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Full text of "The vigilantes of Montana; or, Popular justice in the Rocky mountains; being a correct and impartial narrative of the chase, trial, capture, and execution of Henry Plummer's road agent band, together with accounts of the lives and crimes of many of the robbers and desperadoes, the whole being interspersed with sketches of life in the mining camps of the "Far west.""

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ALLEN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY 




3 1833 00829 5450 



THE 



VIGILANTES of MONTANA 



OR POPULAR JUSTICE IN THE 



ROCKY MOUNTAINS 



Being a correct and impartial narrative of the Chase, Trial, Capture, and 

Execution of HENRY PLUMMER'S ROAD AGENT BAND, 

together with accounts of the Lives and Crimes of many of the 

Robbers and Desperadoes, the whole being interspersed 

with sketches of Life in the MINING CAMPS 

OF THE "FAR WEST." 



BY PROF. THOS. J. DIMSDALE 



THIRD EDITION" 



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STATE PUBLISHING CO.. HELENA. HONT, 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1915 

By A. J. NOYES 
In the office of Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 



Q 1151717 







PROF. THOS. J. DIMSDALE. 



THOMAS JOSIAH DIMSDALE 

It was not until the summer of 1864 that the first leading char- 
acter in Montana journalism appeared on the stage in that role. 
On August 27th of that year, one John Buchanan published the 
first number of the first newspaper printed in the Territory. It 
was called the Montana Post. Mr. Buchanan's connection with 
the Post was very brief. It may be said to have ended with the 
first issue, for the second number bore the imprint of D. W. Tilton 
& Co.. publishers and proprietors, though the services of its 
founder were retained in the editoi'ial department for a few weeks 
thereafter. The management of its columns was intrusted to 
Prof. Thomas Josiah Dimsdale, whom the reading people of the 
state doubtless know more familiarly as the author of "The Vigi- 
lantes of Montana." 

Professor Dimsdale was an English gentleman of fine scholarly 
attainments, having received his preliminary education in the pre- 
paratory school of Rugby, made famous by Hughes' well known 
novel, '"Tom Brown of Rugby". He was born near Thirlsby in 
north of England, 'ancr°^came of a family noted as being among 
the leading iron-masters, engineers and contractors of public 
works in that part of the country. Thomas J. was not of robust 
physique and as he himself expressed it was the "runt of the 
family," so his parents designed him for the Church and he 
was sent to Oxford to complete his education for the ministry. 
But financial disaster came to the family because of the failure 
of a scheme to utilize the sewage of the city of London in the 
reclamation of barren lands and he was compelled to give up uni- 
versity work in his sophomore year. He then emigrated to Canada, 
locating at Millbrook, Ontario, where he experienced many vicis- 
situdes of fortune. On the discovery of gold in the Rocky Moun- 
tains he joined the throng of adventurers travelling hitherward. 

In the winter of 1863-64, being unable to work in the mines, 
he sought to make a livelihood in Virginia City by teaching, and 
as there were no schools yet established, and people were willing 
to pay liberally (enormously it would be called in these days, 
$2.00 per week) for tuition, he succeeded fairly well in his voca- 
tion. 

When the Territory of Montana was created in the spring of 
1864. the professor attracted the attention of Governor Sidney 
Edgerton, and that official tendered him the office of territorial 



superintendent of public instruction, which he accepted. While 
filling this position, the Montana Post was established, and 
Messrs. Tilton and Dittes, recognizing the ability of the professor, 
installed him as editor-in-chief, and he filled both these positions 
v,dth satisfaction to all concerned, until a short time before his 
death, which occured two years later. 

Professor Dimsdale was not an editor to the manner born. 
Indeed, it is doubtful whether, if the place had not been tendered 
him under the conditions then existing, he would ever have 
entered the sanctum. He was not of strong physique, and was 
diffident to a degree, pouting like a child when subjected to 
blame, and blushing like a school girl when receiving praise. 
Many who were present when friends presented him with an 
ivorv -handled, silver-mounted pistol as a testimonial of appre- 
ciation of his work in publishing the "Vigilantes of Montana" 
(then running as a serial in the Post) will remember the bashful 
hesitancy with which he accepted the gift. And more yet will 
remember the almiost boyish glee with which he started in to 
learn how to "shoot it off." And still more remember the trepi- 
dation with which they watched him sallying forth to practice 
with the unwonted weapon ; and how they trembled the while for 
the safety of the children and the family cow ! And how elated he 
was when he got proficient enough in handling the gun to be able 
to hit an oyster can at ten steps once in ten times. 

But this is digressing. Professor Dimsdale could not have made 
an all around editor in times of hot political controversy. He 
was not "built that way." The domain of politics was terra 
incognita to him. But he was a man of acute perceptivity, a 
thorough master of the English language, a ready and quick 
observer and a fluent descriptive writer. So he edited the Post 
quite acceptably. The void in the political education was filled by 
able assistants, some of whom have risen to prominence in the 
Republican party. Luckily, for more than a year the Post held 
the newspaper field without a rival, and the absence of political 
discussions from its columns elicited no tokens of disapproval. 
If the editorial utterances savored more of literary talent than a 
genius for political polemics, it was so much the better, for the 
country was full of hotheads from Union and secession ranks, 
and the paper's miagnanimous (?) abstinence from unpleasant 
remarks about them brought ducats to the treasury and good will 
from all sides to the profit of the proprietors and the enhancement 
of Dimsdale 's reputation as an unbiased and impartial political 
writer. 

As soon as the paper was fairly established, Professor Dims- 
dale set about the publication of the "Vigilantes" in its columns. 



It was an immense drawing card for the subscription department, 
and the circulation ran up at a rapid rate. The work was a re- 
cital of the doings of the famous organization which stamped out 
the carnival of crime that had been running riot in the embryo 
Territory for a year previous to the capture and execution of 
George Ives, December 21st, 1863. It was a graphic description 
of the robberies and murders committed by the road agents whose 
crimes made life a dreary burden to the inhabitants of the region ; 
the measures of their arrest and extinction and the tragic fate 
which befell the thugs and assassins at the hands of the self- 
constituted ministers of justice. Its publication at once stamped 
its author as a writer of promise, and the professor began to in- 
dulge in day dreams of wealth from its reputation in more sub- 
stantial form, — dreams, alas, which were doomed never to be 
fulfilled. 

While Professor Dimsdale was revising and preparing his "Vig- 
ilantes" for the press, in 1865, he was assisted in his editorial 
duties by H. N. Maguire. When the last installment of the work 
appeared in the Post, the author resumed his editorial chair. 

By this time, a democratic newspaper had been started in Vir- 
ginia City, and an exciting political controversy was inaugurated. 

Professor Dimsdale began to feel that the burden of shaping the 
course of the paper was becoming more arduous and onerous. His 
retiring disposition rebelled at the exchange of phillipics and 
expletives with rival editors which was forced upon him by the 
change in the situation, and he was often on the verge of sur- 
rendering his position to someone less thin-skinned and sensitive. 
But a degree of pride and a dread of humiliation, coupled with 
some injection of spinal stamina by his intimate friends, together 
with a deep sense of family responsibility, for he had taken to 
himself a wife, sustained him in his work, and he continued to 
edit the paper. His work was intermittent, however, for the 
disease from which he suffered had taken fatal hold and the fol- 
lowing summer saw him confined to his room by nervous prostra- 
tion, aggravated by pulmonary troubles of old standing. He suc- 
cumbed to his ailments September 22nd, 1866, and passed from 
life to death, leaving his wife, the only relation in this country, 
to mourn his loss. 

In his sickness, his long-tried and staunch friend. Col. W. F. 
Sanders, was an almost constant attendant at the bedside, and it 
may be said that the departing journalist literally died in the arms 
of his friend, at the age of 35. 

Professor Dimsdale was a public-spirited citizen of the highest 
type. He was an ardent worker in the cause of education, often 
over-taxing his strength in his labors. He filled the office of 



superintendent of public instruction for two years with signal 
ability and credit to himself. He was, also, a churchman of the 
Protestant Episcopal faith, and conducted the first service of 
that denomination in Virginia City. The initial meeting was 
held in the office of Judge William Y. Lovell, on Christmas Day, 
1865, Professor Dimsdale acting as lay reader. He was a member 
of the Montana Lodge No. 2, A. F. & A. M. and was buried with 
imposi^g ceremonies by that order September 24th, 1866, a large 
concourse of members of the fraternity and other friends attend- 
ing the funeral. — ^(From the Rocky Mountain Magazine, March, 

TOM BAKER. 



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PREFACE. 

The object of the writer in presenting this narrative to the 
public is twofold. His intention is, in the first place, to furnish 
a correct history of an organization administering justice with- 
out the sanction of constitutional law ; and secondly, to prove not 
only the necessity for their action, but the equity of their pro- 
ceedings. 

Having an intimate acquaintance with parties cognizant of the 
facts related, and feeling certain of the literal truth of the state- 
ments contained in this history, he offers it to the people of the 
United States, with the belief that its perusal will greatly 
modify the views of those even who are most prejudiced against 
the summary retribution of mountain law, and with the conviction 
that all honest and impartial men will be willing to admit both 
the wisdom of the course pursued and the salutary effect of the 
rule of the Vigilantes in the Territory of Montana. 

It is also hoped that the history of the celebrated body, the 
very mention of whose name sounded as a death-knell in the 
ears of the murderers and Road Agents, will be edifying and in- 
structive to the general reader. The incidents related are neither 
trivial in themselves, nor unimportant in their results ; and, 
while rivalling fiction in interest, are unvarnished accounts of 
transactions, whose fidelity can be vouched by thousands. 

As a literary production, the author commits it to the exam- 
ination of the critical without a sigh. If any of these author- 
slayers are inclined to be more severe in their judgment than he 
is himself, he trusts they will receive the reward to which their 
justice entitles them; and if they should pass it by he cannot 
but think that they will exercise a sound discretion, and avoid 
much useless labor. With all its imperfections, here it is. 

THOS. J. DIMSDALE. 



INTRODUCTORY. 

In the reproduction of the story of ''The Vigilantes of Mon- 
tana," I want to call the reader's attention to the following, 
namely : The story was written and published by the first Super- 
intendent of Schools in Montana, in the first newspaper— The 
Post — ^in serial form. I am giving many foot-notes and illustra- 
tions, in that way throwing more light on the subject. I am 
giving the stories of men who were active in the work, but who 
have not had the credit due them. 

A little History of Southern Montana will be appended, that 
will be of much interest to all. 

AL NOYES (Ajax). 



\ 



X 




A. J. NOYES 

(Ajax) 

"The Story of Ajax" 



CHAPTER I. 
Introductory — Vigilance Committees. 

"The teeth that hite hardest are out of sight." — Prov. 

The end of all good government is the safety and happiness 
of tile governed. It is not possible that a high state of civilization 
and progress can be maintained unless the tenure of life and prop- 
erty is secure ; and it follows that the first efforts of a people 
in a new countiy for the inauguration of the reign of peace, the 
sure precursor of prosperity and stability, should be directed to 
the accomplishment of this object. In newly settled mining dis- 
tricts, the necessity for some effective organization of a judicial 
and prot( ctive character is more keenly felt than it is in other 
places, where the less exciting pursuits of agriculture and com- 
merce mainly attract the attention and occupy the time of the 
first inhabitants. 

There are good reasons for this difference. The first is the 
entirely dissimilar character of the populations; and the second, 
the possession of vast sums of money by uneducated and unprin- 
cipled people, in aU places where the precious metals may be 
obtained at the cost of the labor necessary to exhume them from 
the strata in which they lie concealed. 

In an agricultural country, the life of the pioneer settler is al- 
ways one of hard labor, of considerable privation, and of more or 
less isolation ; while the people who seek to clear the farm in the 
wild forest, or who break up the virgin soil of the prairies are 
usually of the steady and hard-working classes, needing little as- 
sistance from courts of justice to enable them to maintain rights 
which are seldom invaded; and whose differences, in the early 
days of the country, are, for the most part, so slight as to be 
scarcely worth the cost of a litigation more complicated than a 
friendly and, usually, gratuitous, arbitration — submitted to the 
judgment of the most respected among the citizens. 

In a marked contrast to the peaceful life of the tiller of the 
soil, and to the placid monotony of his pursuits are the turbulent 
activity, the constant excitement, and the perpetual temptations 
to which the dweUer in a mining camp is subject, both during his 
sojourn in the gulches, or, if he be given to prospecting, in his 
frequent and unpremeditated change of location, commonly called 



10 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

a "stampede." There can scarcely be conceived a greater or 
more apparent difference than exists between the staid and sedate 
inhabitants of rural districts, and the motley group of miners, 
professional men and merchants, thickly interspersed with 
sharpers, refugees, and a full selection from the dangerous classes 
that swagger, armed to the teeth, through the diggings and in- 
fest the roads leading to the newly discovered gulches, where lies 
the object of their worship^ — ^Gold. 

Fortunately the change to a better state of things is rapid, and 
none who now walk the streets of Virginia would believe that, 
within two years of this date, the great question to be decided 
was, which was the stronger, right or might? 

And here it must be stated, that the remarks which truth com- 
pels us to make, concerning the classes of individuals which fur- 
nish the law defying element of mining camps, are in no wise 
applicable to the majority of the people, who, while exhibiting 
the characteristic energy of the American race in the pursuit of 
wealth, yet maintain, under every disadvantage, an essential mor- 
ality, which is the more creditable since it must be sincere, in order 
to withstand the temptations to which it is constantly exposed. 
"Oh, cursed thirst of gold," said the ancient, and no man has even 
an inkling of the truth and force of the sentiment, till he has lived 
where gold and silver are as much the objects of desire, and of 
daily and laborious exertion, as glory and promotion are to the 
young soldier. Were it not for the preponderance of this conserv- 
ative body of citizens, every camp in remote and recently dis- 
covered mineral regions would be a field of blood ; and where this 
is not so, the fact is proof irresistible that the good is in suffi- 
cient force to control the evil, and eventually to bring order out 
of chaos. 

Let the reader suppose that the police of New York were with- 
drawn for twelve months, and then let them picture the wild 
saturnalia which would take the place of the order that reigns 
there now. If, then, it is so hard to restrain the dangerous classes 
of old and settled communities, what must be the difficulty of the 
task, when, tenfold in number, fearless in character, generally well 
armed, and supplied Mdth money to an extent unknown among 
their equals in the east, such men find themselves removed from 
the restraints of civilized society, and beyond the control of the 
authority which there enforces obedience to the law? 

Were it not for the sterling stuff of which the mass of minei^s 
is made, their love of fair play, and their prompt and decisive 
action in emergencies, this history could never have been written, 
for desperadoes of every nation would have made this country a 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 11 

scene of bloodshed and a sink of iniquity such as was never before 
witnessed. 

Together with so much that is evil, nowhere is there so much 
that is sternly opposed to dishonesty and violence as in the 
mountains ; and though careless of externals and style, to a degree 
elsewhere unknown, the intrinsic value of manly unrightness is 
nowhere so clearly exhibited and so well appreciated as in the 
Eldorado of the west. Middling people do not live in these 
regions. A man or a woman becomes better or worse by a trip 
towards the Pacific. The keen eye of the experienced miner 
detects the impostor at a glance, and compels his entire isolation, 
or his association with the class to which he rightfully belongs. 
I Thousands of weak-minded people return, after a stay in the 
mountains, varying in duration from a single day to a year, leav- 
ing the field where only the strong of heart are fit to battle with 
difficulty, and to win the golden crown which is the reward of 
persevering toil and unbending firmness. ' There is no man more 
fit to serve his country in any capacity requiring courage, integ- 
rity, and self-reliance, than an '' honest miner", who has been tried 
and found to be true by a jury of mountaineers. 

The universal license that is, at first, a necessity of position 
in such places, adds greatly to the number of crimes, and to the 
facilities for their perpetration. Saloons, where poisonous liq- 
uors are vended to all comers, and consumed in quantities suf- 
ficient to drive excitable men to madness and to the commission 
of homicide, on the slightest provocation, are to be found in 
amazing numbers, and the villainous compounds there sold, under 
the generic name of whiskey, are more familiarly distinguished 
by the cognomens of "Tangle-leg", ''Forty-rod," "Lightning," 
"Tarantula-juice," etc., terms only too truly describing their 
acknowledged qualities. 

The absence of good female society, in any due proportion 
to the numbers of the opposite sex, is likewise an evil of great 
magnitude ; for men become rough, stern and cruel, to a sur- 
prising degree, under such a state of things. 

In every frequent street, public gambling houses with open 
doors and loud music, are resorted to, in broad daylight, by hun- 
dreds — it might almost be said — of all tribes and tongues, fur- 
nishing another fruitful source of "difficulties," which are com- 
monly decided on the spot, by an appeal to brute force, the stab 
of a knife, or the discharge of a revolver. Women of easy virtue 
are to be seen promenading through the camp, habited in the gay- 
est and most costly apparel, and receiving fabulous sums for their 
purchased favors. In fact, all the temptations to vice are present 
in full display, with money in abundance to secure the gratifica- 



12 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

tion of the desire for novelty and excitement, which is the ruling 
passion of the mountaineer. 

One "institution," offering a shadowy and dangerous substi- 
tute for more legitimate female association, deserves a more pe- 
culiar notice. This is the ' ' Hurdy-Gurdy ' '* house. As soon as the 
men have left off work, these places are opened, and dancing com- 
mences. Let the reader picture to himself a large room, furnished 
with a bar at one end — ^where champagne at $12 (in gold) per 
bottle, and "drinks" at tweny-five to fifty cents, are wholesaled 
(correctly speaking) — and divided, at the end of this bar, by a 
railing running from side to side. The outer enclosure is densely 
crowded (and, on particular occasions, the inner one also) with 
men in every variety of garb that can be seen on the continent. 
Beyond the barrier sit the dancing women, called "hurdy-gur- 
dies," sometimes dressed in uniform, but, more generally, habited 
according to the dictates of individual caprice, in the finest 
clothes that money can buy, and which are fashioned in the most 
attractive styles that fancy can suggest. On one side is a 
raised orchestra. The music suddenly strikes up, and the sum- 
mons, "Take your partners for the next dance," is promptly 
answered by some of the male spectators, who paying a dollar in 
gold for a ticket, approach the ladies' bench, and — in style polite, 
or otherwise, according to antecedents — invite one of the ladies 
to dance. 

The number being complete, the parties take their places, as 
in any other dancing establishment, and pause for the perform- 
ance of the introductory notes of the air. 

Let us describe a first class dancer — "sure of a partner every 
time" — and her companion. There she stands at the head of the 
set. She is of middle height, of rather full and rounded form ; 
her complexion as pure as alabaster, a pair of dangerous looking 
hazel eyes, a slightly Roman nose, and a small and prettily formed 
mouth. Her auburn hair is neatly banded and gathered in a 
tasteful, ornamented net, with a roll and gold tassels at the side. 
How sedate she looks during the first figure, never smiling till the 
termination of "promenade, eight," when she shows her little 
white hands in fixing her handsome brooch in its place, and 
settling her glistening earrings. See how nicely her scarlet dress, 
with its broad black band round the skirt, and its black edging, 
sets off her dainty figure. No wonder that a wild mountaineer 
would be willing to pay— not one dollar, but all that he has in 
his purse, for a dance and an approving smile from so beautiful 
a woman. 



^,«, 1*1 ^^^"^^ T''^^^ thirteen dance houses in Central City. Todav a straneer 
would never know there had ever been a town. stranger 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 13 

Her cavalier s-tands six feet iu his boots, which come to the 
knee, and are garnished with a pair of Spanish spnrs, with rowels 
and bells like young water wheels. His buckskin leggings are 
fringed at the seams, and gathered at the waist with a U. S. 
belt, from which hangs his loaded revolver and his sheath knife. 
His neck is bare, muscular and embrowned by exposure, as is 
also his bearded face, whose sombre hue is relieved by a pair of 
piercing dark eyes. His long black hair hangs down beneath his 
wide felt hat, and, in the corner of his mouth is a cigar, which 
rolls like the lever of an eccentric, as he chews the end in his 
mouth. After an amazingly grave salute, "all hands round" is 
shouted by the prompter, and off bounds the buckskin hero, ris- 
ing and falling to the rh}i;hm of the dance, with a clumsy agility 
and a growing enthusiasm, testifying his huge delight. His fair 
partner, with practised foot and easy grace, keeps time to the 
music like a clock, and rounds to her place as smoothly and grace- 
fully as a swan. As the dance progresses, he of the buckskins 
gets excited, and nothing but long practice prevents his partner 
fom being swept off her feet, at the conclusion of the miner's 
delight, "set your partnei-s," or "gents to the right". An Irish 
tune or a hornpipe generally finishes the set, and then the thunder 
of heel and toe, and some amazing demivoltes are brought to an 
end by the aforesaid "gents to the right," and "promenade to the 
bar", which last closes the dance. After a treat, the barkeeper 
mechanically raps his blower as a hint to "weigh out", the ladies 
sit down, and with scarcely an interval, a waltz, polka, shottische, 
mazurka, varsovinne, or another quadrille commences. 

All varieties of costume, physique and demeanor can be noticed 
among the dancers — from the gayest colors and "loudest" styles 
of dress and manner, to the snugly fitted black silk, and plain 
white collar, which sets off the neat figure of the blue-eyed, 
modest looking Anglo-Saxon. Yonder, beside the tall and tastly 
clad German brunette you see the short curls, rounded tournure 
and smiling face of an Irish girl ; indeed, representatives of al- 
most every dancing nation of white folks may be seen on the 
floor of the Hurdy-Gurdy house. The earnings of the dancers are 
very different in amount. That dancer in the low-necked dress, 
with the scarlet "waist," a great favorite and a really good 
dancer, counted fifty tickets into her lap before "The last dance, 
gentlemen," followed by "Only this one before the girls go 
home," which wound up the performance. Twenty-six dollars is 
a great deal of money to earn in such a fashion ; but fifty sets of 
quadrilles and four waltzes, two of them for the love of the thing, 
is very hard work. 

As a rule, however, the professional "hurdies" are Teutons. 



14 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

and, though first-rate dancers, they are, with some few exceptions, 
the reverse of good looking. 

The dance which is most attended, is one in which ladies to 
whom pleasure is dearer than fame, represent the female element, 
and, as may be supposed, the evil only commences at the Dance 
House. It is not uncommon to see one of these sirens* with an 
"outfit" worth from seven to eight hundred dollars, and many 
of them invest with merchants and bankers thousands of dollars 
in gold, the rewards and presents they receive, especially the more 
highly favored ones, being more in a week than a well-educated 
girl would earn in two years in an Eastern city. 

In the Dance House you can see Judges, the Legislative corps, 
and every one but the Minister. He never ventures further than to 
engage in conversation with a friend at the door, and while in- 
tently watching the performance, lectures on the evil of such 
places with considerable force ; but his attention is evidently more 
fixed upon the dancers than on his lecture. Sometimes may be 
seen gray-haired men dancing, their wives sitting at home in bliss- 
ful ignorance of the proceeding. There never was a dance house 
running, for any length of time, in the first days of a mining town, 
in which "shooting scrapes" do not occur; equal proportions of 
jealousy, whiskey and revenge being the stimulants thereto. Bil- 
liard saloons are everywhere visible, with a bar attached, and 
hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent there. As might be 
anticipated, it is impossible to prevent quarrels in these places, at 
all times, and, in the mountains, whatever weapon is handiest — 
foot, fist, knife, revolver, or derringer — it is usually used. The 
authentic, and, indeed, literally exact accounts which follow in 
the course of this narrative will show that the remarks we have 
made on> the state of society in a new mining country, before a 
controlling power asserts its sway, are in no degree exaggerated, 
but fall short of the reality, as all description must. 

One marked feature of social intercourse, and (after indulgence 
in strong drink) the most fruitful source of quarrel and blood- 
shed is the all-pervading custom of using strong language on 
every occasion. Men will say miore than they mean and the un- 
written code of the miners, based on a wrong view of what con- 
stitutes manhood, teaches them to resent by force what should 
be answered by silent contempt. 

Another powerful incentive to wrong-doing is the absolute 
nullity of the civil law in such cases. No matter what may be 
the proof, if the criminal is well liked in the community, "Not 
Guilty" is almost certain to be the verdict of the jury, despite 



* These women, if they understood their business, seldom or ever, be- 
came intoxicated, as it was a sure way of losing- money and prestige. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 15 

the efforts of the Judge and prosecutor. If the offender is a 
moneyed man, as well as a popular citizen, the trial is only a 
farce — ^grave and prolonged, it is ti'ue, but capable of only one 
termination — ^a verdict of acquittal. In after days, when police 
magistrates in cities can deal with crime, they do so promptly. 
Costs are absolutely frightful, and fines tremendous. An assault 
provoked by drunkenness frequently costs a man as much as 
thrashing forty different policemen would do, in New York. A 
trifling "tight" is worth from $20 to $50 in dust, all expenses 
told, and so on. One grand jury that we wot of presented that 
it would be better to leave the punishment of offenders to 
the Vigilantes, who always acted impartially, and who would not 
permit the escape of proved criminals on technical and absurd 
grounds — than to have justice defeated, as in a certain case 
named. The date of that document is not ancient, and though, 
of course, refused and destroyed, it was the deliberate opinion, 
on oath, of the Grand Inquest, embodying the sentiment of thou- 
sands of good citizens in the community. 

Finally, swift and terrible retribution is the only preventive 
of crime, while society is organizing in the far West. The long 
delay of justice, the wearisome proceedings, the remembrance of 
old friendships, etc., create a sympathy for the offender, so strong 
as to cause a hatred of the avenging law, instead of inspiring a 
horror of the crime. There is something in the excitement of con- 
tinued stampedes that makes men of quick temperaments, uncon- 
trollably impulsive. In the moment of passion, they would slay 
all around them ; but let the blood cool, and they would share 
their last dollar with the men whose life they sought a day or two 
before. 

Habits of thought rule communities more than laws, and the 
settled opinion of a numerous class is, that calling a man a liar, 
a thief, or a son of a b h is provocation sufficient to justify in- 
stant slaying. Juries do not ordinarily bother themiselves about 
the lengthy instructions they hear read by the court. They sim- 
ply consider whether the deed is a crime against the Mountain 
Code; and if not, "not guilty" is the verdict, at once returned. 
Thieving, or any action which a miner calls mean, will surely be 
visited with condign punishment, at the hands of a Territorial 
jury. In such cases mercy there is none ; but, in affairs of single 
combats, assaults, shootings, stabbings, and highway robberies, 
this civil law, with its positively awful expense and delay, is 
worse than useless. 

One other main point requires to be noticed. Any person of 
experience will remember that the universal story of criminals, 
who have expiated their crimes on the scaffold, or who are pining 



16 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

away in the hardships of involuntary servitude — 'tells of habitual 
Sabbath breaking. This sin is so general in newly discovered 
diggings in the mountains that a remonstrance usually produced 
no more fruit than a few jocular oaths and a laugh. Religion is said 
to be "played out," and a professing Christian must keep 
straight, indeed, or he will be suspected of being a hypocritical 
member of a tribe, to whom it would be very disagreeable to talk 
about hemp. 

Under these eircuniiStances, it becomes an absolute necessity 
that good, law-loving, and order-sustaining men should unite for 
mutual protection, and for the salvation of the community. Being 
united, they must act in harmony; repress disorder; punish 
crime, and prevent outrage, or their organization would be a 
failure from the start, and society would collapse in the throes 
of anarchy. None but extreme penalties inflicted with prompti- 
tude are of any avail to quell the spirit of the desperadoes with 
whom they have to contend ; considerable numbers are required to 
cope successfully with the gangs of murderers, desperadoes and 
robbers who infest mining countries, and who, though faithful 
to no other bond, yet all league willingly against the law. Secret 
they must be, in council and membership, or they will remain 
nearly useless for the detection of crime, in a country where equal 
facilities for the transmission of intelligence are at the command 
of the criminal and the judiciary; and an organization on this 
footing is a Vigilance Committee. 

Such was the state of affairs, when five men in Virginia, and 
four in Bannack, initiated the movement which resulted in the 
formation of a tribunal, supported by an omnipresent executive, 
comprising within itself nearly every good man in the Territory, 
and pledged to render impartial justice to friend and foe, ^vithout 
regard to clime, creed, race or politics. In a few short weeks it 
was known that the voice of justice had spoken, in tones that 
might not be disregarded. The face of society was changed, as 
if by magic ; for the Vigilantes, holding in one hand the invisible 
yet effectual shield of protection, and in the other, the swift de- 
scending and inevitable sword of retribution, struck from his 
nerveless grasp the weapon of the assassin; commanded the 
brawler to cease from strife ; warned the thief to steal no more ; 
bade the good citizen take courage, and compelled the ruffians 
and marauder who had so long maintained the "reign of terror" 
in Montana, to fly the Territory, or meet the just rewards of 
their crimes. Need we say that they were at once obeyed? yet not 
before more than one hundred valuable lives had been pitilessly 
sacrificed and twenty-four miscreants had met a dog's doom as 
the reward of their crimes. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 17 

To this hour, the whispered words, "Virginia Vigilantes" 
would blanch the cheek of the wildest and most redoubtable des- 
perado, and necessitate an instant election between flight and 
certain doom. 

The administration of the lex talionis by self-constituted 
authority is, undoubtedly, in civilized and settled communities, 
an outrage on mankind. It is there wholly unnecessary; but the 
sight of a few of the mangled corpses of beloved friends and 
valued citizens; the whistle of the desperado's bullet, and the 
plunder of the fruits of the patient toil of years spent in weary 
exile from home, in places where civil law is as powerless as a 
palsied arm, from sheer lack of ability to enforce its decrees — 
alter the basis of the reasoning, and reverse the conclusion. In 
the case of the Vigilantes of Montana, it must be also remembered 
that the Sheriff himself was the leader of the Road Agents, and 
his deputies were the prominent members of the band. 

The question of the propriety of establishing a Vigilance Com- 
mittee depends upon the answers which ought to be given to the 
following queries: Is it lawful for citizens to slay robbers or 
murderers, when they catch them ; or ought they to wait for po- 
licemen, where there are none, or put them in penitentiaries not 
yet erected ? 

Gladly, indeed, we feel sure, would the Vigilantes cease from 
their labor, and joyfully would they hail the advent of power, 
civil or militaiy, to take their place ; but till this is furnished by 
Government, society must be preserved from demoralization and 
anarchy; murder, arson and robbery must be prevented or pun- 
ished, and road agents must die. Justice, and protection from 
wrong to person or property, are the birthright of every American 
citizen, and these must be furnished in the best and most effectual 
manner that circumstances render possible. Furnished, however, 
they must be by constitutional law, undoubtedly, wherever practi- 
cal and efficient provision can be made for its enforcement. But 
where justice is powerless as well as blind, the strong arm of the 
mountaineer must wield her sword; for "self-preservation is the 
first law of nature." 



CHAPTER II. 



The Sunny Side of Mountain Life. 

"The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried. 
Grapple them to thy soul with hooks of steel." — Shaks. 

In the preceding chapter it was necessary to show to the reader 
the dark side of the cloud; but it has a golden lining, and though 
many a cursory observer, or disappointed speculator may deny 



IS THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

this fact, yet thousands have seen it, and know to their hearts' 
content that it is there. Yes ! Life in the mountains has many 
charms. The one great blessing is perfect freedom. Untram- 
melled by the artificial restraints of more highly organized soci- 
ety, character develops itself so fully and so truly, that a man 
who has a friend knows it, and there is a warmth and depth 
in the attachment which unites the dwellers in the wilderness, that 
is worth yeare of the insipid and uncertain regard of so-called 
polite circles, which, too often, passes by the name of friendship, 
and, sometimes, insolently apes the attributes, and dishonors the 
fame of love itself. Those who have slept at the same watch-fire, 
and traversed together many a weary league, sharing hardships 
and privations, are drawn together by ties which civilization wots 
not of. Wounded or sick, far from Tiome, and depending for life 
itself upon the ministration and tender care of some fellow trav- 
eller, the memory of these deeds of mercy and kindly fellowship 
often mutually rendered, is as an oasis in the desert, or as a crys- 
tal stream to the fainting pilgrim. 

As soon as towns are built society commences to organize, and 
there is something truly cheering in the ready hospitality, the un- 
feigned welcome, and the friendly toleration of personal peculiar- 
ities which mark the intercourse of the dwellers in the land of 
gold. Every one does what pleases him best. Forms and cere- 
monies are at a discount, and generosity has its home in the pure 
air of the Rocky Mountains. This virtue, indeed, is as insepar- 
able from mountaineers of all classes, as the pick and shovel from 
the prospector. When a case of real destitution is made public, 
if any well-known citizen will but take a paper in his hand and 
go round with it, the amount collected would astonish a dweller 
in Eastern cities, and it is a fact that gamblers and saloon keep- 
ers are the very men who subscribe the most liberally. Moun- 
taineers think little of a few hundreds of dollars, when the feel- 
ings are engaged, and the number of instances in which men have 
been helped to fortunes and presented with valuable property by 
their friends is truly astonishing. 

The mountains also may be said to circumscribe and bound 
the paradise of amiable and energetic women. For their labor 
they are paid magnificently, and they are treated with a deference 
and liberality unknown in other climes. There seems to be a law, 
unwritten but scarcely ever transgressed, which assigns to a vir- 
tuous and amiable woman a power for good which she can never 
hope to attain elsewhere. In his wildest excitement, a moun- 
taineer respects a woman, and a.mi:hing like an insult offered to 
a lady would be instantly resented, probably with fatal effect, by 
any bystander. Dancing is the great amusement with persons of 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 19 

both sexes, aud we might say of all ages. The comparative dispro- 
portion between the male and female elements of society ensures 
the possessor of personal charms of the most ordinary kind, if 
she be good natured, the greatest attention, and the most liberal 
provision for her wants, whether real or fancied. 

If two men are friends, an insult to one is resented by both, 
an alliance, offensive and defensive, being a necessary condition 
of friendship in the mountains. A popular citizen is safe every- 
where, and any man may be popular that has anything useful 
or genial about him. 

"Putting on style," or the assumption of aristocratic airs, is 
the detestation of everybody. No one but a person lacking sense 
attempts it. It is neither forgotten nor forgiven, and kills a man 
like a bullet. It should also be remembered that no people more 
admire and respect upright moral conduct than do the sojourners 
in mining camps, while at the same time none more thoroughly 
despise hypocrisy in any shape. In fact, good men and good 
women may be as moral and as religious as they choose to be in 
the mining countries, and as happy as human beings can be. Much 
they will miss that they have been used to, and much they will 
receive that none offered them before. 

Money is commonly plentiful ; if prices are high, remuneration 
for work is liberal, and, in the end, care and industry will achieve 
success and procure competence. We have travelled far and seen 
much of the world, and the result of our experience is a love for 
our mountain home that time and change of scene can never 
efface. 



CHAPTER III. 

Settlement of Montana. 

"I hear the tread of pioneers, 
Of nations yet to be ; 
The first low wash of waves, where soon 
Shall roll a human sea." — Whittier. 

Early in the spring of 1862 the rumor of new and rich dis- 
coveries on Salmon River flew through Salt Lake City, Colorado, 
and other places in the Territories. A great stampede was the 
consequence. Faith and hope were in the ascendent among the 
motley crew that wended their toilsome way by Fort Hall and 
Snake River, to the new Eldorado. As the trains approached the 
goal of their desires they were informed that they could not get 
through with wagons, ajid shortly after came the discouraging 
tidings that the new mines were overrun by a crowd of gold-hunt- 
ers from California, Oregon and other western countries ; they 



20 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

were also told, that finding it impossible to obtain either claims 
or labor, large bands of prospectors were already spreading over 
the adjacent territory; and finally, that some new diggings had 
been discovered at Deer Lodge, 

The stream of emigration diverged from the halting-place 
where this last welcome intelligence reached them. Some, turn- 
ing towards Deer Lodge, crossed the mountains, between Fort 
Lemhi and Horse Prairie Creek, and taking a cut-off to the left, 
endeavored to strike the old trail from Salt Lake to Bitter Root 
and Deer Lodge Valleys. These energetic miners* crossed the 
Grasshopper Creek, below the Canon, and finding good prospects 
there, some of the party remained, Avith a view of practically test- 
ing their value. Others went on to Deer Lodge ; but finding that 
the diggings were neither so rich nor so extensive as they had 
supposed, they returned to Grasshopper Creek, afterwards known 
as the Beaver Head Diggings — so named from the Beaver Head 
River, into which the creek empties. The river derives its appel- 
lation from a rock*, which exactly resembles, in its outline, the 
head of a beaver. 

Fi'om this camp — ^the rendezvous of the emigration — started, 
from time to time, the bands of explorers, who first discovered 
and worked the gulches east of the Rocky Mountains, in the 
world-renowned country now the Territory of Montana. Other 
emigrants, coming by Deer Lodge, stinick the Beaver Head dig- 
gings ; then the first party from Minnesota arrived ; after them 
came a large part of the Fisk company who had travelled under 
Gcvernmient escort, from the same State, and a considerable num- 
ber drove through from Salt Lake City and Bitter Root, in the 
early part of the winter, which was very open. 

Among the later arrivals were some desperadoes and outlaws, 
from the mines west of the mountains. In this gang were Henry 
Plummer, afterwards the Sheriff,* Charley Reeves, Mbore and 
Skinner. These worthies had no sooner got the ' ' lay of the coun- 
try," than they commenced operations. Here it may be remarked, 
that if the professed servants of God would only work for their 
Master with the same energy and persistent devotion as the serv- 
ants of the Devil use for their employer, there would be no need 
of a Heaven above, for the earth itself would be a Paradise. 



* John White and party. 

* Not the Point of Rocks. 

* Jeff Durly was Plummer's opponent at this election. Durlev had 
been a .'iheriff in IHinois. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 21 

CHAPTER IV. 

The Road Agents. 

"Thieves for their robbery have authority 
When judges steal themselves." — Shakespeare. 

It may easily be imagined that life in Bannack, in the early 
days of the settlement, was anything but pleasant. The ruffians 
whose advent we have noticed served as a nucleus, around which 
the disloyal, the desperate, and the dishonest gathered, and 
quickly organizing themselves into a band, with captain, lieuten- 
ants, secretary, road agents, and outsidei*s, became the terror of 
the country. The stampede to the Alder Gulch, which occurred 
early in June, 1863, and the discovery of the rich placer diggings 
there, attracted many more of the dangerous classes, who, scent- 
ing the prey from afar, flew like vultures to the battlefield. 

Between Bannack and Virginia a correspondence was con- 
stantly kept up, and the roads throughout the Territory were 
under the surveillance of the "outsiders" before mentioned. To 
such a system were these things brought, that horses, men and 
coaches were marked in some understood manner, to designate 
them as fit objects for plunder, and thus the liers in wait had 
an opportunity of communicating the intelligence to the members 
of the gang, in time to prevent the escape of the victims. 

The usual arms of a road agent were a pair of revolvers, a 
double-barreled shot gun,* of large bore, with the barrels cut down 
short, and to this they invariably added a knife or dagger. Thus 
armed and mounted on fleet, well-trained horses, and being dis- 
guised with blankets and masks, the robbers awaited their prey 
in ambush. When near enough they sprang out on a keen run. 
with levelled shot-guns, and usually gave the word, "Halt! Throw 

up your hands, you sons of b s!" If this latter command 

were not instantly obeyed, there was the last of the offender; 
but, in case he complied, as was usual, one or two sat on their 
horses, covering the party with their guns, which were loaded 
with buck-shot, and one dismounting, disarmed the victims, and 
made them throw their purses on the grass. This being done, 
arid a search for concealed property being effected, away rode 
the robbers, reported the capture and divided the spoils. 

The confession of two of their number, one of whom, named 
Erastus Yager alias Red, was hung in the Stinkingwater Valley, 
put the Committee in possession of the names of the prominent men 
in the gang, and eventually secured their death or voluntary ban- 
ishment. The most noted of the road agents, with a few excep- 



* Plummer's gun is now, (Julv 1st, 1915), in tlip possession of Amede 
Bessette, Bannack. 



22 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

tions, were hanged by the Vigilance Committee, or banished. A 
list of the place and date of execution of the principal members 
of the band is here presented. The remainder of the red calendar 
of crime and retribution will appear after the account of the 
execution of Hunter: 

Names, Place and Date of Execution. 

George Ives, Nevada City, Dec. 21st, 1863 ; Erastus Yager (Red) 
and G. W. Brown, Stinkingwater Valley, January 4th, 1864; 
Henry Plummer, Ned Eay and Buck Stinson, Bannack City, Jan- 
uary 10th, 1864; George Lane (Club-foot George), Frank Parish, 
Haze Lyons, Jack Gallagher and Boone Helm, Virginia City, 
January 14th, 1864 ; Steven Marsland, Big Hole Ranche, January 
16th, 1864; William Bunton, Deer Lodge Valley, January 19th, 
1864; Cyrus Skinner, Alexander Carter and John Cooper, Hell 
Gate, January 25th, 1864; George Shears, Frenchtown, January 
24th, 1864 ; Robert Zachary, Hell Gate, January 25th, 1864 ; Wil- 
liam Graves alias Whiskey Bill, Fort Owens, January 26th, 1864 ; 
William Hunter, Gallatin Valley, February 3d, 1864; John Wag- 
oner (Dutch John) and Joe Pizanthia, Bannack City, January 
11th, 1864. 

Judge Smith and J. Thurmond, the counsel of the road agents, 
were banished. Thurmond brought an action at Salt Lake, 
against Mr. Fox, charging him with aiding in procuring his ban- 
ishment. After some peculiar developments of justice in Uta.h, 
he judiciously withdrew all proceedings, and gave a receipt in 
full of all past and future claims on the Vigilance Committee, in 
which instance he exhibited a wise discretion — 

"It's no for naething the gled whistles." 

The Bannack branch of the Vigilantes also sent out of the 
country H. G. Sessions, convicted of circulating bogus dust, and 
one H. D. Moyer, who furnished a room at midnight for them 
to work in, together with material for their labor. A man named 
Kustar was also banished for recklessly shooting through the 
windows of the hotel opposite his place of abode. 

The circumstances attending the execution of J. A. Slade,* and 
the charges against him, will appear in full in a subsequent part 
of this work. This ease stands on a footing distinct from all 
others. 

Moore and Reeves were banished, as will afterwards appear, 
by a miners' jury, at Bannack, in the winter of 1863, but came 
back in the spring. They fled the country when the Vigilantes 
commenced operations, and are thought to be in Mexico. 



First mentione.J by Mark Twain, in "Roug-hing- It." 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 23 

Charley Forbes was a member of the gang ; but being wounded 
in a scuffle, or a robbery, a doctor was found and taken to where 
he lay. Finding that he was incurable, it is believed that Moore 
and Reeves shot him, to prevent his divulging what he knew of 
the band ; but this is uncertain. Some say he was killed by Moore 
and Reeves, in Red Rock Canyon. 

The headquarters of the marauders was Rattlesnake Ranche.* 
Plummer often visited it, and the robbers used to camp, with 
their comrades, in little wakiups above and below it, watching, 
and ready for fight, flight or plunder. Two rods in front of this 
building was a sign post, at which they used to practise with their 
revolvere. They were capital shots. Plummer was the quickest 
hand with his revolver of any man in the mountains. He could 
draw the pistol and discharge the five loads in three seconds. The 
post was riddled with holes, and was looked upon as quite a curi- 
osity, until it was cut down, in the summer of 1863. 

Another favorite resort of the gang was Dempsey's Cottonwood 
Ranche. The owner knew the character of the robbers, but had 
no connection with them; and, in those days a man's life would 
not have been worth fifteen minutes' purchase, if the possessor 
had been foolish enough even to hint at his knowledge of their 
doings. Daley's,* at Ramshorn Gulch, and ranches or wakiups 
on the Madison and Jefferson, Wisconsin Creek, and Mill Creek, 
were aiso constantly occupied by members of the band. 

By discoveries of the bodies of the victims, the confessions of 
the murderers before execution, and reliable information sent to 
the Committee, it was found that one hundred and two people 
had been certainly killed by those miscreants in various places, 
and it was believed, on the best information, that scores of un- 
fortunates had been murdered and buried, whose remains were 
never discovered, nor their fate definitely ascertained. All that 
was known was that they started, with greater or less sums of 
money, for various places, and were never heard of again. 



CHAPTER V. 
The Dark Days of Montana. 

"Will all Neptune's Ocean wash this blood 
Clean from my hand?" — Macbeth. 

Henry Plummer, a sketch of whose previous career will appear 
in a subsequent part of this narrative, came to Montana Territory 
from Orofino. He and Reeves had there got into a difficulty 

* The Phillips ranch at the crossing of Rattlesnake, on the road from 
Bannack to Deer Lodge. 

* Pete Daley. He was supposed to have known much of the highway- 
men, but would not tell. In old age, he was sent to the insane asylum. 



24 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

with another man, and had settled the matter in the way usual 
in the trade — that is to say, they shot him. 

Plummer — who, it seems, had for a long time contemplated a 
visit to the States — made at once for the river, intending to go 
down by boat ; but finding that he was too late, he came back to 
Gold Creek, and there met Jack Cleveland, an old acquaintance, 
and former partner in crime. They made arrangements to pass 
the winter together at Sun River Farm. Plummer was to attend 
to the chores about the house, and Jack Cleveland was to get the 
wood. The worthy couple, true to their instincts, did not long 
remain in harmony, but quarreled about a young lady, whom 
Plummer afterwards married.* Neither would leave, unless the 
other went also, and at last they both started, in company, for 
Bannack. 

This town originated from the '^ Grasshopper Diggings," which 
were first discovered in the month of July, by John White and a 
small party of prospectors, on the Grasshopper Creek, a tributary 
of the Beaver Head. The discoverer, together with Rudolph 
Dorsett, was murdered by Charley Kelly, in the month of Decem- 
ber, 1863, near the Milk Ranehe, on the road from Virginia City 
to Helena. Wash Stapleton and his party came in a short time 
after, and were soon joined by others, among whom were W. B. 
Dance, S. T. Hauser, James Morley,* Drury Underwood, P. M. 
Thomson, N, P. Langford, James Fergus, John Potter, Judge 
Hoyt and Dr. Hoyt, Chas. St. Clair, David Thompson, Buz Caven,* 
Messrs. Burchett, Morelle, Harby, J. M. Castner, Pat Bray and 
brother, Sturges, Col. McLean,* R. C. Knox, and other well known 
citizens of Montana. The name, ''Bannack," was given to the 
settlement, from the Bannack Indians, the lords of the soil. It 
was the first "mining camp" of any importance, discovered on 
the eastern slope of the Mountains, and as the stories of its won- 
derful richness went abroad, hundreds of scattered prospectors 
flocked in, and before the following spring the inhabitants num- 
bered upwards of a thousand. 

It is probable that there never was a mining town of the same 
size that contained more desperadoes and lawless characters than 
did Bannack, during the vnnter of 1862-3. While a majority of 
the citizens were of the sterling stock, which has ever furnished 
the true American pioneers, there were great numbers of the most 
desperate class of roughs and road agents, who had been roving 
through the mountains, exiles from their former haunts in the 



* Mrs. Plummer left the Territory, and has been lost— certainly an act 
of decency on the part of historians. 

' I ^prley's Diary is in the Historical Society. It is very interesting. 

* Afterward sheriff of Madison County. 

* First delegate to Congress, who beat "W. F. Sanders. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 25 

mining settlements, from which they had fled to avoid the pen- 
alties incurred by the commission of many a fearful crime. These 
men no sooner heard of the rich mines of Bannack, than they at 
once made for the new settlement, where, among strangers, ignor- 
ant of their crimes, they would be secure from punishment, at 
least until their true character should become known. 

During their journey to Bannack, Cleveland often said, when 
a little intoxicated, that Plummer was his meat. On their arrival 
at their destination, they were, in mountain phrase, ' ' strapped ; ' ' 
that is, they were without money or means ; but Cleveland was 
not thus to be foiled ; the practice of his profession furnishing him 
with ample funds, at the cost of a short ride and a pistol cart- 
ridge. In February, 1863, a young man named George Evans, 
having a considerable sum of money on his person, was hunting 
stock belonging to William Bates, beyond Buffalo Creek, about 
eight miles from Bannack, and this man, it is believed, was shot 
by Cleveland, and robbed, as the murderer — who had no money 
at the time — was seen riding close to the place, and the next day 
he had plenty. Evans' partner, Ed Hibbert, got a horse from 
J. M. Castner, and searched for him in vain, returning impressed 
with the belief that he had frozen to death. In a short time, a 
herder named Duke, a partner of Jemmy Spence, was also hunting 
cattle, when he found Evans' clothes tucked into a badger hole. 
A body, which, however, was never fully identified, was found 
naked in the willows, with a shot wound in the right armpit. It 
seems as if the victim had seen a man about to shoot, and had 
raised his arm deprecatingly. 

Shortly after this, Cleveland came in to Groodrich's saloon, and 
said he was chief; that he knew all the d d scoundrels from 
the "other side," and would get even on some of them. A diffi- 
culty arose between him and Jeff. Perkins, about some money 
which the latter owed in the lower country. Jeff, assured him 
that he had settled the debt, and thereupon Jack said, "Well, 
if it's settled, it's all right;" but he still continued to refer to it, 
and kept reaching for his pistol. Plummer, who was present, told 
htm that if he did not behave himself, he would take him in hand, 
for that Jeff, had settled the debt, and he ought to be satisfied. 
Jeff, went home for his derringers, and while he was absent, Jack 
Cleveland boastingly declared that he was afraid of none of them. 

Plummer jumped to his feet instantly, saying, "You d d son 

of a b h, I am tired of this, ' ' and drawing his pistol, he com- 
menced firing at Cleveland.* The first ball lodged in the beam 
overhead, where it still remains. The second struck him below 



• January 14th, 1863. 



26 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

the belt, and he fell to his knees, grasping wildly at his pistol, and 
exclaiming, "Pliimmer, you won't shoot me when I'm down;" 

to which Plummer replied, "No, you d ^d son of a b ^h; 

get up," and, as he staggered to his feet, he shot him a little above 
the heart. The bullet, however, glanced on the rib, and went 
round his body. The next entered below the eye, and lodged in 
his head. The last missile went between Moore and another man, 
who was sitting on the bench. As may be supposed the citizen 
discovered that business called him outside immediately ; and miet 
George Ives, with a pistol in his hand, followed by Reeves, who 
was similarly accoutred for the summary adjustment of ''diffi- 
culties." 

Singular enough it must appear to the inhabitants of settled 
communities, that a man was being shaved in the saloon at the 
time, and neither he nor the operator left off business — custom is 
everything, and fire-eating is demonstrably an acquired habit. 

Ives and Reeves each took Plummer by the ann, and walked 

down the street, asking as they went along: ''Will the d d 

strangling sons of b s hang you now?" 

Hank Crawford was, at this time, boarding with L. W. Daven- 
port, of Bannack, and was somewhat out of health. His host came 
into the room, and said that there was a man shot somewhere 
up town, in a saloon. Crawford immediately went to where the 
crowd had gathered, and found that such was the fear of the 
desperadoes, that no one dared to lift the head of the dying man. 
Hank said aloud, that it was out of the question to leave a man 
in such a condition, and asked, "Is there no one that will take 
him home?" Some answered that they had no room; to which 
he replied, that he had not, either, but he would find a place for 
him; and, assisted by three others, he carried him to his own 
lodging — ^sending a messenger for the doctor. 

The unfortunate man lived about three hours. Before his de- 
cease he sent Crawford to Plummer for his blankets. Plummer 
asked Crawford what Jack had said about him; Crawford told 
him ' ' nothing. " " It is well for him, ' ' said Plummer, " or I would 

have killed the d d son of a b h in his bed." He repeated 

his question several times, very earnestly. Crawford then in- 
formed him that, in answer to numerous inquiries by himself and 
others, about Cleveland's connections, he had said, "Poor Jack 
has got no friends. He has got it, and I guess he can stand it." 
Crawford had him decently buried, but he knew, from that time, 
that Plummer had marked him for destruction, fearing that some 
of Cleveland 's secrets might have transpired, in which case he was 
aware that he would surely be hung at the first opportunity. 

No action was taken about this murder for some time. It re- 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 27 

quired a succession of horrible outrages to stimulate the citizens 
to their first feeble parody of justice. Shooting, duelling and out- 
rage, were, from an early date, daily occurrences in Bannack; 
and many was the foul deed done of which no record has been 
preserA^ed. As an instance of the free and easy state of society at 
this time may be mentioned a ' ' shooting scrape ' ' between George 
Carrhart and George Ives, during the winter of '62-3. The two 
men were talking together in the street, close to Carrhart 's cabin. 
Gradually they seemed to grow angry, and parted, Ives exclaim- 
ing aloud, ''You d d son of a b h, I'll shoot you," and ran 

into a grocery for his revolver. Carrhart stepped into his cabin, 
and came out first, with his pistol in his hand, which he held by 
his side, the muzzle pointing downwards. George Ives came out, 
and turning his back on Carrhart, looked for him in the wrong 
direction — giving his antagonist a chance of shooting him in the 
back, if he desired to do so. Carrhart stood still till Ives turned, 
watching him closely. The instant Ives saw him he swore an oath, 
and raising his pistol, let drive, but missed him by an inch or so, 
the bullet striking the wall of the house, close to which he was 
standing. Carrhart 's first shot was a miss-fire, and a second shot 
from Ives struck the ground. Carrhart 's second shot flashed 
right in Ives' face, but did no damage, though the ball could 
hardly have missed more than a hair's breadth. Carrhart jumped 
into the house, and reaching his hand out, fired at his opponent. 
In the same fashion, his antagonist returned the compliment. 
This was continued till Ives' revolver was emptied — Carrhart 
having one shot left. As Ives walked off to make his escape, 
Carrhart shot him in the back, near the side. The ball went 
through, and striking the ground in front of him, knocked up the 
dust ahead of him. Ives was not to be killed by a shot, and 
wanted to get another revolver, but Carrhart ran off down the 
street. Ives cursed him for a coward "shooting a man in the 
back." They soon made up their quarrels, and Ives went and 

lived with Carrhart, on his ranehe, for the rest of the winter. 

Accidents will happen in the best regulated families, and we 
give a specimen of "casualties" pertaining to life in Bannack 
during this delightful period. Dr. Biddle, of Minnesota, and his 
wife, together with Mr. and Mrs. Short, and their hired man, were 
quietly sitting round their camp fire on Grasshopper Creek, when 
J. M. Castner, thinking that a lady in the peculiar situation of 
Mrs. Biddle would need the shelter of a house, went over to the 
camp, and sitting down, made his offer of assistance, which was 
politely acknowledged, but declined by the lady, on the ground 
that their wagon was very comfortably fitted up. Scarcely were 
the words uttered, when crack ! went a revolver, from the door of 



28 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

a saloon, and the ball went so close to Castner's ear, that it stung 
for two or three days. It is stated that he shifted the position of 
his head with amazing rapidity. Mrs. Biddle nearly fainted and 
became much excited, trembling with terror. Castner went over 
to the house, and saw Cyrus Skinner in the act of laying his revol- 
ver on the table, at the same time requesting a gentleman who was 
playing cards to count the balls in it. He at first refused, saying 
he was busy ; but, being pressed, said, after making a hasty inspec- 
tion, "Well, there are only four." Skinner replied, "I nearly 

frightened the out of a fellow over there. ' ' Castner laid his 

hand on his shoulder, and said, ' ' My friend, you nearly shot Mrs. 
Biddle." Skinner declared that he would not have killed a 
woman "for the world," and swore that he thought it was a 
camp of Indians, which would, in his view, have made the matter 
only an agreeable pastime. He asked Castner to drink, but the 
generous offer was declined. Probably the ball stuck in his 
throat. The Doctor accepted the invitation. These courtesies 
were like an invitation from a Captain to a Midshipman, "No 
compulsion, only you must." 

A little episode may here be introduced, as an illustration of an 
easy method of settling debts mentioned by Shakespeare. The 
sentiment is the Earl of Warwick's. The practical enforcement 
of the doctrine is to be credited, in this instance, to Haze Lyons, 
of the Rocky Mountains, a self-constituted and energetic 
Receiver-General of all moneys and valuables not too hot or too 
heavy for transportation by man or horse, at short notice. The 
' ' King Maker ' ' says : 

"When the debt grows burdensome, and cannot be discharged 
A sponge will wipe out all, and cost you nothing." 

The substitute for the "sponge" above alluded to, is usually, in 
cases like the following, a revolver, which acts effectually, by 
"rubbing out" either the debt or the creditor, as circumstances 
may render desirable. Haze Lyons owed a board bill to a citizen 
of Bannack, who was informed that he had won $300 or $400 by 
gambling the night before, and accordingly asked him for it. He 

replied, "You son of a b h, if you ask me for that again, I'll 

make it unhealthy for you." The creditor generously refrained 
from further unpleasant inquiries, and the parties met again for 
the first time, face to face, at the gallows, on which Haze expiated 
his many crimes. 

The next anecdote is suggestive of one, among many ways of 
incidentally expressing dislike of a man's "style" in business 
matters. Buck Stinson had gone security for a friend, who 
levanted; but was pursued and brought back. A mischievous 
boy had been playing some ridiculous pranks, when his guardian. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 29 

to whom the debt mentioned was due, spoke to him severely, and 
ordered him home. Buck at once interfered, telling the guardian 
that he should not correct the boy. On receiving for answer that 
it certainly would be done, as it was the duty of the boy's pro- 
tector to look after him, he drew his revolver, and thrusting it 

close to the citizen's face, saying "G d d n you, I don't 

like you very well, anyhow," was about to fire, when the latter 
seized the barrel and threw it up. A struggle ensued, and finding 
that he couldn't fire, Stinson wrenched the weapon out of his 
opponent 's hand, and struck him heavily across the muscles of the 
neck, but failed to knock him down. The bar-keeper interfering, 
Stinson let go his hold, and swore he would shoot him ; but he 
was quieted dovoi. The gentleman being warned, made his way 
home at the double-quick, or faster, and put on his revolver and 
bowie, which he wore for fifteen days. At the end of this time, 
Plummer persuaded Stinson to apologize, which he did, and there- 
after behaved with civility to that particular man. 

The wild lawlessness and the reckless disregard for life which 
distinguished the outlaws, who had by this time concentrated at 
Bannack, will appear from the account of the first "Indian trou- 
ble." If the facts here stated do not justify the formation of a 
Vigilance Committee in Montana, then may God help Uncle Sam's 
nephews when they venture west of the river, in search of new 
diggings. In March, 1863, Charley Reeves, a prominent "clerk of 
St. Nicholas," bought a Sheep-eater squaw, but she refused to 
live with him, alleging that she was ill-treated, and went back to 
her tribe, who were encamped on the rise of the hill, south of 
Yankee Plat,* about fifty yards to the rear of the street. Reeves 
went after her, and sought to force her to come back with him, 
but on his attempting to use violence, an old chief interfered. 
The two grappled. Reeves, with a sudden effort, broke from him, 
striking him a blow with his pistol, and, in the scuffle, one barrel 
was harmlessly discharged. 

The next evening, Moore and Reeves, in a state of intoxication, 
entered Goodrich's saloon, laying down two double-barreled shot- 
guns and four revolvers on the counter, considerably to the dis- 
comfiture of the barkeeper, who, we believe, would have sold his 
position very cheap, for cash, at that precise moment, and it is 
just possible that he might have accepted a good offer "on time." 

They declared, while drinking, that if the d d cowardly white 

folks on Yankee Flat were afraid of the Indians, they were not, 
and that they would soon "set the ball a rolling." Taking their 
weapons, they went off to the back of the houses, opposite the 



* On the south side of Grasshopper was a considerable flat. It was 
here that the first town was laid out. 



30 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

camp, and levelling their pieces, they fired into the tepee, wound- 
ing one Indian. They returned to the saloon and got three drinks 
more, boasting of what they had done, and accompanied by Wil- 
liam Mitchell, of Minnesota, and two others, they went back, de- 
termined to complete their murderous work. The three above 
named then deliberately poured a volley into the tepee, with fatal 
effect. Mitchell, whose gun was loaded with an ounce ball and a 
charge of buckshot, killed a Frenchman named Brissette, who had 
run up to ascertain the cause of the first firing — ^the ball striking 
him in the forehead, and the buckshot wounding him in ten dif- 
ferent places. The Indian chief, a lame Indian boy, and a pap- 
poose, were also killed; but the number of the parties who were 
wounded has never been ascertained. John Bumes escaped with 
a broken thumb, and a man named Woods was shot in the groin, 
of which wound he has not yet entirely recovered. This unfor- 
tunate pair, like Brissette, had come to see the cause of the shoot- 
ing, and of the yells of the savages. The murderers being told 
that they had killed white men, Moore replied, with great sang- 
froid, "The d d sons of b s had no business there." 



CHAPTER VI. 

The Trial. 



Desponding fear, of feeble fancies full. 

Weak and unmanly, loosens every power. — ^Thompson. 

