appearance, and shook hands with John. They 
were followed by four or five others, and the num- 
ber finally increased to fifteen. Fetherstun's 
suspicions, excited from the first, were confirmed 
on seeing one of the men step up to John, and say 
in an authoritative voice, — 

" You are my prisoner ; " which remark was 
followed by a glance and a smile by the ruffian, 

160 Sowie and Fetlierstun. 

as much as to say, " I'm safe now, and your time 
has come." 

Fetherstun, anticipating an attack by the crew, 
stepped into a corner, and drew his revolver. 
Those of my readers who have since had frequent 
opportunity to estimate the cool, determined cour- 
age of the man, will know that this preliminary 
movement was only preparatory to the desperate 
heroism and energy with which, had occasion re- 
quired it, he would then have sold his life to a 
crowd of supposed desperadoes. They took the 
prisoner away without resistance, and Fetherstun 
returned to his hotel. Four or five men were 
there, of whom, on inquiry, he learned that Howie 
had not been there. As soon as he heard this, he 
said to them, — 

" Gentlemen, I don't know whom I am address- 
ing, but if you're the right kind of men, I want 
you to follow me. I am afraid the road agents 
have killed Neil Howie. He left me half an hour 
ago, to be back in five minutes." 

He seized his gun, and was about to leave when 
a man opened the door, and told him not to be 
uneasy. This seemed to satisfy all the company 
except Fetherstun. He left the hotel, gun in 
hand, and at no great distance came to a cabin 
filled with men, with Dutch John as the central 


Overland Express Messenger. 

Howie and Fetherstun. 161 

figure. Being denied admission, he demanded his 
prisoner. He was told that they were examining 
him. The men whom Fetherstun had mistaken 
as road agents had mistaken him for the same. 
Explanations soon set both right, and John was 
restored to the custody of Howie and Fetherstun, 
who marched him back to the hotel, where he 
was again examined. 

After many denials and prevarications, he finally 
made a full confession of guilt, and corroborated 
the statements which " Red " had made, implicat- 
ing the persons whose names are contained in the 
list he had furnished. This concluded the labors 
of that day, and at a late hour Howie and Fether- 
stun, unable to obtain lodgings for their prisoner 
in any of the inhabited dwellings of Bannack, 
took him to an empty cabin on Yankee Flat. 

162 Execution of Plummer. 



Re-actiox in Public Sentiment — Mixers axl be- 
come Vigilantes — Alarm of Plummer — Messen- 
gers TO Bannack — Arrest and Execution of 
Plummer, Ray, and Stinson — Interview avith 
Plummer's Brother — Plummer's Craftiness. 

Retribution followed rapidly upon the heels 
of disclosure. The organization of the Vigilantes 
of Nevada and Virginia City was effected as 
quietly as possible, but it embraced nearly every 
good citizen in Alder gulch. Men who before 
the execution of Ives were seemingly indifferent 
to the bloody acts of the desperadoes, and even 
questioned the expediency of that procedure, 
were now eager for the speedy destruction of the 
entire band. Every man whose name appeared 
on the list furnished by Yager (Red) was marked 
for early examination, and, if found guilty, for 
condign punishment. The miners forsook their 
work in the gulch to engage in the pursuit and 
capture of the ruffians, regardless alike of their 

Execution of Plummer. 163 

personal interests, the freezing weather of a severe 
winter, and the utter desolation of a country but 
partially explored, immense in extent, destitute 
of roads, and unfurnished even by nature with 
any protection against exposure. 

The crisis demanded speedy action. The delay 
of a day or even an hour might enable the lead- 
ing ruffians to escape, and thus defeat the force of 
a great and efficient example. The ruffians them- 
selves had taken the alarm. Many of them were 
on their return to Walla Walla, and others were 
making preparations for leaving. It was of spe- 
cial importance to the object in hand, that Plum- 
mer, the chief of the robber band, should be the 
first to suffer. That individual, ignorant of the 
disclosures that had been made by Yager, was at 
Bannack, quietly preparing for an early departure 
from the Territory. Calm and placid in outward 
seeming, his conduct bore evidence that he was 
all terror within. He was too familiar with the 
extreme phases of character not to suspect that he 
had possibly been betrayed by some of the num- 
ber that had been captured, though much too 
polite and sagacious to manifest by his deport- 
ment the presence of any such suspicion. But 
he was constantly on the alert. Not a beat in 
the pulse 'of the community escaped his notice. 

164 Execution of Plummer. 

Not a strange face that he did not closely scan, 
nor a gathering occur whose details escaped him. 
The language of looks and signs and movements 
was as familiar to him as that of words, and in it 
he read plainly and unmistakably that his reign 
of deception was at an end. The people had 
found him out, and he knew it. His only mistake 
was that he delayed action until it was too late. 

At a late hour of the same night that Dutch 
John was examined, four Vigilantes arrived at 
Bannack from Virginia City, with intelligence of 
the organization at that place, asking the co-opera- 
tion of the citizens of Bannack, and ordering the 
immediate execution of Plummer, Stinson, and 
Ray. A hurried meeting was held, and the 
Sabbath daylight dawned upon a branch organiza- 
tion at Bannack. The day wore on unmarked by 
any noticeable event until late in the afternoon. 
Three horses were then brought into town, which 
were recognized as belonging to the three 

" Aha ! " said one citizen to another, " those 
rascals scent the game and are preparing to leave. 
If they do, that will be the last of them." 

" We can block that game," was the rejoinder. 

Several members of the Vigilance Committee 
met on the spur of the moment and adopted 

Execution of Plmnmer. 165 

measures for the immediate arrest and execution 
of the three robbers. Stinson and Ray were 
arrested without opposition, — one at Mr. Toland's 
cabin, and the other, stretched at the time upon a 
gaming table, in a saloon. The party detailed to 
arrest PI ummer found him at his cabin, in the act 
of washing his face. When informed that he 
was wanted he manifested great unconcern, and 
proceeded quietly to wipe his face and hands. 

" I'll be with you in a moment, ready to go 
wherever you wish," he said to the leader of the 
Viofilantes. Tossing- down the towel and smooth- 
ino- his shirt-sleeves, he advanced towards a chair 
on which his coat was lying, carelessly remarking : 
" I'll be ready as soon as I can put on my coat." 

One of the party, discovering the muzzle of 
his pistol protruding beneath the coat, stepped 
quickly forward, saying as he did so, — 

" I'll hand your coat to you." At the same 
moment he secured the pistol, which being 
observed by Plummer, he turned deathly pale, but 
still maintained sufficient composure to converse 
in his usual calm, measured tone. The fortunate 
discovery of the pistol defeated the desperate 
measures which a desperate man would have 
employed to save his life. With his expertness 
in the use of that weapon, he would doubtless 

166 Execution of Plummer. 

have slain some or all of his captors. He was 
marched to a point where, as designated before 
the capture, he joined Stinson and Ray, and 
thence the three were conducted under a formi- 
dable escort to the gallows. This structure, 
roughly framed of the trunks of three small 
pines, stood in a dismal spot three hundred yards 
from the centre of the town. It was erected the 
previous season by Plummer, who as sheriff had 
hanged thereon one John Horan, who had been 
convicted of the murder of Keeley. Terrible 
must have been its appearance as it loomed up in 
the bright starlight, the only object visible to the 
gaze of the guilty men, on that long waste of 
ghastly snow. A negro boy came up to the gal- 
lows with ropes before the arrival of the cavalcade. 
All the way, Ray and Stinson filled the air with 
curses. Plummer, on the contrary, first begged 
for his life, and, finding that unavailing, resorted 
to argument, and sought to persuade his captors 
of his innocence. 

" It is useless," said one of the Vigilantes, " for 
you to beg for your life ; that affair is settled, and 
cannot be altered. You are to be hanged. You 
cannot feel harder about it than I do ; but I can- 
not help it if I would." 

" Do not answer me so," persisted the now 

Execution of Plummer. 167 

humbled and abject suppliant, " but do with me 
anything else you please. Cut off my ears, and 
cut out my tongue, and strip me naked this freez- 
ing night, and let me go. I beg you to spare 
my life. I want to live for my wife, — my poor 
absent wife. I wish to see my sister-in-law. I 
want time to settle my business affairs. Oh, 
God ! " Falling upon his knees, the tears stream- 
ing from his eyes, and with his utterance choked 
with sobs, he continued, — 

" I am too wicked to die. I cannot go blood- 
stained and unforgiven into the presence of the 
Eternal. Only spare me, and I will leave the 
country forever." 

To all these, an 1 many more petitions in the 
same vein, the only answer was an assurance that 
his pleadings were all in vain, and that he must die. 
Meantime, Stinson and Ray discharged volley after 
volley of oaths and epithets at the Vigilantes, em- 
ploying all the offensive language of their copious 
vocabulary. At length the ropes were declared to 
be in readiness, and the stern command was given, — 

"Bring up Ned Ray." Struggling wildly in 
the hands of his executioners, the wretched man 
was strung up, the rope itself arresting his curse 
before it was half uttered. Being loosely pin- 
ioned, he thrust his fingers under the noose, andj 

168 Execution of Plummer. 

by a sudden twist of his head, the knot slipped 
under his chin. 

" There goes poor Ned Ray," whined Stinson, 
who a moment later was dangling in the death- 
agony by his side. As Stinson was being hoisted, 
he exclaimed, "I'll confess." Plummer immedi- 
ately remarked, " We've done enough already, 
twice over, to send us to hell." 

Plummer's time had come. " Bring him up," 
was the stern order. No one stirred. Stinson 
and Ray were common villains ; but Plummer, 
steeped as he was in infamy, was a man of intel- 
lect, polished, genial, affable. There was some- 
thino- terrible in the idea of hanoins: such a man. 
Plummer himself had ceased all importunity. The 
crisis of self-abasement had passed, hope fled with 
it, and he Avas now composedly awaiting his fate. 
As one of the Vigilantes approached him, he met 
him with the request, — 

" Give a man time to pray." 

" Certainly," replied the Vigilante, " but say 
your prayers up there," at the same time pointing 
to the cross-beam of the gallows-frame. 

The guilty man uttered no more prayers. Stand- 
ing erect under the gallows, he took off his neck- 
tie, and, throwing it over his shoulder to a young 
man who had boarded with him, he saidj — 

Execution of Ptummer. 169 

" Keep that to remember me by," and, turning 
to the Vigilantes, he said, " Now, men, as a last 
favor, let me beg that you will give me a good 

The fatal noose being adjusted, several of the 
strongest of the Vigilantes lifted the frame of the 
unhappy criminal as high as they could reach, 
when, letting it suddenly fall, he died quickly, 
without a struggle. 

The weather was intensely cold. A large num- 
ber of persons had followed the cavalcade, but 
were stopped by a guard some distance from the 
gallows. The Vigilantes surrounded the bodies 
until satisfied that the hangman's noose had com- 
pleted their work, when they formed and marched 
back to the town. The bodies were afterwards 
buried by the friends of the criminals. 

Buck Stinson was born near Greencastle, Indi- 
ana. His parents removed to Andrew county, 
Missouri, when he was about fourteen years of age. 
He was a bright and very studious boy, was de- 
voted to his books, which he read almost con- 
stantly, and gave promise of genius ; and many 
who knew him predicted for him a brilliant and 
honorable future. His family was highly rt spect- 

Henry Plummer was born in the State of Con- 

170 Execution of Plummer. 

necticut, and was in the twenty-seventh year of 
his age at the time of his death. His wife, who 
had sfone to her former home in the States three 
months previous to his execution, was entirely 
ignorant of the guilty life he was leading, and for 
some time after his death believed that he had 
fallen a victim to a conspiracy. She was, how- 
ever, fully undeceived, and the little retrospect 
which her married life with him afforded, con- 
vinced her of his infamy. 

Many of the citizens of Montana doubted 
whether the name by which he was known was 
his true one ; but its genuineness has been estab- 
lished in many ways, and, among others, by the 
following incident, which I here relate as well to 
illustrate the subtlety of Plummer, as to show the 
standing and character of his family relations. 

In the summer of 1869, soon after the comple- 
tion of the first transcontinental railway, being in 
New York City, I was requested by Edwin R. 
Purple, who resided in Bannack in 18G2, to call 
with him upon a sister and brother of Plummer. 
He learned from them that they had been misled 
concerning the cause of their brother's execution by 
letters which he wrote to them in 1863, in which he 
told them that he was in constant danger of being 
hanged because of his attachment to the Union. 

Execution of Plummer. 171 

They honestly believed that his loyalty and patriot- 
ism had cost him his life, and they mourned his 
loss not only as a brother, but as a martyr in the 
cause of his country. From the moment that they 
heard of his death, they had determined, if ever 
opportunity offered, to pursue and punish his 
murderers, and, with that purpose in view, w^ere 
about to leave by railroad for Ogden, Utah, and 
complete the remaining five hundred miles of the 
trip to Montana by stage coach. The next day, 
accompanied by Mr. Purple, I had an interview 
with them, and found them to be well-educated, 
cultivated people. They were very eager in their 
desire to find and punish the murderers of their 
brother, and repeatedly avowed their intention to 
leave, almost immediately, in pursuit of them. 
Both Mr. Purple and I used all the plausible ar- 
truments we could summon to dissuade them from 
the undertaking, without revealing any of the 
causes which led to Plummer's death. All to no 
purpose. Finding them resolved, we concluded 
that, rather than allow them to suffer from the 
deception they labored under, we would put in 
their hands Dimsdale's " Vigilantes," with the 
assurance that all it contained relative to their 
brother was true. We urged them to satisfy 
themselves, from a perusal of it, of the utter 

172 • Execution of Ptummer. 

fruitlessness of their contemplated journey. The 
following clay we called upon the brother, who, 
with a voice broken by sobs and sighs, informed 
us that his sister was so prostrated with grief at 
the revelation of her brother's career that she 
could not see us. He thanked us for making 
known to them the terrible history, which other- 
wise they would have learned under circumstances 
doubly afflicting, after along and tedious journey. 

Death of PizantJiia. 173 



Attack upon the Cabtx of Jo Pizanthia, a Mexi- 
can Freebooter — He shoots George Copley 
and Smith Ball — Copley dies of the Wound — 
Outraged Citizens shell the Cabin — Pizan- 
thia's Capture effected with much Difficulty 
— His Body is riddled with Bullets, while he 
IS being hanged — The Cabin fired, and the 
Body burned to Ashes. 

The next movements of the Vigilantes were 
followed up with remarkable expedition. The 
work they had laid out contemplated the execu- 
tion of every member of Plummer's band who, 
upon fair trial, should be proved guilty of robbery 
or murder. They intended also to punish such 
incidental rascals as were known to be guilty of 
crime, and to act as a protective police, until such 
time as a competent judiciary should be estab- 
hshed in the Territory. There were many suspi- 
cious characters prowling around the gulches, 
who, though unaffiliated with the robber gang, 
were enofasfed in the constant commission of crimes. 

174 Death of Pizanthia. 

Flumes were robbed, burglaries committed, and 
broils were of frequent occurrence. The country 
was full of horse and cattle thieves. By prompt 
and severe punishment in all cases of detection, 
and by the speedy arrest and examination of all sus- 
pected persons, the Committee intended to strike 
with terror the entire lawless population, which 
had so long and unceasingly violated the laws and 
privileges of civilized life with impunity. 

The execution of Plummer, Stinson, and Ray 
met with general approbation. Every good man 
in the community was anxious to become enrolled 
on the list of the Vigilantes. The dark shadow 
of crime, which had hung like an angry cloud 
over the Territory, had faded before the omni- 
presence of Vigilante justice. The very feeling 
of safety inspired by the change was the strong- 
est security for the growth and efficiency of the 

The morning succeeding the execution, the 
Committee met to devise further measures for the 
arrest of the criminals still at laro-e. None of 


the reputed members of Plummer's band were 
then in Bannack. There was, however, a Mexican 
known by the name of Jo Pizanthia, living in a 
little cabin built against the side of one of the 
hills overlooking the town. Being the only 

Death of Plzanthia. 175 

Mexican in the place, he went by the designation 
o£ " The Greaser." He brought with him to the 
Territory the reputation of a desperado, robber, 
and murderer. With a view of investigating his 
career in the Territory, the Committee ordered his 
immediate arrest, and sent a party to the cabin to 
effect it. The little building was closed, and 
there was nothing in the appearance of the newly 
fallen snow to indicate that it had been occupied 
since the previous day. George Copley and 
Smith Ball, two esteemed citizens, led the public 
force, and, advancing in front of it to the door 
of the cabin, called upon the Mexican by name 
to come forth. No answer being made, they 
concluded, against the advice of their comrades, 
to enter the cabin. Cautiously lifting the latch, 
the tw^o men stepped over the threshold, each 
receiving, as he did so, the fire of the desperate 
inmate. Copley was shot in the breast, and Ball 
in the hip. Both staggered out, exclaiming in 
the same breath, " I'm shot." Two of the com- 
pany supported Copley to the hotel, but the poor 
fellow died of the wound in a few moments. 
Ball recovered sufficiently to remain upon the 

When it was known that Copley was killed, the 
exasperation of the party at the dastardly deed 

176 Death of Pizanthia. 

knew no bounds. They instantly decided to 
inflict summary vengeance upon the murderer. 
Protected by the logs of the cabin, of which the 
door was the only entrance, the crowd appreciated 
the Mexican's facilities for making an obstinate 
and bloody defence. How to secure him without 
injury to themselves, called for the exercise of 
strategy rather than courage. Fortunately, a dis- 
mounted mountain howitzer which had been left 
by a wagon train lay near by ; and bringing this 
to a point within a few rods of the side of the 
cabin, they placed it upon a box, and loaded it 
with shell. At the first discharge, the fuse being 
uncut, the missile tore through the logs without 
explosion. The second was equally unsuccessful, 
on account of the shortness of range. Aim was 
now directed at the chimney, upon the supposi- 
tion that the man might have sought refuge with- 
in it, and a solid shot sent through it — the men 
meantime firing into the hole made by the shell 
in the side of the cabin. No shot was fired in 

A storming party was now formed, the men of 
Nevada being the first to join it. Half a dozen 
in number, the men moved steadily onward under 
cover of neighboring cabins, until they reached 
the space between them and the beleaguered cita- 

Death of Pizanthia. 177 

del. Rushing impetuously across, they stood in 
front of the entrance, the door having fallen 
inwards from the fusillade. Looking cautiously 
into the cabin, they discovered the boots of the 
Mexican, protruding beneath the door, which had 
fallen upon him. Lifting the door, they dragged 
him forth. He was badly injured, but, on the 
moment of his appearance. Smith Ball emptied 
his revolver into his body. A clothes-line near 
was taken down, and fastened round his neck, 
and an ambitious citizen climbed a pole, and, while 
those below held up the body of the expiring 
Mexican, he fastened the rope to the top of the 
pole. Lito the body thus suspended, the crowd 
discharged more than a h .indred shots, — satiating 
their thirst for revenge u])on a ghastly corpse. 

While this scene was progressing, several other 
persons were engaged in tearing down the cabin. 
Throwing it into a pile, it was set on fire, and, 
when fairly in a blaze, the riddled body of Pizan- 
thia was taken down, and placed upon the pyre. 
Its destruction by the devouring element was 
complete; not a vestige of the poor wretch re- 
mained ; though the next morning a number of 
notorious women were early at the spot, engaged 
in panning out the ashes of the ill-fated desperado, 
in search of gold. 

178 Death of Pizanthia. 

This entire transaction was an act of popular 
vengeance. The people were infuriated at the 
murder of Copley, who, besides being one of 
their best citizens, was a general favorite. There 
seemed to be no occasion or excuse for it, as the 
Vigilantes contemplated nothing more by the arrest 
of Pizanthia, than an examination of his territorial 
record. With the crimes he had committed 
before he came to the Territory, they had nothing 
to do ; and if he had been guilty of none after he 
came there, the heaviest possible punishment they 
would have inflicted was banishment. He 
brought his fate upon himself. It was a brief 
interlude in Vigilante history, the terrible features 
of which, though they may be deemed without 
apology or excuse, need not seek for multiplied 
precedents outside of the most enlightened 
nations or most refined societies in all Christen- 

^zeciUioH of Dutch John, 179 



Dutch John was still a prisoner in charge of 
Fetherstun, in the gloomy cabin on Yankee Flat, a 
euphonious title given to a little suburb of a dozen 
cabins of the town of Bannack. He had behaved 
with great propriety, and by his amiability of de- 
portment won the sympathy and respect of his 
captors. The revelations which he made in his 
confession, implicating others^ made him fearful 
of his former companions in crime, who, he knew, 
would kill him on the first opportunity. One night 
during his imprisonment both he and Fetherstun 
were alarmed by the sound of approaching foot- 
steps and suppressed voices in earnest conversation. 
Fetherstun prepared his arms for a defence. Cast- 
ing a glance at his prisoner, what was his aston- 
ishment to see him standing near the door, with a 
loaded double-barrelled gun, awaiting the approach 
of the outsiders. 

" That's right, John," said Fetherstun approv- 
ingly ; " fire upon them if they come. Don't 
spare a man." 

180 Execution of Dutch John. 

John smiled and nodded, levelling the muzzle 
of the gun towards the sound, but the ruffians 
heard the click of the locks, and departed. John 
could have shot his keeper and escaped, but he 
feared the vengeance of his comrades more than 
the stern justice of the Vigilantes. 

The fate of this desperado was yet undecided 
by the Committee. He was not without strong 
hope of escape, and his good conduct was doubt- 
less attributable to the b3lief that both Howie and 
Fetherstun would interpose to save him. The even- 
ing of the day after the death of Pizanthia, the 
Committee met. The case of Dutch John came up 
for discussion. If it had been consistent with the 
laws prescribed for the government of the Com- 
mittee, John would have been banished ; but his 
guilty, blood-stained record demanded that he 
should die. He had been a murderer and hig-h- 
wayman for years, and the vote for his immediate 
execution was unanimous. The decision was re- 
duced to writing, and a member of the Committee 
deputed to read it to the prisoner, and inform him 
that he would be executed in one hour. The 
wretched man was overcome. He rose from his 
blankets, and paced several times excitedly across 
the floor. Like Plummer, he then resorted to 

Execution of Dutch John. 181 

" Do with me as you please. Disable me in 
any way, cut off my hands and feet, but let me 
live. You can certainly destroy my power for 
harm without taking my life." 

" Your request cannot be complied with," said 
the messenger. " You must prepare to die." 

" So be it, then," he replied, and immediately 
all signs of weakness disappeared. " I wish," he 
continued, " to write to my mother. Is there a 
German here who can write my native language ? " 

Such a person was sent for. Under John's 
dictation, he wrote a letter to his mother. It was 
read to him, and he was so dissatisfied with it that 
he removed the rags from his frozen hands and 
finoers, and wrote himself. 

He told his mother that he had been condemned 
to death, and would be executed in a few minutes. 
In explanation of his offence, he wrote that while 
coming from the Pacific side, to deal in horses, he 
had fallen into the company of bad men. They 
had beguiled him into the adoption of a career of 
infamy. He was to die for aiding in the robbery 
of a wagon, while engaged in which he had been 
wounded, and his companion was slain. His sen- 
tence, though severe, he acknowledged to be just. 

Handing the letter to the Vigilantes, he quietly 
replaced the bandages upon his unhealed fingers. 

182 Execution of Dutch Jolm. 

His manner, though grave and solemn, was com- 
posed and dignified. Something in his conduct 
showed that he truly loved his mother. Much 
sympathy for him was evinced in the manner and 
attention of those who conducted him to the place 
of execution, in an unfinished building at no great 
distance from his place of confinement. The first 
objects which met his gaze, as he stood beneath 
the fatal beam, Avere the bodies of Plummer and 
Stinson, the one laid out upon the floor for burial, 
the other upon a work-bench. He gazed upon 
their ghastly features unshrinkingly, and in clear 
tones asked leave to pray, which was readily 
granted. Kneeling down, amid the profound 
silence of a crowd of spectators, his lips moved 
rapidly, and his face wore a pleading expression, 
but his utterance was inaudible. Rising to his 
feet, while seemingly still engaged in prayer, he 
cast an expressive glance at the audience, and then 
surveyed the provisions made for his execution. 
A rope with the fatal noose dangled from the 
cross-beam, and beneath it stood a barrel, around 
which was a cord, whose ends, stretching across 
the floor, left no doubt as to the office it was ex- 
temporized to perform. 

" How long," he inquired, " will it take me to 
die? I have never seen a man hanged," 

Execution of Dutch John. 183 

" It will be very short, John, — very short. 
You will not suffer much pain," was the reply of 
a Vigilante. 

The poor wretch mounted the barrel, and stood 
perfectly unmoved while the rope was adjusted 
to his neck. The men laid hold of the rope 
which encircled the barrel. Everything being 
prepared, at the words, " All ready," the barrel 
was jerked from beneath him, and the stalwart 
form of the robber, after several powerful strug- 
gles, hung cahn and still. Dutch John had fol- 
lowed his leader to the other shore. 

184 Virginia City Executions* 



Virginia City surrounded by Vigilantes from all 
Parts of the Gulch — Frank Parish, Boone Helm, 
''Clubfoot George," Jack Gallagher, and Hayes 
Lyons arrested, tried, and executed — Bill Hun- 
ter ESCAPES through THE LiNE OF GuARDS. 

While the events I have just recorded were 
m progress at Bannack, the Vigilantes of Virginia 
City were not inactive. Alder Gulch had been the 
stronghold of the roughs ever since its discovery. 
Nearly all their predatory expeditions had been 
fitted out there. Being much the largest, richest, 
and most populous mining camp in the Territory, 
the opportunities it afforded for robbery were 
more frequent and promising, and less liable to 
discovery, than either Bannack or Deer Lodge. 
It was also filled with saloons, hurdy-gurdies, 
bapfnios, and sfamblino-rooms, all of which were 
necessities in the lives of these free rangers of the 
mountains. At the time of which I write there 
was a population of at least twelve thousand, 

Virginia City Executions. 185 

scattered through the various settlements from 
Junction to Summit, a distance of twelve miles. 
It was essentially a cosmopolitan community, — 
American in preponderance, but liberally sprinkled 
with people from all the nations of Europe. Some 
were going, and others coming, every day. Gold 
dust was abundant, and freedom from social and 
moral restraint characterized all classes, to an 
extent bordering upon criminal license. 