The indignation of the citizens being aroused by this atrocious 
and unprovoked massacre, a mass meeting was held the following 
morning to take some action in the premises. Charley Moore and 
Reeves hearing of it, started early in the morning, on foot, to- 
wards Rattlesnake, Henry Plummer preceding them on horseback. 
Sentries were then posted all round the town, to prevent egress, 
volunteers were called for, to pursue the criminals, and Messrs. 
Lear, Higgins, 0. J. Rockwell and Davenport at once followed on 
their track, coming up with them where they had ridden, in a 
thicket of brush, near the creek. The daylight was beginning 
to fade, and the cold was intense when a reinforcement arrived, 
on which the fugitives came out, delivered themselves up, and 
were conducted back to Bannack. 

Plummer was tried and honorably acquitted, on account of 
Cleveland's threats. Mitchell was banished, but he hid around 
the town for awhile, and never went away. Reeves and Moore 
were next tried. Mr. Rheem had promised the evening before to 
conduct the prosecution, and Judge Smith had undertaken the de- 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 31 

fense, when on the morning of the trial. Mr. Rheem announced 
that he was retained for the defense. This left the people without 
any lawyer or prosecutor. Mr. Coply* at last undertook the case, 
but his talents not lying in that direction, he was not successful as 
an advocate. Judge Hoyt, from St. Paul, was elected Judge, and 
Hank Crawford, Sheriff.* Owing to the peculiarly divided state 
of public opinion, it seemed almost impossible to select an impar- 
tial jury from the neighborhood, and therefore a messenger was 
sent to Godfrey's Canon, where X. P. Langford, R. C. KJiox, A. 
Godfrey, and others, were engaged in erecting a saw-mill, request- 
ing them to come down to Bannack and sit on the jury. Messrs. 
Langford and Godfrey came down at once, to be ready for the 
trial the next day. The assembly of citizens numbered about five 
or six hundred, and to them the question was put, "Whether the 
prisoners should be tried by the people en masse, or by a selected 
jury." Some leading men advocated the first plan. N. P. Lang- 
ford and several prominent residents took the other side, and 
argued the necessity for a jury. After several hours' discussion, 
a jury was ordered, and the trial proceeded. At the conclusion 
of the evidence and argument, the case was given to the jury 
without any charge. The Judge also informed them that if they 
found the prisoners guilty, they must sentence them. At the first 
ballot, the vote stood : For death, 1 ; against it. 11. The question 
of the prisoners' gxdlt admitted of no denial. N. P. Langford 
alone voted for the penalty of death. A sealed verdict of banish- 
ment and confiscation of property was ultimately handed to the 
Judge, late in the evening. Moore and Reeves were banished 
from the Territory, but were permitted to stay at Deer Lodge till 
the Range would be passable. 

In the morning the Court again met, and the Judge informed 
the people that he had received the verdict, which he would now 
hand back to the foreman to read. Mr. Langford accordingly 
read it aloud. 

From that time forward a feeling of the bitterest hostility was 
manifested by the friends of Moore, Reeves and Mitchell towards 
all who were prominently connected with the proceedings. 

During the trial, the roughs would swagger into the space 
allotted for the Judge and jury, giving utterance to clearly under- 
stood threats, such as, "I'd like to see the G d d d jury 

that would dare to hang Charley Reeves or Bill Moore," etc.. etc., 
doubtless had fully as much weight with the jury as the evidence 
had. The pretext of the prisoners that the Indians had killed 
some white friends of theirs, in '49. while going to California, 

* Afterward kiUed in trying to take Pizantliia, tlie greaser, Jan. 11th, 1864. 

* Hank Crawford was the first sheriff of Bannack District. 



32 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

was accepted by the majority of the jurors as some sort of justi- 
fication ; but the truth is, they were afraid of their lives — and, it 
must be confessed, not without apparent reason. 

To the delivery of this unfortunate verdict may be attributed 
the ascendency of the roughs. They thought the people were 
afraid of them. Had the question been left to old Californians 
or experienced miners, Plummer, Reeves and Moore would have 
been hanged, and much bloodshed and suffering would have been 
thereby prevented. No organization of the Road Agents would 
have been possible. 



CHAPTER VII. 

Plummer Versus Crawford. 

"I had rather chop this hand off at a blow, 
And with the other fling it at thy face. 
Than bear so low a sail, to strike to thee." 

— Shakespeare — Henky VI. 

Crawford, who was appointed Sheriff at the trial of Moore and 
Reeves, tendered his resignation on two or three different occa^ 
sions ; but was induced to continue in office by the strongest rep- 
resentation of his friends. They promised to stand by him in 
the execution of his duty, and to remunerate him for his loss of 
time and money. The arms taken from Plummer, Reeves and 
Mitchell were sold by Crawford to defray expenses. 

Popular sentiment is shifting and uncertain as a quicksand. 
Shortly after this "Old Tex," one of the gang, collected a miners' 
meeting, and at it it was resolved to give the thieves their arms, 
Plummer and Tex claiming them as their property. The Sheriff 
had to go and get them, paying, at the same time, all expenses, 
including in the list even the board of the prisoners. For his 
services not a cent was ever paid to him. Popular institutions 
are of divine origin. Government by the people en masse is the 
acme of absurdity. 

Cleveland had three horses at the time of his death. One was 
at a ranch at Bannack, and two were down on Big Hole. Craw- 
ford called two meetings, and was authorized to seize Cleveland 's 
property and sell it, in order to reimburse himself for his outlay, 
which was both considerable in amount and various in detail, and 
repay himself for his outlay and expenses of various kinds. He 
went to Old Tex who said that Jack Cleveland had a partner, 
named Terwilliger (another of the gang) who was absent, and 
that he had better leave them, till he came back. One day Craw- 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 33 

ford wanted to go to Beaver Head,* and wished to take one of 
the horses to ride. Tex said it would be wrong to do so. In a 
day or two after, Crawford saw the horse in town and asked Tex 
if it was not the animal. He said, "No, it was not;" but Craw- 
ford, doubting his statement, inquired of a man that he knew 
was perfectly well informed on the subject, and found that it was 
as he supposed, and that the ranchman had brought it in for Tex 
to ride during the journey he contemplated, with the intention of 
meeting of Terwilliger. Crawford ordered the horse back, and 
desired that it should not be given to any one. The man took it 
as directed. When the men were banished, Plummer went to the 
ranch, took the horse and rode it, when escorting the culprits out 
of town. He then brought it back. Crawford, who had charge 
of the horse, asked Hunter if Tex had taken it. He said "No." 

The next evening, Crawford and some acquaintances went 
down to the bakery to take a drink, and there met Plummer, who 
accused him of ordering the horse to be kept from him, which 
he denied, and said he never mentioned his namic. Hunter being 
called by Plummer confirmed the statement. He also observed, 
that he thought that, as Plummer had killed the man, he need not 
wish to take his money and his goods also. Plummer then re- 
marked that Bill Hunter did not stand to what he had said, and 
left the house. He had dared Ci*awford to remain and face 
Hunter's testimony, expecting to raise a row and shoot him. Cl-aw- 
ford accepted the challenge, and, surrounded by his friends, with 
their hands on their six-shooters, awaited his coming. If he had 
moved his hand to his pistol, he would have died on the spot, and 
knowing this, he cooled off. 

The next day he sent word to Crawford, by an old mountaineer, 
that he had been wrongly informed, and that he wished to meet 
him as a friend. He replied that he had been abused without 
cause, and that, if he wanted to see him, he must come himself, 
as he was not going to accept of such apologies by deputy. Plum- 
mer sent word two or three times, to Hank, in the same way, and 
received the same reply ; till at last some of the boys brought them 
together, and they shook hands, Plummer declaring that he 
desired his friendship ever after. 

In a few days, Hank happened to be in a saloon, talking to a 
man who had been fighting, when a suspicious looking individual 
came up to him. and asked what he was talking about. He replied 
that it was none of his business. The man retorted with a chal- 
lenge to fight mth pistols. Hank said, "You have no odds of 
me with a pistol." The fellow offered to fight with fists. Hank 
agreed, and seeing that the man had no belt on, took off his own, 
and laid his pistol in, on the bar. The man stepped back into a 

• Down into Beaverhead VaUey, 25 miles from Bannack. 



34 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

dark corner, and Crawford going up, slapped him across the face. 
He instantly leveled a six-shooter at Crawford, which he had 
concealed; but Hank was too quick, and catching him by the 
throat and hand, disarmed him. Plummer joined the man, and 
together they wrested the pistol from his hand, and made a rush 
at him. Hank and Harry Flegger,* however, kept the pistol in 
spite of them. Harry fetched his friend out, saying, ''Come on, 
Hank; this is no place for you; they are set on murdering you, 
any way." He then escorted him home. The owner of the saloon 
told Crawford afterwards that it was all a plot. That the scheme 
was to entice him out to fight with pistols, and that the gang of 
Plummer 's friends were ready vnth double-barreled shot-guns, 
to kill him, as soon as he appeared. 

Every thing went on quietly for a few days, when Hank found 
he should have to start for Deer Lodge, after cattle.* Plummer 
told him that he was going to Benton. Hank asked him to wait 
a day or two, and he would go with him ; but Plummer started 
on Monday morning, with George Carrhart, before Hank's horse 
came in. When the animals were brought in Hank found that 
private business would detain him, and accordingly sent his 
butcher in place. The next day Plummer, finding that he was 
not going, stopped at Big Hole* and came back. Hank after- 
wards learned that Plummer went out to catch him on the road, 
three different times, but, fortunately, missed him. 

During the week Bill Hunter came to Hank, and pretended that 
he had said something against him. To this Hank replied, that he 
knew what he was after, and added, ' * If you want anything, you 
can get it right straight along." Not being able "to get the drop 
on him" (in mountain phrase), and finding that he could not 
intimidate him, he turned and went off, never afterwards speak- 
ing to Hank. 

On the following Sunday, Plummer came into a saloon where 
Hank was conversing with George Purkins, and addressing the 
latter, said, "George, there's a little matter between you and 
Hank that's got to be settled." Hank said "Well, I don't know 
what it can be," and laughed. Plummer observed, "you needn't 

laugh, G d d— -n you. It's got to be settled." Turning to 

Purkins, he stated that he and Crawford had said he was after 
a squaw, and had tried to court "Catharine." He commenced 
to abuse Purkins, and telling him to "come out," and that he 
was "a cowardly son of a b— -h." He also declared that he 
could "lick" both him and Hank Crawford. George said that he 



* Phleser. 

He was a butcher. 



Birch Cre'ek"'"''' ^* ^ ^°'"* ''^^""^ Browne's bridge, and near the mouth of 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 35 

was a coward, and no fighting man, and that he would not go 
out of doors with anybody. Pkimmer gave the same challenge to 
Hank, and received for a reply, that he was not afraid to go out 
with any man and that he did not believe one man was made to 
scare another. Plummer said "come on," and started ahead of 
Hank towards the street. Hank walked quite close up to him, 
on his guard all the time, and Plummer at once said, "Now pull 
your pistol." Hank refused, saying, "I'll pull no pistol; I never 
pulled a pistol on a man, and you'll not be the first." He then 
offered to fight him in any other way. "I'm no pistol shot," 
he added, "and you would not do it if you hadn't the advantage." 
Plummer said, "If you don't pull your pistol, I'll shoot you like 
a sheep. ' ' Hank quietly laid his hand on his shoulder, and, fixing 
his eyes on him. said slowly and firmly, "If that's what you 
want, the quicker you do it, the better for you," and turning 
round walked off. Plummer dared not shoot without first raising 
a fiLss, knowing that he would be hung. During the altercation 
above narrated. Hank had kept close to Plummer ready for a 
struggle, in case he offered to draw his pistol, well knowing that 
his man was the best and quickest shot in the mountains ; and 
that if he had accepted his challenge, long before he could have 
handled his own revolver, three or four balls would have passed 
through his body. The two men understood one another, at 
parting. They looked into each other's eyes. They were moun- 
taineers, and each man read, in his opponent's face, "Kill me, or 
I'll kill you." Plummer believed that Hank had his secret, and 
one or the other must therefore die. 

Hank went at once to his boarding house, and taking his 
double-barreled shot-gun prepared to go out, intending to find 
and kill Plummer at sight. He was perfectly aware that all at- 
tempts at pacification would be understood as indications of 
cowardice, and would render his death a mere question of the 
goodness of Plummer 's ammunition. Friends, however, inter- 
fered, and Hank could not get away till after they left, late in 
the evening. 

By the way, is it not rather remarkable, that if a man has a 
few friends around him, and he happens to become involved in 
a fight, the aforesaid sympathizers, instead of restraining his 
antagonist, generally hold him, and wrestle all the strength out 
of him, frequently enabling his opponents to strike him while in 
the grasp of his officious backers? A change of the usual pro- 
gramme would be attended with beneficial results, in nine cases 
out of ten. Another suggestion we have to make, with a view 
to preventing actual hostilities, and that is, that when a man 
raves and tears, shouting, "let go," "let me at him," "hold mv 

1151717 



36 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

shirt while I pull off my coat, ' ' or makes other bellicose requests, 
an instant compliance with his demands will at once prevent a 
fight. If two men, also, are abusing one another, in loud and 
foul language, the way to prevent blows is to seize hold of them 
and commencing to strip them for a fight, form a ring. This is 
commonly a settler. No amount of coin could coax a battle out 
of them. Such is our experience of all the loud-mouthed brigade. 
Men that mean "fight" may hiss a few muttered anathemas, 
through clenched teeth ; but they seldom talk much, and never 
bandy slang. 

Hank started and hunted industriously for Plummer, who was 
himself similarly employed, but they did not happen to meet. 

The next miorning. Hank's friend endeavored to prevail upon 
him to stay within doors until noon ; but it was of no avail. He 
knew what was before him, and that it must be settled, one way 
or the other. Report came to him that Plummer was about to 
leave town, which at once put him on his guard. The attempt 
to ensnare him into a fatal carelessness was too evident. 

Taking his gun he went up town, to the house of a friend — - 
Buz Caven. He borrowed Buz's rifle, without remark, and stood 
prepared for emergencies. After waiting some time, he went 
down to the butcher's shop which he kept, and saw Plummer 
frequently; but he always had somebody close beside him, so 
that, without endangering another man's life. Hank could not 
fire. 

He finally went out of sight, and sent a man to compromise, say- 
ing they would agree to meet as strangers. He would never 
speak to Crawford, and Crawford should never address him. 
Hank was too wary to fall into the trap. He sent word back to 
Plummer that he had broken his word once, and that his pledge 
of honor was no more than the wind to him ; that one or the other 
had to suffer or leave. 

A friend came to tell Hank that they were making arrange- 
ments to shoot him in his own door, out of a house on the other 
side of the street. Hank kept out of the door, and about noon, 
a lady, keeping a restaurant, called to him to come and get a 
dish of coffee. He went over without a gun. While he was drink- 
ing the coffee, Plummer, armed with a double-barreled gun, 
walked opposite to his shop door, watching for a shot. A friend, 
Prank Ray, brought Hank a rifle. He instantly levelled at Plum- 
mer, and fired. The ball broke his arm. His friends gathered 

round him, and he said, "some son of a b h has shot me." He 

was then carried off. He sent Hank a challenge to meet him in 
fifteen days; but he paid no attention to a broken armed man's 
challenge, fifteen days ahead. In two days after, while Hank 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 37 

was in Meninghall's store, George Carrhart carae in. Hank saw 
there was mischief in his look, and went up to him at once say- 
ing, "Now, George, I know what you want. You had better go 
slow." Stickney got close to him on the other side, and repeated 
the caution. After a while he avowed that he came to kill him; 
but, on hearing his story, he pulled open his coat, showing his 
pistol ready in the band of his pants, and declared at the same 
time that he would be his friend. Another party organized to 
come down and shoot Crawford, but failed to carry out their in- 
tention. Some of the citizens, hearing of this, offered to shoot 
or hang Plummer, if Crawford would go with them ; but he re- 
fused, and said he would take care of himself. On the 13th of 
March, he started for Wisconsin, riding on horseback to Fort 
Benton. He was followed by three men, but they never came up 
with him, and taking boat at the river he arrived safely at home. 
It was his intention to come out in the Pall, and his brothers sent 
him money for that purpose ; but the coach was robbed, and all 
the letters taken. The money, unfortunately, shared the fate of 
the mail. Crawford was lately living at Virginia City — having 
returned shortly after his marriage in the States. 

The account of the troubles of one man, which we have given 
above, has been inserted with the object of showing the state of 
society which could permit such openly planned and persistent 
outrages, and which necessitated such a method of defense. Craw- 
ford, or any of the others, might as well have applied to the Em- 
peror of China, for redress or protection, as to any civil official. 

The ball which struck Plummer in the arm ran down his bone, 
and lodged in the wrist. After his execution, it was found bright- 
ened by the constant friction of the joint. His pistol hand being 
injured for belligerent purposes, though the limb was saved by 
the skill of the attendant physician — Plummer practised assidu- 
ously at drawing and shooting with his left ; attaining consider- 
able efficiency; but he never equalled the deadly activity and 
precision he had acquired with the other hand, which he still pre- 
ferred to use. 



CHAPTER Vin. 
A Calendar of Crimes. 

The murderer's curse, the dead man's fixed, still glare, 
And fears and death's cold sweat, they all are there. 

Others connected with the mock trial which we have described 
fared badly, being waylaid and cruelly beaten. Mr. Ellis, the 
principal witness, was dogged every time he went to or returned 



38 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

from his claim, and finally was compelled to return to the States. 
He was followed to Fort Benton, a distance of three hundred 
miles, escaping death at the hands of his pursuers by slipping 
away secretly down the river, and hiding till the steamer came 
past when, springing joyfully from his place of concealment, and 
hailing her, he was taken on board. 

N. P. Langford* was an especial object of hatred to them. They 
had counted on his favoring them, at the trial, because he voted 
for a jury ; but when they found that his ballot was cast for the 
death penalty, they vowed vengeance against him, and a gentle- 
man, his particular friend. The latter could never go to his 
claim without a loaded gun and a revolver. Once the roughs had 
the plot all completed for the assassination of Mr. Langford ; but 
accident revealed their preparations and intentions, and, 
through the timely warning of a friend, the conspiracy failed. 
The combination of the comrades of the two gentlemen, which 
embraced the order-loving of the community, was too strong to be 
openly defied by the roughs. The danger of sudden surprise and 
assassination was, however, continued. 

One day, as Langford 's friends were sauntering down the Main 
street, he saw Plummer approaching. He immediately drew a 
small bowie knife from his belt, and began to whittle a billet of 
wood, which he picked up for the purpose. Soon he came face to 
face with Plummer, who, looking with suspicious intelligence at- 
the weapon, asked, "Why do you begin to whittle when you 
meet meV The citizen regarding him with a stern and determined 
look, promptly answered, ' ' Mr. Plummer, you know what opinion 
I hold concerning you and your friends, and I don't never intend 
to let you get the advantage of me. I don't want to be shot down 
like a dog." 

Finding that Mitchell had not gone away from town, a great 
many citizens thought it would be the height of injustice to keep 
Moore and Reeves away at Hell Gate, where the snow prevented 
the passage of the mountains, and, on Sunday, a miners' meeting 
was called, at which their sentence was remitted, by vote, and 
they accordingly came back. 

An attempt had also been made before this to rob the store 
of Messrs. Higgins & Worden, of Deer Lodge ; but the proprietors 
got word in time to hide the safe. 

The Walla Walla Express was robbed by the band of road 
agents. Plummer directed this affair, and it is thought Long 
John had some share in it. The men actually engaged in it are 
not knoAvn. 



* Author of "Vigilante Days and Ways." 




ifm^itj 



% 




E3i Is 







r -„ 



i I 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 39 

A Mr. Davenuport and his wife were going to Benton, from 
Bannack, intending to proceed by steamboat to the States. While 
taking a lunch at Rattlesnake, a man masked in black suddenly 
came out of the willows, near which they were camped, and de- 
manded their money. Davenport said he had none ; the fellow 
laughed, and replied that his wife had, and named the amount. A 
slight application of a Colt's corkscrew, which was pointed at 
Davenport's head, brought forth his money, and he was ordered, 
on pain of death, not to go back to Bannack at once, but to leave 
his wife somewhere ahead. This Davenport promised, and per- 
formed, after which he returned, and obtained some money from 
the citizens to assist him in his necessity. His wife proceeded to 
the States, where she arrived in safety. Davenport never knew 
who robbed him. The house of a Frenchman, named Le Grau, 
who kept a bakery and blacksmith shop at the back of Main 
street, Bannack, was broken into, and everji:hing that could be 
found was stolen, after which the robbers threw the curtains into 
a heap and tried to burn down the house, but they failed in this. 
The greater part of the owner's money was, fortunately, hidden, 
and that they missed. 

We have before spoken of Geo. Carrhart. He was a remark- 
ably handsome man, well educated, and it has been asserted that 
he was a member of one of the Western Legislatures. His man- 
ners were those of a gentleman, when he was sober; but an un- 
fortunate love of whiskey had destroj^ed him.* On one or two 
occasions, when inebriated, he had ridden up and down the 
street, with a shot-gun in his hand threatening everybody. He 
was extremely generous to a friend, and would make him a pres- 
ent of a horse, an interest in a ranch, or indeed, of anything that 
he thought he needed. His fondness for intoxicating liquors threw 
him into bad company, and caused his death. 

One day, while sleeping in Skinner's saloon,* a young man of 
acknowledged courage, named Dick Sap, was playing '"poker" 
with George Banefield, a gambler, whose love of money was con- 
siderably in excess of his veneration for the eighth commandment. 
For the purpose of making a "flush," this worthy stole a card. 
Sap at once accused him of cheating, on which he jumped up, 
drew his revolver, and levelled at Sap, who was unarmed. A 
friend supplied the necessary weapon, and quick as thought Sap 
and Banefield exchanged all their shots, though, strange to say, 
without effect, so far as they were personally concerned. 

The quarrel was arranged after some little time, and then it 



* "When they settled up his estate, the following' account was pre- 
sented: T pair of boots. $20.00; money loaned, $20.00; whisky, $40.00. 

* See Cut — the small house. The larg-er, Goodrich House, oldest hotel 
in Bannack. 



40 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

was found that Buz Caven's dog-, "Toodles," which was under 
the table, had been struck by three balls, and lay there dead. A 
groan from Carrhart attracted attention, and his friends looking 
at him, discovered that he had been shot through the bowels, acci- 
dentally, by Banefield. Instantly Moore called to Reeves and 
Forbes, who were present, "Boys, they have shot Carrhart; let's 
kill them," and raising his pistol, he let fly twice at Sap's head. 
Sap threw up his hands, having no weapon, and the balls came 
so close that they cut one little finger badly, and just grazed the 
other hand. The road agents fired promiscuously into the retreat- 
ing crowd, one ball wounding a young man, Goliath Reilly, pass- 
ing through his heel. Banefield was shot below the knee, and 
felt his leg numbed and useless. He, however, dragged himself 
away to a place of security, and was attended by a skillful physi- 
cian ; but, refusing to submit to amputation, he died of mortifica- 
tion. 

In proof of the insecurity of life and property in places where 
such desperadoes as Plummer, Stinson, Ray and Skinner make 
their headquarters, the following incident may be cited: 

Late in the spring of '63, Winnemuck, a warrior chief of the 
Bannacks, had come in with his band, and had camped in the 
brush, about three fourths of a mile above the town. Skinner and 
the roughs called a meeting, and organized a band for the purpose 
of attacking and murdering the whole tribe. The leaders, how- 
ever, got so drunk that the citizens became ashamed, and dropped 
off by degrees, till they were so few that the enterprise was aban- 
doned. A half-breed had, in the miean time, warned Winnemuck, 
and the wily old warrior lost no time in preparing for the recep- 
tion of the party. He sent his squaws and pappooses to the rear, 
and posted his warriors, to the number of three or four hundre(«l, 
on the right side of the canyon, in such a position that he could 
have slaughtered the whole command at his ease. This he fully 
intended to do, if attacked, and also to have sacked the town and 
killed every white in it. This would have been an achievement 
requiring no extraordinary effort, and had not the drunkenness 
of the outlaws defeated their murderous purpose, would undoubt- 
edly have been accomplished. In fact, the men whom the Vigil- 
antes afterward executed were ripe for any villainy, being god- 
less, fearless, worthless, and a terror to the community. 

In June of the same year, the report came in that Joe Carrigan, 
William Mitchell, Joe Brown, Smith, Indian Dick, and four others 
had been killed by the Indians, whom they had pursued to recover 
stolen stock, and that overtaking them, they had dismounted and 
fired into their tepees. The Indians attacked them when their 
pieces were emptied, killed the whole nine, and took their stock. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 41 

Old Snag, a friendly chief, came into Bannack with his band, 
immediately after this report. One of the tribe — a. brother-in-law 
of Johnny Grant, of Deer Lodge — was fired at by Haze Lyons, 
to empty his revolver, for luck, on general principles, or for his 
pony — it is uncertain which. A number of citizens, thinking it 
was an Indian fight, ran out, and joined in the shooting. The 
savage jumped from his horse, and, throwing down his blanket, 
ran for his life, shouting "Good Indian." A shot wounded him in 
the hip. (His horse's leg was broken.) But, though badly hurt, 
he climbed up the mountain and got away, still shouting as he 
ran "Good Indian," meaning that he was friendly to the whites. 
Carroll, a citizen of Bannack, had a little Indian girl living with 
him, and Snag had called in to see her. Carroll witnessed the 
shooting we have described, and running in, he informed Snag, 
bidding him and his son ride off for their lives. The son ran out 
and jumped on his horse. Old Snag stood in front of the door, 
on the edge of the ditch, leaning upon his gun, which was in a 
sole leather case. He had his lariet in his hand, and was talking 
to his daughter, Jemmy Spence's squaw, named Catharine. Buck 
Stinson, without saying a word, walking to within four feet of 
him, and drawing his revolver, shot him in the side. The Indian 
raised his right hand and said, "Oh! don't." The answer was 
a ball in the neck, accompanied by the remark, enveloped in oaths, 
"I'll teach you to kill whites," and then again he shot him 
through the head. He was dead when the first citizen attracted 
by the firing ran up. Carroll, who was standing at the door, 
called out, ' ' Oh, don 't shoot into the house ; you '11 kill my folks. ' ' 
Stinson turned quickly upon him and roared out, with a volley 
of curses, topped off with the customary expletive form of ad- 
dress adopted by the roughs, "Put in your head, or I "11 shoot the 
top of it off." Cyrus Skinner came up and scalped the Indian. 
The band scattered in flight. One who was behind, being 
wounded, plunged into the creek, seeking to escape, but was 
kiUed as he crawled up the bank, and fell among the willows. He 
was also scalped. The remainder of them got away, and the 
chief's son, checking his horse at a distance, waved to the men 
who had killed his father to come on for a fight, but the bullets 
beginning to cut the ground about him, he turned his horse and 
fled. 

"While the firing was going on, two ladies were preparing for 
a grand ball supper in a house adjoining the scene of the murder 
of Snag. The husband of one of them being absent, cutting house 
logs among the timber, his Avife. alarmed for his safety, ran out 
with her arms and fingers extended with soft paste. She jumped 
the ditch at a bound, her hair streaming in the wind, and shouted 



42 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

aloud, ' ' Where 's Mr. — ? Will nobody fetch me my husband ? ' ' 
We are happy to relate that the object of her tender solicitude 
turned up uninjured, and if he was not grateful for this display 
of affection, we submit to the ladies, without any fear of contra- 
diction, that he must be a monster. 

The scalp of old Snag, the butchered chief, now hangs in a 
banking house, in Salt Lake City. 

We have recorded a few, among many, of the crimes and out- 
rages that were daily committed in Bannack. The account is pur- 
posely literal and exact. It is not pleasant to write of blasphem- 
ous and indecent language, or to record foul and horrible crimes ; 
but, as the anatomist must not shrink from the corpse, which 
taints the air as he investigates the symptoms and examines the 
results of disease, so, the historian must either tell the truth for 
the instruction of mankind, or sink to the level of a mercenary 
panderer, who writes, not to inform the people, but to enrich 
himself. 



CHAPTER IX. 

Perils of the Road. 

"I'll read you mattei" deep and dangerous, 
As full of peril and adventurous spirit, 
As to o'erwalk a current, roaring loud. 
On the unsteadfast footing of a spear." — Shak. 

On the 14th day of November, 1863, Sam T. Hauser.* and N. 
P. Langford started for the States, in company with seven or 
eight freighters. Owing to some delay in their preparations, they 
were not ready to start at the hour proposed (twelve o'clock m.), 
and after considerable urging, they prevailed upon one of the 
freighters to delay his departure till five o'clock p. m., repre- 
senting to him that by driving during part of the night, they 
would be enabled to overtake the rest of the train at Horse 
Prairie, where they were to camp for the night. These arrange- 
ments were all made at the store of George Chrisman, where 
Plummer had his office, and consequently their plans for depar- 
ture were all known to this arch-villain. 

During that afternoon it was reported in Bannack that a silver 
lode had been discovered, and Plummer, whose residence in 
Nevada had given him some reputation as a judge of silver ores, 
was requested to go out and examine it. Plummer had, on several 
occasions, been sent for to go out and make minute examinations, 
and it had never been surmised that his errands on these occa- 



* Afterwards to become Governor of Montana. 



THE VIGILAMTES OF MONTANA 43 

sions were different from what they purported to be. This 
notice to Plummer that a "silver lode" had been discovered, was 
the signal that the occasion demanded the presence of the chief 
of the gang, who was needed to head some marauding expedi- 
tion that required a skillful leader, and promised a rich booty 
as the reward of success. Plummer always obeyed it, and, in this 
instance, left Bannack a little while after noon, taking a northerly 
direction towards Rattlesnake ; but, after getting out of town, he 
changed his course and went south, towards Horse Prairie. 

Before leaving Bannack, he presented Mr. Hauser with a 
woolen scarf, telling him that he would ''find it useful on the 
journey these cold nights." 

The two gentlemen did not complete their arrangements for 
starting till half past seven in the evening ; and, as they were 
about leaving Hauser 's cabin, a splash, caused by the fall of some 
heavy body in the water, and calls for assistance were heard from 
the brow of the hill, south of Bannack. Upon going to the spot, 
it was found that Henry Tilden, in attempting to cross the Ban- 
nack Ditch, had missed the bridge, and his horse had fallen upon 
him in the water. On being relieved from: his dangerous situa- 
tion, he went to the house of Judge (now Governor) Edgerton, 
and reported that he had been robbed by three men — one of 
whom was Plummer — between Horse Prairie and Bannack. After 
he had detailed the circumstances, the greatest anxiety was felt 
for the safety of Messrs. Langford and Hauser, who, it was gen- 
erally supposed, had started at five o 'clock on the same road. 

The unconscious wayfarers, however, knew nothing of the mat- 
ter, but they were, nevertheless, on the alert all the time. Hauser 
had that morning communicated to his friend Langford, his sus- 
picion that they were being watched, and would be followed by 
the road agents, with the intention of plundering them, and while 
Langford was loading his gun with twelve revolver balls in each 
barrel, George Dart* asked him why he was ''filling the gun- 
barrel so full of lead;" to which Langford replied, that if they 
had any trouble with the road agents, it would be on that night. 
So well satisfied were they that an attack upon them was con- 
templated, that they carried their guns in their hands, ready 
cocked, throughout the whole journey to Horse Prairie, a distance 
of twelve miles, but they saw nothing of the ruffians who robbed 
young Tilden. 

It is supposed that Plummier and his gang had concluded that 
the non-appearance of the party was owing to the knowledge of 
what had happened in the afternoon and that they were not com- 



* Later to become the first hardware merchant in Dillon. His sons 
succeed him. 



44 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

ing- out at all, that night. This is the more probable, from the 
fact that Tilden arrived home in time to have communicated the 
story of his robbery to them before they started, and the freighter 
^vith whom they took passage had told them that morning, in the 
presence of Plummer, that he would leave them behind if they 
were not ready to start by five o'clock p. m. It is not to be 
thought that Plummer would have risked a chance of missing 
them, by robbing Tilden of so small an amount of $10, unless he 
had felt sure that they would start at the time proposed. It is 
also likely that, as his intended victims did not make their ap- 
pearance, he feared that the citizens of Bannack might turn out 
in search of the road agents who had attacked Tilden, and that 
it woi:!ld be prudent to return home by a circuitous route, which 
he did. One thing is certain, when they missed them, Plummer 
went, in hot haste, to Langford's boarding house, to inquire 
whether he was gone, and on receiving an answer in the affirma- 
tive, rode off at once in pursuit. 

In the wagon with Langford and Hauser was a third passen- 
ger — a stranger to the rest of the party — who had sent forward 
his blankets by one of the vehicles which left at noon, and on 
his arrival at camp, he found them appropriated by some of the 
party, who had given up all ideas of seeing the others before 
morning, and had lain down for the night. 

Rather than disturb the sleepers, Langford directed his fellow 
traveler, who was in delicate health, to occupy the wagon with 
Hauser, while he himself took a buffalo robe and made a bed- 
stead of mother earth. 

The night was a cold one, and becoming chilled through Lang- 
ford arose and at first walked briskly up and down by the camp, 
in order to warm himself. After awhile, he turned his steps to- 
wards the creek, which was about one hundred and fifty yards 
distant, but with the instinctive caution engendered by a resi- 
dence in the mountains, he armed himself with his trusty ' ' double- 
barrel," and then, with his thoughts wandering to other scenes 
and other days, he slowly sauntered by the rippling waters. 

His musings were brought to a sudden close by the murmur of 
voices, borne on the breeze, accompanied by the well-known tramp 
of horses at speed. The banks of the rivulet were lined with wil- 
lows, and lay in deep shadow, except where an opening in the 
thicket disclosed the prairie that lay beyond, sleeping peacefully 
in the moonlight. Drawing aside the bushes he saw three 
mounted men in the act of passing one of these avenues at the 
gallop. Roused to a sense of danger, he cocked his gun and fol- 
lowed them down stream, to a place where an interval between 
the thickets that lined both sides of the creek gave him a good 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 45 

sight of the night rangers, and stood in full view, his piece lying 
in the hollow of his hand, ready for instant service. 

As soon as he emerged from the shelter of the willows, and the 
horsemen became aware of his presence, they stopped for a few 
minutes, and then bore away down the valley. Determined to see 
the end of the matter, and having the brush for cover, while his 
friends were still within hail, if needed, the watcher pushed on 
for two hundred yards and wading to the other bank, he had no 
sooner reached the top, than he saw four men at that moment 
mounting their horses. No sooner did they observe him than they 
drove their spurs into their horses' flanks, and started on a run 
for Bannack. These men were Plummer, Buck Stinson, Ned Ray 
and George Ives, who, on their return to the town by another 
road, after the robbery of Tilden, having found, as before related, 
that Langford and Hauser had really gone, followed at once upon 
their track. 

But for the providential circumstances connected with the 
chance appropriation of the blankets, and the consequent sleep- 
ing of Langford on the ground, together with his accidental ap- 
pearance with his gun in his hand, as if on guard — the whole 
party would have been murdered, as it was kno-wTi to their pur- 
suers that they had a considerable amount of treasure with them. 

The scarf which Plummer presented to Hauser was given for 
the purpose of enabling the cunning robber to identify his man 
by night. 

It is a somewhat singular coincidence that Plummer was hung 
on the next birthday of Hauser (the 10th of January, 1864). 

The party proceeded on their journey without interruption, 
and on their arrival at Salt Lake City they were besieged by their 
acquaintances with inquiries concerning several parties who were 
known to have preceded them on the road thither by about a 
week; but the unfortunate objects of their solicitude never 
reached their destination, or were afterwards heard of. They 
sleep in bloody graves ; but where, how, and when they met their 
death, at the hands of the road agents, will probably never be 
known. The fate that could not be avoided was nevertheless 
avenged. 



CHAPTER X. 



The Repulse. 

"Though few the numbers — theirs the strife. 
That neither spares nor speaks for life." — -Byron. 

In the present and succeeding chapters will be found accounts 

of actual experiences with road agents, in the practice of their 



46 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

profession. The exact chronological order of the narrative has, 
in these cases, been broken in upon, that the reader may have a 
correct notion of what an attack by road agents usually was. We 
shall show at a future time what it too often became when blood- 
shed was added to rapine. As the facts related are isolated, the 
story is not injured by the slight anachronism. 

About three weeks after the occurrences recorded in the last 
chapter, M. S. Moody (Milt Moody) , with three wagons, started 
in company vsdth a train of packers, for Salt Lake City. Among 
the latter were John McCormick, Billy Sloan, J. S. Rockfellow,* 
J. M. Bozeman, Henry Branson and M. V. Jones. 

In the entire caravan there was probably from $75,000 to 
$80,000 in gold, and it must not be supposed that such a splendid 
prize could escape the lynx-eyed vigilance of the road agents. 

Plummer engaged Dutch John and Steve Marshland for the 
job, and his selection was not a bad one, so far as Dutch John 
was concerned, for a more courageous, stalwart or reckless des- 
perado never threw spurs on the flanks of a cayuse, or cried 
"Halt !" to a true man. Steve Marshland was a bold fellow when 
once in action ; but he preferred what mountaineers call a ' ' soft 
thing" to an open onslaught. This unprofessional weakness not 
only saved the lives of several whom we are proud to call friends, 
but ensured his own and his friends' capture and death at the 
hands of the Vigilantes. 

In Black Tail Deer Canyon the party were seated at breakfast, 
close to a sharp turn in the road, when they heard two men con- 
versing, close at hand, but hidden by the brush. Says the "first 
robber." "You take my revolver and I'll take yours, and you 
come on right after me. ' ' Every man found his gun between his 
knees in less than no time, and not a few discovered, that their 
revolvers were cocked. Pulsation became more active, and heads 
were "dressed" towards the corner. In a few moments Dutch 
John and Steve Marshland rode round the bend, with their shot- 
guns ready. On seeing the party prepared to receive them they 
looked confused and reined up. Steve Marshland recognized Billy 
Sloan, and called out, "How do you do, Mr. Sloan?" to which 
Billy replied, " Very well, thank you. " The last two words have 
been a trouble to Sloan ever since, being too figurative for his 
conscience. By way of excuse for their presence, the road agents 
asked if the party had seen any horses, and whether they had any 
loose stock, saying that they had been infoi-med by some half- 
breeds that the animals which they claimed to be lost had been 
Math their train. A decided negative vouchsafed, they rode on. 

* Afterward a merchant in Virginia and Bannack. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 47 

The robbers did not expect to come upon them so soon, and 
were not masked. But for this fact, and the sight of the weapons 
on hand for use, if required, the train would have been relieved 
of the responsibilitj' attaching to freighting treasure in those 
days without any delay. 

Little did the party imagine that the safety of their property 
and their lives hung upon a thread, and that, the evening before, 
the ''prudence'' of Steve Marshland had saved six or eight of 
the party from unexpected death. Yet so it was. Wagner and 
Marshland had followed their trail, and hitching their steeds to 
the bush, with their double-barrelled guns loaded with buckshot, 
and at full cock, they crawled up to within fifteen feet of the 
camp, and leisurely surveyed them by the light of the fire. 
The travellers lay around in perfect ignorance of the prox- 
imity of the road agents; their guns were everywhere but where 
they ought to be, and, without a sentry to warn them of the 
approach of danger, they carelessly exposed themselves to death, 
and their property to seizure. 

Wagner's proposal was that he and Marshland should select 
their men, and kill four with their shot-guns ; that then thej^ 
should move quickly around, and keep up a rapid fire with their 
revolvers, shouting loudly at the same time, to make them be- 
lieve that they were attacked by a large concealed force. There 
was no fear of their shooting away all their charges, as the arms 
of the men who would inevitably fall would be at their disposal, 
and the chances were a hundred to one that the remainder would 
take to flight, and leave their treasure — -for a considerable time 
at all events — within reach of the robbers. Steve, however, 
"backed down," and the attack was deferred till the next day. 

It was the custom of the packers to ride ahead of the train to- 
wards evening, in order to select a camping place, and it was 
while the packers were thus separated from the train that the 
attack on the wagons took place. 

On top of the divide, between Red Rock and Junction, the rob- 
bers rode up to the wagons, called on them to halt, and gather- 
ing the drivers together, Dutch John sat on his horse, covering 
them with his shot-gun, while Steve dismounted and searched 
both them and their wagons. 

Moody had slipped a revolver into his boot, which was not de- 
tected ; $100 in greenbacks, which were in his shirt pocket, were 
also unnoticed. The material wealth of Kit Erskine and his com- 
rade driver appeared to be represented by half a plug of tobacco 
for the preservation of which Kit pleaded ; but Steve said it was 
"just what he wanted," and appropriated it forthwith. 

After attending to the men, Steve went for the wagons, which 



48 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

he searched, cutting open the carpet sacks, and found $1,500 in 
treasury notes ; but he missed the gold, which was packed on the 
horses, in cantinas. In the hind wagon was a sick man named 
Kennedy, with his comrade. Lank Forbes; but the nerves of the 
first mentioned gentleman were so unstrung that he could not 
pull trigger when Steve climbed up and drew the curtain. Not 
so with Forbes. He let drive and wounded Steve in the breast. 
With an oath and a yell Steve fell to his knees, but recovered, and 
jumping down from the wagon again fell, but rose and made, 
afoot, for the tall timber, at an amazing speed. The noise of the 
shot frightened Dutch John's horse, which reared as John dis- 
charged both barrels at the teamsters, and the lead whizzed past 
just over their heads, Moody dropped his hand to his boot, and 
seizing the revolver, opened fire on Dutch John, who endeavored 
to increase the distance between him and the wagons to the best 
of his horse 's ability. 

Three balls were sent after him, one of which took effect in his 
shoulder. Had Moody jumped on Marshland's horse and pursued 
him, he could have killed him easily, as the shot-gun was at his 
saddle bow. These reflections and suggestions, however, occur 
more readily to a man sitting in an easy chair, than to the major- 
ity of the unfortunate individuals who happen to be attacked by 
masked highwaymen. 

John's wound and Marshland's were proof conclusive of their 
guilt when they were arrested. John made for Bannack and was 
nursed there. Steve Marshland was taken care of at Deer Lodge. 

The packers wondered what had become of the wagons, and, 
though their anxiety was relieved, yet their astonishment was in- 
creased when, about three o'clock p. m. Moody rode up and in- 
formed them that his train had been attacked by road agents, who 
had been repulsed and wounded. 

Steve's horse, arms and equipage, together with twenty pounds 
of tea, found lying on the road, which had been stolen from a 
Mormon train previously, were, as an acquaintance of our ex- 
presses it, "confiscated." 

J. S. Roekfellow and two others rode back, and striking the 
trail of Steve, followed it till eleven P. M. When afterwards ar- 
rested, this scoundrel admitted that they were within fifteen feet 
of him at one time. 

On the ground they found scattered along the trail of the fugi- 
tive robber all the stolen packages and envelopes, containing 
Treasury notes; so that he made nothing by his venture except 
frozen feet ; and he lost his horse, arms and traps. J. X. Beldler 
met Dutch John, and bandaged up his frozen hands, little know- 
ing who his frigid acquaintance was. He never tells this story 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 49 

without observing, "That's just my darned luck;" at the same 
time polishing the butt of his "navy" with one hand, and scratch- 
ing his head with the other, his grey eye twinkling like a star 
before rain with mingled humor and intelligence. 

Lank Forbes claimed the horse and accoutrem»ents of Steve as 
the lawful spoil of his revolver, and the reward of his courage. 
A demurrer was taken to this by Milt Moody, who had done the 
agreeable to Dutch John, and the drivers put in a mild remon- 
strance on their own behalf, on the naval principle that all ships 
in sight share in the prize captured. They claimed that their 
"schooners" were entitled to be represented by the "steersmen." 
The subject afforded infinite merriment to the party at every 
camp. At last a judge was elected, a jury was empaneled, and 
the attorneys harangued the judicial packet's. The verdict was 
that Lank should remain seized and possessed of the property 
taken from the enemy, upon payment of $20 to each of the team- 
sters, and $30 to Milt, and thereupon the court adjourned. The 
travellers reached Salt Lake City in safety. 



CHAPTER XI. 

The Robbery of Peabody & Caldwell's Coach. 

"On thy dial write, 'Beware of thieves'."^ — O. W. Holmes. 

Late in the month of October, 1863, the sickness of one of the 
drivers making it necessary to procure a substitute, William 
Kumsey was engaged to take the coach to Bannack. In the stage, 
as passengers, were Messrs. Matteson, Percival and Wilkinson. 
After crossing the hills in the neighborhood of Virginia City it 
began to snow furisously, and the storm continued without abate- 
ment, till they arrived within two miles of John Baker's Eanch, 
on Stinkingwater, a stream which owes its euphonious appellation 
to the fact that the mountaineers who named it found on its banks 
the putrifying corpses of Indians, suspended horizontally, accord- 
ing to their usual custom, from a framework of poles. 

The corral at the station was found to be empty, and men were 
despatched to hunt up the stock. The herdsmen came back at 
last with only a portion of Peabody & Caldwell's horses, the re- 
mainder belonging to A. J. Oliver & Co. This detained them two 
hours, and finding that they could do no better, they hitched up 
the leaders, that had come in with the coach, and putting on two 
of Oliver's stock for wheelers, they drove through to Bob Derap- 
sey's on a run, in order to make up for lost time. 



50 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

At this place they took on board another passenger, Dan 
McFadden,* more familiarly known as "Bummer Dan." The 
speed was maintained all the way to Point of Rocks, then called 
Copeland's Ranch. There they again changed horses, and being 
still behind time, they went at the gallop to Bill Bunton's Ranch, 
on Rattlesnake, at which place they arrived about sunset. 

Here they discovered that the stock had been turned loose an 
hour before their arrival, the people stating that they did not ex- 
pect the coach after its usual time was so long passed. Rumsey 
ordered them to send a man to gather up the team, which was 
done, and at dark the fellow came back, saying that he could not 
find them anywhere. The consequence was that they were 
obliged to lie over for the night. This was no great affliction ; 
so they spent the time drinking whiskey in mountain style — ^Bill 
Bunton doing the honors and sharing the grog. They had sense 
enough not to get drunk, being impressed with a seasonable con- 
viction of the probability of the violation of the rights of prop- 
erty, if such should be the case. The driver had lost a pair of 
gauntlet gloves at the same place before. At daylight all arose, 
and two herders went out for the stock. One of them came back 
about eight o'clock, and said that the stock was gone. A little 
before nine o'clock the other herder came in with the stock that 
had hauled the coach over the last route. 

The only way they could manage was to put on a span of the 
coach horses, with two old "plugs" for the wheel. The whole 
affair was a plan to delay the coach, as the horses brought in 
were worn-down stock, turned out to recruit, and not fit to put 
in harness. During the previous evening Bob Zachary, who 
seemed a great friend of Wilkinson's, told them that he had to go 
on horseback to Bannack, and to take a spare horse with him, 
which he wanted him to ride. The offer was not accepted at that 
time, but in the morning Bob told him that he must go, for he 
could not bring the horse along by himself. The miserable team 
being brought out and harnessed up, Oliver's regular coach and 
an extra one came in sight, just at the creek crossing. Soon 
Rumsey shouted, "all aboard," the other stages came^up, and 
all the passengers of the three vehicles turned in, on the mutual 
consolation principle, for a drink. Rumsey who sat still on the 
box, called, "All aboard for Bannack," and all took their seats 
but Wilkinson, who said he had concluded to go with Bob Zach- 
ary. Bill Bunton came out with the bottle and the glass, and 
Mnve Rumsey a drink, saying that he had not been in with the 
rest, telling him at the same time that he was going to Bannack 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 51 

himself, and that he wanted them to wait till he had got through 
with the rest of the passengers, for that then he would go with 
them. While Bunton was in the house, Rumsey had been profes- 
sionally swinging the whip, and found his arm so lame from the 
exercise of the day before that he could not use it. He thereupon 
asked the boys if any of them were good at whipping, but they 
all said "No." It was blustering, cold and cloudy — blowing 
hard ; they let down the curtains. Finally, Bunton appeared, and 
Eumsey said, "Billy, are you good at whipping?" To which he 
answered, "Yes," and getting up whipped away, while Rumsey 
drove. A good deal of this kind of work was to be done, and 

Bunton said he was "a d d good whipper. " They crossed 

the creek and went on the table land at a run. The horses, how- 
ever, soon began to weaken, Bunton whipping heavily, his object 
being to tire the stock. Rumsey told him to "ease up on them," 
or they would not carry them through. Bunton replied that the 
wheelers were a pair that had "played out" on the road, and 
had been turned out to rest. He added that if they were put 
beyond a walk they would fail. They went on at a slow trot to 
the gulch, and there fell into a walk, when Bunton gave up the 
whip, saying that Rumsey could do the little whipping necessary 
and got inside. He sat down on a box beside Bummer Dan. 
Percival and Madison were on the fore seat, with their backs to 
the driver. 

The stage moved on for about four minutes after this, when 
the coachman saw two men wrapped in blankets, with a hood 
over their heads, and a shot-gun apiece. The moment he saw 
them it flashed through his mind, "like gunpowder" (as he after- 
ward said), that they were road agents, and he shouted at the top 
of his voice, "Look:! look! boys! See what's a-coming! Get 
out your arms!" Each man looked out of the nearest hole, but 
Matteson, from his position, was the only man that had a view 
of them. They were on full run for the coach, coming out of a 
dry gulch, ahead and to the left of the road, which ran into the 
main canyon. He instantly pulled open his coat, threw off his 
gloves, and laid his hand on his pistol, just as they came up to 
the leaders, and sang out, "Up wid your hands," in a feigned 
voice and dialect. Rumsey pulled up the horses ; and they again 

shouted. "Up with your hands, you " (See formula.) At 

that Bill Bunton cried imploringly, "Oh, for God's sake, men, 
don't kill one." (He was stool-pitching* a little, to teach the rest 
of the passengers what to do.) "For God's sake, don't kill me. 
You can have all the money I've got." Matteson was just going 



* Acting as stool pigeon. 



52 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

for his pistol, when the road agents again shouted, ' ' Up wid your 
hands," etc., "and keep them up." Bunton went at his prayers 
again, piteously exclaiming, "Oh! for God's sake, men, don't 
kill me. Ill come right to you. You can search me; I've got no 
arms." At the same time he commenced getting out on the same 
side of the coach as they were. 

The road agents then roared out, "Get down, every 

of you, and hold up your hands, or we'll shoot the first of you 
that puts them down." The passengers all got down in quick 
time. The robbers then turned to Rumsey, and said, ' ' Get down, 

you " (as usual), "and take off the passengers' arms." This 

did not suit his fancy, so he replied, "You must be d d fools 

to think I'm going to get down and let this team run away. You 
don't want the team; it won't do you any good." "Get down, 

you ," said the spokesman, angrily. "There's a man that 

has shown you he has no arms ; let him take them, ' ' suggested 
Billy. (Bunton had turned up the skirts of his coat to prove 
that he had no weapons on.) Bunton, who knew his business, 
called out, "I'll hold the horses ! I'll hold the horses !" The road 
agent who did the talking, turned to him, saying, "get up, you 

long-legged , and hold them." Bunton at once went to the 

leaders, behind the two road agents, and then wheeling round 
to Billy Rumisey, ordered him down from the box. He tied the 
lines round the handle of the brake and got down, receiving the 

following polite reminder of his duty, ' ' Now, you , take them 

arms off." 

"Needs must when the Devil drives," says the proverb, so off 
went Billy to Bummer Dan, who had on two "navies," one on 
each side. Rumsey took them, and walked off diagonally, think- 
ing that he might get a shot at them ; but they were too knowing, 
and at once ordered him to throw them on the ground. He laid 
them down, and going back to Matteson, took his pistol off, lay- 
ing it down beside the others, the robbers yelling to him, "Hurry 
up, you !" He then went to Percival, but he had no arms on. 

The road agents next ordered him to take the passengers' 
money, and to throw it on the ground with the pistols. Rumsey 
walked over to Percival, who, taking out his sack, handed it to 
him. While he was handing over. Bill Bunton took out his own 
purse, and threw it about half way to Rumisey, saying, "There's 
a hundred and twenty dollars for you— all I have in the world ; 
only don't kill me." 

Billy next went to Bummer Dan, who handed out two purses 
from his pocket. Rumsey took them, and threw them on the 
ground beside the pistols. The next man was Matteson ; but as 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 53 

he dropped his hands to take out his money, the leader shouted, 
"Keep up your hands, you ! Take his money." Rumsey ap- 
proached him, and putting his hand into his left pocket, found 
there a purse and a portemonnaie. Seizing the opportunity, he 
asked, in a whisper, if there was anything in the portemonnaie. 
He said, "No." Rumsey turned to the robbers and said, "You 
don't want this, do you?" holding up the portemonnaie. Matte- 
son told them that there was nothing in it but papers. They surl- 
ily answered, "We don't want that." On examining the pocket 
the searcher found a purse, which he threw out on the ground 
with the pistols. 

They then demanded of Rumsey whether he had all; and on 
his answering "Yes," turning to Matteson the leader said, "Is 
that all you've got?" "No," said he, "there's another in here." 
He was holding up his hands when he spoke, and he nudged the 
pocket with his elbow. The road agent angrily ordered Rumsey 
to take it out, and not leave "nothing." He did as he was bidden, 
and threw the purse on the ground, after which he started for 
the coach, and had his foot on the hub of the wheel, when the 

robbers yelled out, "Where are you going, you ?" "To get 

on the coach, you fool," said the irate driver. "You've got all 
there is, ' ' he instantly retorted, ' ' Go back there and get that big 
sack," and added, pointing to Bummer Dan, "You're the man 

we're after. Get that strap off your shoulder, you d d Irish 

— — !" Bummer Dan had a strap over his shoulder, fastened to 
a large purse, that went down into his pants. He had thrown 
out two little sacks before. 

Seeing that there was no chance of saving his money, he com- 
menced unbuckling the strap, and when Rumsey got to him he 
had it off. Billy took hold of the tab to pull it out, but it would 
not come; whereupon he let go and stepped back. Dan com- 
menced to unbutton his pants, the "Cap" ordering Rumsey to 
jerk it off, or he would shoot him in a minute. While he was 
speaking Rumsey saw that Dan had another strap round his 
body, under his shirt. He stepped back again, saying, "You 
fooJs! you're not going to kill a man who is doing all he can 
for you. Give him time." They ordered him to hurry up, calling 

him "An awkward ," and telling him that they hadn't any 

more time to lose. Dan had by this time got the belt loose, and 
he handed Rumsey a big fringed bag, containing two other sacks. 
He received it, and tossed it beside the pistols. 

The road agents finished the proceedings by saying, "Get 

aboard, every of you; and get out of this; and if we ever 

hear a word from one of you, we'll kill you surer than h 1." 



54 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

They all got aboard, with great promptitude, Bunton mounting 
beside the driver (he did not want to get inside then), and com- 
menced to whip the horses, observing that that was a d d hot 

place for him, and he would get out of it as soon as he could. 
Rumsey saw, at a turn of the road by looking over the coach, that 
the road agents had dismounted, one holding the horses, while the 
other was picking up the plunder, which amounted to about 
$2,800. 

The coach went on to Bannack, and reported the robbery at 
Peabody"s Express Office. George Hilderman was in Peabody's 
when the coach arrived. He seemed as much surprised as any 
of them. His business was to hear what would happen, and to 
give word if the passengers named either of the robbers, and 
then, on their return, they would have murdered them. (It was 
at this man's place that Geo. Ives and the gang with him were 
found. He was banished when Ives was hung. Had he been 
caught only a little time afterward, he would have swung with 
the rest, as his villainies were known.) 

The road agents had a private mark on the coach, when it 
carried money, and thus telegraphed it along the road. Rumsey 
told in Bannack whom he suspected, but he was wrong. Bummer 
Ban and Pereival knew them, and told Matteson; but neither of 
them ever divulged it until the men were hung. They were 
afraid of their lives. Frank Parrish confessed his share in this 
robbery. George Ives was the other. 



CHAPTER XII. 
The Settlement of Virginia City, and the Murder of Dillingham. 

Early in June,* 1863, Alder Gulch was discovered by Tom 
Cover, Bill Fairweather, Barney Hughes, Edgar and some others. 
It was a sheer accident. After a long and unsuccessful tour they 
camie thither on their way to Bannack, and one of them took a 
notion to try a pan of dirt. A good prospect was obtained, and 
the lucky "panner" gave his name to the far famed ''Fairweather 
District."* 

Tom Cover and some others of the party returned to Bannack 
for provisions, and for the purpose of communicating the discov- 
ery to their friends. A wild stampede was the consequence. 

One poor fellow, while in the willows at Beaver Head, being 
mistaken for a beaver, was accidentally shot by his comrade. He 



* May 26th, not June. 

* See Fairweather's story of Discovery of Alder. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 55 

lived several days, and was carefully nursed by his slayer, who 
was greatly grieved at the occurrence. The stampeders came in 
with pack animals. Colonel McLean brought the first vehicle to 
the Gulch. The stampede reached the Gulch on the 6th of June. 
The course of the stream was marked by the alders that filled 
the Gulch so densely as to prevent passage in many places. Some 
people camped on the edge of the brush, about three fourths of a 
mile above the town, accidentally set it on fire, and, with a tre- 
mendous roar, the flames swept down the creek, and burned up 
the entire undergrowth. 

Almost immediately after the first great rush from Bannack — 
in addition to the tents, brush wakiups and extempore fixings 
for shelter — small log cabins were erected. The first of these 
was the Mechanical Bakery, now standing near the lower end 
of Wallace street. Morier's saloon went up at about the same 
time, and the first dwelling house was built by John Lyons. After 
this beginning, houses rose as if by magic. Dick Hamilton, Root 
& Davis, J. E. McClurg, Hall & Simpson, N. Story and O. C. 
Matthews, were among the first merchants. Dr. Steele was first 
President of the Fairweather District. Dr. G. G. Bissel was the 
first judge of the Miner's Court. The duty of the Recorder's 
Office was, we believe, performed by James Fergus.* 

Among the citizens were S. S. Short, Sweney and Rogers (dis- 
coverers), Johnny Green, Nelson Ptomey, Judge Potter of High- 
land, Jem Galbraith, Judge Smith (afterwards banished), W. F. 
Bartlett, C. Crouch, Bixter & Co., Tom Conner, William Cadwell, 
W. Emerick, Frank Heald. Frank Woody, Marcellus Lloyd, 
Washburne Stapleton, John Sharp. Jerry Nowlan, E. C. Stickney, 
Frank Watkins, T. L. Luce (Mechanical Bakery), Robinson and 
Cooley, the first bakers (open air), Hugh O'Neil, of fistic fame, 
Jem Vivian, Jack Russell, the first man who panned out "wages" 
in the Grasshopper Creek, Sargent Tisdale, W. Nowlan, of the 
Bank, Tom Duffy, John Murphy, Jem Patton, Jno. Kane, Pat 
Lynch, John Robertson, Worcester Wymans and Charley 
Wymans, Barney Gilson, and many others. 

The first name given to the present capital of Montana was 
"Varnia,"* in honor of Jeff. Davis' wife, but it was soon 
changed to "Virginia." Dr. (Judge) G. G. Bissel was the first 
man that wrote it Virginia. Being asked to head a legal docu- 
ment with "Varnia." he bluntly said he would see them d d 

first, for that was the nanue of Jeff. Davis's wife; and, accord- 
ingly, as he wrote it, so it remained. From this little circum- 



* Henry Edgar was elected as Recorder, but Fergus did the work as 
deputy. 



56 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

stance it will be seen that politics were anything but forgotten on 
the banks of Alder Creek; but miners are sensible men, in the 
main, and out in the mountains a good man makes a good friend, 
even where political opinions are widely different. The moun- 
taineer holds his own like a vice, and he extends the same priv- 
ilege to others. The theory is, "You may drive your stake 
where you darned please; only, if you try to jump my claim, I'll 
go for you sure." 

That is the basis of the mountain man's creed, in love, law, 
war, mining, and, in fact, in everything regulated by principle. 

Of course a number of the roughs came over when the Gulch 
was settled, prominent among whom was Cyrus Skinner. Per 
contra, "X"* was among the early inhabitants, which fact re- 
minds us of the line in Cato 's soliloquy, 

"My bane and antidote are both before me." 

The celebrated "Rogues Antidote," aforesaid has, however, 
survived all the renowned road agents of the period alluded to. 
The true Western man is persistent, tough, and hard to abolish. 
Fierce, flighty spirits, like Lord Byron — when they get into 
trouble — say, 

"Better perish by the shock, 
Than moulder piecemeal on the rock." 

m 

The motto of the mountaineer, put into similar shape, would 
read, 

"Never say die, but brave the shock 
While there's a shell-fish on the rock." 

Which sentiment, though equally forcible, we reluctantly ad- 
mit is, perhaps, a shade less poetical ; but it is, nevertheless, good 
philosophy, which, with all respect for his lordship, is the reverse 
of what should be said of the teaching derivable from the beauti- 
ful lines of that erring genius. 

As a proof of the address and tact of Plummer, and of the ter- 
rible state of society, it may be mentioned that he got himself 
elected Sheriff at Bannack, despite of his known character, and 
immediately appointed two of his road agents, Buck Stinson and 
Ned Ray, as Deputies. Nor did he remain contented with that; 
but he had the effrontery to propose to a brave and good man 
in Virginia that he should make way for him there, and as cer- 
tain death would have been the penalty for a refusal, he con- 
sented. Thus Plummer was actually Sheriff of both places at 
once. This politic move threw the unfortunate citizens into 
his hands completely, and by means of his robber deputies — whose 

* J. X. Beidler. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 57 

legal functions cloaked many a crime — he ruled with a rod of 
iron. 

The marvelous riches* of the great Alder Gulch attracted 
crowds from all the West, and afterward from the East, also; 
among whom were many diseased with crime to such an extent 
that for their cure the only available prescription was a stout 
cord and a good drop. 

Plummer had appointed as his Deputies, Jack Gallagher, Buck 
Stinson and Ned Ray. The head Deputy was a man of another 
stripe entirely, named Dillingham, who had accurate knowledge 
of the names of the members of the road agent band, and was also 
acquainted with many of their plans, though he himself was inno- 
cent. He told a man named Dodge, who was going to Virginia 
with Wash Stapleton and another, that Buck Stinson, Haze 
Lyons and Charley Forbes intended to rob them. Dodge, instead 
of keeping his counsel, foolishly revealed the whole affair to the 
robbers, who, of course, were much struck at the news. Haze 

ejaculated '' ! is that so?" The three men at once concluded 

to murder Dillingham. 

At Rattlesnake, Haze Lyons came to Wash Stapleton, who was 
on the road between Bannack and Virginia, and asked him if 
he had heard about the intended robbery, adding that he had fol- 
lowed Dillingham that far, and that he had come to kill himi, but 
he said that he feared that he had heard about it, and had got 
out of the country. Wash, who says he has felt more comfortable, 
even when sleeping in church — at once replied, " No ; this is the 
first I've heard of it. I have only $100 in greenbacks, and they 
may as well take them, if they want them, and let me go." The 
other swore it was all a d d lie, and they separated. 

The robbers went on to Virginia. Jack Gallagher came to 
X, and wanted a pony for his friend Stinson to ride down the 
Gulch. At first his request was refused, the owner saying that he 
wanted to ride it down the Gulch himself. Jack insisted, and 
promising that he would be back in half an hour, X lent it to 
him. He was away for two hours, and the proprietor was "as 
hot as a wolf," when he came back. The truth was that they 
had been consulting and fixing the programme for the murder 
which was arranged for the next day, they having discovered that 
Dillingham was in the Gulch. 

In the morning Buck Stinson, Haze Lyons and Charles Forbes 
might be seen engaged in a grand "Medicine Talk," in the neigh- 
borhood of a brush wakiup, where Dr. Steele was holding court, 
and trying the right to a bar claim, the subject of a suit between 



Probably $100,000,000. 



58 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

F. Ray and D. Jones. Dillingham was standing close by the im- 
promptu Hall of Justice, when the three road agents came up. 
''We want to see you," said Haze; Stinson walked a pace or two 
ahead of the others. Haze was on one side and Forbes was behind. 
"Bring him along! Make him come!" said Buck Stinson, half 
turning and looking over his shoulder. They walked on about ten 
paces, when they all stopped, and the three faced towards Dill- 
ingham. '' you, take back those lies," said Haze, and 

instantly the three pulled their pistols and fired, so closely to- 
gether that eyesight was a surer evidence of the number of shots 
discharged than hearing. There was a difference, however. Haze 
fired first, his ball taking effect in the thigh. Dillingham put 
his hand to the spot, and groaned; Buck Stinson 's bullet went 
over his head; but Charley Forbes' shot passed through his 
breast. On receiving the bullet in the chest, Dillingham fell like 
an empty sack. He was carried into a brush wakiup, and lived 
but a very short time. 

Jack Gallagher, being Deputy Sheriff, settled the matter very 
neatly and effectively (for his friends). He rushed out as per 
agreement, and took their pistols, putting them together and re- 
loading Buck Stinson 's, so that no one knew (that would tell) 
whose pistol fired the fatal shots. 

The men were, of course, arrested. Red tape is an institution 
not yet introduced among miners. A captain of the guard, elected 
by the people, and a detail of miners, took charge of the prisoners, 
who were lodged in a log building, where John Mings 's store now 
stands. 

A people's court was organized and the trial commenced. It 
was a trial by the people en masse. For our own part, knowing 
as we do the utter impossibility of all the voters hearing half the 
testimony; seeing also that the good and bad are mingled, and 
that a thief's vote will kill the well-considered verdict of the best 
citizen, in such localities and under such circumstances verdicts 
are as uncertain as the direction of the wind on next Tibb's Eve. 
"We often hear of the justice of the masses — "in the long run;" 
but a man may get hung "in the short run" — or may escape the 
rope he has so remorselessly earned, which is, by a thousand 
chances to one, the more likely result of a mass trial. The 
chances of a just verdict being rendered is almost a nullity. Preju- 
dice, or selfish fear of consequences, and not reason, rules the il- 
literate, the lawless, and the uncivilized. These latter are in large 
numbers in such places, and if they do right it is by mistake. We 
are of Tenterden's opinion in the matter of juries (in eases like 
these). "Gentlemen of the jury," said his Lordship, to eleven 
hard-looking followers of a consequential foreman, in an appalling 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 59 

state of wateh-chaiii and shirt frill, "allow me to congratulate 
you upon the soundness of your verdict ; it is highly creditable to 
you." "My Lord," replied the pursy and fussy little bald-pated 
and spectacled foreman, "the ground on which we based our 
verdict was — " "Pardon me, Mr. Foreman," interrupted the 
Judge, "your verdict is perfectly correct; the ground on which 
it is based is most probably entirely untenable." The favors oi 
the dangerous classes are bestowed, not on the worthy, but on 
the popular, who are distributed like sailor's prize money, which 
is nautically supposed to be sifted through a ladder. What goes 
through is for the officers; what sticks on the rounds is for the 
men. 

James Brown and H. P. A. Smith were in favor of a trial bj' 
twelve men; but E. R. Cutler opposed this, for he knew that the 
jury would have been empanelled by a road agent sheriff. A vote 
was taken on the question, by "Ayes" and "Noes;" but this fail- 
ing, two wagons were drawn up with an interval between them. 
Those in favor of a trial by a jury of twelve went through first. 
Those who preferred a trial by the people traversed the vehicular 
defile afterward. The motion of a jury for the whole prevailed. 

Judge G. G. Bissell was appointed President by virtue of his 
office. He stated that it was an irregular proceeding, but that 
if the people would appoint two reliable men to sit with him, he 
would carry it through. This was agreed to. Dr. Steele and Dr. 
Rutar being chosen as associates. Three doctors were thus ap- 
pointed Judges, and naturally enough directed the "medicine 
talk" on the subject. 

E. R. Cutler, a blacksmith, was appointed Public Prosecutor ; 
Jem Brown was elected assistant ; Judge H. P. A. Smith was for 
the defense, and the whole body of the people were jurors. We 
may add that the jury box was Alder Gulch, and that the throne 
of Justice was a wagon, drawn up at the foot of what is now 
Wallace street. 

The trial commenced by the indictment of Buck Stinson and 
Haze Lyons, and continued till dark, when the court adjourned. 
The prisoners were placed under a strong guard at night. They 
were going to chain themi, but they would not submit. Charley 
Forbes said he "would suffer death first." This (of course?) 
suited the guard of miners, and quick as a flash down came six 
shot-guns in a line with Charley's head. The opinion of this gen- 
tleman on the subject of practical concatenation underwent an 
instantaneous change. He said mildly, "Chain me. " The fetters 
were composed of a light logging chain and padlocks. 

All was quiet during the rest of the night; but Haze sent for a 
"leading citizen," who, covered by the guns of the guard, ap- 



60 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

preached and asked him what he wanted. "Why," said he, "I 
want you to let these men off. I am the man that killed Dilling- 
ham. I came over to do it, and these men are innocent. I was 
sent here by the best men in Bannack to do it." Upon being asked 
who they were, he named some of the best citizens, and then 
added, ''Henry Plummer told me to shoot him." The first half 
of the statemient was an impossible falsehood, many of the men 
knowing nothing of the affair for several days after. The last 
statement was exactly true. 

After breakfast the trial was resumed, and continued till near 
noon. The attorneys had by this time finished their pleas, and 
the question was submitted to the people, ''Guilty or not Guilty?" 
A nearly unanimous verdict of "Guilty," was returned. The 
question as to the punishment to be inflicted was next submitted 
by the President, and a chorus of voices from all parts of the vast 
assembly shouted, "Hang them." Men were at once appointed 
to build a scaffold and to dig the graves of the doomed criminals. 



CHAPTER Xn. 



In the mean time Charley Forbes ' trial went on. An effort was 
made to save Charley on account of his good looks and education, 
by producing a fully loaded pistol, which they proved (?) was 
his. It was, however. Buck Stinson's, and had been "set right" 
by Gallagher. The miners had got weary, and many had wan- 
dered off when the question was put; but his ovm masterly ap- 
peal, which was one of the finest efforts of eloquence ever made 
in the miountains, saved him. 

Forbes was a splendid looking fellow — straight as a ramrod; 
handsome, brave and agile as a cat in his movements. His friends 
believed that he excelled Plunmier in quickness and dexterity at 
handling his revolver. He had the scabbard sewn to the belt, 
and wore the buckle always exactly in front, so that his hand 
might grasp the butt, with the forefinger on the trigger and the 
thumb on the cock, with perfect certainty, whenever it was 
needed, which was pretty often. 

Charley told a gentleman of the highest respectability that 
he killed Dillingham, and he used to laugh at the "softness" of 
the miners who acquitted him. He moreover warned the gentle- 
man mentioned that he would be attacked on his road to Salt 
Lake; but the citizen was no way scary, and said, "You can't 
do It, Charley; your boys are scattered and we are together, and 
we shall give you — , if you try." The party made a sixty- 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA ol 

mile drive the first day, and thus escaped molestation. Charley 
had corresponded with the press, some articles on the state and 
prospects of the Territory having appeared in the California 
papers, and were very well written. 

Charley was acquitted by a nearly unanimous vote. Judge 
Smith* burst into tears, fell on his neck and kissed him, exclaim- 
ing, ' ' My boy ! my boy ! ' ' Hundreds pressed round him, shaking 
hands and cheering, till it seemed to strike them all at once that 
there were two men to hang, which was even more exciting, and 
the crowd "broke" for the "jail." 

A wagon was drawn up by the people to the door, in which 
the criminals were to ride to the gallows. They were then or- 
dered to get into the wagon, which they did, several of their 
friends climbing in with them. 

At this juncture Judge Smith was called for, and then, amidst 
tremendous excitement and confusion, Haze Lyons crying and 
imploring mercy, a number of ladies, much affected, begged earn- 
estly to "Save the poor young boys' lives." The ladies admit the 
crying, but declare that they wept in the interest of fair play. 
One of them saw Forbes kill Dillingham, and felt that it was pop- 
ular murder to hang Stinson and Lyons, and let off the chief des- 
perado because he was good-looking. She had furnished the sheet 
with which the dead body was covered. 

We cannot blame the gentle-hearted creatures; but we depre- 
cate the practice of admitting the ladies to such places. They" 
are out of their path. Such sights are unfit for them to behold, 
and in rough and masculine business of every kind women should 
bear no part. It unsexes them, and destroys the most lovely part 
of their character. A woman is a queen in her own home ; but 
we neither want her as a blacksmith, a plough woman, a soldier. 
a lawyer, a doetor, nor in any such professions or handicraft.* As 
sisters, mothers, nurses, friends, sweethearts and wives, they are 
the salt of the earth, the sheet anchor of society, and the human- 
izing and purifying element in humanity. As such they cannot be 
too much respected, loved and protected. But from Blue Stock- 
ings, Bloomers, and strong-minded she-males generally, "Good 
Lord, deliver us." 

A letter (written by other parties to suit the occasion) was 
produced, and a gentleman — a friend of Lyons — asked that "The 
letter which Haze had written to his mother might be read." 
This was done, amid cries of "Read the letter," " the let- 
ter," while others who saw how it would turn out shouted, "Give 



No doubt maudlin, as he was a drinking man. 
This was written fifty years ago. 



62 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 



him a horse and let him go to his mother." A vote was taken 
again, after it had all been settled, as before mentioned— the first 
time by ayes and noes. Both parties claimed the victory. The 
second party was arranged so that the party for hanging should 
go up-hill, and the party for clearing should go down-hill. The 
down-hill men claimed that the prisoners were acquitted, but the 
up-hills would not give way. All this time confusion confunded 
reigned around the wagon. The third vote was differently man- 
aged. Two pairs of men were chosen. Between one pair passed 
those who were for carrying the sentence into execution, and be- 
tween the other pair marched those who were for setting them 
at liberty. The latter party ingeniously increased their votes by 
the simple but effectual expedient of passing through several 
times, and finally an honest Irish miner, who was not so weak- 
kneed as the rest, shouted out, "Be , there's a bloody naygur 

voted three times." The descendant of Ham broke for the wil- 
lows at top speed, on hearing this announcement. This vote set- 
tled the question, and Gallagher, pistol in hand, shouted, "Let 
them go," "Hurrah," etc., one of the men, seeing a horse with an 
Indian saddle, belonging to a Blackfoot squaw, seized it, and 
mounting both on the same animal, the assassins rode at a gallop 
out of the Gulch. One of the guard remarked to another — point- 
ing at the same time to the gallows — "There is a monument of 
disappointed Justice." 

While all this miserable farce was being enacted, the poor vic- 
tim of the pardoned murderers lay stark and stiff on a gambling 
table, in a brush wakiup, in the Gulch. Judge Smith came to X, 
and asked if men enough could not be found to bury Dillingham.* 
X said there were plenty, and, obtaining a wagon, they put the 
body into a coffin, and started up the "Branch," towards the 
present graveyard on Cemetery Hill, where the first grave was 
opened in Virginia, to receive the body of the murdered man. As 
the party proceeded, a man said to Judge Smith, "Only for my 
dear wife and daughter, the poor fellows would have been 
hanged." A citizen, seeing that the so-called ladies had not a tear 
to shed for the victim, promptly answered, "I take notice that 
your dear wife and daughter have no tears for poor Dillingham, 
but only for two murderers." "Oh," said the husband, "I cried 
for Dillingham." "Darned well you thought of it," replied the 
mountaineer. A party of eight or ten were around the grave, 
when one asked who would perform the burial service. Some 
one said, "Judge, you have been doing the talking for the last 
three days, and you had better pray." The individual addressed 



'X" always means J. X. Beidler. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 63 

knelt down and made a long and appropriate prayer ; but it must 
be stated that he was so intoxicated that kneeling was, at least, as 
much a convenience as it was a necessity. Some men never "ex- 
perience religion ' ' unless they are drunk. They pass through the 
convivial and the narrative stages into the garrulous, from which 
they sail into the religious, and are deeply affected. The scene 
closes with the lachrymose or weeping developmient, ending in 
pig-like slumbers. Any one thus moved by liquor is not reliable. 



CHAPTER XIII. 



Tlie Robbery of the Salt Lake Mail Coach by George Ives, Bill 
Graves alias Whiskey Bill, and Bob Zachary. 

"Which is the villain? Let me see his ej'es, 
That when I note another man like him 
I may avoid him." — Shakespeare. 

At the latter end of the month of November, 1863, Oliver's Salt 
Lake coach, driven by Thos. C. Caldwell, left Virginia for Salt 
Lake City, carrying as passengers Leroy Southmayde and Cap- 
tain Moore. There was also a discharged driver named Billy. At 
about three p. m. they reached Loraine's Ranch, where George 
Ives rode up and stopped. He wanted to get a change of horses, 
but could not obtain them. He then ordered grain for his horse, 
standing beside Southmayde all the time. Suddenly he said, "I 
have heard of Tex; he is at Cold Spring Ranch," and then or- 
dered his horse. Steve Marshland was in his company. Between 
Loraine's and Cold Spring Ranch they passed the coach, and sure 
enough there the three were, in conversation at the Ranch, as 
the stage drove up. 

Tex, alias Jem Crow, afterward stated that they told him they 
were going to rob the stage that night. Old Tex was watching 
the coach when it started from Virginia, and Captain Moore 
observing him and knowing his character, told Southmayde thaft 
he did not like to see him there. Circumstances and conclusive 
testimony have since proved that he was the spy, and being fur- 
nished with a fleet horse, he rode across the country at full speed, 
heading the coach, as before described. 

They drove on to the Point of Rocks, and there they lay over 
till morning. At Stone's Ranch the road agents made a circuit 
and passed the coach unobserved. Ives had been joined, in the 
meanwhile, by Whiskey Bill and Bob Zachary. About eleven a. 
m. the travellers overtook the three road agents. Each one had 
his shot-gun lying over his left arm, and they appeared, from 



64 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

behind, like hunters. As the stage came up they wheeled their 
horses at once, and presented their pieces. Bill Graves drew a 
bead on Tom Caldwell; Ives covered Southmayde, while Bob 
Zachary, keeping his gun pointed at the coach, watched Captain 
Moore and Billy. 

Southmayde had the opportunity of looking down the barrels 
of Ives's gun, and could almost see the buckshot getting ready 
for a jump. As a matter of taste, he thinks such a sight anything 
but agreeable or edifying, and if his luck should bring him in 
the vicinity of road agents in pursuit of their calling, he confi- 
dently informs us that he would prefer a side view of the opera- 
tion, as he would then be able to speak dispassionately of the af- 
fair. To report without "fear, favor, or affection" is rather hard 
when the view is taken in front, at short range. Without "favor 
or affection" can be managed; but the observance of the first 
condition would necessitate an indifference to a shower of "cold 
pewter," possessed only by despairing lovers of the red-cover 
novelette class, and these mien never visit the mountains ; alkali, 
sage brush fires, and "beef straight" having a decidedly "mate- 
rial" tendency, and being very destructive of sentiment. Ives 
called out, "Halt! throw up your hands," and then bade Zachary 
"Get down and look after those fellows." 

Accordingly Bob dismounted, and leaving his horse, he walked, 
gun in hand, up to Southmayde. While engaged in panning out 
Southmayde 's dust he trembled from head to foot (and that not 
with cold). 

The appearance of the road agents, at this moment, was strik- 
ing, and not at all such as would be desired by elderly members 
of the "Peace party." Each man had on a green and blue 
blanket, covering the body entirely. Whiskey Bill wore a "plug" 
hat (the antitype of the muff on a soup-plate usually worn in the 
East). His sleeves were rolled up above the elbow; he had a 
black silk handkerchief over his face, with holes for sight and air, 
and he rode a grey horse, covered from the ears to the tail with a 
blanket, which, however, left the head and legs exposed to view. 
George Ives' horse was blanketed in the same way. It was a 
dappled grey, with a roached mane. He himself was masked 
with a piece of grey blanket, with the necessary perforations. 
Zachary rode a blue-grey horse, belonging to Bob Dempsey ("all 
the country" was their stable)— blanketed like the others— and 
his mask was a piece of a Jersey shirt. 

Ives was on the off side of the driver, and Graves, on the 
near side. When Zachary walked up to Southmayde, he said 
"Shut your eyes." This Southmayde respectfully declined, and 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 65 

the matter was not pressed. Bob then took Leroy's pistol and 
money, and threw them down. 

While Southmayde was being robbed, Billy, feeling tired, put 
down his hands, upon which Ives instantly roared out, "Throw 

them up, you . ' ' It is recorded that Billy obeyed with alacrity, 

though not with cheerfulness. 

Zachary walked up to Captain Moore and made a similar re- 
quest. The Captain declared, with great solemnity, as he handed 
him his purse, that it was "all he had in the world;" but it 
afterward appeared that a sum of $25 was not included in that 
estimate of his terrestrial assets, for he produced this money 
when the road agents had disappeared. 

Continuing his search, the relieving officer came to Billy, and 
demanded his pistol, which was immediately handed over. Ives 
asked, "Is it loaded?" and being answered in the negative, told 
Bob to give it back to the owner. Tom Caldwell's turn came 
next. He had several small sums belonging to different parties, 
which he was carrying for them to their friends, and he had also 
been commissioned to make some purchases. As Bob approached 
him he exclaimed, "My God! What do you want with me? I 
have nothing." Graves told Zachary to let him alone, and in- 
quired if there was anything in the mail that they wanted. Tom 
said he did not think that there was. Zachary stepped upon the 
brake bar and commenced an examination, but found nothing. 
As Caldwell looked at Zachary while he was thus occupied Ives 
ordered him not to do that. Tom turned and asked if he might 
look at him. Ives nodded. 

Having finished his search, Zachary picked up his gun, and 
stepped back. Ives dismissed the "parade" with the laconic com- 
mand, "Get up and 'skedaddle.' " 

The horses were somewhat restive, but Tom held them fast, and 
Southmayde, with a view to reeonnoitering, said in a whisper, 
"Tom, drive slow." Ives called out, "Drive on." Leroy turned 
round on his seat, determined to find out who the robbers were, 
and looked carefully at them for nearly a minute, which, Ives at 
last observing, he yelled out, "If you don't turn round, and 
mind your business, I'll shoot the top of your head off." The 
three robbers gathered together and remained watching till the 
coach was out of sight. 

Leroy Southmayde lost $400 in gold, and Captain Moore de- 
livered up $100 in Treasury notes, belonging to another man. 

The coach proceeded on its way to Bannack without further 
molestation, and on its arrival there Plummer was in waiting, and 
asked. "Was the coach robbed today?" and being told that it 



66 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

had been, as Southmayde jumped down, he took him by the arm, 
and knowing him to be Sheriff, Southmayde was just about to 
tell him all about it, when Judge G. G. Bissel gave Leroy a slight 
nudge, and motioned for him to step back, which he did, and the 
Judge told him to be very careful what he toid that man, mean- 
ing Plummer; Southmayde closed one eye as a private signal of 
comprehension, and rejoined Plummer, who said, "I think I can 
tell you who it was that robbed you." Leroy asked "Who?" 
Plummer replied, "George Ives was one of them." Southmayde 
said, "I know; and the others were Whiskey Bill and Bob Zach- 
ary; and I'll live to see them hanged before three weeks." 
Plummer at once walked off, and though Leroy was in town for 
three days, he never saw him afterward. The object of Plummer 's 
accusation of Ives was to see whether Southmayde really knew 
anything. Some time after, Judge Bissel — who had overheard 
Southmayde telling Plummer who the thieves were — remarked to 
him, "Leroy, your life is not worth a cent." 

On the second day after, as Tom was returning, he saw Graves 
at the Cold Spring Ranch,* and took him on one side, asking him 
il he had heard of the "little robbery." Graves replied that he 
had, and asked himi if he knew who were the perpetrators. Tom 
said "No," adding, "And I wouldn't for the world; for if I did, 
and told of them, I shouldn't live long." "That's a fact, Tom," 
said Graves, "you wouldn't live fifteen minutes." I '11 tell you of 
a circumstance as happened to me about bein' robbed in Calif orn3^ 

"One night about ten o'clock, me and my partner was ridin' 
along, and two fellers rode up and told us to throw up our hands, 
and give up our money. We did it pretty quick I guess. They 
got $2,000 in coined gold from us. I told 'em, 'Boys,' sez I, 'it's 
pretty rough to take all we've got.' So the feller said it was 
rather rough, and he gave us back $40. About a week after I 
seen the two fellers dealin' faro. I looked pretty hard at them 
and went out. One of the chaps follered me, and sez he, 'Ain't 
you the man that was robbed the other night ? ' ' No, ' sez I, for 
I was afraid to tell him the truth. Sez he, 'I want you to own 
up; I know you're the man. Now I'm agoing to give you $4,000 

for keeping your mouth shut,' and he did, ^^^ . Now you see, 

Tom, that's what I got for keeping my mouth shut. I saved my 
life, and got $4,000." 

Ives made for Virginia City, and there told in a house of ill 
fame that he was the Bamboo chief that made Tom Caldwell 
throw up his hands, and that, ■, he would do it again. He 

from T"n'Trid|e*s%o"LTurin''" P''"^^''*^ °^ ^"'"^ * Hindman. on the road 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 67 

and a Colorado driver who was a friend of Caldwell's went to- 
gether to Nevada. Each of them had a shot-gun. Ives was in- 
toxicated. The driver asked Ives whom did he suppose to be 
the robbers, to which he quickly replied, "I am the Bamboo chief 
that robbed it," etc., etc., as before mentioned. The man then 
said, "Don't you think Tom knows it?" "Of course I do," said 
George. As they came back to town, the driver saw Tom, and 
waved to him to keep back, which he did, and sent a man to 
inquire the reason of the signal. The messenger brought him 
back information of what had passed, and told him to keep out 
of Ives's wa}', for he was drunk and might kill him. 

That same evening, Tom and his friend went to the Cold 
Spring Ranch together on the coach, and the entire particulars 
came out in conversation. The driver finished the story by stat- 
ing that he sat on his horse, ready to shoot Ives, if he should suc- 
ceed in getting the "drop" on Caldwell. 

Three days after, when Southmayde was about to return from 
Bannack, Buck Stinson and Ned Ray came into the Express 
Office, and asked who were for Virginia. On being told that 
there were none but Southmayde, they said, "Well, then, we'll 
go." The agent came over and said to Leroy, "For God's sake, 
don't go; I believe you'll be killed." Southmayde replied, "I 
have got to go; and if you'll get me a double-barrelled shot-gun, 
I will take my chances." Oliver's agent accordingly provided 
Leroy Southmayde, Tom Caldwell and a young lad about sixteen 
years of age, who was also going by the coach to Virginia, with 
a shot-gun each. Leroy rode with Tom. They kept a keen eye 
on a pair of road agents, one driving and the other watching. 

The journey was as monotonous as a night picket, until the 
coach reached the crossing of the Stinkingwater, where two of 
the three men that robbed it (Bob Zaehary and Bill Graves) were 
together, in front of the station, along with Aleck Carter. Buck 

Stinson saw them and shouted, "Ho! you road agents." 

Said Leroy to Tom Caldwell, "Tom, we're gone up." said Tom, 
"That's so." 

At the Cold Spring Station, where the coach stopped for supper, 
the amiable trio came up. They were of course fully armed with 
gun, pistols and knife. Two of them set down their guns at the 
door and came in. Aleck Carter had his gun slung at his back. 
Bob Zaehary, feigning to be drunk, called out, "I'd like to see 

the man that don't like Stone." Finding that, as far as 

could be ascertained, everybody present had a very high opinion 
of Stone, he called for a treat to all hands, which having been dis- 
posed of, he bought a bottle of whiskey, and behaved "miscel- 
laneously" till the coach started. 



68 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

After going about a quarter of a mile, they wheeled their horses 
and called "Halt." The instant the word left their lips, Leroy 
dropped his gun on Alick Carter; Tom Caldwell and the other 
passenger each picked his man, and drew a bead on him at the 
same moment. Aleck Carter called out, "We only want you 

to take a drink; but you can shoot and be , if you want to." 

Producing the bottle, it was handed round; but Leroy and Tom 
only touched their lips to it. Tom believed it to be poisoned. 

After politely inquiring if any of the wanted any m'ore, they 

wheeled their horses, saying, "We're off for Pete Daley's" and 
clapped spurs to their horses, and headed for the Ranch, going 
on a keen run. 

Before leaving Cold Spring Ranch, Leroy Southmayde told 
Tom that he saw through it all, and would leave the coach ; but 
Tom said he would take Buck up beside him, and that surely the 
other fellow could watch Ray. Buck did not like the arrange- 
ment ; but Tom said, ' ' You 're an old driver, and I want you up 
with me, . " 

The two passengers sat with their shot-guns across their knees, 
ready for a move on the part of either of the robbers. 

At Loraine's Ranch, Leroy and Caldwell went out a little way 
from the place, with the bridles in their hands, and talked about 
the "situation." They agreed that it was pretty rough, and were 
debating the propriety of taking to the brush, and leaving the 
coach, when their peace of mind was in no way assured by see- 
ing that Buck Stinson was close to them, and must have overheard 
every word they had uttered. Buck endeavored to allay their 
fears by saying there was no danger. They told him that they 
were armed, and that if they were attacked they would make it 
a warm time for some of them; at any rate they would "get" 
three or four of them. Buck replied, "Gentlemen, I pledge you 
my word, my honor, and my life, that you will not be attacked 
between this and Virginia." 

The coach went on directly the horses were hitched up, and 
Buck commenced roaring out a song, without intermission, till at 
last he became tired, and then, at his request, Ray took up the 
chorus. This was the signal to the other three to keep off. Had 
the song ceased, an attack would have been at once made; but, 
without going into algebra, they were able to ascertain that such 
a venture had more peril than profit, and so they let it alone. 
The driver, Southmayde, and the young passenger were not sorry 
when they alighted safe in to\^Ti. Ned Ray called on South- 
mayde and told him that if he knew who committed the robbery 
he should not tell, for that death would be his portion if he did. 




=■ a 















o 
J. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 69 

CHAPTER XIV. 

The Opening of the Ball — George Ives. 

They mustered in their simple dress, 
For wrongs to seek a stern redress. 

As a matter of course, after the failure of justice in the case 
of the murderers of Dillingham, the state of society, bad as it was, 
rajjidly deteriorated, until a man could hardly venture to enter- 
tain a belief that he was safe for a single day. We have been 
repeatedly shown places where bullets used to come through 
the chinks between the logs separating one of the stores in town 
from a saloon. Wounded men lay almost unnoticed about the 
city, and a night or day without shooting, knifing or fighting 
would have been recognized as a small and welcome instalment of 
the millennium. Men dared not go from Virginia to Nevada or 
Summit after dark. A few out of the hundreds of instances must 
suffice. A Dutchman, known as Dutch Fred, was met by one of 
the band, who ordered him to throw up his hands, as usual. Find- 
ing he had $5 in Treasury notes with him, the robber told him 
he would take them at par, and added with a volley of curses, 
"If ever you come this way with only $5 I'll shoot you; — — you, 
I'll shoot you anyhow," and raising his pistol he shot him in the 
arm. Another man was robbed of two or three dollars, about 
two or three miles below Nevada, and was told that if ever he 
came with as little money again they would kill him. 

George Ives was a young man of rather prepossessing appear- 
ance, probably twenty-seven years old. His complexion and hair 
were light, and his eyes blue. He wore no whiskers. His height 
was nearly six feet, and he wore a soldier's overcoat and a light 
felt hat. The carriage of this renowned desperado was sprightly, 
and his coolness was imperturable. Long practice in confronting 
danger had made him absolutely fearless. He would face death 
with an indifference that had become constitutional, and the 
spirit of reckless bravado with which he was animated made 
him the terror of the citizens. He would levy blackmail under 
the guise of a loan and as a matter of sport, and to show thie* 
training of his horse he would back the animal into the windows 
of a store, and then ride off laughing. In looking at Ives a man 
would, at first sight, be favorably impressed ; but a closer examin- 
ation by any one skilled in physiognomy would detect in the lines 
of the mouth, and in the strange, fierce, and sinister gleam of the 
eye, the quick spirit which made him not only the terror of the 
community, but the dread of the band of ruffians with whom 
he was associated. 



70 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

As before mentioned, he was with Henry Plummer when he 
started to rob Langford and Hauser; he assisted at the robbery 
of the coaches in October and November, and, after that, he fig- 
ured as a highwayman with Aleck Carter, down on Snake River, 
under the alias of Lewis. 

In company with a friend he visited his comrades, Hunter and 
Carter, at Brown's Gulch, and on their way back, among the 
hills which form, as it were, the picket line of the Ramshorn 
Mountains, the two met Anton M. Holter,* now a citizen of Vir- 
ginia. They politely invited him to replenish their exchequers 
by a draft on his own, which, under the circumstances, he in- 
stantly did ; but he was able at the moment to honor only a small 
check. They read him a lecture upon the impropriety of traveling 
with so small a sum in his possession, and then, as an emphatic 
confirmation of their expressed displeasure, George drew his re- 
volver, and, aiming at his head, sent a ball through his hat, graz- 
ing his scalp. A second shot, with more deliberate aim, was only 
prevented by the badness of the cap. After this failure, this 
"perfect gentleman" went his way, and so did Holter, doubtless 
blessing the cap-maker. 

Tex was a frequent companion of Ives, who was also intimate 
with Plummer, and George used frequently to show their letters, 
written in cipher, to unskilled, if not unsuspecting citizens. He 
spent a life of ceaseless and active wickedness up to the very day 
of his capture. 

Perhaps the most daring and cold-blooded of all his crimes 
was the murder which he committed near the Cold Spring Ranch. 
A man had been whipped for larceny near Nevada, and to escape 
the sting of the lash he offered to give information about the road 
agents. Ives heard of it, and meeting him purposely between 
Virginia and Dempsey's, he deliberately fired at him with his 
double-barrelled gun. The gun was so badly loaded, and the 
man's coat so thickly padded that the buckshot did not take ef- 
fect, upon which he coolly drew his revolver, and, talking to him 
all the time, shot him dead. This deed was perpetrated in broad 
daylight on a highway — a very Bloomingdale Road of the com- 
munity—and yet, there, in plain view of Daley's and the Cold 
Spring Ranch, with two or three other teams in sight, he assass- 
inated his victim in a cool and business-like manner, and when 
the murdered man had fallen from his horse, he took the animal 
by the bridle and led it off among the hills. 

Ives then went to George Hilderman and told him that he 



^f 4-u H°^t^/ is yet living in Helena, and is over 80 years of age. He is one 
or the most successful business men in Helena. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 71 

should like to stay at his wakiup for a few days, as he had killed 
a man near Cold Spring Ranch, and there might be some stir and 
excitement about it. 

In about half an hour after, some travelers arrived at the scene 
of murder. The body was still warm, but lifeless, and some of 
the neighbors from the surrounding ranches dug a lonely grave 
in the beautiful valley, and there, nameless, uneoffined and un- 
wept, the poor victim, 

"Life's fitful fever over. 
Sleeps well." 

The passer-by may even now notice the solitary grave where 
he lies, marked as it still is by the upheaved earth, on the left 
side of the road, as he goes down the valley, about a mile on the 
Virginia side of the Cold Spring Ranch. 

All along the route the ranchmen knew the road agents, but 
the certainty of instant death in case they revealed what they 
knew enforced their silence, even when they were really desirous 
of giving information or warning. 

Nicholas Tbalt had sold a span of mules to his employers, 
Butsehy & Clark, who paid him the money. Taking the gold 
with him. he went to Dempsey's Ranch to bring up the animals. 
Not returning for some time, they concluded that he had run 
away with the mules, and were greatly grieved that a person they 
had trusted so implicitly should deceive them. They were, how- 
ever, mistaken. Faithful to his trust, he had gone for the mules, 
and met his death from the hand of George Ives, who shot him, 
robbed him of his money, and stole his mules. Ives first accused 
Long John of the deed; but he was innocent of it, as was also 
Hilderman, who was a petty thief and hider, but neither murderer 
nor road agent. His gastronomic feats at Bannack had procured 
him the name, the American Pie-Eater.* Ives contradicted him- 
self at his execution, stating that Aleck Carter was the murderer; 
but in this he wronged his own soul. His was the bloody hand 
that committed the crime. Long John said, on his examination 
at the trial, that he did not see the shots fired, but that he saw 
Nicholas coming with the mules, and George Ives going to meet 
him ; that Ives rode up shortly after with the mules, and said that 
the Dutchman would never trouble anybody again. 

The body of the slaughtered young man lay frozen, stiff and 
stark, among the sage brush, whither it had been dragged, unseen 
of man ; but the eye of Omniscience rested on the blood-stained 
corpse, and the fiat of the Eternal Judge ordered the wild bird 
of the mountains to point out the spot, and, by a miracle, to reveal 



* Langford tells the story of this Pie-Eater. See that. 



72 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

the crime. It was the finger of Grod that indicated the scene of 
the assassination, and it was His will stirring in the hearts of 
the honest and indignant gazers on the ghastly remains of Tbalt 
that organized the party which, though not then formally enrolled 
as a Vigilance Committee, was the nucleus and embryo of the 
order — the germ from which sprang that goodly tree, under the 
shadow of whose wide-spreading branches the citizens of Montana 
can lie down and sleep in peace. 

Nicholas Tbalt was brought into Nevada on a wagon, after be- 
ing missing for ten days. William Herren came to Virginia and 
informed Tom Baume, who at once went down to where the body 
lay. The head had been pierced by a ball, which entered just 
over the left eye. On searching the clothes of the victim, he 
found in his pocket a knife which he had lent him in Washing- 
ton Gulch, Colorado, two years before, in presence of J. X. 
Beidler and William Clark. 

The marks of a small lariat were on the dead man's wrists and 
neck. He had been dragged through the brush, while living, after 
being shot, and when found lay on his face, his right arm bent 
across his chest and his left grasping the willows above him. 

William Palmer was coming across the Stinkingwater Valley, 
near the scene of the murder, ahead of his wagon, with his shot- 
gun on his shoulder. A grouse rose in front of him, and he fired. 
The bird dropped dead on the body of Tbalt. On finding the 
grouse on the body, he went down to the wakiup, about a quar- 
ter of a mile below the scene of the murder, and seeing Long 
John and George Hilderman there, he told them that there was 
the body of a dead man above, and asked them if they would 
help him to put the corpse into his wagon, and that he would 
take it to town, and see if it could be identified. They said "No ; 
that is nothing. They kill people in Virginia every day, and 
there's nothing said about it, and we want to have nothing to 
do with it." 

The man lay for half a day exposed in the wagon, after being 
brought up to Nevada. Elk Morse, William Clark and Tom 
Baume got a coffin made for him; took him up to the burying 
ground above Nevada ; interned him decently, and, at the foot 
of the grave, a crotched stick was placed, which is, we believe, 
still standing. 

The indignation of the people was excited by the spectacle. 
The same afternoon three or four of the citizens raised twenty- 
five men,* and left Nevada at 10 p. m. The party subscribed an 
obligation before starting, binding them to mutual support, etc., 

* See Oath and names in back of book. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 73 

and then travelled on, with silence and speed, towards the valley 
of the Stinkingwater. Calling at a ranch on their way, they ob- 
tained an accession to their numbers, in the person of the man 
who eventually brought Ives to bay, after he had escaped from 
the guard who had him in charge. Several men were averse to 
taking him with them, not believing him to be a fit man for such 
an errand ; but they were greatly mistaken, for he was both hon- 
est and reliable, as they afterward found. 

Avoiding the traveled road, the troop rode round by the bluff, 
so as to keep clear of Dempsey's Ranch. About sis miles fur- 
ther on they called at a cabin, and got a guide to pilot them to 
the rendezvous. 

At about half-past three in the morning they crossed Wiscon- 
sin Creek, at a point some seven miles below Dempsey's, and 
found that it was frozen, but that the ice was not strong enough 
to carry the weight of man and horse, and they went through 
one after another, at different points, some of the riders having 
to get down, in order to help their horses, emerging half drowned 
on the other side, and continuing their journey, cased in a suit 
of frozen clothes, which, as one of them observed, ''stuck to them 
like death to a dead nigger." Even the irrepressible Tom Baume 
was obliged to take a sharp nip on his "quid," and to summon 
all his fortitude to his aid to face the cold of his ice-bound "rig." 

The leader called a halt about a mile further on, saying, "Every 
one light from his horse, hold him by the bridle, and make no 
noise till daybreak." Thus they stood motionless for an hour 
and a half. At the first peep of day the word was given, "Boys, 
mount your horses, and not a word pass, until we are in sight 
of the wakiup." They had not travelled far when a dog barked. 
Instantly they put spurs to their horses, and breaking to the 
right and left, formed the "surround," every man reigning up 
with his shot-gun bearing on the wakiup. The leader jumped 
from his horse, and seeing eight or ten men sleeping on the 
ground* in front of the structure, all wrapped up in blankets, 
sang out, ' ' The first man that raises will get a quart of buckshot 
in him, before he can say Jack Robinson." It was too dark to see 
who they were, so he went on to the wakiup, leaving his horse in 
charge of one of the party, half of whom had dismounted and 
the others held the horses. "Is Long John here?" he asked. 
"Yes," said that longitudinal individual. "Come out here; I 
want you." "Well," said he, "I guess I know what you want 
me for." "Probably you do; but hurry up; we have got no time 
to lose." "Well," said John, "wait till I get my moccasins on, 



* Though it was in December, these men were used to rougrhing it. 



74 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

won't you?" ''Be quick about it, then," observed his captor. 
Immediately after he came out of the wakiup, and they waited 
about half an hour before it was light enough to see distinctly. 
The captain took four of his men and Long John, and walked to 
the place where the murder had been committed, leaving the 
remainder of the troop in charge of the other men. They went 
up to the spot, and there Long John was charged with the mur- 
der. Palmer showed the position in which the body was found. 
He said, "I did not do it, boys." He was told that his blood 
would be held answerable for that of Nicholas Tbalt ; for that, if 
he had not killed him, he knew well who had done it, and had 
refused to help to put his body into a wagon. ''Long John," 
said one of the men, handling his pistol as he spoke, "you had 
better prepare for another world." The leader stepped between 
and said, "This won't do; if there is anything to be done, let us 
all be together." Long John was taken aside by three of the men, 
and sat down. They looked up, and there, in the faint light — 
about a quarter of a mile off — stood Black Bess, the mule bought 
by X. Beidler in Washington Gulch. Pointing to the animal, they 
said, "John, whose mule is that?" "That's the mule that Nick 
rode down here," he answered. "You know whose mule that is, 
John. Things look dark. You had better be thinking of some- 
thing else now." The mule was sent for, and brought before 
him, and he was asked where the other two mules were. He said 
he did not know. He was told that he had better look out for 
another world, for that he was played out in this. He said, "I 
did not commit that crime. If you give me a chance, I'll clear 
myself." "John," said the leader, "you never can do it; for 
you knew of a man lying dead for nine days, close to your house, 
and never reported his murder; and you deserve hanging for that. 
Why didn't you come to Virginia and tell the people?" He re- 
plied that he was afraid and dared not do it. "Afraid of what?" 
asked the captain. "Afraid of the men round here." "Who are 
they?" "I dare not tell who they are. There's one of them 
round here." "Where?" "There's one of them here at the waki- 
up, that killed Nick." "Who is he?" "George Ives." "Is he 
down at the wakiup?" "Yes." "You men stand here and keep 
watch over John, and I'll go down." Saying this he walked to 
the camp. 

On arriving at the wakiup. he paused, and picking out the man 
answering to the description of George Ives, he asked him. "Is 
your name George Ives?" "Yes," said that worthy. "I want 
you," was the laconic query. "To go to Virginia City." was the 
direct but unpleasing rejoinder. "All right," said George, '""I 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 75 

expect I have to go." He was at once given in charge of the 
guard. 

So innocent were some of the troop, that they had adopted the 
''Perfect gentleman" hj^othesis, and laid down their arms in 
anger at the arrest of this murderous villain. A little experience 
prevented any similar exhibition of such a weakness in the future. 

Two of the party went over to Tex, who was engaged in the 
highly necessary operation of changing his shirt. "I believe we 
shall want you too," said one of them; Tex denuded himself of 
his under garment, and throwing it towards Tom Baume, ex- 
claimed, "There's my old shirt and plenty of greybacks. You'd 
better arrest them too." He was politely informed that he him- 
self, but neither the shirt nor its population, was the object of this 
"unconstitutional restraint," and was asked if the pistols lying 
on the ground were his, which he admitted, and was thereupon 
told that they were wanted also, and that he must consider him- 
self "under arrest" — ^a technical yet simple formula adopted by 
mountaineers, to assure the individual addressed that his brains 
will, without further warning, be blown out, if he should attempt 
to make a "break." Tex dressed himself and awaited further 
developments. 

There appeared to be a belief on the part of both Tex and 
Ives that they should get off ; but when they saw the party with 
Long John, they appeared cast down, and said no more. 

The other men who were lying round the wakiup, when the 
scouting party rode up, were Aleck Carter, Bob Zachary, Whiskey 
Bill, Johnny Cooper, and two innocent strangers, whose prolonged 
tenure of life can only be accounted for by the knowledge of the 
circumstance that they were without money at the time. Of the 
fact of the connection of the others with the band the boys were 
ignorant, and were drinking coffee with them, laying down their 
guns within the reach of the robbers, on their bedclothes. Had 
the road agents possessed the nerve to make the experiment, they 
could have blown them to pieces. One of the party, pointing to 
Aleck Carter, said to the leader, "There's one good man among 
them, any way. I knew him on the 'other side'," (west of the 
mountains). The captain's view of the state of things was not 
altered by this flattering notice. He sang out, in a tone of voice 
that signified "something's up," "Every man take his gun and 
keep it." In after expeditions he had no need to repeat the 
command. Five men were sent into the wakiup, and the rest 
stood round it. The result of their search was the capture of 
seven dragoon and navy revolvers, nine shot-guns and thirteen 
rifles. These were brought out, and in laying them down one 



76 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

of them went off close to Tom Baume's head. Leroy South- 
mayde 's pistol— taken from him at the time of the robbery of the 
coach — was one of the weapons. It was recognized at the trial of 
Ives, by the number upon it. About half an inch of the muzzle 
had been broken off, and it had been fixed up smoothly. 

All being now ready, the party started for Dempsey's, and 
Oeoro-e, who was mounted on his spotted bob-tailed pony, went 
along with them. He had determined to escape, and in order to 
carry out his design he expressed a wish to try the speed of his 
horse ag-ainst the others, and challenged several to race with him. 
This was foolishly permitted, and, but for the accidental frustra- 
tion of his design to procure a remount of unsurpassed speed, a 
score of names might have been added to the long list of his mur- 
dered victims. 

At Dempsey's Ranch there was a bridge in course of construc- 
tion, and two of the men riding ahead saw George Hilderman, 
standing on the center, at work. He was asked if his name was 
George Hilderman, and replied "Yes," whereupon he was in- 
formed that he was wanted to go up to Virginia City. He in- 
quired whether they had any papers for him, and being told that 
they had not any, he declared that he would not leave the spot ; 
but the leader coming up, told him to go "without any foolish- 
ness," in a manner that satisfied him of the inutility of resist- 
ance, and he prepared to accompany them; but not as a volun- 
teer, by any means. He said he had no horse. Tom Baume of- 
fered him a mule. Then he had no saddle. The same kind friend 
found one, and he had to ride with them. His final effort was 
couched in the form of a declaration that the beast would not 
go. A stick was lying on the ground, and he received an instruc- 
tion, as the conventions word it, either to "whip and ride," or 
"walk and drive." This, practically speaking, reconciled him to 
the breach of the provisions of Magna Charta and the Bill of 
Rights involved in his arrest, and he jogged along, if not comfort- 
ably, yet, at all events, in peace. 

In the mean time, the arch villain in custody of the main body 
was playing his role with much skill and with complete success. 
He declared his entire innocence of the awful crime with which 
he was charged, and rather insinuated than expressed his wish 
that he might be taken to Virginia, where his friends were, and 
that he might be tried by civil authorities (Plummer to empanel 
the jury), and incidentally remarked that he should not like to 
be tried at Nevada, for that he once killed a dog there which had 
scared his horse, and for that reason they had prejudices against 
him, which might work him serious injury in the event of his trial 
at that place. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 77 

There is no doubt that the seeming alacrity with which he ap- 
parently yielded to the persuasions of his captors threw them 
off their guard, and he was permitted to ride unarmed, but other- 
wise unrestrained, along with the escort. 

So large a troop of horsemen never yet rode together mounted 
on fleet cayuses, on the magnificent natural roads of Montana, 
without yielding to the temptation presented to try the compara- 
tive merits of their horses, and our company of partisan police 
were no exception to this rule. Scrub races were the order of the 
day, until, in one of them, Geo. Ives, who was the winner, at- 
tracted the attention of the whole party, by continuing his race 
at the top of his horse's speed; but not until he was at least ten 
rods ahead of the foremost rider, did the guard (?) realize the 
fact that the bird had flown from the open cage. Twenty-four 
pairs of spurs were driven home into the flanks of twenty-four 
horses, and with a clatter of hoofs never since equalled on that 
road, except when the deluded cavalry of Virginia rode down the 
valley 

"To see the savage fray," 

or at the reception given to the Hon. J. M. Ashley and party, 
they swept on like a headlong rout. 

For a while, the fugitive gained gradually, but surely, on his 
pursuers, heading for Daley's Ranch, where his own fleet and 
favorite mare was standing bridled and saddled, ready for his 
use (so quickly did intelligence fly in those days). Fortune, how- 
ever, declared against the robber. He was too hotly pursued to 
be able to avail himself of the chance. His pursuers seeing a fresh 
horse from Virginia and a mule standing there, leaped on their 
backs and continued the chase. Ives turned his horse's head to- 
wards the mountains round Biven's' Gulch, and across the plain, 
in that race for life, straining every nerve, flew the representa- 
tives of crime and justice. Three miles more had been passed, 
when the robber found that his horse's strength Avas failing, and 
every stride diminishing. The steeds of Wilson and Burtchey 
were in no better condition ; but the use of arms might now decide 
the race, and springing from his horse, he dashed down a friendly 
ravine, whose rocky and boulder-strewn sides might offer some 
refuge from his relentless foes. Quick as thought, the saddles of 
his pursuers were empty, and the trial of speed was now to be 
continued on foot. On arriving at the edge of the ravine Ives 
was not visible ; but it was evident that he must be concealed 
within a short distance. Burtchey quickly "surrounded" the 
spot, and sure enough, there was Ives crouching behind a rock. 
Drawing a bead on him, Burtchey commanded him to come forth 



78 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

and with a light and careless laugh he obeyed. The wily Bohemian 
was far too astute, however, to be thus overreached, and be- 
fore Ives could get near enough to master his gun, a stern order 
to "stand fast" destroyed his last hope and he remained motion- 
less until assistance arrived, in the person of Wilson. 

Two hours had elapsed between the time of the escape and 
the recapture and return of the prisoner. A proposition was made 
to the captain to raise a pole and hang him there, but this was 
negatived. After gayly chatting with the boys, and treating 
them, the word was given to "Mount," and in the center of a hol- 
low square Ives began to realize his desperate situation. 

Tidings of the capture flew fast and far. Through every nook 
aud dell of the inhabited parts of the Territory, wildly and widely 
spread the news. Johnny Gibbons, who afterward made such sly 
and rapid tracks for Utah, haunted with visions of vigilance com- 
mittees, joined the party before they reached the canyon at Alder 
Creek, and accompanied them to Nevada. At that time he was 
a part owner of the Cottonwood Ranch (Dempsey's),* and kept 
the band well informed of all persons who passed with large sums 
of money. 

The sun had sunk behind the hills when the detachment reached 
Nevada, on the evening of the 18th of December, and a discussion 
arose upon the question whether they should bring Ives to Vir- 
ginia, or detain him for the night at Nevada. The "conserva- 
tives" and "radicals" had a long argument developing an "irre- 
pressible conflict;" but the radicals, on a vote, carried their 
point — rejecting Johnny Gibbons 's suffrage on the ground of 
mixed blood. It was thereupon determined to keep Ives at 
Nevada until morning, and then to determine the place of trial.* 

The prisoners were separated and chained. A strong guard was 
posted inside and outside of the house, and the night came and 
went without developing anything remarkable. But all that 
weary night, a "solitary horseman might have been seen" gallop- 
ing along the road at topmost speed, with frequent relays of 
horses, on his way to Bannack City. This was Lieut. George 
liane, alias Club-foot, who was sent with news of the high-handed 
outrage that was being perpetrated in defiance of law, and with 
no regard whatever to the constituted authorities. He was also 
instructed to suggest that Plummer should come forthwith to 
Nevada, demand the culprit for the civil authorities, enforce that 
demand by what is fitly called hocus pocus as habeas corpus, and 
see that he had a fair (?) trial. 



* First ranch recorded on the Stinking Water. 

* Judge Lott's story. 






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W. F. SANDERS 
'Sanders is the Keenest Blade I Ever Crossed" — Bob Ingersoll 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 79 

As soon as it was determined that Ives should remain at Ne- 
vada, Gibbons dashed up the street to Virginia, meeting a lawyer 
or two on the way — 

"Where the carriou is, there will the vultures," etc. 

At the California Exchange, Gibbons found Messrs. Smith and 
Ritchie, and a consultation between client, attorney and proch 
ein ami, resulted in Lane's mission to Bannack, as one piece of 
strategy that faintly promised the hope for rewards. All of Ives' 
friends were notified to be at Nevada early the next morning. 

The forenoon of the 19th saw the still swelling tide of miners, 
merchants and artisans wending their way to Nevada, and all 
the morning was spent in private examinations of the prisoners, 
and private consultations as to the best method of trial. Friends 
of the accused were found in all classes of society ; many of them 
were assiduously at work to create a sentiment in his favor, while 
a large multitude were there, suspicious that the right man had 
been caught ; and resolved, if such should prove to be the case, 
that no loophole of escape should be found for him, in any techni- 
cal form of the law. 

Although on the eve of "Forefathers' Day," there was in the 
atmosphere the mildness and the serenity of October. There was 
no snow and but little ice along the edges of sluggish streams; 
but the sun, bright and genial, warmed the clear air, and even 
thawed out the congealed mud in the middle of the streets. Little 
boys were at play in the streets, and fifteen hundred men stood 
in them, impatient for action, but waiting without a murmur, 
in order that everything might be done decently and in order. 

Messrs. Smith, Ritchie, Thurmond and Colonel Wood were Ives' 
lawyers, with whom was associated Mr. Alex Davis, then a com- 
parative stranger in Montana. 

Col. W. F. Sanders, at that time residing at Bannack City, but 
temporarily sojourning at Virginia, was sent for to conduct th6 
prosecution, and Hon. Charles S. Bagg was appointed his col- 
league, at the request of Judge Wilson, Mr. Bagg being a miner, 
and then little known. 

In settling upon the mode of trial, much difference of opinion 
was developed ; but the miners finally determined that it should 
be held in the presence of the whole body of citizens, and reserved 
to themselves the ultimate decision of all questions ; but lest some- 
thing should escape their attention, and injustice thereby be done 
to the public, or to the prisoner, a delegation composed of twelve 
men from each district (Nevada and Junction) was appointed to 



* Ives was tried before Judge Byam. 



80 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

hear the proof, and to act as an advisory jury. AV. H. Patton, of 
Nevada, and W. Y. Pemberton, of Virginia, were appointed 
amanuenses. An attempt to get on the jury twelve men from 
Virginia was defeated, and, late in the afternoon, the trial began 
and continued till nightfall. The three prisoners, George Ives, 
George Hilderman and Long John (John Franck) were chained 
with the lightest logging chain that could be found— this was 
wound round their legs, and the links were secured with pad- 
locks. 

In introducing testimony for the people, on the morning of the 
21st, the miners informed all concerned that the trial must close 
at three p. m. The announcement was received with great satis- 
faction. 

It is unnecessary to describe the trial, or to recapitulate the 
evidence. Suffice it to say that two alibis, based on the testimony 
of George Brown and honest Whiskey Joe, failed altogether. 
Among the lawyers, there was, doubtless, the usual amount of 
brow-beating and technical insolence, intermingled with displays 
of eloquence and learning ; but not the rhetoric of Blair, the learn- 
ing of Coke, the metaphysics of Alexander, the wit of Jerrold, or 
the odor of Oberlin, could dull the perceptions of those hardy 
mountaineers, or mislead them from the stern and righteous pur- 
pose of all this labor, which was to secure immunity to the per- 
sons and property of the community, and to guarantee a like pro- 
tection to those who should cast their lot in Montana in time 
to come. 

The evidence was not confined to the charge of murder; but 
showed, also, that Ives had been acting in the character of a rob- 
ber, as well as that of a murderer; and it may well be doubted 
whether he would have been convicted at all, if developments 
damaging to the reputations and dangerous to the existence of 
some of his friends had not been made during the trial, on which 
they absented themselves mysteriously, and have never been seen 
since. There was an instinctive and unerring conviction that the 
worst man in the community was on trial ; but it was hard work, 
after all the proof and all this feeling to convict him. 

Prepossessing in his appearance ; brave beyond a doubt ; affable 
m his manners ; jolly and free among his comrades, and with thou- 
sands of dollars at his command ; bad and good men alike working 
upon the feeling of the community, when they could not disturb 
its judgment—it seemed, at times, that all the labor was to end 
in disastrous failure. 

The crowd which gathered around that fire in front of the 
court is vividly before our eyes. We see the wagon containing 




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DR. DON L. BY AM 

Dr. Don L. Byam was born in 1814 probably in the state of Virginia. 
Attended William and Mary's College but did not graduate. Did, however, 
graduate at some medical school. 

Went in early life to Ohio, where he remained until 1858. when he got 
the gold fever and made a trip across the plains to 'Pikes Peak'. In 1862 went 
to Bannack among the first. In 1803 located in Alder Gulch, where he got a 
claim just above Nevada City, where he built the house, afterwards owned by 
Fenner. It was in this house that several highwavmen were tried, and when 
it was being constructed where some were hung. He was judge at the Miner s 
Court when George Ives was tried, convicted and hung. The Doctor was one 
who knew no fear; he died April, 1883, at Emigrant Gulch and was buried in 
the old Emigrant d metery. He left one son, Henry Clay Byam, now a resident 
of Yellowstone Valley and two grandsons. Grant Condit of Illinois, and Senator 
Chas. S. Mnffly of Winston. Montana, to whom I am indebted for the above, 
and also his grandfather's picture. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 81 

the Judge, and an advocate pleading with all his earnestness and 
eloquence for the dauntless robber, on whose unmoved features 
no shade of despondency can be traced by the fitful glare of the 
blazing wood, which lights up, at the same time, the stern and 
impassive features of the guard, who, in every kind of habiliments, 
stand in various attitudes, in a circle surrounding the scene of 
justice. The attentive faces and compressed lips of the jurors 
show their sense of the vast responsibility that rests upon them, 
and of their firm resolve to do their duty. Ever and anooi a 
brighter flash than ordinary reveals the expectant crowd of 
miners, thoughtfully and steadily gazing on the scene, and listen- 
ing intently to the trial. Beyond this close phalanx, fretting and 
shifting around its outer edge, sways with quick and uncertain 
motion the wavering line of desperadoes and sympathizers with 
the criminal; their haggard, wild and alarmed countenances show- 
ing too plainly that they tremble at the issue which is, when 
decided, to drive them in exile from Montana, or to proclaim them 
as associate criminals, whose fate could neither be delayed nor du- 
bious. A sight like this will ne 'er be seen again in Montana. It 
was the crisis of the fate of the Territory. Nor was the position 
of prosecutor, guard, juror or Judge, one that any but a brave 
and law-abiding citizen would choose, or even accept. Marked 
for slaughter by desperadoes, these men staked their lives for the 
welfare of the society. A mortal strife between Colonel Sanders 
and one of the opposing lawyers was only prevented by the 
prompt action of wise men, who corralled the combatants on 
their way to fight. The hero of that hour of trial was avowedly 
W. F. Sanders. Not a desperado present but would have felt hon- 
ored by becoming his murderer, and yet, fearless as a lion, he 
stood there confronting and defying the malice of his armed ad- 
versaries. The citizens of Montana, many of them his bitter po- 
litical opponents, recollect his actions with gratitude and kindly 
feeling. Charles S. Bagg is also remembered as having been at 
his post when the storm blew loudest. 

The argument of the case having terminated, the issue was, 
in the first place, left to the decision of the twenty-four who had 
been selected for that purpose, and they thereupon retired to con- 
sult. 

Judge Byam, who shouldered the responsibility of the whole 
proceeding, will never be forgotten by those in whose behalf he 
courted certain, deadly peril, and probable death. 

The jury were absent, deliberating on their verdict, but little 
less than half an hour, and on their return, twenty-three made a 
report that Ives was proven guilty, but one member — Henry 
Spivey— declined to give in any finding, for unknown reasons. 



82 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

The crisis of the affair had now arrived. A motion was made, 
' ' That the report of the committee be received, and it discharged 
from further consideration of that case," which Mr. Thurmond 
opposed; but upon explanation, deferred pressing his objections 
until the motion should be made to adopt the report, and to ac- 
cept the verdict of the committee as the judgment of the people 
there assembled ; and thus the first formal motion passed without 
opposition. 

Before this, some of the crowd were clamorous for an adjourn- 
ment, and now Ives ' friends renewed the attempt ; but it met 
with signal failure. 

Another motion, "That the assembly adopt as their verdict the 
report of the committee," was made, and called forth the irrepres- 
sible and indefatigable Thurmond and Col. J. M. Wood; but it 
carried, there being probably not more than one hundred votes 
against it. 

Here it was supposed by many that the proceedings would end 
for the present, and that the court would adjourn until the mor- 
row, as it was already dark. Col. Sanders, however, mounted the 
wagon, and having recited that Ives had been declared a mur- 
derer and a robber by the people there assembled, moved "That 
George Ives be forthwith hung by the neck until he is dead" — 
a bold and business-like movement which excited feeble opposi- 
tion, was carried before the defendant seemed to realize the 
situation; but a friend or two and some old acquaintances hav- 
ing gained admission to the circle within which Ives was guarded, 
to bid him farewell, awakened him to a sense of the condition in 
which he was placed, and culprit and counsel sought to defer 
the execution. Some of his ardent counsel shed tears, of which 
lachrymose effusions it is well to say no more than that they 
were copious. The vision of a long and scaly creature, inhabiting 
the Nile, rises before us in connection with this aqueous sympathy 
for an assassin. Quite a number of his old chums were, as Petro- 
leum V. Nasby says, "weeping profoosly." Then came moving 
efforts to have the matter postponed until the coming morning, 
Ives giving assurances, upon his honor, that no attempt at rescue 
or escape would be made ; but already Davis and Hereford* were 
seeking a favorable spot for the execution. 