The Vigilantes, more than ever, after it was 
decided to execute Plummer, comprehended the 
necessity for prompt and vigorous measures, as 
that event of itself would be the sio^nal for all the 
guilty followers of that chief to fly the Territory. 
Accordingly, having ascertained that six of the 
robber band were still remaining in Virginia City, 
the Executive Committee decided upon effectual 
means for their immediate arrest. On the thir- 
teenth day of January, three days after Plummer 
was executed, an order was quietly made for the 
Vio-ilantes to assemble at nio-ht in sufficient force 
to surround the city. Not a man was to be per- 
mitted to leave the city after the line of guards 
was established. Bill Hunter, one of the six 
marked for capture, suspecting the plot, effected 
his escape by crawling beyond the pickets in a 
drain ditch. The city was encircled, after night- 

186 Virginia City Executions. 

fall, by more than five liundred armed men, so 
quietly that none within, except the Vigilantes, 
knew of it until the next morning. All that long 
winter night, while that cordon of iron men was 
quietly stretching along the heights overlooking 
the city, the Executive Committee sat in council, 
deliberating upon the evidences of guilt against 
the men enmeshed in their toils. 

At the same time another small band was as- 
sembled around a faro table in the chamber of a 
gambling-saloon. Jack Gallagher suddenly broke 
the silence of the game with the remark, — 

" While we are here betting, those Vigilantes 
are passing sentence of death upon us." 

Wonderful prescience ! he little knew or realized 
the truth which this observation had for him and 
his comrades in iniquity. 

Morning broke, cold and cloudy, discovering 
to the eyes of the citizens the pickets of the Vigi- 
lantes. The city was like an intrenched camp. 
Hundreds of men, with guns at the shoulder, were 
marchintr throug-h the snow on all the surround- 
ing hillsides, with military regularity and precision. 
The preparation could not have been more perfect 
if made to oppose an invading army. There was 
no misunderstanding this array. People talked 
with bated breath to each other of the certain 

Virginia City Executions. 187 

doom which awaited the villains who had so long 
preyed upon their substance, and spread terror 
through the country. 

Messeno-ers were sant to the different towns in 
the gulch to summon the Vigilantes to appear 
forthwith, and take part in the trial of the ruf- 
fians. At the same time parties were detailed to 
arrest and brino* the criminals before the Com- 
mittee. Boone Helm, Jack Gallagher, Frank 
Parish, Hayes Lyons, George Lane, and Bill 
Hunter were known to be in the city at the time 
the picket guard was stationed. Of these. Hunter 
had escaped. The Vigilantes from Nevada, 
Junction, Summit, Pine Grove, and Highland 
marched into town in detachments, and formed 
in a body on Main Street. The town was full of 

Frank Parish, the first prisoner brought in, was 
quietly arrested in a store. He exhibited little 
fear. Taking an executive officer aside, — 

" What," he inquired, " am I arrested for? " 

" For being a road-agent, thief, and an accessory 
to numerous robberies and murders on the high- 

"I am innocent of all, — as innocent as you 

When, however, he was put upon his examina- 

188 Virginia City Executions. 

tion before the Committee, and facts were brought 
home to him, he receded from his position of in- 
nocence, and confessed to more and greater offences 
than were charg'ed aarainst him. 

" I was," said he, " one of the party that robbed 
the coach between Virginia City and Bannack." 

This confession took the Committee by surprise. 
He then admitted that he had been guilty of horse- 
stealing for the robbers, and had butchered stolen 
cattle to supply them with food. He was fully 
cognizant of all their criminal enterprises, and 
shared with them as a member of the band. Upon 
this confession he was condemned to suffer death. 
He gave directions concerning his clothing and 
the settlement of his debts. His case beino- dis- 
posed of, he was committed to the custody of a 
strong guard. 

George Lane (Clubfoot George), who has fig- 
ured conspicuously in this history, was next intro- 
duced into the presence of the Committee. He 
was arrested without trouble, at Dance and Stuart's 
store. Perfectly calm and collected, he inquired, — 

"Why ami arrested?" 

On receivino- the same answer that had been 
given to Parish, he replied, — 

" If you hang me, you will hang an innocent 

Virginia City Executions. 189 

"We have positive proof of your guilt," was 
the response of the examining officer. " There is 
no possibility of a mistake." 

" What will you do with me? " 

" Your sentence is death," was the answer. 

His eyes dropped, and his countenance wore an 
expression of deep contrition. For some mo- 
ments he covered his face with his hands, seem- 
ingly overcome by the dreadful announcement. 
At length, dropping his hands, and looking into 
the face of the officer, he inquired, — 

" Can I have a minister, to pray for and talk 
with me? " 

" One shall be immediately sent for." 

And when the clergyman appeared. Lane, in 
care of the guard, spent his remaining hours of 
life in attendino- to the affairs of his soul. 

While his examination was progressing, parties 
came in with Boone Helm and Jack Gallagher. 
The former had been arrested by strategy, while 
standino; in front of the Virg-inia Hotel. With 
an armed man on either side, and one behind 
with a pistol presented to his head, this veteran 
scoundrel, bloodier far than any of his com- 
rades, was marched into the presence of his 

" Ah ! " he exclaimed, " if I'd only had a show, 

190 Virginia City Executions. 

if I'd known what you were after, you would 
have had a gay old time in taking me." 

His right hand was wounded, and supported by 
a sling. With much apparent serenity, he sat 
down on a bench, and looked defiantly into the 
faces of the members of the Committee. 

"What do you want of me here?" he 
inquired, affecting entire ignorance of the cause 
of his arrest. 

" We have proof that you belong to Plum- 
mer's band of robbers, that you have been 
guilty of highway robbery and murder, and 
wish to hear what you have to say to these 

" T am as innocent," replied the miscreant, in a 
deliberate tone, " as the babe unborn. I never 
killed any one, nor robbed or defrauded any man. 
I am willino- to swear it on the Bible." 

Less for any more important purpose than that 
of testing the utter depravity of the wretch, the 
interroofator handed him a Bible. With the 
utmost solemnity of manner and expression, he 
repeated the denial, invoking the most terrible 
penalties upon his soul, in attestation of its 
truthfulness, and kissed the volume impressively 
at its close. 

The Committee regarded this sacrilegious act of 

Virginia City Executions. 191 

the crlme-harclened reprobate with mingled feel- 
in ofs o£ horror and disoust. 

" This denial," said the president, " can avail 
you nothing*. Your life for many years has been 
a continuous career of crime. It is necessary that 
you should die. You had better improve the 
little time left you in preparation." 

Helm looked hopelessly around, but saw no 
glance of sympathy in the stern features of his 
judges. Beckoning to a person standing near, he 
whispered, — 

" Can I see you alone for a few minutes ? " 

The man, supposing that he was desirous of 
obtaining spiritual counsel, replied, — 

" I will send for a clergyman." 

"No," was the instant rejoinder. "I want no 
clergyman. You'll do as well." 

Stepping into the inner room. Helm closed the 
door, and, turning to the man, in an anxious tone 
put the question, — 

" Is there no way of getting out of this scrape ? " 

" None. No power here is available to save 
you. You must die." 

" Well, then," said he, " I'll admit to you that 
I did kill a man by the name of Shoot, in Mis- 
souri. When I left there I went to California, 
and killed another chap there. I was confined 

192 Virginia City Execution^. 

in jail in Oregon, and dug my way out with tools 
given me by my squaw." 

" Now," said his confessor, " having told me 
thus much, will you not give me what information 
you can concerning the band to which you 
belong, their names, crimes, and purposes ? " 

" Ask Jack Gallagher. He knows more than 
I do." 

Gallagher, who had been brought into an ad- 
joining apartment-, separated from the one in 
which this conversation occurred by a thin board 
partition, on hearing this reference to himself, 
poured forth a torrent of profane abuse upon the 
head of his guilty confederate. 

^' It is just such cowardly rascals and traitors 
as you," said he, " that have brought us into this 
difficulty. You ought to die for your treachery." 

" I have dared death in all its forms," said 
Helm, " and I do not fear to die. Give me some 

The guilty wretch, having been consigned to the 
custody of keepers, steeped what little sensibility 
he possessed in whiskey, and passed the time until 
the execution in ribald jesting and profanity. 

Jack Gallagher bounded into the committee- 
room, swearing and laughing, as if the whole 
affair was intended as a good joke. 

Vit'jbiia City Executions. 193 

"What," said he, with an oath and epithet 
appended to every word, " is it all about ? This 
is a pretty break, isn't it ? " 

On being informed of the charges against him, 
and the sentence of the Committee, he dropped 
into a seat and began to cry. In a few moments 
he jumped up, and with much expletive emphasis 
demanded the names of the persons who had in- 
formed against him. 

" It was ' Red,' who was hanged a few weeks 
agfo on the Stinkino'-water." 

Gallagher cursed the dead ruffian for a traitor, 
liar, and coward, in the same breath. 

"My God!" said he, "must I die in this 
way?" He was taken out of the committee-room 
while uttering the most terrible oaths and blas- 

Hayes Lyons, the only remaining ruffian, had 
not yet been arrested. The party detailed for 
that object, while searching for him at the Arbor 
Restaurant, had found and captured Gallagher, 
on learning which the Gallagher pursuers imme- 
diately took up the hunt for Lyons. Foiled at 
several points, they accidentally learned that he 
had crossed the cra^•s overhann-ino' the grulch, and, 
after wanderino; in a circuit of several miles throusfh 
the mountains, had come back to a miner's cabin 

194 Virginia City Executions. 

but half a mile distant from his point of departure. 
Proceeding with all possible speed to the cabin, 
the leader threw open the door, and, bringing his 
pistol to a deadly aim, exclaimed, — 

" Throw up your hands." 

Lyons, who was in the act of raising a piece of 
a griddle-cake to his mouth, dropped the fork in- 
stantly, and obeyed the order. 

" Come out here, and surrender at once," was 
the next command. 

He was in his shirt-sleeves, and, as he stepped 
out of the door into the biting atmosphere, he 
asked in an undertone, — 

" Will some one get my coat ? " 

A member of the party brought it to him, and 
assisted him in putting it on. He trembled so 
much with fear that it was with difficulty he could 
get his arms into the sleeves. While the party 
were searching him to ascertain if he was armed, 
he said, — 

" You disturbed me in the first meal I have sat 
down to with any appetite in six weeks." 

" Finish your dinner," said the leader. " We 
will wait for you." 

" Thank you ; you are very kind, but I can eat 
no more. What do you intend doing with me? 
Will I be hung?" 

Virginin City Executions. 195 

" We are not here to promise you anything. 
You had better prepare for the worst." 

^' My friends advised me to leave two or three 
days ago." 

" You would probably have done well had you 
followed their advice. Why didn't you go?" 

" Because I had done nothing wrong, and did 
not wish to leave." 

It is probable that but for the blandishments of 
a fascinating mistress, the memory of Dillingham's 
murder would have dictated to this ruffian an 
earlier and more successful effort at escape. 

" Have you heard of the execution of Plummer, 
Stinson, and Ray ? " asked the leader. 

" Yes ; but I don't believe the report is true." 

" You may bet your sweet life on 't." 

" Did they make any resistance ? " 

" No ; they had no opportunity." 

Arriving at the committee-room, the prisoner 
was immediately confronted with the officers. 

" We have condemned you to death for the 
murder of Dillingham, and being associated in 
membership with Plummer's band of road agents. 
Have you anything to say in extenuation ? " 

^' That I am not guilty. I have committed no 
crimes, and formed no associations, that call for 
such severity. I am as innocent as you are,'* 

196 Virginia City Executions. 

And yet, but a short time before, the wretched 
man had confessed to a leader of one of the police 
committees in presence of several witnesses, that 
he was the murderer of Dillingham. His compli- 
city with Plummer's band was known to all. 

Scarcely was Lyons's examination concluded, 
when word was broug^ht to the Committee that 
two suspicious persons, who had gone hurriedly to 
Highland district, three miles above Virginia City, 
the evening before, were concealed in one of the 
unoccupied cabins there. An officer with fifteen 
men was sent to arrest them. They were disarmed, 
and brought before the Committee, but, no evi- 
dence appearing against them, they were dis- 

The examination being over, preparations were 
made for the execution of the convicts. These 
were very simple. The central cross-beam of an 
unfinished log store, cornering upon two of the 
principal streets, was selected for a scaffold. The 
building was roofless, and its spacious open front 
exposed the interior to the full view of the crowd. 
The ropes, five in number, were drawn across the 
beam to a proper length, and fastened firmly to 
the loofs in the rear basement. Under each noose 
was placed a large, empty dry-goods box, with 
cord attached, for the drops. 

Virginia City Executions. 197 

Beside the large body of armed Vigilantes, a 
great number of eager spectators had assembled 
from all parts of the gulch to witness the execu- 
tion. Six or eight thousand persons, comprehend- 
ing the larger portion of the population of the 
Territory, gathered into a compact mass when the 
prisoners, with their armed escort, marched from 
the committee-rooms into the street, and were 
ranged in front of the guard. 

" You are now," said the president, addressing 
them, " to be conducted to the scaffold. An op- 
portunity is given you to make your last requests 
and communications. You will do well to improve 
it by making a confession of your own crimes, and 
putting the Committee in possession of information 
as to the crimes of others." 

The prisoners separately declined to make any 
communication. When the guard were about 
to fasten their arms. Jack Gallagher, with an oath, 
exclaimed, — 

" I will not be hung in public," and, drawing 
his pocket-knife, he applied the blade to his throat, 
saying : " I will cut my throat first." 

The executive officer instantly cocked and pre- 
sented his pistol. 

" If you make another move of your arm," 
said he, " I will shoot you like a dog. Take the 

198 Virginia City Exemitions. 

knife from him, and pinion him at once," he con- 
tinued, addressing the guard. The ruffian cursed 
horribly, all the while his arms were being tied. 

Boone Helm, with customary adjective pro- 
fanity, said to Gallagher in a consolatory tone, — 

" Don't make a fool of yourself. Jack. There's 
no use or sense in being afraid to die." 

After the process of binding was completed, 
each prisoner was seized by the arm on either 
side, by a Vigilante who held in the hand not 
thus employed a navy revolver, ready for instant 
use. The large body of armed Vigilantes were 
then formed around the prisoners, into a hollow 
square, four abreast on each side, and a column 
in front and rear. A few men with pistols were 
dispersed among the crowd of spectators, to guard 
against any possible attempt at rescue. Thus 
formed, the procession marched in the direction 
of the scaffold with slow and solemn pace. The 
silence of the great throng was unbroken by a 
whisper, and, more eloquently than language could 
have done, declared the feelings of anxiety and 
suspense by which all were animated. Some 
little delay being necessary to complete the pre}>- 
arations at the scaffold, the procession halted 
in front of the Virginia Hotel, on the corner 
diagonally from it across Main street. While 

Virginia City Executions. 199 

waiting there, " Clubfoot George " called to his 
side Judge Dance, and said to him, — 

" You have known me ever since I came to 
Virginia City, more intimately than any other 
man. We have had dealings together. Can you 
not in this hour of extremity say a good word 
for my character ? " 

"It would be of no use, George. Your deal- 
ings with me have always been fair and honorable ; 
but what you have done outside, I only know 
from the evidence, and that is very strong against 
you. I can do you no good." 

" Well, then," said the penitent ruffian, " will 
you pray with me?" 

" Willingly, George ; most willingly," and, suit- 
ing the action to the word, the judge dropped 
upon his knees, and, with George and Gallagher 
kneeling beside him, offered up a fervent petition 
in behalf of the doomed men. Boone Helm was 
irritated at this request, and, raising his sore 
finger, exclaimed, — 

" For God's sake, if you're going to hang me, 
I want you to do it, and get through with it ; if 
not, I want you to tie a bandage on my finger." 

While the prayer was in progress, Hayes Lyons 
requested that his hat should be removed. Frank 
Parish gave abundant evidence of deep contrition, 

200 Virginia City Executions. 

but Boone Helm continued, as from the first, to 
treat all the proceedings with profane and reckless 

Gallagher, at one moment cursing, and at the 
next crying, seemed the least composed of any 
of the prisoners. He wore a handsome cavalry 
overcoat, trimmed with beaver. 

" Give me that coat. Jack," said Helm, as 
Gallagher rose from his knees. " You never yet 
gave me anything." 

" It's little use you'll make of it now," re- 
sponded Gallagher with an oath, and, catching at 
the moment the eye of an acquaintance, who was 
regarding him from a window of the hotel, he 
called to him in a loud tone, — 

" Say, old fellow, I'm going to heaven. I'll 
be there in time to open the gate for you." 

" Halloo, Bill ! " said Boone Helm to one in the 
crowd, " they've got me this time ; got me, sure, 
and no mistake." 

Hayes Lyons begged of his captors the privi- 
lege of seeing his mistress. " Let me bid her 
good-b}' and restore this watch to her, which is 
her property." The request was refused, only to 
be repeated, and on being made a third time he 
received for answer, — 

" Hayes ! bringing women to the place of exe- 

Virginia City JExecutions. 201 

cution ^ played out ' in '63, when they interfered 
with your trial for killing Dillingham." 

The unhappy wretch ceased further impor- 

When the arrano^ements at the scaffold were 
completed, the guard crossed the street, opened 
ranks, and the prisoners were conducted through 
into the building, each as he entered stepping 
upon one of the dry-goods boxes. Ranged side 
by side, "Clubfoot George" was first on the 
east side of the room ; next to him was Hayes 
Lyons, then Jack Gallagher, then Boone Helm, 
and near the west wall Frank Parish. The area 
in front of them was occupied by the guard and 
the members of the Executive Committee. The 
two streets in front and at the side of the building 
were crowded with armed Vigilantes and specta- 
tors. The order beinof o-iven to remove the hats 
of the prisoners, Clubfoot George, whose hands 
were loosely fastened, contrived to reach his hat, 
which he threw spitefully on the floor, the hats 
of the others being: at the same time removed 
by the guard. 

After the nooses were adjusted, the chief of the 
Committee said to the prisoners, — 

" You are now about to be executed. If you 
have any dying requests to make, this is your last 

202 Virginia City Executions. 

opportunity. Yon may be assured they shall be 
carefully heeded." 

Jack Gallagher broke in upon the closing part 
of this address with a leer, — 

" How do I look, boys," he asked, " with a 
halter around my neck?" The grim effort failed 
to elicit a smile. 

"Your time is very short," said the chief, 
again reminding them that their requests would 
be listened to. 

" Well, then," said Gallagher, " I want one 
more drink of whiskey before I die." 

The loathing which this request excited was 
apparent in the expression of the countenances 
of all who heard it. Some men exchanged 
meaning glances, revealing thereby the shock 
their sensibilities had received by this exhibition 
of depravity. Others craned their necks over 
the crowd, as if they had not heard aright. For 
a few minutes no one seemed to know what 
answer to make to a man whose last moments 
were given to the gratification of his evil appe- 
tites. This silence was soon broken, however, by 
an old miner. 

" We told 'em," said he, " that we'd do what- 
ever they asked. Give him the liquor." 

A man appeared in a moment with a tumbler 

Virginia City Executions. 203 

nearly full. Raising it as high as he could, the 
prisoner bent his head, but was restrained by the 
rope from touching the glass with his lips. 
Throwing his head back, he turned on the box, 
and, looking back upon the fastenings of the rope 
to the basement log at the rear of the building, 
in a loud and imperious tone he launched a pro- 
fane and vulgar epithet at the guard, saying, — 

" Slacken that rope, quick, and let a man take 
a parting drink, won't you ? " 

The rope was loosed, while the depraved wretch 
drained the tumbler at a draught. While the 
guard was refastening it, he exclaimed, — 

" I hope Almighty God will curse every one of 
you, and that I shall meet you all in the lowest 
pit of hell." 

The Committee decided that the executions 
should be single, commencing with " Clubfoot 
George," and concluding with Hayes Lyons, who 
stood next to him in order. At the words " Men, 
do your duty," the men holding the cords attached 
to the box on which the prisoner in turn stood, 
were by a sudden jerk to pull the footing from 
under him. A fall of three feet was deemed 
sufficient to dislocate the neck, and avoid the 
torture of protracted strangulation. 

No more requests being made, the men laid 

204 Virginia City Executions. 

hold of the cords attached to the box occupied 
by George Lane. Just at that moment the 
unhappy wretch descried an old friend clinging 
to the logs of the building, to obtain sight of the 

" Good-by, old fellow," said he. *' I'm gone," 
and, without waiting for the box to be removed, 
he leaped from it, and died with hardly a struggle. 

" There goes one to hell," muttered Boone 

Hayes Lyons, who stood next, was talking all 
the while, telling of his kind mother ; that he 
had been well brought up, but evil associations 
had brouo'ht him to the scaffold. 


Gallagher cried and swore by turns. 

" I hope," said he, " that forked lightning will 
strike every strangHng villain of you." The box, 
flying from under his feet, stopped an oath in its 
utterance, and the quivering of his muscles showed 
that his guilty career was terminated. 

" Kick away, old fellow," said Boone Helm, 
calmly surveying the struggles of the dying 
wretch. " My turn comes next. I'll be in hell 
with you in a minute." Shouting in a loud voice, 
" Every man for his principles ! Hurrah for Jeff 
Davis ! Let her rijJ," his body fell with a twang 
that killed him almost instantly. 

Virginia City Exeeiitions. 205 

Frank Parish maintained a serious deportment 
from the moment of his arrest until his execution. 
At his request his black necktie was dropped like 
a veil over his face. He " died and made no 


Hayes Lyons was the only one remaining. 
Looking right and left at the swaying bodies of 
his companions, his anxious face indicated a hope 
of pardon. His entreaties were incessant, but 
when he found them unavailing, he requested 
that his mistress might have the disposition of 
his body ; that the watch of hers which he wore 
might be restored to her, and that he might not 
be left hanging for an unseemly time. He died 
without a struggle. 

Two hours after the execution the bodies were 
cut down, and taken by friends to Cemetery Hill 
for burial. 

X. Beidler officiated as adjuster of the ropes at 
this execution. Jack Gallagher had killed a 
friend of his. Some time afterwards, when he 
was relatino' the circumstances attendino- the exe- 
cution, in a mixed crowd, a gentleman present 
who was greatly interested in the narrative, and 
whose sympathy for the ruffians was very appar- 
ent, asked, at the close of the narrative, in a 
lachrymose tone, — 

206 Virginia City Executions. 

" Well, now, when you came to hang that poor 
fellow, didn't you sympathize with him, didn't 
you feel for him? " 

Beidler regarded the man for a moment with 
great disgust, and, imitating his tone, replied 
slowly, — 

" Yes, I did. I felt for him a httle, I felt for 
his left ear." 

Pursuit of Hoad Agents- 207 



Pursuit, Capture, and Execution of Steve Marsh- 
land, Bill Bunton, Cyrus Skinner, Alex Car- 
ter, Johnny Cooper, George Shears, and Bob 
Zachary — Incidents by the Way. 

The work so well begun was prosecuted with 
great energy. The ruffians had fled from Virginia 
City and Bannack, over the range to Deer Lodge 
and Bitter Root, intending gradually to return 
to their old haunts in Idaho. The Vigilantes, 
resolved that they should not escape, took up the 
pursuit. A company of twenty-one, under the 
command of a competent leader, left Nevada on 
the fifteenth of January. Arriving at Big Hole 
in the evening, they sent a detachment to Clark's 
ranche to arrest the bandit Steve Marshland, who 
was laid up with frozen feet, and the wound 
which he received in the breast while attacking 
Moody's train. Receiving no response to their 
repeated raps at the door of the cabin, one of the 

'208 Pursuit of Uoad Agents. 

party entered, and, lighting a wisp of straw, 
found Marshland in bed. 

" Hands up, if you please," said he, pointing 
his revolver at the head of the prostrate robber, 
who obeyed the command as well as circum- 
stances would admit. 

" Are you sick, Steve ? " queried the Vigi- 

" Yes — very," faintly responded Marshland. 

" No one with you ? " 

" No one, — no living thing but the dog." 

" What is the matter ? " 

" I've got the chills." 

" Strang-e ! New kind of sickness for winter ! 
Nothing else the matter ? " 

" Yes. I froze my feet while prospecting at 
the head of Rattlesnake creek." 

" Did you raise the color ? " 

" No. The water prevented me from going 
to bed-rock." 

While this conversation was in progress, the 
party had built a fire and commenced cooking 
supper. Removing from beside the bed two 
double-barrelled shotguns, a yager, and another 
rifle, they invited Marshland to get up and take 
supper with them. During the meal all engaged 
in merry conversation. After it was over, the 

Pursuit of Road Agents. 209 

leader informed Marshland that he was arrested 
for the robbery of Moody's train. 

" You received," said he, " while engaged in 
that robbery, a bullet wound in the breast, by 
which we shall be able to identify you." 

" I received no such wound," said he ; and, 
striking his breast several times, he continued, 
" My breast is as sound as a dollar." 

" You can have no objection, then, to submit- 
tinof to our examination." 

" None in the least, gentlemen. Look for 

The leader threw open his shirt. The mark of 
the recent wound confirmed the guilt of the 
robber. He could give no explanation of the 
manner in which he received it. 

" The evidence is satisfactory to us," said the 
leader. " We have made no mistake in arresting 
you. You must die." 

" For God's sake do not hang me. Let me go, 
and I will trouble you no more." 

" It cannot be. We shall certainly execute 
every one of Plummer's infamous band that falls 
into our hands, and we hope to catch them all." 

Finding importunity of no avail, he made a 
full and frank confession of all his crimes. A 
scaffold w;u improvised bv sticking into the <rr()und 

210 I'nrfiuit of Road A'jents. 

a pole, the end of Avhich projected over the cor- 
ral fence, upon which tlie pole rested. A box 
taken from the cabin was placed under it, for the 
prisoner to stand upon. When all was ready, and 
the fatal noose Avas adjusted, the prisoner once 
more appealed to his captors. 

" Have mercy on me for my youth ! " he 

" You should have thought of it before," 
replied the leader, as he gave the fatal order, and 
the poor wretch was launched into eternity. 

The scent of his frozen feet attracted the 
wolves, and the party were obliged to watch both 
him and the horses, to prevent an attack by these 
animals. He was buried near the place of execu- 
tion. The detachment found the main party the 
next morning, having been absent only one night. 

The Vigilantes resumed their march, beginning 
at this point the ascent of the Deer Lodge divide. 
Not knowing how soon or where they might 
overtake others of the gang, they rode forward 
in double file at the rate of sixty miles a day. 
They divided their company into four messes, 
each of which being supplied plentifully with 
food already cooked, they lighted no large camp- 
fires, lest the smoke therefrom should betray 
them. A double watch was kept over the horses 

Pursuit of Road Agents. 211 

while in camp. Each man was armed with at 
least one, some with two revolvers, and a shot- 
gun or rifle. While on the march, the captain 
was in the van. After they descended into the 
valley of Deer Lodge, a spy was sant forward to 
reconnoitre the town of Cottonwood, with instruc- 
tions to meet the party at Cottonwood creek. 

At four o'clock p.m. they halted at Smith's 
ranche, seventeen miles from Cottonwood, until 
after dark, when they rode cautiously forward 
until within a short distance of the town. Learn- 
ing from their spy that all the robbers except 
Bunton and "Tex" had gone, they rode hastily 
into the town and surrounded the saloon of the 
former. Bunton refused to open the door. Three 
men detailed to arrest him called to him and 
expressed a wish to see him. He persisted in 
denying them admittance, until convinced that 
they would effect an entrance by force ; and he 
then told a man and boy in his employ to let 
them in. The door was opened, but, as the lights 
within had been extinguished, the men declined 
to enter until a candle was liirhted. As soon as 
light was furnished, they rushed in, and the 
leader exclaimed, — 

" Bill, you are my prisoner ! " 

"For what?" inquired Bunton. 

212 Pursuit of Road Agents. 

" Come with us at once, and you'll find 

Observing that he made signs of resistance, a 
Vigilante, whose courage exceeded his strength, 
seized the ruffian and attempted to drag him out. 
Finding himself overmatched, he called to his as- 
sistance a comrade, who soon succeeded in bind- 
ing the hands of the desperado behind him. In 
this condition he was conducted by a guard to the 
cabin of Peter Martin. 

" Tex," who was in the saloon, was conquered 
in much the same manner, and forced to follow 
his companion. 

Martin, who knew nothing of the arrest, was 
seated at a table playing a game at cards with 
some friends. Hearing that the Vigilantes were 
surrounding his house, he dropped his cards, and 
started with great affright for the door. For a 
long time he refused to obey their summons to 
come out, but, on being assured that he " wasn't 
charged with nothin'," he opened the door and 
returned to his game. 

After breakfast the next morning a person who 
had been conversing with Bunton informed the 
Vigilantes that he had said to him that he would 
"get one of them yet," on learning whereof they 
searched him a second time. They found a der- 

Pursuit of Road Agents. 21 S 

ringer in his vest-pocket, which had evidently been 
placed there by some sympathizer during- the 

Bunton refused to make any answer to the 
charofes made aoainst him. No doubt was enter- 
tained o£ his guilt. The vote on his case, taken 
by the uplifted hand, was unanimous for his exe- 
cution. The captain informed him of it. 

" If you have any business to attend to, you 
had better intrust it to some one, as we cannot be 
delayed here." 

Bunton immediately gave his gold watch to his 
partner Cooke, and appropriated his other prop- 
erty to the payment of his debts. He had gam- 
bled for and won the interest in the saloon from 
its former owner a fortniofht before this time. 
Having thus disposed of his affairs, he was con- 
ducted to the gate of a corral near, surmounted 
by a gallows-frame, beneath which a board laid 
upon two boxes served the purpose of a drop. 
While the hangman was adjusting the rope, he 
gave him particular instructions about the exact 
situation of the knot. This being fixed to suit 
him, he said to the captain, — 

" May I jump off myself ? " 

" You can if you wish," was the reply. 

" I care no more for hanging," said Bunton, 

214 Pursuit of Road Agents. 

" than I do for taking a drink of water ; but I 
should Hke to have my neck broken." 

On being asked if he had anything further to 
say, he repHed, — 

" Nothing, except that I have done nothing to 
deserve death. I am innocent. All I want is a 
mountain three hundred feet high to jump from. 
And now I will give you the time ; one — two — 
three." The men were prepared to pull the plank 
from under him should he fail to jump, but he 
anticijDated them, and, adding the words, " Here 
goes," he leaped and fell with a loud thud, dying 
without a struggle. 

" Tex " was separately tried. The evidence being 
insufficient to convict him, he was liberated, and 
left immediately for the Kootenai mines. 

Mrs. Demorest, the wife of the owner of the 
corral, was so greatly outraged by the use made 
of the gate frame that she gave her husband no 
peace until the poles were cut down, and the frame 
entirely unfitted for further use as a gallows. 

After the execution of Bunton, the Vigilantes, 
in company with Jemmy Allen, a rancheman, left 
Cottonwood for Hell Gate, a little settlement 
ninety miles down the river, in the vicinity of 
Bitter Root valley. Snow covered the ground to 
the depth of two feet, and the weather was in- 

Pursuit of Road Agents. 215 

tensely cold. It was after dark when the com- 
pany arrived at one of the crossings of the Deer 
Lodge. The river, being a rapid mountain stream, 
seldom freezes sufficiently solid to bear a horseman ; 
but, no other mode of transit presenting itself, the 
Vigilantes drove hurriedly upon the frozen sur- 
face, and, before they were half-way across, the 
ice gave way, precipitating their horses into the 
water. Had the stream been wide, all must have 
perished. As it was, after much floundering and 
considerable exertion, all were landed safely on 
the opposite bank. One of the party barely es- 
caped drowning, and his horse was dragged from 
the stream by a lariat around his neck. At' eleven 
o'clock the company arrived at Allen's ranclie, 
where they passed the remainder of the night in 

The next day, accompanied by Charles Eaton, 
who was familiar with the country, they rode on in 
the direction of Hell Gate, but, owing to the great 
depth of the snow, progressed only fifteen miles. 
They made a camp in the snow. Their horses, 
being accustomed to the mountains, pawed in the 
snow to find the bunch-grass. The ride of the 
following day terminated at the workmen's quar- 
ters on the Mullen wagon-road. One of the ponies 
broke his leg by stepping into a badger hole while 

216 Pursuit of Road Agents. 

they were going into camp, and another, by a 
similar accident, stripped the skin from his hind- 
legs. They were obliged to shoot the former, and 
turn the latter loose to await their return. 

The troop were in their saddles at daylight, on 
the route to the settlement, which they approached 
to within six miles, and went into camp until 
after nightfall. Then they resumed their ride, 
stopping a short distance outside of the town. 
The scout they had sent to reconnoitre brought 
them all needful information, and, mounting their 
horses, they entered the town on a keen run. 
Skinner was standing in the doorway of his 
saloon, when they rode up, surrounded the build- 
ing, and ordered him to " throw up his hands." 

" You must have learned that from the Ban- 
nack stage folks," said his chere amie, Nelly, who 
was an observer of the scene. 

Two men dismounted, and, seizing Skinner, 
bound him immediately. Meantime two or three 
Vigilantes threw open the door of Miller's cabin, 
which was next to Skinner's, and Dan Harding, 
the foremost among them, levelling his gun, 
shouted to some person lying upon a lounge, — 

" Alex, is that you ? " 

" Yes," replied the man, " what do you want ? " 

*^ We want you," was the reply, as the men 

Pursuit of Road Agents. 217 

rushed in, took his pistol, and bound the robber 
before he was thoroughly aroused from sleep. 

" These are rather tight papers — ain't they, 
boys?" said Carter. "Give me something to 
smoke and tell me the news." On being told the 
names of those who had been executed, he quietly 
remarked, — 

" That's all right ; not an innocent man huno- 

He and Skinner were conducted down to 
Higgins's store, and their examination immediately 
commenced. Three hours were occupied in the 
investigation, during which Nelly came down, 
with the intention of interfering in Skinner's 
behalf. She was sent home under guard; and 
her escort, on searching her premises, found 
Johnny Cooper prostrated by three pistol shots, 
received in a quarrel with Carter the previous 
day, but for which it had been the intention of 
Carter and Cooper to leave for Kootenai. The 
baggage and provisions they had procured for the 
journey, worth a hundred and thirty dollars, 
together with the pack-animal, were taken for 
the use of the expedition, and were paid for by 
M. W. Tipton, whom Carter and Cooper had 
persuaded to become their surety for the amount. 
During the trial of Carter, he confessed his 

218 Pursuit of Road Agents. 

complicity as accessory, both before and after tbe 
fact, to the murder of Tiebalt. It was proven 
also that he was concerned in the coach robbery. 
Skinner made no confession, nor was it necessary, 
as his criminal character and acts were suscepti- 
ble of abundant proof. 

Cooper was tried separately. He was one of 
the heutenants of the band. A Vigilante by the 
name of President testified to his having mur- 
dered a man in Idaho, for which he was arrested 
by the people. While being conducted to the 
place of trial, he broke from his captors, leaped 
with a bound upon a horse standing near, and, 
amid a hundred shots, escaped uninjured, and 
came to Montana. 

On the evening of the day these trials were in 
progress, a detachment of eight men left Hell 
Gat'e in pursuit of Bob Zachary, whom they found 
seated in bed, in the cabin of Hon. Barney 
O'Keefe, known throughout Bitter Root valley 
as " the Baron." One of the party, on entermg, 
pushed him over, upon his back, taking from hun, 
at the same time, his pistol and knife. While on 
their return with him to Hell Gate, O'Keefe 
unintentionally mentioned that a stranger was 
stopping at Van Dorn's cabin, in the Bitter Root 
valley. A company of three Vigilantes, sus- 

Parsidt of Road Agents. 219 

pecting by the description given that he was 
none other than George Shears, another of the 
band, started at once in pursuit. 

Riding up in front of the cabin, Thomas Pitt, 
their leader, inquired of the man who met them 
at the door, if George Shears was in. 

" Yes," said Van Dorn. " He is in the ioner 

" Any objection to our entering ? " inquired 

Van Dorn repKed by opening the door of the 
room, where George was discovered, knife in 
hand. He surrendered without resistance, aston- 
ishing his captors by the utter indifference he 
manifested to the near approach of death. Walk- 
ing with Pitt to the corral, he designated the 
horses he had stolen, and confessed his guilt. 

"I knew," said he, " I should have to come to 
this sometime, but I thought I could run another 

" There is no help for you, George," said Pitt. 
" You must suffer the same fate as your compan- 
ions in crime." 

" I suppose 1 should be satisfied," replied the 
ruffian, " that it is no worse." 

He was conducted to the barn, where, a rope 
being cast over a beam, he was requested, in order 

220 Pursuit of Road Agents. 

to save the trouble of procuring a drop, to ascend 
the ladder. He complied without the least reluc- 
tance. After the preparations were completed, 
he said to his captors, — 

" Gentlemen, I am not used to this business, 
never having been hung before. Shall I jump 
oif, or slide off?" 

" Jump off, of course," was the reply. 

" All right," he exclaimed, " good-by ! " and 

leaped from the ladder, with the utmost sang 

frold. The drop was long, and the rope tender. 

As the strands untwisted, they parted, until 

finally one alone remained. 

Soon after the party which captured Zachary 
and Shears had left Hell Gate, intelligence was 
received there that William Graves (Whiskey Bill) 
was at Fort Owen in the Bitter Root valley. 
Three men were sent immediately to arrest and 
execute him. He was armed and on the lookout, 
and had repeatedly sworn that he would shoot 
any Vigilante that came in his way. The party 
was too wary for him. He was first made aware 
of their presence, by a stern command to sur- 
render, and a pistol at his heart. He made no 
resistance, and refused all confession. A rope 
was tied to the convenient limb of a tree, and 
the drop extemporized by placing the culprit 

Pursuit of Road Agents. 221 

astride of a string- liorse, behind a Vigilante. 
When all was ready, the rider, exclaiming- " Good- 
by. Bill," plunged the rowels into the sides of the 
horse, which madly leaping forward, the fatal 
noose swept the robber from his seat, break- 
ing his neck by the shocij;, and killing him 

In the mean time, the trials of Carter, Skinner, 
and Cooper had resulted in the conviction of those 
ruffians, and they were severally condemned to 
die. Scaffolds were hastily prepared by placing 
poles over the fence of Higgins's corral. Carter 
and Skinner were conducted to execntion by 
torchlight, a little after the midnight succeeding 
their trial. Dry-goods boxes were used for drops. 
On their march to the place of execution. Skinner 
suddenly broke from his guard, and ran off, shout- 
ing, "Shoot! Shoot!" Not a gun was raised, 
but after a short chase in the snow the prisoner 
was secured, and led up to the scaffold. He made 
a second attempt to get away while standing on 
the box, but a rope was soon adjusted to his neck, 
and the leader said to him, — 

" You may jump now, as soon as you please." 
Carter manifested i>"reat disii'ust at Skinner's at- 
tempt to run away. While he was standing on 
the drop, one of the Vigilantes requested him to 

222 Pursuit of Road Agents. 

confess that he participated in the murder of 

" If I had my hands free," he replied .with an 
oath, "I'd make you take that back." 

Skinner, who stood by his side, was talking 
violently at the time, and Carter was ordered to 
be quiet. 

" Well, then, let's have a smoke," said he ; and, 
a lighted pipe being given him, he remained quiet. 
Both criminals, as they were launched from the 
platform, exclaimed, " I am innocent " — the pass- 
word of tlie l)and. They died appureutly without 

The party that arrested Zachary arrived with 
him the next mornins". He was tried and found 
guilty. By his directions a letter was written to 
his mother, in which he warned his brothers and 
sisters to avoid drinking, card-playing, and bad 
company — three evils which, he said, had brought 
him to the gallows. On the scaffold he prayed 
that God would foro^ive the VioHantes for what 
they were doing, as it was the only way to clear 
the country of road agents. He died without 
apparent fear or suffering. 

Johnny Cooper was drawn to the scaffold in a 
sleigh, his wounded leg rendering him unable to 
walk. He asked for his pipe. 

Pursuit of Road Agents. 223 

" I want," said he, " a good smoke before I die. 
I always did enjoy a smoke." A letter had been 
written to his parents, who lived in the State of 
New York. Several times, while a Vigilante was 
engaged in adjusting the rope, he dodged the 
noose, but, on being told to keep his head straight, 
he submitted. He died without a struggle. 

Having finished their mission, the Vigilantes 
returned to Nevada. 

224 Mxecution of Hunter. 



Search for Bill Hunter — His Place of Conceal- 

Incidents by the Way — Arrival at the Cabin 
— Arrest — Start for Virginia City — Consul- 
tation — Execution — Reflections. 

Soon after the transactions recorded in the last 
chapter, the Virginia City Vigilantes were informed 
that Bill Hunter had been seen in the Gallatin 
valley. It was reported that he sought a covert 
among the rocks and brush, where he remained 
during the day, stealing out at night and seeking 
food among the scattered settlers, as he could find 
it. His place of concealment was about twenty 
miles from the mouth of the Gallatin river. A 
number of the Vigilantes, under the pretence of 
joining the Barney Hughes stampede to a new 
placer discovery, left Virginia City, and scoured 
the country for a distance of sixty miles or more, 
in search of the missing ruffian. Hunter was dis- 
covered during this search. 

As soon as it became known that he was at the 

Execution of Hunter. 226 

spot indicated, four resolute men at once volun- 
teered to go in pursuit of, capture, and execute 
him. Their route lay across two heavy divides, 
and required about sixty miles of hurried travel- 
ling. The first day they crossed the divide be- 
tween the Pas-sam-a-ri and the Madison, camping 
that niofht on the bank of the latter river, which 
they had forded with great difficulty. The weather 
was intensely cold, and their blankets afforded but 
feeble protection against it. They built a large 
camp-fire, and lay down as near to it as safety 
would permit. One of their number spread his 
blankets on the slope of a little hillock next the 
fire, and during the night slipped down until his 
feet encountered the hot embers. The weather 
increased in severity the next day, during most of 
which the Vioilantes rode throuo-h a fierce moun- 
tain snow-storm, with the wind directly in their 
faces. At 2 o'clock p.m. they halted for supper 
at the Milk ranche, about twenty miles from the 
place where they expected to find the fugitive. 
Under the g-uidance of a man whom thev em- 
})loyed here, they then pushed on at a rapid pace, 
the storm gathering in fury as they progressed. 
At midnight they drew up near a lone cabin in 
the neighborhood of the rocky jungle where their 
game had taken cover. 

226 Execution of JIunter. 

" This storm has certainly routed him," said 
one of the Vigilantes. " Ten to one, we bag him 
in the cabin." 

" Very likely," replied another. " He would 
not suspect danger in such weather. It will save 
us a heap of trouble." 

One of the men rapped loudly at the cabin door. 
Opening it slowdy, a look of amazement stole over 
the features of the inmate, as he surveyed the 
company of six mounted armed men. 

" Good-evening," said one, saluting him. 

" Don't know whether it is or not," growled 
the man, evidently suspicious that a visit at so 
late an hour meant mischief. 

" Build us a fire, man," said the Vigilante. 
" We are nearly frozen, and this is the only place 
of shelter from this storm for many miles. Surely 
you w^on't play the churl to a party of weather- 
bound prospectors." 

Re-assured by this hearty reproof for his 
seeming unkindness, the man set to work with a 
will, and in a few moments a genial fire was 
blazing on the hearth, which the party enjoyed 
thoroughly. Glancing curiously around the little 
room, the Vigilantes discovered that it contained 
three occupants besides themselves. Placing 
their guns and pistols in convenient position, and 

Execution of Hnnter. 227 

stationing a sentinel to keep watch and feed the 
fire, the men spread their blankets on the clay 
surface of the enclosure, and in a few moments 
were locked in sleep ; careful, however, first, to 
satisfy the eager curiosity of their entertainers, 
by a brief conversation about mining, stampeding, 
prospecting, etc., and leading them to believe that 
they were a party of miners, returning from an 
unsuccessful expedition. 

Fatigued with the ride and exposure of the two 
previous days, the Vigilantes slept until a late 
hour the next morning. Two of the occupants 
of the cabin rose at the same time. The other, 
entirely enveloped in blankets, kept up a pro- 
longed snore, whose deep bass signified that he 
was wrapped in profound slumber. The Vigi- 
lantes, contriving to keep four of their number 
in the cabin, while making preparations to depart, 
soon had their horses saddled ; but when all 
was ready, one of them inquired in a careless 
tone, — 

" Who is the man that sleeps so soundly ? " 

" I don't know him," said the host. 

" When did he come here ? " 

" At the beginning of the snow-storm, two 
days ago. He came in and asked permission to 
remain here until it was over." 

228 Execution of Hunter. 

" Perhaps it's an acquaintance. Won't you 
describe him to us ? " 

The man complied, by giving a most accurate 
description of Hunter. No longer in doubt, the 
Vigilante went up to the bedside, and, in a loud 
voice, called out, " Bill Hunter ! " 

Hastily drawing the blanket from his face, the 
occupant stared wildly out upon the six armed 
men, asking in the same breath, — 

" Who's there ? " 

Six shotguns levelled at his head answered the 

^' Give us your revolver, and get up," was the 
command. Hunter instantly complied. 

" You are arrested as one of Plummer's band 
of road agents." 

" I hope," said Hunter, " you will take me to 
Virginia City." A Vigilante assented. 

" What conveyance have you for me ? " 

" There," said one, pointing to a horse, " is the 
animal you must ride." 

The prisoner put on his hat and overcoat, and 
mounted the horse. Just as he was about to 
seize the reins, a Vigilante took them from his 
hands, saying, with affected suavity, — 

" If you please, I'll manage these for you. 
You've only to sit still and ride." 

Execution of Hunter. 229 

After the company started, the robber cast a 
suspicious glance behind him, and saw one man 
following on foot. His countenance fell. The 
expression told, in stronger language than words, 
that the thought which harassed him was that he 
would not be taken to Virginia City. About two 
miles distant from the cabin, the company drew 
up and dismounted under a solitary tree. Scrap- 
ing away the snow, they kindled a fire, and 
prepared their breakfast, ol which the robber 
partook with them, and seemed to forget his fears, 
and laughed and joked as if no danger were nigh. 
Breakfast over, the Vigilantes held a brief con- 
sultation as to the disposition w^hich should be 
made of their prisoner. On putting the question 
to vote, it was decided by the votes of all but the 
person who had signified to Hunter that he was 
to be taken to Virginia City, that his execution 
should take place instantly. 

The condemned wretch turned deadly pale, and 
in a faint voice asked for water. One of the 
Viofilantes related to him the crimes of which he 
had been guilty. 

" Of course," said he, " you know that offences 
of this magnitude, in all civilized countries, are 
punished with death. The necessity for a rigid 
enforcement of this penalty, in a country which 

230 Execution of Hunter. 

has no judiciary, is greater even than in one where 
these crimes are tried by courts of law. There 
is no escape for you. We are sorry that you have 
incurred this penalty, — sorry for you, but the 
blame is wholly yours." 

Hunter made no reply to the justice in his 
case, but requested that his friends should not be 
informed of the manner of his death. 

" I have," said he, " no property to pay the 
expense of a funeral, and my burial even must 
depend upon your charity. I hope you will give 
me a decent one." 

" Every reasonable request shall be granted. 
Bill," said the Vigilante ; " but you know the 
ground is too hard for us to attempt your inter- 
ment without proper implements. We will inform 
your friends of your execution, and they will 
attend to your burial." 

While this conversation was going on, some of 
the Vigilantes had prepared the noose, and 
passed the rope over a limb of the tree. The 
criminal shook hands with all, tearfully bidding 
each " good-by." After the rope was adjusted, 
several of the men took hold of it, and at a given 
signal, by a rapid pull, ran the prisoner up so sud- 
denly that he died without apparent suffering; 
yet, strange to say, he reached as if for his pistol, 

Execution of Hunter. 231 

and pantomimically cocked and discharged it six 
times. The " ruling passion was strong in 
death." Leaving the corpse suspended from the 
tree, the Vigilantes, now that their work was 
done, hurried homeward at a rapid pace. 

Hunter was the last of Plummer's band that fell 
into the hands of the Vigilantes. The man was 
not destitute of redeeming qualities. He often 
worked hard in the mines for the money he lost 
at the gaming-table, but in an evil hour he joined 
Plummer's gang, and aided in the commission of 
many infamous crimes. In his personal inter- 
course he was known to perform many kind acts. 
He admitted, just before his death, the justice of 
his sentence. It is believed that in his escape 
through the pickets at Virginia City he was assisted 
by some of the Vigilantes, who did not credit his 

The death of Hunter marked the bloody close 
of the rei<in of Plummer's band. He was the last 
of that terrible organization to fall a victim to 
Vigilante justice. The retribution, almost Dra- 
conic in severity, administered to these daring 
freebooters had in no respect exceeded the de- 
mands of absolute justice. If the many acts I 
have narrated of their villanies were not sufficient 
to justify the extreme course pursued in their ex- 

232 Execution of Hunter. 

termination, surely the unrevealed history, greater 
in enormity, and stained with the blood of a hun- 
dred or more additional victims, must remove all 
prejudices from the public mind against the vol- 
untary tribunal of the Vigilantes. There was no 
other remedy. Practically, they had no law, but, 
if law had existed, it could not have afforded ade- 
quate redress. This was proven by the feeling of 
security consequent upon the destruction of the 
band. When the robbers were dead the people 
felt safe, not for themselves alone, but for their 
pursuits and their property. They could travel 
without fear. They had a reasonable assurance 
of safety in the transmission of money to the States, 
and in the arrival of property over the unguarded 
route from Salt Lake. The crack of pistols had 
ceased, and they could walk the streets without 
constant exposure to danger. There was an omni- 
present spirit of protection, akin to that omnipres- 
ent spirit of law which pervaded older civilized 
communities. Men of criminal instincts were 
cowed before the majesty of ar. outraged people's 
wrath, and the very thought of crime became a 
terror to them. Young- men who had learned to 
believe that the roughs were destined to rule, and 
who, under the influence of that guilty faith, were 
fast drifting into crime, shrunk appalled before 

Execution of ffunfer. 233 

the thorouofh work of the Viofilantes. Fear, more 
potent than conscience, forced even the worst of 
men to observe the requirements of civilized soci- 
ety, and a feehng of comparative security among 
all classes was the result. 

But the work was not all done. A few reck- 
less spirits remained, who, when the excitement 
was over, forgot the lesson it taught, and returned 
to their old vocation. The Vigilantes preserved 
their organization, and, as we shall see in the sub- 
sequent pages of this history, meted out the stern- 
est justice to all capital offenders. 

This portion of my history would be incom- 
plete did I omit to mention that Smith and Thur- 
mond, the lawyers who had on several prominent 
occasions defended the bloodiest of the roughs, 
were both banished. The former of these was a 
man of remarkable ability in his profession, and 
of correct and generous impulses. To a clear, 
logical mind, and thorough knowledge of his pro- 
fession, he added fine powers as an orator ; and it 
was these qualities, more than any sympathy he 
indulged for his clients, that rendered him obnox- 
ious to public censure and suspicion. After an 
exile of two years he returned to the Territory, 
and resumed the practice of law, Avhich he followed 
with success until his death, which occurred in 

23 t l^xecnfion of Hunter. 

Tlclciia in 1870. He was oreatly lamented l)y all 
who knew him. 

Thurmond came from the " west side," with a 
reputation for being a friend of the roughs, — one 
not in complicity with them, but upon whom they 
could always depend for assistance in case of diffi- 
culty. After his banishment he went to Salt Lake 
City, where he associated himself with the Danites, 
or Destroying Angels of the Mormon church, 
whom he tried to induce to follow his leadership 
in an active crusade ao^ainst all the members of 
the Montana Vigilance Committee who might pass 
through Utah on their way to the States. Fail- 
ing in this, he afterwards removed to Dallas, 
Texas, where he became involved in a quarrel 
with a noted desperado, by whom he was shot 
and instantly killed. 