Our Legislative Assembly seem to have forgotten that Mr. A. 
B. Davis* had any of these arduous labors to perform, but none 
who were present will ever forget the fearless activity which 
he displayed all through those trials. A differently constituted 

* 5?'"|^.°'''^„P"t the rope around Ives' neck. 
thP niiu^^ol^. i®?^' at the Masonic Home, in 1815. Davis alwavs went bv 
tne nick name of Lazy Davis, as he never did like to work. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 83 

body may yet sit in Montana and vote him his five hundred dol- 
lars. 

The appeals made by Ives and Thurmond for a delay of the 
execution were such as human weakness cannot well resist. It is 
most painful to be compelled to deny even a day's brief space, 
during which the criminal may write to mother and sister, and 
receive for himself such religious consolation as the most hard- 
ened desire, under such circumstances ; but that body of men had . 
come there deeply moved by repeated murders and robberies, and 
meant "business." The history of former trials was there more 
freshly and more deeply impressed upon the minds of men than 
it is now, and the result of indecision was before their eyes. The 
most touching appeal from Ives, as he held the hand of Col. San- 
ders, lost its force when met by the witheringly sarcastic request 
of one of the crowd,* "Ask him how long a time he gave the 
Dutchman. ' ' Letters were dictated by him and written by Thur- 
mond. His will was made, in which the lawyers and his chums 
in iniquity were about equally remembered, to the entire seclu- 
sion of his mother and sisters in Wisconsin. Whether or not it 
was a time for tears, it was assuredly a time of tears ; but neither 
weakness nor remorse moistened the eyes of Ives. He seemed 
neither haughty nor yet subdued ; in fact, he was exactly imper- 
turable. From a place not more than ten yards from where he 
sat during the trial he was led to execution. 

The prisoner had repeatedly declared that he would never "die 
in his boots," and he asked the sergeant of the guard for a pair 
of moccasins, which were given to him; but after a while he 
seemed to be chilled and requested that his boots might again be 
put on. Thus George Ives "died in his boots." 

During the whole trial, the doubting, trembling, desperate 
friends of Ives exhausted human ingenuity to devise methods for 
his escape, trying intimidation, weak appeals to sympathy, and 
ever and anon exhibiting their abiding faith in "Nice, sharp 
quillets of the law." All the time the roughs awaited with a sus- 
pense of hourly increasing painfulness the arrival of their boasted 
chief, who had so long and so successfully sustained the three 
mimical characters of friend of their clan, friend of the people, 
and guardian of the laws. 

Not more anxiously did the great captain at Waterloo sigh for 
"Night or Blucher" than did they for Plummer. But, relying 
upon him, they deferred all other expedients ; and when the 
dreaded end came, as come it must, they felt that the tide 
in the affairs of villains had not been taken at its flood, and 



* J. X. Beidler. 



84 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

not without a struggle they yielded to the inevitable logic of 
events, and because they could not help it they gave their loved 
companion to the gallovrs. 

Up to the very hour at which he was hanged they were con- 
fident of Plummer's arrival in time to save him. But events 
were transpiring throughout the Territory which produced in- 
tense excitement, and rumor on her thousand wings was ubiquit- 
ous in her journeying on absurd errands. 

Before Lane reached Bannack news of Ives 's arrest had reached 
there, with the further story that the men of Alder Gulch were 
wild with excitement, and ungovernable from passion ; that a 
vigilance committee had been formed ; a number of the best citi- 
zens hanged, and that from three hundred to five hundred men 
were on their way to Bannack City to hang Plummer, Ray, Stin- 
son, George Chrisman, A. J. McDonald and others. This last 
''bulletin from the front" was probably the off -spring of Plum- 
mer's brain. It is also likely that Lane and perhaps Ray and 
Stinson helped in the hatching of the story. Suffice it to say 
that Plummer told it often, shedding crocodile tears that such 
horrible designs existed in the minds of any as the death of his, 
as yet, unrobbed friends, Chrisman, McDonald and Pitt. 

His was a most unctuous sorrow, intended at that crisis to be 
seen of men in Bannack, and quite a number of the good citizens 
clubbed together to defend each other from the contemplated as- 
sault, the precise hour for which Plummer's detectives had 
learned, and all night long many kept watch and ward to give 
the attacking party a warm reception. 

There is no doubt that Plummer believed that such a body of 
men were on their way to Bannack City after him, Ray, Stinson 
and company. The coupling of the other names with theirs was 
his own work, and was an excellent tribute paid in a back-handed 
way to their integrity and high standing in the community. 

"Ck»nscience doth make cowards of all." 

and Lane found Plummer anxious to look after his own safety 
rather than that of George Ives. 

The rumors carried day by day from the trial to the band in 
different parts of the Territory were surprising in their exact- 
ness, and in the celerity with which they were carried ; but they 
were changed in each community by those most interested into 
forms best suited to subserve the purposes of the robbers ; and, 
in this way, did they beguile into sympathy with them and their 
misfortunes many fair, honest men. 

Ives' trial for murder, though not the first in the Territory, 
differed from any that had preceded it. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 85 

Before this memorable day citizens, in the presence of a well- 
disciplined and numerous band of desperadoes, had spoken of 
their atrocities with bated breath ; and witnesses upon their trial 
had testified in whispering humbleness. Prosecuting lawyers, too, 
had in their arguments often startled the public with such novel 
propositions as "Now, gentlemen, you have heard the witnesses 
and it is for you to say whether the defendant is or is not guilty ; 
if he is guilty you should say so, but if not, you ought to acquit 
him. I leave this with you, to whom it rightfully belongs. ' ' But 
the counsel for the defense were, at least, guiltless of uttering 
these last platitudes ; for a vigorous defence hurt no one and won 
hosts of friends — of a certain kind. But on Ives's trial there was 
given forth no uncertain sound. Robbery and honesty locked 
horns for the mastery, each struggling for empire ; and each stood 
by his banner until the contest ended — fully convinced of the im- 
portance of victory. Judge Byam remained by the prisoner from 
the time judgment was given, and gave all the necessary direc- 
tions for carrying it into effect. Robert Hereford was the execu- 
tive officer. 

An unfinished house, having only the side-walls up, was chosen 
as the best place near at hand for carrying into effect the sen- 
tence of death. The preparations though entirely sufficient, were 
both simple and brief. The butt of a forty-foot pole was planted 
inside the house at the foot of one of the walls, and the stick 
leaned over a cross beam. Near the point was tied the fatal cord, 
with the open noose dangling fearfully at its lower end. A large 
goods box was the platform. The night had closed in with a. 
bright, full moon, and around that altar of vengeance the stern 
and resolute faces of the guard were visible under all circum- 
stances of light and shade conceivable. Unmistakable determina- 
tion was expressed in every line of their bronzed and weather- 
beaten countenances. 

George Ives was led to the scaffold in fifty-eight minutes from 
the time his doom was fixed. A perfect babel of voices saluted 
the movement. Every roof was covered, and cries of "Hang 

him!" "Don't hang him!" "Banish him!" "I'll shoot!" " 

their murdering souls!" "Let's hang Long John!" were heard 
all around. The revolvers could be seen flashing in the moon- 
light. The guard stood like a rock. They had heard the mut- 
tered threats of a rescue from the crowd, and with grim firm- 
ness — the characteristic of the miners when they mean "busi- 
ness" — they stood ready to beat them back. Woe to the mob 
that should surge against that living bulwark. They would have 
fallen as grass before the scythe. 



86 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

As the prisoner stepped on to the fatal platform, the noise 
ceased, and the stillness became painful. The rope Avas adjusted, 
and the usual request was made as to whether he had anything to 
say. With a firm voice he replied, "I am innocent of this crime ; 
Aleck Carter killed the Dutchman." 

The strong emphasis on the word "this" convinced all around 
that he meant his words to convey the impression that he was 
guilty of other crimes. Up to this moment he had always accused 
Long John of the murder. 

Ives expressed a wish to see Long John, and the crowd of sym- 
pathizers yelled in approbation ; but the request was denied, for 
an attempt at a rescue was expected. 

All being ready, the word was given to the guard,* "Men, do 
your duty." The click of the locks rang sharply, and the pieces 
flashed in the moonlight as they came to the "aim." The box 
flew from under the murderer's feet with a crash, and George 
Ives swung in the night breeze, facing the pale moon that lighted 
up the scene of retributive justice. 

As the vengeful click ! click ! of the locks sounded their note 
of deadly warning to the intended rescuers, the crowd stampeded 
in wild affright, rolling over one another in heaps, shrieking and 
howling with terror. 

When the drop fell, the Judge, who was standing close beside 
Ives, called out, "His neck is broken; he is dead." This an- 
nouncement and the certainty of its truth — for the prisoner never 
moved a limb — convinced the few resolute desperadoes who knew 
not fear that the case was hopeless, and they retired with grinding 
teeth and with muttered curses issuing from their lips. 

It is astonishing what a wonderful effect is produced upon an 
angry mob by the magic sound referred to. Hostile demonstra- 
tions are succeeded by a mad panic ; rescuers turn their undivided 
attention to their own corporal salvation ; eyes that gleamed with 
anger, roll wildly with terror ; the desire for slaughter gives way 
to the fear of death, and courage hands the craven fear his sceptre 
of command. When a double-barreled shot-gun is pointed at a 
traveller by a desperado the feeling is equally intense; but its 
development is different. The organ of "acquisitiveness" is dor- 
mant; "combativeness" and "destructiveness" are inert; "cau- 
tion" calls "benevolence" to do its duty; a very large lump rises 
into the wayfarer's throat; cold chilis follow the downward 
course of the spine, and the value of money, as compared with 
that of bodily safety, instantly reaches the minimum point. 
Verily, "All that a man hath wiU he give for his life." We have 



* Charles Beehrer was the man that used those words. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 87 

often smiled at the fiery indignation of the great untried when 
listening- to their account of what they would have done if a 
couple of road agents ordered them to throw up their hands; but 
they failed to do anything towards convincing us that they would 
not have sent valor to the rear at the first onset, and appeared as 
the very living and breathing impersonations of discretion. We 
felt certain that were they ''loaded to the guards" with the gold 
dust, they would come out of the scrape as poor as Lazarus, and 
as mild and insinuating in demeanor as a Boston mamma with six 
marriageable daughters. 

At last the deed was done. The law-abiding among the citizens 
breathed more freely, and all felt that the worst man in the com- 
munity was dead — that the neck of crime was broken, and that 
the reign of terror was ended. 

The body of Ives was left hanging for an hour. At the expira- 
tion of this period of time it was cut down, carried into a wheel- 
barrow shop, and laid out on a work bench. A guard was then 
placed over it till morning, when the friends of the murderer had 
him decentlv interred. He lies in his narrow bed, near his victim 
— the murdered Tbalt — ^to await his final doom, when they shall 
stand face to face at the grand tribunal, where every man shall 
be rewarded according to his deeds. 

George Ives, though so renowned a desperado, was by no means 
an ancient practitioner in his profession. In 1857-58 he worked as 
a miner, honestly and hard, in California, and though wild and 
reckless was not accused of dishonesty. His first great venture 
in the line of robbery was the stealing of government mules, near 
Walla Walla. He was employed as herder, and used to report 
that certain of his charge were dead every time that a storm 
occurred. The officer of the post believed the story, and inquired 
no further. In this way George ran off quite a decent herd, with 
the aid of his friends. In Elk City he startled his old employer 
in the mines of California by riding his horse into a saloon, and 
when that gentleman seized the bridle, he drew his revolver, and 
would certainly have killed him, but fortunately he caught sight 
of the face of his intended victim in time, and returning his pistol, 
he apologized for his conduct. When leaving the city he vdshed 
to present his splendid grey mare to his friend, who had for old 
acquaintance's sake supplied his wants; but the present, though 
often pressed upon this gentleman, was as often refused ; for no 
protestations of Ives could convince him that the beautiful ani- 
mal was fairly his property. He said that he earned it honestly 
by mining. His own account of the stealing of the government 
mules Avhich we have given above was enough to settle that ques- 



88 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

tion definitely. It was from the "other side" that Ives came over 
to Montana— then a part of Idaho— and entered with full purpose 
upon the career which ended at Nevada so fatally and shame- 
fully for himself, and so happily for the people of this Territory. 

A short biographical sketch of Ives and of the rest of the gang 
will appear at the end of the present work. 

The trial of Hilderman was a short matter. He was defended 
by Judge ( ?) H. P. A. Smith. He had not been known as a very 
bad man ; but was a weak and somewhat imbecile old fellow, rea- 
sonably honest in a strictly honest community, but easily led to 
hide the small treasure, keep the small secrets, and do the dirty 
work of strong-minded, self-willed, desperate men, whether will- 
ingly or through fear the trial did not absolutely determine. The 
testimony of Dr. Glick showed him to be rather cowardly and a 
great eater. He had known of the murder of Tbalt for some 
weeks, and had never divulged it. He was also cognizant of the 
murder near Cold Spring Ranch, and was sheltering and hiding 
the perpetrators. He had concealed the stolen mules too ; but, 
in view of the disclosures made by many, after Ives was hung, 
and the power of the gang being broken, such disclosures did not 
so much damage men in the estimation of the honest mountaineer. 
Medical men were taken to wounded robbers to dress their 
wounds; they were told in what affray they were received, and 
the penalty of repeating the story to outsiders was sometimes 
told ; but to others it was described by a silence more expressive 
than words. Other parties, too, came into possession of the knowl- 
edge of the tragedies enacted by them, from their own lips, and 
under circumstances rendering silence a seeming necessity. To 
be necessarily the repository of their dreadful secrets was no en- 
viable position. Their espionage upon every word uttered by the 
unfortunate accessary was offensive, and it was not a consola- 
tory thought that, at any moment, his life might pay the pen- 
alty of any revelation he should make; and a person placed in 
such a "fix" was to some extent a hostage for the reticence of all 
who knew the same secret. 

If stronger-minded men that Hilderman could pretend to be, 
had kept secrets at the bidding of the road agents, and that too 
in the populous places, where there were surely some to defend 
them — it was argued that a weak-minded man, away from all 
neighbors, where by day and by night he could have been killed 
and hidden from all human eyes, with perfect impunity — had 
some apology for obeying their behests. 

Mr. Smith's defence of Hilderman was rather creditable to him. 
There was none of the braggadocio common to such occasions, and 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 89 

the people — feeling that they had caught and executed a chief of 
the gang — felt kindly disposed towards the old man. 

Hilderman was banished from Montana, and was allowed ten 
days' time for the purpose of settling his affairs and leaving. 
When he arrived at Bannack City, Plummer told him not to go ; 
but the old man took counsel of his fears, and comparing the 
agile and effeminate form of Plummer with those of the earnest 
mountaineers at Nevada, he concluded that he would rather bet 
on them than on Plummer, and being furnished by the latter with 
a pony and provisions, he left Montana forever. 

When found guilty and recommended to mercy, he dropped 
on his knees, exclaiming, "My God, is it so?" 

At the close of his trial he made a statement, wherein he con- 
firmed nearly all Long John had said of Ives. 

Thus passed one of the crises which have arisen in this new 
community. The result demonstrated that when the good and 
law-abiding were banded together and all put forth their united 
strength, they were too strong for the lawlessness which was 
manifested when Ives was hung. 

It has generally been supposed and believed that Plummer was 
not present at the trial of Ives, or at his execution. We are 
bound, however, to state that Mr. Clinton, who kept a saloon in 
Nevada at the time, positively asserts that he was in the room 
when Plummer took a drink there, a few minutes before the 
roughs made their rush at the fall of Ives, and that he went out 
and headed the mob in the effort which the determination of the 
guard rendered unsuccessful. 

Long John having turned states' evidence was set free, and 
we believe that he still remains in the Territory. 

One thing was conclusively shown to all who witnessed the trial 
of Ives. If every road agent costs as much labor, time and money 
for his conviction, the efforts of the citizens would have, practi- 
cally, failed altogether. Some shorter, surer, and at least equally 
equitable method of procedure was to be found. The necessity 
for this, and the trial of its efficiency when it was adopted, form 
the ground- work of this history. 



CHAPTER XV. 
The Formation of the Vigilance Committee. 

The land wants such 

As dare with vigor execute the laws. 

Her festered members must be lanced and tented : 

He's a bad surgeon that for pity spares 

The part corrupted till the gangrene spread, 

And all the body ptn-ish : he that is merciful 

I'nto the bad. is cruel to the good. 



90 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

Those who have merely read the account given in these pages of 
the execution of Ives, can never fully appreciate the intense pop- 
ular excitement that prevailed throughout the Territory during 
the stormy and critical period, or the imminent peril to which 
the principal actors in the drama were exposed. As an instance 
of the desire for murder and revenge that animated the roughs, 
it may be stated that Col. Sanders was quietly reading in John 
Creighton's* store, on the night of the execution of Ives, when 
a desperado named Harvey Meade — the individual who planned 
the seizure of a Federal vessel at San Francisco — walked into the 
room, with his revolver stuck into the band of his pants, in front, 
and walking up to the Colonel, commenced abusing him and called 

him a , etc. Col. Sanders not having been constituted with 

a view to the exhibition of fear, continued his reading, quietly 
slipping his hand out of his pocket in which lay a Derringer, and 
dropping it into his coat pocket, cocked his revolver as a prepara- 
tive for a little shooting. Raising his eyes to the intruder, he 
observed, "Harvey, I should feel hurt if some men said this; but 
from such a dog as you it is not worth noticing." A doctor who 
was present laid his hand on a pick handle, and an "affair" 
seemed imminent ; but John Creighton quietly walked up to the 
man and said, "You have to get out of her — quick!" All men 
fond of shooting, otherwise than in self-defence, unless they take 
their victim at an advantage, never care to push matters to ex- 
tremities, and Meade quietly walked off — foiled. He admitted 
afterwards to Sanders, that he had intended to kill him; but he 
professed a recent and not unaccountable change of sentiment. 

All the prominent friends of justice were dogged, threatened 
and watched by the roughs; but their day was passing away, 
and the dawn of a better state of things was even then enlivening 
the gloom which overspread society like a funeral pall. 

Two sister towns — Virginia and Nevada — claimed the honor 
of taking the first steps towards the formation of a Vigilance 
Committee.* The truth is, that five men in Virginia and one in 
Nevada* commenced simultaneously to take the initiative in the 
matter. Two days had not elapsed before their efforts were 
united, and when once a beginning had been made, the ramifica- 
tions of the league of safety and order extended in a week or 
two all over the Territory, and, on the 14th day of January, 1864, 
the coup de grace was given to the power of the band by the exe- 
cution of five of the chief villains in Virginia City. The details 
of the rapid and masterly operations which occupied the few 



** wnf °t, Omaha, a prominent man in earlv Montana. 

Wilbur F. Sanders in Virginia City, and John Lott in Nevada 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 91 

weeks immediately succeeding the execution of Ives, will appear 
in the following chapters. 

The reasons why the organization was so generally approved, 
and so numerously and powerfully supported, were such as ap- 
pealed to the sympathies of all men who had anything to lose, 
or who thought their lives safer under the dominion of a body 
which, upon the whole, it must be admitted, has from the first 
acted with a wisdom, a justice and a vigor never surpassed on 
this continent, and rarely, if ever, equalled. Merchants, miners, 
mechanics and professional men alike, joined in the movement, 
until, within an incredibly short space of time, the road agents 
and their friends were in a state of constant and well-grounded 
fear, lest any remarks they might make confidentially to an ac- 
quaintance might be addressed to one who was a member of the 
much-dreaded Committee. 

The inhabitants of Virginia had especial cause to seek for ven- 
geance upon the head of the blood-thirsty marauders who had, 
in addition to the atrocities previously recounted, planned and 
arranged the murder and robbery of as popular a man as ever 
struck the Territory — one whose praise was in all men's mouths, 
and who had left them, in the previous fall, with the intention of 
returning to solicit their suffrages, as well as those of the people 
of Lewiston and "Western Idaho, as their delegate to Congress. 
His address, in the form of a circular, is still to be seen in the pos- 
session of a citizen of Nevada. 

Lloyd Magruder, to whom the above remarks have special ref- 
erence, was a merchant of Lewiston, Idaho. He combined in his 
character so many good and even noble qualities, that he was 
one of the most generally esteemed and beloved men in the Terri- 
tory, and no single act of villainy ever committed in the far West 
was more deeply felt, or provoked a stronger desire for retalia- 
tion upon the heads of the euiltv perpetrators, than the murder 
and robbery of himself and party, on their journey homeward. 

In the summer of 1863, this unfortunate gentleman came to 
Virginia, with a large pack-train, laden with merchandise, selected 
with great judgment for the use of miners, and on his arrival, he 
opened a store on Wallace street, still pointed out as his place of 
business by ''old inhabitants." 

Having disposed of his goods, from the sale of which he had 
realized about $14,000, he made arrangements for his return to 
Lewiston, by way of Elk City. This becoming known, Plummer 
and his band held a council in Alder Gulch, and determined on 
the robbery and murder of Magruder, C. Allen, Horace and Rob- 
ert Chalmers, and a Mr. Phillips, from the neighborhood of 



92 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

Marysville. During the debate, it was proposed that Steve Marsh- 
land should go on the expedition, along with Jem Romaine, Doc 
Howard. Billy Page, and a man called indifferently Boh or Bill 
Lowry. The programme included the murder of the five victims, 
and Marshland said he did not wish to go, as he could make money 
without murder. He was, he said, ''on the rob, but not on the 
kill." Cyrus Skinner laughed at his notion, and observed that 
''dead men tell no tales." It was accordingly decided that the 
four miscreants above named should join the party and kill them 
all at some convenient place on the road. Accordingly they of- 
fered their services to Magruder, who gave them a free passage 
and a fat mule each to ride, telling them that they could turn 
their lean horses along with the band. 

Charley Allen, it seems, had strong misgivings about the char- 
acter of the ruffians, and told Magruder that the men would not 
harm him (Allen), as they were under obligations to him; but 
they would, likely enough, try to rob Magruder. His caution 
was ineffectual, and Mr. McK. Dennee, we believe, fixed up for 
the trip the gold belonging to Magruder. 

■ It is a melancholy fact that information of the intention of the 
murderers had reached the ears of more than one citizen; but 
such was the terror of the road agents that they dared not tell 
any of the party. 

Having reached the mountain beyond Clearwater River,* on 
their homeward journey, the stock was let out to graze on the 
slope, and Magruder, in company with Bill Lowry, went up to 
watch it. Seizing his opportunity, the ruffian murdered Ma- 
gruder, and his confederates assassinated the four remaining in 
camp, while asleep. Romaine said to Phillips when shooting him 

down, "You , I told you not to come." The villains having 

possessed themselves of the treasure, rolled up the bodies, baggage 
and arms, and threw them over a precipice. They then went on 
to Lewiston, avoiding Elk City on their route, where the first 
intimation of foul play was given by the sight of Magruder 's 
mule, saddle, leggins, etc., in the possession of the robbers. Hill 
Beechey, the Deputy Marshal at Lewiston, and owner of the Luna 
House, noticed the cantinas filled with gold, and suspected some- 
thing wrong, when they left by the coach for San Francisco. A 
man narn^d Groodrich recognized Page, when he came to ranch 
the animals with him. 

The murderers were closely muffled and tried to avoid notice. 
Beechey fellowed them right through to California, and there 

.^ * J^i*^ '^ ^ mistake. Magruder was kiUed in Montana on the east 
side of the Bitter Root mountains. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 93 

arrested them on the charge of murdering and robbing Magruder 
and his party. He found that they had changed their names at 
many places. Every possible obstacle was interposed that the 
forms of law allowed ; but the gallant man fought through it all, 
and brought them back, on requisition of the Governor of Idaho, 
to Lewiston. Page turned state's evidence, and the men, who 
were closely guarded by Beechey all the time, in his own house, 
were convicted after a fair trial, and hanged. Romaine, who had 
been a barber, and afterward a bar-keeper, was a desperate vil- 
lain. At the gallows, he said that there was a note in his pocket, 
which he did not wish to be read until he was dead. On opening 
it, it was found to contain a most beastly and insolent defiance 
of the citizens of Lewiston. Before he was swung off, he bade 

them "Launch their old boat," for it was "only a mud-scow 

any way." 

A reconnoissance of the ground, in spring, discovered a few 
bones, some buttons from Magruder 's coat, some fire-arms, etc. 
The coyotes had been too busy to leave much. 

Page, at the last advices, was still living at the Luna House. 
Even a short walk from home produces, it is said, a feeling of 
tightness about the throat, only to be relieved by going back in 
a hurry. He was not one of the original plotters, but not being 
troubled with too much sense, he was frightened into being a 
tool. 

The perpetration of this horrible outrage excited immense in- 
dignation, and helped effectually to pave the way for the advent 
of the Vigilantes. Reviewing the long and bloody lists of crimes 
against person and property, which last included several whole- 
sale attempts at plunder of the stores in Virginia and Bannack, 
it was felt that the question was narrowed down to "kill or be 
killed." "Self-preservation is the first law of nature," and the 
mountaineers took the right side. We have to thank them for 
the peace and order which exist today in what are, by the con- 
current testimony of all travellers, the best-regulated new mining 
camps in the West. 

The record of every villain who comes to M'ontana arrives with 
him, or before him ; but no notice is taken of his previous conduct. 
If, however, he tries his hand at his trade in this region, he is 
sure of the reward of his crimes, and that on short notice; at 
least such is the popular belief. 



94 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

CHAPTER XVI. 
The Deer Lodge Scout. 

The sleuthliound is upon the trail. 

Nor speed nor force shall aught avail. 

Almost instantly after the commencement of the organization 
of the Vigilance Committee, it was determined that the pursuit 
of the miscreants — the comrades of Ives — should be commenced 
and maintained with a relentless earnestness, which should know 
no abatement until the last blood-stained marauder had paid 
the penalty of his crimes by death on the gallows ; or had escaped 
the retribution in store for him by successful flight to other coun- 
tries. Foremost on the list stood Aleck Carter, the accomplice, 
at any rate, in the murder of Tbalt. 

Twenty-four* men were mustered, whose equipments consisted 
of arms, ammunition, and the most modest provision for the wants 
of the inner man that could possibly be conceived sufficient. The 
volunteers formed a motley group ; but there were men enough 
among them of unquestioned courage, whom no difficulty could 
deter and no danger affright. They carried, generally, a pair of 
revolvers, a rifle or shot-gun, blankets and some rope. Spirits 
were forbidden to be used. 

The leader of the party was one of those cool, undaunted, and 
hardy men, whose career has been marked by honesty of purpose 
and fearlessness concerning the consequences of any just or law- 
ful action, and to whom society owes a large debt for perils and 
hardships voluntarily undergone for the salvation of the lives and 
property of the people of this Territory, and for the punishment 
of wrong-doers. 

On the 23d of December, 1863, the party, on horse and mule- 
back, went by way of the Stinkingwater, on to the Big Hole, and 
over the Divide in the main range. The weather was very cold, 
and there was a large quantity of snow upon the ground. Fires 
could not be lighted when wanted at night, for fear of attracting 
attention. The men leaving their horses under a guard, lay down 
in their blankets on the snow — the wisest of them in it. As the 
riders had been taken up from work, without time for the need- 
ful preparation in the clothing department, they were but ill pre- 
pared to face the stormy and chilling blasts, which swept over 
the hills and valleys crossed by them on this arduous journey. 
Few know the hardships they encountered. The smiles of an 



4. ■ t Twenty-eight Vigilantes, besides Long John, who was taken along 
to identify the highwaymen. 




CAFT. JIM WILLIAMS 

Leader of Vigilantes 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 95 

approving conscience are about all, in the shape of a reward, that 
is likely to be received by any of them for their brilliant services. 

On Deer Lodge Creek, the foremost horsemen met Red* 
(Erastus Yager) ; but being unacquainted with him all the troop 
allowed him to pass the different sections of the command as they 
successively encountered him on the road. Red, who was now 
acting as letter-carrier of the band, was a light and wiry built 
man, about five feet five inches high, with red hair and red whisk- 
ers. On inquiry he told the officers that he had ascertained that 
Aleck Carter, Whiskey Bill (Graves), Bill Bunton, and others 
of the gang were lying at Cottonwood* drunk ; that they had at- 
tended a ball given there, and that they had been kicked out of 
it. A defiance accompanied this account, couched in the follow- 
ing euphonious and elegant strain: "The Stinkingwater 

may come ; we 're good for thirty of them. ' ' This most ingenious 
fable was concocted to put the scouts off their guard and to gain 
time for the fugitives. The same night the last of the party had 
crossed the Divide and camped on Deer Lodge Creek — seventeen 
miles above Cottonwood at John Smith's Ranch. 

At this place the men lay over till three o'clock in the after- 
noon, and then saddling up, rode into Cottonwood to take their 
prey by surprise. Arriving there they put up their horses, took 
their supper, and discovered, both by actual search and the in- 
formation of chosen parties, that the birds had flown* no one 
knew whither ; though a camp fire far away among the hills was 
distinctly visible, and evoked from some of the old mountaineers 
a hearty malediction, for their experienced eyes had quickly 
marked the blaze, and they knew that it meant — escape. 

On inquiry it was found that a message had arrived from Vir- 
ginia, warning the robbers to "Get up and dust, and lie low for 
black ducks." A letter was found afterward delivered to Tom 
Reilly, and he showed it to the Vigilantes. It was written by 
Brown, and Red carried it over, traveling with such rapidity as 
to kill two horses. 

Vexed and dispirited the men started on their return by way 
of Beaver Head Rock. Here they camped in the willows without 
shelter or fire, except such as could be made with the green twigs. 
On Saturday it turned cold and snowed heavily, getting worse 
and worse, until on Sunday the cold became fearful, and the suf- 
ferings of the party were intense. Some of the stock stampeded 
to the canyon out of the way of the storm. The rest were tied 



* See Charles Beehrer's story. 

* Now Deer Lodge. 

* Be sure and read Beehrer's story, as it throws much light on things 
not generally known. 



96 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

fast in the willows. It was no small job to hunt up the runaways. 

At the station near the camp the party met two friends who 
told them that Red was at Rattlesnake, and volunteers were 
called to go in pursuit of him. A small party of picked men 
started and followed up this rapid horseman, enduring on their 
march great hardships from the inclemency of the weather. The 
open air restaurant of the main body was not furnished with any 
great variety in the line of provisions. Sometimes the meal was 
bread and bacon — minus the bacon; and sometimes bacon and 
bread — minus the bread. Some choice spirits did venture, occa- 
sionally, on a song or a jest; but these jocular demonstrations 
were soon checked by the freezing of the beard and mustaches. 
The disconsolate troopers slapped their arms to keep themselves 
warm ; but it was a melancholy and empty embrace, giving about 
as much warmth and comfort as the dream-begotten memory of 
one loved and lost. 

In the mean time the little party of volunteers wended their 
toilsome way through the deep snow, and riding till midnight 
journeyed as far as Stone's Ranch. Here they obtained remounts 
from the stock of Oliver & Co., and then resumed their cheer- 
less progress towards Rattlesnake, at which place they arrived 
after a ride of twenty miles. One of the party afterward con- 
fidentially observed that "It was cold enough to freeze the tail 
of a brass monkey." which observation had at least the merit of 
being highly metaphorical and forcibly descriptive. 

The ranch was surrounded and one of the party entering dis- 
covered Buck Stinson, Ned Ray, and a prisoner,* whom as dep- 
uty sheriffs (?), they had arrested. Stinson, who had a strong 
antipathy towards the gentleman who entered first, appeared re- 
volver in hand; but finding that the "drop" was falling the 
wrong way, restrained his bellicose propensities, and eventually 
not being able to fathom the whole purpose of his unwelcome vis- 
itor, who amused him with a fictitious charge of horse-stealing 
against Red, set free his prisoner on his promise to go and sur- 
render himself up, and much moved in spirit made his horse do 
all he knew about galloping on his road to Bannack City. 

The party who knew where to look for their man rode straight 
for a wakiup a few hundred yards up the creek and surrounded 
It instantly, their guns bearing on it. One of them dismounted, 
and^ throwing open the flap entered with the amicable remark, 
"It's a mighty cold night; won't you let a fellow warm himself?" 
Seeing Red he further remarked, "You're the man I'm seeking; 
come along with me." 



* See W. B. Carter's story. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 97 

The captive seemed perfectly unconcerned ; he was as iron- 
uerved a man as ever leveled a shot-gun at a coach. He v^^as told 
that he was wanted to go to Virginia; but he asked no questions. 
From his arrest till the moment of his execution he seemed pos- 
sessed with the idea that it was his fate to be taken then and 
there, and that his doom was irrevocably sealed. They stayed 
all night at the ranch, Red going to bed with his boots on, "all 
standing," as the sailors say. 

The next morning they got up their horses. Red — unarmed of 
course — riding his own. One trooper rode beside him all the time ; 
the remainder were strung out on the road like beads. While lop- 
ing along the mule of the leader stumbled and rolled over, mak- 
ing two or three complete somersaults before he fetched up ; but 
the snow was so deep that no great harm was done, and a merry 
laugh enlivened the spirits of the party. The escort safely 
brought their prisoner to Dempsey's Ranch, where they overtook 
the main body that had camped for two days, awaiting their com- 
ing. The demeanor of the captive was cheerful, and he was quite 
a pleasant companion. He asked no questions relative to his ar- 
rest, and rode from Rattlesnake to Dempsey's as if on a pleasure 
excursion, behaving in a most courteous and gentlemanly man- 
ner all the time, and this, be it remembered, with the conviction 
that his hours were numbered, and that the blood of his victims 
was about to be avenged. After reporting the capture of Yager 
the party took supper and went to bed. 

There was in the house at this time the secretary — Brown — 
who had written the letter warning his comrades to fly from 
Cottonw^ood and which missive Red had carried only too speedily. 
He acted as barkeeper and man of all work at the ranch. This 
individual was the very opposite of Yager in all respects. He 
was cowardly and had never worked on the road, but had always 
done his best to assist the gang as an outsider with information 
calculated to ensure the stoppage of treasure-laden victims. He 
was in the habit of committing minor felonies and of appearing as 
a straw witness when needed. 

After breakfast the two men were confronted. Brown — who 
had evidently suspected danger ever since the arrival of the 
Vigilantes — was greatly terrified. Red was as cool and collected 
as a veteran on parade. Previously to the two robbers being con- 
fronted the captain took Red into a private room and told him 
that he was suspected of being in league with a band of road 
agents and murderers. He denied the charge altogether. The 
captain then asked him why — if he was innocent — should he take 
such pains to inform the gang that the vigilantes were after them? 



yy THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

He said that he came along to Bob 's* on his way to Deer Lodge, 
and that Brown asked him to carry a letter along to Aleck Carter 
and some friends, and that having said he would do so he did it. 
The two men were called up to the bar, and there Red again ad- 
mitted the carrying of the letter which Brown had written. 
Brown having told his examiners that he had seen one of their 
number before and knew him, was asked what sort of a man was 
the one he referred to. He replied that he took him to be a half- 
breed. The Vigilanter who had come in heard the description and 
ejaculating, "You — — , you call de Dutchman half-breeds, you 
do, do you ? ' ' made at him with his fists ; but his comrades almost 
choking with laughter held him off the horrified Brown, whose 
fear of instantaneous immolation at the hands of the fiery Dutch- 
lander had blanched his cheek to a turnip color. 

The captain then told Brown that he must consider himself 
under arrest, and remain there. He was taken out to Dempsey's 
house and kept there till the examination and trial of Red was 
concluded. Being then brought in and questioned, he testified 
that Red came to Dempsey's and said that he was going to see 
the boys, and asked if Brown had anything to tell them, offering 
to carry the letter. He said that Red was Ives' cousin (this was 
untrue) ; that he wrote the letter advising them to leave, for that 
the Vigilantes were after them. 

At Smith's Ranch it had been found, on comparing notes, that 
the statements of Red to the successive portions of the command 
that he had met while crossing the Divide, were not consistent, 
and, as frequently happens, the attempt at deception had served 
only to bring out the truth. Red was incontrovertibly proven 
to be one of the gang. The confession of each man conclusively 
established the guilt of the other. 

A guard was placed over the two men, and the remainder of 
the Vigilantes went out on the bridge and took a vote upon the 
question as to whether the men should be executed or liberated. 
The captain said, "All those in favor of hanging those two men 
step to the right side of the road, and those who are for letting 
them go, stand on the left." Before taking the vote he had ob- 
served to them, "Now, boys, you have heard all about this mat- 
ter, and I want you to vote according to your consciences. If 
you think they ought to suffer punishment say so. If you think 
they ought to go free, vote for it." The question having been 
put, the entire command stepped over to the right side, and the 
doom of the robbers was sealed. 

One of the party who had been particularly lip-courageous now 

* Bob Dempsey. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 99 

began to weaken, and discovered that he should lose $2,000 if he 
did not go home at once. Persuasion only paled his lips, and he 
started off. The click! click! click! of four guns, however, so 
far directed his fears into an even more personal channel, that 
he concluded to stay. 

The culprits were informed that they should be taken to Vir- 
ginia, and were given in charge of a trustworthy and gallant man, 
with a detachment of seven selected from the whole troop. This 
escort reached Lorraine's in two hours. The rest of the men 
arrived at sundown. The prisoners were given up, and the leader 
of the little party, who had not slept for four or five nights, lay 
down to snatch a brief but welcome repose. About 10 p. m. he 
was awakened, and the significant, "We want you," announced 
* ' business. ' ' 

The tone and manner of the summons at once dispelled even his 
profound and sorely-needed slumber. He rose without further 
parley and went from the parlor to the bar-room where Red and 
Brown were lying in a corner asleep. Red got up at the sound 
of his footsteps and said. "You have treated me like a gentle- 
man, and I know I am going to die — ^I am going to be hanged." 
"Indeed," said his quondam custodian, "that's pretty rough." 
In spite of a sense of duty, he felt what he said deeply. "It is 
pretty rough." continued Yager, "but I merited this years ago. 
What I want to say is that I know all about the gang, and there 
are men in it that deserve this more than I do ; but I should die 
happy if I could see them hanged, or know that it would be done. 
I don't say this to get off. I don't want to get off." He was 
told that it would be better if he should give all the information in 
his possession, if only for the sake of his kind. Times had been 
very hard, and "you know, Red," said the Vigilanter, "that 
men have been shot down in broad daylight — not for money, or 
even for hatred, but for luck, and it must be put a stop to." 

To this he assented, and the captain being called, all that had 
passed was stated to him. He said that the prisoner had better 
begin at once, and his words should be taken d«^n. Red began 
by informing them that Plummer was the chief of the band ; Bill 
Bunton second in command and stool pigeon ; Sam Bunton, road- 
ster (sent away for being a drunkard) ; Cyrus Skinner, roadster, 
fence and spy. At Virginia City. George Ives, Stephen Marsh- 
land, Dutch John (Wagner), Aleck Carter, Whiskey Bill (Graves) 
were roadsters; George Shears was a roadster and horse-thief; 
Johnny Cooper and Buck Stinson were also roadsters ; Ned Ray 
was council-room keeper at Bannaek City, Mexican Prank and 
Bob Zachary were also roadsters ; Prank Parish was roadster and 



100 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

horse-thief; Boone Helm and Club-Foot George were roadsters; 
Haze Lyons and Bill Hunter were roadsters and telegraph men; 
George Lowry, Billy Page, Doc Howard, Jem Romaine, Billy Ter- 
williger and Gad Moore were roadsters. The password was "In- 
nocent." They wore a necktie fastened with a "sailor's knot," 
and shaved down to moustache and chin whiskers. He admitted 
that he was one of the gang, but denied — as they invariably did 
— that he was a murderer. He also stated that Brown — his fellow- 
captive — acted in the capacity before mentioned. 

He spoke of Bill Bunton with a fierce animosity quite unlike his 
usual suave and courteous manner. To him, he said, he owed his 
present miserable position. He it was that first seduced him to 
commit crime at Lewiston. He gave the particulars of the rob- 
beries of the coaches and of many other crimes, naming the per- 
petrators. As these details have been already supplied or will ap- 
pear in the course of the narrative, they are omitted in order to 
avoid a useless repetition. 

After serious reflection it had been decided that the two cul- 
prits should be executed forthwith, and the dread preparations 
were immediately made for carrying out the resolution. 

The trial of George Ives had demonstrated most unquestionably 
that no amount of certified guilt was sufficient to enlist popular 
sympathy exclusively on the side of justice, or to render the just 
man other than a mark for vengeance. The majority of men sym- 
pathize, in spite of the voice of reason, with the murderers in- 
stead of the victims ; a course of conduct which appears to us in- 
explicable, though we know it to be common. Every fibre of our 
frame vibrates with anger and disgust when we meet a ruffian, 
a murderer, or a marauder. Mawkish sentimentalism we abhor. 
The thought of murdered victims, dishonored females, plundered 
wayfarers, burning houses, and the rest of the sad evidences of 
villainy, completely excludes mercy from our view. Honor, truth 
and the sacrifices of self to considerations of justice and the good 
of mankind— these claim, we had almost said, our adoration ; but 
for the low, brutal, cruel, lazy, ignorant, insolent, sensual and 
blasphemous miscreants that infest the frontiers we entertain but 
one sentiment— aversion— deep, strong, and unchangeable. For 
such cases the rope is the only prescription that avails as a rem- 
edy. But, though such feelings must be excited in the minds of 
good citizens, when brought face to face with such monsters as 
Stmson, Helm, Gallagher, Ives, Skinner, or Graves, the calm 
courage and penitent conduct of Erastus Yager have the opposite 
ettect, and the loss of the goodly vessel thus wrecked forever 
must inspire sorrow, though it may not and ought not to disarm 
justice. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 101 

Brief were the preparations needed. A lantern and some stools 
were brought from the house, and the party, crossing the creek 
behind Lorraine's Ranch, made for the trees that still bear 
the marks of the axe which trimmed off the superfluous branches. 
On the road to the gallows Red was cool, calm and collected. 
Brown had sobbed and cried for mercy, and prayed God to take 
care of his wife and family in Minnesota. He was married to a 
squaw. Red, overhearing him, said sadly but firmly, "Brown, 
if you had thought of this three years ago, you would not be 
here now, or give these boys this trouble." 

After arriving at the fatal trees they were pinioned and stepped 
on the stools, which had been placed one on the other to form a 
drop. Brown and the man who was adjusting the rope tottered 
and fell into the snow; but recovering himself quickly, the Vigi- 
lanter said quietly, "Brown, we must do better than that." 

Brown's last words were, "God Almighty save my soul." 

The frail platform flew from under him, and his life passed 
away almost with the twang of the rope. 

Red saw his comrade drop, but no sign of trepidation was vis- 
ible. His voice was as calm and quiet as if he had been conversing 
with old friends. He said he knew that he should be followed 
and hanged when he met the party on the Divide. He wished 
that they would chain him and carry him along to where the rest 
were that he might see them punished. Just before he was 
launched into eternity, he asked to shake hands with them all, 
which having done, he begged of the man who had escorted him 
to Lorraine's that he would follow and punish the rest. The 
answer was given in these words, "Red, we will do it, if there's 
any such thing in the book." The pledge was kept. 

His last words were, "Good-bye, boys; God bless you. You are 
on a good undertaking." The frail footing on which he stood 
gave way, and this dauntless and yet guilty criminal died without 
a struggle. It was pitiful to see one whom nature intended for 
a hero, dying — and that justly— like a dog. 

A label was pinioned to his back bearing the legend: 

"Red! Road Agent and Messenger." 

The inscription on the paper fastened on to Brown's clothes 
was: 

"Brown! Corresponding Secretary." 

The fatal trees still smile as they don the green livery of spring, 
or wave joyfully in the summer breeze ; but when the chill blast 
of winter moans over the snow-clad prairie, the wind sighing and 
creeking through the swaying boughs seems, to the excited listen- 
er, to be still laden with the sighs and sounds of that fatal night. 
Fiat justitia ruat Coelum. 



102 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

The bodies were left suspended, and remained so for some days 
before they were buried. The ministers of justice expected a 
battle on their arrival at Nevada, but they found the Vigilantes 
organized in full force, and each man, as he uncocked his gun and 
dismounted heaved a deep sigh of relief. The crisis was past. 



CHAPTER XVn. 
Dutch John (Wagner). 

"Give me a horse! Bind up my wounds." — Richabd III. 

The tidings of Ives's execution and the deep and awe-striking 
news of the organization of the Vigilantes in the camps on Alder 
Gulch flew like wildfire, exciting wherever they were received 
the most dread apprehension in the minds of those whose con- 
sciences told them that their capture and their doom were con- 
vertible terms. 

Among these men was Dutch John (Wagner). His share in 
the robbery of the train, and his wound from the pistol of Lank 
Forbes, pressed upon his memory. By a physical reminder, he 
was prevented from forgetting, even in his sleep, that danger 
lurked in every valley, and waited his coming on every path and 
track by which he now trusted to escape from the scene of his 
crimes. Plummer advised him to leave the Territory at once, but 
he offered him no means of locomotion. This, however, was of 
small consequence to Wagner. He knew how to obtain a re- 
mount. Taking his saddle on his back, he started for the ranch 
of Barret & Shineberger, on Horse Prairie, where he knew there 
was a splendid grey horse — the finest in the country. The pos- 
session was the trouble — the title was quite immaterial. A friend 
seeing him start from Bannack with the saddle, sent word to the 
owners of the gallant grey, who searched for him without delay, 
taking care to avoid the willows for fear of a shot. One of them, 
after climing a hill, discovered the robber sitting among the un- 
derwood. The place was surrounded and the capture was made 
secure. 

iShort shrift was he allowed. His story was disbelieved, and 
his captors went for his personal outfit, if not for his purse. They 
lectured him in the severest terms on the depravity which alone 
rendered horse-stealing possible, and then started him off down 
the road, minus his saddle and pistol, but plus an old mule and 
blanket.* 



* Martin Barrett's story of the gray horse. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 103 

With these locomotive treasures, Dutch John left Horse Prairie, 
and took the Salt Lake road. He was accompanied by an Indian 
of the Bannack tribe, armed with bow, quiver and knife. Ben. 
Peabody was the first who espied them. He was going to Salt 
Lake City with a cayiise pack-train for goods, and saw the road 
agent and his aboriginal companion at Dry Creek Canyon Ranch, 
since used by Oliver & Co. as a station on the road to the metrop- 
olis of the Latter Day Saints. 

About two miles below this place he met Neil Howie, who was 
coming from the same City of Waters, along with three wagons 
laden with groceries and flour. A long consultation was the con- 
sequence, and a promise was given that the aid of the train men 
would be given to secure the fugitive from justice. The same 
pledge was obtained from Neil's own party, and from the owner 
of a big train further down. 

Shortly after, Dutch John and the Indian hove in sight ; but 
this did not mend matters, for the parties "weakened" at once, 
and left Neil cursing their timidity, but determined that he 
should not escape. Wagner rode up and asked for some to- 
bacco. He was told that they had none to spare, but that there 
was a big train (Vivion's) down below, and that he might get 
some there. During the conversation he looked suspicious and 
uneasy ; but at last went on, parting amicably from them, and at- 
tended by his copper-colored satellite, whose stolid features be- 
trayed no sign of emotion. Neil felt ' ' bad, ' ' but determined that 
his man should not escape thus easily, he mounted his pony and 
galloped after him, resolved to seek for help at the big train. He 
soon came up with the pair, and Neil fancied that Wagner gave 
some directions to the Indian, for he put his hand to his quiver, 
as if to see that all was right for action. Dutch John held his 
rifle ready and looked very suspiciously at Neil. The Indian kept 
behind, prepared for business. 

After the usual salutations of the road, Neil told John that he 
wanted to borrow a shoeing-hammer to prepare his stock for 
crossing the Divide, and thereupon he noticed a sudden, joyful ex- 
pansion in the eyes of Dutch John, and, with a friendly salute, 
they parted company. 

It was ticklish work for Neil to ride with his back to Wagner, 
rnght under the muzzle of his rifle, but the brave fellow went 
along as if he suspected nothing, and never drew rein till he came 
to the train. The owner — who had often lectured, in strong lan- 
guage, on the proper way to deal with (absent) road agents- 
backed square down, notwithstanding all the arguments of Neil, 
some of which were of a nature to bring out any concealed cour- 



104 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

age that his friend possessed. Wagner rode up, and glancing 
quickly and sharply at the two conversing, asked for tobacco, and 
received for reply — not the coveted weed, but an inquiry as to 
whether he had any money ; which not being the case, he was 
informed that there was none for him. Neil immediately told the 
trader to let the man have what he wanted on his credit. Wagner 
appeared deeply grateful for this act of kindness, and having re- 
ceived the article, set forward on his journey. Neil made one 
more solemn appeal not to "let a murderer and road agent 
escape," but the train-owner said nothing. 

In an instant he determined to arrest the robber at all risks, 
single handed. He called out, "Hallo, Cap! hold on a minute." 
Wagner wheeled his horse half round, and Neil, fixing his eyes 
upon him, walked straight towards him with empty hands. His 
trusty revolver hung at his belt, however, and those who have 
seen the machine-like regularity and instantaneous motion with 
which Howie draws and cocks a revolver, as well as the rapidity 
and accuracy of his shooting, well know that few men, if any, 
have odds against him in an encounter with fire-arms. Still not 
one man in a thousand would, at a range of thirty yards, walk up 
to a renowned desperado, sitting quietly with a loaded rifle in his 
hand, and well knowing the errand of his pursuer. Yet this gal- 
lant fellow never faltered. At twenty yards their eyes met, and 
the gleam of anger, hate, and desperation that shot from those of 
Dutch John spoke volumes. He also slewed round his rifle, with 
the barrel in his left hand and his right on the small of the stock. 
Howie looked him straight down, and, as Wagner made the mo- 
tion with his rifle, his hand mechanically sought his belt. No 
further demonstration being made, he continued his progress, 
which he had never checked, till he arrived within a few steps 
of the Dutchman, and there read perplexity, hesitation, anger, 
and despair in his fiery glances. Those resolved and unwavering 
grey eyes seemed to fascinate AVagner. Five paces separated 
them, and the twitching of Wagner's muscles showed that it was 
touch and go, sink or swim. Four ! three ! two ! one ! Fire flashes 
from John's eyes. He is awake at last; but it is too late. Neil 
has passed the butt of his rifle, and in tones quiet but carrying 
authority with them, he broke the silence with the order, "Give 
me your gun and get off your mule." A start and a shudder ran 
through Wagner's frame like an electric shock. He complied, 
however, and expressed his willingness to go with Neil, both then 
and several times afterward, adding that he need fear nothing 
from him. 



Let it not be imagined that this man was any ordinary felon, 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 105 

or one easy to capture. He stood upward of six feet high ; was 
well and most powerfully built, being immensely strong, active, 
and both coolly and ferociously brave. His swarthy visage, deter- 
mined looking jaw and high cheekbones were topped off with a 
pair of dark eyes, whose deadly glare few could face without 
shrinking. Added to this, he knew his fate if he were caught. 
He travelled with a rifle in his hand, a heart of stone, a will 
of iron and the frame of a Hercules. It might also be said, with 
a rope round his neck. For cool daring and self-reliant courage, 
the single-handed capture of Dutch John, by Neil Howie, has al- 
ways appeared to our judgment as the most remarkable action of 
this campaign against crime. Had he met him and taken him 
alone, it would have been a most heroic venture of life for the 
public good ; but to see scores of able-bodied and well-armed men 
refusing even to assist in the deed, and then — single handed — to 
perform the service from which they shrank from bodily fear of 
the consequences, was an action at once noble and self-denying 
in the highest sense. Physical courage we share with the brutes ; 
moral courage is the stature of manhood. 

The prisoner being brought to the camp-fire was told of the 
nature of the charge against him, and informed that if he were 
the man, a bullet wound would be found on his shoulder. On 
removing his shirt, the fatal mark was there. He attempted to 
account for it by saying, that when sleeping in camp his clothes 
caught fire, and his pistol went off accidentally ; but neither did 
the direction of the wound justify such an assumption, nor was 
the cause alleged received as other than proof of attempted deceit, 
and, consequently, of guilt. The pistol could not have been dis- 
charged by the fire, without the wearer being fatally burned, long 
before the explosion took place, as was proved by actual experi- 
ment at the fire by putting a cap on a stick and holding it right 
in the blaze. 

The ocular demonstration of the prisoner's guilt afforded by 
the discovery of the bullet wound was conclusive. Neil left him 
in charge, at the big train, and rode back to see who would help 
him to escort the prisoner to Bannack. Volunteering was out of 
fashion just then, and there was no draft. Neil started back and 
brought his prisoner to Dry Creek, where there were fifty or sixty 
men ; but still no one seemed to care to have anything to do with 
it. The fear of the roughs was so strong that every one seemed 
to eonsder it an almost certain sacrifice of life to be caught with 
one of their number in charge. 

One of Neil Howie's friends came to him and told him that 
he knew just the very man he wanted, and that he was camped 



106 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

with a. train near at hand. This was good news, for he had made 
up his mind to go with his prisoner alone. John Fetherstun at 
once volunteered to accompany him, road agents, horse thieves 
and roughs in general to the contrary notwithstanding. The two 
brave men here formed that strong personal attachment that has 
ever since united them in a community of sentiment, hardship, 
danger and mutual devotion. 

The prisoner, who continually potested his innocence of any 
crime, and his resolution to give them no trouble, seemed quite 
resigned, and rode with them unfettered and unrestrained, to all 
appearance. He was frequently fifty yards ahead of them; but 
they were better mounted than he was, and carried both pistols 
and shot-guns, while he was unarmed. His amiable manners won 
upon them, and they could not but feel a sort of attachment to 
him — villain and murderer though they knew him to be. The 
following incidents, however, put a finale to this dangerous sym- 
pathy, and brought them back to stern reality. 

The weather being intensely cold, the party halted every ten 
or fifteen miles lit a fire, and thawed out. On one of these 
occasions, Fetherstun, who usually held the horses while Neil 
raised a blaze, in order to make things more comfortable, stepped 
back about ten paces and set down the guns. He had no sooner 
returned than Wagner "made a break" for them, and but for the 
rapid pursuit of Howie and Fetherstun — -whose line of march cut 
him off from the coveted artillery — it is likely that this chapter 
would never have been written, and that the two friends would 
have met a bloody death at the hands of Dutch John. 

One night, as they were sleeping in the open air, at Red Rock, 
fatigue so overcome the watcher that he snored, in token of hav- 
ing transferred the duties of his position to 

Watchful stars that sentinel the skies. 

This suited Wagner exactly. Thinking that the man off guard 
was surely wrapped in slumber, he raised up and took a survey 
of the position, his dark eyes flashing with a stern joy. As he 
made the first decisive movement towards the accomplishment 
of his object, Neil, who sleeps with an eye open at such times, but 
who, on this particular occasion, had both his visual organs on 
duty — suddenly looked up. The light faded from Wagner's eyes, 
and uttering some trite remark about the cold, he lay down again, 
i^.fter a lapse of about an hour or two, he thought that, at last, 
all was right, and again, but even more demonstratively, he rose. 
Neil sat up, and said quietly, "John, if you do that again, I'll kill 
you." A glance of despair deepened the gloom on his swarthy 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 107 

brow, and, with profuse and incoherent apologies, he again lay 
down to rest. 

On another occasion, they saw smoke of a camp-fire, in close 
proximity to the road, and Wagner, who noticed it even sooner 
than his gniards, at once thought that it must be the expected 
rescuers. He sang and whistled loudly, as long as they were with- 
in hearing, and then became sad, silent and downcast. 

"Fortune favors the brave," and they arrived without inter- 
ruption at Horse Prairie. Neil Howie rode on to Bannack to 
reconnoitre — promising to be back, if there was any danger, in 
an hour or so. After waiting for two hours, Fetherstun resumed 
his journey and brought in his man, whom he took to his hotel. 
Neil met Plummer and told him of the capture of Wagner. The 
Sheriff (?) demanded the prisoner; but Neil refused to give him 
up. He soon found out that he would be backed by the "powers 
behind the throne." There were no Vigilantes organized in Ban- 
nack at that time ; but four of the Committee, good men and true, 
were, even then, in the saddle, on their road from Virginia, with 
full powers to act in the matter. Neil knew very well that a 
guard under the ordei-s of Plummer, and composed of Buck Stin- 
son, Ned Ray and their fellows, would not be likely to shoot at a 
prisoner escaping. 

Dutch John proposed to Fetherstun that they should take a 
walk, which they did. Fetherstun did not know Bannack; but 
they sauntered down to Durand's* saloon. After a few minutes 
had elapsed Neil came in, and told P^etherstun to keep a close 
watch on Wagner, stating that he would be back in a few minutes. 
The two sat down and played a couple of games at "seven-up." 
Buck Stinson and Ned Ray came in and shook hands with the 
prisoner. Four or five more also walked up, and one of tliem 
went through that ceremony very warmly, looking very sharply 
at Fetheretun. After taking a drink, he wheeled round, and, 
saying that he was on a drunk, stepped out of doors. This raised 
Fetherstun 's suspicions, which were apparently confirmed when 
he came in after a few minutes, with a party of nine. The whole 
crowd numbered fifteen. Fetherstun made sure that they were 
road agents ; for one of them stepped up to John and said, "You 
are my prisoner." John looked at his quondam jailer and 
laughed. Fetherstun understood him to mean, "You had me 
once, and now I have you." He stepped into the corner and drew 
his revolver, fully expecting death, but determined to put as 
much daylight through them, as the size of his lead would allow. 



* Duranci was an illiterate Frenchman. He was suspected of havinj 
been a friend of the highwaymen — probably because he had a saloon. 



108 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

He permitted them to take away the prisoner, seeing that resist- 
ance was absurd, and went off to his hotel, where he found four 
or five men, and being told, in answer to his question, that Neil 
had not been there, he said, "Gentlemen, I don't know whom I 
am addressing; 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 ; 
for he left me half an hour ago, to be back in five minutes. ' ' They 
all jumped up, and Fetherstun saw that they were the genuine 
article. He was taking his shot-gun, when a man put his head 
in at the door and told him not to be uneasy. The rest seemed 
satisfied. He asked if he could go too, and was answered "no." 
He said he would go, anyhow, and started down street, gun in 
hand. He could not see the man, but walking on, he came to a 
cabin and descried Dutch' John, surrounded by a group of some 
twenty men. He knocked, but was refused admittance. The 
party did not know him. It was a mutual mistake. Each thought 
the other belonged to the class "road agent." Fetherstun said 
Wagner was his prisoner, and that he must have him. They said 
it was all right; they only wanted to question him. The same 
mistake occurred with regard to Neil Howie, whom Fetherstun 
found shortly after, being aided by one of the new captors. He 
was as hot as calf love at the news, but, like it, he soon cooled, 
when he saw things in the right light. 

The men at once gave up the prisoner to Neil and Fetherstun, 
who marched him back to the hotel, and, afterward, to a cabin.* 
Seven or eight parties gathered and questioned him as to all that 
he knew, exhorting him to confess. He promised to do so, over 
and over again ; but he was merely trying to deceive them and 
to gain time. The leader in the movement took up a book, observ- 
ing that he had heard enough and would not be fooled any more. 
The remainder went on vnth their interrogations ; but at last 
ceased in despair of eliciting anything like truth from John. 

The literary gentleman closed the book, and approaching 
Wagner, told him that he was notoriously a highwayman and a 
murderer, and that he must be hanged ; but that if he had any 
wish as to the precise time for his execution he might as well name 
it, as it would be granted if at all reasonable. John walked up 
and down for a while, and then burst into tears, lamenting his 
hard lot, agreed to make his confession, evidently hoping that it 
might be held to be of sufficient importance to induce them to 
spare his life. He then gave a long statement, corroborating 
Red's confession in all important particulars; but he avoided in- 
culpating himself to the last moment, when he confessed his 



* At Sayers' Corrall, mouth of Hangrnan's Gulch. John C. Innes was 
placed in charge of him. 




Left to Right— BEIDLER. FEATHERSTUX. HOWIE 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 109 

share in the robbery of the train by himself and Steven Marsh- 
land. This ended the examination for the night. 

It was at this time that the Vigilance Committee was formed 
in Bannack. A public meeting had been held in Peabody's to 
discuss the question, and the contemplated organization was evi- 
dently looked upon with favor. The most energetic citizen, 
however, rather threw cold water on the proposition. Seeing 
Ned Ray and Stinson there present, he wisely thought that that 
was no place for making such a movement, and held himself in 
reserve for an opportunity to make an effort, at a fitting time 
and place, which offered itself in the evening. 

At midnight he had lain down to rest, when he was awakened 
from sleep by a summons to get up, for that men had come from 
Virginia to see him. He put on his clothes hastily, and found 
that four trustworthy individuals had arrived, bearing a com- 
munication from the Vigilantes of Virginia, which, on inspection, 
evidently took for granted the fact of their organization, and 
also assumed that they would be subordinate to the central 
authority. This latter question was put to the small number of 
the faithful, and, by a little management, was carried with con- 
siderable unanimity of feeling. It was rather a nice point : for 
the letter contained an order for the execution of Plummer, Stin- 
son and Ray — the first as captain, and the others as members of 
the road agent band. Four men had comprised those first en- 
rolled as Vigilantes at Bannack. 