The administration of justice, and the peace 
and safety of the people, demanded the banishment 
of both these men, thouoh manv of worse charac- 
ter and more criminal nature but of less influence 
were permitted to remain. 

The Stranger^ Story. 235 



Preparations for a Home — Disasters — Disap- 
pointments — Hermit Life — Boone Helm — His 
Departure — A Strange Visitant — Eomantic 
History — Return of Helm and two Companions 
— His Murderous Designs thwarted — Return to 
Civilization — Meeting with Benefactress. 

Late in the fall of 1872, I spent a few days 
in Salt Lake City. One evening at the Townsend 
House, while conversing with Governor Woods 
and a few friends upon the events which had 
led to the organization of the Montana Vigilantes, 
I mentioned the name of Boone Helm. 

" Boone Helm ! I knew him well," was the 
abrupt exclamation of a stranger seated near, who 
had been quietly listening to our conversation. 
We were no less attracted by the singular appear- 
ance of the speaker, than the suddenness of the 
remark. Tall, slender, ungainly, awkward in 
manner, he yet possessed a pleasing, intellectual 
countenance, and a certain maofnetism, which 

236 The Stranger s Story. 

becfat an instantaneous desire in all to hear his 

" Excuse me, gentlemen," said he, drawing his 
chair nearer our circle, " for obtruding myself, 
but the mere utterance of the name of Boone 
Helm brings to memory the most thrilling episode 
of my life's history." 

Assuring him that no apology was necessary, 
and that the recital of adventures was the order 
of the evening, we all united in the request that 
he should favor us with his narration. 

" It's quite a long story," he resumed, lighting 
his meerschaum, " and you may tire of it before 
I close. Our individual experiences seldom inter- 
est listeners, but the subject of your conversation 
at this time affords a good place to slip in this 
single feature of a life not entirely void of ad- 
venture ; and I hope it will not detract from the 
entertainment of the evenino-. Truth obligees me 
to be the hero of my own tale." 

Drawing his chair into the centre of our circle, 
he began, — 

" I went to Oregon a mere boy, and grew to 
manhood there. My early education was neglected 
for want of opportunity, there being no schools in 
the country. I mention this to account for a fact 
which will become apparent hereafter. Our neigh- 

The Strangers Story. 237 

bors, in the dialect of the country, thought me a 
little ' luny,' and predicted for me an unhappy 
future. I certainly was eccentric, and when I 
recall many acts of my early life, I do not blame 
them for harshness of judgment. 

" As I approached manhood, no text of the 
sacred volume exercised me more than that which 
declares it is not oood for man to be alone. I set 
to work to make preparations for domestic life. I 
entered a quarter section of land, built a house, 
ploughed fields, planted an orchard, cultivated a 
garden, which I laid out with walks, adorning 
them with the choicest shrubs and flowers. My 
grounds and dwelling were as neat and comfort- 
able as the resources of a new country would per- 
mit. I stocked my farm with horses, cattle, sheep, 
and chickens — in brief, I lacked none of the 
essentials to a happy farm life. 

'' I had selected the fair one who was to share 
with me life's joys and sorrows, and obtained her 
promise to marry the following autumn. The 
world before me was roseate with beauty and hap- 
piness. My feelings were buoyant, unmingled 
with a single thought of disappointment or failure 
in the plans I had made. But alas ! in a few brief 
months all this dream was wretchedly dispelled. 
I learned the lesson caught in those simple words, 

238 The Stranger's Story. 

' Man proposes, but God disposes.' When the 
products of my fields were teeming with their 
highest life, and the flowers and shrubs in my 
garden were blooming in their greatest beauty, 
and the sun shone brightest, and the birds sang 
sweetest, an angry cloud appeared, filled with 
myriads of those winged pests that have so often 
swept from the soil all the hopes and treasures of 
the husbandman. The destruction of the fields 
of Egypt under the curse of locusts was not more 
complete than that of the field and garden which, 
a few hours before, had been my greatest pride. 
They were thoroughly denuded — field, garden, 
yard, even the stately trees around my dwelling — 
all were naked, shaven, brown, and barren. A 
more perfect blight could not be conceived. My 
heart for the moment sank within me. 

" But, being naturally of a hopeful disposition, 
I remembered that flocks and herds were still left, 
and I determined to look at the disaster with a 
strong heart, and trv by renewed exertion to re- 
gain what had been lost. Alas ! troubles never 
come singly. I was obliged to postpone my mar- 
riage indefinitely. The coldest winter and heaviest 
snows ever known before or since in that country 
brought starvation to all my cattle, horses, pigs, 
and chickens, and when spring came I had noth- 

The Stranger s Story. 239 

ing left but my dwelling. I became despondent, 
sulky, indifferent. My father, who dwelt in another 
part of the country, was wealthy. Generously 
sympathizing in my misfortunes, he offered to give 
me a fresh start, with three hundred head of cattle 
and the necessaries of life. I accepted, and deter- 
mined to plunge deeper into the wilds, away from 
civilization, and begin life anew, thinking to avenge 
myself upon the disappointments of the past 
by a solitary life, with nature and books as a 

" I bouo-ht a well-selected assortment of educa- 


tional volumes, ranging from a spelling-book to 
the Latin and Greek classics, and from Ray's 
Arithmetic to the higher branches of mathematics, 
and, employing thi'ee reliable men to drive the 
herd, picked my way over mountains and rivers 
to the Rogue River valley, a region then destitute 
of settlers, but the principal hunting-ground and 
home of the fiercest and most warlike tribe of 
Indians on the Pacific coast. Their hostility to 
the whites then, and for many years afterwards, 
was bloodthiisty and unappeasable. But I was 
accustomed to frontier life, familiar with the coun- 
try, and did not fear the Indians. The valley was 
full of game, and they would not kill my stock. 
My life, which they would destroy on the first op- 

^40 The Stranger'' s Story. 

portunity, I determined to look out for as best I 
might ; besides, there was an indescribable charm 
in the idea of such exposure as required a con- 
stant exercise of all the faculties. A man shows 
for all he is worth in a country filled with hostile 
Indians. He makes no mistakes there, and learns 
the value of gun, pistol, and hunting-knife. 

" I selected a place thirty-six miles west of the 
old California trail, under the shadow of the Coast 
range of mountains, in one of the most charming 
of valleys. The only evidence that it had ever 
been visited by a human being was a small Indian 
trail near by, which led from the base of Siskiyou 
mountain to the ocean, near the mouth of Coquil- 
las river. I turned my cattle upon the fine range 
of native grass which covered both hill and valley 
in all directions, and, with the aid of the herds- 
men, built a log cabin, stockading a half-acre, en- 
closing it with poles fifteen feet high. My armory 
consisted of one rifle, fifteen United States yagers, 
one double-barrelled shot-gun, a pair of Colt's re- 
volvers, and a large supply of ammunition. Feel- 
ing that I was now prepared to defend myself 
against the Indians, I dismissed the men, who re- 
turned to the settlements, and began the life of 

" In the early days of this experience, I confess I 

The Stranger s Story. 241 

sometimes cast longing thoughts back to the rela- 
tions and friends I had forsaken, and wished I had 
been less precipitate in my choice of a mode of 
life. Then the past would come up, with its com- 
mencement of promise and happiness, and its close 
of disappointment and gloom. I called philosophy 
to my aid, and strove to forget, in my studies, 
which I engaged in with energy, all my former 
joys and griefs. 

" Familiarity with my condition wore away all 
regrets, and I soon learned to love my exile, and 
to regard it as the most instructive and least harm- 
ful portion of my life. To avoid too great monot- 
ony, I occasionally spent a day in hunting or 
fishing, or looking after my herd ; but the pro- 
ficiency I made in study was my greatest source 
of encouragement and happiness. 

" Month after month imperceptibly glided away, 
except as each was marked by some increase in 
knowledge, and some additions to my cattle. I 
felt resigned to an isolation which cast me off 
from all communion with the world and all knowl- 
edge of its transactions. Indians would occasion- 
ally appear, but they knew my means of defence, 
and never disturbed me. Their attacks upon 
armed men, like those made upon the grizzly or 
mountain lion, are only ventured when safe, and 

242 The Stranger's Story. 

always with strategy. Sometimes, when I saw 
them passing, I longed for a tussle with them as 
a change of occupation, but they never gave me 
the opportunity. 

" One day, wearied with a problem in Euclid, I 
shouldered my rifle, and strolled into the adjacent 
forest in quest of a deer. A rustle in the under- 
growth attracted my attention. Supposing it to 
be caused by some animal, I peered cautiously in 
the direction from within the shadow of a pine, 
and saw, to my surprise, a man half concealed in 
a thicket, watching me. It was the work of an 
instant to bring my rifle to an aim. 

" ' Who are ;you ? ' I demanded, knowing if he 
were a white man he would answer. 

" He replied in unmistakable English, ' I am 
a white man in distress.' 

" Dropping my rifle on my shoulder, I hastened 
to him, and found a shrunken, emaciated form, 
half naked, and nearly famished. A more pitiable 
object I never beheld. 

" ' My name,' said he, ' is Boone Helm. I am 
the only survivor of a company which, together 
with the crew and vessel, were lost on the coast 
ten days ago. We were bound for Portland from 
San Francisco, and were driven ashore in a storm. 
I escaped by a miracle, and have wandered in the 

The StraH(jer\ Story. 243 

mountains ever since, feeding on berries, and 
sleeping- under the shelter of rocks and bushes. 
I came in this direction, hoping to strike the 
California trail, and fall in with a pack train.' 

" He gave me a circumstantial account of his 
shipwreck and wanderings, .which interested me 
very much. My sympathies w^ere enlisted, and I 
conducted him to my home, sharing ' bed and 
board ' with him for a month or more. He re- 
cruited in strength rapidly. I found him genial 
and intelligent, though uneducated. He was an 
agreeable talker, and told a story with an enchant- 
ing interest. By shreds and patches he disclosed 
much of his personal history, occasionally drop- 
ping a word or expression wdiicli led me to believe 
he had been a great criminal, and more than 
once imbrued his hands in the blood of his fellow- 
man. He remained with me for a month or more, 
long enough to make the prospect of separation 
painful, though I felt that I would be better off 
without than with him. When he left, I gave 
him a good buckskin suit, a cap, a pair of 
moccasins, and a gun. He wrung my hand at 
departure, expressing the warmest gratitude. 

" For a while I was very lonely, and found my 
studies irksome ; but, as time flew on, I fell 
naturally into my old round of employment, and 

244 The Stranger s Story. 

solitude became sweeter than ever. Another year 
came and went, during which I labored diligently 
at my books. I was proud of my acquirements. 
I had mastered Arithmetic, Algebra, and Geome- 
try, and read Latin and Greek with facility. My 
herds had greatly increased. I could drive them 
to Yreka and sell them for a small fortune, a 
measure I had determined upon for the following 
summer. Except when I went to fish or hunt, or 
look after my cattle, I never left my home. It was 
my custom, during the warm days of summer, to 
spread my blanket, and lie down in the shade of 
the stockade ; and, with guns and pistols in reach, 
pursue my studies. 

" One day while thus extended, reading a thrill- 
ing passage in the ^Eneid, I was startled by the 
distant clatter of a rapidly approaching horse. 
Seizing my rifle, T sprang to an opening, to 
reconnoitre for Indians. I could see nothing, — 
the noise had ceased, and I resumed reading ; but 
in a moment I heard the hoof-beat more distinctly, 
and applied myself again to the crevice. Judge 
of my astonishment, to behold at no great distance 
a woman well mounted, urging her steed rapidly 
towards my stockade, along the Indian trail. 
There was something- so unreal in the thou^'ht 
that a woman should traverse this wilderness 

The Stranger s Story. 245 

alone, I could not for a moment believe my senses. 
But there she was, coming- at rapid rate, and, to 
all appearance, a very beautiful woman too. She 
rode along with the air of a queen ; her riding- 
habit fitted closely to a magnificent bust, and fell 
in graceful folds over the flanks of her horse, 
which, though jaded with travel, seemed proud of 
his burden. Assisting her to alight, I invited her 
to a seat upon a box, spread with my blankets. 
It was the \vork of -a moment to secure her horse, 
and hasten to her to learn the import of her wild 

"I need not say that my conduct on this 
occasion bordered somewhat upon the romantic. 
Indeed, how else than after the fashion of a 
cavalier or knight of eld could I, under the cir- 
cumstances, approach a strange and beautiful 
lady, who had voluntarily, and without premoni- 
tion on my part, placed herself so completely at 
my disposal ? I felt all the delicacy of the situa- 
tion, for I discovered at a glance that she was 
high of spirit, refined, and intelligent. 

" ' Tell me,' I inquired, ' where you came from, 
and why you are here. It must be a mission of 
more than ordinary purport that has caused you 
to brave the perils of a journey through this wild, 
unfrequented region.' 

246 The Strangers Story. 

"Seemingly for the purpose of putting my 
curiosity to 'the rack, she evaded my question, and 
talked about the beauty of the scenery, the deso- 
lation of my home, and finally, picking up my 
books one after the other, she commenced scanning 
and rendering the Uquid hexameters of Virgil 
with the grace and ease of an accomplished 
professor. Provoking as this caprice was, there 
was a charm about it, which led me soon to adopt 
the same playful humor. 

" ' It cannot be,' I said laughingly, ' that you 
have come here to marry me.' 

"'No, indeed,' she replied, blushing and 
smiling at the same time. ' I need not have run 
so grelt a risk, if marriage had been my object.' 
"'Well then,' I rejoined, 'Madam or Miss, 
angel or spirit, or whatever you are, for the love 
of ''Heaven relieve me from this suspense, and tell 
me what brought you to my desolate cabin.' 

" The earnest tone in which I asked the ques- 
tion elicited a serious reply. 

" ' I was born and reared in Boston, the only 
child of highly educated parents. My father 
was a merchant^of wealth and position. I never 
knew a want unsupplied or a pleasure ungratified, 
that parental love could bestow in my childhood 
days. At school, I learned rapidly, outstrippmg 

The Stranger s Story. 247 

my classmates, and receiving encomiums from my 
teacher. I was sent to a seminary, and graduated 
with signal honor. Exhibiting an early taste for 
music, vocal and instrumental, after my classical 
course was completed, I was placed under the 
instruction of the best professors. Just at this 
time, my father failed because of the misconduct 
of his partner, and was utterly ruined. Every- 
thing, even to the old homestead, was swept away 
by his creditors. My father, wounded in spirit 
and feeble in health, sunk under the blow, and 
died in a few months. 

" ' Never shall I forget the look of utter despair 
on the face of my dear mother, when we consigned 
my father to his last resting-place. It seemed as 
if her fountain of tears was exhausted, and her 
heart would break. She threw herself into my 
arms like a child, and looked up to me for coun- 
sel and protection. I, in turn, almost sinking 
beneath the care thus early cast upon me, looked 
up to the Great Father for aid, and became strong. 

" ' The California gold excitement had just 
reached the Atlantic coast. People everywhere 
were wild. I partook of the infatuation, and 
then determined to seek my fortune in that far-off 
land. My friends tried to dissuade me, but my 
purpose was fixed. Placing my mother in charge 

248 The iSt7-angers Story. 

of a kind relative, where I knew she would be 
cared for, I sold my jewelry for money to meet 
the expenses of the journey, and sailed by way 
of the Isthmus, for San Francisco, where I arrived 
early in the summer of 1850. 

" ' There were but four American ladies in 
California when I arrived. I found myself alone, 
a stranger in a strange land ; but, with courageous 
heart, pure purpose, judgment matured by expe- 
rience, and a firm trust in God, I had no fears for 
success. I soon became familiar mth the marvel- 
lous richness of the mines, the solitary life and 
many wants of the miners. My opportunity was 
apparent. Purchasing a small assortment of 
stationery, consisting chiefly of pens, ink, paper, 
envelopes, and postage stamps, I visited the various 
mining camps, selling my wares to the miners, 
writing letters for many whose hands were so 
stiffened that they could not guide a pen, and 
singing the simple ballads I had learned in the 
days of prosperity. They paid me generously, 
often an hundred-fold the value of their purchase. 
I was everywhere received and treated with a re- 
spect akin to idolatry, regarded, indeed, as a being 
almost supernatural. These noble-hearted men, 
remembering beloved ones they had left in the 
States, were so respectful, so kind, so attentive. 

The tStrangers Story. 24^ 

it seemed that they could not do enough for me. 
Commencing thus, afar up in the Sierras, near 
Hangtown ( Placerville), I visited all the mining 
regions, until I arrived at Yreka, a new camp, 
just then creating the wildest excitement. 

" ' I had now money enough to carry out the 
design nearest my heart, of going East, and 
returning with my mother to live at San Francisco. 
While at Yreka^ I put up at the principal hotel, 
a half-finished house, with rooms separated by 
light board partitions, and crowded with the 
varieties of a thrivino- minino- town. 

" ' One evening, after a day of more fatiguing 
labor than usual, I retired early, but could not 
sleep. While tossing upon the pillow, I heard 
two men enter the adjoining room, and engage in 
earnest conversation. I could hear distinctly every 
word they uttered, and the subject they were dis- 
cussing very soon riveted my attention. They 
were planning a murder and robbery. In the 
midst of their conversation, another man entered, 
whom they saluted by the name of Boone Helm. 
He seemed to be their leader, for he proceeded 
at once to describe the home and surroundinors of 
the intended victim, said he had been there and 
shared his hospitality for several weeks ; spoke of 
the road leading there, the trail from the road to 

250 The Stranger s Story. 

the house, and the distance of the large herd 
of cattle, and the ready sale for them at 

u i u \Yg cannot,'* said he, " make more money 
in a shorter time, with greater ease, and less liabil- 
ity to detection, than to go there and dispose of 
the man and take his property." 

" ' They finally agreed that at a certain time 
the three should go in company, and execute their 
murderous design. 1 immediately determined to 
foil them in their bloody purpose, or lose my life 
in the attempt. I could not sleep ; indeed, so 
nervously anxious was I to start on my errand of 
mercy, that I could hardly await the approach of 
morning. I arose early, made immediate prepara- 
tion for departure, and before noon was in the 
saddle and on my way. I had no fear of Indians, 
simply because I believed God would take care of 
one engaged on a mission so pure and holy. I 
have ridden more than two hundred miles to warn 
you of your danger. Be on your guard. Make 
every preparation to defend yourself, for, as sure 
as the time comes, the men will be here to take 
your life. And now,' she concluded, ' bring my 
horse, and I will start on my return.' 

"Language was inadequate to express my grati- 
tude, or the admiration with which I regarded this 

The Stranger s Story. 251 

noble act of humanity. I begged and insisted 
that my benefactress should remain, at least long 
enouofh for rest, but she refused. I then told her 
my own history, prepared a hasty meal, and asked 
her to favor me with a song. In the sweetest 
voice I thought I ever heard, she sung the Hunters' 
Chorus in ' Der Freyschutz : ' then, springing to 
the sad\lle, she waved me a farewell, and in a few 
moments disappeared. So sudden had been her 
appearance and disappearance, so startling the 
warning she gave me, so wonderful her long and 
dreary ride, that it all seemed like a dream. I 
had never made a habit of prayer, but, influenced 
by the emotion of the moment, I dropped on my 
knees, and thanked God, in a fervent prayer, for 
this special manifestation of his Providence. 

'' The next day I made every needful prepara- 
tion for defence, and calmly awaited the arrival of 
the ruffians. In the afternoon of the day my in- 
formant mentioned I saw them approaching, one, 
whom I recognized as Helm, half a mile or more 
in advance of the other two. I stood in the gate 
of my stockade, with my revolver in my belt, and 
as he approached me greeted him kindly, bade 
him enter, and closed and bolted the door behind 
him. As this had always been my custom, he did 
not notice it. I saw at once, by his subdued. 

252 The Strangers Story. 

churlish manner, and his crabbed style of address, 
that he was bent upon mischief. Hardly waiting 
for an exchange of common civilities, he said, — 

" ' Lend me your pistols. I am going on a 
perilous expedition.' 

" * I cannot spare them,' I replied. 

" ' But you must spare them. I want them.' 

" ' I tell you, I cannot let you have them.' 

" Flying into a passion, he with bitter oaths re- 
joined, — 

" * I'll make you give 'em to me, or I'll kill you,' 
at the same time grasping his revolver. 

" Before he could pull it from its scabbard, I 
had mine levelled with deadly aim at his head, 
and my finger on the trigger. 

" ' Make a single motion,' said I emphatically, 
* and I will shoot you.' 

" He quailed, for he saw I had the advantage 
of him. His comrades now approached the gate 
from without. 

" ' Break down the door,' he shouted, and, add- 
ing an opprobrious epithet, ordered them to kill 

" Still holding my pistol level with his temple, 
I repHed sternly, — 

" ' If they attempt such a movement, I will kill 
you instantly.' 

The Stranger's Story. 253 

^' He knew me to be desperately in earnest, and, 
taking the hint, told them to go away. They 

" '• Now, sir,' I persisted, still holding him under 
fire, ' unbuckle and drop your belt, pistol, and 
knife, and walk from there, so that I can get 

" He beofcred, but I was inexorable. He tried 
to throw me off my guard by referring pleasantly 
to our former acquaintance, and assuring me he 
was only jesting, and would not harm me for the 
world. I told him I had been warned of his com- 
ing and its object, and detailed with some partic- 
ularity the conversation he had with his companions 
at the time they agreed upon the expedition. He 
stoutly denied it, and demanded the source of my 
information. Knowing that he ^vas ignorantly 
superstitious, I gave him to understand that it 
was entirely providential. For a moment he 
seemed dumfounded, and, hardened as he w^as 
in crime, showed by his action that he believed 
it. I made him sit down, and kept him in range 
of my revolver all night, conversing with him, 
meantime, on such subjects as were best calculated 
to win his confidence. The night seemed a year 
in duration, but he told me his entire history — 
his birth, the errors of his early manhood, his first 

254 The Stranger^ s Story. 

and only love, the illness and deatli o£ his be- 
trothed, his resolution to lead a criminal life, his 
murder of Shoot, his escape, and many other mur- 
ders that he afterwards committed, and of his in- 
tention to murder me and dispose of my cattle. I 
never heard or read a more horrible history than 
that narrated by this man of blood. He lost no 
opportunity to throw me off my guard, but I knew 
too well what would be the result. He was my 
prisoner, under absolute control, as long as his life 
was in my power. 

" Morning came. Helm's companions were still 
linsfering- near the stockade. I ordered them to 
withdraw a certain distance, that I might with 
safety release my prisoner. I then opened the 
gate, and with my double-barrelled shot-gun lev- 
elled upon him, bade him go, assuring him that 
if we ever met again I would shoot him on sight. 
He marched out and away with his comrades. 
The next intelligence I received concerning him 
was the announcement of his execution by the 
righteous Vigilantes of Montana in 1864. 

" I beg pardon, gentlemen, for detaining you 
so long. My story is done." 

After a moment's silence one of our circle, a 
nervous, excitable young man, remarked, — 

" We cannot consider the story completed until 

The Stranger^s Story. 255 

we know something more of the young lady. She 
is really the object of the most interest." 

" Well, gentlemen," he resumed, " since you 
desire it, I will tell you all I know. Soon after 
Helm's departure, influenced by a desire to have 
the address of and see once more my benefactress, 
I drove my herd to Yreka, and sold it for a hand- 
some sum. While there I searched diligently, 
but in vain, for my heroine. She had gone, and, 
as she had refused to give me her name, I found 
inquiry for her impracticable. I went to San 
Francisco, but no one could give me the least 
trace of her, and, after repeated disappoint- 
ments, I gave up the search and returned to 

" Five years thereafter, business took me to Port- 
land. While seated by the office stove, in conver- 
sation with some old friends, the clerk came and 
whispered that a young lady in the parlor wished to 
see me. Wondering who she could be, I hastened 
to the room, and there sat my friend of the wil- 
derness. She gave me a cordial greeting, and to 
my numerous and eager inquiries, informed me in 
substance that soon after she left me and returned 
to Yreka, she went to Boston. After a year spent 
among old friends, she came back to San Fran- 
cisco, accompanied by her mother. She purchased 

256 The Stranger's Story. 

a neat residence there, and it was now her home. 
She had arrived in Oregon with some friends the 
day before on a pleasure excursion, but intended 
to return in a few days. We had a pleasant in- 
terview, and I bade her good-by." 

" So you did not marry her, after all," was the 
eager remark of our young friend. 

" No, gentlemen. Had I not been fortunately 
married some time before our last meeting, I can- 
not tell what might have happened ; but as it was, 
I did not marry her after all, as you say." 

White and Dorsett. 257 




AND Rudolph Dorsett — They find one Kelley 
IN Distress — All return to Virginia City — 
Preparations for returning to the Boulder — 
Kelley delayed — The Stolen Mule — Departure 
OF Dorsett — Anxiety for his Safety — Meeting 
OF Kelley by a Stranger — Thompson and Rum- 
SEY set out in Search of Dorsett and White — 
Discovery of their Bodies — Pursuit of Kelley 
— He flees to Portland, Ore., thence to San 
Francisco — Thompson foiled — Kelley returns 
TO Portland — In Port Neuf Canon Robbery. 

The attachments formed between men, where 
the privileges and enjoyments of social life are 
confined to the monotonous round of a mining- 
camp, are necessarily strong. The surroundings, 
which dictate great prudence in the choice of 
friends, where confidence is once established, are 
continually strengthening the ties that bind men 
to each other. Self-preservation and self-interest 
will furnish apologies for incompatibilities of tern- 

258 WTiite and Dorsett. 

per in the mountains, which would sever friend- 
ships formed in less exposed communities. The 
sterling qualities of truth, honor, integrity, and 
kindness are sooner ascertained and more highly 
prized among miners than any other class. We 
have seen the operation of these principles in the 
instance of Beachy and Magruder, a very strong 
but not an exceptional case ; this is another 
narrative of similar import. 

Rudolph Dorsett arrived at Bannack with a 
party of miners from Colorado, in April, 1863. 
During the following summer, he, in company 
with John White, the discoverer of the Bannack 
mines, and a few others, left for the interior on a 
prospecting tour. The winter of 1863-64 found 
the little party near the head of Big Boulder 
creek, where they had made some promising 
discoveries. Being nearly out of provisions. 
White and Dorsett started on horseback for Deer 
Lodge, to obtai'.i a fresh supply. At the head 
of Boulder, they came upon one Kelley and a 
comrade, who had made a camp there, and been 
detained several days by. deep snows. They were 
literally " snowed in ; " and, their food being 
exhausted, they had killed and were feeding upon 
one of their horses. 

After supplying their immediate wants, White 

White and Dorsetf. 259 

and Dorsett, discouraged by the gathering snows 
from any further effort to cross the main ridge, 
changed their course, and, taking the two men 
with them, started for Virginia City, where they 
arrived after three days of perilous travel. Kelley 
and his partner were entirely destitute. Their 
kind benefactors made known their condition to 
Henry Thompson and William Rumsey, and they 
paid their bills at a restaurant the two days suc- 
ceedino; their arrival ; and other citizens of Vir- 
ginia City, at Dorsett's solicitation, provided them 
with clothing. An arrangement was made for 
Kelley and his comrade to return with White and 
Dorsett to their camp ; but, when the time came 
to leave, Kelley said that he had been promised a 
horse the next day, which he would get and over- 
take them. The three men departed without him, 
and, after a cold ride of several days, found their 
party camped on the upper waters of Prickly Pear 
creek. They were all in excellent spirits, and 
supposed they had found a very prolific placer. 
Dorsett, true to the confidence reposed iji him by 
his friends, Thompson and Rumsey, returned im- 
mediately to Virginia City, to apprise them of his 
good fortune, so that they might improve the 
earliest indications of a stampede, and secure a 
good interest in the placer mine. This is one of 

260 White and Dorsett. 

the rigid requirements of friendship in a mining 
region. No matter how distant the discovery may 
be, nor how difficult the journey, when a mine is 
found of any vahie, it is the duty of the discov- 
erer, before disclosing it to the public, to notify 
his friends, that they may make sure of the best 
location. Indeed, in the early days of Montana, 
there were hundreds of old miners, experts in the 
business of prospecting, who, being unable to 
purchase " grub," were fully supplied with horses, 
food, and tools, upon the distinct understanding 
that they were to share with those who " out- 
fitted " them in all their discoveries. Woe to the 
man who was base enough to violate this agree- 
ment ! If he escaped lynching he never failed 
being driven from the country by the hisses and 
execrations of every " honest miner " in it. There 
was held 

" in every honest hand, a whip 
To lash the rascals naked through th"e world." 

During the night following the departure of 
White, Dorsett, and Kelley's partner from Virginia 
City, a mule belonging to AVilliam Hunt, and a 
horse owned by another citizen of Virginia City, 
were stolen. Dorsett was informed of this on his 
return, and, not having seen Kelley since his prom- 

White and Dorsett. 261 

ise to overtake his party, he at once suspected him 
of the theft. The mule was a very fine animal, 
which Hunt had purchased of Dorsett in Colorado. 

" If I find him," said Dorsett, as he mounted 
his horse to return to the mine, " I will recover 
and send him back to you." 

The second day after this promise was made, 
while crossinof the divide between White Tail and 
Boulder, Dorsett met Kelley in possession of the 
stolen animals. After a brief conversation, 
Dorsett asked, — 

" Where did you get that fine mule, Kelley ? " 

" The man at Nevada, who promised me the 
horse I told you about, could not find him, and 
gave me the mule instead." 

Not wishing to arouse Kelley 's suspicion, 
Dorsett asked no more questions, but, with a 
friendly " good-by," rode on as rapidly as possible 
to his camp. He was informed that Kelley had 
been there, and had told the miners that some 
friend in Deer Lodge had sent him a written offer 
to furnish provisions and a good outfit for pros- 
pecting. He was going there immediately to 
accept it, and had bought both horse and mule 
for that purpose. When they were informed that 
the animals were stolen. White agreed to join 
Dorsett, and they started immediately in pursuit 

262 White and Dorsett. 

of the thief, thus furnishing another instance of 
the strength of that friendship which neither the 
freezing weather and mountain snows, nor long 
days of travel and long nights of exposure, could 
overcome. The single thought of serving a friend 
put to flight every consideration of personal com- 
fort or convenience. They did not expect to be 
absent lonj^er than three days at the most. 

A week passed and nothing was heard from 
them. Dorsett had promised Thompson and 
Rumsey, when he left, that he would return to 
Virginia City in five or six days. Ten days expired 
without bringing any intelligence. Rumsey's 
fears were aroused for the safety of his friends. 
Being at Nevada on business, he mentioned inci- 
dentally this strange disappearance, and Stephen 
Holmes, a bystander, observed that, four days 
before, while at Deer Lodge, he had met Kelley 
with Dorsett's horse, revolver, Henry rifle, and 
cantinas, and that Kelley had told him he traded 
for them with a man at Boulder. With charac- 
teristic promptness, Ramsey replied to Holmes, — 

" The men have been murdered by the scoun- 
drel, and he is fleeing with their property." 

To think, with such men as Thompson and 
Rumsey, was to act. No time was to be lost. 
Thoroughly equipped for a long pursuit, Thomp- 

mite and Dorsett. 263 

son and a friend named Coburn started immedi- 
ately upon the track of Kelley, and at the same 
time James Dorsett, brother of Rudolph, organ- 
ized a party with which he went as rapidly as 
possible to the Boulder, in search of the missing 
men. This little party passed the first night at 
Coppock's ranche on the Jefferson. The next 
day, while passing through a hollow on the 
Boulder range, called Basin, they found tracks 
diversrino- from the road in the direction of White 
Tail Deer creek. They followed that stream 
nearly to the forks, when suddenly they saw, some 
distance before them, two men emerge from the 
thin forest of pines. They spurred their horses 
into a sharp run. The men turned at the sound 
and raised their guns, and stood upon the defen- 
sive. The approaching party, rifles in hand, drew 
nearer, and a conflict at long range seemed inevita- 
ble. Fortunately, at this moment, one of the 
two men recognized James Dorsett, and dropped 
his gun, and with friendly gestures rode toward 
him. Offensive demonstrations were soon fol- 
lowed by hearty greetings. The two men proved 
to be John Heffner and a comrade, who had just 
been searchinof in the willows for a suitable 
camping-ground for the night. 

"I have found," said he, in a mournful tone, 

264 TVhite atid Dorsett. 

" what you are searching- for. Rudolph Dorsett 
and John White have both been murdered, and 
their bodies are in the willows." 

" My God ! " exclaimed James, " my brother 
murdered ! " and, bursting into tears, he followed 
Heffner into the clump. 

" I came in here," said Heffner, ^' to pick up 
some wood for a camp-fire. This heap of coals 
and burned sticks attracted my attention. Thinks 
I, there's been campers here before. I looked 
around and caught a glance at the saddle. It 
startled me, for it seemed a very good one, and I 
thought it strange that any one would leave it 
here. I examined it narrowly, and, lifting it up, 
I beheld the dead face of John White. You may 
well believe I was frightened. On turning to call 
my partner, 1 almost stumbled over the corpse of 
your brother, which was covered with an overcoat. 
We had just completed our survey of the camp, 
and stepped out of the bushes to look up another 
camping-place, when we heard your horses." 

On a close examination of the spot, appearances 
indicated that White and Dorsett, with Kelley 
as a prisoner, had arrived there either at a late 
hour, or without any provisions, as there was no 
evidence of cooking. They had tied their pris- 
oner with twisted strips of blanket, pieces of 

White and Dor sett. 265 

which were found near, and, as they doubtless 
supposed, secured him for the night. A few 
fagots had been heaped up for a morning fire ; 
and the theory of the murder advanced by the 
searching party was that, while White was on his 
knees kindling the fire, Kelley freed himself from 
his bonds, picked up White's revolver, and shot 
him twice in the back of the neck ; then seizing 
his rifle, turned and shot Dorsett, who was gather- 
ing wood a little distance away, through the heart. 
An armful of wood lay scattered where he had 
fallen. His skull was beaten in pieces, a boulder 
lying near, bespattered with blood and brains, 
bearing gloomy testimony to the manner in which 
it was done. After this his body had been 
dragged some twenty steps from the spot where 
he fell, and stripped of its clothing, which the 
murderer had taken away with him, and wore the 
day that Holmes met him at Deer Lodge. 
White's body had also been removed, and the 
saddle placed over the face. The bodies were 
taken to Coppock's ranche, and thence to Virginia 
City for burial. 

This was one of the earliest and most brutal 
tragedies in the newly discovered gold regions ; 
and, happening when they were populated mostly 
by Eastern people, and before Plummer and his 

266 White and Dorseff. 

band of ruffians had been arrested in their grand 
scheme of wholesale slaughter, it produced a pro- 
found sensation throughout the country. The 
desire to capture and make a public example of 
the ruf&an who had committed the shocking crime 
was uniyersal. All eyes were turned to the pur- 
suit of Kelley by Thompson and Coburn, and all 
ears open to catch the first tidings of its success. 
These men were beyond the reach of information 
of the discovery of the bodies at the time it was 
made, but they had found evidence by the way, 
which convinced them that their friends had been 
assassinated. At Deer Lodge a pistol which 
Kelley had sold was identified by Thompson as the 
property of Dorsett, and his initials, R. R. D., 
were graven on the handle. They pushed the 
pursuit to Hell Gate, procuring two relays in Deer 
Lodge valley. Finding that the deep snows 
rendered the Coeur D'Alene mountains impassable, 
they turned back to take the route into Oregon, 
by Jocko and Pend d'Oreille lakes. Between 
Frenchtown and Hell Gate they met an Indian 
with Dorsett's saddle, which Thompson took from 
him. Forty miles below Jocko, they reclaimed the 
horse from a little band of Indians who had traded 
for it with Kelley. Proceeding on towards the 
Pacific, they met a company of miners, who had 

White and Dor sett 267 

met Kelley fifteen days before, on his way to 

The men pursued their journey, following the 
devious windings of Clarke's fork to its junction 
with the Snake river, and thence on to Lewiston, 
— a tract of country at that time more disastrous 
for winter travel thcin perhaps any other equal por- 
tion of the continent. There were no roads, and 
the solitary Indian trail leading over the mountains, 
through caiions, and across large rivers, for much 
of the distance was obscured by snow, and in 
many places difficult and dangerous of passage. 
Had their object been anything less than to avenge 
the death of their friend, they would have turned 
back, and consoled themselves with the reflection 
that it was not worth the risk and exposure need- 
ful to win it ; but, with that in view, they wel- 
comed privation and danger while a single hope 
remained of its accomplishment. 

At Lewiston, Cob urn remained on the lookout, 
while Thompson continued the pursuit farther 
west. At the hotel in Walla Walla, Thompson 
found Kelley's name upon the register. He 
learned, on inquiring of the clerk, that he had told 
him he came from the Beaverhead mines. The 
barber who shaved him, remembered him, because 
he paid him an extra price for the service. Kelley 

268 White and Dorsett. 

had purchased a new suit of clothes, of which 
Thompson procured a sample. With these clews 
Thompson hastened to Portland, and ascertained 
that Kelley had spent nine days there, and left 
by steamer for San Francisco. In fact, on the day 
that Thompson arrived at Portland, Kelley entered 
the harbor of San Francisco. Thompson tele- 
graphed the chief of police to arrest and detain 
him until he arrived. He had taken the precau- 
tion to obtain requisitions from the Governor of 
Idaho on the Governors of Oregon, California, and 
Washington, and a commission as special deputy 
United States marshal. 

Chief Burke, on receipt of the telegram, called 
at the hotel where Kelley had taken quarters, and, 
not finding him, gave no further attention to the 
matter. Learninof on his return that he had been 
inquired after, Kelley, suspicious of the object, 
left the city at once, taking with him an overcoat 
and pistol belonging to a fellow boarder. Thomp- 
son found, on his arrival at San Francisco, that 
the bird had flown, but in what direction he 
was unable to ascertain. After spending some 
time in fruitless inquiry, he returned home with 
nothing better than his labor for his pains. It 
was a sore disappointment, but none the less 
demonstrative as an illustration of personal devo- 
tion and attachment. 

White and Dorsett. 269 

Kelley returned to Portland, and soon disap- 
peared from public view. Thompson was con- 
stantly on the lookout for him, and in 1864 heard 
of him as a participant in a robbery committed in 
Port Neuf cafion. It was ascertained that after 
the robbery Kelley went to Denver, where he was 
known by the name of Cliilds. He remained there 
several months. Thompson heard of his being 
there, and sent a man to identify him. Kelley 
took the alarm, and left immediately by the Ore- 
gon route for Mexico. Thompson wrote to a 
friend in Prescott to arrest him e7i route y but the 
letter arrived too late, as the rascal had passed 
through the town several days before. If living, 
he is still at large ; but there is no corner of the 
globe where Thompson would not follow him, 
were he certain that the journey would effect his 

270 Langford Peel. 



Suffering in Kansas in the Winter of 1856 — 
Peel's Kindness to Conley and Rucker — Their 
Ingratitude — Peel's Destitution — Robinson's 
Generosity — Death of Rucker — Peel wounded 

— Threatened with Death — Escapes to Cali- 
fornia — Downward Career — Arrives at Car- 
son City — Prize Fight and Death of Muchacho 

— Peel fights Dick Paddock — Kills El Dorado 
Johnny in a Fight — Principles of the Roughs 

— Peel suffers Lannan to arrest him — Char- 
acter OF Nevada Roughs — Fight between 
Earnhardt and Peasley — Both killed — Char- 
acter of Peasley — Peel leaves Nevada — Goes 
to Salt Lake, and thence to Helena — Quarrel 
WITH John Bull — Is killed by him — Inscrip- 
tion on his Tombstone. 

People who were living in the West in 1856, 
well remember the terrible winter of that year, 
and the suffering it occasioned among the poorer 
classes. Severity of weather, scarcity of provis- 
ions, and the high price of fuel, following hard 
upon a season of uncommon distress and disaster 

Langford Peel. 271 

in all kinds of business, necessarily brought 
starvation and suffering to a large floating popu- 
lation, which had gathered into the little towns 
and settlements along the Missouri border. This 
was especially the case in the settlements of 
Kansas, which, by their supposed opportunities 
for profitable investment and occupation, had 
attracted a large emigration from other parts of the 
Union. Langford Peel w^as at this time a pros- 
perous citizen of Leaven^vorth. Moved to com- 
passion by the sufferings of those around him, he 
contributed generously to their relief. Among 
others who shared liberally of his bounty w^ere 
Messrs. Conley and Rucker, t\vo men whom he 
found in a state of complete destitution, and 
invited to his house, where they were comfortably 
provided for until spring, and then aided with 
means to return to their friends. 

Of Peel's antecedents, previous to this time, 
I know nothing. He was regarded as one of 
those strange compounds wdio unite in their 
character the extremes of recklessness and kind- 
ness. In his o^eneral conduct there was more to 
approve than condemn, though his fearless man- 
ner, his habits of life, and his occupation as a 
gambler, gave him a doubtful reputation. Among 
people of his ow^n class he was specially attractive, 

272 Langford PeeL 

because of his great physical strength, manly pro- 
portions, undoubted bravery, and overflowing 
kindness. To these qualities he added a repose 
of manner that gave him unbounded influence in 
his sphere. No man was more prompt to make 
the cause of a friend his own, to resent an injury, 
or punish an insult. His dexterity with the 
revolver was as marvellous as the ready use he 
made of it when provoked. His qualifications 
as a rough and ready borderer bespoke a fore- 
ground in his life, of much exposure and 

The year 1858 found him in Salt Lake City, in 
reduced circumstances. As if to mark this 
reverse with pecuHar emphasis, Conley and Rucker, 
the sharers of his bounty two years before, were 
also there engaged in prosperous business. They 
had seemingly forgotten their old benefactor, and 
treated him with coldness and neglect. Peel was 
an entire stranger to all save them, and felt 
bitterly their ingratitude. 

A citizen by the name of Robinson, who had 
been attracted by the manly figure of Peel, 
observed him, a few days after his arrival, seated 
upon a log in the rear of the Salt Lake House, 
apparently in deep study. Calling his partner to 
the door, he inquired if he knew him. 

Langford Peel. 273 

" His name is Peel, I have been told," was the 

" He is in trouble." 

" Yes, he's got no money, and is a stranger." 

" Do you know him ? " 

" No, I never spoke to him. I only know he's 
in distress, destitute, and has no friends. He's 
the man who took care of a lot of boys that were 
dead broke, that hard winter at Leavenworth." 

" He is ? If I didn't think he'd take it as an 
insult, I'd go out and offer him some money." 

Later in the day, Peel entered Robinson's room, 
and approaching Conley, who was seated in the 
" lookout seat," near a table where a game of faro 
was progressing, said to him, — 

" Dave, I wish you'd lend me twenty-five 

" I'll not do it," replied Conley. 


" I've no money to loan." 

" I don't consider it a loan," said Peel, looking 
steadfastly at Conley. Then, as if influenced by a 
recollection of his own kindness to the man who 
refused him, he exclaimed, " Great God ! is it pos- 
sible that there is not a man in the country who 
will lend me twenty-five dollars?" 

Robinson, who was seated by the table drawer, 

274 Langford Peel. 

now drew it out, and, grasping a handful of coin, 
threw it eagerly upon the table. 

"Here," said he, "Mr. Peel, I'll loan you 
twenty-five dollars, or as much more as you want. 
You're entirely welcome to it." 

Peel turned, and fixing upon Robinson a look 
of mingled surprise and gratitude, responded, 
" Sir, you're a stranger to me. We never spoke 
together before, but I will gratefully accept your 
kindness, and thank you. All I want is twenty- 
five dollars, and I'll pay you as soon as I can." 
He then picked up five half-eagles, and placed 
them in the palm of his hand. 

" Take more. Peel," said Robinson. " Take a 
hundred, or whatever you want." 

" No, this is all I want ; " then, fixing his gaze 
upon Conley, whose face was red and swollen with 
anger, he seized the " case keeper " used for mark- 
ing the game, and hurled it violently at his head. 
Conley dodged, and the only effect of the act was 
a deep indentation in the adobe wall. Conley 
sprung from his seat and ran out of the building. 
Peel drew his revolver w^ith the intention of pur- 
suing, but Robinson, seizing his arm, said, — 

" Stay your hand. Peel. For God's sake, don't 
make any disturbance." 

Peel sheathed his pistol at the moment, and, 

Langford Peel. 275 

taking" Robinson by tbe hand, replied, " No ; you 
must excuse me. I beg a thousand pardons, but 
I was very angry. You're the only friend I have 
in this country. Conley has treated me like a dog. 
All of 'em have. I have fed them for weeks in 
my own house, when they had nothing to eat. 
My wife has cooked, and washed and ironed their 
clothes for them, and this is the return I get for 

He then started to leave, but, as if suddenly 
reminded that he had neglected to say something, 
he returned ; and while the tears, which he vainly 
tried to suppress, were streaming down his cheeks, 
he said, — 

" I'll certainly repay this money. I would 
rather die than wrong you out of it." 

He had been gone about twenty minutes when 
shots were heard. 

^' I reckon," said Robinson, starting for the 
door, ^'that Peel has killed Conley." 

All followed, but they found that the exchange 
of shots was between Peel and Rucker, the latter 
the proprietor of a faro bank on Commercial Street, 
where Peel had gone and staked his money on 
the turn of a card. 

Rucker, perceiving it, pushed the money away, 
remarking, in a contemptuous tone, — 

276 Langford Peel. 

" I don't want your game." 

Smarting under the insult conveyed in these 
words, Peel raised a chair to hit Rucker on the 
head. Rucker fled through the rear door of the 
building, and entered Miller's store adjoining, the 
back stairs of which he hurriedly ascended, draw- 
ing his revolver by the way. Peel soon after went 
into the store by the front door, and inquired for 
Miller, who was absent. Sauntering to the rear 
of the apartment, which was but dimly lighted, 
he came suddenly upon Rucker, who had just 
descended the stairs, and, with revolver in hand, 
was waiting his approach. 

" What do you want of me ? " inquired Rucker, 
thrusting his pistol against Peel's side. 

" Great God ! " was Peel's instant exclamation, 
drawing and cocking his pistol with lightning 
rapidity. Their simultaneous fire gave but a 
single report, and both fell, emptying their pistols 
after they were down. Peel was wounded in the 
thigh, through the cheek, and in the shoulder. 
Rucker, hit every time, was mortally wounded, 
and died in a few moments. Peel was conveyed 
to the Salt Lake House, where his wounds received 

Miller was clamorous for Peel's arrest, and the 
city police favored his execution, but the sym- 

Langford Peel. 277 

pathies of the people were with him. He had 
many friends, who assured him of protection from 
violence, and kept his enemies in ignorance of his 
condition until such time as he could be removed 
to a place of concealment. This project was in- 
trusted to a Mormon dignitary of high standing 
in the church, who was paid forty-five dollars for 
the service. He conveyed Peel to a sequestered 
hut twelve miles distant from the city, on the Jor- 
dan road, and with undue haste provided him with 
female apparel and a fast horse, to facilitate his 
escape from the country. His wounds were too 
severe, and he was obliged to return to the shelter 
of the hut, near which Miller discovered him a few 
days afterwards, while walking for exercise. Mil- 
ler disclosed his discovery to the police, boasting, 
meantime, of what he had done in so public a man- 
ner, that the friends of Peel, hearing it, speedily 
provided for his protection. Close upon the heels 
of the policemen who had gone to arrest Peel they 
sent the wily Mormon, with instructions to convey 
him to a place of safety. The night was dark, 
and the rain froze into sleet as it fell. The police- 
men stopped at a wayside inn to warm and refresh 
themselves, and were passed by the Mormon, who, 
dreadins: the venpfeance which would visit him in 
case of failure, urged his horse into a run, and 

278 Langford Peel. 

arrived in time to conduct Peel to Johnson's 
ranclie, where he was secreted for several weeks. 
As soon as he was able, he made the journey on 
horseback to Cahfornia, by the southern route, 
passing through San Bernardino and Los Angeles. 
Large rewards were offered for his arrest, but his 
friends, believing him to be the victim of ingrati- 
tude, would not betray him. 

The death of Rucker lay heavy on the conscience 
of Peel, and from the moment of his arrival on the 
Pacific coast, his downward career was very rapid. 
He associated only with gamblers and roughs, 
amonsr whom the heig^ht of his ambition was to 
be an acknowledged chief. He was a bold man 
who dared to dispute the claim to this title with 
him, for usually he did not escape without disput- 
ing on the spot his higher title to life. Expert in 
pistol practice, desperate in character. Peel was 
never more at home than in an affray. His wan- 
derings at length took him to Carson City, in 
Nevada, where his shooting exploits, and their 
bloody character, form a chapter in the early his- 
tory of the place. It is told of him by his asso- 
ciates, as a mark of singular magnanimity, that 
he scorned all advantage of an adversary, and, 
under the bitterest provocation, would not attack 
him until satisfied that he was armed. His loy- 

Langford Peel. 279 

alty to this principle, as we shall see hereafter, 
cost him his life. 

From many incidents related of the reckless 
life led by Peel while in Nevada, I select one, 
as especially illustrative. A prize fight between 
Tom Daly, a noted pugilist, and Billy Maguire, 
better known as the *' Dry Dock Chicken," was 
planned by the roughs of Virginia City. It was 
intended to be a " put-up job." By the deUvery 
of a foul blow, Maguire was to be the loser. The 
referee and umpire were privy to the arrangement, 
and were to decide accordingly. A great number 
of sports were in attendance. At the stage of 
progress in the fight agreed upon, Maguire struck 
his antagonist the exceptionable blow. The ex- 
pected decision was given ; but Izzy Lazarus, and 
other men familiar with the rules of the ring, said 
that it was not foul. One of the initiated, named 
Muchacho, disputed the question with Lazarus, 
who gave him the lie. Drawing his pistol, he 
brought it to an aim, so as to clear the inner ring, 
and shouting, " Look out ! " fired and hit Lazarus 
in the breast. Lazarus refrained from firing lest 
he should hit others, but approached Muchacho, 
who fired again, wounding his pistol hand. Quick 
as thought, Lazarus seized his pistol in the left 
hand, and fired, killing Muchacho in his tracks. 

280 Langford Peel. 

The row now became general, and pistol shots 
were fired in all parts of the crowd. No others 
were killed, but many were severely wounded, and 
such was the confusion during the melee that the 
fatal shot of Lazarus escaped observation. Many 
were the conjectures on the subject, but suspicion 
seemed to fasten upon Lazarus. Dick Paddock, 
a friend of his, being in Robinson's saloon a few 
days after the affray, boldly avowed that he fired 
it. Peel overheard him, and, after informing him 
that Muchacho was his friend, challenged him to 
a fight on the spot. Both men stepped outside 
the saloon, took their positions, and commenced 
firing. Peel wounded Paddock three times, es- 
caping unharmed himself, and the combat closed 
without any fatal consequences. " El Dorado 
Johnny " renewed the quarrel, for the double 
purpose of avenging Paddock and establishing a 
claim as chief. The next day, while walking up 
street, he addressed the following inquiry to Pat 
Lannan, who was standing in the door of his 
saloon, — 

" Pat, what sort of a corpse do you think I'd 
make ? " 

"You don't look much like a corpse now, 
Johnny," replied Lannan, laughing. 

" Well, I'm bound to be a corpse or a gentle- 

Langford Peel. 281 

inan in less than five minutes," replied Johnny, 
passing- on. 

Carefully scrutinizing- the inmates o£ each saloon 
as he came to it, Johnny soon saw the object of 
his search pass out of Pat Robinson's, a few rods 
ahead of him. Walking rapidly back, he turned 
and faced him, and, half drawing his pistol, said, — 

" Peel, I'm chief." 

" You're a liar," rejoined Peel, drawing his 
pistol, and killing Johnny instantly. The words 
here recorded were all that passed at the encoun- 
ter. Johnny had his pistol half drawn, but Peel's 
superior dexterity overcame the advantage. Peel 
was tried and acquitted. 