It was resolved to spend the following day in enlisting mem- 
bers, though no great progress was made after all. 

Towards night, the people, generally, became aware that 
Wagner was a prisoner and a road agent. No one would let him 
into his house. Neil Howie and Fetherstun took him to an empty 
cabin on Yankee Flat. 



CHAPTER XVin. 

The Arrest and Execution of Henry Plummer, the Road Ag-ent 
Chief, Buck Stinson and Ned Ray. 

United thi^re that trio died. 

By deeds of crim.» and blood allied. 

At dusk, three horses were brought into town, belonging sever- 
ally and respectively to the three marauders so often mentioned, 
Pl^^mmer. Stinson and Ray. It was truly conjectured that they 
had determined to leave the country, and it was at once settled 
that they should be arrested that night. Parties were detailed for 
the work. Those entrusted with the duty performed it admir- 



no THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

ably. Plummer was undressing when taken at his house. His 
pistol (a self-cocking weapon) was broken and useless. Had he 
been armed, resistance would have been futile ; for he was seized 
the moment the door was opened in answer to the knocking from 
without. Stinson* was arrested at Toland's, where he was spend- 
ing the evening. He would willingly have done a little firing, 
but his captors were too quick for him. Ray was lying on a 
Gambling table when seized. The three details marched their men 
to a given point, en route to the gallows. Here a halt was made. 
The leader of the Vigilantes and some others, who wished to save 
all unnecessary hard feeling, were sitting in a cabin, designing not 
to speak to Plummer, with whom they were so well acquainted. 
A halt was made, however, and at the door appeared Plummer. 
The light was extinguished; when the party moved on, but soon 
halted. The crisis had come. Seeing that the circumstances were 
such as admitted of neither vacillation nor delay, the citizen 
leader, summoning his friends, went up to the party and gave the 
military command, "Company! forward — march!" This was at 
once obeyed. A rope taken from a noted functionary's bed had 
been mislaid and could not be found. A nigger boy was sent off 
for some of that highly necessary but unpleasant remedy for 
crime, and the bearer made such good time that some hundreds of 
feet of hempen necktie were on the ground before the arrival 
of the party at the gallows. On the road Plummer heard the voice 
and recognized the person of the leader.* He came to him and 
begged for his life; but was told, "It is useless 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 cannot help it if I would." Ned Ray, clothed with curses as 
with a garment, actually tried fighting, but found that he was 
in the wrong company for such demonstrations ; and Buck Stin- 
son made the air ring with the blasphemous and filthy expletives 
which he used in addressing his captors. Plummer exhausted 
every argument and plea that his imagination could suggest, in 
order to induce his captors to spare his life. He begged to be 
chained down in the meanest cabin ; offered to leave the country- 
forever ; wanted a jury trial ; implored time to settle his affairs ; 
asked to see his sister-in-law, and, falling on his knees, with tears 
and sighs declared to God that he was too wicked to die. He 
confessed his numerous murders and crimes, and seemed almost 
frantic at the prospect of death. 

The first rope being thrown over the cross-beam, and the noose 
being rove, the order was given to "Bring up Ned Ray." This 



* stinson was arrested by WiUiam Roe. 

* Probably Col. Sanders. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 111 

desperado was run up with curses on his lips. Being loosely pin- 
ioned, he got his fingers between the rope and his neck, and thus 
prolonged his misery. 

Buck Stinson saw his comrade robber swinging in the death 
agony, and blubbered out, "There goes poor Ed Ray." Scant 
mercy had he shown to his numerous victims. By a sudden twist 
of his head at the moment of his elevation, the knot slipped under 
his chin, and he was some minutes dying. 

The order to "Bring up Plummer" was then passed and re- 
peated ; but no one stirred. The leader went over to this perfect 
gentleman, as his friends called him, and was met by a request to 
"give a man time to pray." Well knowing that Plummer relied 
for a rescue upon other than Divine aid, he said briefly and de- 
cidedly, ' ' Certainly ; but let him say his prayers up here. ' ' Find- 
ing all efforts to avoid death were useless, Plummer rose and said 
no more prayers. Standing under the gallows which he had 
erected for the execution of Horan, this second Haman slipped 
off his necktie and threw it over his shoulder to a young friend 
who had boarded at his house, and who believed him innocent 
of crime, saying as he tossed it to him, "Here is something to 
remember me by." In the extremity of his grief, the young man 
threw himself weeping and wailing upon the ground. Plummer 
requested that the men would give him a good drop, which was 
done, as far as circumstances permitted, by hoisting him up as 
high as possible, in their arms, and letting him fall suddenly. He 
died quickly and without much struggle. 

It was necessary to seize Ned Ray's hands, and by a violent 
effort to draw his fingers from between the noose and his neck 
before he died. Probably he was the last to expire of the guilty 
trio. 

The news of a man's being hanged flies faster than any other 
intelligence in a Western country, and several had gathered 
round the gallows on that fatal Sabbath evening — many of them 
friends of the road agents. The spectators were allowed to come 
up to a certain point, and were then halted by the guard, who 
refused permission either to depart or to approach nearer than 
the "dead line," on pain of their being instantly shot. 

The weather was intensely cold, but the party stood for a long 
time round the bodies of the suspended malefactors, determined 
that rescue should be impossible. 

Loud groans and cries uttered in the vicinity attracted their 
attention, and a small squad started in the direction from which 
the sound proceeded. The detachment soon met Madam Hall,* 



* When Madam HaH saw the men coming- back from the sallows, she 
asked: "Where is my Ned?" E. P. Eaton said: "Your Ned is all right." 
This man Eaton became Plummer's successor in the sheriff's office. 



112 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

a noted courtesan — the mistress of Ned Ray — who was ''making- 
night hideous" with her doleful wailings. Being at once stopped, 
she began inquiring for her paramour, and was thus informed of 
his fate, "Well, if you must know, he is hung." A volcanic 
eruption of oaths and abuse was her reply to this information; 
but the men were on "short time," and escorted her towards her 
dwelling without superfluous display of courtesy. Having ar- 
rived at the brow of a short descent, at the foot of which stood 
her cabin, stem necessity compelled a rapid and final progress 
in that direction. 

Soon after, the party formed and returned to town, leaving 
the corpses stiffening in the icy blast. The bodies were eventu- 
ally cut down by the friends of the road agents and buried. The 
"Reign of Terror" in Bannack was over. 



CHAPTER XIX. 



The Execution of "the Greaser" (Joe Pizanthia), and Dutch 

John (Wagner). 

"Hope withering fled, and mercy sighed, farewell." — Campbell. 

A marked change in the tone of public sentiment was the con- 
sequence of the hanging of the blood-stained criminals, whose 
deserved fate is recorded in the preceding chapters. Men 
breathed freely, for Plummer and Stinson especially were 
dreaded by almost every one. The latter was of the type of 
that brutal desperado whose formula of introduction to a Western 
bar-room is so well known in the Mountains : "Whoop ! I'm from 
Pike County, Missouri; I'm ten feet high; my abode is where 
lewd women and licentious men mingle ; my parlor is the Rocky 
Mountains. I smell like a wolf; I drink water out of a brook 
like a horse. Look out, you — - — , I'm going to turn loose," etc. 
A fit mate for such a God-forgotten outlaw was Stinson, and he, 
with the oily and snake-like demon, Plummer, the wily, red- 
handed, and politely merciless chief, and the murderer and rob- 
ber, Ray, were no more. The Vigilantes organized rapidly. Pub- 
lie opinion sustained them. 

On Monday morning it was determined to arrest "the Greaser," 
Joe Pizanthia, and to see precisely how his record stood in the 
Territory. Outside of it, it was known that he was a desperado, 
a murderer and a robber; but that was not the business of the 
Vigilantes. A party started for his cabin, which was built in a 
side-hill. The interior looked darker than usual from the bright 
glare of the surrounding snow. The summons to come forth 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 113 

being disregarded, Smith Ball and George Copley entered, con- 
trary to the advice of their comrades, and instantly received the 
fire of their concealed foe. Copley was shot through the breast. 
Smith Ball received a bullet in the hip. They both staggered 
out, each ejaculating "I'm shot." Copley was led off by two 
friends, and died of his wound. Smith Ball recovered himself, 
and was able to empty his six-shooter into the body of the assassin, 
when the latter was dragged forth. 

The popular excitement rose nearly to madness. Copley was 
a much-esteemed citizen, and Smith Ball had many friends. It 
was the instant resolution of all present that the vengeance on 
the Greaser should be summary and complete. 

A party whose military experience was still fresh in their mem- 
ory made a rush, at the double-quick for a mountain howitzer 
which lay dismounted, where it had been left by the train to 
which it was attached. Without waiting to place it on the car- 
riage, it was brought by willing hands to within five rods of the 
windowless side of the cabin, and some old artillerists, placing it 
on a box, loaded it with shell, and laid it for the building. By 
one of those omissions so common during times of excitement, the 
fuse was left uncut, and, being torn out in its passage through 
the logs, the missile never exploded, but left a clean breach 
through the wall, making the chips fly. A second shell was put 
into the gun, and this time the fuse was cut, but the range was so 
short that the explosion took place after it had traversed the 
house. 

Thinking that Pizanthia might have taken refuge in the chim- 
ney, the howitzer was pointed for it and sent a solid shot through 
it. Meanwhile the military judgment of the leader had been 
shown by the posting of some riflemen opposite the shot-hole, 
with instructions to maintain so rapid a fire upon it that the be- 
leagured inmate should not be able to use it as a crenelle through 
which to fire upon the assailants. No response being given to 
the cannon and small-arms, the attacking party began to think of 
storming the dwelling. 

The leader called for volunteers to follow him. Nevada* cast 
in her lot first, and men from the crowd joined. The half dozen 
stormers moved steadily, under cover to the edge of the last build- 
ing, and then dashed at the house, across the open space. The 
door had fallen from the effects of the fusilade ; but, peeping in, 
they could see nothing until a sharp eye noticed the Greaser's 
boots protruding. Two lifted the door, while Smith Ball drew 
his revolver and stood readv. The remainder seized the boots. 



* John Lott was the man to go in. 



114 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

On lifting the door, Pizanthia was found lying flat and badly 
hurt. His revolver was beside him. He was quickly dragged out, 
Smith Ball paying him for the wound he had received by empty- 
ing his revolver into him. 

A clothes-line was taken down and fastened round his neck; 
the leader* climbed a pole, and the rest holding up the body, he 
wound the rope round the top of the stick of timber, making a 
jamb hitch. While aloft, fastening all securely, the crowd blazed 
away upon the murderer swinging beneath his feet. At his re- 
quest, "Say, boys! stop shooting a minute"— the firing ceased, 
and he came down "by the run." Over one hundred shots were 
discharged at the swaying corpse. 

A friend — one of the four Bannack originals — touched the lead- 
er's arm and said, "Come and see my bonfire." Walking down 
to the cabin, he found that it had been razed to the ground by the 
maddened people, and was then in a bright glow of flame. A prop- 
osition to burn the Mexican was received with a shout of exul- 
tation. The body was hauled down and thrown upon the pile, 
upon which it was burned to ashes so completely that not a trace 
of a bone could be seen when the fire burned out. 

In the morning some women of ill-fame actually panned out 
the ashes, to see whether the desperado had any gold in his purse. 
We are glad to say that they were not rewarded for their labors 
by striking any auriferous deposit. 

The popular vengeance had been only partially satisfied so far 
as Pizanthia was concerned ; and it would be well if those who 
preach against the old Vigilance Committee would reflect upon 
the great difference which existed between the prompt and really 
necessary severity which they exercised and the wild and ungov- 
ernable passion which goads the masses of all countries, when 
roused to deeds of vengeance of a type so fearful that humanity 
recoils at the recital. Over and over again we have heard a man 

declaring that it was "a shame," to hang some one that he 

wished to see punished. " , he ought to be burnt; I would 

pack brush three miles up a mountain myself." "He ought to be 
fried in his own grease," etc., and it must not be supposed that 
such expressions were mere idle bravado. The men said just 
what they meant. In cases where criminals convicted of grand 
larceny have been whipped, it has never yet happened that the 
punishment has satisfied the crowd. The truth is, that the Vigi- 
lance Committee simply punished with death men unfit to live in 
any community, and that death was, usually, almost instantane- 
ous, and only momentarily painful. With the exceptions recorded 



* Simeon Estes. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 115 

(Stinson and Ray) the drop and death of the victim seemed simul- 
taneous. In a majority of cases, a few almost imperceptible mus- 
cular contortions, not continuing over a few seconds, were all 
that the keenest observer could detect ; whereas, had their punish- 
ment been left to outsiders, the penalty would have been cruel 
and disgusting in the highest degree. What would be thought 
of the burning of Wagner and panning out his ashes by order of 
the Vigilantes? In every case where men have confessed their 
crimes to the Vigilantes of Montana, they dreaded the vengeance 
of their comrades far more than their execution at the hands of 
the Committee, and clung to them as if they considered them 
friends. 

A remarkable instance of this kind was apparent in the con- 
duct of John Wagner. While in custody at the cabin, on Yankee 
Flat, the sound of footsteps and suppressed voices was heard in 
the night. Fetherstun jumped up, determined to defend himself 
and his prisoner to the last. Having prepared his arms, he cast 
a look over his shoulder to see what Dutch John was doing. The 
road agent stood with a double-barrelled gun in his hand, evi- 
dently watching for a chance to do battle on behalf of his captor. 
Fetherstun glanced approvingly at him, and said, "That's right, 

John, give them . " John smiled grimly and nodded, the 

muzzle of his piece following the direction of the sound, and his 
dark eyes glaring like those of a roused lion. Had he wished, he 
could have shot Fetherstun in the back, without either difficulty 
or danger. Probably the assailants heard the ticking of the locks 
of the pieces in the still night, and therefore determined not to 
risk such an attack, which savages of all kinds especially dislike. 

The evening after the death of Pizanthia the newly-organized 
Committee met, and, after some preliminary discussion, a vote 
was taken as to the fate of Dutch John. The result was that his 
execution was unanimously adjudged, as the only penalty meet- 
ing the merits of the case. He had been a murderer and a high- 
way robber for years. 

One of the number present at the meeting was deputed to con- 
vey the intelligence to Wagner; and accordingly he went down to 
his place of confinement and read to him his sentence of death, in- 
forming him that he would be hanged in an hour from that time. 
Wagner was much shocked by the news. He raised himself to his 
feet and walked with agitated and tremulous steps across the 
floor, once or twice. He begged hard for life, praying them to cut 
off his arms and legs, and then let him go. He said, "You know 
I could do nothing then. ' ' He was informed that his request could 
not be complied with, and that he must prepare to die. 



IIG THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

Finding death to be inevitable, Wagner summoned bis forti- 
tude to bis aid and sbowed no more signs of weakness. It was 
a matter of regret tbat be could not be saved for bis courage, and 
(outside of bis villainous trade) his good behavior won upon bis 
captors and judges to an extent that they were unwilling to admit, 
even to themselves. Amiability and bravery could not be taken 
as excuses for murder and robbery, and so Dutch John had to 
meet a felon's death and the judgment to come, with but short 
space for repentance. 

He said that he wished to send a letter to his mother, in New 
York, and inquired whether there was not a Dutchman in the 
house who could write in his native language. A man being pro- 
cured qualified as desired, be communicated his wishes to him and 
his amanuensis wrote as directed. Wagner's fingers were rolled up 
in rags, and he could not handle the pen without inconvenience 
and pain. He had not recovered from the frost-bites which had 
moved the pity of X. Beidler when he met John before his capture, 
below Red Rock. The epistle being finished, it was read aloud 
by the scribe ; but it did not please Wagner. He pointed out 
several inaccuracies in the method of carrying out his instruc- 
tions, both as regarded the manner and the matter of the com- 
munication; and at last, unrolling the rags from his fingers, he 
sat down and wrote the missive himself. 

He told his mother that he was condemned to die, and had but 
a few minutes to live ; that when coming over from the other side, 
to deal in horses, be had been met by bad men who had forced him 
to adopt the line of life that had placed him in his present miser- 
able position ; that the crime for which be was sentenced to die 
w^as assisting in robbing a wagon, in which affair he had been 
wounded and taken prisoner, and that his companion had been 
killed. (This latter assertion he probably believed.) He ad- 
mitted the justice of his sentence. 

The letter, being concluded, was handed to the Vigilantes for 
transmission to his mother. He then quietly replaced the band- 
ages on bis wounded fingers. The style of the composition sbowed 
that he was neither terrified nor even disturbed at the thought of 
the fast approaching and disgraceful end of his guilty life. The 
statements were positively untrue, in many particulars, and he 
seemed to write only as a matter of routine duty ; though we may 
hope that his affection for his mother was, at least, genuine. 

He was marched from the place of his confinement to an unfin- 
ished building, where the bodies of Stinson and Plummer were 
laid out — the one on the floor and the other on a work bench. 
Ray's corpse had been handed over to his mistress, at her special 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 117 

request. The doomed man gazed without shrinking on the re- 
mains of the malefactors, and asked leave to pray. This was, of 
course, granted, and he knelt down. His lips moved rapidly ; but 
he uttered no word audibly. On rising to his feet, he continued 
apparently to pray, looking round, however, upon the assembled 
Vigilantes all the time. A rope being thrown over a cross-beam, 
a barrel was placed ready for him to stand upon. While the 
final preparations were making, the prisoner asked how long it 
would take him to die, as he had never seen a man hanged. He 
was told that it would be only a short time. The noose was ad- 
justed; a rope was tied round the head of the barrel and the 
party took hold. At the word, *'A11 ready," the barrel was in- 
stantly jerked from beneath his feet, and he swung in the death 
agony. His struggles were very powerful for a short time ; so 
iron a frame could not quit its hold on life as easily as a less mus- 
cular organization. After hanging till frozen stiff, the body was 
cut down and buried decently.* 



CHAPTER XX. 



The Capture and Execution of Boone Helm, Jack Gallagher, 
Frank Parish, Haze Lyons and Club-Foot George (Lane). 

'"Tis joy to see the engineer hoist 
With his own petard." — Shakespeare. 

The effect of the executions noticed in the foregoing chapters 
was both marked and beneficial. There was much to be done, 
however, to ensure anything like lasting peace to the community. 
Ives, Yager, Brown, Plummer, Stinson, Ray, Pizanthia and 
"Wagner were dead; but the five villains whose names head this 
chapter, together with Bunton, Zachary, Marshland, Shears, 
Cooper, Carter, Graves, Hunter and others were still at large, and 
were supported by many others equally guilty, though less daring 
and formidable as individuals. 

Threats of vengeance had been made, constantly, against the 
Vigilantes, and a plot to rob several stores in Virginia had nearly 
matured, when it was discovered and prevented. Every man 
who had taken part in the pursuit of the criminals whose fate 
had been recorded, was marked for slaughter by the desperadoes, 
and nothing remained but to carry out the good work so auspi- 
ciously begun, by a vigorous and unhesitating severity, which 
should know no relaxation until the last blood-stained miscreant 
that could be captured had met a felon's doom. 



• See William Roe's story of David Morgan. Story of Ajax. 



118 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

On the evening of the 13th of January, 1864, the Executive 
Committee, in solemn conclave assembled, determined on hanging 
six of them forthwith. One of the doomed men — Bill Hunter — 
suspecting danger, managed to crawl away, along a drain-ditch, 
through the line of pickets that surrounded the town, and made 
his escape. He was badly frozen by exposure to the cold, and 
before his capture, was discovered by J. A. Slade, while lying con- 
cealed under a bed at a ranch, and told that the Vigilantes were 
after him, which information caused him to move his quarters to 
Gallatin Valley, where he was caught and executed soon after, as 
will appear in the course of this narrative. 

While the Committee were deliberating in secret, a small party 
of men who were at that moment receiving sentence of death, 
were gathered in an upper room at a gambling house, and engaged 
in betting at faro. Jack Gallagher suddenly remarked, "While 
we are here betting, those Vigilante sons of are passing sen- 
tence on us." This is considered to be the most remarkable and 
most truthful saying of his whole life ; but he might be excused 
telling the truth once, as it was entirely accidental. 

Express messengers were sent to warn the men of the neigh- 
boring towns in the gulch, and the summons was instantly obeyed. 

Morning came — the last on earth that the five desperadoes 
should ever behold. The first rays of light showed the pickets 
of the Vigilantes stationed on every eminence and point of van- 
tage round the city. The news flew like lightning through the 
town. Many a guilty heart quaked with just fear, and many an 
assassin's lip turned pale and quivered with irrepressible terror. 
The detachments of Vigilantes, with compressed lips and echoing 
footfall, marched in from Nevada, Junction, Summit, Pine Grove, 
Highland and Fairweather, and halted in a body in Main street. 
Parties were immediately detailed for the capture of the road 
agents, and all succeeded in their mission, except the one which 
went after Bill Hunter, who had escaped. 

Prank Parish was brought in first. He was arrested without 
trouble, in a store, and seemed not to expect death. He took 
the executive officer one side, and asked, "What am I arrested 
for?" He was told, "For being a road agent and thief, and 
accessory to the murders and robberies on the road." At first 
he pleaded innocent ; but at last he confessed his complicity with 
the gang, and admitted being one of the party that robbed the 
ooach between Bannack and Virginia, and that he was guilty 
of stealing horses and stock for them. He used to butcher stolen 
cattle, and attend to the commissariat business. He gave some 
directions about articles of clothing belonging to him, and the 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 119 

settlement of some debts. Until his confession, it was not known 
that he had any share in the robbery of the coach. 

Club-Foot George* (George Lane) was arrested at Dance & 
Stuart's. He was living there, and working at odd times. He was 
perfectly cool and collected, and inquired the reason of his arrest, 
as Parish had done previously. On receiving the same answer, 
he appeared surprised, and said, "If you hang me you will hang 
an innocent man." He was told that the proof was positive, and 
that if he had any preparation to make he must do it at once, as 
his sentence was death. He appeared penitent and sat down for 
some time, covering his face with his hands. He then asked for 
a minister, and one being immediately sent for, he talked and 
prayed with him till the procession to the gallows was formed. 
In his poeketbook was found an extract from a Western news- 
paper stating that George Lane, the notorious horse-thief, was 
Sheriff of Montana. Lane was a man of iron nerve; he seemed 
to think no more of the hanging than a man would of eating his 
breakfast. 

Boone Helm was brought in next. He had been arrested in 
front of the Virginia Hotel. Two or three were detailed for his 
capture of whom he would entertain no suspicion, and they played 
their part, apparently, so carelessly and well, that he was seized 
without being able to make any effort at resistance. A man at 
each arm, and one behind, with a cocked revolver, brought him 
to the rendezvous. He lamented greatly that he "had no show" 
when taken, as he said, "They would have had a gay old time 
taking me. if I had known what they were after." His right 
hand was in a sling. He quietly sat down on a bench, and on 
being made acquainted with his doom, he declared his entire in- 
nocence. He said, "I am as innocent as the babe unborn; I never 
killed any one, or robbed or defrauded any man; I am willing 
to swear it on the Bible." Anxious to see if he was really so 
abandoned a villain as to swear this, the book was handed to him, 
and he, with the utmost solemnity repeated an oath to that effect, 
invoking most terrific penalties on his soul, in case he was swear- 
ing falsely. He kissed the book most impressively. He then ad- 
dressed a gentleman, and asked him to go into a private room. 
Thinking that Boone wanted him to pray with him, he proposed 
to send for a clergyman; but Boone said. "You'll do." On 
reaching the inner room, the prisoner said, "Is there no way of 



* Quite a number of vears after, there was a desire on the part of the 
people in Virginia City to locate correctly the graves of the five highwaymen. 
A. B. Davis said that he knew, and pointed out the grave of Lane, as the 
fifth one. Mr. T\'alker. the mayor, et al., dug this grave and found that 
it was Club-foot George. They removed the foot, and it is one of the sights 
in the Old Capitol. 



120 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

getting out of this?" Being told that there was not, and that he 
must die, he said, "Well, then, I'll tell you. I did kill a man 
named Shoot, in Missouri, and I got away to the West; and I 
killed another chap in California. When I was in Oregon I got into 
jail, and dug my way out with tools that my squaw gave me." 
Being asked if he would not tell what he knew about the gang, 
he said, "Ask Jack Gallagher; he knows more than I do." Jack, 
who was behind a partition, heard him, and burst out into a volley 
of execrations, saying that it was just such cowardly sons of — — 
and traitors that had brought him into that scrape. 

Helm* was the most hardened, cool and deliberate scoundrel of 
the whole band, and murder was a mere pastime to him. He 
killed Mr. Shoot, in Missouri (as will be afterward narrated) and 
testimony of the most conclusive character showed that his hands 
were steeped in blood, both in Idaho and since his coming to the 
Territory. Finding that all his asservations and pleas availed him 
nothing, he said, "I have dared death in all its forms, and I do 
not fear to die." He called repeatedly for whiskey, and had to 
be reprimanded several times for his unseemly conduct. 

The capture of Lyons, though unattended with danger, was ef- 
fected only by great shrewdness. He had been boarding at the 
Arbor Restaurant, near the "Shades." The party went in. The 
owner said he was not there, but that they might search if they 
liked. The search was made and was ineffectual. He had left 
in the morning. During the search for Lyons, Jack Gallagher 
was found, in a gambling room, rolled up in bedding, with his 
shot-gun and revolver beside him. He was secured too quickly 
to use his weapons, if, indeed, he had had the courage ; but his 
heart failed him, for he knew that his time was come. He was 
then taken to the place of rendezvous. 

In the mean time the other party went after Haze Lyons, and 
found that he had crossed the hill, beyond the point overhanging 
Virginia, and, after making a circuit of three miles through the 
mountains, he had come back to within a quarter of a mile of 
the point, from which he started to a miner's cabin, on the west 
side of the gulch above town. At the double-quick, the pursuers 
started, the moment they received the information. The leader 
threw open the door, and bringing down his revolver to a present, 
said, "Throw up your hands." Lyons had a piece of hot slap- 
jack on his fork; but dropped it instantly, and obeyed the order. 
He was told to step out. This he did at once. He was in his 
shirt-sleeves, and asked for his coat which was given to him. He 



* There is an exceedingly interesting chapter in Langford's book about 
Helm. 



THE VIGILANTES OF -MONTANA 121 

was SO nervous that he could hardly get his arms into it. A rigid 
search for weapons was made ; but he had just before taken off 
his belt and revolver, laying them on the bed. He said that that 
was the first meal he had sat down to with any appetite for six 
weeks. Being told to finish his dinner, he thanked the captain, 
but said he could eat no more. He then inquired what was going 
to be done with him, and whether they would hang him. The 
captain said, ''I am not here to promise you anything; prepare 
for the worst." He said, "My friends advised me to leave here, 
two or three days ago." The captain asked why he did not go. 
He replied that he had "done nothing, and did not want to go." 
(He was one of the murderers of Dillingham, in June, '63, and was 
sentenced to death, but spared, as before related.) The real rea- 
son for his stay was his attachment for a woman in town, whose 
gold watch he wore when he died on the scaffold. He was asked 
if he had heard of the execution of Plummer, Buck Stinson and 
Ned Ray. He replied that he had ; but that he did not believe it. 
He was informed that it was true in the following words, "You 
may bet your sweet life on it." He then inquired, "Did they 
fight?" and was informed that they did not; for that they had 
not any opportunity. By this time they had arrived at the ren- 
dezvous, and Lyons found himself confronted by some familiar 
faces. 

Jack Gallagher came in swearing, and appeared to be inclined 

to pretend that the affair was a joke, asking, "What the • 

is it all about?" and saying, "This is a pretty break, ain't it?" 
Being informed of his sentence, he appeared much affected, and 
sat down crying; after which he jumped up, cursing in the most 
ferocious manner, and demanded who had informed on him. He 
was told that it was ' ' Red, who was hung at Stinkingwater, ' ' He 
cursed him with every oath he could think of. He said to him- 
self, "My God! must I die in this way?" His general conduct 
and profanity were awful, and he was frequently rebuked by the 
chief of the executive. 

Haze Lyons was last fetched in, and acquainted wij:h his sen- 
tence. He, of course, pleaded innocent, in the strongest terms ; 
but he had confessed to having murdered Dillingham, to a captain 
of one of the squads of the guard, in the presence of several wit- 
nesses ; and he was a known road agent. He gave some directions 
for letters to be written, and begged to see his mistress ; but, 
warned by the experiment of the previous year, his request was 
denied. 

The chief despatched an officer, with fifteen men, who went 
at the double quick to Highland District, where two suspicious 



122 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

looking characters had gone, with blankets on their backs, the 
evening before, and making the "surround" of the cabin, the 
usual greeting of "throw up your hands," enforced by a pre- 
sented revolver, was instantly obeyed, and they were marched 
down after being disarmed. The evidence not being conclusive, 
they were released though their guilt was morally certain. The 
Vigilantes rigidly abstained, in all cases, from inflicting the pen- 
alty due to crime, without entirely satisfactory evidence of guilt. 

After all was arranged for hanging them, the prisoners were 
ordered to stand in a row, facing the guard, and were informed 
that they were about to be marched to the place of execution. 
Being asked if they had any requests to prefer, as that would 
be their last opportunity, they said they had none to make. They 
were then asked if they had anything to communicate, either of 
their own deeds or their comrade road agents; but they all re- 
fused to make any confession. The guard were ordered to pinion 
their prisoners. Jack Gallagher swore he would never be hung in 
public ; and drawing his knife he clapped the blade to his neck, 
saying that he would cut his throat first. The executive officer 
instantly cocked his pistol, and told him that if he made another 
movement, he would shoot him, and ordered the guard to disarm 
him. One of them seized his wrist and took the knife, after which 
he was pinioned, cursing horribly all the time. Boone Helm was 
encouraging Jack, telling him not to "make a fool of "him- 
self," as there was no use in being afraid to die. 

The chief called upon men that could be depended upon, to 
take charge of the prisoners to the place of execution. The plan 
adopted was to march the criminals, previouslj^ pinioned, each 
between two Vigilantes, who grasped an arm of the prisoner with 
one hand, and held in the other a "navy" — ready for instant use. 
When Haze Lyons heard the order above mentioned, he called 
out, "XI want you to come and stay with me till I die," which 
reasonable request was at once complied with. 

The criminals were marched into the centre of a hollow square, 
which was flanked by four ranks of Vigilantes, and a column in 
front and rear, armed with shot-guns and rifles carried at a half 
present, ready to fire at a moment's warning, completed the 
array. The pistol men were dispersed through the crowd to at- 
tend to the general deportment of outsiders, or, as a good man 
observed, to take the roughs "out of the wet." 

At the word "march!" the party started forward, and halted, 
with military precision, in front of the Virginia Hotel. The halt 
was made while the ropes were preparing at the unfinished build- 
ing, now Clayton & Hale's Drug Store, at the corner of Wallace 



j 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 123 

and Van Buren streets. The logs were up to the square, but there 
was no roof. The main beam for the support of the roof, which 
runs across the center of the building, was used as a gallows, the 
rope being thrown over it, and then taken to the rear and fastened 
round some of the bottom logs. Five boxes were placed immedi- 
ately under the beam, as substitutes for drops. 

The prisoners were, during this time, in front of the Virginia 
Hotel. Club-Foot George called a citizen to him, and asked him 
to speak as to his character ; but this the gentleman declined say- 
ing, ''Your dealings with me have been right; but what you have 
done outside of that I do not know." Club-Foot then asked him 
to pray with him, which he did, kneeling down and offering up 
a fervent petition to the throne of grace on his behalf. George 
and Jack Gallagher knelt. Haze Lyons requested that his hat 
should be taken off, which was done. Boone Helm was cracking 
jokes all the time. Frank Parish seemed greatly affected at the 
near prospect of death. Boone Helm, after the prayer was over, 
called to Jack Gallagher, ''Jack, give me that coat; you never 
gave me anything." " d sight of use you'd have for it," re- 
plied Jack. The two worthies kept addressing short and pithy 
remarks to their friends around, such as "Hallo, Jack, they've 
got me this time;" "Bill, old boy, they've got me, sure," etc. 

Jack called to a man, standing at the windows of the Virginia 
Hotel, "Say! I'm going to heaven! I'll be there in time to open 
the gate for you, old fellow." Jack wore a very handsome United 
States cavalry officer's overcoat, trimmed with Montana beaver. 

Haze begged of his captor that his mistress might see him, but 
his prayer was refused. He repeated his request a second time, 
with the like result. A friend offered to fetch the woman, but 
was ordered off; and on Haze begging for the third time to see 

her, he received this answer, "Haze! emphatically! by G d, 

bringing women to the place of execution played out in '63." 
This settled the matter. The Vigilantes had not forgotten the 
scene after the trial of Dillingham's murderers. 

The guard marched at the word to the place of execution, 
opened ranks, and the prisoners stepped up on the boxes. Club- 
Foot George was at the east side of the house ; next to him was 
Haze Lyons ; then Jack Gallagher and Boone Helm. The box 
next to the west end of the house was occupied by PVank Parish. 
The hats of the prisoners were ordered to be removed. Club-Foot, 
who was somewhat slightly pinioned, reached up to his California 
hat, and dashed it angrily on the ground. The rest were taken 
off by the guards. 

The nooses were adjusted by five men, and — all being ready — 



^ 



124 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

Jack Gallagher, as a last request, asked that he might have some- 
thing to drink, which, after some demur, was acceded to. Club- 
Foot George looked round, and, seeing an old friend clinging to 
the logs of the building, said, "Good-by, old fellow — I'm gone;" 
and, hearing the order, "Men, do your duty" — without waiting 
for his box to be knocked away — he jumped off, and died in a 
short time. 

Haze stood next; but was left to the last. He was talking all 
the time, telling the people that he had a kind mother, and that 
he had been well brought up ; that he did not expect that it 
would have come to that ; but that bad company had brought him 
to it. 

Jack Gallagher, while standing on the box, cried all the time, 
using the most profane and dreadful language. He said, "I 

hope that forked lightning will strike every strangling of 

you." The box flying from under his feet brought his ribaldry 
and profanity to a close, which nothing but breaking his neck 
would ever have done. 

Boone Helm, looking coolly at his quivering form, said, "Kick 
away, old fellow; I'll be in hell with you in a minute." He prob- 
ably told the truth, for once in his life. He then shouted, ' ' Every 
man for his principles — hurrah for Jeff. Davis ! Let her rip ! ' ' 
The sound of his words was echoed by the twang of the rope. 

Frank Parish requested to have a handkerchief tied over his 
face. His own black necktie, fastened in the road agent's knot, 
was taken from his throat and dropped over his face like a 
veil. He seemed serious and quiet, but refused to confess any- 
thing more, and was launched into eternity. A bystander asked 
the guard who adjusted the rope, "Did you not feel for the poor 
man as you put the rope round his neck ? ' ' The Vigilanter, whose 
friend had been slaughtered by the road agents, regarded his 
interrogator with a stern look, and answered slowly, "Yes, I 
ieltfor his left ear!" 

Haze Lyons seemed to expect a second deliverance from death 
up to the last moment, looking right and left at the swaying 
bodies of the desperadoes, his countenance evidently indicating a 
hope of reprieve. Finding entreaty useless, he sent word to his 
mistress that she should get her gold watch, which he wore, and 
requested that his dying regards might be conveyed to her. He 
expressed a hope that she would see that his body was taken 
down, and that it was not left to hang too long. Also he charged 
her to see him decently buried. He died apparently without pain 
The bodies, after hanging for about two hours, were cut down, 
and carried to the street, in front of the house, where their 




02 

> 
< 

O 

7/1 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 125 

friends found them, and took them away for burial. They sleep 
on Cemetery Hill, awaiting, not the justice of man, but the judg- 
ment of the last day. 

The man Avho dug the graves intended for Stinson and Lyons- 
after their sentence of death, for the murder of Dillingham — re- 
ceived no pay, and the two murderers actually committed an of- 
fence revolting to all notions of decency, in those very graves, 
in derision of their judges, and in contempt for their power. The 
sexton pro tem was in the crowd in front of the gallows where 
Lyons paid the penalty of his crimes, and said to him, "I dug 
your grave once for nothing; this time I'll be paid, you bet." He 
received his money. 

As Jack Gallagher has not been specially referred to, the fol- 
lowing short account of a transaction in which he was engaged 
in Virginia City, is here presented : 

Near the end of 1863, Jack Gallagher, who had hitherto occu- 
pied the position in Montana of a promising desperado — raised 
himself to the rank of a "big medicine man," among the road 
agents, by shooting a blacksmith, named Jack Temple, as fine a 
man as could be found among the trade. He did not kill him; 
but his good intentions were credited to him, and he was thence- 
forth respected as a proved brave. Temple had been shoeing 
oxen, and came up to Coleman & Loeb's saloon, to indulge in a 
"Thomas and Jeremiah," with some friends. Jack Gallagher was 
there. A couple of dogs began to fight, and Temple gave one 
of them a kick, saying to the dog, "Here, I don't want you to 

fight here." Jack said there was not a there that should 

kick that dog, and he was able to whip any man in the room. 
Temple, who, though not quarrelsome, was as brave as a lion, 
went up to him and said, "I'm not going to fight in here; but 
if you want a fight so bad, come into the street, and I'll give you 
a 'lay out;' I'll fight you a square fight." He immediately went 
to the door. Jack Gallagher, seeing him so nicely planted for a 
shot, in a narrow doorway, whipped out his pistol, and fired twice 
at him. The first ball broke his wrist. "You must do better than 
that," said Temple. "I can whip you yet." The words were 
hardly out of his mouth when the second ball pierced his neck, 
and he fell. Gallagher would have finished him where he lay, 
but his friends interfered. The unfortunate man said, "Boys, 
carry me somewhere ; I don't want to die like a dog in the street." 
He remained, slowly recovering, but suffering considerably, for 
several weeks, and, at the execution of Gallagher, he was walking 
round town with his arm in a sling, greatly grieved at the sudden 



126 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

end of his antagonist. "I wish," said he, "you had let him run 
till I got well; I would have settled that job myself." 

Bill Hunter and Gallagher robbed a Mormon of a large amount 
of greenbacks, which he had been foolish enough to display, in 
a saloon, in Virginia. They followed him down the road, on his 
way to Salt Lake City, and it is presumed they murdered him. 
The money was recognized by several while the thieves were 
spending it in town. The Mormon was never heard of more. All 
the robbers whose death has been recorded wore the "Cordon 
knot" of the band, and nearly all, if not every one of them, shaved 
to the road agent patterns. 

These executions were a fatal blow to the power of the band, 
and, henceforth, the iliglit was the stronger side. The men of 
Nevada deserve the thanks of the people of the Territory for their 
activity, brave conduct and indomitable resolution. Without 
their aid, the Virginians could have never faced the roughs, or 
conquered them in their headquarters — their own town. The men 
of Summit, especially, and "up the Gulch," generally, were al- 
ways on hand, looking business and doing it. Night fell on Vir- 
ginia ; but sleep forsook many an eye ; while criminals of all kinds 
fled for their lives from the fatal city of the Vigilantes. 



CHAPTER XXI. 



The Deer Lodge and Hell Gate Scout — Capture and Execution of 

Stephen Marshland, Bill Bunton, Cyrus Skinner, Aleck 

Carter, Johnny Cooper, George Shears, Robert 

Zachary, and William Graves (Whiskey Bill). 

"He dies and makes no sign ; 
So bad a death argues a monstrous life." — Shak. 

The operations of the Vigilantes were, at this time, especially, 
planned with a judgment, and executed with a vigor that never 
has been surpassed by any body, deliberative or executive. On 
the 15th of January, 1864, a party of twenty-one men left Nevada, 
under the command of a citizen whose name and actions remind 
us of lightning. He was prompt, brave, irresistible (so wisely 
did he lay his plans), and struck where least expected. 

The squadron rode to Big Hole, the first day, and, while on 
the road, detached a patrol to Clarke 's Ranch, in pursuit of Steve 
Marshland, who was wounded in the breast, when attacking 
Forbes 's train. His feet had been badly frozen, and flight was 
impossible. Leaving the horses behind, one of the party (No. 84) 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 127 

went iu to arrest him, after knocking four times without answer, 
and discovered him in company with a dog, the two being the sole 
tenants of the ranch. 

When the Vigilanter entered, he found all quite dark ; but tak- 
ing a wisp of dried grass, he groped his way to the fireplace, and 
kindled a light with a match. The blaze revealed Steve Marsh- 
land in bed. "Hands up, if you please," was the salute of his cap- 
tor; and a pointed suggestion from one of Col. Colt's pacification 
agents caused an instant compliance with this demand. Seeing 
that he was sick he was asked what was the matter, and replied 
that he had the chills. This novel "winter sickness" not being 
accepted as a sufficient excuse, a further interrogatory elicited 
the fact that he had frozen his feet. "No. 84" removed two 
double-barreled shot-guns, a yager and another rifle, from beside 
the bed, and asked him where he froze them. He said he was 
prospecting at the head of Rattlesnake. "Did you raise the 
'color'?" said his interrogator. "No," replied Marshland, "I 
could not get to the bed-rock for water." The party commenced 
cooking supper, and invited him to eat with them. He took a 
cup of coffee and was quite merry. After supper he was informed 
by the leader of the nature of the charge against him, viz., the 
robbery of Forbes 's train. He denied having any wound, and 
slapped his breast, saying that it was "as sound as a dollar." Be- 
ing asked if he had any objection to being examined, he said he 
had not ; but the moment his shirt was lifted the fatal mark of 
guilt was visible, in the shape of a recent bullet wound. 

The prisoner was told that the evidence was complete, and 
that he must die. He then confessed, begging them to spare Ms 
life. He had matches and tobacco in every pocket of his clothes. 
A pole was stuck into the ground, and leaned over the corral ; a 
box was placed for him to stand on, and, all being ready, he once 
more begged to save him, saying "have mercy on me for my 
youth." He died almost instantly. 

His feet being frozen and partially mortified, the scent at- 
tracted the wolves, and the party had to watch both him and the 
horses. He was buried close by. The patrol then started to 
overtake the main body, and coming up with them about four 
miles above Evans's Ranch, they reported the execution of Marsh- 
land. They had been absent only one night, leaving the command 
in the morning and rejoining them the next day. 

Up to this time the scouting party had met no one, but marched 
m double file, at the rate of from sixty to seventy miles per day. 
They kept double watch over the horses when camped, and lit no 
fires, being fearful of attracting notice, and of thus defeating the 



128 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

object of their journey. The men were divided into four messes, 
with a cook to each, and every party carried its own "grub" (the 
universal mountain word for "food"). Each man had a revolver, 
and some sported two. A shot-gun or a rifle was also part of 
the equipment. The captain rode foremost. A spy was de- 
spatched to reconnoitre the town, and to meet the party at Cot- 
tonwood Creek. He performed his part satisfactorily. 

When within about seventeen miles of Cottonwood, at Smith's 
Ranch, on Deer Lodge Creek, a halt was made about four p. m. 
After dark they started, and with perfect quiet and caution rode 
to within a short distance of the town. They found that the rob- 
bers were gone ; but, surrounding Bill Bunton 's saloon and dwell- 
ing house, they proceeded to business. Bill was in his house, but 
he refused to open the door. The three men detailed for his arrest 
said they wanted to see him. For a long time he refused. At last 
he told a man named Yank and a young boy who was stopping 
with him to open the door. The men made him light a candle 
before they would enter. This being done Bunton 's captors 
nished in and told him that he was their prisoner. He asked 
them for what, and was told to come along and that he would 
find out. 

*A Vigilanter of small stature but of great courage fastened 
upon him. He found, however, that he had caught a Tartar, so 
another man "piled on" (Montanice), and soon his arms were 
fast tied behind him. A guard was detailed to escort him down 
to Pete Martins' house, the rest being sent for to assist in taking 
Tex out of the saloon. 

A similar scene occurred here when the robber came out. He 
was instantly seized, pinioned, and taken down to keep company 
with his friend. Bill Bunton. 

Pete Martin was frightened out of a year's growth when the 
Vigilanters surrounded his house. He was playing cards with 
some friends, and for a long time refused to come out ; but find- 
ing that, as he said, "he wasn't charged with nothing," he ascer- 
tained what was wanted, and then returned to finish his game. 
As the exigencies of the times had rendered a little hanging neces- 
sary in that neighborhood, he felt small concern about the fate of 
Bunton and Tex, who were of a dangerous religion. 

The party slept and breakfasted at the house. In the morning 
a stranger who was conversing with Bunton, to whom he was 
unknown, informed the Vigilantes that the culprit had said that 
"he would 'get' one of the yet." On being searched a der- 
ringer was found in his vest pocket. As he had been carefully 



* J. X. Beidler. 



' iff in ili FOB SHU! 

IN mf iiTiM. Ml mmM^f iistoei m 

The TIGllAli 

HOITI^t lltBirORI! 






< 'oiiijiri-^iiit; it full .nfitiiiil '<( tin- < 'ii^-^'. < 'njitiirr. Triiil. niul I Aiiuliiui ul' 



ROAD AGENTS!! 

D. IXT. TILTOni & Cn.,\ 

ktthi' i'ii} lUmii SU*r*\ I'ircrli^a i'iU, ium! at (li«*i; 

^^ A liberal Iciluctioa wade on large ©rli 

^END IN YOUR ORDERS iMEDMTELY.'i 



FIRST POSTER TO ADVERTISE A MONTANA BOOK 
"Vigilantes of Montana". By Dimsdale 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 129 

overhauled the night before it was evident that some sympathizer 
had furnished him with the weapon. He refused to confess any- 
thing, even his complicity in the robbery of the coach, where he 
played "pigeon." Red had testified that he shared the money. 
He also denied killing Jack Thomas' cattle; but Red had con- 
fessed that he himself was the butcher, and that he had been hired 
by Bunton, who called him a coward when he spoke about the 
skins lying round the house, as being likely to be identified. 

There being no possible doubt of his criminality, the vote on 
his case was taken w^th the uplifted hand, and resulted in a unan- 
imous verdict of guilty. 

The captain then told him that he was to be hanged, and that 
if he had any business to attend to he had better get some one 
to do it. He gave his gold watch to his partner, Cooke, and his 
other property to pay his debts. He had won his interest in the 
saloon some fourteen days before by gambling it from its owner. 

Tex was taken to another house and was separately tried. After 
a patient investigation the robber was cleared — the evidence not 
being sufficient to convict him. Had the Vigilantes held him 
in custody for a time Tex would have experienced a difficulty in 
his breathing that would have proved quickly fatal ; for testimony 
in abundance was afterward obtained, proving conclusively that 
he was a highwayman and common thief. He made all sail for 
Kootenai, and there boasted that he would shoot any Vigilanter 
he could set eyes on. 

About two hundred and fifty feet to the left-front of Pete Mar- 
tin's house, at the gate of Louis Demorest's corral, there were 
two upright posts and a cross-beam which looked quite natural, 
and appeared as if they had been made for Bunton. 

The prisoner was taken out and put on a board supported by 
two boxes. He was very particular about the exact situation of 
the knot, and asked if he could not .jump off himself. Being 
told that he could if he wished, he said that he didn't 
care for hanging any more than he did for taking a drink 
of water ; but he should like to have his neck broken. He seemed 
quite satisfied when his request was granted. He continued to 
deny his guilt to the very last moment of his life, repeating the 
password of the gang, "I am innocent." Two men were sta- 
tioned at the board — one at each end — and all being ready he was 
asked if he had anything to say or any request to make. He said, 
"No; all I want is a mountain three hundred feet high to jump 
off." He said he would give the time — "one," "two," "three." 
At the word "ready," the men stationed at the plank prepared 
to pull it from under him, if he should fail to jump ; but he gave 



130 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

the signal, as he promised, and adding, "here goes it," he leaped 
into the embrace of death. The cessation of muscular contraction 
was almost instantaneous, and his death was accompanied by 
scarcely a perceptible struggle. 

The corral-keeper's wife insisted, in terms more energetic than 
polite, that her husband should get th^ poles cut down. With 
this request he was forced to cpjnply, as soon as the corpse of 
the road agent was removeji^fdr burial. 

The parties knew tha£ the robbers were to be found at Hell 
Gate, which was so named because it was the road which the In- 
dians took when on the war-path, and intent on scalping and other 
pleasant little amusements, in the line of ravishing, plundering, 
fire-raising, etc., for the exhibition of which genteel proclivities 
the Eastern folks recommend a national donation of blankets and 
supplies to keep the thing up. As independent and well-educated 
robbers, however, sedulously reared to the business from child- 
hood, it must be admitted that in case anything is lacking, they 
at once proceed to supply the deficiency from the pilgrims' 
trains and from settlers' homesteads. If the Indians were left 
to the Vigilantes of Montana they would contract to change their 
habits at small cost; but an agency is too fat a thing for pet em- 
ployees, and consequently a treaty is entered into, the only sub- 
stantial adjunct of which is the Cjuantity of presents which the 
Indians believe they have frightened out of the white men. Prob- 
ably in a century or so they will see that our view is correct. 

On their road from Cottonwood to Hell Gate the troop was ac- 
companied by Jemmy Allen, towards whose ranch they were 
directing their steps. The weather was anything but pleasant for 
travelling, the quantity of snow making it laborious work for 
the Vigilantes, and the cold was very hard to endure without 
shelter. At the crossing of Deer Lodge Creek the ice gave way 
and broke through with the party. It was pitch dark at the time, 
and much difficulty was experienced in getting out both men and 
horses. One cavalier was nearly drowned ; but a lariat being put 
round the horse's neck it was safely dragged out. The rider 
scrambled to the bank somehow or other^memory furnishes the 
result only, not the detail — and jumping on to the "animal," he 
rode on a keen run to the ranch, which was some four or five 
miles ahead. 

The remainder of the cavalcade travelled on more leisurely, 
arriving there about eleven p. m., and having recruited a little 
they -wrapped themselves in blankets and slumber without delay. 

Next morning, in company with Charley Eaton, who was 
acquainted with the country and with the folks around Hell Gate, 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 131 

they started for that locality, and after riding fifteen or sixteen 
miles through snow, varying in depth from two to three feet, 
they camped for the night. The horses being used to foraging, 
pawed for their food. 

The next morning the party crossed the bridge, and rode to 
the workmen's quarters on the Mullan* Wagon Road, where, call- 
ing a halt, they stopped all night. Accidents will happen in the 
best-regulated families, and in a winter scout in the wilds of Mon- 
tana casualties must be expected as a matter of course. The best 
mountaineer is the man who most quickly and effectually repairs 
damages, or finds a substitute for the missing article. "While 
driving the ponies into camp one of them put his foot into a hole 
and broke his leg. As there was no chance to attend to him he 
was at once shot. Another cayuse by a similar accident stripped 
all the skin off his hind legs from the hough down. He was 
turned loose to await the return of the expedition. 

At daylight the troop were in their saddles and pushing as 
rapidly as possible for the village. On arriving within six miles 
of the place the command halted on the bank of a small creek till 
after dark, to avoid being seen on the road. As soon as night 
threw her mantle over the scene, they continued their journey till 
within two hundred yards of Hell Gate, and there dismounting 
they tied their horses. 

Their scout had gone ahead to reconnoitre, and, returning to 
the rendezvous, he informed the captain of the exact position of 
affairs. Coming through the town on a tight run, they mistook 
the houses ; but, discovering their error, they soon returned, and 
surrounding Skinner's saloon, the owner, who was standing at 
the door, was ordered to throw up his hands. His woman (Nelly) 
did not appear to be pleased at the command, and observed that 
they must have learned that from the Bannack stage folks. 

Skinner was taken and bound immediately. Some of the men 
went for Aleck Carter, who was in Miller's, the next house. Dan 
Harding opened the door, and seeing Carter, said, "Aleck, is 
that you?" to which the road agent promptly replied "Yes," The 
men leveled their pieces at him, and the leader, going over to 
the lounge on which he was lying, rather drunk, took his pistol 
from him and bound him, before he was thoroughly aroused. 
"When he came to himself, he said. "This is tight papers, ain't 
it boys?" He then asked for a smoke, which being given to him, 
he inquired for the news. On hearing of the hanging of the 
blood-stained miscreants whose doom has been recorded in these 
pages, he said, "All right; not an innocent man hung yet." 



* Lieut. Mullan built a road across the mountains, for the Government, 
in '53 and '54. 



132 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

He was marched down under guard, to Higgins' store, where 
he and Skinner were tried, the examination lasting about three 
hours. Skinner's woman came down, bent on interference in his 
behalf. The lady was sent home with a guard, who found Johnny 
Cooper lying wounded in the house. He had been shot in three 
places by Carter, whom he had accused of stealing his pistol. He 
was, of course, instantly secured. 

Some of the guard happening to remark that Johnny seemed 
to be suffering "pretty bad," the lady expressed a conviction, 
with much force and directness, that "by — — , there were two 

outside suffering a sight worse" (meaning Skinner and 

Aleck Carter), 

Cooper was one of the lieutenants of the gang. He was a 
splendid horseman, and a man named President, who was present 
at his apprehension, knew him well on the "other side." He had 
murdered a man, and being arrested, was on his way to the court, 
when he suddenly broke from his captors, leaped with a bound 
on to a horse standing ready, and was off like a bird. Though 
at least one hundred shots were sent after him, he escaped unin 
jured, and got clear away. 

While Aleck Carter was on trial, he confessed that the two 
mules of which Nicholas Tbalt was in charge, when shot by Ives, 
were at Irwin's Ranch, at Big Hole, and that he, Irwin and Ives 
had brought them there. It will be remembered that, besides rob- 
bing the coach, Aleck was accessory both before and after the fact 
of Tbalt 's murder. This was proved. That he was a principal 
in its perpetration is more than likely. He denied all participa- 
tion in the murder, but confessed, generally speaking, much in 
the same style as others had done. 

Skinner also refused to confess any of the crimes. "Dead men 
tell no tales" was his verdict, when planning the murder of Ma- 
gruder, and he it was who ingratiated himself into the favor of 
Page, Romaine and others, and prompted them to the deed, so 
that Magruder thought his murderers were his friends, and went 
on his last journey without suspicion. He said he could have 
saved him, if he had liked; but he added that he "would have 

seen him in first." He wouldn't leave himself open to the 

vengeance of the band. He was a hardened, merciless and brutal 
fiend. 

The same night a detachment of eight men went in pursuit of 
Bob Zachary, and coming up to Barney O'Keefe's, that gentle- 
man appeared in the uniform of a Georgia major minus the spurs 
and shirt collar, and plus a flannel blouse. He mistook the party 
for road agents, and appeared to think his time had come. He 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 133 

ejaculated, with visible horror, ''Dont' shoot, gentlemen: I'm 
Barney O'Keefe." It is useless to say that no harm was done to 
the ''Baron," as he is called. There are worse men living in all 
countries than Barney, who is a good soul in his own way, and 
hospitable in his nature. Finding that Bob Zaehary was inside, 
one of the party entered, and, as he sat up in bed, threw himself 
upon him, and pushed him backwards. He had a pistol and a 
knife. He was taken to Hell Gate shortly after his capture. The 
fate of his friends was made known to him, and vouched for by 
a repetition of the signs, grips, passwords, etc. On seeing this 
he turned pale ; but he never made any confession of guilt. He 
was one of the stage robbers who actually took the money from 
Southmayde. Like all the rest, he repeated the pass-word of 
the gang, "I am innocent." 

On the road back the guard had wormed out of Barney that 
a stranger was stopping at Van Dorn's, in the Bitter Root val- 
ley. "No. 84," who was leading the party who captured Shears, 
asked ' ' Does Van live here ? " " Yes, ' ' said the man himself. ' ' Is 
George Shears in your house?" asked 84. "Yes," said Van. 
"Where is he?" "In the next room." "Any objection to our 
going in?" The man replied by opening the door of the room, on 
which George became visible, knife in hand. He gave himself 
up quietly, and seemed so utterly indifferent to death that he 
perfectly astonished his captors. Taking a walk with 84, he 
pointed out to him the stolen horses in the corral, and confessed 
his guilt, as a man would speak of the weather. He said, "I knew 
I should have to go up, some time ; but I thought I could run 
another season." When informed of his doom, he appeared per- 
fectly satisfied. On being taken into the barn, where a rope was 
thrown over a beam, he was asked to walk up a ladder, to save 
trouble about procuring a drop. He at once complied, addressing 
his captors in the following unique phraseology, "Gentlemen, I 
am not used to this business, never having been hung before. Shall 
I jump off or slide off?" Being told to jump off, he said "All 
right ; good by, ' ' and leaped into the air with as much sang froid 
as if bathing. 

The drop was long and the rope tender. It slowly untwisted, 
and Shears hung, finally, by a single strand. George's parting 
question was, for a long time, a byword among the Vigilantes. 

A company of three, headed by the "old man,"* started off 
to Fort Owen, in the Bitter Root Valley, in pursuit of Whiskey 
Bill (Bill Graves, the coach robber). This worthy was armed 
and on the look-out for his captors ; but, it seems, he had become 



Captain WiUiams, no doubt. 



134 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

partially snow-blind by long gazing. At all events, he did not see 
the party with sufficient distinctness to ascertain who they were, 
until the "old man" jumped from his horse and covered him 
with his revolver. He gave up, though he had repeatedly sworn 

that he would shoot any Vigilanter who would come his way. 

His guilt was notorious throughout all the country, and his cap- 
ture was merely a preliminary to his execution. The men took 
him away from the Fort in deference to the prejudices of the 
Indians, who would have felt no desire to live near where a man 
had been hanged. Graves made no confession. He was what is 
called in the mountains a "bull head," and was a sulky, danger- 
ous savage. Being tied up to a limb, the difficulty was to make 
a "drop," but the ingenuity of the leader was equal to the emer- 
gency. One of the men mounted his horse ; Graves was lifted up 
behind him, and, all being ready, "Good-by, Bill," said the front 
horseman, driving his huge rowels into the horse's flanks as he 
spoke. The animal made a plunging bound of twelve feet, and 
Bill Graves, swept from his seat by the fatal noose and lariat, 
swung lifeless. His neck was broken by the shock. 

The different parties rendezvoused at Hell Gate, and a com- 
pany of eight men were despatched to the Pen d 'Oreille Reserve 
to get Johnny Cooper's horses, six or seven in number. They were 
in poor condition, and were nearly all sold to pay the debts which 
the road agent had incurred in the country round about the vil- 
lage. The remainder were brought to Nevada. It seems that 
Aleck Carter and Cooper were about to start for Kootenai, on the 
previous day, and that their journey was prevented only by their 
quarrel about the pistol, which Cooper charged Aleck with steal- 
ing, and which resulted in the wounding of Cooper, the delay of 
their journey, and, in fact, in their execution. A pack animal 
laden with their baggage and provisions carried $130 worth of 
goods. These were taken for the use of the expedition ; but on a 
representation made by Higgins that he had supplied them to Car- 
ter to get rid of him, but that he had received nothing for them, 
they were paid for on the spot by the Vigilantes. 

There had been a reign of terror in Hell Gate. The robbers did 
as they pleased, took what they chose. A Colt's revolver was the 
instrument ever ready to enforce the transfer. Brown, a French- 
man, living in the neighborhood, stated to the Vigilantes, that 
he was glad to see them, for that robbers used to ride his stock 
whenever they pleased, and that they always retained possession 
of such steeds as they especially fancied. 

Cooper had determined to marry his daughter, a pretty-half 
breed girl, and then, after getting all that he could lay hands on. 



THI-: VIGILAXTIOS OF MONTANA i:^o 

he intended to turn the old man adrift. He used to go to his 
intended father-in-law and inform him that he wanted another of 
those pretty pocket pieces ($20 gold pieces), and he always ob- 
tained w^hat he asked ; for death would have been the instant pen- 
alty of refusal. Other parties had supplied Cooper and Carter 
with money, pistols and whatever else they asked, for the same 
potent and unanswerable reasons. Anj^ demand for paj^ment was 
met by a threat to shoot the creditor. 

At the conclusion of the trials of Carter and Skinner, a vote 
was taken by stepping to the opposite sides of the room ; but 
the verdict of guilty, and a judgment of death to the culprits 
were unanimously rendered. 

Cooper was tried separately, and interrogated by Mr. President 
concerning his conduct on the "other side." He denied the whole 
thing ; but this gentleman 's testimony, the confession of Red, and 
the witness of the inhabitants rendered a conviction and sentence 
of death inevitable. 

Carter and Skinner were taken to Higgins's corral and executed 
by torchlight, shortly after midnight. Two poles were planted, 
leaning over the corral fence ; to these the ropes were tied, and 
store-boxes seiwed for "drops." 

On the road to the gallows Cyrus Skinner broke suddenly from 
the giiard, and ran off, shouting, "Shoot! shoot!" His captors 
were too old hands to be thus baffled. They instantly secured 
him. He again tried the trick when on the box; but he was 
quickly put up and held there till the rope was adjusted. This 
being finished he was informed that he could jump whenever he 
pleased. Aleck seemed ashamed of Skinner's attempt to escape, 
which the latter explained by saying that he "was not born to 
be hanged" — a trifling error. 