As no member of the company of roughs was 
braver than Peel, so none was more observant of 
the rules and principles by which they were gov- 
erned. In all their relations to each other, whether 
friendly or hostile, any violation of a frank and 
manly course was severely censured, and often 
punished. A person guilty of any meanness, great 
or small, lost caste at once. If by any undue ad- 
vantage, life or property was taken, the guilty per- 
son was visited with prompt retribution. Often, 
in the young communities which sprung up in the 
mining regions, prominent roughs were elected to 
positions in the court service. It was deemed a 

282 Langford Peel. 

disgrace to suffer an arrest by an officer of this 
character, and with Peel it was an every-daj boast 
that he would die sooner than submit to any such 

On one occasion, while under the excitement of 
liquor, being threatened with arrest, he became 
uncommonly uproarious. A row was threatened, 
and Peel in a boisterous manner was repeating, 
with much expletive emphasis, " No man that 
ever packed a star in this city can arrest me." 

Patrick Lannan, above referred to, had just 
been elected as policeman. He had never been 
connected with the roughs, and was highly re- 
spected as a peaceable, law-abiding citizen. On 
beino- informed that there was a man down the 
street stirring up an excitement, he rushed to the 
scene, and, elbowino- his wav throuoh the crowd, 
confronted Peel. Like the hunter who mistook 
a grizzly for a milder type of the ursine genus, 
he felt that this was not the game he was after, 
but he had g-one too far to recede. The arrest 
must be effected. 

" No man." repeated Peel, with an oath, " that 
ever packed a star in this city can arrest me." 

Perceiving Lannan standing near, he instantly 
added, — 

" I'll take that back. You can arrest me, Pat, 

Langford Peel. 283 

for you're no fighting man. You're a gentle- 
man," and suiting the action to the word, with a 
graceful bow, he surrendered his pistol to Lannan, 
and submitted quietly to be led away. 

To the credit of the roughs of Nevada be it 
stated, that there were few highwayman, thieves, 
or robbers among them. Few, except those who 
were ready to decide their quarrels with the revol- 
ver, were killed. The villanous element had been 
sifted from their midst at the time of the hegira 
to the northern mines. Those who remained had 
no sympathy with it. It is not to be denied, 
however, that they were men of extraordinary 
nerve, and as a general thing so tenacious of life, 
that, often, the first to receive a mortal wound in 
a fight was successful in slaying his antagonist. 
Indeed, so frequently was this the case, that it 
operated as a restraint, oftentimes, to a projected 
combat. Peel belonged to the class who were 
held in fear by tamer spirits for their supposed 
hold upon life. The reader will pardon a digres- 
sion, for the better illustration it affords of this 
prevalent apprehension. 

One of the most memorable fights in Nevada 
took place between Martin Earnhardt and 
Thomas Peasley. Peasley was a man of striking 
presence and fine abihty. He had been sergeant- 

284 Langford Peel. 

at-arms in the Nevada Assembly. In a quarrel 
with Earnhardt at Carson City, he had been 
wounded in the arm. Both Earnhardt and Peas- 
ley claimed to be " chief," — always a sufficient 
cause of quarrel between men of their stamp. 
Meeting Peasley one day after the fight, Earn- 
hardt tauntingly asked him if he was as good a 
man then as he was at Carson. 

" This," rej)lied Peasley, " is neither the time 
nor place to test that question." 

Soon afterwards, while Peasley was seated in 
the office of the Ormsby House in Carson, en- 
gaged in conversation with some friends, Earn- 
hardt entered, and approaching him asked, — 

" Are you heeled ? " 

" For Heaven's sake," rejoined Peasley, " are 
you always spoiling for a fight ? " 

" Yes," cried Earnhardt, and without further 
notice fired his revolver. The ball passed 
through Peasley's heart. Seeing that he had 
inflicted a fatal wound, Earnhardt fled to the 
washroom, closing the windowed door after him. 
Peasley rose and staggered to the door. 'Thrust- 
ing his pistol through the sash, he fired and killed 
Earnhardt instantly. Falling back in the arms 
of his friends, they laid him upon a billiard 

Langford Peel. 285 

"Is Barnharclt dead?" lie whispered, as life 
was ebbing. 

" He is," was the ready answer given by half a 
dozen sorrowinfy friends. 

" 'Tis well. Pull my boots off, and send for my 
brother Andy," and with the words on his lips he 

Peasley was supposed to be the original of 
Mark Twain's '" Buck Fanshaw." He was a man 
of the highest degree of honor, and, if his 
talents had been properly directed, would have 
distinguished himself. 

I resume the history of Peel, at the point of 
his departure from Nevada. He left in 1807, in 
company with one John Bull as a partner. They 
quarrelled by the way and dissolved partnership, 
but on arriving at Salt Lake, became reconciled, 
and started for Helena, Montana, where Bull ar- 
rived some weeks in advance. When Peel arrived, 
Bull had gone to examine the mines at Indian 
Creek. Returning soon after, his account was so 
favorable, that Peel concluded to go there at once. 
He came back in a week thoroughly disgusted, 
and very angry at Bull, whom he accused of mis- 
representation and falsehood. Bull explained, 
and they parted seeming friends, but Peel's anger 
was not appeased. Meeting Bull some days after, 

286 Langford Peel 

he renewed the quarrel at Hurley and Chase's 
saloon. Oaths and epithets Avere freely ex- 
chano-ed, and Peel seized, and was in the act of 
drawing, his pistol. 

" I am not heeled," said Bull, on discovering 
his design. 

" Go, then, and heel yourself," said Peel, slap- 
ping him in the face. 

Bull started, saying as he went, — 

" Peel, I'll ccme hack, sure." 

" When you come," replied Peel, " come fight- 


Bull went out and armed himself. While re- 
turning, he met William Knowlden, to whom he 
related the circumstances of the quarrel, and told 
him what disposition to make of his effects in 
case he was killed. Passing on, he met Peel 
coming out of the saloon, and fired three shots 
before Peel could draw his revolver. Each shot 
took effect, one in the neck, one in the face, 
and a third in the left breast. Peel fell and died 
without uttering a word. It was the general 
opinion that he was treated unfairly. Bull was 
indicted, tried, and his conviction failed by dis- 
agreement of the jury, which stood nine for ac- 
quittal, and three for a verdict of guilty. He 
left the country soon after. 

Langford Peel. 287 

On a plain slab in the graveyard at Helena is 
the following inscription : — 



Memory of 

Langford Peel. 

Born in 



July 23, 1867, 


In life, beloved by his Friends, and respected by 

his Enemies. 

Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. 

I KNOW that my Redeemer liveth. 

Erected by a Friend. 

I was curious to learn what suggested the last 
two scriptural quotations, and found that the 
friend had the idea that, as Peel did not have fair 
play, the Lord would avenge his death in some 
signal manner. The other sentence was thought 
to properly express the idea that the man was 
living who would redeem Peel's name from what- 
ever obloquy might attach to it, because of his 
having " died with his boots on." Could there be 
a more strange interpretation of the scriptures ? 

288 Joseph A. Slade 



Overland Stage Koute — Desperate Employes — 
Jules Reni — Jules shoots Slade — Slade re- 
solves TO KILL Jules — Carries his Resolve into 
Effect — Comes to Virginia City — Quarrel 
WITH THE Writer — Encounter with Bob Scott — 
Lawlessness in Virginia City — Threatens the 
Life of Judge Davis — Vigilantes assemble — 
Arrest of Slade — His Execution. 

Good men who were intimate with Joseph A. 
Slade before he went to Montana gave him 
credit for possessing many excellent qualities. 
He is first heard of outside of his native village 
of Carlisle, in the State of Illinois, as a volunteer 
in the war with Mexico, in a company com- 
manded by Captain Killman. This officer, no 
less distinofuished for success in reconnoitre, 
strategy, and surprise, than service on the field of 
battle, selected from his regiment for this danger- 
ous enterprise, twelve men of unquestioned daring 
and energy. Slade was among the number. A 
comrade of his during this period bears testi- 

Joseph A. Slade. 289 

inony to liis efficiency, which he said always won 
the approbation of his commander. How or 
whare his life was passed after th3 close of the 
war, and until he was intrusted with the care of 
one of the divisions of the Great Overland Stage 
route in 1859, I have no knowledge. This 
position was full of varied responsibihty. His 
capabilities were equal to it. No more exalted 
tribute can be paid to his character than to say 
that he organized, managed, and controlled for 
several years, acceptably to the public, to the com- 
pany, and to the employes of the company, tLe 
great central division of the overland stage routy, 
through six hundred miles of territory destitute 
of inhabitants and law, exposed for the entire 
distance to hostile Indians, and overrun with a 
wild, reckless class of freebooters, who maintained 
their infamous assumptions with the pistol and 
bowie knife. No man without a peculiar fitness 
for such a position could have done this. 

Stealing the horses of the stage company was 
a common crime. The loss of the property was 
small in comparison with the expense and embar- 
rassment of delaying the coach, and breaking 
up the regularity of the trips. If Slade 

caused some of the rascals engfajred in this busi- 
es o 

uess to be hanged^ it was in strict conformity to 

290 Joseph A. Slade. 

the public sentiment, which in all new countries 
regards horse-stealing as a capital offence. 
Nothing but fear could restrain their passion for 
this guilty pursuit. Certain it is, that Slade's 
name soon became a terror to all evil-doers along 
the road. Depredations of all kinds were less 
frequent, and whenever one of any magnitude 
was committed, Slade's men were early on the 
track of the perpetrators, and seldom failed to 
capture and punish them. 

The power he exercised as a division agent was 
despotic. It was necessary for the service in 
which he was employed that it should be so. 
Doubtless, he caused the death of many bad men, 
but he has often been heard to say, that he never 
killed but one himself. It was a common thing 
with him, if a man refused to obey him, to force 
obedience with a drawn pistol. How else could 
he do it, in a country where there was no law ? 

In the purchases which he made of the ranche- 
men he sometimes detected their dishonest tricks, 
and generally punished them on the spot. On 
one occasion, while bargaining for a stack of hay, 
he discovered that it was filled with bushes. He 
told the rancheman that he intended to confine 
him to the stack with chains, and burn him, and 
commenced making preparations, seemingly for 

Joseph A. Slade. 291 

that purpose. The man begged for his life, and, 
with much apparent reluctance, Slade finally told 
him if he would leave the country and never 
return to it he would ffive him his life. Glad of 
the compromise the fellow departed the next 
morning. This was all that Slade desired. 

Stories like these grate harshly upon the ears 
of people who have always lived in civilized com- 
munities. Without considering the influences by 
which he is surrounded, this class pronounce such 
a man a ruffian. An author who writes of him 
finds it no task to blacken his memory, by telling 
half the truth. People who have once heard of 
him are prepared to believe any report which con- 
nects his name with crime, \yrong as this is on 
general principles, it has been especially severe in 
the case of Slade. Misrepresentation and abuse 
have given to him the proportions, passions, and 
actions of a demon. His name has become a 
synonym for all that is infamous and cruel in 
human character. And yet not one of all the 
great number of men he controlled, or of those 
associated wdth him as employes of the overland 
stage company, men personally cognizant of his 
career, believe that he committed a single act not 
justified by the circumstances provoking it. 

He could not be true to his employers and 

292 Joseph A. Slade. 

escape censure, any more than he could have dis- 
charged the duties expected of him without fre- 
quent and dangerous colhsion with the rough 
elements of the society in which he moved. 
That he lived throug-h it all was a miracle. A 
man of weaker resolution, and less fertility of re- 
source, would have been killed before the close of 
his first year's service. Equally strange is it, that 
one whose daily business required a continual 
exercise of power in so many and varied forms, at 
one moment among his own employes, at the 
next among the half -civilized borderers by whom 
he was surrounded, and perhaps at the same time 
sending out men in pursuit of horse thieves, 
should have escaped with so few desperate and 
bloody encounters. 

The uniform testimony of those who knew him 
is, that he was rigidly honest and faithful. He 
exacted these qualities from those in his employ. 
Among gentlemen he was a gentleman always. 
He had no bad habits. Men who were brought 
in daily contact with him, during his period of 
service, say that they never saw him affected by 
liquor. He was generous, warmly attached to his 
friends, and happy in his family. He was of a 
lively, cheerful temperament, full of anecdote 
and wit, a pleasant companion, whose personal 

Joseph A. Slade. 293 

magnetism attached his friends to him with hooks 
of steel. 

Many jarring and discordant incidents dis- 
fio-ured this flatterinof foreo^round in Slade's 
border life, but there was only one which gave it 
a sanguine hue. That in all its parts, and from 
the very first, has been so tortured and perverted 
in the telling, that persons perfectly familiar with 
all its details do not hesitate to pronounce every 
published version a falsehood. I have the 
narrative from truthful men, personally familiar 
with all the facts. 

Among the ranchemen with whom Slade early 
commenced to deal was one Jules Reni, a Cana- 
dian Frenchman. He was a representative man 
of his class, and that class embraced nearly all 
the people scattered along the road. They re- 
garded him as their leader and adviser, and he 
was proud of the position. He espoused their 
quarrels with outsiders, and reconciled all differ- 
ences occurring among themselves. In this way, 
he exercised the power of a chief over the class, 
and maintained a rustic dignity, which com- 
manded respect within the sphere of its influence. 
Jules and Slade had frequent collisions, which 
generally originated in some real or supposed en- 
croachment by the latter upon the dignity or 

294 Joseph A. Slade. 

importance of the former. They always arose 
from trivial causes, and were forgotten by Slade 
as soon as over; but Jules treasured them up 
until the account against his rival became too 
heavy to be borne. A serious quarrel, in which 
threats were exchanged, was the consequence. If 
Slade had treasured uji any vicious memory of 
this difficulty, no evidence of it was apparent 
when he afterwards met Jules. They accosted 
each other with usual courtesy^ and soon fell into 
a friendly conversation, in which others standing 
by participated. Both were seated at the time 
on the fence fronting the station. At length 
Jules left and entered his house, and a moment 
afterwards Slade followed. Slade was unarmed. 
He had gone but a few rods, when one of the 
men he had just left, in a tone of alarm, cried to 
him, — 

" Look out, Slade, Jules is going to shoot you ! " 
As Slade turned to obey the summons, he re- 
ceived the bullet from Jules's revolver. Five 
shots from the pistol were fired in instant succes- 
sion, and then Jules, who was standing in the 
door of his cabin, took a shot-gun which was 
watliin reach, and emptied its contents into the 
body of Slade, who was facing him when he fell. 
Slade was carried into the station, and placed in 

Joseph A. Slade. 295 

a bunk, with bullets and buck-shot to the number 
of thirteen lodged in his person. No one who 
witnessed the attack supposed he could survive an 
hour. Jules was so well satisfied that he was 
slain, that in a short time afterwards he said to 
some person near, in the hearing of Slade, " When 
he is dead, you can put him in one of these dry- 
goods boxes, and bury him." 

Slade rose in his bunk, and glaring out upon 
Jules, who was standing in front of the station, 
exclaimed with an oath, " 1 shall live long enough 
to wear one of your ears on my watch-guard. 
You needn't trouble yourself about my burial." 

In the midst of the excitement occasioned by 
the shooting, the overland coach arrived, bringing 
the superintendent of the road. Finding Slade 
writhing in mortal agony, he, on hearing the 
nature of the assault, caused Jules to be arrested, 
and improvised a scaffold for his immediate execu- 
tion. Three times was Jules drawn up by willing 
hands and strangfled until he was black in the 
face. On letting him down the last time, the 
superintendent, upon his promise to leave the 
country, ordered his release. He left imme- 

Slade lingered for several weeks at the station, 
and finally went to St. Louis for treatment. As 

296 Joseph A. Slade. 

soon as he was sufficiently recovered, he returned 
to his division, with eight remaining bullets in his 
body. The only sentiment of all, except the 
personal friends of Jules, was, that this attack 
upon Slade, as brutal as it was unprovoked, 
should be avenged. Slade must improve the 
first opportunity to kill Jules. This was deemed 
right and just. In no other way could he, in 
the parlance of the country, get even with him. 
Slade determined to kill Jules upon sight, but not 
to go out of his way to meet him. Indeed, he 
sent him word to that effect, and warned him 
against a return to his division. 

Jules, in the mean time, had been buying and 
selling cattle in some parts of Colorado. Soon 
after Slade's return to his division, Jules followed, 
for the ostensible purpose of getting some cattle 
that he owned, which were running at large ; but 
his real object, as he everywhere boasted on his 
journey, was to kill Slade. This threat was cir- 
culated far and wide through the country, coupled 
with the announcement that Jules was on his 
return to the division to carry it into speedy exe- 
cution. He exhibited a pistol of a peculiar pat- 
tern, as the instrument designed for Slade's destruc- 

Slade first heard of Jules's approach and 

Joseph A. Slade. 297 

threat at Pacific Sprlivl^s, tlie west end of his 
division, just as he was about leaving to return to 
Julesburg. At every station on that long route 
of six hundred miles, he was warned by different 
persons of the bloody purpose which Jules was 
returning to accomplish. Knowing the desperate 
character of the man with whom he had to deal, 
and that the threats he had made were serious, 
Slade resolved to counsel with the officers in com- 
mand at Fort Laramie, and follow their advice. 
On his arrival at that post he laid the subject 
before them. They were perfectly familiar with 
former difficulties between Slade and Jules, and 
the treacherous attack of the latter upon the for- 
mer. They advised him to secure the person of 
Jules, and kill him. Unless he did so, the 
chances were he would be killed himself; and in 
any event, there could be no peace on his division 
while Jules lived, as he was evidently determined 
to shoot him on sioht. Slade had been informed 
that Jules had passed the preceding night at 
Bordeaux's ranche, a stage station about twelve 
miles distant from the fort, and had repeated his 
threats, exhibited his pistol, and declared his in- 
tention of lying in wait at some point on the road 
until Slade should appear. 

When Slade was told of this, he hesitated no 

298 Jose'ph A. Slacte. 

lonsfer to follow the advice he had received. 
Four men were sent on horseback in advance of 
him to capture Jules and disarm him. Soon 
after they left, Slade, in company with a friend, 
followed in the coach. Jules had left Bordeaux's 
before his arrival, but the story of the threats he 
had uttered there, were confirmed by Bordeaux, 
who, when the coach departed, took a seat in it, 
carrying with him a small armory of guns and 
pistols. It was apparent that the old man, whose 
interest was with the winner in the fight, which- 
ever he might be, was prepared to embrace his 
cause, in case of after disturbance. 

As the coach approached the next station, at 
Chansau's ranche, with Slade as the driver, two of 
the four men sent to secure Jules were seen rid- 
ing towards it at a spanking pace. Slade and 
his friends at once concluded that they had failed 
in their designs, but the shouts of the men 
who swung their hats as they passed the coach 
re-assured them, and Slade drove rapidly up in 
front of the station. Jumping from the box, he 
walked hurriedly to the door. There were several 
persons standing near, all, as was customary, 
armed with pistol and knife. Slade drew the 
pistol from the belt of one standing in the door- 
way, and glancing hastily to see that it was 

Joseph A. Slade. 299 

loaded, said, — "I want this." He then came 
out, and at a rapid stride went to the corral in 
rear of the station where Jules was a prisoner. As 
soon as he came in sight of him, he fired his pis- 
tol, intending to hit him between the eyes, but he 
had aimed too low, and the ball struck him in the 
mouth, and glanced off without causing material 
injury. Jules fell upon his back, and simulated 
the mortal agony so well, that for a few moments 
the people supposed the wound was fatal. Slade 
discovered the deception at a glance. 

" I have not hurt you," said he, " and no de- 
ception is necessary. I have determined to kill 
you, but having failed in this shot, I wdll now, 
if you wish it, give you time to make your 

Jules replied that he should like to do so ; and 
a gentleman who was awaiting the departure of 
the coach, volunteered to draw it up for him. 
The inconvenience of walking back and forth 
from the corral to the station, through the single 
entrance in front of the latter, made this a pro- 
tracted service. The will was finally completed 
and read to Jules. He expressed himself satisfied 
with it, and the drawer of it went to the station 
to get a pen and ink, with which he could sign 
it. When he returned a moment afterwards, 

300 Joseph A. Slade. 

Jules was dead, Slade had shot him in the head 
during that temporary absence. 

Slade went to Fort Laramie and surrendered 
himself a prisoner to the officer in command. 
Military authority was the only law of the coun- 
try, and though this action of Slade may have a 
farcical appearance when taken in consideration 
with the circumstances preceding it, yet it was 
all that he could do to signify his desire for an 
investigation. The officers of the fort, familiar 
with all the facts, discharged him, with their 
unanimous approval of the course he had pursued. 
The French friends of Jules never harmed him. 
The whole subject was carefully investigated by 
the stage company, which, as the best evidence it 
could give of approval, continued Slade in its 

This is the history of the quarrel between 
Slade and Jules Reni, as I have received it 
from a gentleman familiar with all its phases 
from its commencement to its close. The ao- 


gravated form in which the narrative has been 
laid before the public, charging Slade with hav- 
ing tied his victim to a tree, and firing at him at 
different times during the day, taunting him 
meantime, and subjecting him to a great variety 
of torture, before killing him, is false in every 

Joseph A. Slade. 301 

particular. Jules was not only the first, but the 
most constant aggressor. In a community 
favored with laws and an organized police, Slade 
would not have been justified in the course he 
pursued, yet, under our most favored institutions, 
more flagrant cases than this daily escape convic- 
tion. In the situation he accepted, an active busi- 
ness man, intrusted with duties which required 
constant exposure of his person both night and 
day, what else could he do, to save his own life, 
than kill the person who threatened and sought 
an opportunity to take it ? Law would not pro- 
tect liim. The promise which Jules had made 
with the halter about his neck, to leave the coun- 
try, did not prevent his return to avenge himself 
upon Slade. It was impossible to avoid a colli- 
sion with him ; and to kill him under such cir- 
cumstances, was as clear an act of self-defence, as 
if, in a civilized community, he had been slain by 
his adversary with his pistol at his heart. 

Slade's career, relieved from the infamy of this 
transaction, presents no feature for severe public 
condemnation, until several years after its occur- 
rence. He retained his position as division agent, 
discharging his duties acceptably, and was, in fact, 
regarded by the company as their most efficient 
man. When the route was changed from Lara- 

302 Joseph A. Slade. 

mie to the Cherokee Trail, he removed his head- 
quarters to a beautiful nook in the Black Hills, 
which he named Virginia Dale, after his wife, 
whom he loved fondly. 

His position as division agent often involved 
him unavoidably in difficulty with ranchemen and 
saloon-keepers. At one time, after the violation 
of a second request to sell no liquor to his em- 
ployes, Slade riddled a wayside saloon, and poured 
the liquor into the street. On another occasion, 
seemingly without provocation, he and his men 
took possession of the sutler's quarters at Fort Hal- 
leck, and so conducted as to excite the animosity 
of the officers of the garrison, who determined 
to punish him for the outrage. Following him in 
the coach to Denver, they arrested and would 
not release him, until the company assured them 
he should leave the division. 

This threw him out of employment, and he 
went immediately to Carlisle, Illinois, whence, 
early in the spring of 1863, he drifted with the 
tide of emig-ration to the Beaverhead mines. As 
with all men of ardent temperament, his habits 
of drinking, by long indulgence, had passed by 
his control. He was subject to fits of occasional 
intoxication, and these, unfortunately, became so 
frequent, that seldom a week passed unmarked 

Joseph A. Slade. 308 

by the occurrence of one or more scenes of riot, 
in which he was the chief actor. Liquor en- 
kindled all the evil elements of his volcanic 
nature. He was as reckless and ungovernable as 
a maniac under its influence, but even those who 
had suffered outrage at his hands during these 
explosive periods, were disarmed of hostility by 
his gentle, amiable deportment, and readiness 
always to make reparation on the return of sobri- 
ety. His fits of rowdyism, moreover, always left 
him a determined business man, with an aim and 
purpose in Hfe. As a remarkable manifestation 
of this latter quality, soon after he went to Mon- 
tana, a steamboat. freighted with goods from St. 
Louis, unable from low water to ascend the Mis- 
souri to Fort Kenton, had discharged her cargo 
at Milk river, in a country filled with hostile 
Indians ; and Slade was the only man to be found 
in the mines willins^ to encounter the risk of 
carrying the goods by teams to their place of 
destination in the Territory. The distance was 
seven hundred miles, full half of which was un- 
marked by a road. The several bands of the 
Blackfeet occupied the country on the north, and 
the Crows, Gros-Ventres, and Sioux on the 
south. Slade collected a company of teamsters, 
led them to the spot, and returned safely with the 

304 Joseph A. Slade. 

goods, meeting with adventures enough on the 
way to fill a volume. 

After the discovery of Alder Gulch, Slade went 
to Virginia City. It was there that I first met 
him. Slade came with a team to my lumber-yard, 
and selecting from the piles a quantity of long 
boards, directed the teamsters to load and take 
them away. After the men had started with the 
load, Slade asked me, — 

" How long credit will you give me on this 
purchase ? " 

" About as long as it will take to weigh the 
dust," I replied. 

He remarked good-humoredly, " That's played 

" As I can buy for cash only, I must of neces- 
sity require immediate payment on all sales," I 
said, by way of explanation. 

Slade immediately called to the teamster to 
return and unload the lumber, remarking, as soon 
as it was replaced upon the piles, — 

" Well, I can't get along without the boards 
anyhow ; load them up again." 

The man obeyed and left again with the load, 
Slade insisting as before, that he must have time 
to pay for it, and I as earnest in the demand for 
immediate payment. The teamster returned and 
unloaded a second time. 

Joseph A. Slade. 305 

" I must and will have the lumber," said Slade ; 
and the teamster, by his direction, was proceeding 
to reload it a third time, when I forbade his 
doing so, until it was paid for. 

Our conversation now, without being angry, 
became very earnest, and I fully explained why I 
could not sell to any man upon credit. 

" Oh, well," said he, with a significant toss of 
the head : " I guess you'll let rue have it." 

" Certainly not," I replied. " Why should I 
let you have it sooner than another ? " 

" Then I guess you don't know who I am," he 
quickly rejoined, fixing his keen dark eyes on 

" No, I don't ; but if I did, it could make no 

" Well," he continued, in an authoritative tone 
and manner, " my name is Slade." 