While on the stand one of the men asked Carter to confess 
his share in the murder of the Dutchman ; but he burst forth with 

a volley of oaths, saying, "If I had my hands free, you , I'd 

make you take that back." As Skinner was talking by his side, 
Aleck was ordered to keep quiet. "Well, then, let's have a 
smoke," said he. His request being granted, he became more 
pacific in demeanor. The criminals' faces being covered with 
handkerchiefs, they were launched into eternity, with the pass- 
word of the gang upon their lips, "I am innocent." Both died 
easily and at once. The people had of their own accord made all 
the preparations for their burial. 

Immediately after the execution, the parties were detailed and 
despatched after Zachary, Graves and Shears. The death of the 
last two has been recorded. 



136 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

The squad that arrested Zachary returned between seven and 
eight o'clock that morning. He was at once tried, found guilty, 
and sentenced to death. By his direction a letter was written to 
his mother, in which he warned his brothers and sisters to avoid 
drinking whiskey, card playing, and bad company, which, he said, 
had brought him to the gallows. Zachary once lay in wait for 
Pete Daley and snapped two caps at him; but, fortunately, the 
weapon would not go off. 

Being brought to the same spot as that on which Skinner and 
Carter were hanged, he commenced praying to God to forgive 
the Vigilantes for what they were doing, for it was a pretty good 
way to clear the country of road agents. He died at once with- 
out any apparent fear or pain. 

Johnny Cooper was hauled down on a sleigh by hand, owing to 
his leg being wounded, and was placed on the same box that 
Skinner had stood upon. He asked for his pipe, saying he wanted 
a good smoke, and he enjoyed it very much. A letter had been 
written to his parents in York State. Cooper dodged the noose 
for a time, but being told to keep his head straight, he submitted. 
He died without a struggle. 

During the trial of the men, the people had made Cooper's cof- 
fin, and dug his grave ; Zachary was buried by the Vigilantes. The 
other malefactor the citizens knew better and hated worse. 

Skinner left all his property to Higgins, the storekeeper, from 
whom he had received all his stock on credit. Aleck had nothing 
but his horse, his accoutrements and his appointments. 

Their dread mission of retribution being accomplished, the 
captain ordered everything to be made ready for their long home- 
ward march, and in due time they arrived at Cottonwood, where 
they found that X had settled everything relating to Bunton's af- 
fairs. At Big Hole they made search for Irwin ; but he had fled, 
and has never been taken. Tired and worn, the command reached 
Nevada, and received the congratulations and thanks of all good 
men. Like Joshua's army, though they had been rewarded with 
success, yet often in that journey over their cold and trackless 
waste the setting sun had seen them 

"Faint, yet pursuing." 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 137 

CHAPTER XXn. 

Capture and Execution of Bill Hunter. 

"Round he throws his baleful eyes, 
That witness naught but huge destruction and dismay."— Milton, 

At the time of the execution of Boone Helm and his four con- 
federates in crime, Bill Hunter, as before narrated, managed to 
escape his pursuers and for a time to baffle the vengeance of the 
Vigilantes by hiding among the rocks and brush by day, and then 
seeking food at night among the scattered settlements in the vicin- 
ity of the Gallatin River. 

At the time of Barney Hughes' stampede, the country in the 
neighborhood became alive with men, and his whereabouts was 
discovered. Information was received at Virginia that he was 
living as described about twenty miles above the mouth of the 
Gallatin. A severe snow storm had driven him to seek refuge in 
a cabin, near the place of his concealment, and here he was over- 
taken and captured. 

A party of four resolute men volunteered for the work, and 
left Virginia City with a good prospect of fine weather for the 
trip before them. Crossing the Divide between the Stinkingwater 
and the Madison, they forded the last-named river with some dif- 
ficulty, the huge cakes of floating ice striking the horses' flanks 
and threatening to carry them down. Their camping ground was 
the frozen earth on its banks; and having built a fire, they lay 
down to sleep with no shelter but their blankets. Though the 
weather was intensely cold, the spirits of the party never flagged, 
and they derived not a little amusement from occurrences which, 
under other circumstances, would have been regarded as anything 
but amusing incidents of travel. 

One of the Vigilantes, determined on securing a good share of 
heat, lay with his head on the top of a hillock that sloped towards 
the fire, and, as a natural consequence, gradually slid down, till 
he woke with his feet in the hot embers. His position was 
changed with marvellous rapidity, amid the laughter of his com- 
rades. 

Another of the party had a pair of mammoth socks, into which 
he thrust his feet loosely. As the sleeper began to feel the cold, 
he kept pushing his feet into the socks, until he pushed himself out 
of bed, and woke half frozen. He glanced with a comic expression 
at the cause of his misfortunes, and taking a good warm at the 
fire in a more legitimate fashion, he crept back to bed. 

Early in the morning the men rose from their slumbers, renewed 
their fire, and while some cooked, others hunted up the stock. 



138 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

Soon all was prepared, and despatched with a mountaineer's appe- 
tite ; the horses were saddled and they departed on their mission. 
The weather had changed very much for the worse At about 
ten o'clock a fierce snow storm, driven by a furious wind, blew 
right in their faces ; but as the tempest was a most useful auxiliary 
towards the success of their enterprise, they pushed on, hour after 
hour, and at two p. m. reached the Milk Ranch, about twenty 
miles from the place where they expected to find their game. Here 
they stayed for supper, and engaged a guide who knew the coun- 
try well, and was acquainted with the locality of the robbers' city 
of refuge. Being warmed and refreshed, they started at a rapid 
pace, which was continued until, at midnight, they drew bridle 
near a lone cabin, into which they felt certain that the severity 
of the storm had driven the object of their journey. 

Having halted and unsaddled, they rapped loudly at the door. 
When it was opened, the gentleman w^ho presented himself took a 
view of the party, which, with the guide and a gentleman who 
had joined them, numbered six individuals. "Good evening," was 
the salutation of the travellers. Sleep, suspicion, and an uneven 
temper, probably, jointly proved the response. "Don't know 
whether it is or not." However, at their request, he soon had a 
fire blazing on the hearth, which the party thoroughly enjoyed, 
after their long ride. Before allowing themselves to be thus even 
temporarily luxurious, they had carefully inspected the premises 
and, as the lawyers say, all the appendages and appurtenances 
thereunto belonging; when, having found that the only prac- 
ticable method of egress was by the door, a couple of them lay 
down in such a manner, when they retired to rest, that any one 
trying to escape must inevitably wake them. Six shot-guns con- 
stituted half a dozen weighty arguments against forcible attempts 
at departure, and the several minor and corroborative persuasions 
of a revolving class completed a clear case of "stand off." under 
all circumstances. 

A sentry was placed to see that nobody adopted the plan of 
"evaporation" patented by Santa Glaus, that is to say by ascent 
of the chimney. His duty, also, was to keep up a bright fire, and 
the room being tenanted to its utmost capacity, all promised an 
uninterrupted night's slumber. 

A very cursory inspection of the interior of the premises had 
satisfied the Vigilantes that the occupants of the cabin were three 
in number. Of these, two were visible; but one remained covered 
up in bed, and never stirred till the time of their departure in 
the morning. The curiosity of the inmates being roused by the 
sudden advent of the travellers, questions as to their names, resi- 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 139 

dences, occupation and intentions were freely propounded, and 
were answered with a view to "business" exclusively. Before 
turning over to sleep, the party conversationally descanted on 
mining, stampeding, prospecting, runs, panning-out, and all the 
technical magazine of mining phrases was ransacked wath a view 
to throwing their hosts off the trail. In this they succeeded. All 
was quiet during the night, and until a late hour in the morning. 
Every one of the friends of justice had exchanged private signals 
by Vigilante telegraph, and were satisfied that all was right. 

Nothing was said about the real object of their visit, until the 
horses were saddled for the apparent purpose of continuing the 
journey. Two only went out at a time, and the mute eloquence 
of the shot-guns in the corner was as effective in the morning as 
it had been at midnight. 

When all was ready, one of the party asked who was the un- 
known sleeper that, at that late hour, had never waked or uncov- 
ered his face. The host said that he did not know; but upon being 
asked, ' ' when did he come here ? " he informed them that he had 
come at the beginning of the great snow storm, and had been 
there two days. 

The man was requested to describe his person and appearance. 
He complied at once, and in so doing he gave a perfect picture 
of Bill Hunter. 

With arms prepared for instant service, the Vigilantes ap- 
proached the bed, and the leader called out, "Bill Hunter!" The 
occupant of the bed hastily drew the covering from his face, and 
wildly asked who was there. His eyes were greeted with the sight 
of six well-armed men, whose determined countenances and stern 
looks told him only too truly the nature of their errand. Had 
be been in doubt, however, this matter would soon have been set- 
tles ; for the six shot-guns levelled at his head were answer enough 
to palsy the arm of grim despair himself. On being asked if he 
had any arms, he said, "Yes, I have a revolver," and accordingly 
he handed it from beneath the bed-clothes, where he had held it, 
lying on his breast, ready cocked for use. The old Vigilanter 
who made the inquiries, not being verj^ soft or easily caught at 
a disadvantage, took the precaution when approaching him to lay 
his hand on his breast, so that, had he been willing, he could have 
done nothing; for his weapon was mastered while his hand was 
covered. He was, of course, informed that he was a prisoner, 
upon hearing which he at once asked to be taken to Virginia City. 
One of the men gave him to understand that he would be taken 
there. He further inquired whether there was any conveyance 
for him, and was told that there was a horse for him to ride. 



140 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

He rose from the bed, ready dressed for the occasion except his 
overcoat and hat, and mounted the horse prepared for him ; but, 
upon preparing- to take the rein, his motion was politely negatived 
and the bridle was handed to a horseman who held it as a leading 
bridle. He looked suspiciously round, and appeared much per- 
turbed when he saw a footman following, for he at once guessed 
that it was his horse that he was riding, and the incident seemed 
to be regarded by him in the light of an omen foreboding a short 
journey for him. His conscience told him what was likely to be 
the end of his arrest. The real reason why an evasive answer had 
been given to the prisoner, when he expressed a wish to be taken 
to Virginia City, was that his captors were anxious to leave the 
place without exciting suspicion of any intention to execute Bill 
Hunter, in the neighborhood. 

The escort proceeded on their way homewards for about two 
miles, and halted at the foot of a tree which seemed as if it had 
been fashioned by nature for a gallows. A horizontal limb at a 
convenient height was there for the rope, and on the trunk was a 
spur like a belaying pin, on which to fasten the end. Scraping 
away about a foot of snow, they camped, lit a fire and prepared 
their breakfast. An onlooker would never have conjectured for 
a moment that anything of a serious nature was likely to occur, 
and even Hunter seemed to have forgotten his fears, laughing and 
chatting gayly with the rest. 

After breakfast a consultation was held as to what should be 
done with the road agent, and after hearing what was offered by 
the members of the scouting party, individually, the leader put 
the matter to vote. It was decided by the majority that the 
prisoner should not go to Virginia, but that he should be executed 
then and there. The man who had given Hunter to understand 
that he would be taken to Virginia, voted for the carrying out 
of this part of the programme, but he was overruled. 

The earnest manner of the Vigilantes, and his own sense of 
guilt, overpowered Hunter; he turned deadly pale, and faintingly 
asked for water. He knew, vrithout being told, that there was no 
hope for him. A brief history of his crimes was related to him 
by one of the men, and the necessity of the enforcement of the 
penalty was pointed out to him. All was too true for denial. He 
merely requested that his friends should know nothing of the 
manner of his death, and stated that he had no property ; but he 
hoped they would give him a decent burial. He was told that 
every reasonable request would be granted ; but that the ground 
was too hard for them to attempt his interment without proper 
implements. They promised that his friends should be made ac- 



J 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 141 

quaintecl with his execution, and that they would see to that. Soon 
after, he shook hands with each of the company, and said that 
he did not blame them for what they were about to do. 

His arms were pinioned at the elbows ; the fatal noose was 
placed round his neck, and the end of the rope being thrown over 
the limb, the men took hold and with a quick, strong pull ran him 
up off his feet. He died almost without a struggle ; but, strange 
to say, he reached as if for his pistol, and went through the pan- 
tomime of cocking and discharging his revolver six times. This 
is no effort of fancy. Every one present saw it, and was equally 
convinced of the fact. It was a singular instance of "the ruling 
passion, strong in death." 

The place of the execution was a lone tree, in full view of the 
travellers on the trail, about twenty miles above the mouth of the 
Gallatin. The corpse of the malefactor was left hanging from the 
limb, and the little knot of horsemen w^as soon but a speck in the 
distance. The purpose of the Barney Hughes stampede had been 
accomplished. So secretly had everything been managed that 
one of the four who started from Virginia did not know either 
the real destination of the party, or the errand of the other three. 
He was found to be sound on the road agent question ; and, instead 
of being dismissed he rode on as one of the party. 

It seemed as if fate had decreed the death of Bill Hunter. He 
was a man of dauntless courage, and would have faced a hundred 
men to the last, being a perfect desperado when roused, though 
ordinarily peaceful in demeanor. At his capture he was as weak 
as a child, and had scarcely strength to ask for what he wanted. 

The only remarkable circumstance attending the return jour- 
ney was the inconvenience and pain caused by the reflection of 
the sun's rays from the snow. It produced temporary blindness, 
and was only relieved by blacking their faces. Riding late at 
night, one of the horsemen dismounted with a view of easing his 
steed, which was tired with the long march, and walked some 
distance by his side. On getting again into the saddle he accident- 
ally discharged his gun, which was slung, muzzle down by his 
side. The charge passed down the leg of his boot between the 
counter and the lining, lodging an ounce ball and six buchskot 
in the heel. All started at the sudden flash and report. The 
man himself believed that his foot was shot to pieces, and they 
spurred forward at hot speed for the next ranch, where an exam- 
ination revealed the above state of facts, much to the consolation 
of the excited mind of the owner of the boot. He was wounded 
only in spirit, and reached home safely. 

One of the Vigilantes "bagged" a relic. He had promised to 



142 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

bring back a token of having seen Bill Hunter, either dead or 
alive, and, accordingly, while talking to him at the fire, he man- 
aged to detach a button from his coat, which he fetched home as 
he had promised. 

Some days after men who were hauling wood discovered the 
body, and determined to give it burial. It was necessary to get 
the corpse over a snow-drift ; so they tied a rope to the heels, and 
essayed to drag it up ; but finding that this was the wrong way 
of the grain, as they said, they replaced the noose round the neck, 
and thus having pulled him over, they finally consigned to mother 
earth the last of Henry Plmnmer's Band. 

Bill Hunter was, as we have said, the last of the old road agent 
band that met death at the hands of the Committee. He was exe- 
cuted on the 3d of February, 1864. There was now no openly 
organized force of robbers in the Territory, and the future acts of 
the Committee were confined to taking measures for the mainten- 
ance of the public tranquility, and the punishment of those guilty 
of murder, robbery and other high crimes and misdemeanors 
against the welfare of the inhabitants of Montana. 

On looking back at the dreadful state of society which necessi- 
tated the organization of the Vigilantes, and on reading these 
pages, many will learn for the first time the deep debt of grati- 
tude which they owe to that just and equitable body of self-deny- 
ing and gallant men. It was a dreadful and a disgusting duty 
that devolved upon them ; but it was a duty, and they did it. Far 
less worthy actions have been rewarded by the thanks of Con- 
gress, and medals glitter on many a bosom, whose owner won 
them lying flat behind a hillock, out of range of the enemy's fire. 
The Vigilantes, for the sake of their country, encountered popular 
dislike, the envenomed hatred of the bad, and the cold toleration 
of some of the unwise good. Their lives they held in their hands. 
"All's well that ends well." Montana is saved, and they saved it, 
earning the blessings of future generations, whether they receive 
them or not. Our next chapter will record the execution of the 
renowned Capt. J. A. Slade, of whom more good and evil stories 
have been told, than would make a biography for the seven cham- 
pions of Christendom, and concerning whose life and character 
there have been uttered for or against any other individual that 
has figured in the annals of the Rocky Mountains. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 143 

CHAPTER XXIII. 

The Arrest and Execution of Captain J. A. Slade, With a Short 
Account of His Previous Career. 

"Some write him hero, some a very knave: 
Curses and tears are mingled at his grave." — Anox. 

J. A. Slade. or, as he was often called. Captain Slade, was raised 
in Clinton County, III, and was a member of a highly respectable 
family. He bore a good character for several years in that place. 
The acts which have given so wide a celebrity to his name were 
performed especially on the Overland Line, of which he was for 
years an official. Reference to these matters will be made in a 
subsequent part of this chapter. 

Captain J. A. Slade came to Virginia City in the spring of 1863. 
He was a man gifted with the power of making money, and when 
free from the influence of alcoholic stimulants, which seemed to 
reverse his nature, and to change a kind-hearted and intelligent 
gentleman into a reckless demon, no man in the Territory had a 
greater faculty of attracting the favorable notice of even 
strangers, and in spite of the wild lawlessness which characterized 
his frequent spells of intoxication, he had many, very many 
friends whom no commission of crime itself could detach from his 
personal companionship. Another and less desirable class of 
friends were attracted by his very recklessness. There are prob- 
ably a thousand individuals in the West possessing a correct 
knowledge of the leading incidents of a career that terminated 
at the gallows, who still speak of Slade as a perfect gentleman, 
and who not only lament his death, but talk in the highest terms 
of his character, and pronounce his execution a murder. One way 
of accounting for the diversity of opinion regarding Slade is suf- 
ficiently obvious. Those who saw him in his natural state only 
would pronounce him to be a kind husband, a most hospitable host 
and a courteous gentleman. On the contrary, those who met him 
when maddened with liquor and surrounded by a gang of armed 
roughs, would pronounce him a fiend incarnate. 

During the summer of 1863 he went to Milk River as a freighter. 
For this business he was eminently qualified, and he made 
a great deal of money. Unfortunately his habit of profuse ex- 
penditure was uncontrollable, and at the time of his execution he 
was deeply in debt almost everywhere. 

After the execution of the five men on the 14th of January the 
Vigilantes considered that their work was nearly ended. They 
had freed the country from highwaymen and murderers to a great 
extent, and they determined that in the absence of the regular 



144 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

civil authority they would establish a People's Court, where all 
offenders should be tried by judge and jury. This was the nearest 
approach to social order that the circumstances permitted, and 
though strict legal authority was wanting yet the people were 
firmly determined to maintain its efficiency and to enforce its 
decrees. It may here be mentioned that the overt act which was 
the last round on the fatal ladder leading to the scaffold on which 
Slade perished, was the tearing in pieces and stamping upon a 
writ of this court, followed by the arrest of the judge, Alex. Davis, 
by authority of a presented derringer and with his own hands. 

J. A. Slade was himself, we have been informed, a Vigilanter ; 
he openly boasted of it, and said he knew all that they knew. He 
was never accused or even suspected of either murder or robbery 
committed in this Territory (the latter crimes were never laid,, 
to his charge in any place) ; but that he had killed several men in 
other localities was notorious, and his bad reputation in this re- 
spect was a most powerful argument in determining his fate, 
when he was finally arrested for the offence above mentioned. On 
returning from Milk River he became more and more addicted to 
drinking ; until at last it was a common feat for him and his 
friends to "take the town." He and a couple of his dependents 
might often be seen on one horse, galloping through the streets, 
shouting and yelling, firing revolvers, etc. On many occasions 
he would ride his horse into stores ; break up bars ; toss the scales 
out of doors, and use most insulting language to parties present. 
Just previous to the day of his arrest he had given a fearful beat- 
ing to one of his followers ; but such was his influence over them 
that the man wept bitterly at the gallows and begged for his life 
with all his power. It had become quite common when Slade was 
on a spree for the shopkeepers and citizens to close the stores 
and put out all the lights; being fearful of some outrage at his 
hands. One store in Nevada he never ventured to enter — that of 
the Lott Brothers* — as they had taken care to let him know that 
any attempt of the kind would be followed by his sudden death, 
and though he often rode down there, threatening to break in and 
raise , yet he never attempted to carry his threat into execu- 
tion. For his wanton destruction of goods and furniture he was 
always ready to pay when sober if he had money; but there were 
not a few who regarded payment as small satisfaction for the out- 
rage, and these men were his personal enemies. 

From time to time, Slade received warnings from men that he 
well knew would not deceive him, of the certain end of his con- 
duct. There was not a moment, for weeks previous to his arrest, 
in which the public did not expect to hear of some bloody out- 

* See Lett's story. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 145 

rage. The dread of his very uame and the presence of the armed 
band of hangers-on who followed him, alone prevented a resist- 
ance which must certainly have ended in the instant murder or 
mutilation of the opposing party. 

Slade was frequently arrested by order of the court whose or- 
ganization we have described, and had treated it with respect by 
paying one or two fines, and promising to pay the rest when he 
had the money ; but in the transaction, and goaded by passion and 
the hatred of restraint, he sprang into the embrace of death. 

Slade had been drunk and "cutting up" all night. He and his 
companions had made the town a perfect hell. In the morning, 
J. M. Fox, the Sheriff, met him, arrested him, took him into court, 
and commenced reading a warrant that he had for his arrest, by 
way of arraignment. He became uncontrollably furious, and seiz- 
ing the writ, he tore it up, threw it on the ground, and stamped 
upon it. The clicking of the locks of his companions' revolvers 
was instantly heard and a crisis was expected. The Sheriff did 
not attempt his capture ; but being at least as prudent as he was 
valiant, he succumbed, leaving Slade the master of the situation, 
and the conqueror and ruler of the courts, law and law-makers. 
This was a declaration of war, and was so accepted. The Vigi- 
lance Committee now felt that the question of social order and 
the preponderance of the law-abiding citizens had then and there 
to be decided. They knew the character of Slade, and they were 
well aware that they must submit to his rule without murmur, or 
else that he must be dealt with in such fashion as would prevent 
his being able to wreak his vengeance on the Committee, who 
could never have hoped to live in the Territory secure from out- 
rage or death, and who could never leave it without encountering 
his friends, whom his victory would have emboldened and stimu- 
lated to a pitch that would have rendered them reckless of conse- 
quences. The day previous, he had ridden into Dorris's store, and 
on being requested to leave, he drew his revolver and threatened 
to kill the gentleman who spoke to him. Another saloon he had 
led his horse into, and buying a bottle of wine, he tried to make 
the animal drink it. This was not considered an uncommon per- 
formance, as he had often entered saloons, and commenced firing 
at the lamps, causing a wild stampede. 

A leading member of the Committee met Slade, and informed 
him in the quiet, earnest manner of one who feels the importance 
of what he is saying, "Slade, get your horse at once, and go 

home, or there will be to pay." Slade started and took a 

long look with his dark and piercing eyes, at the gentleman— 
"What do you mean?" said he. "You have no right to ask me 



146 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

what I mean," was the quiet reply, "get your horse at once, and 
remember what I tell you." After a short pause he promised to 
do so, and actually got into the saddle ; but, being still intoxicated, 
he began calling aloud to one after another of his friends, and at 
last seemed to have forgotten the warning he had received and 
became again uproarious, shouting the name of a well-known 
prostitute in company with those of two men whom he considered 
heads of the Committee, as a sort of challenge ; perhaps, however, 
as a single act of bravado. It seems probable that the intimation 
of personal danger he had received had not been forgotten en- 
tirely ; though, fatally for him, he took a foolish way of showing 
his remembrance of it. He sought out Alexander Davis, the 
Judge of the Court, and drawing a cocked derringer, he presented 
it at his head, and told him that he should hold him as a hostage 
for his own safety. As the Judge stood perfectly quiet, and 
offered no resistance to his captor, no further outrage followed 
on this score. Previous to this, on account of the critical state of 
affairs, the Committee had met, and at last resolved to arrest him. 
His execution had not been agreed upon, and, at that time, would 
have been negatived, most assuredly. A messenger rode down 
to Nevada to inform the leading men of what was on hand, as it 
was desirable to show that there was a feeling of unanimity on 
the subject, all along the Gulch. 

The miners turned out almost en masse, leaving their work and 
forming in solid column, about six hundred strong, armed to the 
teeth, they marched up to Virginia. The leader of the body well 
knew the temper of his men on the subject. He spurred on ahead 
of them, and hastily calling a meeting of the Executive, be told 
them plainly that the miners meant "business," and that, if they 
came up, they would not stand in the street to be shot down by 
Slade's friends and that they would take him and hang him. The 
meeting was small, as the Virginia men were loath to act at all. 
This momentous announcement of the feeling of the Lower Town 
was made to a cluster of men, who were deliberating behind a 
wagon, at the rear of a store on Main street, where the Ohling- 
house stone building now stands. 

The Committee were most unwilling to proceed to extremities. 
All the duty they had ever performed seemed as nothing to the 
task before them; but they had to decide, and that quickly. It 
was finally agreed that if the whole body of the miners were of 
the opinion that he should be hanged, the Committee left it in 
their hands to deal with him. Off, at hot speed, rode the leader 
of the Nevada men to join his command. 

Slade had found out what was intended, and the news sobered 



THE VIGILANTES OB" MONTANA 147 

him instantly. He went into P. S. Pf out's store, where Davis was, 
and apologized for his conduct, saying that he would take it all 
back. 

The head of the column now wheeled into Wallace street and 
marched up at quick time. Halting in front of the store, the exec- 
utive officer of the Committee stepped forward and arrested 
Slade, who was at once informed of his doom, and inquiry was 
made as to whether he had any business to settle. Several parties 
spoke to him on the subject ; but to all such inquiries he turned a 
deaf ear, being entirely absorbed in the terrifying reflections on 
his own awful position. He never ceased his entreaties for life, 
and to see his dear wife. The unfortunate lady referred to, be- 
tween whom and Slade there existed a warm affection, was at 
this time living at their ranch on the Madison. She was possessed 
of considerable personal attractions; tall, well-formed, of grace- 
ful carriage, pleasing manners, and was, withal, an accomplished 
horsewoman. 

A messenger from Slade rode at full speed to inform her of 
her husband's arrest. In an instant she was in the saddle, and 
with all the energy that love and despair could lend to an ardent 
temperament and a strong physique, she urged her fleet charger 
over the twelve miles of rough and rocky ground that inter- 
vened between her and the object of her passionate devotion. 

Meanwhile a party of volunteers had made the necessary prep- 
arations for the execution, in the valley traversed by the branch. 
Beneath the site of Pf out's and Russell's stone building there was 
a corral, the gate-posts of which were strong and high. Across 
the top was laid a beam, to which the rope was fastened, and a 
dry-goods box served for the platform. To this place Slade was 
marched, surrounded by a guard, composing the best-armed and 
most numerous force that has ever appeared in Montana Terri- 
tory. 

The doomed man had so exhausted himself by tears, prayers, 
and lamentations, that he had scarcely strength left to stand 
under the fatal beam. He repeatedly exclaimed, "My God! my 
God! must I die? Oh, my dear wife!" 

On the return of the fatigue party, they encountered some 
friends of Slade, staunch and reliable citizens and members of the 
Committee, but who were personally attached to the condemned. 
On hearing of his sentence, one of them, a stout-hearted man, 
pulled out his handkerchief and walked away, weeping like a 
child. Slade still begged to see his wife most piteously, and it 
seemed hard to deny his request; but the bloody consequences 
that were sure to follow the inevitable attempt at a rescue, that 



148 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

her presence and entreaties would have certainly incited, forbade 
the granting of his request. Several gentlemen were sent for to 
see him in his last moments, one of whom (Judge Davis) made a 
short address to the people ; but in such low tones as to be inaud- 
ible, save to a few in his immediate vicinity. One of his friends, 
after exhausting his powers of entreaty, threw off his coat and 
declared that the prisoner could not be hanged until he himself 
was killed. A hundred guns were instantly leveled at him; 
whereupon he turned and fled; but, being brought back, he was 
compelled to resume his coat, and to give a promise of future 
peaceable demeanor. 

Scarcely a leading man in Virginia could be found, though 
numbers of the citizens joined the ranks of the guard when the 
arrest was made. All lamented the stern necessity which dictated 
the execution. 

Everything being ready the command was given, "Men, do 
your duty," and the box being instantly slipped from beneath 
his feet, he died almost instantaneously. 

The body was cut down and carried to the Virginia Hotel, 
where, in a darkened room, it was scarcely laid out, when the 
unfortunate and betraj'ed companion of the deceased arrived, at 
headlong speed, to find that all was over, and that she was a 
widow. Her grief and heart-piercing cries were terrible evidences 
of the depth of her attachment for her lost husband, and a con- 
siderable period elapsed before she could regain the command of 
her excited feelings. 

J. A. Slade was, during his connection with the Overland 
Stage Company, frequently involved in quarrels which terminated 
fatally for his antagonists. The first and most memorable of these 
was his encounter with Jules, a station keeper at Julesburg, on 
the Platte River. Between the inhabitants, the emigrants and the 
stage people, there was a constant feud, arising from quarrels 
about missing stock, alleged to have been stolen by the settlers, 
which constantly resulted in personal difficulties such as beating, 
shooting, stabbing, etc., and it was from this cause that Slade be- 
came involved in a transaction which has become inseparably as- 
sociated with his name, and which has given a coloring and tone 
to all descriptions of him, from the date of the occurrence to the 
present day. 

There have been so many versions of the affair, all of them 
differing more or less in important particulars, that it has seemed 
impossible to get at the exact truth : but the following account 
may be relied on as substantially correct: 

From overlanders and dwellers on the road we learn that Jules 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 149 

was himself a lawless and tyrannical man, taking such liberties 
with the coach stock and carrying matters with so high a hand 
that the company determined on giving the agency of the division 
to J. A. Slade. In a business point of view, they were correct in 
their selection. The coach went through at all hazards. It is not 
to be supposed that Jules would submit to the authority of a new- 
comer, or, indeed, of any man that he could intimidate ; and a very 
limited intercourse was sufficient to increase the mutual dislike 
of the parties, so far as to occasion an open rupture and blood- 
shed. Slade, it it said, had employed a man discharged by Jules, 
which irritated the latter considerably; but the overt act that 
brought matters to a crisis was the recovery by Slade of a team 
"sequestrated" by Jules. Some state that there had been a previ- 
ous altercation between the two ; but, whether this be true or not, 
it appears certain that on the arrival of the coach, with Slade as 
a passenger, Jules determined to arrest the team, then and there ; 
and that, finding Slade was equally determined on putting them 
through, a few expletives were exchanged, and Jules fired his 
gun, loaded with buckshot, at Slade, who was unarmed at the 
time, wounding him severely. At his death, Slade carried several 
of these shot in his body. Slade went down the road, till he re- 
covered of his wound. Jules left the place, and in his travels 
never failed to let everybody know that he would kill Slade, who, 
on his part, was not backward in reciprocating such promises. At 
last, Slade got well, and shortly after was informed that his 
enemy had been "corralled by the boys," whereupon he went to 
the place designated, and, tying him fast, shot him to death by 
degrees. He also cut off his ears, and carried them in his vest 
pocket for a long time. 

One man declares that Slade went up to the ranch where he had 
heard that Jules was and, "getting the drop on him," that is to 
say, covering him with his pistol before he was ready to defend 
himself, he said, "Jules, I am going to kill you;" to which the 
other replied. "Well, I suppose I am gone up; you've got me 
now;" and that Slade immediately opened fire and killed him 
with his revolver. 

The first story is the one almost universally believed in the 
West, and the act is considered entirely justifiable by the wild In- 
dian fighters of the frontier. Had he simply killed Jules, he 
would have been justified by the accepted Western law of retalia- 
tion. The prolonged agony and mutilation of his enemy, however, 
admit of no excuse. 

While on the road Slade ruled supreme. He would ride down 
to the station, get into a quarrel, turn the house out of windows. 



150 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

and maltreat the occupants most cruelly. The unfortunates had 
no means of redress, and were compelled to recuperate as best 
they could. On one of these occasions, it is said, he killed the 
father of the fine little half-breed boy, Jemmy, whom he adopted, 
and who lived with his widow after his execution. He was a gen- 
tle, well-behaved child, remarkable for his beautiful, soft black 
eyes, and for his polite address. 

Sometimes Slade acted as a lyncher. On one occasion, some 
emigrants had their stock either lost or stolen, and told Slade, 
who happened to visit their camp. He rode, with a single com- 
panion, to a ranch, the owners of which he suspected, and open- 
ing the door, commenced firing at them, killing three and wound- 
ing the fourth. 

As for minor quarrels and shootings, it is absolutely certain that 
a minute history of Slade 's life would be one long record of such 
practices. He was feared a great deal more, generally, than the 
Almighty, from Kearney, west. There was, it seems, something in 
his bold recklessness, lavish generosity, and firm attachment to his 
friends, whose quarrel he would back, everywhere and at any 
time, that endeared him to the wild denizens of the prairie, and 
this personal attachment it is that has cast a veil over his faults, 
so dark that his friends could never see his real character, or be- 
lieve their idol to be a blood-stained desperado. 

Stories of his hanging men, and of innumerable assaults, shoot- 
ings, stabbings and beatings, in which he was a principal actor, 
form part of the legends of the stage line ; nevertheless, such is 
the veneration still cherished for him by many of the old stagers, 
that any insult offered to his memory would be fearfully and 
quickly avenged. Whatever he did to others, he was their friend, 
they say; and so they will say and feel till the tomb closes over 
the last of his old friends and comrades of the Overland. 

It should be stated that Slade was, at the time of his eoming 
AVest, a fugitive from justice in Illinois, where he killed a man 
with whom he had been quarreling. Finding his antagonist to 
be more than his match, he ran away from him, and, in his flight, 
picking up a stone, he threw it with such deadly aim and violence 
that it penetrated the skull of his pursuer, over the eye, and 
killed him. Johnson, the Sheriff, who pursued him for nearly 
four hundred miles, was in Virginia City not long since, as we 
have been informed by persons who knew him well. 

Such was Captain J. A. Slade, the idol of his followers, the ter- 
ror of his enemies and of all that were not within the charmed 
circle of his dependents. In him, generosity and destructiveness, 
brutal lawlessness and courteous kindness, firm friendship and 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA l.-.l 

volcanic outbreaks of fuiy, were so mingled that he seems like 
one born out of date. He should have lived in feudal times, and 
have been the comrade of the Front de Boeuffs, De Lacys, and 
Bois Guilberts, of days almost forgotten. In modern times, he 
stands nearly alone. 

The execution of Slade had a most wonderful effect upon soci- 
ety. Henceforth, all knew that no one man could domineer or 
rule over the community. Reason and civilization then drove 
brute force from Montana. 

One of his principal friends wisely absconded, and so escaped 
sharing his fate, which would have been a thing almost certain 
had he remained. 

It has often been asked why Slade 's friends were permitted to 
go Scot free, seeing that they accompanied him in all his "raids," 
and both shared and defended his wild and lawless exploits. The 
answer is very simple. The Vigilantes deplored the sad but im- 
perative necessity for the making of one example. That, they 
knew, would be sufficient. They were right in their judgment, 
and immovable in their purpose. Could it but be made known 
how many lives were at their mercy, society would wonder at the 
moderation that ruled in their counsels. Necessity was the arbiter 
of these men's fate. When the stern Goddess spoke not, the doom 
was unpronounced, and the criminal remained at large. They 
acted for the public good, and when examples were made, it 
was because the safety of the community demanded a warning to 
the lawless and the desperate, that might neither be despised nor 
soon forgotten. 

The execution of the road agents of Plummer's gang was the 
result of the popular verdict and judgment against robbers and 
murderers. The death of Slade was the protest of society on be- 
half of social order and the rights of man. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 
The Execution of James Brady, for Shooting- Murphy, at Nevada. 

"Murder most foul and most unnatural." — Shakespeare. 

Early in the summer of 1864, the Committee were called upon 
to visit the stern retribution due to those who wantonly and ma- 
lieiouslj' attempt to assassinate a fellow-creature, upon James 
Brady, a resident of the Lower Town, more generally known as 
Nevada City. The case was clear, so far as the moral guilt of the 
accused was concerned, as will fully appear from the subjoined 



152 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

account of the transaction ; but there are not a few who measure 
the extent of guilt by its consequences, and refuse to examine the 
act itself on its own merits. Now, we have always held that a 
man who fires at another, deliberately and with malice prepense, 
inflicting upon him a wound of any kind, is as much a murderer 
as if the shot had proved instantly fatal. The other judgment 
of the case depends upon the relative goodness or badness of am- 
munition, the efficiency of the weapon, and the expertness of the 
marksman. Hence, to hit the mark is murder; but to aim at it, 
and make rather a wide shot, is manslaughter only. If a ball 
glances on a man's ribs, it is manslaughter; if it goes between 
them, it is murder. This line of argument may satisfy some peo- 
ple ; and that it does so, we know ; at the same time it is not a 
doctrine that we can endorse, being fully convinced of its utter 
want of foundation, in right reason or common sense. Murphy, 
the victim of Brady's shot, was believed to be dying; the physi- 
cians declared he could not live many hours, and for this crime 
Brady was executed. Some kind-hearted but weak-headed individ- 
uals think that the murderer ought to have been spared, because 
Murphy had a strong constitution, and, contrary to all expecta- 
tions, recovered; but what the state of a man's health has to 
do with the crime of the villain who shoots him, will to us for- 
ever remain an enigma as difficult as the unravelling of the Gor- 
dian knot. The proper course, in such cases, seems to be, not the 
untying of the knot aforesaid, but the casting on of another, in 
the shape of a road agent's necktie. 

At about eleven p. m., the stillness of the summer's night that 
had closed in upon the citizens of Nevada was broken by two 
pistol shots fired in rapid succession. The executive officer of the 
Committee heard the reports, as he was retiring to bed ; but the 
sounds were too familiar to a mountaineer to attract any special 
attention, and he lay down at once to sleep. In a few minutes, 
however, he was startled from his quick coming slumber by the 
sudden entrance of a friend who told him to get up, for there was 
a man shot. Hastily dressing himself, he found that an indi- 
vidual named Jem Kelly was a prisoner on the charge of being an 
accomplice in the deed. Who had fired the shots was not known, 
the man having run off with all speed, before he could be arrested. 
A guard of two Vigilantes was left in charge of Kelly, and the 
officer went quickly to Brady's saloon, where he first heard, from 
bystanders, that they thought Brady himself was the criminal, but 
that he had escaped. The wounded man confirmed this statement, 
and an examination of the premises showed a bullet-hole in the 
window through which the assassin had fired. The second shot 
had been fii*ed from the door-step. 



THE VIGILANTEvS OF MONTANA 153 

A detail of twelve men were ordered to search the town for 
Brady, while the captain and three others started for Virginia 
City, with the intention of capturing him if he could be found 
there, or on the road thither. On arriving at Central City, they 
ascertained from a citizen whom they met on the street, that a 
man dressed in black clothes, and otherwise answering the de- 
scription of the fugitive, had passed through, and that he was 
apparently intoxicated. They went on to Virginia, and on ar- 
riving there, just about midnight, they found that the only house 
in which a light appeared was the Beaver Head saloon, at the 
corner of Idaho and Jackson streets, now John How & Co. 's store. 

One of the party knew Brady personally, and on entering he 
at once recognized him in the act of drinking with another man 
at the bar. The captain stepped up and asked, "Is your name 
Brady?" "Yes," said he. "Then you are my prisoner," an- 
swered the captain. On his inquiring what was the charge against 
him, he was told that he was arrested for the murder of Murphy. 
The prisoner immediately started off on a loud harangue, but was 
stopped by the captain, who told him to keep quiet, and added, 
"You will have a fair trial in the morning." 

Brady was taken down to Nevada by his captors, and con- 
fronted with his victim, who was lying in his own house. "Mur- 
phy," said the captain, "is this the man that shot you?" The 
wounded man fixed his gaze on the prisoner, and replied faintly, 
"It is." The guard then took Brady and marched him down 
town, to the house where Kelly was confined. The two men were 
given into the custody of a strong and well-armed party for the 
night. The death of Murphy was hourly expected by the attend- 
ing surgeons, and all around him. 

In the morning, Brady was taken before the Committee, who 
sat in the Adelphi Hall, where they had been convened for that 
purpose. About fifty members were present, and the charge 
against the prisoner was thoroughly investigated. The trial com- 
menced about eleven a. m. 

Meanwhile, Kelly had confessed that he had kept bar for Brady 
on that day, and that he knew that there was an old quarrel, and 
consequently ill feeling existed between Brady and Murphy. The 
commencement of this feud dated back as far as the preceding 
summer. This much of his testimony was correct and truthful, 
and was corroborated by other witnesses. He then went on to 
swear that the first thing he knew about the affray was the firing 
of a shot through the window, followed by the discharge of an- 
other into the door-step, and before he could see who it was that 
had done the deed, the man had ran away. 



154 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

Brady, at first, pretended that he had shot the wrong- man by 
mistake ; but he admitted at his trial that he had really aimed and 
fired the (supposed) fatal shot. He said that had he been sober 
he would not have committed the rash act, and he added, that 
after shooting, he went next door to his cabin, and sat there for 
about five minutes ; that he then became uneasy, and started for 
Virginia, flinging his pistol away into the Gulch, on his road up. 
The pistol was found and produced at the trial. 

The evidence produced was so entirely conclusive as to admit 
of no doubt. The offence was deliberate and cold-blooded mur- 
der, so far as the prisoner was concerned, and he believed the same 
till the moment of his execution. Sentence of death by hanging 
was pronounced. 

With regard to Kelly the evidence adduced at the trial had led 
to some new developments concerning his share in the transaction. 
It was positively sworn that he had handed the pistol to Brady, 
across the bar; and that the understanding was that he was to 
take the assassin's place, inside the saloon, leaving him free to act 
on the outside ; that, on receiving the pistol, Brady went out with 
it under his coat, and going into his cabin, he remained there for 
a few minutes, and then, walking to the window he fired, with 
deliberate aim, through the window, without previous words, or 
warning of his intention. 

Kelly was sentenced to receive fifty lashes on the bare back, 
which punishment he duly received, after, the execution. 

The prisoner (Brady) sent for W. Y. Pemberton. now prac- 
ticing law at Helena, and requested him to settle his worldly af- 
fairs, in legal form. Accordingly, that gentleman drew his will, 
and the necessary deeds for the disposal of his property, after 
which he said that he must have a letter written to his daughter. 
He commenced to dictate it, but the language of the epistle re- 
minded him so forcibly of his own wretched condition that he was 
unable to proceed, and covering his face with his hands, he ran to 
his bed, exclaiming, ' ' Oh, my God ! finish it yourself. ' ' The 
writer furnishes the following note of the letter: 

"My Dear Daughter: You will never see me again. In an 
evil hour, being under the control and influence of whiskey, I 
tried to take the life of my fellow-man. I tried to shoot him 
through a window. He will in all probability die — and that at my 
hands. I cannot say that I should not suffer the penalty affixed 
to the violation of law. I have been arrested, tried and sentenced 
to be hanged by the Vigilance Committee. In one short hour I 
will have gone into eternity. It is an awful thought, but it is my 
own fault. B}^ the love I feel for j^ou, in this my dying hour, I 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 1R5 

entreat you to be a good girl. Walk in the ways of the Lord. 
Keep Heaven, God and the interest of your soul before your eyes. 
I commend and commit you to the keeping of God. Pray for my 
soul. Farewell, forever. ''Your father, 

JAMES BRADY." 

At four o'clock p. m. he was marched from his place of con- 
finement to the gallows, escorted by a guard of two hundred men, 
fully armed. At least five thousand persons were present at the 
execution. The gallows was about half a mile east of Nevada, 
and to save time and expense, a butcher's hoist was used for the 
purpose, a box and plank being rigged for a drop. When the 
rope had been adjusted, and the fatal preparations were all com- 
pleted, he was asked if he wished to say anything to the people. 
He addressed the crowd, telling them that it was the first action of 
the kind that he had done ; that he was intoxicated and insane ; 
that he hoped his execution would be •a warning to others, and 
that God would have mercy on his soul. The trap fell, and James 
Brady ceased to exist. After hanging for half an hour, the corpse 
was cut down and given to the friends of the deceased for burial. 

Jem Kelly was present at the execution of his friend, and when 
all was over he was marched by the guard, down to an unfinished 
house in Nevada. Here a halt was called, and the necessary ar- 
rangements for the whipping were quickly made. Being asked 

to take off his shirt, he said, " the shirt, leave it on;" but 

on being told that it would be spoiled, he removed it. The cul- 
prit's hands were now tied together, and made fast to a beam 
overhead ; after which five men inflicted the punishment, each 
giving ten lashes with a raw-hide. Kelly showed no fortitude 
whatever, roaring and screaming at every lash of the hide. At 
the termination of the flogging he remarked, "Boys, if I hadn't 
been so fat, I should have died sure." Nevada was no home for 
this low-minded villain, who left with all speed ; and resuming the 
career most congenial to a man as fond as he was of gold without 
labor, and horses without purchase, he came to the same end as 
his companion, Brady; but there was this difference between 
them — Kelly was a thief and murderer by trade ; Brady was an 
honest man, and had never before ventured into the path of 
crime. Many felt sorry for his fate ; but the old miners who 
heard of Kelly's execution shrugged their shoulders and muttered, 
"Served him right; he ought to have gone up long ago; I don't 
believe in whipping and banishing; if a fellow ain't fit to live 
here, he ain't fit to live nowhere by thunder — that's so, you bet 
your life," etc., etc., which terse and technical series of inter- 
jectional syllogisms contain more good practical common sense 



156 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

than many a calf-bound folio, embodying the result of the labors 
of many a charter-granting, plunder-seeking body, humorously 
styled a "Legislature," west of "the River." 



CHAPTER XXV. 
The Snake River Scout — Capture and Execution of Jem Kelly. 

"The pitch that went often to the well was broken at last." — -Irish Proverb. 

In the month of July, 1864, the coach going from Virginia to 
Salt Lake was robbed, and a large booty in gold dust was the 
reward of the road agents. This was no sooner reported to the 
Committee than prompt measures were taken to pursue the per- 
petrators of the crime. 

A party of twenty-one of the old veterans who had hunted down 
Plummer's band left Nevada, on Sunday, the 28th day of August, 
and camped at William's Ranch for the night. On Monday the 
party rode all day, never halting from breakfast time till even- 
ing. The rain fell in torrents, rendering cooking impossible ; so 
a hard bite was all that was available, and each man coiled him- 
self up in his blanket with his saddle for a pillow, and growled 
himself to sleep as best he could. Four guards came into camp 
with the stock at daylight ; whereupon the troop saddled up, with- 
out taking breakfast, every one of the "crowd" being at the same 
time wet, "dry," hungry and saucy. One of the boys had man- 
aged to bring along a bottle of (contraband) whiskey, as he said, 
in case of snake-bites ; but, under the circumstances, as far as 
can be ascertained, no one refused a mouthful of the aqua vitae. 
They had forgotten the "weights and measures" of their school 
days, and at that camp, it was found that there were no scruples 
to a dram. As one of the party observed, it was "big medicine, 
you bet. ' ' A ride in the wet of fifteen miles brought them to Joe 
Patte's and breakfast, which latter being despatched, and the 
former having received their adieux, the "boot and saddle" once 
more sounded, and they proceeded on their journey, changing 
horses at the Canyon Station, and finally halting on the banks of 
Medicine Lodge Creek, in the midst of a heavy rain storm, with- 
out shelter. 

In the morning everybody felt wet, of course, and unamiable, 
probably; but as "business is business" when Montana Vigilantes 
are afoot, nothing objectionable to morality was offered, except 
an odd oath, caused by a stiff-legged cayuse, or a refractory 
buckle, which, it is charitably hoped, the rain washed from the 



t 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 157 

record. The probabilities favor the supposition, if the angel made 
the entry in his book on the banks of that creek. If not, provided 
he was a good angel, he took no notes till after breakfast, and 
dinner, at Camos Creek, had somewhat soothed and modified the 
water-soaked but irrepressible rangers. 

Saddling up once more, the party loped along a little more 
cheerfully, reaching Snake River at ten p. m., where they, "their 
Avearied limbs to rest, ' ' lay down — in a haystack. 

After breakfast they turned their horses' heads down stream, 
and camped in the sage brush, without water, and with poor feed 
for stock. The Vigilantes were supperless. On Friday they bor- 
rowed the necessary "batterie de cuisine" from the Overland sta- 
tion, and cooked their breakfast, after which they rode to Meek 
and Gibbons "s Ferry, where they camped, and turned out the stock 
in Fort Hall bottom. 

A suspicious character having entered the camp, two of the 
boys tracked him to his own "lodging on the cold ground;" find- 
ing however, that there was no evidence of anything wrong about 
his halting-place, they returned. 

At the Ferry the Vigilantes met an old friend — a brother of 
the early days of '63-4. He was freighting poultry and hogs to 
Virginia from Salt Lake City. Glad to see his old comrades on 
their righteous errand, he presented them with a thirty pound 
pig. A family of Morrisites living in a cabin at the Ferry cooked 
it for them, and it was consumed with immense zest. Here they 
learned that Jem Kelly had boarded in the house, and, on being 
asked to pay, he had threatened to whip the old man. He said 
that he had a partner coming from Salt Lake, and that when he 
arrived he should have a plenty of money. He also intimated to 
one of the men living there that his partner was one of the men 
who robbed Hughes, when a passenger in the coach. Kelly also 
said that there was a big camp of emigrants, with a lot of mules, 
near there, on their way to Oregon. He proposed that they should 
stampede the stock, and that if the men offered a large enough 
reward, they should return them; but if not, they would drive 
them off and sell them. The man refused to have any hand in 
the matter, and was travelling towards the Butte, to buy some 
lame cattle from the emigrants, when Kelly, who started with him, 
fell behind, and drawing a pistol presented it at him. The man 
turned at once, and Kelly, who saw something that scared him m 
the expression of the man's eye, had not nerve to shoot, though 
he wanted his money. He therefore turned it off as a joke. 

The man failed to purchase the cattle and returned. Kelly, 
who had parted from him, came in some time during the next 



158 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

day, bringing with him a horse, saddle and bridle. The emigrants 
had this horse to drive loose stock, and, as is usual with animals 
so trained, he followed the wagons, picking up his own living. 
One day he lagged behind, and they went back for him. It is 
supposed Kelly watched them from behind the crest of a hill, and 
catching the horse rode off with him. 

A party of ten men, with a captain, were sent to scout on the 
Portneuf Creek, and were mounted on the best animals. They 
went to Junction Station, Fort Hall, where the overland boys 
shod the horses for them. From that place they rode to Portneuf. 
The squad made a night march, and camped at eleven p. m., with- 
out feed for man or beast, during a hurricane of wind. Oliver's 
coach went by, and when the driver spied the horses, he thought 
of robbers, and the passengers looked mightily scared. They 
drove by on a keen run, much to the amusement of the boys, who 
saddled up at two o'clock a. m. The men had no bedding and no 
''grub." The culinary furniture was a tin cup, in each man's 
belt, and a good set of teeth. They started at two o'clock a. m., 
because the stock was so hungry and restless. They kept a bright 
lookout for Kelly. 

At daybreak they saw a camp-fire. They rode up thinking of 
good times, but found only a lot of Shoshone Indians, who had 
little but choke-cherries to eat. The chief shortly after came to 
the captain, and offered him a broiled trout, which he ate and 
then fell asleep, while the others were regaling themselves on 
choke- cherries, supplied by little naked pappooses. An old squaw 
seeing the leader asleep when the sun rose, built a willow 
wigwam over him, and when he woke, he seemed considerably 
exercised at the sight of his house, which seemed like Jonah's 
gourd. This was too much for both the boys and the Indians, 
and they laughed heartily. 

The detachment saddled up and went on to Portneuf, where 
they ordered breakfast at eleven p. m. at Oliver's Station. Here 
they learned that a party of California prospectors, ten in number, 
all dressed in buckskin, had caught Kelly, in a haystack. He had 
another horse by this time (he had sold one at the ferry). The 
party went back for two and a half miles, on Sunday morning. 
The captain was ahead, scouting with one of the boys, and found 
the dead body of a man floating in the creek. There was a shot 
wound through the back of the head. The corpse was wrapped in 
a grey blanket, with a four strand lariat round the neck and shoul- 
ders, as though the body had been dragged and sunk. There 
were two camp fires near, which seemed to be ten or fifteen days 
old. Thev were situated in a thicket of willows. There was a 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 159 

large boulder at the bottom of the eddy, where there was no cur- 
rent, and the men thought that the body had been tied to it, but 
that it had broken loose and floated. 

The Vigilantes went back, got a pick and shovel, and buried 
him. The body was dreadfully decomposed, and it was both diffi- 
cult and disgusting to raise it ; however, they consulted, and 
slipping willows under it, they reached over, and joining the tops, 
lifted out altogether, and laid the putrified remains in their wil- 
low grave. Willows were placed below and around them, and 
having covered them with earth and stone, they, getting a tail- 
board from a pilgrim's wagon, wrote an inscription, stating his 
finding by the Vigilantes, and the date of his burial. The men 
then jumped into the saddle, and rode until after night, coming 
up with a freight train for Virginia, camped on the road. The 
captain told his story, whereupon the wagon boss ordered them 
a good warm drink and a hearty supper, sending his herder to 
look after the stock. The command slept soundly till daylight, 
and then rode twenty-five miles to the ferry, to breakfast. They 
found the main body still camped there, and they were glad to 
see the California buckskin-rangers, and Jem Kelly in custody. 

A trial was called, and the evidence being heard, Kelly was 
unanimously condemned to death. While pinioned, he asked for 
his pipe, and got a smoke, which he seemed to enjoy very much. 
A knot was tied and greased, and when all was working right, 
the party marched down to a Balm of Gilead tree, and, in pres- 
ence of the prisoner, rigged a scaffold by cutting a notch into the 
tree, and putting one end of a plank from a pilgrim wagon into 
the notch, and supporting the other on a forked stick. The cap- 
tain asked Kelly if he had anything to say. He answered that 
if he had never drunk any whiskey he would have been a better 
man. He said it was hard to hang him after whipping him. While 
he was on the trap, a couple of Shoshone warriors came up, and 
looked on with evident amazement. When the plank was knocked 
from under him, the Indians gave a loud "Ugh!" and started at 
full speed for their camp. After he had hung some fifteen min- 
utes, the buckskin party came up, and having made some in- 
quiries, they helped to bury him in a willow coffin. The Vigi- 
lantes then returned home without any further incident of travel 
worth recording. 



160 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

CHAPTER XXVI. 

Arrest and Execution of John Dolan, Alias John Coyle, Alias 
"Hard Hat," for Robbing James Brady of $700 in Gold. 

"As the stout fox, on thieving errand caught, 
Silent he dies, nor hoi^es nor cares for aught." — Anonymous. 

Late in the month of August, 1864, a man named James Brady, 
of Nevada, was robbed of $700 in gold by John Dolan, alias John 
Coyle, alias "Hard Hat," who had been living with him, and took 
the money from his trousers' pocket. For some time the real thief 
remained unsuspected. He cunningly offered to assist in the 
search, and treated Brady out of the money ; but suspicion being 
aroused by his sudden disappearance, pursuit was made in the 
direction of Utah. John McGrath followed him to Salt Lake City, 
and there found that he had changed his name to John Coyle, and 
that he had gone on to Springville, whither his pursuer followed 
and arrested him. Dolan stipulated that he should be preserved 
from the Vigilantes, on the road home, which was agreed to, and 
McGrath and his prisoner arrived at Nevada on the 16tli of Sep- 
tember. In the mean time, letters had been received from parties 
ignorant of this transaction, informing the Committee that Dolan 
was a pal of Jem Kelly, who was hanged at Snake River; and 
evidence of his complicity with the road, agents was also satisfac- 
torily adduced. He was the spy who "planted" the robbery of 
Hughes in the Salt Lake coach. It is nearly certain that the rea- 
son he fled to Utah was that he might receive his share of the 
plunder. 

After a patient and lengthened trial, his guilt being perfectly 
clear, he was condemned to be executed by a unanimous vote of 
the committee. Three hundred dollars of the lost money was re- 
covered, and. though Dolan at first denied his guilt, yet the pro- 
duction of peculiar nuggets being irresistible evidence, he at 
last confessed the crime and offered to make up the balance, if he 
should be let go. This could not be acceded to, and, therefore, 
the Committee made good the amount lost by their refusal to 
Brady. 

It was on Saturday evening, September 17th, that the execution 
of Dolan took place, and a scene more fraught with warning to 
the desperate never was enacted before the gaze of assembled 
thousands. 

About sundown, strong parties of Vigilantes from Highland, 
Pine Grove and Virginia, joined the armed force already on the 
ground belonging to Nevada and Junction. The prisoner was 
confined in the ball-room, next door to the Jackson house, and 
here he was pinioned before being brought out. The companies 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 161 

from Virginia, armed to the teeth, formed in two parallel lines, 
enclosing' an avenue reaching from the door through which the 
prisoner must make his exit, on his way to the scaffold. The 
silence and the sternly compressed lips of the guard showed that 
they felt the solemnity of the occasion, and that they were pre- 
pared to repulse, with instant and deadly action, any attempt at 
the rescue threatened by the prisoner's companions in crime and 
sympathizers. All being ready a small posse of trust-worthy men 
were detailed as a close guard in front, rear and on both flanks 
of the prisoner. The signal being given, the commander of the 
guard gave the word, "Company! draw revolvers!" A moment 
more and the weapons, ready for instant use, were held at the 
Vigilantes' "ready," that is to say, in front of the body, the right 
hand level with the center of the breast, muzzle up, thumb on the 
cock, and the forefinger extended alongside the trigger-guard. 
"Right face! Forward, march!" followed in quick succession, 
and, immediately the procession was fairly in motion, the files 
of the guard were doubled. In close order they marched through 
a dense crowd to the gallows, a butcher's hoist standing in the 
plain, at the foot of the hills, about half a mile northeast of Ne- 
vada, where a fatigue party and guard had made the necessary 
preparations for the execution. The multitude must have consid- 
erably exceeded six thousand in number, every available spot of 
ground being densely packed with spectators. The face of the 
hill was alive with a throng of eager and excited people. The 
column of Vigilantes marched steadily and in perfect silence 
through the gathering masses, right up to the gallows. Here 
they were halted and, at a given signal, the lines first opened and 
then formed in a circle of about fifty yards in diameter, with an 
interval of about six feet between the ranks, and facing the crowd, 
which slowly fell back before them, till the force was in position. 
Renewed threats of an attempt at rescue having been made, the 
word was passed round the ranks, and the guard, in momentary 
expectation of a rush from the anti-law-and-order men, stood 
ready to beat them back. The prisoner, who exhibited a stolid 
indifference and utter unconcern most remarkable to witness, was 
placed standing, on a board supported in such a manner that 
a touch of a foot was all that was necessary to convert it into 
a drop. 

The executive officer then addressed the crowd, stating that the 
execution of criminals such as Dolan was a matter of public neces- 
sity, in a mining country, and that the safety of the community 
from lawlessness and outrage was the only reason that dictated 
it. He raised his voice, and finished by saying, in a manner that 



162 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

all understood, "It has been said that you will rescue the pris- 
oner; don't try it on, for fear of the consequences. What is to 
be done has been deliberately weighed and determined, and noth- 
ing shall prevent the execution of the malefactor. ' ' 

Dolan being now asked if he had anything to say, he replied in 
a voice perfectly calm, clear and unconcerned, that he admitted 
having committed the crime with which he was charged; but he 
said that he was drunk when he did it. He added that he was 
well known in California and elsewhere, and had never been ac- 
cused of a similar action before. He then bade them all good-by, 
and requested that some of his friends would bury his body. The 
rope was placed round his neck; the plank was struck from be- 
neath his feet, and the corpse swayed to and fro in the night 
breeze. He never made a perceptible struggle. The dull sound 
of the drop was followed, or rather accompanied, by the stern 
order to the crowd, repeated by one hundred voices, "Fall back!" 
The glancing barrels and clicking locks of five hundred revolvers, 
as they came 'to the present, sounded their deadly warning, and 
the crowd, suddenly seized with a wild panic, fled, shrieking in 
mad terror, and rolling in heaps over one another. A wagon and 
team were drawn up outside the circle held by the Vigilantes, but 
such was the tremendous stampede, that, taking them broadside, 
they rolled over before the onslaught of the mob, like ninepins, 
and over wagon and struggling mules poured a living torrent of 
people. Fortunately no great injury was done to any one, and 
they gradually returned to the vicinity of the scaffold. As the 
rush was made, the hill appeared to be moving, the simultaneous 
motion of the multitude giving it that appearance. 

Just before the drop fell, one of the guard, who had newly ar- 
rived in the country, being pressed on by a tall, swarthy-looking 
reprobate, ordered him back, dropping his revolver level with his 
breast at the same instant. The villain quickly thrust his hand 
into his bosom, and the butt of a pistol was instantly visible within 
his grasp. "I say, you sir!" observed the guard, "just move 
your arm a couple of inches or so, will you? I want to hit that big 

white button on your coat." "H 1!" ejaculated the worthy, 

retiring with the rapidity of chain lightning among the crowd. 

The people were then addressed by a gentleman of Nevada, 
who forcibly showed to them the necessity of such examples as 
the present. He reminded them that nothing but severe and 
summary punishment would be of any avail to prevent crime, in 
a place where life and gold were so much exposed. The prisoner 
had declared that he was drunk; but he had offered to return 
the money, though only in case he would be pardoned. This offer 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 163 

a due regard for the safety of the community forbade their ac- 
cepting. 

Dolan having been pronounced dead by several physicians, the 
body was given into the care of his friends ; the Vigilantes 
marched off by companies, and the crowd dispersed. There was a 
solemnity and decorum about the proceedings of the Vigilantes 
that all admired. 

Before leaving the ground, a subscription was opened on behalf 
of the man whose money had been stolen, and the whole sum miss- 
ing ($400) was paid to him by the Committee. This was an act 
of scrupulous honesty, probably never before paralleled in any 
citizens' court in the world. 



CHAPTER XXVn. 
Capture and Execution of R, C. Rawley. 

"Justice is blind ; but she has a long memory and a strong arm." — Proverb. 

Since the execution of Plummer, Ray, Stinson, Pizanthia and 
Wagner, there had been no execution in Bannack. The example 
had been sufficient, and, though it could not be said that there 
was no crime in Bannack, yet the change from the wild lawless- 
ness of the roughs, and the reign of terror caused by the presence 
of Plummer and his satellites, was most encouraging. Scores of 
men silently and quickly left Bannack for other regions. The 
dread of the "Vigilantes" was strongly impressed on every per- 
son, and though it is not easy to suppose that the nature of the 
desperadoes can be materially changed, yet it is tolerably certain, 
to those who have witnessed the effect of what the heralds would 
call "a noose pendent from a beam proper" — that men of the 
worst morals and most unquestioned bravery — men whom nothing 
else could daunt — still maintains a quietness of demeanor that, 
under any other circumstances than the fear of retribution by 
the halter, would surely be foreign to their very nature. 

Among those who dreaded the arrival of the day of vengeance 
was a man passing by the assumed name of R. C. Rawley. He 
was no common loafer, originally, but was, under another name 
and with a fairer character, a merchant in a large Western city, 
from which, owing to what precise discreditable cause we are un- 
informed authentically, he migrated to Colorado, and there grad- 
ually sank down to the character and standard of a "bummer." 
It was evident to all who knew him that he was a man of educa- 
tion and of some refinement; occasionally remarks made in his 



164 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

sober moments attested this, but a long course of brutal dissipa- 
tion had rendered his acquirements worthless, and had so debased 
his morals, that he associated only with the thieves and maraud- 
ers whose guilty career terminated, as these pages have shown, 
upon the gallows. Robbed of all self-respect, and even ambition, 
R. C. Rawley, on his arrival in this country, attached himself as 
a hanger-on to the road agents, and was the constant tool and 
companion of Stinson, Forbes, Lyons and their associates. He 
sometimes seemed to become ashamed of his conduct, and worked 
for short periods, honestly earning his living; but such spells of 
good conduct were only occasional. He returned, uniformly, to 
his old habits, "like the sow that is washed to her wallowing in 
the mire." Rawley was a good-looking man, and, but for his 
habit of intoxication, he must have been handsome. 

In the winter of 1863-4, Rawley, though not closely identified 
with the band, yet bore a suspicious character, owing to his con- 
nection and association with them. He was seldom, indeed, on 
the road ; but he acted as an inside spy. As soon as the first blow 
was struck at the road agents, he became nervous and excited in 
his demeanor, and, warned by the promptings of a guilty con- 
science, he suddenly left Bannack, on a winter's morning of such 
severity that nothing but the belief that detection and punishment 
awaited him could have justified a sane man in undertaking a 
journey of any considerable length. He was popularly supposed 
to have gone south or to Boise. 

In an ill-starred hour, in the month of September, 1864, unex- 
pectedly to most people, but with the knowledge of the Vigilantes, 
who had kept track of his movements, he suddenly returned to 
Bannack, thinking, doubtless, that all danger was past. He came 
back in rags, to find all his old friends gone, and looked like a 
lone chicken on a wet day. For some time after his return he 
kept quiet, and went to work for a man who lived down the can- 
yon, in the neighborhood of New Jerusalem. Those who knew 
him state that when he was sober, although he was not a first- 
class workman, yet he labored steadily and well; but, as may be 
conjectured, his frequent visits to Bannack, which always involved 
a spree of drunkenness, greatly impaired his usefulness. 

During the time when he was under the influence of strong 
drink his old predilections were brought prominently forward, 
and he did not hesitate to utter threats of an unmistakable kind 
against the members of the Committee; and also to express his 
sympathy and identification of interest with the men who had 
been hanged, stating that they were good men, and that the Com- 
mittee were strangling — — etc. This kind of conduct was 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 165 

allowed to remain unpunished for some six weeks or two months; 
but, as Rawley began to get bolder and to defy the Committee, 
it was resolved that an end should be put to such proceedings. 

A meeting of the Vigilantes was called, and it was determined 
that his case should be thoroughly investigated. This was done, 
and, during the trial, evidence of a most convincing kind was 
adduced, of his actual complicity in the outrages perpetrated by 
the band, of his being a spy for them, and of his pointing out 
favorable opportunities for the commission of robbery. As his 
present line of action and speech left no doubt that he would 
connect himself with some new gang of thieves, and as it was 
more than suspected that such an organization was contemplated, 
it was determined to put a sudden end to all such doings, by mak- 
ing an example of Rawley. 

A party was detailed for the work, and going down unobserved 
and unsuspected to New Jerusalem, they arrested him at night 
and brought him up to Bannack, without the knowledge of a sin- 
gle soul except his actual captors. As it was deemed necessary 
for the safety of society that a sudden punishment should be 
meted out to him in such a manner that the news should fall upon 
the ears of his associates in crime like a thunderbolt from a clear 
sky. he was taken to Hangman's Gulch, and, maintaining the 
most dogged silence and the most imperturable coolness to the last 
moment, he was hanged on the same gallows which Plummer him- 
self had built for the execution of his own accomplice, Horan, and 
on which he himself had suffered. 

The first intelligence concerning his fate was obtained from 
the sight of his dead body, swinging in the wind on the following 
morning. Before his corpse was taken down for burial, a photo- 
graphic artist took a picture of the scene, preserving the only 
optical demonstration extant of the reward of crime in Montana. 

Thus died R. C. Rawley. A "passenger" or two attended his 
final march to the grave, and shrouded in the rayless gloom of a 
night as dark as despair, thus perished, unshrived and unknelled, 
the last of the tribe of spies, cut-throats and desperadoes, who, 
in the early days of Bannack, had wrought such horrors in the 
community. 

The effect of the execution was magical. Not another step 
was taken to organize crime in Bannack, and it has remained in 
comparative peace and perfect security ever since. 



166 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

CHAPTER XVm. 

The Trial and Death of John Keene, Alias Bob Black, the Mur- 
derer of Harry Slater. 

"Oh. my offense is rank ; it smells to Heaven ; 
It hath the primal, eldest curse upon it." — Hamlet. 

The stern yet righteous retribution which the Vigilantes had 
inflicted on the murderers and marauders in the southern and 
western part of the Territory had worked its effect, and little need 
was there of any further examples for a long time in the vicinity 
of Virginia and Bannack; but the restless spirit of enterprise 
which distinguishes the miners of the West soon urged the pio- 
neers to new discoveries, creating another center of population, 
and thither, like a heron to her haunt, gathered the miners, and, 
of course, those harpies who live by preying upon them. 

Many others who had spent a roving and ill-regulated life, 
poured into the new diggings, which bore the name of Last 
Chance Gulch, situated on the edge of the romantic valley of the 
Prickly Pear, where now stands the flourishing city of Helena, in 
the county of Edgerton, second in size and importance only to 
Virginia, and rapidly increasing in extent, wealth and population. 
This place, which was then regarded as a new theater of opera- 
tion for the desperadoes, is almost one hundred and twenty-five 
miles N. N. W. from the metropolis of Montana ; and no sooner 
were the diggings struck, by a party consisting mainly of Colo- 
rado men, than a rush was made for the new gulch, and a town 
arose as by magic. As usual in such cases, the first settlers were 
a motley crowd, and though many good men came with them, yet 
the number of "hard cases" was great, and was speedily increased 
by refugees from justice, and adventurers not distinguished for 
morality, or for any undue deference for the moral precepts con- 
tained in the sixth and eighth commandments. 

Among the desperadoes and refugees who went over there was 
Harry Slater — a professional gambler, and a "rough" of reputa- 
tion. At Salt Lake he would have shot Colonel W. F. Sanders in 
the back, had he not been restrained; and many an outrage had 
he committed. His sudden flight from Virginia alone saved his 
neck, a mere accident having saved him from summary execution, 
the night before he left for Helena, where he met his death at 
the hands of John Keene, formerl,y a barkeeper to Samuel Schwab, 
of the Montana Billiard Saloon in Virginia, and originally, as 
will be seen from the biographical sketch appended to this chap- 
ter — from the "River," where, as "Bob Black," he figured as a 
first-class murderer and robber, before he came to the mining 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 167 

regions, and, quarreling with Slater at Salt Lake City, roused 
again those evil passions, the indulgence of which finally brought 
him to the fatal tree, in Dry Dulch, where the thieves and mur- 
derers of the northern section of the countiy have so often expati- 
ated their crimes by a sudden and shameful death. 

Slater arrived first in Helena, and Keene, who had signalized his 
stay in Virginia by attempting to kill or wound Jem McCarty, 
the bar-keeper at Murat's Saloon (better known as the "Court's") 
with whom he had a quarrel, by throwing large pieces of rock at 
him through the window, at midnight. He however missed his 
mark; the sleepers escaped and the proprietors sustained little 
more damage than the price of broken windows. 

Slater did not know that Keene was in town, and was sitting 
in the doorway of Sam Greer's saloon, with his head down and 
his eyes shaded by his hat. Keene was walking along the street, 
talking to a friend, when he spied Slater within a few feet of him, 
and without saying a word, or in any way attracting the notice of 
Slater, he drew his pistol and fired two shots. The first took ef- 
fect over the outer angle of the eye, ranging downwards, and pro- 
ducing instant death. The murderer put up his pistol and turned 
quickly down an alley, near the scene of the murder. Here he was 
arrested by C. J. D. Curtis, and "X," coming up, proposed to de- 
liver him over to Sheriff Wood. This being done, the Sheriff put 
him, for want of a better place, in his own house, and kept him 
well guarded. As thousands of individuals will read this account 
who have no distinct or accurate notion of how a citizen trial in 
the West is conducted, the account taken by the special reporter 
of the Montana Post, which is minutely exact and reliable in all 
its details, is here presented. The report says that after the ar- 
rest of Keene and his committal to the custody of the Sheriff, 
strong manifestations of disgust were shown by the crowd, which 
soon collected in front of the temporary prison, and a committee 
at once formed to give the murderer a hasty trial. Sheriff Wood, 
with what deputies he could gather round him in a few moments, 
sternly and resolutely refused to deliver the prisoner into the 
hands of the Committee, and at the same time made the most 
urgent and earnest appeals to those demanding the culprit ; but 
finally, being carried by main force from his post, and overpow- 
ered by superior numbers, his prisoner was taken from him. 

A court-room was soon improvised in an adjacent lumber yard, 
the prisoner marched into, and the trial immediately commenced, 
Stephen Reynolds presiding, and the jury composed of Messrs. 
Judge Burchett (foreman), S. M. Hall, Z. French, A. F. Edwards, 

— — Nichols, S. Kayser, Edward Porter, Shears, Major 

Hutchinson, C. C. Farmer and Ed. House. 



168 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

No great formality was observed in the commencement of the 
impromptu trial. Dr. Palmer, Charles Greer and Samuel Greer 
were sworn to testify. Dr. Palmer started to give his evidence, 
when he was interrupted by the culprit getting up and making a 
statement of the whole affair, and asserting that he acted in self- 
defense, as the deceased was in the act of rising with his hand 
on his pistol, and had threatened to take his life, and on a former 
occasion, in Great Salt Lake City^ had put a derringer into his 
mouth. 

A Mr. Brobecker then got up and made some very appropriate 
remarks, cautioning the men on the jury not to be too hasty, but 
to well and truly perform their duty; weigh the evidence well, 
and give a verdict such as their conscience would hereafter ap- 
prove. 

Sam Greer then testified to being an eye-witness of the deed. 
Heard the first shot ; did not think anybody was hit ; told Keene 
to "hold on," when he saw Slater fall over; did not hear any 
words spoken by either of the parties ; did not know for certain 
whether the prisoner was the man who shot Slater, 

Prisoner — I am the gentleman. 

Dr. Palmer said that when he made an examination of the de- 
ceased he did not find a pistol in his scabbard. 

Sam Greer — The pistol was put into my hands and placed be- 
hind the bar by me after the shooting took place. 

Charley Greer (sworn) — I have been sick lately, and was too 
excited to make any close observation; was not more than three 
or four feet from the party killed, when the shooting occurred; 
thought the man was shooting at some dogs in the saloon. 

Charles French (sworn) — says — Came down street, stopped 
first door below Lyon's barber shop, at the clothing store of 
Earned; saw a man coming up the street towards Greer's saloon; 
heard some one cry, "Don't shoot, John; you'll hurt somebody." 
Soon after saw the man shoot ; thought he was only firing off his 
pistol to scare somebody ; but he saw the deceased man fall, and 
the other go down street and turn into an alley. Don't know 
the man that fired the shots. 

Q. — Is this the man? 

A. — ^Cannot tell ; it is too dark. (A candle was brought.) I think 
it is the same man ; I am pretty certain it is. 

Dr. Palmer again testified — ^The deceased was shot over the 
right eye ; never spoke, and died in three minutes after being 
shot. 

James Binns (sworn) — Was on the opposite side of the street; 
heard the first shot fired, and saw the second one ; heard Greer 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 169 

say, "hold on," and saw the man fall over, and the other man 
go through the alley. 

(Calls by the crowd for James Parker.) 

James Parker (sworn) — ^Keene overtook me today on the sum- 
mit, coming from Blackfoot. We rode together. He inquired 
of me whether Slater was in town, and told me of some difficulty 
existing between them, originating in Salt Lake City ; Slater hav- 
ing thrust a derringer into his mouth, and ran him out of the city. 

Prisoner here got up and said that he had told Parker he hoped 
he should not see Slater, as he did not want any difficulty with 
him, or some such conversation. 

James Geero (Hogal) called for (sworn) — (Here the wind ex- 
tinguished our candle, and being in the open air, before we could 
relight it, we missed all the testimony but the last words. — Re- 
porter.) Know nothing about the shooting affair. 

At this moment a voice in the crowd was heard crying, "John 
Keene come here" — which caused the guards to close around the 
prisoner. 

Mr. Phillips (sworn) — Don't know anything about the affair, 
but saw Slater fall; don't know who fired; know what Jem 
Geero says to be true. Saw Slater sit in this position (here Mr. 
P. showed the position Slater was in when shot) ; saw Slater sit- 
ting in the door ; did not see him have a revolver. 

Prisoner asked to have some witnesses sent for; he said that 
the original cause of his trouble with Slater was his taking Tom 
Baum and Ed. Copeland's part in a conversation about the Vigi- 
lance Committee of last year. Slater then called him a Vigilante 

, and drove him out of town ; this was in Salt Lake City. Then 

he went to Virginia City, and from there to Blackfoot. Slater 
was a dangerous man ; he had killed two men in Boise. He said 
he had gone to work at mining in Blackfoot, and came over to 
Helena on that day to see a man — Harlow. "When I first saw 
Slater today he smacked my face with both hands and called a 

Irish , and said he would make me leave town. I went 

and borrowed a revolver of Walsh. ' ' He requested them to send 
for an Irishman called Mike, who works on the brickyard, and 
who heard the last conversation. He wanted Mr. Phillips to give 
a little more testimony. 

Mr. P. — I know him to go armed and equipped ; saw him draw 
a weapon on a former occasion ; saw him make a man jump down 
twenty pair of stairs. 

Motion of the jury to retire. Cries of "aye!" and "no! go on 
with the trial." A voice — "send for Kelly, the man who was talk- 
ing to Slater at the time he was shot." Cries of "Mr. Kelly! Mr. 



170 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

Kelly!" and "Dave St. John." Neither of these men could be 
found. 

A motion to increase the number of the guard to forty was 
carried. 

Prisoner again asked to have men sent for his witnesses. 

Jack Edwards — I am willing to wait till morning for the con- 
tinuance of the trial, but the guard must be increased ; I hear 
mutterings in the crowd about a rescue. 

A voice — It can't be done. 

Prisoner — I want a fair and just trial. 

Preparations were now made for a strong guard, forming a 
ring round the prisoner. 

Objections were raised, at this juncture, to whispering being 
carried on between the culprit and his friends. 

A report came in that the Irish brickmaker could not be found 
at his shanty. 

A motion to guard the prisoner till morning, to give him time 
to procure witnesses, was lost ; but being afterward reconsidered, 
it was finally carried. 

Judge N. J. Bond then got up, and in a short and able speech 
to the jury, advised them to hear more testimony before convict- 
ing the prisoner. He also proposed the hour of eight a. m. next 
day for the meeting of the jury, and the hour of nine a. m. for 
bringing in their verdict. The latter proposition was agreed to, 
and the prisoner taken in charge by the guard. 

The dense crowd slowly dispersed, talking in a less bloodthirsty 
strain than they had done three or four hours before. 

SECOND DAY. 

The morning dawned serenely upon a large concourse of people 
standing before the prison and in front of the California Ex- 
change — the place selected for a jury room. 

The jury met a few minutes past eight a. m. and Mr. Boyden 
was sent for, and the examination of witnesses resumed. 

Mr. B. (sworn) — I have known Keene from childhood ; know his 
parents and relatives ; met Keene yesterday on the street ; did not 
know him at first sight, until he spoke to me ; told me that he was 
looking for a gentleman in town who had as an act of kindness 
taken up some claims for him ; was walking up street with me ; 
then stopped to shake hands with a man named Kelly, who was 
sitting on some logs in the street, when we left him. Keene 
walked faster than I did, and was a few steps ahead of me ; when 
in front of Greer's saloon I saw a man sitting in the door 
(Greer's) ; did not see Keene draw his revolver, but saw the first 
shot fired, and heard Keene say, ''You , you have ruined me 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 171 

in Salt Lake City." This was said after the shooting. Do not 
think Slater saw Keene at all. Slater was sitting down; I was 
about five feet from both men; John Keene was about ten feet 
from Slater. 

Q. — Was Kelly with you at that time? 

A. — No ; Kelly never left the place where he shook hands with 
Keene. 

Q. — Do you know anj^hing about his character? 
A. — I have known him for about ten years ; he left St. Paul 
about eighteen months ago ; know nothing about his course or 
conduct since that time ; he was considered a fast young man, but 
good and kind-hearted ; when I conversed with him yesterday he 
spoke about a man that had ruined him in Salt Lake City, but he 
did not mention any names ; I did not know anything of the par- 
ticulars of his (prisoner's) former difficulties with Slater; never 
saw Slater and Keene together. 

Michael McGregor (sworn) — I saw Keene in the afternoon; he 
came to me in the flat (a point in the lower part of the gulch) ; 
shook hands with me, and then left for town; did not know of 
the difficulty between Slater and Keene; Keene never spoke to 
me about it. 

D. St. John (sworn) — Don't know anything about the shooting 
affair; was fifteen miles from here when it took place. (The wit- 
ness here gave some testimony not bearing directly on the case, 
which was not admitted.) 

This closed the examination. The jury went into secret session. 

At ten minutes to ten o'clock, the jury came from their room 
to the place of trial, in the lumber yard, where preparations were 
made immediately for the reception of the prisoner. 

At ten o'clock, the culprit made his appearance on the ground, 
under an escort of about fifty well-armed men. A circle was 
formed by the guard and the prisoner placed in the center. His 
appearance was not that of a man likely to die in a few minutes. 
He looked bravely around the crowd, nodding here and there 
to his acquaintances, and calling to them by name. Captain Flor- 
man having detailed his guard, gave the word, "All ready." The 
foreman of the jury then opened the sealed verdict: "We, the 
jury, in the case of the people of Montana versus John Keene, find 
him guilty of murder in the first degree." 

A Voice— "What shall be done?" 

Several voices in the crowd — "Hang him! hang him!" 
The President here rose and said he wished to hear some ex- 
pression of the public sentiment or motions in the case. 

Calls were made for Colonel Johnson. The Colonel addressed 



172 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

the assembly in an appropriate speech, which was followed by a 
few short and pertinent remarks from Judge Bond. 

On motion of A. J. Edwards, the testimony of Miessrs. Boyden 
and Michael McGregor was read, and thereupon Judge Lawrence 
rose and said he was sure Keene had all the chance for a fair trial 
he could have wished, and motioned to carry the jury's verdict 
into execution. Passed. 

The prisoner here got up and said, "All I wanted was a fair 
and just trial ; I think I have got it, and death is my doom ; but 
I want time to settle up my business ; I am not trying to get 
away." 

He was granted an hour's time to prepare for his execution. 
The committee fixed the hour of execution at half-past eleven 
o'clock a. m. Keene remarked that he hadn't any money to pay 
expenses — and was told that it should not cost him a cent. The 
guard now took charge of the doomed man, and escorted him to 
an adjacent house in order that he might arrange his affairs. 

At eleven a. m. crowds of people could be seen ascending the 
hill north of Helena, and not a small number of ladies were per- 
ceptible in the throng. The place of execution was chosen with 
a due regard to convenience and economy — a large pine tree, with 
stout limbs, standing almost alone, in a shallow ravine, was se- 
lected for the gallows. 

At eleven a. m. the prisoner, accompanied by the Rev. Mr. 
McLaughlin, arrived in a lumber wagon. A dry goods box and 
two planks, to form the trap, were in the same vehicle. The un- 
fortunate victim of his unbridled passions sjat astride of one of 
the planks, his countenance exhibiting the utmost unconcern, and 
on his arrival at the tree he said, "My honor compelled me to 
do what I have done." He then bade good-by to some of his ac- 
quaintances. The wagon having been adjusted so as to bring the 
hind axle under the rope, a plank was laid from the dry goods 
box to another plank set upon end, and the trap was ready. 

At four minutes to twelve o'clock, the prisoner's arms were 
pinioned, and he was assisted to mount the wagon. Standing on 
the frail platform, he said, in a loud and distinct voice: "What 
I have done, my honor compelled me to do. Slater run me from 
Salt Lake City to Virginia, and from there to this country. He 
slapped me in the face here yesterday; and I was advised by my 
friends to arm myself. When Slater saw me, he said, 'There 

is the Irish ; he has not left town yet.' Then I commenced 

firing. My honor compelled me to do what I have done." Here 
he called for a drink of water, which was procured as speedily 
as it could be brought to the top of the hill. He took a long, deep 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 173 

draught of the water, and the rope was adjusted round his neck. 
A handkerchief being thrown over his face, he raised his hand 
to it and said, "What are you putting that there for? Take it 
off." Stepping to the end of the trap, he said: "What I have 
done to Slater I have done willingly. He punished me severely. 
Honor compelled me to do what I have done. He run me from 
town to town ; I tried to shun him here ; but he saw me — called 
me a , and smacked me in the face. I did not want any trou- 
ble with him ; my honor compelled me to do what I have done. I 
am here, and must die ; and if I was to live till tomorrow I would 
do the same thing again. I am ready, jerk the cart as soon as 
you please." 

At seven minutes past twelve the wagon started, the trap fell, 
and Keene was launched into eternity. He fell three and a half 
feet without breaking his neck. A few spasmodic struggles for 
three or four minutes were all that was perceptible of his dying 
agonies. After hanging half an hour, the body was cut down and 
was taken in charge by his friends. 

So ended the first tragedy at Helena. The execution was con- 
ducted by Mr. J. X. Biedler, and everything went off in a quiet 
and orderly manner. Many familiar faces, known to Virginia 
men in the trying times of the winter of '64. were visible. 

The effect, in Helena, of this execution was electrical. The 
roughs saw that the day had gone against them, and trembled 
for their lives. There were in town, at that time, scores of men 
from every known mining locality of the West, and many of them 
were steeped to the lips in crime. Such a decision as that now 
rendered by a jury of the people boded them no good. They 
saw that the citizens of Montana had determined that outrage 
should be visited with condign punishment, and that prudence 
dictated an immediate stampede from Helena. Walking about 
the streets, they occasionally approached an old comrade, and 
furtively glancing around, they would give expression to their 
feelings in the chartered form of language peculiar to moun- 
taineers who consider that something extraordinary, unjust, cruel 
or hard to bear, is being enacted: "Say, Bill, this is rough, ain't 
it?" To which the terse reply was usually vouchsafed, "It is, 
by thunder; rough." Cayuses began to rise rapidly in de- 
mand and price. Men went "prospecting" (?) who had never 
been accused of such an act before ; and a very considerable im- 
provement in the average appearance of the population soon be- 
came visible. 

A constant stream of miners and others was now pouring into 
the Territory, from the West, and the consequence was that the 



174 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

thinking portion of the citizens of Helena began to see that a reg- 
ular organization of an independent Vigilance Committee was 
necessary to watch over the affairs of the young city, and to take 
steps for both the prevention of crime and for the punishment of 
criminals. There were in the town a considerable number of the 
old Committee ; these, with few exceptions, gave the movement 
their sanction, and the new body was speedily and effectively 
organized, an executive elected, companies formed, under the 
leadership of old hands who had mostly seen service in the peril- 
ous times of '63-64. A sketch of their subsequent operations will 
appear in this work, and also an account of the terrible massacre 
and robbery of the passengers of the Overland coach, in the Port- 
neuf canyon, near Snake River, I. T., together with an account of 
the capture and execution of Frank Williams, who drove the stage 
into the ambush. 

As it was asserted by Keene that Slater had slapped him in the 
face, and otherwise insulted him in Helena, before the firing of the 
fatal shot, it is proper to state that such was not the case. Slater 
was entirely ignorant of Keene 's presence in town; in fact, the 
other, it will be remembered, had only just previously arrived 
there, riding with the witness who swore he crossed the Divide in 
his company. It is also an entire mistake to suppose that Keene 
was a man of good character or blameless life. The following 
statement of his previous career of crime, in the East, will be read 
with interest by many who are under the impression that the 
murder of Slater was his first offense. It is taken from the Mem- 
phis Appeal, of November 24th, 1865, and, of course, was written 
without any intention of being published in this work, or of fur- 
nishing any justification of the Vigilance Committee. If such 
had been the intention, it would have been a work of supereroga- 
tion, for never was a case of murder in the first degree more fully 
proven. The homicide in broad daylight, and the evident malice 
"prepense" were matters of public notoriety. 

"Of the many strange circumstances born of and nurtured by 
the past war, a parallel to the catalogue of crime herein given has 
been rarely, if ever, met with, 

"In this vicinity, near three years ago, the name of 'Bob Black' 
has, on more than one occasion, struck terror to the hearts of 
a large number of countrymen, cotton buyers and sellers, whose 
business compelled them to enter or make their exit from the city 
by the way of the Hernando or Horn Lake roads. 

" 'Bob Black' came to this city about six years ago, bringing 
with him a good character for honesty and industry, and eontin- 
aed to work steadily here until the outbreak of the war. At that 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 175 

time he desired to enter the gunboat service, and for that purpose 
left this city for New Orleans ; and, after remaining there some 
time, he joined the crew of a Confederate ram, the name of which 
has since slipped our memory. While on his way up from New 
Orleans, he became enraged at some wrong, real or fancied, at the 
hands of the captain of the ram, and being of a very impulsive na- 
ture, seized a marling-spike, and with a blow felled the captain to 
the deck. He was immediately placed in irons, and upon the ar- 
rival of the gunboat at Port Pillow, was handed over to General 
Villipigue, for safe keeping. A court-martial was ordered, and 
while in progress, the evacuation of Fort Pillow became neces- 
sary, and the prisoner was transferred to Grenada, Mississippi. In 
the confusion of everything about Grenada at that time, he man- 
aged to effect his escape, and passing immediately through the 
Confederate lines, reached Memphis a few days after its occupa- 
tion by the Federal authorities. Without any means to provide 
himself with food or clothing, with a mind borne down with trou- 
ble and suffering, and bereft of every hope from which the slight- 
est consolation might be derived, the once honest man was driven 
to a career of desperation and crime, which, if given in its de- 
tails, would cause the bloodthirsty tales of the yellow-covered 
trash to pale for their very puerility and tameness. 

''In this condition of mind and body he remained in the city 
for some time, wandering about here and there; until one day, 
while standing at the Worsham House corner, he became involved 
in a quarrel with one James Dolan, a member of the Eighth Mis- 
souri Regiment, a large and powerful man, while Black was a man 
of medium height and stature. Words between the parties waged 
furious, and finally Dolan struck Black with a cane which he 
had with him ; but quickly warding off the blow. Black wrenched 
the cane from his adversary and dealt him a blow, which so frac- 
tured the skull of Dolan as to cause death within a short time 
thereafter. Black effected his escape from the city, and with a 
couple of accomplices, began a system of wholesale murder and 
robbery on the Hernando road. The atrocity and boldness of 
these acts created the greatest excitement in Memphis. 

"Several parties were robbed of sums varying from one to as 
high as ten thousand dollars, and, in one instance, a speculator 
was compelled to disgorge to the amount of five thousand dollars 
in gold. Of course, these rascals, of whom Black was the leader, 
often met with men who would make resistance rather than give 
up their money; and in this way no less than three or four fell 
victims to the fiendish spirit exhibited by these scoundrels. It 
was finally agreed upon by the military commanders of the dis- 



176 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

trict, on both sides, that means should be taken which would 
ensure their capture. Accordingly a squad of Blythe's battalion 
of the rebel army, were sent in pursuit, and succeeded in captur- 
ing, about ten miles out of the city. Black and his companion, a 
fellow young in years, named Whelan. They were placed in the 
guard-house in Hernando, we believe, and at a pre-concerted sig- 
nal attacked the guard, and mounting some horses belonging to 
the soldiers, made off at a rapid rate. The guard immediately 
started in pursuit, and coming upon Whelan, who was some dis- 
tance behind Black, shot and killed him. Black again escaped, 
and applied himself with more vigor than ever to the plundering, 
stealing and robbing of everybody and everything that came with- 
in his reach. He would frequently ride into this city at night, 
passing through the lines at will ; and, as an instance of his audac- 
ity, on one occasion rode down Adams street, and fired several 
shots into the station-house. It was reported that he had accumu- 
lated large sums of money, and the report proved correct. As his 
business became either too tiresome or too dangerous, he came 
to the city, disguised, and took passage on a boat for the north. 
Since that time, and until recently, nothing has been heard from 
him. It seems that after leaving Memphis, he went to St. Paul, 
Minnesota, and embarked in the staging and saloon business, un- 
der his proper name, John Keene. His restless spirit could not 
stand the monotony of such a dull business (to him) and, organ- 
izing a band of some twenty men, he started for the Territories." 



CHAPTER XXIX. 



Capture and Execution of Jake Silvie, Alias Jacob Seachriest, a 

Road Agent and Murderer of Twelve Years' Standing, 

and the Slayer of Twelve Men. 

"Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." — God's Law. 

The crimes and punishment of many a daring desperado have 
been chronicled in these pages ; but among them all, none was 
more worthy of death than the blood-stained miscreant whose 
well-deserved fate is recorded in this chapter. According to his 
own confession — made when all hope was gone, and death was 
inevitable, and when nothing was to be gained by such a state- 
ment, but the disburdening of a conscience oppressed by the 
weight of guilt — Jacob Seachriest was a native of Pennsylvania, 
and had been a thief, road agent, and murderer for twelve years ; 
during which time he had murdered, single-handed or in company 
with others, twelve individuals. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MlJNTAXA 177 

In a former chapter of this history — -the one detailing the arrest 
and execution of Jem Kelly at Snake River — it will be remem- 
bered that the body of a man, shot through the back of the head, 
was found in a creek by a patrol of the Vigilantes, and buried 
in a willow coffin. The full particulars of the tragedy we are 
unable to furnish to our readers ; but Seachriest confessed that 
he and his comrades cast lots to determine who should commit the 
bloody deed, it being repugnant, even to their notions of manhood, 
to crawl up behind an unarmed man, sitting quietly on the bank 
of a creek, and to kill him for the sake of what he might chance 
to possess, without exchanging a word. The "hazard of the die" 
pointed out Seachriest as the assassin; and with his pistol ready 
cocked, he stole upon his victim and killed him instantly, by send- 
ing a ball through his brain. A stone was fastened to the body, 
and it was sunk in a hole formed by an eddy in the stream, the 
thieves having first appropriated every article of value about his 
person. 

The captain was much moved by the sad spectacle, though well 
accustomed to the sight of murdered victims, having served 
through the war against the border ruffians in "Bleeding 
Kansas," and having gone through a checkered career of adven- 
ture, including five years' life by the camp-fire. He said, with 
much emotion, "Boys, something tells me I'll be at the hanging 
of this man's murderer, within twelve months of this day," and 
so it fell out, though most unexpectedly. 

Shortly after the execution of John Keene for the murder of 
Slater, information was sent to the Committee, that a man named 
Jack Silvie had been arrested at Diamond City — a flourishing new 
mining camp in Confederate Gulch, one of the largest and richest 
of the placer diggings of Montana. The town is about fifteen 
miles beyond the Missouri, and about forty miles east of Helena. 
The charges against the culprit were robbery, obtaining goods 
under false pretenses, and various other crimes of a kindred sort. 
It was also intimated that he was a man of general bad character, 
and that he had confessed enough to warrant the Committee in 
holding him for further examination, though the proof of his com- 
mission of the principal offense of which he was accused was not 
greater, at the time, than would amount to a strong presumption 
of guilt. 

The messenger brought with him copies of the confession made 
by the prisoner, under oath, before the proper person to receive 
an obligation. The substance of his story was that he was an 
honest, hard-working miner; that he had just come into the coun- 
ty, by the way of Salt Lake City; that on reaching Virginia City, 



178 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

and while under the influence of liquor, he had fallen into bad 
company, and was initiated into an organized band of robbers. 
He gave the names of about a dozen of the members of the gang, 
and minutely described the signs of recognition, etc. It was evi- 
dent from his account that the ceremonies attending the entry 
into this villainous fraternity were simple and forcible, although 
not legal. The candidate was placed in the center of a circle 
formed of desperadoes ; one or two revolvers at full cock were pre- 
sented at his head, and he was then informed that his taking the 
obligation was to be a purely voluntary act on his part ; for that 
he was at perfect liberty to refuse to do so ; only, in that case, 
that his brains would be blown out without any further ceremony. 
Though not a man of any education, Silvie could not afford to 
lose his brains, having only one set, and he therefore consented 
to proceed and swore through a long formula, of which he said 
he recollected very little distinctly, except a pledge of secrecy and 
of fidelity to the band. 

On receipt of the intelligence, a captain, with a squad of four 
or five men, was immediately despatched to Diamond City, with 
orders to bring the prisoner to Helena as soon as possible. The 
party lost but little time in the performance of their duty, and on 
the following day the chief of the Committee rode out, as previ- 
ously agreed upon, in company with X (a letter of the alphabet 
having singular terrors for evil-doers in Montana, being calcu- 
lated to awaken the idea of crime committed and punishment to 
follow, more than all the rest of the alphabet, even if the enumer- 
ation were followed by the repetition of the Ten Commandments) 
and meeting the guard in charge of the prisoner, they accompa- 
nied them into town. Silvie was confined in the same cabin in 
which John Keene passed his last night on earth. A strong guard 
was detailed for the purpose of watching the prisoner, and the 
Committee being summoned, the case was investigated with all 
due deliberation; but the Committee were not entirely satisfied 
that the evidence, though complete, was all of such a reliable 
character as to justify a conviction ; and therefore, they preferred 
to adjourn their inquiry, for the production of further testimony. 
This was accordingly done, and the prisoner was removed to an 
obscure cabin, in a more remote part of the town, where the mem- 
bers of the Committee would have an opportunity of free access 
to him, and might learn from his own lips what sort of a man they 
had to deal with. 

They were not long in arriving at a satisfactory conclusion on 
this point. He at first adhered to and repeated his old story and 
confession ; but gaining a little confidence, and thinking there was 



4 



i 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 179 

not much danger to be apprehended from the action of the Com- 
mittee, he at length denied eveiy word of his former statement, 
made under oath ; said it was all false ; that he knew of no such 
organization as he had told of, and declared that he had been 
compelled to do this for his own safety. After being cross-ques- 
tioned pretty thoroughly, he told the truth, stating that he had 
given a correct statement in the first place; only, instead of join- 
ing the band in Virginia City, he had become acquainted with 
some of the leaders, on the Columbia river, on the way up from 
Portland, and that he had accompanied them to Virginia City, M. 
T., traveling thither by way of Snake River. (It was on this trip 
that he committed the murder before described.) This was the 
fatal admission on the part of the prisoner, as it completed the 
chain of evidence that linked him with the desperadoes whose 
crimes have given an unenviable notoriety to the neighboi'hood 
of that affluent of the Columbia — the dread of storm-stayed 
freighters and the grave of so many victims of marauders — Snake 
Eiver. 

Another meeting of the Executive Committee was called during 
the day, and after due deliberation, the verdict was unanimous, 
that he was a road agent, and that he should receive the just re- 
ward of his crimes, in the shape of the penalty attached to the 
commission of highway robbery and murder, by the citizens of 
Montana. After a long discussion, it was determined that he 
should be executed on the murderer's tree, in Dry Gulch, at an 
hour after midnight. The prison guards were doubled, and no 
person was allowed to hold converse with the prisoner, except by 
permission of the officers. 

The execution at night was determined upon for many suffi- 
cient reasons. A few of them are here stated : It had been abun- 
dantly demonstrated that but for the murder of Slater having 
occurred in open day, and before the eyes of a crowd of witnesses, 
Keene would have been rescued ; and the moral effect produced 
by a public execution, among the hardened sinners who compose 
a large part of the audience at such times, is infinitely less than 
the terror to the guilty, produced by the unannounced but inevit- 
able vengeance which may at any moment be visited upon their 
own heads. Such a power is dreaded most by those who fear its 
exercise. 

The desire to die game, so common to desperadoes, frequently 
robs death of half its terrors, if not of all of them, as in the case 
of Boone Helm, Bunton and others. Confessions are very rarely 
made at public executions in the mountains; though scarcely ever 
withheld at private ones. There are also many honest and up- 



180 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

right men who have a great objection to be telegraphed over the 
West as "strangiers," yet who would cheerfully sacrifice their 
lives rather than by word or deed become accessory to an unjusf 
sentence. The main question is the guilt of the prisoner. If this 
is ascertained without doubt, hour and place are mere matters of 
policy. Private executions are fast superseding public ones, in 
civilized communities. 

There is not now — and there never has been — one upright citi- 
zen in Montana, who has a particle of fear of being hanged by 
the Vigilance Committee. Concerning those whose conscience 
tells them that they are in danger, it is of little consequence when 
or where they suffer for the outrages they have committed. One 
private execution is a more dreaded and wholesome warning to 
malefactors than one hundred public ones. 

If it be urged that public executions are desirable from the 
notoriety that is ensured to the whole circumstances, it may fairly 
be answered that the action of Judge, and jury, and counsel is 
equally desirable, and, indeed, infinitely preferable, when it is 
effective and impartial, to any administration of justice by Vigi- 
lance Committees ; but, except in the case of renowned road agents 
and notorious criminals whose names are a by-word before their 
arrest, or where the crime is a revolting outrage, witnessed by a 
large number, the feeling of the community in a new camp is 
against any punishment being given, and the knowledge of this 
fact is the desperado's chief reliance for escape from the doom 
he has so often dared, and has yet escaped. 

"When informed of his sentence the prisoner seemed little af- 
fected by it, and evidently did not believe it, but regarded it as 
a ruse on the part of the Committee to obtain a confession from 
him. After the shades of night had settled down upon the town 
of Helena, a minister was invited to take a walk with an officer 
of the Vigilantes, and proceeded in his company to the cabin 
where Silvie was confined, and was informed of the object in view 
in requesting his attendance. He at once communicated the fact 
to the culprit, who feigned a good deal of repentance, received 
baptism at his own request, and appeared to pray with great fer- 
vor. He seemed to think that he was cheating the Almighty him- 
self, as well as duping the Vigilantes most completely. 

At length the hour appointed for the execution arrived, and 
the matter was arranged so that the prisoner should not know 
whither he was going until he came to the fatal tree. The Com- 
mittee were all out of sight, except one man, who led him by the 
arm to the place of execution, conversing with him in the Ger- 
man tongue, which seemed still further to assure him that it was 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA ISl 

all a solemn farce, and that he should "come out all right;" but 
when he found himself standing under the very tree on which 
Keene was hanged, and beheld the dark mass closing in on all 
sides, each man carrying a revolver in his hand, he began to 
realize the situation, and begged most piteously for his life, offer- 
ing to tell anything and everything, if they would only spare him. 
Being informed that that was "played out" and that he must die, 
his manner changed, and he began his confession. He stated that 
he had been in the business for twelve years, and repeated the 
story before related, about his being engaged in the perpetration 
of a dozen murders, and the final atrocity committed by him on 
Snake River. He stated that it was thought their victim was re- 
turning from the mines, and that he had plenty of money, which, 
on an examination of him after his death, proved to be a mistake. 

The long and black catalogue of his crimes was too much for 
the patience of the Vigilantes, who, though used to the confes- 
sions of ordinary criminals, were unprepared to hear from a man 
just baptized, such a fearful recital of disgusting enormities. They 
thought that it was high time that the world should be rid of 
such a monster and so signified to the chief, who seemed to be 
of the same opinion, and at once gave the order to "proceed with 
the execution." Seeing that his time was come, Silvie ceased his 
narrative and said to the men, "Boys, don't let me hang more 
than two or three days." He was told that they were in the 
habit of burying such fellows as him in Montana. The word "take 
hold" was given, and every man present "tailed on" to the rope 
which ran over the "limb of the law." Not even the chief was 
exempt, and the signal being given he was run up all standing — 
the only really merciful way of hanging. A turn or two was taken 
with the slack of the rope round the tree, and the end was be- 
layed to a knot which projects from the trunk. This being com- 
pleted, the motionless body was left suspended until life was sup- 
posed to be extinct, the Vigilantes gazing on it in silence. 

The two men were then detailed, and stood, with an interval 
of about two feet between them, facing each other. Between 
these "tt-tsters" marched every man present in single file, giving 
the pass-word of the organization in a low whisper. One man 
was found in the crowd who had not learned the particular "ar- 
ticulate sound representing an idea," which was so necessary to 
be known. He was scared very considerably when singled out 
and brought before the chief; but after a few words of essential 
preliminary precaution he was discharged, breathing more freely, 
and smiling like the sun after an April shower, with the drops 
of perspiration still on his forehead. 



182 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

The Committee gradually dispersed, not as usually is the case, 
with solemn countenances and thoughtful brows, but firmly and 
cheerfully ; for each man felt that his strain on the fatal rope was 
a righteous duty, and a service performed to the community. Such 
an incarnate fiend, they knew, was totally unfit to live, and un- 
worthy of sympathy. Neither courage, generosity, truth nor man- 
hood, pleaded for mercy in his case. He lived a sordid and red- 
handed robber, and he died unpitied the death of a dog. 

Very little action was necessary on the part of the Vigilance 
Committee to prevent any combination of the enemies of law and 
order from exerting a prejudicial influence on the peace and good 
order of the capital ; in fact the organization gradually ceased to 
exercise its functions, and though in existence its name more 
than its active exertions sufficed to preserve tranquillity. When 
Chief Justice Hosmer arrived in the Territory and organized the 
Territorial and County Courts he thought it his duty to refer to 
the Vigilantes in his charge to the Grand Jury, and invited them 
to sustain the authorities as citizens. The old guardians of the 
peace of the Territory were greatly rejoiced at being released 
from their onerous and responsible duties, and most cheerfully 
and heartily complied with the request of the Judiciary. 

For some months no action of any kind was taken by them ; 
but in the summer of 1865 news reached them of the burning and 
sacking of Idaho City, and they were reliably informed that an 
attempt would be made to burn Virginia also by desperadoes from 
the West. That this was true was soon demonstrated by ocular 
proof; for two attempts were made, though happily discovered 
and rendered abortive, to set fire to the city. In both cases 
the parties employed laid combustibles in such a manner that but 
for the vigilance and promptitude of some old Vigilantes a most 
destructive conflagration must have occurred in the most crowded 
part of the town. In one case the heap of chips and whittled 
w^ood a foot in diameter had burnt so far only as to leave a ring 
of the outer ends of the pile visible. In the other attempt a col- 
lection of old rags was placed against the wall of an out-building 
attached to the Wisconsin House, situated within the angle formed 
by the junction of Idaho and Jackson streets. Had this latter at- 
tempt succeeded it is impossible to conjecture the amount of 
damage that must have been inflicted upon the town, for frame 
buildings fifty feet high were in close proximity, and had they 
once caught fire, the flames might have destroyed at least half 
the business houses on Wallace. Idaho, and Jackson streets. 

At this time, too, it was a matter of every-day remark that 
Virginia was full of lawless characters, and manj^ of them think- 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 183 

ing that the Vigilantes were officially defunct, did not hesitate 
to threaten the lives of prominent citizens, always including in 

their accusations that they were strangling . This state of 

things could not be permitted to last ; and, as the authorities ad- 
mitted that they were unable to meet the emergency, the Vigi- 
lantes re-organized at once, with the consent and approbation of 
almost every good and order-loving citizen in the Territory. 

The effect of this movement was marvellous ; the roughs disap- 
peared rapidly from the town ; but a most fearful tragedy, enacted 
in Portneuf Canyon, Idaho, on the 13th of July, roused the citi- 
zens almost to frenzy. The Overland coach from Virginia to Salt 
Lake City was driven into an ambuscade by Prank Williams, and 
though the passengers were prepared for road agents, and fired 
simultaneously with their assailants, who were under cover and 
stationery, yet four of them, viz., A. S. Parker, A. J. McCausland, 
David Dinan and W. L. Mers were shot dead; L. F. Carpenter 
was slightly hurt in three places, and Charles Parks was appar- 
ently mortally wounded. The driver was untouched, and James 
Brown, a passenger, jumped into the bushes and got off unhurt. 
Carpenter avoided death by feigning to be in the last extremity, 
when a villain came to shoot him a second time. The gang of mur- 
derers, of whom eight were present at the attack, secured a booty 
of $65,000 in gold, and escaped undetected. 

A party of Vigilantes started in pursuit, but effected nothing, 
at the time ; and it was not till after several months ' patient work 
of a special detective from Montana, that guilt was brought home 
to the driver, who was executed by the Denver Committee on 
Cherry Creek. Eventually, it is probable that all of them will be 
captured, and meet their just doom. 

The last offenders who were executed by the Vigilance Commit- 
tee of Virginia City were two horse thieves and confessed road 
agents, named, according to their own account. John Morgan and 
John Jackson alias Jones. They were, however, of the "alias" 
tribe. The former was caught in the act of appropriating a horse 
in one of the city corrals. He was an old offender, and on his 
back were the marks of the whipping he received in Colorado for 
committing an unnatural crime. He was a low, vicious ruffian. 
His comrade was a much more intelligent man, and acknowledged 
the justice of his sentence without any hesitation. Morgan gave 
the names and signs of the gang they belonged to, of which Rat- 
tlesnake Dick was the leader. Their lifeless bodies were found 
hanging from a hay-frame, leaning over the corral fence at the 
slaughter-house, on the branch, about half a mile from the city. 
The printed manifesto of the Vigilantes was affixed to MIorgan's 



184 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

clothes, with the warning words written across it, "Road Agents, 
beware !" 

Outrages against person and property are still perpetrated oc- 
casionally, though much less frequently than is usual in settled 
countries ; and it is to be hoped that regularly administered law 
will, for the future, render a Vigilance Committee unnecessary. 
The power behind the throne of justice stands ready in Virginia 
City to back the authorities ; but nothing except grave public ne- 
cessity will evoke its independent action. 

The Vigilance Committee at Helena and at Diamond City, Con- 
federate Gulch, were occasionally called upon to make examples 
of irreclaimable, outlawed vagrants, who having been driven from 
other localities, first made their presence known in Montana by 
robbery or murder ; but as the lives and career of these men were 
low, obscure and brutal, the record of their atrocities and punish- 
ment would be but a dreary and uninteresting detail of sordid 
crime, without even the redeeming quality of courage or manhood 
to relieve the narrative. 

The only remarkable case was that of James Daniels, who was 
arrested for killing a man named Gartley with a knife near 
Helena. The quarrel arose during a game of cards. The Vigi- 
lantes arrested Daniels and handed him over to the civil authori- 
ties, receiving a promise that he should be fairly tried and dealt 
with according to law. In view of alleged extenuating circum- 
stances, the jury found a verdict of murder in the second degree 
(manslaughter). For this crime Daniels was sentenced to three 
years' incarceration in the Territorial prison by the Judge of the 
United States Court, who reminded the prisoner of the extreme 
lightness of the penalty as compared with that usually affixed 
to the crime of manslaughter by the States and Territories of 
the West. After a few weeks' imprisonment the culprit, who had 
threatened the lives of the witnesses for the prosecution during 
the trial, was set at liberty by a reprieve of the Executive, made 
under a probably honest, but entirely erroneous construction of 
the law, which vests the pardoning power in the President only. 
This action was taken on the petition of thirty-two respectable 
citizens of Helena. Daniels returned at once to the scene of his 
crime, and renewed his threats against the witnesses on his way 
thither. These circumstances coming to the ears of some of the 
Vigilantes, he was arrested and hanged the same night. 

The wife of Gartley died of a broken heart when she heard of 
the murder of her husband. Previous to the prisoner leaving Vir- 
ginia for Helena, Judge L. E. Munson went to the capital ex- 
pressly for the purpose of requesting the annulling of the re- 
prieve ; but this being refused, he ordered the rearrest, and the 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 185 

Sheriff having reported the fugitive's escape beyond his precinct, 
the Judge returned to Helena with the order of the Acting 
Marshal in his pocket, authorizing his Deputy to re-arrest Daniels. 
Before he reached town Daniels was hanged. 

That Daniels morally deserved the punishment he received there 
can be no doubt. That legally speaking he should have been un- 
molested is equally clear ; but when escaped murderers utter 
threats of murder against peaceable citizens mountain law is apt 
to be administered without much regard to technicalities, and 
when a man says he is going to kill any one, in a mining country, 
it is understood that he means what he says, and must abide the 
consequences. Two human beings had fallen victims to his thirst 
of blood — the husband and the wife. Three more were threat- 
ened; but the action of the Vigilantes prevented the commission 
of the contemplated atrocities. To have waited for the consum- 
mation of his avowed purpose, after what he had done before, 
would have been shutting the stable door after the steed was 
stolen. The politic and the proper course would have been to ar- 
rest him and hold him for the action of the authorities. 



Biographicai Notices of the Leading- Road Agents of Plummer's 

Band and Others, 

CHAPTER XXX. 

Henry Plummer. 

The following brief sketches of the career of crime which term- 
inated so fatally for the members of the road agent band, are in- 
troduced for the purpose of showing that they were nearly all 
veterans in crime before they reached Montana ; and that their 
organization in this Territory was merely the culminating of a 
series of high-handed outrages against the laws of God and man. 

Henry Plummer, the chief of the road agent band, the narrative 
of whose deeds of blood has formed the ground-work of this his- 
tory, emigrated to California in 1852. The most contradictory 
accounts of his place of birth and the scene of his early days are 
afloat ; upwards of twenty diffirent versions have been recom- 
mended to the author of this work, each claiming to be the only 
true one. The most probable is that he came to the West from 
Wisconsin. Many believe he was from Boston, originally ; others 
declare that he was an Englishman by birth, and came to Amer- 
ica when quite young. Be this as it may, it is certain, according 
to their testimony of one of his partners in business, that in 



186 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

company with Henry Hyer, he opened the "Empire Bakery," 
in Nevada. City, California, in the year 1853. 

Phimmer was a man of most insinuating address and gentle- 
manly manners under ordinary circumstances, and had the art 
of ingratiating himself with men and even with ladies and women 
of all conditions. Wherever he dwelt, victims and mistresses of 
this wily seducer were to be found. It was only when excited 
by passion that his savage instincts got the better of him and 
that he appeared — ^in his true colors — a very demon. In 1856 or 
1857, he was elected Marshal of the city of Nevada, and had many 
enthusiastic friends. He was re-elected and received the nomina- 
tion of the Democratic party for the Assembly near the close of 
his term of office ; but as he raised a great commotion by his 
boisterous demeanor, caused by his success they "threw off on 
him" and elected another man. 

Before the expiration of his official year, he murdered a Ger- 
man named Vedder, with whose wife he had an intrigue. He 
was one day prosecuting his illicit amours, when Vedder came 
home, and on hearing his footsteps, he went out and ordered him 
back. As the unfortunate man continued his approach, he shot 
him dead. For this offense, Plummer was arrested and tried, first 
in Nevada, where he was convicted and sentenced to ten years 
in the penitentiary ; and second, in Yuba County, on a re-hearing 
with a change of venue. Here the verdict was confirmed and 
he was sent to prison. 

After several months' confinement his friends petitioned for 
his release on the alleged ground that he was consumptive, and 
he was discharged with a pardon signed by Governor John P. 
Weller. He then returned to Nevada, and joined again with 
Hyer & Co. in the "Lafayette Bakery." 

He soon made a bargain with a man named Thompson, that 
the latter should run for the office of City Marshal, and if suc- 
cessful, that he should resign in Plummer 's favor. The arrange- 
ment became public and Thompson was defeated. 

Shortly after this, Plummer got into a difficulty in a house 
of ill-fame with a man from San Juan, and struck him heavily 
on the head with his pistol. The poor fellow recovered, appar- 
ently, but died about a year and a half afterward from the effect 
of the blow according to the testimony of the physician. 

Plummer went away for a few clays, and when the man recov- 
ered he returned, and walked linked with him through the streets. 
Plummer went over to "Washoe and joining a gang of road agents, 
he was present at the attack on Wells & Fargo 's bullion express. 
He leveled his piece at the driver, but the barrels fell off the 
stock, the key being out, and the driver lashing his horses into 
full speed escaped. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 187 

He stood his trial for this, and for want of legal proof was ac- 
quitted. He then returned to Nevada City. 

His next "difficulty" occurred in another brothel where he 
lived with a young woman as his mistress, and quarreled with a 
man named Ryder, who kept a prostitute in the same dwelling. 
This victim he killed with a revolver. He was quickly arrested 
and lodged in the county jail of Nevada. It is more than sup- 
posed that he bribed his jailer to assist him in breaking jail. Hith- 
erto, he had tried force ; but in this case fraud succeeded. He 
walked out in open day. The man in charge, who relieved an- 
other who had gone to his breakfast, declared that he could not 
stop him for he had a loaded pistol in each hand when he escaped. 

The next news was that a desperado named Mayfield had killed 
Sheriff Blackburn, whom he had dared to arrest him, by stabbing 
him to the heart with his knife. Of course Mayfield was immedi- 
ately taken into custody, and Plummer, who had lain concealed 
for some time, assisted him to get out of jail, and the two started 
for Oregon in company. To prevent pursuit, he sent word to the 
California papers that he and his comrade had been hanged in 
Washington Territory, by the citizens, for the murder of two men. 
All that he accomplished in Walla Walla was the seduction of a 
man's wife. He joined himself in Idaho to Talbert, alias Cherokee 
Bob, who was killed at Florence, on account of his connection 
with this seduction. Plummer stole a horse and went on the 
road. In a short time he appeared in Lewiston, and after a week's 
stay he proceeded with a man named Ridgley, to Orofino, where 
he and his party signalized their arrival by the murder of the 
owner of the dancing saloon during a quarrel. The desperado 
chief then started for the Missouri, with the intention of making 
a trip to the States. The remainder of his career has been al- 
ready narrated, and surely it must be admitted that this "per- 
fect gentleman" had labored hard for the death on the gallows, 
which he received at Bannack, on the 10th of January, 1864. 

As one instance of the many little incidents that so often change 
a man's destiny, it should be related that when Plummer sold out 
of the United States Bakery to Louis Dreifus, he had plenty of 
money and started for San Francisco, intending to return to the 
East. It is supposed that his infatuation for a Mexican courtesan 
induced him to forego his design and return to Nevada City. But 
for this trifling interruption, he might never have seen Montana, 
or died a felon's death. The mission of Delilah is generally the 
same, whether her abode is the vale of Sorek or the Rocky Moun- 
tains. 



188 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

CHAPTER XXXI. 
Boone Helm. 

This savage and defiant marauder, who died with profanity, 
blasphemy, ribaldry and treason on his lips, came to the West 
from Missouri in the spring of 1850. He separated from his wife, 
by whom he had one little girl, and left his home at Log Branch, 
Monroe County, having first packed up all his clothes for the 
journey. He went towards Paris, and, on his road thither, called 
on Littlebury Shoot, for the purpose of inducing him to go with 
him, in which he succeeeded. 

Boone was, at this time, a wild and reckless character, when 
inflamed by liquor, to the immoderate use of which he was much 
addicted. He sometimes broke out on a spree, and would ride his 
horse up the steps and into the Court House. Having arrived at 
Paris, Boone tried hard to persuade Shoot to accompany him to 
Texas, and it is believed that he obtained some promise from 
him to that effect, given to pacify him, he being drunk at the 
time, for Shoot immediately afterward returned home. 

About nine p. m. Boone came from town to Shoot's house and 
woke him up out of bed. The unfortunate man went out in his 
shirt and drawers to speak with him, and as he was mounted, he 
stepped on to a stile-block, placing his hand on his shoulder, con- 
versing with him in a friendly manner for a few minutes. Sud- 
denly, and without any warning of his intention, Boone drew his 
knife and stabbed Shoot to the heart. He fell instantly, and died 
before he could be carried into the house. He spoke only once, 
requesting to see his wife. The murderer rode off at full speed. 
It seems that Boone had quarreled with his wife, and was enraged 
with Shoot for not going with him to Texas, and that in revenge 
for his disappointment he committed the murder. Immediate pur- 
suit was made after the assassin. 

Mr. William Shoot, the brother of the deceased, was at that 
time living in the town of Hannibal, and immediately on receipt 
of the news he started in pursuit of the criminal. Boone Helm 
had, however, forty miles start of him; but such good speed did 
the avenger make, that pursuer and pursued crossed Grand 
Prairie together. Shoot arriving at Roachport and Boone Helm 
at Booneville, within the space of a few hours. Telegrams de- 
scriptive of the fugitive were sent in all directions, and were 
altered as soon as it was discovered that the murderer had 
changed his clothes. Shoot returned to Paris, and being deter- 
mined that Helm should not escape, he bought two horses and 
hired Joel Moppen and Samuel Querry to follow him, which com- 
mission they faithfully executed, coming up with their man in the 
Indian Territory. They employed an Indian and a Deputy Sheriff 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 189 

to take him, which they accordingly did. When ordered to sur- 
render, he made an effort to get at his knife ; but when the Sheriff 
threatened to shoot him dead if he moved, he submitted. He was 
brought back, and by means of the ingenuity of his lawyers, he 
succeeded in obtaining a postponement of his trial. He then ap- 
plied for a change of venue to a remote county, and at the next 
hearing the State was obliged to seek a postponement, on the 
ground of the absence of material witnesses. He shortly after 
appeared before a Judge newly appointed, and having procured 
testimony that his trial had been three times postponed, he was 
set free, under the laws of the State. 

He came to California and joined himself to the confraternity 
of iniquity that then ruled that country. He either killed or as- 
sisted at the killing of nearly a dozen men in the brawls so com- 
mon at that time in the Western country. In Florence, Idaho Ter- 
ritory, he killed a German called Dutch Fred, in the winter of 
1861-2. The victim had given him no provocation whatever; it 
was a mere drunken spree and "shooting scrape." 

He also broke jail in Oregon, a squaw with whom he lived fur- 
nishing him with a file for that purpose. He escaped to Carriboo. 
He was brought back ; but the main witnesses were away when 
the trial took place, and the civil authorities were suspected of 
having substantial reasons for letting him escape. He was con- 
sidered a prominent desperado, and was never known to follow 
any trade for a living, except that of road agent, in which he 
was thoroughly versed. 

Helm was a man of medium size, and about forty years old; 
hard-featured, and not intelligent looking. It was believed at 
Florence that a relative, known as "Old Tex," furnished money to 
clear him from the meshes of the law, and to send him to this 
country. If ever a desperado was all guilt and without a single 
redeeming feature in his character, Boone Helm was the man 

His last words were: "Kick away, old Jack; I'll be in h 1 

with you in ten minutes. Every man for his principles — hurrah 
for Jeff. Davis! let her rip." 

George Ives. 

We have only a few words to add to the account already given 
of this celebrated robber and murderer. He was raised at Ives' 
Grove, Racine County, Wisconsin, and was a member of a highly 
respectable family. It seems that life in the wild West gradually 
dulled his moral perceptions ; for he entered, gradually, upon the 
career of crime which ended at Nevada, M. T. His mother for a 
long time believed the account that he sent to her, about his mur- 
der by the hands of Indians, and which he wrote himself. It is 



190 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

reported that sorrow and death have been busy among his rela- 
tives ever since. 

Bill Bunton 

followed gambling as his regular calling, at Lewiston, Idaho, in 
the winter of 1861-2. In the summer of 1862, he shot a man named 
Daniel Cagwell, without provocation. There was a general fracas 
at a ball, held on Copyeye Creek, near Walla Walla. Bunton 
was arrested, but made his escape from the officer, by jumping 
on a fast horse and riding off at full speed. 