It so happened that I had never heard of him, 
my attention being wholly engrossed with busi- 
ness, so I replied, laughingly, — 

" I don't know now, any better than before." 

" You must have heard of Slade of the Over- 

" Never before," I said. 

The reply seemed to annoy him. He gave me 
a look of mingled doubt and wonder, which, had 

306 Joseph A. Slade. 

it taken the form o£ words, would have said, 
" You are either trying to fool me, or are yourself 
a fool." No doubt he thought it strange that I 
should never have heard of a man who had been 
so conspicuous in mountain history. 

" Well," he said, " if you do not know me, ask 
any of the boys who I am, and they will inform 
you. I'm going to have this lumber ; that is dead 
sure," and with an air of much importance, he 
moved to a group of eight or ten men that had 
just come out of Skinner's saloon, all of whom were 
attaches of his. " Come, boys," said he, " load 
up the wagon." 

Several of my friends were standing near, and 
the matter between us had fully ripened for a con- 
flict. At this moment, John Ely, an old friend, 
elbowed his way through the crowd, and learning 
the cause of the difficulty, told me to let Slade 
have the lumber, and he would see that I was 
paid the next day. I readily consented. Ely 
then took me aside and informed me of the des- 
perate character of Slade, and advised me to avoid 
him, as he was drunk, and would certainly shoot 
me at our next meeting. 

Early in the evening of the same day, Slade, 
instigated by the demon of whiskey, provoked a 
fight with Jack Gallagher, which, had not by- 

Joseph A. Slade. 307 

staiiders disarmed the combatants, would have 
had a fatal termination. Soon after this was over 
I saw him enter the California Exchange, accom- 
panied by two friends whom he invited to drink 
with him. When in the act of raising their 
glasses, Slade drew back his powerful arm and 
struck the one nearest him a violent blow on the 
forehead. He fell heavily to the floor. Slade 
left immediately, and the man, being raised, recov- 
ered consciousness and disappeared. Slade re- 
turned in a few moments with another friend 
whom he asked to drink, and struck down. 
Again he went out, and soon came in with 
another whom he attempted to serve in the same 
manner, but this man rose immediately to his feet. 
Slade was foiled by the interference of bystanders, 
in the attempt to strike him again. Turning on 
his heel, his eye caught mine. I was standing a 
few feet from him by the wall. He advanced 
rapidly towards me, and, expecting an assault, I 
assumed a posture of defence. Greatly to my 
surprise, he accosted me civilly, and throwing his 
arm around me, said jocosely, — 

" Old fellow ! You didn't think I was going 
to cheat you out of that lumber, did you ? " 

He then asked me to drink. I respectfully de- 

308 Joseph A. Slade. 

" It's all right," said he, and walked away. 

I met him afterwards several times during the 
evening, but he said nothing more. 

Nine years after these occurrences, in July, 
1872, I went from Helena to Fort Hall by coach, 
to accompany the United States Geological Sur- 
vey, under charge of Dr. Hayden, to the National 
Park. Dan Johnson, the driver from Snake 
river to the fort, being unwell, and having a 
vicious horse in his team, asked my assistance, and 
I drove for him to the station. We fell into a 
desultory conversation, and Dan's reserve wearing 
off, he gave me a look of recognition from under 
the broad rim of his hat, abruptly exclaiming, — 

" If I'm not much mistaken, I've seen your face 

" Very likely. I've passed over the line many 

" That's not it. It's a long time since I have 
seen you, and I have got you mixed up with some 
old recollections of Virginia City, as long ago as 

" I was there a good portion of the time during 
the fall of that year." 

" Just as I thought," he replied ; " you're the 
very man who sold the lumber to Slade. We 
boys thought Slade would shoot you, when you 

Joseph A. Slade. 309 

refused to trust him for the boards. He came 
pretty near doing it, and it wa'n't a bit like him 
not to. I was one of the teamsters then, and we 
all expected a big row about it, and stood by, 
ready to pitch in. I ain't that kind of a man 
now, but things were different then, and anybody 
that worked for Slade, if he wished to escape 
being shot, had to stand by him in a fight. 1 never 
knew why Slade didn't shoot you, but there was 
never any telling what he would do, and what he 
Avouldn't. Sometimes it was one thins: and some- 
times another, just as the notion took him ; but if 
he ever was put down by a man, which wasn't 
often, he always seemed to remember it, and was 
civil to him afterwards. You were in mighty 
big luck to get out of the scrape as you did." 
In illustration of this latter peculiarity, an 
incident is related of Slade, which occurred dur- 
ing that portion of his life passed on the over- 
land stage route. He and one Bob Scott, a 
somewhat noted man of the time, had become 
interested in a set-to at poker ; game followed 
game, and drink followed drink. Both were 
exhilarated by liquor, bets grew larger, and finally 
in one game each had " raised " the other till 
Slade's money was exhausted. Slade pointed to the 
piles of coin heaped upon the table, exclaiming, — 

310 Joseph A. Slade. 

" Bob, that money belongs to me." 

" It does if the cards say so," said Bob, " not 

" Perhaps," rejoined Slade, " my cards are not 
better than yours ; but," drawing his revolver and 
pointing it at Scott, " my hand Is.'^ 

Scott glanced at him with amazement, and for 
a moment both parties were silent. At length 
Slade reached forward to pull down the pile of 
double eagles and transfer them to his pocket, 
when, with the quickness of lightning, Scott 
pushed aside the pistol with one hand, and dealt 
his antagonist a stunning blow between the eyes 
with the other. Slade fell, and Scott fell on him, 
and gave him a severe drubbing, only permitting 
him to rise on his promising to behave himself. 

The game was renewed and no reference made 
to the fight, until Slade, thoroughly sobered, 
quietly remarked, — 

" Well, Bob, if you'd pounded me about two 
minutes lonofer, I'd have scot sober sooner." 

Soon after he came to Virginia City, Slade 
located a ran die on the margin of Meadow creek, 
twelve miles distant, and built a small stone house 
in one of the wildest dells of the mountain over- 
looking it. This lonely dwelling, seldom visited 
by him, was occupied solely by his wife, who fit- 

Joseph A. Slade. 311 

tingly typified the genius of that majestic soli- 
tude over which she presided. This ill-fated lady 
was at this time in the prime of health and 
beauty. She possessed many personal attractions. 
Her figure was queenly, and her movements the 
perfection of grace. Her countenance was lit up 
by a pair of burning black eyes, and her hair, 
black as the raven's wing, fell in rich curls over 
her shoulders. She was of powerful organization, 
and having passed her life upon the borders, knew 
how to use the rifle and revolver, and could per- 
form as many dexterous feats in the saddle as the 
boldest hunter that roamed the plains. Secure in 
the affection of her husband, she devoted her life 
to his interests, and participated in all the joys and 
sorrows of his checkered career. While he lived, 
she knew no heavier grief than his irregularities. 
In his wildest moments of passion and violence, 
Slade dearly loved his wife. Liquor and license 
never made him forgetful of her happiness, or poi- 
soned the love she bore for him. 

The frequent and inexcusable acts of violence 
committed by Slade made him the terror of the 
country. His friends warned him of the conse- 
quences, but he disregarded their advice, or if 
possible behaved the worse for it. It was an in- 
variable custom with him when intoxicated, to 

312 Joseph A. Slade. 

mount his horse and ride through the main street, 
driving into each saloon as he came to it, firing 
a<7 the lamps, breaking the glasses, throwing the 
gold scales into the street, or committing other 
acts equally destructive and vicious, and seldom 
unaccompanied by deeds of personal violence as 
unprovoked as they were wanton and cruel. Peo- 
ple soon tired of pecuniary reparation and gen- 
tlemanly apologies for a course of brutality, 
which, sooner or later, they foresaw must culmi- 
nate in outrage and bloodshed. All the respect 
they entertained for Slade when sober, * was 
changed into fear when he was drunk ; and rather 
than offend one so reckless of all civil restraint, 
they closed and locked their doors at his approach. 
In the absence of law, the people after the execu- 
tion of Helm, Gallagher, and their associates, es- 
tablished a voluntary tribunal, for the punishment 
of offenders against the peace, which w^as known 
as the People's Court. It possessed all the requi- 
sites for trial of a constitutional court ; and its 
judgments had never been disputed. Alexander 
Davis, a lawyer of good attainments in his pro- 
fession, and a man of exemplary character, was 
the judge. Slade had been often arrested and 
fined by this tribunal, and always obeyed its de- 
crees, but an occasion came when he refused longer 

Joseph A. Slade. 313 

to do so, and treated Its process and officers with 

He was arrested one mornino; after a nio-ht of 
riot and violence. He and his companions had 
made the town a scene of uproar and confusion. 
Every saloon in it bore evidence of their drunken 
mischief and lawlessness. They were taken before 
Judge Davis, who ordered the sheriff to read the 
writ to them, by way of an arraignment. Fair- 
weather, one of Slade's comrades, placed his right 
hand on his revolver and with his left hand men- 
acingly snatched the writ from the sheriff l)efore 
it was half read, and tearing it in twain, cast the 
pieces angrily upon the floor and ground them 
under his feet. 

" Go in. Bill," said Slade, addressing him and 
drawing his revolver, " I am with you. We'll 
teach this volunteer court what its law is worth 

The sheriff, who probably entertained Falstaf- 
fian ideas of valor, made no resistance, and the 
court was thus virtually captured. This transac- 
tion roused the Vigilantes, who had only been 
prevented from summarily punishing Slade on 
several occasions during the previous three months 
at the earnest intercessions of P. S. Pfouts, Major 
Brookie and Judoe Davis. The two first named 

314 Joseph A. Slade. 

of those gentlemen now abandoned him. A large 
number of the Committee assembled, and while 
they were engaged in council, a leading member 
sought out Slade, and in an earnest, quiet tone, 
said to him, — 

" Slade, get your horse at once and go home, 
or you will have serious trouble." 

Slade, himself a member of the Vigilantes, 
startled into momentary sobriety by this sudden 
warning, quickly inquired, — 

" What do you mean ? " 

" You have no right to ask me what I mean. 
Get your horse at once, and remember what I tell 


" All right," he replied ; " I will follow your 

A few moments afterwards he made his appear- 
ance on horseback, to obey, as his friend supposed, 
the warning he had given him ; but, seeing some 
of his comrades standing near, he became again 
uproarious, and seemed by his conduct to ignore 
the promise he had made. Seeking for Judge 
Davis, whom he found in the store of Pfouts and 
Russell, he interrupted him while conversing with 
John S. Lott. 

" I hear," said he, addressing him, " that they 
are going to arrest me." 

Joseph A. Slade. 315 

" Go home, SLade," said Davis ; " go at once, 
and behave yourself, and you may yet escape." 

" No," he replied, " you are now my prisoner. 
I will hold you as a hostage for my ow^n safety." 

"All right, Slade," said the judge, smiling, and 
still continuino- to converse w^ith Lott. 


" Oh, I mean it," replied Slade with an oath, 
pulling a derringer from his pocket and aiming it 
at Davis. 

William Hunt, who had been an eyewitness of 
these proceedings, now stepped up, and, facing 
Slade defiantly, said to him, — 

" You are not 2'oino; to hurt him. He can do 
and act as he pleases, and don't you dare to touch 

Slade made some careless rejoinder. 

"Slade," said Hunt, "if I'd been sheriff, the 
first thing I would have done when I got up this 
morning would have been to arrest you. By that 
means I would have saved your life, probably pre- 
vented bloodshed, and we w ould have had a quiet 
town to-day." 

" We had better make you sheriff, then," re- 
plied Slade. 

" No, I have no wish for it ; but if I were, I 
have got nerve enough to arrest you, and would 
certainly have done so." 

316 Joseph A. Slade. 

" Well, well," said Slade, now thoroughly 
quieted, " let us go out and get a drink." 

The two men left the store. In a few moments 
Slade returned, and, approaching Davis, said, — 

" I was too fast. I ask your pardon for my 
conduct, and hope you will overlook it." 

In the mean time the Vigilantes, undetermined 
what course to pursue, had sent a request to their 
brethren at Nevada to join in their deliberations. 
Six hundred armed miners obeyed the summons, 
sendino' their leader in advance to inform the 


Executive Committee that, in their judgment, Slade 
should be executed. The Committee, unwilling 
to recommend this measure, finally agreed that, 
if unanimously adopted, it should be enforced. 

Alarmed at the gathering of the people, Slade 
again sought the presence of Judge Davis, to re- 
peat his apologies and regrets for the violence of 
his conduct. He was now perfectly sobered, and 
fuUy comprehended the effect of his lawlessness 
upon the community. The column of Vigilantes 
from Nevada halted in front of the store, and the 
executive officer stepped forward and arrested 

"The Committee," said he, addressing him, 
" have decided upon your execution. If you have 
any business to settle, you must attend to it im- 

Joseph A. Slade. 817 

" My execution ! my death ! My God ! gentle- 
men, you will not proceed to such extremities ! 
The Committee cannot have decreed this." 

" It is even so, and you had better at once 
give the little time left you to arranging your 

This appalling repetition of the sentence of the 
Committee seemed to deprive him of every vestige 
of manliness and courage. He fell upon his 
knees, and with clasped hands shuffled over the 
floor from one to another of those who had been 
his friends, begging for his life. Clasping the 
hands of Judge Davis and Captain Williams, he 
implored them for mercy, mingling with his ap- 
peals, prayers and promises, and requests that his 
wife might be sent for. " My God ! my God ! 
must I die ? Oh, my dear wife ! why can she not 
be sent for ? " were repeated in the most heart- 
rending accents. 

Judge Davis alone stood by the unhappy man in 
this his great extremity, and tried to save his life. 
He conversed with several leaders of the Commit- 
tee, suggesting that they should substitute banish- 
ment for death. But the people were implacable. 
Slade's life among them had been violent, lawless, 
desperate. No brigand was more dreaded by all 
who knew him ; and the speech which, at the foot 

318 Joseph A. Slade. 

of the gallows, Davis addressed to the crowd in 
his behalf, fell like water upon adamant. There 
was no mercy left for one who had so often for- 
feited all claims to mercy. Yet there were a few 
men, even amonof those who had doomed this man 
to death, that would have given all they possessed 
to save his life. They could not witness his exe- 
cution ; and some of them, stout of heart and ac- 
customed to disaster, it is no shame to say, wept 
like children when they beheld him on his march 
to the scaffold. 

As soon as Slade found all entreaty useless, he 
sent a messenger for his wife, and recovered in 
some degree his wonted composure. The only 
favor he now asked of the Committee was, that 
his execution might be delayed until his wife ar- 
rived, — a favor that would have been granted 
could the Committee have been assured that her 
presence and remarkable courage would not have 
excited an attempt at rescue, and been the cause 
of bloodshed. The scaffold, formed of the gate- 
way of a corral, was soon prepared, and, everything 
being in readiness, Slade was placed upon a dry- 
sroods box, with the fatal cord around his neck. 
Several gentlemen whom he sent for came to see 
him and bid him farewell. One of his comrades, 
who had exhausted himself in prayers for his re- 

Joseph A. Slade. 319 

lease, as the fatal moment drew nigh, threw off 
his coat, and, doubling- his fists, declared that 
Slade should be hanged only over his dead body. 
The aim of a hundred rifles brought him to his 
senses, and he was glad to escape upon a promise 
of future o'ood behavior. The execution immedi- 
ately followed, Slade dying with the fall of the 
drop. His body was removed to the Virginia 
Hotel, and decently laid out. 

A few moments later his wdfe, mounted on a fleet 
horse, dashed up to the hotel, and rushed madly 
to the bed on which the body lay. Casting her- 
self upon the inanimate form, she gave way to a 
paroxysm of grief. Her cries were heartrending, 
mingled with deep and bitter curses upon those 
who had deprived her of her husband. Hours 
elapsed before she was sufficiently composed to 
give directions for the disposition of the body. 

" Why, oh, why," she exclaimed, in an agony 
of grief, " did not some of you, the friends of 
Slade, shoot him down, and not suffer him to die 
on the scaffold? I would have done it had I 
been here. He should never have died by the 
rope of the hangman. No dog's death should 
have come to such a man." 

The body was placed in a tin coffin filled with 
alcohol, and conveyed to the ranche, where it re- 

S20 Joseph A. Slade. 

mained until the following' spring, when it was 
taken to Salt Lake City and buried in the ceme- 
tery. A plain marble slab, with name and age 
graven thereon, marks the burial-place of Slade, — 
a man who surrendered all that was noble, gene- 
rous, and manly in his nature to the demon of 
intemperance. A friend of his, in a recent letter 
to me, relating to him, says, — 

" Slade was unquestionably a most useful man 
in his time to the stage line, and to the cause of 
progress in the Far West, and he never was a 
robber, as some have represented ; but after years 
of contention with desperate men, he became so 
reckless and regardless of human life that his best 
friends must concede that he was at times a most 
dangerous character, and no doubt, by his defiance 
of the authority and wholesome discipline of the 
Vigilantes, brought upon himself the calamity 
which he suffered." 

Leading Vigilante and Express Messenger. 

A Modern Human. 321 



Beidler — Woman for Breakfast — Mysterious 
Murder OF a Chixawoman ix Helena — Arrest 
AND Discharge of Hanson — Claggett's Rifle — 
Election Day — Effects of Negro Suffrage — 
Murder of Hayes by Leach — Arrest of Leach 
BY X. — Hynson's Conduct on the Occasion and 


OF THE Chinawoman — Finds Claggett's Rifle in 
HIS Possession, and restores it to the Owner — Ar- 
rests Hynson — He is put in Jail — His Threats 
— Cowardly Conduct when released by John 
Fetherstun — Threatens X. — Goes to Benton — 
Cowardice and Humiliation on meeting X. — 
Asks his Assistance, and receives a Place as Night 
Watchman — Gets a Job and betrays his Trust — 
X. MAKES A Seizure as Marshal — Abusive Treat- 
ment OF Williams by Hynson — Hynson builds 
A Scaffold, and is hanged thereon — Letter 
from his Mother. 

" We've got a woman for breakfast this time, 
and a Chinawoman at that," said X. Beidler, as 
he drew up to the well-filled breakfast table of the 
saloon where he boarded, " There's no want of 

322 A Modern Haman. 

variety. We had a negro election day, and 
plenty of white men the week before." (The ex- 
pression " a man for breakfast," signifies, in min- 
ing parlance, that a man has been murdered dur- 
ing the night.) 

" What is the new sensation, X. ? " inquired one 
of the boarders. 

" Nothing remarkable," rephed X., " a China- 
woman choked to death, and robbed of a thou- 
sand dollars during the night." 

"Who did it?" 

" That's the mysterious part of it. It was done 
by some one who don't wish to be known. He's 
an exceptional scoundrel ; generally, our murders 
are committed publicly." 

" Have you no idea who committed the 

" Oh, yes, but then I may be mistaken. I'll 
say nothing about that at present. The woman 
was ready to leave for Boise this morning with 
negro Hanson, who has been living with her for 
some time. I don't think Hanson killed her, but 
it can do no harm to arrest him on suspicion, and 
hear his statement." 

This brief colloquy occurred in Helena on a 
Sabbath morning in September, 1867. The town 
was at that time infested with thieves, ruffians, and 

A Modern Haman. 328 

murderers. Shooting affrays, resulting in death 
to some of the parties concerned, had been of 
almost daily occurrence for several weeks, and 
the citizens began to fear a return of the days of 

X. Beidler ate deliberately, and when he had 
finished, sauntered out in pursuit of Hanson, 
whom he soon found, arrested, and took before a 
magistrate. The negro was frightened, but pro- 
tested his innocence. 

" How was it ? " inquired the justice, in a kind 
tone. " Tell us all you know." 

"I'll do that, sure," replied Hanson. "You 
see, this woman and I were jest as close friends 
as there's any need of. She had eight hundred 
dollars in dust and greenbacks, and three horses. 
We had agreed some time ago to go to Boise, and 
made our arrangements to leave this very morning. 
I went up to the house last evening and found a 
white man there. I didn't take no partikler 
notice of the man, but I think I would know him 
again if I saw him. I left, and did not go back 
till this morning, when I found the woman lying 
dead upon the floor. 'Fore God, that is all I 
know about the murder of the woman." 

After a few more questions relating to the size 
and general appearance of the man whom he left 

324 A Modern Haman. 

in company with the woman, Hanson was dis- 

" I know," said X., significantly, " that he is 
not guilty. Let him go. We'll look further for 
the murderer." 

Some ten days previous to this time, Hon. Wil- 
liam H. Claggett came over from Deer Lodge to 
address the citizens of Helena on the issues of the 
political campaign, then in progress. He brought 
with him a Henry rifle marked on the stock with 
his initials. Forgetting to take it from the coach 
on his arrival, he returned from the hotel after it, 
and it was gone. It had been stolen during his 
momentary absence. After a diligent but unsuc- 
cessful search, it was given up for lost. X., how- 
ever, promised to keep a lookout for it. 

Election day came, when the negroes, for the 
first time in our history, were to exercise the right 
of suffrage. It was a great day for them ; and 
the few that were in the city, soon began to make 
their appearance, dressed up for the occasion as 
for a holiday. A riot was anticipated, as threats 
had been made by the roughs in town that the 
negroes should not vote without a fight. X. 
Beidler stood near the polls to preserve the peace, 
and see that every man, black or white, was pro- 
tected in votinof. In the mean time a colored 

A Modern Haman. 325 

barber and his negro associate had a set-to at 
fisticuffs, to decide some knotty point in politics. 
The crowd arrested the combatants, and while 
conducting them to the magistrate, the barber 
escaped and ran home. Hayes, still in their cus- 
tody, was roughly charged by one John Leach 
with having drawn a pistol upon a white man. 

" You lie if you say that," was the indignant 
reply of Hayes. 

" Do you call me a liar ? " retorted Leach. 

" Yes, you or any other man who says I drew 
a pistol or carry one." 

As he said this, the crowd released Hayes, and 
he walked down the street to a barber shop, 
where he was followed by Leach, who seized him 
by the collar with one hand, and drawing and 
cocking a pistol with the other, repeated the ques- 
tion, — 

" You drew a pistol upon a white man, did 


Hayes again replied in the negative, and rais- 
ing his arm said, — 

" Search me, if you think I have any weapons. 
My fuss was with a colored man, not with you. 
I don't want anything to do with you." As he 
turned to release himself from the grasp of Leach, 
that rufi&an, aiming at his heart, said, — 

326 A Modem Haman. 

" If you open your mouth again, I'll kill you," 
and instantly fired, the ball entering the left side, 
below the breast. Hayes lived about an hour. 

On being apprised of the affray, X. Beidler 
hastened to the spot to arrest Leach. A crowd 
of roughs stood around to protect him, but Beid- 
ler, pistol in hand, at the risk of his life, pushed 
his way through it, and seizing Leach by the col- 
lar, secured him with handcuffs and led him to 
jail. Knives had been drawn in the melee by 
Leach's friends. A deadly blow had been aimed 
at Beidler by one Bill Hynson, which he evaded by 
the dexterous use of his right arm. 

After the man was in prison, and quiet restored, 
Hynson sought out Beidler, who was then, as 
now, a terror to the roughs, and said to him, — 

" X., I saved your life. I knocked off the blow 
just in time." 

Comprehending the object of this salutation, 
X. replied dryly, — 

" I'm all right now, and much obliged to you. 
I suppose you saved my life." 

Hynson, mistaking the irony for sincerity, fol- 
lowed it up by a request that Beidler would use 
his influence to get him a position on the police 
force of Helena. Beidler gave him no encour- 
agement, and a few days afterwards he told Beid- 

A Modern Haman. 327 

ler he had oot a better thing; and did not wish the 

From the meagre description given by Hanson 
of the man he saw in company with the China- 
woman, during the evening preceding her mur- 
der, Beidler's suspicions fell upon Hynson. He 
watched him narrowly, but could find no 

A day or two after the murder, at a very early 
hour in the morning, Beidler, in pursuit of cir- 
cumstances to justify his suspicions, abruptly en- 
tered an old, deserted building, which a lot of loafers 
and roughs had appropriated for sleeping purposes. 
The floor was covered wath their blankets, and 
the sudden presence of Beidler among them at so 
early an hour caused great consternation. They 
crept from their covers, and exchanging hurried 
glances with each other, as if to inquire, " Which 
of us is this day a victim for the dry tree ? " fled 
from the building like rats from a sinking ship. 
Hynson was among the number. In the hurried 
observation he had taken of the room, Beidler 
saw, lying beside Hynson under his blanket, a 
Henry rifle, which by the initials on the stock he 
recognized as Claggett's. After the room was de- 
serted, he returned to it, and seizing the rifle sent 
it to its owner by the next express. 

328 A Modern Banian. 

Hynson missed the rifle. Meeting Beidler tlie 
next day, he inquired if he had seen it. 

" Yes," replied X. " Whose is it ? " 

" Mine," said Hynson defiantly. 

" Yours ! " rejoined X. sternly. " How came 
you by it? You have seen the initials on the 
stock. Don't you know whose it is ? " 

Seeing that Beidler was not to be deceived, 
Hynson, after some prevarication, acknowledged 
that he took the rifle from the coach. 

" I thought," said he, " I might as well have 
it as any one." 

This admission of guilt would have been fol- 
lowed by Hynson's immediate arrest had not Beid- 
ler hoped by delay to find some evidence against 
him of murder. The negro Hanson had, in the 
mean time, seen Hynson. He told Beidler he re- 
sembled the man he saw at the house of the China- 
woman. Beidler hesitated no longer, but at once 
arrested Hynson for steaUng the rifle, intending 
to keep him in custody until satisfied of his guilt 
or innocence of the higher crime. Impatient of 
this restraint upon his liberty, Hynson daily vented 
his wrath upon his keepers. 

" As soon as I get out," said he to John Fether- 
stun, " I intend to kill you. Only give me the 
chance, and see how quick I'll do it." 

A Modern Human. 329 

John laughed, dismissing' all his threats with 
some axioms less complimentary to his courage 
than his bravado, such as, " You crow well," 
" Barking dogs seldom bite," etc. 

Beidler soon became satisfied that no evidence 
could be found sufficient to convict Hynson of 
murder, and the stealing of the rifle in a commun- 
ity where higher crimes were committed daily with 
impunity did not call for heavier punishment than 
the thief had already received. So Hynson was 
released. As Fetherstun opened the door of the 
prison for him, he said, — 

" Have you got a six-shooter ? " 

" No," rei)lied Hynson. 

" Then I'll give you one, and you can turn 
loose," at the same time drawing- a revolver from 
his belt and offering it to him. Seeing that Hyn- 
son hesitated, he immediately added, ^* Take it. It 
will give you the chance you've been looking for 
so lonof." 

Hynson declined taking it, saying, — 

" I was in jail and feeling bad when I said that. 
You've always been kind to me. I've got nothing 
against you, and don't want to hurt you, but I'm 
going for X., sure, — the man that put me in 

X. needed no protector, especially when warned. 

330 A Modern Haman. 

No man could draw and fire a pistol with deadlier 
aim or greater rapidity, and so Hynson found no 
opportunity of putting- his threat into execution. 

In the spring of 1868, Beidler, on his return to 
Helena from the Whoop-up mines, spent a few 
days en route at Benton. The steamboats from 
St. Louis were daily arriving with freights, which 
from this point were conveyed in teams to all the 
towns and mining camps in the Territory. Hyn- 
son, who had hired as a teamster to Scott Bullard, 
a heavy Helena freighter, was on his way to Ben- 
ton. Learning that Beidler was there, he fre- 
quently in conversation avowed the intention of 
shooting him on sight. As the train approached 
Benton, Bullard rode into town in advance of it, 
and apprised Beidler of his danger. 

The day after the arrival of the train, Hynson 
and Beidler approached each other in the street. 
The former extended his hand in a friendly man- 
ner, which Beidler seized with his left hand, keep- 
ing his right in reserve for the use of his pistol. 

" I am told," said Beidler, " that you have come 
here to kill me." 

'• I kill you ! " said Hynson, in well-affected 

" Yes, you," said Beidler, dropping the hand 
he held ; " and if you wish to try it, you'll never 

A Modern ffaman. S31 

have a better chance. If that's what you want, 
you can't pull your pistol too quick." 

Hynson glared at the little, athletic man who 
confronted him so boldly, and saw in those burn- 
ing eyes and that steady muscle not the smallest 
trace of fear. 

Seizing Beidler again by the hand, he said in 
hurried tones, — 

" X., I did make a fool of myself when drunk 
in camp with the boys, in some remarks relating 
to you, but I didn't mean it. I don't want to 
hurt you, and never did. Now, let's be friends." 

Beidler, who had no other feeling than contempt 
for the bragging poltroon, listened in silence to 
what further he had to say. 

" I want you," said Hynson, " to aid me in get- 
ting the position of night-watchman in this city." 

X. replied to this request in general terms, and, 
turning on his heel, left Hynson, who afterwards, 
by some means which X. could not fathom, re- 
ceived the appointment he desired. 

Before leaving Benton, X. received a letter from 
Silver Bow requesting him to watch for and arrest 
a person who had stolen a lot of nuggets and 
jewelry, and gone from that place to Benton. 
Called suddenly away by more important business, 
X. intrusted Hynson with this service, who caught 

332 A Modern Haman. 

the thief and recovered the property, which he 
appropriated to his own use, pawning- the jewelry 
for a sum of money, which was soon squandered. 
When X. returned, Hynson, with much difficulty, 
redeemed most of the jewelry, which Beidler re- 
turned to the owner. 

About this time Beidler, as deputy United States 
marshal, made a seizure of some contraband goods. 
One Charles Williams was an important witness 
in the case. The court was held at Helena, one 
hundred and forty miles distant from Benton. 
Beidler discovered that the defendant and his 
friends had a plan on foot to prevent Williams 
from going to court, which he determined to fore- 
stall. He met Williams by appointment a couple 
of miles from town, furnished him a horse, a Henry 
rifle, and ten dollars in money, and directed him 
to ride with all possible despatch to Helena, he 
intending to follow in the coach, which was to 
leave in a few hours. Beidler saw nothino- of his 
witness on the route, but, as he had told him to 
avoid the road the first day as much as possible, 
this occasioned no surprise ; but when the second 
and third days passed without his appearance, he 
feared some accident had befallen him. The day 
after his arrival at Helena he received information 
that the horse had been found hitched to a post 

A Modern Haman. 333 

in Benton, with the saddle and gun on his hack, 
and that WiUiams had been hanged. Beidler re- 
turned to Benton and secured his property. In a 
confidential conversation with Hynson he learned 
that before the execution of Williams was com- 
pleted he was cut down, taken by his captors 
below Benton, placed upon a raft in the Missouri, 
and upon his promise to leave and not return to 
the country, permitted to escape with his life. 
This story, discredited at the time, was confirmed 
by Williams himself four years afterwards. 

Hynson's participation in this high-handed out- 
rage, while acting as a conservator of the peace, 
roused public indignation against him. A few 
days afterwards he provoked a dispute with Mr. 
Morgan, the sheriff, and slapped him in the face. 
One trouble followed another, until, in the sum- 
mer of 1868, a Mr. Robinson was knocked down 
and robbed in the street, and the circumstances 
all pointed unmistakably to Hynson, the night 
watchman, as the aggressor. As there was no 
positive proof of his guilt, he was suffered to 
retain his position without molestation. 

On the morning of the 18th of August, the 
same season, Hynson was observed to convey to 
a spot on the prairie, a mile or more distant from 
town, three pine-tree poles about twelve feet long 

834 A Modern Maman. 

and four inches in diameter. Tying one end of 
these three poles securely together, he raised them 
up in the form of a tripod. When they were sta- 
tioned in a substantial manner, and to his liking, 
he went to a store and purchased a small coil of 

" What is the rope for, Hynson ? " inquired a 

" To hang a man with," was his reply. 

The listeners understood this as a joke, and dis- 
missed the subject with a laugh. 

Hynson next employed a negro to go out and 
dig a grave near the tripod. 

" Who's dead, Massa Hynson ? " inquired the 

" Never you mind," replied Hynson. " Go 
ahead and dig the grave. I'll furnish the corpse." 

The negro obeyed, and the grave was in readi- 
ness at nightfall. 

The next morning the lifeless body of Hynson 
was found suspended from the tripod by the rope 
he had prepared. 

The citizens flocked in crowds to the spot. 
Among them was the negro who dug the grave. 
When he saw the swaying form, and had scru- 
tinized the ghastly face, he exclaimed, — 

" 'Fore God, dat's de gemman dat tole me 

A Modem Haman. 335 

to dig' cle grave, and said he'd furnish de 

After the body was cut down, there was found 
in a pocket the following letter from the mother 
of Hynson : — 

" My dear Son, — I write to relieve my great 
anxiety, for I am in great trouble on your ac- 
count. Your father had a dream about you. 
He dreamed that he had a letter from your lawyer, 
who said that your case was hopeless. God grant 
that it may prove only a dream ! I, your poor, 
broken-hearted mother, am in suspense on your 
account. For God's sake, come home." 

336 James Daniels. 



Career in California — Murder of Gartley — Ar- 
rested BY THE Vigilantes — Tried by Court and 
FOUND Guilty of Manslaughter — Sentence — 
Pardon — Hung by the Vigilantes — Vigilantes 
in the Wrong. 

Of the early history of this individual I 
know but little, and but for circumstances attend- 
ing his " taking off," should not trouble my 
readers with any notice of him. That he was hard- 
ened in vice and crime, and, possibly, was one of 
the worst of all the ruffians whose careers I have 
passed under review, will hardly admit of a doubt, 
when the reader is informed that he murdered one 
man in Tuolumne County, California, and was 
only prevented by want of agility to complete a 
race, from killing another. His appearance in 
Helena, and the commission of the crime for 
which he lost his life, were almost simultaneous. 
In a quarrel incident to a game of cards, near 
Helena, he stabbed and instantly killed a man by 

James Daniels. 337 

the name of Gartley. He was immediately ar- 
rested by the Vigilantes, who surrendered him to 
the civil authorities. On his trial for murder, 
circumstances were proved, which, in the opinion 
of the jury, reduced his crime to manslaughter. 
Judge Munson sentenced him to three years' im- 
prisonment in the territorial prison. After a 
few weeks' confinement, a petition for his pardon, 
signed by thirty-two respectable citizens of Hel- 
ena, was also presented to acting Governor 
Meagher, who, under a mistaken sense of his 
own powers, issued an order for his release. The 
right to pardon belonged exclusively to the Presi- 
dent. Judge Munson went immediately to the 
capital to show the law to the Executive, con- 
vince him of his error, and obtain an order for 
the re-arrest of Daniels. Meantime, that individ- 
ual, uttering the most diabolical threats against 
the witnesses who had testified against him, found 
his way back to Helena ; and before the judge 
could effect his object with the governor, in fact, 
on the night succeeding the day of his arrival in 
Helena, Daniels was arrested by the Vigilantes 
and hanged. 

As I have endeavored to justify, in all cases 
■where I deemed the circumstances warranted it, 
the action of the Vigilantes in taking life, so, as 

338 James Daniels. 

such circumstances were not apparent in this case, 
do I deem it a duty to say that they committed 
an irreparable error in the execution of this man. 
However much, by his threats and reckless con- 
duct, he may have deserved death, they had no 
right to inflict it. If he had been wrongfully 
pardoned, he could easily have been re-arrested. 
He was a single individual in the midst of a 
populous community, warned by his threats of his 
designs, which could easily have been thwarted 
by arresting him, or by setting a careful watch 
over his actions. No excuse can be offered for 
the course that was pursued. This, at least, was 
one case where the Vigilantes exceeded the 
boundaries of right and justice, and became 
themselves the violators of law and propriety. 

I was at that time a member of the Executive 
Committee of the Virginia City branch of the 
Vigilante organization, and that Committee dis- 
avowed all responsibility for the execution of 
Daniels, and expressed its disapproval of that act, 
which, it was believed, did not have the official 
sanction of the Executive Committee of Helena, 
but was regarded as the unauthorized act of cer- 
tain irresponsible members of the organization at 

And I will here take occasion to say that this 

James Daniels. 33C 

was not an isolated instance. Under the pretence 
of Vigilante justice, after the establishment of 
courts of justice in Montana, and when many of 
the respectable citizens of the Territory had vir- 
tually abandoned the order, a few vicious men 
continued occasionally to enforce its summary dis- 
cipline. Several individuals were hanged who 
had been detected in stealing horses, several for 
giving utterances to threats of vengeance, and 
several on mere suspicion of having committed 
crime. As soon as this order of things was 
understood by the people, the Vigilante institu- 
tion was brought to an end, and the men who had 
misused its powers were given to understand that 
any further employment of them would probably 
cause it to re-act upon themselves. These abuses 
had not been frequent, and when discovered were 
promptly terminated. 

340 David Opdyhe. 



Early Life of Opdyke — His Wandering and Success 
IN Mining — Appearance in Boise City — Public 
Suspicions — His Stable Headquarters for the 
Roughs OF the Territory — History of Parks — 
His Murder and Robbery by the "Opdyke Gang" 

— Opdyke's Complicity in the Port-ISTeuf Rob- 
bery — Frank Johnson — Beech — Hank Buckner 
THE Murderer of Brown — His Mysterious Escape 
FROM Montana — Appearance in Idaho — Neil 
Howie sent to return him to Montana — Fails — 
Opdyke elected Sheriff — Contemplates De- 
struction OF Payette Vigilantes — Humiliating 
Results — Is a Defaulter and prosecuted — Pays 
the Defalcation — Threatens Grand Jury — In- 
dian Expedition — Opdyke Leader — Aden's Pack 
Train — Opdyke claims it, and is defeated on 

• Raymond's Testimony — Clarke shoots Raymond 

— Is hung by the Citizens — Vengeance threat- 
ened BY the "Opdyke Gang" — Vigilant Meas- 
ures OF Citizens — Roughs disappear — Opdyke 
AND Dixon leave Boise City — Are followed by 
Vigilantes and hung — Breaking up of the 
" Gang." 

This man, on some accounts the most noted 
among the roughs of Idaho, was of patrician 

David Opdyhe. 341 

origin, — the degenerate scion of a family which 
boasted among its members some of the leading 
citizens of New York. He was born in the vici- 
nity of Cayuga Lake, New York, about 1830, and 
could not have been more than thirty-six years of 
asfe at the close of his infamous career. He went 
to California in 1855, where, for want of more con- 
genial occupation, he was employed for two years 
by the California Stage Company as a stage driver. 
Thence, in 1858, he sailed to British Columbia, 
but findino; no business there suited to his tastes, 
returned the same year to California, spending two 
unprofitable years in Yuba county, and two years 
succeeding in Virginia City, Nevada. Excited by 
the intelligence from the Northern mines, in 1862 
he went to Florence and Warren in Idaho, and 
the fall of that year found him in Boise county, 
where he located and worked a valuable claim on 
the Ophir. In 1864, with an accredited fortune 
of fifteen hundred dollars, he removed to Boise 
City and bought a livery stable in the centre of 
the town, which is still pointed out to visitors as 
having been the rendezvous of one of the most 
reckless and numerous bands of robbers and road 
agents in the mountains. 

Opdyke's associations were bad, and he was 
suspected of aiding in the circulation of spurious 

842 David Opdylce, 

gold dust, at that time an extensive business with 
the roughs of the country. His stable soon be- 
came the headquarters of all the suspicious char- 
acters of Boise, Owyhee and Alturas counties. 
From these and other circumstances, the public 
was prepared to believe that all the thefts and 
robberies occurring in the country were com- 
mitted by persons connected with the " Opdyke 
gang," but so careful were they to cover their 
tracks, that no positive evidence coukl be found 
against them. 

A gentleman by the name of Parks went from 
Cincinnati, Ohio, to Baker county, Oregon, in 
1862, where he was elected sheriff. He was very 
much respected. Early in the fall of 1864, he 
went to Idaho, and in Owyhee county purchased 
and located claims on several quartz lodes, speci- 
mens of which he selected to exhibit to his East- 
ern friends, and packed carefully in a valise. 
Coming to Boise City, preparatory to his depar- 
ture for the States, he passed through the streets 
with the heavy valise in his hand, which, being 
observed by some of the " Opdyke gang," was 
supposed by them to contain a large quantity of 
gold dust. He remained in Boise four or five 
days, and was narrowly watched by the roughs. 

On the morning of his departure, at three 

t>avid Opdyhe. S4S 

o'clock, several of the robbers left by a trail, and 
coming up with the coach seven miles east of the 
city, caused the driver to stop, fired upon Parks, 
rifled his pockets of two or three hundred dol- 
lars in money, and departed with the much- 
coveted valise. Their chaorin at findino- it to 
contain mere quartz specimens, may be better 
imagined than described. Parks returned in the 
coach to Boise, and died in less than a week of 
his wounds. He was buried by the Masons. No 
clew to his murderers could be found at the time ; 
but in some of the criminal developments made 
afterwards, it was ascertained that Charley Mar- 
ens and three others of the " gang " were directly 
concerned in the attack. 

The next murderous outrage in which the 
^^Opdyke gang" was concerned, was the murder 
and robbery, in Port-Xeuf canon, of fi^'e coach 
passengers from ^Montana, in the suninier of 18(35. 
It is now known that Opdyke furnished arms and 
ammunition for the party from Idaho, which en- 
gaged in this expedition, and shared in the booty. 
Seven or eight of his gang left Boise at the time, 
and were joined at Snake river by an equal party 
of Montana roughs, who participated with them 
in the robbery. Frank Johnson, ostensibly the 
keeper of a public-house eight miles below Boise 

S44 l)avid Opdyhe. 

City, was one of the confederates in this crime. 
His house was long a rendezvous for robbers, and 
his partner Beech kept a similar meeting-place at 
the Ov^erland Ferry on Snake river. Beech was 
hung by the Vigilantes in Nevada in 1865. 
Johnson eluded the pursuit of the Vigilantes, fled 
to Powder river, Oregon, where he was arrested 
by Captain Bledso, Wells, Fargo and Company's 
messenger, on a charge of stealing horses. 
Found guilty on his trial, he was sentenced to ten 
years' imprisonment in the Oregon Penitentiary. 
Soon after the Port-Neuf robbery, information 
was given to the Montana authorities, that one 
Hank Buckner, an escaped murderer from that 
jurisdiction, had turned up in Idaho, and was 
living in Boise City. In the fall of 1863, Buck- 
ner, in a dispute with one Brown in the Madison 
valley, drew his pistol and shot him. Buckner 
was arrested, examined in Virginia City, and 
placed in custody of the sheriff, from whom, by 
means never made public, he escaped. The 
sheriff, a very respectable man, was examined 
by the Vigilantes, and acquitted of blame in 
the matter ; but the story he told, which was 
positively credited by the Vigilantes, ought to 
have led to further investigation, as it implicated 

David Opdyhe. 345 

Governor Green Clay Smith sent Neil Howie 
to Idaho, with a requisition upon Governor Lyon 
for the delivery of Buckner to the Montana 
authorities. The " Opdyke gang," of which 
Buckner was one, concealed the fugitive, on 
Howie's arrival, in Dry creek, ten miles distant 
from Boise City. Reenan, the sheriff of the 
county, found and arrested him. Governor Lyon 
beino" at Lewiston, Buckner was examined, and 
despite the efforts of his friends, who flocked in 
hundreds to his defence, was ordered by the ma- 
gistrate to be confined in jail in Idaho City, until 
an order for his surrender could be obtained. 
Before this could be received, a writ of habeas 
corpus was issued by the probate judge of the 
county, and Buckner was released on straw bail. 
Howie, seldom thwarted, as we have seen in ear- 
lier portions of this history, returned to Montana, 
greatly crestfallen, without his prisoner. Buck- 
ner, who was believed to have been a leader in the 
Port-Neuf robbery, is still at large. 

At its -session of 1864-5, the Legislature of 
Idaho set off and provided for the organization of 
Ada county, appointing the election of officers in 
March, 1865. The " Opdyke gang " was a strong 
power in the Democratic party. At its request 
Opdyke was nominated for sheriff, and by a 

346 David Opdyhe, 

party vote largely in tlie ascendant, elected by a 
small majority. Soon after his election, under 
a pretence of official duty, lie avowed the inten- 
tion of breaking up a Vigilante organization of 
about thirty persons, which had been formed in 
the Payette river settlement, thirty miles from 
Boise City, for the purpose of freeing their neigh- 
borhood from two or three horse thieves and 
manufacturers of spurious gold dust. The Vigi- 
lantes were a great terror to the roughs, and in- 
terfered with all their unlawful and bloody plans 
for money-making. In pursuance of this design, 
Opdyke and his coadjutors had in some mysteri- 
ous manner obtained the names of all the Vigi- 
lantes, and procured a warrant for their arrest. 
The proceedings, to all outward seeming, were to 
be conducted in legal form ; but in making the 
arrest, Opdyke and his posse proposed to shoot 
the leaders of the Vigilantes, and screen them- 
selves under the plea that they had resisted. It 
was arranged that fifteen or twenty of the " Op- 
dyke gang " would leave Boise City, asmed with 
double-barrelled shot-guns and revolvers, and unite 
at Horse-shoe Bend road with as many more from 
the country, similarly equipped. They would 
then proceed with their warrant to the settlement, 
and, l)y stealing a march upon the citizens, easily 
effect their diabolical purpose. 

David Opdyke. 847 

Intelligence of their plan came to the ears o£ 
the citizens of Boise City. They secretly de- 
spatched a messenger to the Payette Vigilantes 
with the information. The thirty members of 
that order armed and assembled at once in self- 
protection. Opdyke, at the head of fifteen of the 
worst men in the Territory, whom he had sum- 
moned as ajjosse comitatus, left Boise City at four 
o'clock P.M. to make the arrest. The party from 
the country failed to connect with him, and his 
party marched down alone. The Vigilantes, 
numbering two to one of his band, met him. 
They were quite as determined as their oppo- 
nents. Surprised at the preparation they had 
made to resist him, Opdyke held a parley, and 
was obliged to comply with all the terms prescribed 
by the Vigilantes. These were, that they would 
march to Boise City and answer the warrant, but 
they would not allow Opdyke to disarm them or 
'•' get the drop " on them. By the aid of counsel, 
the complaint against them was dismissed, and 
they were discharged, thus bringing to a humili- 
ating conclusion a deep-laid conspiracy against the 
lives of some of the best citizens of the Territory. 
Nearly all the Vigilantes had been partisans of Op- 
dyke, and of course, after this manifestation of his 
hostility, were very bitter in their opposition to him. 

348 David Opdyhe. 

Soon after this the county commissioners ordered 
the district attorney, A. G. Cook, to institute 
criminal proceedings against Opdyke for per- 
mitting a criminal to escape, and also for em- 
bezzlement, they having discovered that he was 
a defaulter to the county in the sum of eleven 
hundred dollars. Cook, however, resigned his 
offtce. A. Hurd, who was appointed to succeed 
him, prepared indictments which were sustained 
by the grand jury on both charges. Opdyke paid 
the amount for which he was a defaulter, and re- 
signed his office, and the prosecutions were with- 
drawn. He, however, swore that he would be 
bitterly revenged upon the grand jury, which, 
being composed chiefly of men of his political 
faith, ought, he said, to have saved him, right 
or wrong, out of party consideration. The grand 
jury held a meeting, and sent to him to ascertain 
his intentions. He was glad to escape further 
molestation by disclaiming all hostile designs 
aofainst them. 

Early in March, 1865, the citizens of Southern 
Idaho fitted out an expedition against the maraud- 
in o- bands of Indians which, for some months 
previous, had been engaged in predatory warfare 
in that part of the Territory. Opdyke, as leader, 
with thirty of his gang, volunteered. Money, 

David Opdyhe. 349 

provisions; horses, and other equipments were fur- 
nished hy the people. A man by the name of 
Joseph Aden was employed to pack the stores, 
for which purpose eleven ponies were provided 
and placed in his charge, with the understanding 
that he should receive them in part payment for 
his services. In pursuance of that agreement, he 
immediately branded and ranched them. 

Among the volunteers was a young man of 
nineteen, by the name of Reuben Raymond. He 
had performed faithful service in the Union army, 
and was just discharged at Fort Boise. He was 
quite a favorite with the people, and, though 
necessarily intimate at this time with the " Opdyke 
gang," was perfectly honest and trustworthy. The 
expedition ran its course, and, like all expeditions 
of the kind, was barren of any marked results. 
Opdyke cached a large portion of the stores on 
Snake river for the future use of his road agent 
band ; and the roughs, all the more daring and 
impudent for the confidence the people had re- 
posed in them, became a greater burden to the 
community than ever. 

Aden turned his ponies out on the commons 
on the south side of Boise river, claimed as a 
ranche by Opdyke and one Drake, — the latter 
assuming to exercise a sort of constructive owner- 

S50 David Opdyhe. 

ship to the land. Designing to swindle Aden out 
of his property in the ponies, Opdyke told Drake 
not to surrender them to Aden except on his 
written order. Aden employed attorneys and got 
possession of the ponies. Opdyke caused his 
arrest for stealing ; and Aden, leading his ponies, 
■which he hitched in front of the justice's office, 
appeared for trial. He was discharged, and the 
crowd dispersed ; but Opdyke's attorney remained, 
and persuaded the magistrate to issue an order 
for the surrender of the ponies to his client. 
Opdyke and his friends took them away, and 
they were never seen in Boise City after- 

Aden commenced a suit against Cline, the jus- 
tice, for damages, and recovered a judgment of 
eight hundred dollars, which Cline was obliged to 
pay. Cline resigned his office. At Aden's ex- 
amination, Reuben Raymond had sworn to the 
identity of the ponies, which was disputed by 
nearly all the roughs in the expedition, and it was 
almost solely on his testimony, that Aden was 
discharged. The " Opdyke gang " were very 
angry with him ; and on the morning of April 3, 
1865, a few days after the examination, while 
Raymond was employed in a stall in Opdyke's 
stable, John C. Clark, a noted rough, stepped 

David Opdyke. 351 

before the stall with his revolver in his hand, and 
commenced cursing Raymond. Opdyke and sev- 
eral o£ his associates, tog-ether with a number of 
good citizens, were standing near. Clark finally 
threatened to shoot Raymond. 

'' I am entirely unarmed," said Raymond, at 
the same time pulling open his shirt bosom, " but 
if you wish to shoot me down like a dog, there is 
nothing to hinder you. Give me a chance, and I 
will fight you in any way you choose, though I 
have nothing against you." 

Clark covered Raymond for a moment or more, 
with his pistol, and then with an opprobrious 
epithet, said, " I will shoot you, anyway," and, 
taking deliberate aim, fired, and killed Raymond 
on the spot. This murder produced the wildest 
excitement, and Clark, who had been immediately 
arrested, was taken out of the guard-house the 
second night afterwards, and hanged upon an im- 
promptu gibbet between the town and the garri- 
son. Threats of vengeance were publicly pro- 
claimed by the " Opdyke gang ; " Opdyke himself 
improving the occasion to tell several of the 
grand jury men, who had found the indictment 
already mentioned against him, that they would 
not live to walk the streets of Boise City many 
days more. It was also reported that the roughs 

352 David OpdyTce. 

intended to burn the city, and not leave a house 

The citizens, fully aroused to the dangers of 
the crisis, organized a night patrol. Every in- 
habitant of the city was armed, and all co-operated 
for the purpose of clearing the country of every 
suspected person in it. While plans were matur- 
ing for this purpose, the rouglis became uneasy, 
and one after another began to disappear until 
but few remained. Opdyke took the alarm for his 
own safety, and on the 12th of April, accom- 
panied by John Dixon, a notorious confederate in 
crime, departed by the Rocky Bar road, and 
brought up at a cabin thirty miles distant. A 
party of Vigilantes followed in close pursuit. 
They captured him during the night, and con- 
ducting him ten miles farther on the road to 
Syrup creek, hanged him under a shed be- 
tween two vacant cabins, on the following 
morning. His companion Dixon, who was caught 
on the march, was hanged at the same time. 

When this intelligence became known in Boise 
City, every suspicious character disappeared, and 
the vilest gang of ruffians in Idaho was effectually 
broken up. Opdyke had many friends, and was 
naturally a man of genial qualities, but he h