The first that was afterward heard of him was that he turned 
up in this country. In person, Bunton was a large, good-looking 
man, about thirty years of age, and rather intelligent. He had 
been for some years on the Pacific coast, where he had lived as a 
sporting man and saloon keeper. He was absolutely fearless, but 
was still addicted to petty theft, as well as to the greater enormi- 
ties of road agency and murder. His dying request, it will be 
remembered, was for a mountain to jump off, and his last words, 
as he jumped from the board, "Here goes it." 

Of Johnny Cooper we have already spoken. A word is neces- 
sary concerning the history of 

Aleck Carter, 

which forms a strong contrast to the others. It appears that 
for several years this eminent member of Plummer's band bore 
an excellent character in the West. He was a native of Ohio, 
but followed the trade of a packer in California and Oregon, 
maintaining a reputation for honor and honesty of the highest 
kind. Large sums of money were frequently entrusted to his care, 
for which he accounted to the entire satisfaction of his employers. 
He left the "other side" with an unstained reputation; but fall- 
ing into evil company in Montana, he threw off all recollections 
of better days, and was one of the leading spirits of the gang of 
marauders that infested this Territory. It is sad to think that 
such a man should have ended his life as a felon, righteously 
doomed to death on the gallows. 

Cyrus Skinner 

was a saloon-keeper in Idaho, and always bore a bad character. 
His reputation for dishonesty was well known, and in this coun- 
try he was a bloodthirsty and malignant outlaw, without a re- 
deeming quality. He was the main plotter of Magruder's murder. 

Bill Hunter. 

Probably not one of those who died for their connection with 
the road agent band was more lamented than Hunter. His life 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 191 

was an alternation of hard, honest work, and gambling. That 
he robbed and assisted to murder a Mormon, and that he was a 
member of the gang, there can be no doubt ; but it is certain that 
this was generally unknown, and his usual conduct was that of 
a kind-hearted man. He had many friends, and some of them 
still cherish his memory. He confessed his connection with the 
band, and the justness of his sentence just before his death. His 
escape from Virginia, through the pickets placed on the night of 
the 9th of January, 1864, was connived at by some of the Vigi- 
lantes, who could not be made to believe that he was guilty of 
the crimes laid to his charge. 

Stephen Marshland 

was a graduate of a college in the States; and, though a road 
agent and thief, yet he never committed murder, and was averse 
to shedding blood. He was wounded in attacking Forbes' train, 
and his feet were so far mortified by frost when he was captured 
that the scent attracted the wolves, and the body had to be 
watched all night. 

Concerning the rest of the gang nearly all that is known has 
already been related. They were, without exception, old offen- 
ders from the Pacific coast. The "bunch" on Ned Ray's foot was 
caused by a wound from a shot fired at him when escaping from 
the penitentiary at St. Quentin, California. This he told him- 
self, at Bannack. 

James Daniels. 

This criminal, the last executed by the Vigilantes, it should be 
generally understood, murdered a Frenchman in Tuolumne 
County, California, and chased another with a bowie-knife till his 
strength gave out. In Helena he killed Gartley, whose wife died 
of a broken heart at the news ; threatened the lives of the wit- 
nesses for the prosecution, and had drawn his knife, and con- 
cealed it in his sleeve, with the intent of stabbing Hugh O'Neil 
in the back, after the fight between Orem and Marley at the 
Challenge Saloon. He said he "would cut the heart out of the 

p !" when an acquaintance who was watching him caught hold 

of him and told him he was in the wrong crowd to do that. Daniels 

I renewed his threats w^hen liberated, and was hanged ; not because 
he was pardoned, but because he was unfit to live in the com- 
munity. 



k 



192 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

CHAPTER XXXin. 
Conclusion. 

"All's well that ends well/' says the proverb. Peace, order 
and prosperity are the results of the conduct of the Vigilantes; 
and, in taking leave of the reader, the author would commend to 
the sound sense of the community the propriety of maintaining 
in readiness for efficient action if needed, the only organization 
able to cope with the rampant lawlessness which will always be 
found in greater or less amount in mining camps. 

At the same time let the advice be well understood before it is 
either commented upon or followed. Readiness is one thing ; in- 
termeddling is another. Only on occasions of grave necessity 
should the Vigilantes let their power be known. Let the civil 
authority, as it increases in strength, gradually arrogate to itself 
the exclusive punishment of crime. This is what is needed, and 
what every good citizen must desire ; but let the Vigilantes, with 
bright arms and renewed ammunition, stand ready to back the 
law; and to bulwark the Territory against all disturbers of its 
peace, when too strong for legal repression, and when it fails or 
is unable to meet the emergency of the hour. Peace and justice 
we must have, and it is what the citizens will have in this com- 
munity ; through the courts if possible ; but peace and justice are 
rights, and courts are only means to an end, admittedly the very 
best and most desirable means ; and if they fail, the people, the 
republic that created them, can do their work for them. Above 
all things, let the resistless authority of the Vigilantes, whose 
power reaches from end to end of Montana, be never exerted ex- 
cept as the result of careful deliberation, scrupulous examination 
of fair evidence, and the call of imperative Necessity; which, as 
she knows no law, must judge without it, taking Justice for her 
counsellor and guide. 

Less than three years ago, this home of well-ordered industry, 
progress and social order, was a den of cut-throats and murderers. 
Who has affected the change? The Vigilantes; and there is noth- 
ing on their record for which an apology is either necessary or 
expedient. Look at Montana, that has a committee ; and turn to 
Idaho, that has none. Our own peaceful current of Territorial 
lifs runs smoothly, and more placidly, indeed, than the Eastern 
states today ; but in Idaho, one of their own papers lately asserted 
that in one county sixty homicides had been committed, without 
a conviction; and another declares that the cemeteries are full 
of the corpses of veterans in crime and their victims. 

Leave us the power of the people as a last resort ; and, where 
governments break down, the citizens will save the State. No 
man need be ashamed of his connection with the Virginia Vigi- 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 193 

lantes. Look at their record and say if it is not a proud one. It 
has been marvelous that politics have never intinided into the 
magic circle ; yet so it is, has been, and probably will be. Men 
of all ranks, ages, nations, creeds and politics are among them ; 
and all moves like a clock, as can be seen on the first alarm. Forti- 
fied in the right, and acting in good conscience, they are "just, 
and fear not." Their numbers are great; in fact, it is stated that 
few good men are not in their ranks, and the presence of the 
most respectable citizens make their deliberation calm, and the 
result impartially just. 

In presenting this work to the people, the author knows full 
well that the great amount of labor bestowed upon it is no recom- 
mendation of its excellence to a public that judges of results and 
not of processes ; but one thing is sure ; so far as extended re- 
search and a desire to tell the truth can affect the credibility 
of such a narrative, this history has been indited subject to both 
these regulations, since the pen of the writer gave the first chap- 
ter to the public. 

If it shall serve to amuse a dull hour, or to inform the residents 
of the Eastern states and of other lands of the manners and habits 
of the mountaineers, and of the life of danger and excitement that 
the miners in new countries have to lead before peace and order 
are settled on an enduring foundation — the author is satisfied. 
If in any case his readers are misinformed, it is because he has 
been himself deceived. 

As a literary production he will be rejoiced to receive the entire 
silence of critics as his best reward. He knows full well what 
criticism it deserves, and is only anxious to escape unnoticed. And 
now, throwing down his pencil, he heaves a sigh of relief, thank- 
fully murmuring, "Well, it is done at last." 
pi' . • 



INTRODUCTORY 

To the people of Southern Montana, the cradle of our State, to 
the men and women who bore all of the early hardships, who 
never flinched when a duty was to be performed ; who drove the 
Ked man from his hunting grounds, and the robbers from their 
roosts, I dedicate this short history of those early days. 

I want to thank Mr. Charles Beehrer, for throwing light on men 
and things never before published; Judge H. M. Lott, John P. 
Bishop, A. F. Graeter, John C. Innes, James Kirkpatrick and W. 
B. Carter for early day stories ; F. L. Graves Jr., for pictures ; 
George R. Metlen for kindly help ; Jay Baker and Charlie Conger 
for records ; Mrs. Walter Scott of Armstead for information ; Ed 
Hart of Virginia City, for valuable material which he alone could 
furnish ; and particularly Miss Myrl Erwin for assisting in gath- 
ering information and preparing my manuscript for the printer; 
last, but not least, the many boys of Beaverhead who have 
made it possible by their words of encouragement and financial 
assistance, especially T. J. Murray, Harry Gilbert and Gov. B. F. 
White for the money with which to carry the work to a successful 
termination. 

Friendship is better than a bank because it purchases many 
moments of contentment unknown to him with gold alone. 

AL NOYES. 



HISTORY OF SOUTHERN MONTANA 

CHAPTER I, 
Early History, 

I would not attempt to write the history of Montana. History 
is simply his-story, and from personal experience, I know that 
he is a composite character that hears with many ears, and sees 
with imperfect vision, the multitude of things that have taken 
place during the fleating years of his existence. 

Several people have given to the world a story of Montana. 
Some of these so-called historians have never breathed one breath 
of the pure air of our mountains and plains, nor gazed with rap- 
ture on the wonderful mountain peaks, that lift their heads to- 
ward the sun, bidding it wreath them with hues so glorious that 
they become wonderful pictures — pictures that no painter in his 
right mind, would try to produce with any accuracy. They have 
never gazed on the beautiful lakes that lie embedded in mountain 
gorge, nor listened to the song of the running stream, as it rushes 
gladly to join the river that is soon to mingle with the "Father 
of Waters," on its way to the great salt sea. Much has been of 
such a nature, that it is contradicted by those who claim to know 
the facts. Much of it is true, and no fault can be found, other 
than that there was not enough detail to satisfy the minds of 
those who were more exacting. 

In my work, I shall try to give as many facts of actual things 
as have come to my knowledge, either by an examination of old 
records, or from personal talks with some of the men who helped 
to make the history of Southern Montana. I want to place before 
the people many things never before published; I want to give 
men credit for having helped in various ways, in the up-building 
of the State so many of us have learned to love, and into whose 
care we desire to entrust all that is left of us, when we cease to 
enjoy its many blessings. 

That I will leave out much that some of you will want to know, 
goes without saying, because we only choose those things that 
appeal to us, personally, as being apt to be of worth to others. 
Another thing, we cannot make this work too long, because our 
main object is to republish the book of Thomas Dimsdale, the 
first man to write the story of the thrilling days of 1863 and 1864. 



198 THE VIGILANTES OP MONTANA 

MONTANA. 

The name is of Latin origin, meaning mountainous. The La 
Verendrye were probably the first white men to see the Rocky 
Mountains in 1743, and no other known whites came until the 
Lewis & Clark expeditions in 1805. 

I am not attempting to write the story of the first settlement 
of the state, as that can be found in the several works already 
before the public. 

After the Mormons had settled Utah, and people had begun to 
cross the plains for the mines in California, some daring whites 
had settled in the Bitter Root, and near where Missoula is now. 
That the first man to take a wagon through Southern Montana 
was Emmanuel Martin, a Mexican, who, according to Judge 
Frank H. Woody, did so in the early fifties, there can be no 
doubt. 

There is no story of anyone to tell us who came to look on this 
section between 1806 and 1850. Trappers may have hunted on the 
extreme head waters of the Missouri, and have left no sign. 

The lone sentinel that has stood guard over this gateway to a 
new commonwealth, that saw the first white men as they pushed 
and hauled their boats up the Jefferson and Beaverhead ; that saw 
them when they disappeared over the main range into Idaho, and 
gazed on the fragment that returned via the Big Hole, after hav- 
ing seen the glories of the Pacific, holds her secret as did the 
Sphinx of old. 

The same sentinel saw the trapper, if he came at all ; saw Martin 
as he struggled with his wagon over a new roadway; she saw 
Captain Mullan in 1853, as he wended his way on horseback down 
the lonely banks of the Grasshopper, until he, too, disappeared 
over the mountain pass at Monida. She saw that other party 
that found the first gold on the Big Hole, in 1862. and watched 
in breathless awe, John White dig the first pan of dirt that was 
to change conditions, and furnish men to scratch her hide and 
dig for wealth in her own vitals. Yes. only a sentinel knowing, 
but not divulging, stands old Baldy, queen of a Montana range. 

That gold was found on Gold Creek is no part of this tale. What 
we desire to learn is who were the men that found gold in Old 
Beaverhead, the cradle of our state. 

In ''The Story of Ajax," I saw, in my imagination, the pros- 
pectors as they wended their way up Dehlonaga, and came to the 
headwaters of the Ruby. As Granville Stuart was considered an 
authority, I gave his version (with that of Lou Smith, also). As 
to the parties who were fortunate enough to find the first gold in 
paying quantities, Granville said Jack Slack and party. This has 









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THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 199 

left the wrong impression on the pages of early Montana history, 
and I am onl}^ too glad to be the one to rectify it. 

About the 9th day of July, 1862, M. H. Lott, Hiram Conley and 
the Woods Brothers, followed up the North Fork of the Salmon 
river, to the head of the main divide between Idaho and Montana, 
and on the 10th, they found gold on Ruby, or Pioneer Creek. Some 
of them stayed to open the ground, while the remainder left for 
Old Fort Lemhi to get their teams, which had been left there 
while they went out on their prospecting trip. Judge Lott was 
one of them that returned for the teams. 

You must remember that there were no roads in those days 
over the nearest trail that would take them back through the 
Grasshopper, into the Big Hole prairie, where they would have a 
possible chance of getting their wagons to the mines. The only 
way to keep their wagons from upsetting was to place both hind 
wheels on the same side of the wagon. This was done, and they 
succeeded in getting up the hill. They arrived safely at the new 
find, and at once put up a saw pit, and Lott and Dave Dunkleburg 
proceeded to make the first lumber of Beaverhead County. On 
the 16th, they had sluice boxes set and were washing out gold. 
Lott believes these to have been the first sluice boxes. Granville 
Stuart claims that his party began in May, two months before. 
Judge Lott says he will not quarrel over this matter, because he 
wishes the honor to fall where due. 

Lott and Dunkleberg continued to saw for the trade, and sold 
at 30c per foot, and made $30.00 each per day, in this very, very 
trying occupation — making lumber with a whip saw. Judge said 
that Dave took the under side. 

The miners were taking out from $25.00 to $75.00 per day, per 
company of eight men. Only a short time after this discovery, 
others came and took up claims near them. Unfortunately, for 
the first men, they did not find the richest ground. There was at 
no time many men in Pioneer Basin. (See Judge Lott's story). It 
was no secret that Lott's party had found pay dirt. John White, 
the man who found White's bar on Grasshopper, was hunting for 
Lott when he, on July 28th. panned the first dirt that was actually 
to change the conditions, and allow white men to take the place 
once only occupied by the Indians. As White's story has been 
told by Dimsdale and Langford, I shall not comment on it, or 
try to throw any light on it. I shall, however, give a copy of the 
laws that were adopted by the miners ' meeting, for their guidance, 
to show that their desire was to live with some assurance of peace- 
able settlements of troubles that might arise. 

The news that diggings had been discovered on the Grasshop- 
per, soon was wafted by the four winds of heaven, in every direc- 
tion, and men. who had Florence in view, turned from that trail 



200 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

and came to cast their lots with the others in this new Eldorado. 
Stapleton had come and found a bar that was to be known by his 
name. 

Dr. Glick had left Colorado to mingle with the adventurous 
spirits of this section, and men, who were to fill big spaces in 
state and nation, had gathered, before a year had gone by at 
Bannack. 

No matter that Benetsee and the Stuarts had found gold in 
Deer Lodge Valley, the richer pay on Willard's Creek weaned 
them from their first love, and forced them, too, to take their 
abode in what was to become Montana's first capital. There were 
many adventurous persons in that crowd that were to lay a foun- 
dation for stories that, though, true, would have better never been 
written. 

That men will gather where gold is found, we know full well, 
and as men are the makers of history, they must be made of 
peculiar stuff. It would have added little to the literature of 
this state, if all of these men had been good. The element that 
came to the gold mines in those days, that had no regard for the 
rights of others, has made the first settlement of Montana one of 
deep interest to the historian. I do not care to dwell long on 
them, as their lives have been well covered by Dimsdale and Lang- 
ford. My idea is to record some of the acts of men who came 
here — really for gold — but to live to build up a commonwealth, of 
which we are not ashamed. Soon after the gold excitement, we 
find that men must turn their attentions to other matters. Mat- 
ters that had connection with, and would help to further the gold 
hunter, to make a success. Mines cannot be conducted to any 
great extent, with the gold pan, or even the rocker. Ditches, for 
ground sluicing, must be dug, and we find that it does not take 
long for these men to organize into companies in order to fetch 
the water to the claim. 



CHAPTER II. 

The First Charter. 

Harry Phleger got busy mighty early in the game, as we find 
that. "We, the undersigned, miners of the district Northwest on 
Grasshopper Creek, do hereby grant unto Harry Phleger, of the 
same place the full and exclusive privilege of running a ditch 
from a point commencing two miles above the upper end of the 
canyon, and running on the south side of Grasshopper Creek down 
to the south side of Grasshopper Creek, down to the east or lower 
line of district, for the purpose of supplying the miners of said 
district with water for mining purposes. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 201 

The said Phleger may also carry water from said ditch across 
the Grasshopper Creek at any point he may think proper, for the 
purpose of supplying miners who may desire water. Provided 
that the said Phleger shall use reasonable dispatch and bring in 
water and complete said ditch, as soon as practicable. 

This gi'ant or charter to take effect from the 30th day of 
August, 1862, at which time said ditch was marked out, and 
staked by said Phleger. 

Recorded September 23rd, 1862. 

J. HURST, Recorder. 

Per A. STANLEY. 

When you take into consideration that gold had only been dis- 
covered July 28th, the above instrument shows that people had 
gathered in Bannack to such an extent that they had had time 
to organize into a little government, which was a true Democracy. 
The laws that governed those people at that particular time, were 
founded on common sense, and free from technicality. No lawyer 
was allowed to participate in the settlement of a dispute. Phleger, 
for some reason, sold on September 28th, one-tenth interest in 
above ditch, to Joseph Clark for $100.00; to George Copley, 
October 9th, two-tenths ; and to McLean and Stapleton one-tenth, 
November 30th. 1862. This was no doubt done in order to get 
these men to help push the work. We find no record as to when 
this ditch was finished. We do know, however, that it was not 
the first as, according to Augustus F. Graeter,* A. F. Graeter. A. 
J. Smith and George Copley took out the first mining ditch at 
Bannack. This ditch was taken out of Sage Brush Creek, and came 
to Yankee Flat, the water having been turned from Buffalo Creek 
into Sage Creek. 

This ditch was brought in for ground that these men had on 
the bar south of the flat. When the water was turned in, it came 
to a point on the hill near Bannack in good shape, but from there 
on the ditch was found to be up grade, and the water got sore— at 
any rate, it refused to run up hill. 

W. C. Rheim drew what was probably the first cartoon in Mon- 
tana — a large pump, with George Copley as the motive power, 
trying to force water up hill. 

It was really no laughing matter, a mistake of this kind, as 
everything was high in those days, and though a man was doing 
his work, the expenses were of some magnitude. 

The names of the miners that left an impress on the pages of 
that early history should not be forgotten. That John White dis- 
covered the gold on Grasshopper, there is no doubt, but the first 
man to pan out one dollar was Charlie Reville, No. 33, above disc. 



_ * Graeter is mistaken in this matter. James H. Morlev had his ditch 
built first. 



202 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

He used the lid of a camp kettle for his pan. William Still was 
also a character in this party. "Still" was a nickname given him 
because he was so quiet. This name hung to him so well that 
deeds were made out to him in that way. E. D. Leavitt, 35 above, 
August 30th, 1862. On the old records, of White's District, we 
find the following : John White has recorded one discovery 
claim, known as the first discovery on Grasshopper Creek. Said 
claim is situated at a point known as Cedar Tree Point. August 
30th, 1862. Discovered July 28. 

R. T. HARRIS, Recorder. 

The first deed in Southern Montana was made on August 30th, 
1862, when H. C. Lynch sold to John White, the discoverer of the 
gulch, Claim No. 44 above discovery for $10.00 — the very day 
when it was recorded. Different locations were known by the 
name of lucky finder. Jimmie's Bar was discovered by James 
Griffeths, or Adobe Jim, because he used to make adobe brick. 
It was one of the best known on the Creek, and some of the men 
known to later Montana, and especially Beaverhead County, had 
claims there. 

William L. Farlin, who later was to put Butte on the map, had 
No. 12 below discovery, October 23rd, 1862. John C. Innes, still 
identified with Bannack, also had a claim. Judge M. H. Lott was 
on this bar. 

Areighi's Bar was discovered by John Areighi, William Roe and 
Jim Harby, September 16th, 1862. 

Geary discovered his claim early in August. A. F. Graeter took 
19 below, September 1st. 1862. Barney Hughes recorded No. 6, 
below on Geary's Bar, October 14, 1862, and George Orr had No. 
2 above. 

I find that one of the first purchases by a woman, of a mining 
claim, was when A. J. Smith and A. Stanley sold No. 17, below 
discovery on Geary's Bar, to Annette Stanley, for $20.00. 

Wash. Stapleton discovered the bar that was to bear his name, 
August 23rd, 1862. This bar was on the south side of Grasshop- 
per, just across the creek from the present town of Bannack. 

Con Kohrs had 45 above, October 24th, 1862. 

N. P. Langford 39 above, October 27th, 1862. 

R. C. Knox, 22 above, October 25th, 1862. 

Ase Stanley, 61 above, October 24th, 1862. 

Henry Zollor, 62 above, November 1st, 1862. 

These men were to make history for Montana. Kohrs was to 
become identified as a big stock grower, who was to own the 
famous Johnnie Grant ranch, near what afterwards was to be- 
come Deer Lodge, whose blooded cattle and horses were to be 
known all over the state, and he was also to become instrumental. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 203 

with his half brother, John Bielenberg, in erecting, 1914, a beauti- 
ful building for the Y. M. C. A. in Helena. 

Langford was to record in the "Vigilantes Days and Ways," 
some of the most thrilling episodes of a time, that was the wildest 
and most peculiar in the up-building of the west. 

Judge Knox was to become a Probate Judge in Butte years 
after. Ase Stanley was to become a merchant, and Henry Zollor 
was to be the first Treasurer of Beaverhead County, and probably 
the first in the state. Yes, those men of Bannack were making 
history. Every day they were making interesting reading. 



CHAPTER m. 

Lumber. 



The first lumber to be cut was in Lumber Gulch, that heads 
up near Blue Wing (so named for a quartz mine afterwards dis- 
covered), and comes into the Grasshopper between Bannack and 
Marysville. This was cut by a man named Oris — -a Dane or 
Swede. It seems a peculiar thing that on the 13th day of No- 
vember, 1862, the Pioneer Milling and Mining Company located 
Godfrey's Canyon, and R. C. Knox, the Point of Rocks, on Grass- 
hopper, calling it Split Rock Mill Site. It also seems that William 
Sturgis had located the Point of Rocks three days before Knox, 
and we also find that Sturgis did not build the mill, but that John 
Carrico and John Scudder did, as there is a mortgage on record 
when Sturgis gave a mortgage deed to Carrico and Scudder, and 
describes it as a certain mill that he had purchased from said 
Carrico and Scudder. There can be no doubt but what Langford. 
Godfrey and Con Bray — the Pioneer Milling Company — got their 
mill up first, as lumber was hauled from Bannack to Virginia the 
next year. Sturgis ' mill was in use on the creek after the Godfrey 
mill was dismantled. It consisted of an upright saw, that was not 
very rapid in its travels — going up one day and probably return- 
ing the next. Book B. Bannack Dist., page 75. 

First Timber Reserved by William Sturgis. 

The owners of the Rock Point Mill, claim for the use of said 
mill the timber which is on the following described tract of land: 
Commencing at a stake on the north side of a small gulch, or 
ravine, running a south course across said gulch to a stake near 
the divide, or top of first slope, thence westerly, about two miles 
to stake, thence north one mile to a stake, thence east to place of 
beginning ; said gulch comes out of the West mountain about one 
mile north of the Pioneer Gulch. The owners of the Rock Point 



204 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

Mill, also claim the exclusive right to a road, which they are mak- 
ing up said gulch. October 10, 1863. 

WILLIAM STURGIS. 

There is no man alive, today, who can tell who built the first 
house on Grasshopper. John C. Innes and Augustus F. Graeter, 
men that were there early in '62, cannot tell. It was several miles 
below the town of Bannack, where "White found gold, and below 
a canyon that was impassable for wagons. When Bannack was 
located, owing to the rich bar found by Wash. Stapleton, there 
was a bar on the north side of the creek, that was the result of the 
material washed out of what was after to become Hang Man's 
Gulch. On the south side of the stream was a considerable flat, 
where most of the people camped, called later, Yankee Mat. This 
was to become the place where the town was to begin, but which, 
owing to the rich bars that were later to be found on that side, 
to become abandoned, as the tailings covered it. 

The Salt Lake road came down the hill that was just west of 
this flat, and continued to be the main thoroughfare for years, 
until it, too, was to be washed down by Smith and Graeter, with 
their big ditch from Horse Prairie. 

People were too busy trying to make money to think of build- 
ing houses, because, as Mr. John Innes said, "I came to Bannack 
on September 8th, 1862, with Woodmansee Brothers' train, ten 
teams loaded with supplies. There was no house in Bannack. 
Neil Howie was with our party." 

As soon as it began to turn cold, all got busy, and just who was 
fortunate enough to get under a roof first, no one can tell. In 
building their houses, they would take any land not before pre- 
empted, and describe it from some natural object, or from some 
claim already taken. As for example, ''Conrad Kohrs claimed 
for building purposes 50 feet front, 150 deep, on the south side of 
Main Street, opposite to Crawford's (this was Hank) lot, Bannack 
City, October 22nd, 1862. 

Henry Plummer bought. May 23rd, 1863, of Aug. V. Allen, lot 
No. 10, on Second Cross Street, in Bannack City, consideration 
$25.00. In this way Bannack began to grow, until October 6th, 
1862, when a Towusite Company was formed by William Clancey, 
Henry Phleger, C. W. Howard, Ivan B. Moore, G. W. Stapleton, 
J. Russell, Samuel McLean, Joseph Hurst, William Gibson, E. D. 
Leavitt, J. W. Geary, N. W. Burns, W. H. Bell, F. R. Madison, W. 
C. Rheem, A. Hellman, George Gibson, Asle Stanley and A. J. 
Thomas, described as follows, to-wit : 

Commencing at a stake situated about one-half mile up 
Grasshopper Creek, and on the south bank from the flag staff, 
being at the south end of Happy Valley; thence running three- 
quarter miles southerly to a stake; thence westerly at right an- 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 205 

gles one and one-half miles to a stake ; thence northerly at right 
angles one and one-half miles to a stake ; thence at right angles 
easterly one and one-half miles to a stake ; thence southerly at 
right angles three-quarters of a mile, to the commencement point, 
containing 1,240 acres, be the same more or less lying and being 
on both sides of Grasshopper Creek. No claim to said land, or the 
water running through said tract, save for toAvn purposes. 

October 6th, 1862. 

NORTHWESTERN MINING DIST. 
JOSEPH HURST, Rec. 

Per G. W. STAPLETON. 

R. P. Eaton recorded a lot October 19th, 1862. James Stuart 
claimed his lot west of G. W. Stanley, October 21st, 1862. It ap> 
pears that from October 19th, to October 22nd, was the busy 
time for locating building lots. Size of lots were 50x150. L. 
L. Blake chose his the 17th, and Bill Goodrich and G. W. Gallaway 
also on that date. While the first town lot that was described by 
a plat was taken by Cornelius Bray, December 1st, 1862, as fol- 
lows : Lot No. 14, Block 7, in West Bannack, northwest corner 
of Washinerton and Second Streets. N. P. Langford also took a 
lot the same day. Then we find that Jim Bozeman sold his lot 
and house logs on October 24th, 1862, to Woody and Stuart. 



CHAPTER IV. 

The Lost City. 



Be it known that we, J. T. Conner, Sidney Edgerton, L. C. Mil- 
ler, and George Chrisman, our associates and successors, have 
this day and by these presents claimed and taken possession of 
and claim the following tract of land, for a town site, to be known 
under the name of Empire City, to-wit : Commencing on the east 
fork, a distance of one mile, including eighty rods on each side of 
fork, all in Beaverhead County, and we hereby give notice and 
declare our intentions to improve the said track and to pre-empt 
the same by virtue of the laws of the United States, in such cases 
provided, whenever said land shall be subject thereto. 

Done at Empire City. Beaverhead County, Montana Territory, 
July 14th, A. D. 1864. 

Witness our hands, 

J. T. CONNER. 
SIDNEY EDGERTON. 
L. C. MILLER. 
GEORGE CHRISMAN. 



206 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

No one can tell where this city (?) was. Probably the parties, 
owing to the peculiar manner of the description, lost it soon after, 
and were never able to locate it. Too bad. 

The town of Montana, now Argenta, was pre-empted by Henry 
Lovewell, once a partner of Senator W. A. Clark, James Doty, 
Samuel McLean, Edwin R. Purple, Gov. E. M. Polinger, Sidney 
Edgerton, George W. Stapleton, A. K. Eaton, William H. Miller, 
"William Beeker, Samuel W. Bachelder, G. Marvis, George Brown, 
"Walter C. Hopkins, B. S. Peabody, Joseph A. Brown, Alex May- 
hew, Tom Pitt, David H. Hopkins, John P. Barttelson, Cyrus P. 
Gilbert, Col. Jarrow, Darius Hunkins, Frederick Butterfield, 
James Tuffs, Nathaniel L. Davis, James Coburn, and "William 
Babbet. 

People flocked to Argenta on account of the rich ore that had 
been found. It seems to be impossible to find the name of the 
party that discovered the first claim. "We know that it must have 
been prior to June 30th, 1864, as on that date, C. I. Ream, J. A. 
Brown, A. J. Oliver, B. F. McKay and Dr. E. D. Leavitt claimed 
1,000 feet, as a water claim for milling and mining purposes. A 
very little placer mining had been done, even before that. 

The Marquis lode was the first that I can find on record, though 
no doubt, some other must have been located (I am told that it 
was the Legal Tender). 

"William Becker claimed the Discovery on the Marquis, with the 
following as co-claimants : 

"William Becker, George Brown, "William H. Miller, Prof. A. K. 
Eaton, J. Kennedy & J. G. Gill, W. F. Sanders & Armitage, L. 
C. Miller, Miss L. A. Darling, "William Chumasero, G. E. Upson, 
F. M. Thompson, G. Morris, E. Marley, G. D. French, Harry Neil 
& Co., A. C. McMilland, Bartholomew, Elgin Moore, L. A. Gridley, 
S. Edgerton, T. C. Evarts. 

Located July 21st, 1864. 

Now, you must not become impressed with the fact that they 
found ore at Montana City, before they found it in any other place 
in the Territory. Our old friend, Orrin D. Farlin, commonly 
called ''Quartz Farlin," a brother of "William L. Farlin, of Butte 
fame, was a fiend for lode discoveries. On the 15th day of Oc- 
tober, 1862, the "Kammas" Lode was discovered by Orrin D. 
Farlin, which gives him the honor of having found and recorded 
the first claim containing ore, in the state. Nothing has been 
heard of the ''Kammas" to lead one to suppose that Farlin was 
fortunate in its discovery. Next we find that the French Lode 
was located on November 2nd, by Oudin and Pequgnot. The 
Minnesota on the 9th, and the Dakota, November 12, 1862. 

"We notice that P. Breakfast, a person who surely had one meal 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 207 

with him each day, located No. 8 easterly, from discovery on the 
French. 

The Dakota was to make history. It was on this lead that 
Frank Allen was to build the first quartz mill in Montana. It 
was discovered by Charles Benson. H. Porter, E. Porter and C. W. 
Place. Probably the first Sheriff's deed on record in Montana, 
was the sale of a certain piece of property, described as follows : 
The undivided one-quarter interest in and to claim No. 9, west, 
on the Dakota Lode, Idaho Territory, on August 3rd, 1863, by 
Henry Plummer. Sheriff, to Moses Burris and J. D. Ritchie, to 
satisfy a judgment of Moses Burris, Plaintiff, against John Ault. 
Execution issued out of the Miners' Court, Bannack District. We 
also find that Power of Attorney was given by H. Plummer to 
George Chrisman, to settle with parties who owed him $3,500.00, 
on half interest in No. 7, Dakota lode, on December 27th, 1863, 
recorded January 2nd, 1864 — eight days before Plummer was 
hung. If Henry had been wise, he would have left Montana. As 
to this particular matter, I can find no final accounting with the 
Probate Court of Beaverhead, by Chrisman. 



CHAPTER V. 
First Probate Judge. 

The First Probate Judge of Beaverhead was the Hon. John C. 
Taylor. 

First matter of business: Notice of application of George C. 
Chrisman, to be appointed administrator of the estate of George 
Carhart. 

AMOS W. HALL, Clerk. 

May 16th, 1864, sufficient notice has been given of application 
for letters of administration, on the estate of George Carhart, de- 
ceased, to be granted by county to George Chrisman. 

Smith Ball : Sworn and testified that George Carhart came to 
his death by a pistol shot, about the 20th* day of May, 1863. 
George Chrisman, sworn as administrator of estate of George Car- 
hart, and says that he owned No. 7, west from Discovery on Da- 
kota Lode, the value of said claim to be about $6,000.00, also a 
ranch, but does not know the value of it. Claims of about $2,000.00 
to $2,500.00 against estate, and without will. Andy Lutzi said 
that Carhart verbally gave some part of it (No. 7), to Henry 
Plummer, but does not know how much. The bond required was 
only $100.00. 



* May 17th is exact date. 



208 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

The St. Paul was another lode. This was of importance, be- 
cause of the names of the men who recorded claims. It was dis- 
covered and recorded January 30th, 1864, by John Marry and G. 
W. Biddle, with such men as Gov. Edgerton, Wilbur F. Sanders, 
Amos W. Hall, Armitage, David Morgan, E. D. Leavitt, Louis 
McMurtey, F. M. Thompson, John Creighton, Mary Burk, Phil. 
Lovell, George W. Dart, 46 claims in all having been recorded. 
At this writing, it belongs to A. F. Graeter, et al. 



CHAPTER VI. 
Jeff. Davis G-ulch. 



In looking over the old records, we find that the miners were 
compelled to resort to almost any book they could find, no matter 
for what purpose may have been its former use. The oldest of 
these was the one used by the miners of Jeff Davis Gulch. It 
was the property of A. Graham, who, in 1856, was running the 
Graham House in Grand Gulf — as we find March 27th, 1856 : 

William Olcott, Hors, pd. 15 cents. 

P. Bellamy, S., pd. 70 cents. 

Wm. Knight, dead head. 

There came a day in Jeff Davis Gulch — to be exact, Sunday, 
July 4th, 1863, when the miners of Prospect District wished to 
hold a meeting, and make laws for its government. You can 
imagine that the following took place. Some one said: "How 
can we record the laws we are about to make?" "Why, I have 
an old account book, that I had years ago, when I had a little 
hotel in Grand Gulf. It is no good to me." So, in that way, 
Graham's old Hotel Ledger is today to be found in the vault in 
Old Beaverhead Court House, with the stuff that was of most 
vital interest, to the men who for years were to mine of the head- 
waters of Horse Prairie Creek. This man Graham was elected 
President of that meeting, and as such, signed the first 13 sections 
that were to help govern the district. On the 13th of July, a meet- 
ing was called at the request of certain parties (names not re- 
corded), for the purpose of having a portion of the District set off 
from this district, to be known as Jeff Davis Gulch, and its drain- 
age. 

The first quartz claim recorded in Horse Prairie, was by H. 
Monfortin. They held a miners' meeting, and framed laws to 
cover such claims. They considered it real estate, and not subject 
to forfeiture. No person was required to perform any work on 
a pre-emption claim, to enable him to hold it as real estate. 

COL. VITAL JERROT, President. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 209 

We find the following very interesting entry : 

This is to certify that W. A. Clark has this day pre-empted 
claim No. 30, above discovery, on Solomon's Bar, Colorado Gulch, 
Prospect District, August 7th, 1863. 

Gus Graeter says: "I remember well seeing W. A. Clark, a 
little red-headed fellow, with his pack on his back, the day he 
left Bannack for Jeff Davis Gulch. He was wearing a soldiers' 
overcoat, with one of the tails gone, that was said to have been 
caused by getting too close to a camp fire, sometime when he was 
cold." 

This must have been about August 5th, 1863. W. A. was always 
a busy person, as we find that he had claimed the privilege of 
taking water out of the second gulch south of Jeff Davis, for 
mining purposes — 17th of May, 1864. He also claimed by pre- 
emption, 100 feet down Colorado Gulch, below and adjoining 
Dutch Fi-ed, May 20th, 1864. A little later, he ordered the re- 
corder to declare this claim vacant. 

In a little book at Dillon we find that W. A. Clark was elected 
Recorder of Jeff Davis Gulch, aud that on the 8th day of June, 
1864, he made the following entry, to-wit : 

"Know all men by these presents, that W. A. Clark has this 
day pre-empted and recorded claim No. 9, above discovery, Jeff 
Davis Gulch, Idaho District. 

W. A. CLARK. 

We also find a peculiar trade recorded in the same little book. 

W. Harvey to W. B. Perkins. 

Know all men by these presents, that I, W. Harvey, for and in 
consideration of one sorrel mule, have this day sold all my right, 
title and interest in claim No. 10, above Discovery, Jeff Davis 
Gulch, Idaho District, to W. B. Perkins. 

July 7th, 1864. 

Attest: W. HARVEY. 

W. A. CLARK. 

At this particular point, it is just as w^ell to record what took 
place in Bannack, December 2nd, 1862. 

i 

Buffalo Currency. 

"I, Joe Bowers, for and in consideration of the sum of seventy- 
five dollars, paid to me in hand, consisting of the following de- 
scribed property to-wit : One three-year old pony, one pair of 
buffalo pantaloons, two buffalo coats, amounting in all to the sum 
above named, have bargained, sold, and delivered to Ed Hibbard 
and Frank Parish, No. 36 above Stapleton Discovery." (Parish 
was hung January 14th, with Boone Helm and others.) 

To return again to Clark, we find that he helped to build the 
ditch out of "the gulch south of Jeff Davis," and he and Henry 



210 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

Lovewell sold their interests in Colorado Gulch, including Denver 
Ditch, February 1st, 1865, to W. R. Vandruff. 

I do not believe that young W. A. Clark, the little red-headed 
man, working in the gi'ound sluice in 1863 and 1864, in Jeff Davis 
Gulch, going home at noon and night to cook his frugal meals, 
ever dreamed that he was to become the man whose money was 
to go toward the proving of Butte as a mining camp ; whose abil- 
ity to scrap was to down Marcus Daly, locate the capital at Helena 
— who was to become a U. S. Senator — the biggest miner in the 
world, and the one to build the most expensive, private home in 
America. What a contrast ! The cabin in Jeff Davis Gulch and 
the palace in New York City ! 

Other men were connected with the mines in Jeff Davis that 
have left an imprint on the pages of our stories. 

Judge M. H. Lott, claim No. 1, on Dorsett's Bar, July 8th, 1863. 

W. B. Dance, also recorded on that day ; William Roe, on July 
10th, in Jack's Bar. Mart Barrett and Joe Shineberger bought 
of Henry Lovewell, all of his interest in Colorado Gulch, and Den- 
ver Ditch Co., May 10th, 1864. 

We find that Ray Woodworth, afterwards to raise the first 
crop in Madison Valley, pre-empted 27 above discovery in Solo- 
mon's Bar, July 11th, 1863. Also, Gus Graeter pre-empted No. 45, 
on Solomon's Bar, July 9th, 1863, and William Skelly, of Glen 
Gary, Fergus County, Montana, was one of the early miners. 

Probably the oldest deed, in its original form, in Beaverhead 
County, is one given on June 11th, 1864, at Jeff Davis Gulch, 
when Freeman sold eight-ninths of his claim on Dorsett's Bar, to 
I. Baldwin, et al.. for which he received one horse and one mule, 
at a value of $300.00. The parties that owned the animals were to 
get the first money out of the ground. Said Freeman is to receive 
$100.00 out of every $1,000.00. The above named persons obtain 
from claims until he shall be paid the remaining $600.00. Freeman 
assigned his interest June 30th, 1864, to Vital Jerrot. As said 
Jerrot was the recorder, he left the little deed in the pages of 
Graham's old book. 

David Metlen sold his interest to Harrison Brown, in the Den- 
ver Ditch Company, on Solomon's Bar, March 7th, 1866. Both 
of these men are yet living on Horse Prairie. H 

Solomon's Bar was named for Solomon Robinson, as the given 
name was as apt to be used as anything else, in those early days. 

We have taken a side trip to Jeff Davis Gulch to record some 
of the things that bear directly on subsequent history, as in it 
was described to some extent, W. A. Clark. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 211 

CHAPTER VII. 

In one of the oldest books of record, of Central District, Grass- 
hopper digging, on a fly leaf, I find the following : 

"Maxwell Crosbie is my name, 
Scotland is my nation; 
And those two lines will tell my name. 
When I am quite forgotten." 

(On looking closely, we find, in pencil, almost too dim to de- 
cipher, that the book was the property of Maxwell, and Miss Vera 
Baker has kindly written with her typewriter that fact.) 

We find another matter that is peculiar. On the 4th day of 
April, 1863, a deed was given by David Thompson, et al., to 
James D. Doty, all in Idaho Territory. On the Fifth day of April, 
1863, a deed was given by John Ault, to Jack AUport, all in 
Dakota Territory. There must have been some misunderstanding 
as to what particular portion of the United States they were in. 

Coal was thought to have been found near Bannack, and a com- 
pany was formed, and 640 acres was taken up, on which some 
prospecting was done, in 1865. It is now called oil shale. There 
was also a coal excitement in Old Pioneer Basin, on Ruby Creek, 
in the Big Hole, as several claims were located July 1st, 1865, by 
Dr. E. D. Leavitt, et al. Coal has, so far, "not been an asset in 
Beaverhead County. 

I find that T. M. Ault sold to J. H. Morley claim No. 10, below 
Stapleton's discovery, Northwestern Mining District, September 
18th, 1862. In connection with the above, I find the following: 

Know all men by these presents, that the undersigned, having 
formed themselves into an association, or company, to be here- 
after known and designated as the Dakota Water Ditch Company, 
do from the date of this instrument of writing, claim for their own 
and special use and benefit (for the purpose of sale to miners), 
all the water of a certain stream now known as Horse Prairie 
Creek (with all or any of the tributaries of said Horse Prairie 
Creek, with all natural water running from springs on the ravines 
that their ditch may cross, wherein water may be found from 
rains, melting snows, or other natural causes), that may be found 
above their dam or above their line of ditch from said dam, to the 
terminus, of said ditch. The said ditch to be brought into mining 
camp, now known as Northwestern District, and continued on 
down a stream known as the Grasshopper Creek, as far as afore- 
said Dakota Water Ditch Company shall deem it necessary for 



212 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

the use and benefit of the miners generally. The aforesaid ditch 
to be brought in as soon as possible. 
Bannaek City, 19th Dec., 1862, Da. Ter. 

Signed. W. GRAHAM. 

JAMES H. MORLEY. 
H. M. MANDEVILLE. 
T. B. PETCHER. 
J. F. MORLEY. 

This is probably the first claim to take water from one water 
shed to another in Montana. Those people did not do much more 
than make the survey. 

This man, James H. Morley has left a most interesting diary, a 
copy of which, well typewritten, was sent to the Historical Soci- 
ety by his wife. He was probably the first Civil engineer, or sur- 
veyor in Southern Montana, unless Walter W. De Lacey can claim 
the honor. He surveyed the ditch from Painter Creek, afterwards 
known as the Smith and Graeter Ditch, to Bannaek. 

It was Morley that went with the party in the winter of 1863, 
and surveyed Gallatin City, on the Gallatin River, which they 
dreamed was to become the head of navigation on the Missouri. 
Though it was a little place, at one time, few could find the site 
at this day. 



CHAPTER VIII. 
Ranching. 



Mining was not the only thing to which these people turned 
their attention, as we find that Joe Wild took, for ranching pur- 
poses, land on the Grasshopper, a short distance above town, on 
the west side of the Creek, early in August, 1862. 

A. J. and G. W. Stanly claimed land, "Commencing at the 
mouth of a small brook about two miles above Stapleton's Bar, 
on the north side of Grasshopper Creek, 40 rods on each side of 
said brook following the meanderings of said brook, in a northerly 
direction to a stake. Dated September 1st, 1862." On September 
5th, they located the water of the brook. 

All of the Valley of the Grasshopper was taken up, 1865, to a 
place 9 or 10 miles north. 

Horse Prairie. 

Louis Dupuis took land on Horse Prairie, April 2nd, 1862, as 
follows: 

Know all men by these presents, that I, Louis Dupuis, claim for 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 213 

ranching purposes, 160 acres of land, situated on Horse Prairie 
Creek, commencing on said creek and running north 160 rods, 
thence east 160 rods, thence south 160 rods, thence west 160 
rods to place of beginning." 

As Horse Prairie Creek is 30 or more miles long, one can see 
that the description is not very definite. Many other places were 
taken up on Horse Prairie, shortly after this. 

We find that Fortien had taken up a place near the crossing 
on the 1-lth of July, 1863, and that Martin Barrett and Joe Shine- 
berger had on the 17th of that month selected land immediately 
west of Fortien. This ranch became well known as the Horse 
Prairie ranch, and was the one where the gray horse was kept. 

Martin Barrett lived on this ranch until 1911, or 48 years. He 
built a fine two story brick house, the finest in its day, in the 
county. He accumulated a fortune, and sold to John Peterson, a 
young Swede, that came to the Big Hole less than twenty years 
before, broke. Shineberger moved to Ked Rock, and also left a 
fortune at his death. Barrett and Shineberger must be considered 
the first bona fide settlers on ranch lands in Southern Montana. 

Fortien 's ranch was sold at Sheriff's sale, by Henry Plummer, 
November 15th, 1863, for $367.00, to John Teters. 

Bird in Hand Ranch. 

S. R. Mecklin located on a branch of Horse Prairie, called Dry 
Creek, August 25th, 1864. He probably thought that ranching 
would be safer than mining. He was right, but he did not stay 
long enough to find out. 

On Beaverhead. 

"F (rank) Ruff has this day recorded 160 acres of land for 
farming and ranching purposes, on the stream known as the Beav- 
erhead, below the mouth of the Grasshopper Creek. Said ranch is 
the first located, and is No. 1, running down, November 8th, 
1862." 

Joseph Wild, got wild, and took up the next claim. It is a 
strange thing that Ruff and Wild were to be the first persons 
to go into a wild, rough section of the country, and locate the 
first ranches. Why they left them I do not know, as there is no 
record to tell how they disposed of their places. 

James Gamble claims for ranching purposes 160 acres of laud, 
situated at the forks of Rattlesnake and Beaverhead on the west 
side of the Rattlesnake, Bannack District, April 27th, 1863. This 
man came to Bannack on April 20th, 1863, with Hugh O 'Neil's 
train. John F. Bishop was also in the same train. 



214 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

Richard T. Harris claimed 160 acres of land, near Picket, tak- 
ing in both sides of the creek, on Beaverhead, a little above the 
mouth of Rattlesnake, September 3rd, 1864. On December 30th, 
1864, Thomas W. Chapman & Company and J. B. Sterns, took 
land on the Rattlesnake, located one mile below the Point of 
Rocks, on said Creek, commencing at a stake opposite a low gap 
in the bluffs on the north side. 

William Fox took up land on the Beaverhead, March 6th, 1865. 
No one could tell from the description where that land is now. 

Tom Selway took up land as follows: ''Said land is on both 
sides of the Beaverhead River, and bounded on the north by 
bluffs, and included the mouth of Blacktail Deer Creek," Sep- 
tember 5, 1865. Prior to that time, Henry Burfiend had taken up 
a claim, afterwards to become the property of Philip Thorpe. He 
did not appear to place the same on record. Henry Burfiend came 
to Montana from California, and mined in Alder Gulch. In the 
fall of 1864 he located a piece of land about four miles north of 
Dillon, and began farming the next year. He thinks he broke the 
first piece of land with a plow. The plow was made by a black- 
smith in Virginia City, but was not very good because it would 
not scour. 

Tom Selway broke some land the same year Burfiend broke 
his land. Henry Hayman — called Little Henry — had spaded up 
a piece on the adjoining land near the river, and had sold his 
crop for $1,500. This was in 1864. In 1865, he bought a yoke of 
oxen of W. B. Carter, plowed and put in more land, but the grass- 
hoppers ate him out, he became disgusted, and packed up and 
went to Oregon. Mr. Burfiend had a partner named Frank 
Jacobs. Then seed was very high. They paid 25 cents per pound 
for seed oats and bought of Mr. Henneberry, one sack of seed po- 
tatoes, for which they gave $55.00. They had two loads of pota- 
toes, which they sold in Bannack for 15 cents per pound. The 
grasshoppers ate the grain. W. B. Carter said that he believes 
that Burfiend was probably correct. In the winter of 1864, Car- 
ter camped close to where Dillon is now. The cattle were put 
between Blacktail and the river. The next morning, he said. "I 
had to go after them through snow knee deep. They had taken 
the back trail. I followed them up the river for some distance, 
through the brush. All at once, I came to a small park, and at 
a short distance, I saw a cabin. It struck me that it might be 
the home of some of the road agents, but soon a woman came to 
the door and threw out some dish water. I am sorry that I did 
not investigate and find out who she was. That was before any 
ranches had been taken up. I would have found out, but was 
afraid to go to the cabin." 




GEORGE F. THEXTON 



Born April 24, 1824 in Townsliip of Haversham, Westmorland County. 
England. Married Nancy Redhead in Liverpool. 185,5. Settled at Galena, 
Illinois, from which place he moved to Mineral Point, coming from that place to 
Montana. He was a blacksmith. He made the first plows ever used in 
Southern Montana, out of the springs of a carriage that Col. Sam McLean 
brought to the Territory, which he traded to Thexton for blacksmith bill. 
Three of these plows were made. The first one for Ray Wood worth, one for 
Raymond Brothers and the third for a syndicate of Gallatin Valley farmers. 
He made a plow for Henry Rnrfiend. Di d .Tuly 5th. 1904. at Thextondale. 
near Ennis, Madison County, Montana. 



THE VKilLAXTES OF MONTANA 215 

It is too bad that we could not have become possessed of this 
knowledge — the name of the first woman to live on the Beaver- 
head. This was at a point between the home of Craig Cornell and 
the P. H. Poindexter ranch — but over in the thick willows, near 
the river. 

James Kirkpatrick settled on land, on Rattlesnake, September 
30th, 1865, and was quite extensively connected with the stock 
interests for years. He has resided in Montana for over fifty 
years. 

X. Renois and Amede Bessett located land on the Beaverhead, 
December 1st, 1865, near the mouth of Rattlesnake. David Jones, 
on Rattlesnake, December 6th, 1865. 

William Roe took a claim adjoining Bessett 's, December 15, 
1865. 

James Ashbaugh, sometime prior to January 2nd, 1866, as I. W. 
Isle had a claim next to him on that date. 

On January 6th, 1866, William Sturgis located the land after- 
wards to become the home of Phil. Lovell. On the 8th day of 
January, 1866, Craig Cornell located as follows: 

Beginning at a stake on Blacktail Deer Creek, about three- 
quarters of a mile from its junction with the Beaverhead ; thence 
running south one-half mile, etc., etc. Craig Cornell, the man 
who has lived almost 50 years on the same piece of land, or longer 
than any other man in Southern Montana, or probably in the 
state. 

G. W. Emrick took the land just below the mouth of the Beav- 
erhead Canyon, January 10th, 1866. 

John Carrico, one of the prominent miners and discoverers of 
the mines in Bannack, located two miles below the Canyon, Janu- 
ary 11, 1866, and John Carhart took the land next to him on the 
north, the same day. 

On October 16th, 1864, 0. D. Farlin located land on Birch Creek, 
about one and one-half miles below the canyon. Land had been 
located on the Big Hole the same year, on the bottom below 
Brown's bridge. 

Land on the Stinking Water. 

The first piece of land we find any record of was taken August 
13th, 1863, by Roup, Low, Ely & Company, a certain tract of land 
of 640 acres, situated and described as follows, to-wit : 

Commencing at a point where the Stinking Water empties into 
the Jefferson, thence one mile down said Jefferson; thence one 
mile south, and running parallel with the said Stinking Water 
Creek ; thence westward to said creek ; thence down said stream to 
place of beginning. 



216 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

This land is now in Madison County, though the record was 
made at Bannack. There is also a little mistake on the part of 
the locators. They had taken the Beaverhead for the Stinking 
"Water, as the latter stream runs into the Beaverhead, and not 
into the Jefferson. 

Quite a number of those early locators continued to call the 
Beaverhead country — home. They could not have found a fairer 
land than it, nor one that would yield to their efforts any greater 
returns. 



CHAPTER IX. 
Judge M. H. Lott. 



I had been mining in California Gulch, Colorado, and became 
acquainted with a physician who had lived with the Crow Indians. 
He gave me a description of the country, as to fur trading, etc., 
near Benton, Missoula, Ft. Owen and the Deer Lodge. Also told 
of the rich mines that had been discovered at Florence on the 
Salmon river. He proposed to escort a company to that place. 
The mines were very poor when we were at work, so we decided 
to go to Washington in the spring. 

In May, 1862, 1 went to Denver and met some persons who were 
going to Florence as soon as a company could be formed sufficient 
for protection. Fourteen of us, including in that number one 
woman and a girl about ten years of age purchased a good outfit 
and started. Our wagon beds were made water-tight so they 
could be used to ferry over swollen streams. The first stream 
was the North Piatt, very high and rapid. 

The ferry was owned by a Mr. Baker. I interviewed him in 
regard to his price for taking us over. He was very consider- 
ate (?). He only asked us $10 a wagon! I told him we were 
miners and had but little money, and that was more than we could 
afford to pay. We would build a raft and ferry ourselves over. 
We began to cut down trees, pretending to build a raft. He came 
to us and told us he was about out of provisions and if we would 
let him have some he would ferry us over, we to swim our stock, 
for $7.50 the whole outfit. 

About ten o'clock one morning we came across a mountaineer 
camped Avith his Indian family, who told us of a massacre of 
stock tenders and stage drivers, and the burning of stations and 
coaches, and killing of horses the day before. We told him our 
objective point was Florence and he seemed familiar with the 
country, saying it was wild and dangerous, and our company too 
small to travel with safety, but if we would wait for a few days 
he would act as our escort and protect us from the Indians. We 




JUDGE LOTT 

Captain of Party That Discovered Gold in Big Hole 



THF. VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 217 

had a consultation and concluded he wanted our protection more 
than we needed his, as squaw men were no pets of the Indians. 
We went on our way and reached Green River station about dark 
and found things as represented by the squaw man; dead men, 
station and coaches burned and dead horses. We camped, ar- 
ranged our wagons for best protection if attacked. We did not 
build any fire. We did not dare bury the dead. 

None of us slept that night. No words can describe our feel- 
ings. In the morning we started on and passed other stations 
^vith scenes too horrible to describe. 

My recollection is we had three nights and two days of the 
suspense, and about nine o 'clock on the morning of the third day 
we saw horses grazing on a bench in the distance and felt that 
our fate was sealed, as it must be Indians, waiting for us. No use 
in stopping. We must go on. We soon saw tents, which we sup- 
posed were teepees, but as we came nearer we saw they were in 
regular position and discovered men in uniform. On reaching 
camp we found they were soldiers from Salt Lake, who had ar- 
rived the night before. 

We had been under such a strain for so long that some of our 
company dropped to the ground and were asleep in an instant. I 
went to the commander and asked if he would let some of the 
soldiers look after our camp, to which he consented. We had 
to put some of our men to bed. All went to bed without eating. 

None of us awoke until four o'clock the next afternoon. This 
was near Ft. Bridger. From there we went to Salt Lake, where 
we supplied ourselves with provisions. 

We were advised to go via Ft. Lemhi and Missoula, as being 
the most direct route. No maps were known, so people had but 
a poor idea as to places or how to get to them. 

Arriving at Snake River we found a good many waiting for the 
putting across of a rope for a ferry by Meeks. Some had been 
there ten days, expecting to cross each day, believing that to be 
the nearest road to Florence. Some had gone down the river. 
Some by the old road to Deer Lodge and Missoula. 

We arrived in the forenoon, and saw them waste the whole day 
in trying to put the rope across. The Woods Brothers of our 
train thought they saw the mistake of the other fellow, and said 
they could put it over. I hunted up Meeks and told him that we 
had men that could do the job. He replied that he had a man 
that could do it. We waited two days, when Meeks came to us 
and wanted to see the men of our party who could do the work. 
I told him I was the mouthpiece of the party, and whatever ar- 
rangements I made would be carried out ; that if we undertook 
the job we must have complete control. He did not take kindly 
to that so tried again without success. He then came and wanted 



218 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

to know our terms. I introduced him to the Woods boys and he 
asked them their terms. They told him that whatever Lott said 
would be agreeable to them. So I told him all I would ask was 
that we were to be ferried over first. We were anxious to go be- 
cause we were afraid all the good claims would be gone. Our first 
attempt put the rope across. The next day we were on our way 
to Lemhi, on a branch of the Salmon River, which was an aban- 
doned settlement of the Mormons, they having been called in by 
Brigham Young. The fort was built of adobe and was about three 
hundred feet square, with walls eight or ten feet high. Inside 
were a number of houses and a rude grist mill on the outside. 

We found quite a quantity of wheat that had been buried in the 
ground. We found several people here who had passed us on the 
road from Snake River as they had horses and mules and we had 
only oxen. This place seemed to be the end of the wagon road 
and the only way to proceed was to pack over an Indian trail. 
Some turned back to Snake River and some started back to take 
the old road to Deer Lodge and Missoula. Some cut up new 
wagons to make pack saddles. 

We did not know what to do. We went down the Salmon 
River and up the north fork, getting some indications of quartz, 
and some small prospects. 

We got an idea that the east side of the mountains would be 
the best place, so six of us packed ourselves with grub, picks, pans 
and shovels, and walked up a very steep Indian trail and on to 
the eastern slope. About one mile from the main range we found 
a small stream, a tributary of the Big Hole River, with a few pay- 
ing claims, about six feet to bed rock at discovery, and called it 
Pioneer, supposing it to be the first discovery of gold, in paying 
quantities, found in the country. 

Leaving one of our party to dig a train ditch the rest of us 
went to Lemhi for our wagons. From Lemhi there was a very 
large Indian trail crossing the main mountain range east to Horse 
Prairie. Knowing that the Indians took the lowest passes, I 
thought we had better follow their trail. The boys had an idea it 
would be too rough. I told them that "where there was a will 
there was a way," so we started. We put both hind wheels on 
one side of the wagon, and in that way kept from upsetting. At 
last we were on the Horse Prairie side. We passed within three 
miles of where the Jno. White party found the rich diggings on 
Grasshopper Creek, July 28th. Crossing over a low range from 
the Grasshopper to Big Hole, we found the remains of an old 
wagon, showing that we were not the first people to take wagons 
into that section. We reached our claims, as near as I can recol- 
lect, about noon, July 12. 1862. 

I brought a whip saAV with me and that afternoon Mr. Dunkle- 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 219 

burg and myself erected a sawmill and put a log on the carriage 
read}' for work the next morning. Dave worked in the pit. By 
hard work and long hours we sawed 200 feet per day. After we 
sawed what we needed we sold some for $30 per hundred feet, 
making $60 per day. 

On July 16th we were sluicing out gold. A Mr. Miller and 
family and Joseph Smith, who came from Colorado, with our 
party, went back from Fort Lemhi and over the old road to Deer 
Lodge and over the MuUan road to Missoula and settled there. 
Smith went up to the Bitter Root. Of the rest of our party, that 
mined in Pioneer Gulch, there were Charles and Hiram Wood, 
James McCabe, George McCormick, Fred Miller and Dave Dun- 
kleburg. H. Conley. James Kennedy and myself were partners in 
discovery claim. When sluicing we took out from $25 to $75 per 
day. We had to strip the ground and could not sluice every day. 
We worked the claim out, taking out several hundred dollars. 

I remember an amusing incident. Mr. Farlin, and partners, 
Mormons, who came on with us from "Lemhi" were out of to- 
bacco. When they got to taking out gold they were overheard 
making out a list of supplies. First was tobacco, and each alter- 
nate item was tobacco, and the last item was "some more to- 
bacco." 

Our sa"WTnill was near the Indian trail. They used to stop and 
watch us. Some of them could speak a little English. One In- 
dian said: "Indian heap big fool." 

The latter part of August a Bitter Root ranchman packed over 
some potatoes and sold to us for thirty cents per pound. He 
seemed to think we were the only miners in the country. 

That winter I spent in Bannack. I told Fairweather and Edgar 
what the doctor had told me of gold in the Stink Water, and that 
may have been the reason for going on to the Yellowstone and 
of the discovery of Alder. 

Sam Harper and Judge Lott went to Utah for provisions and 
got back to Bannack day before Xmas, 1862. They had been ad- 
vised that a train would leave on Sunday morning for Salt Lake 
and that they could join by having two men to a team. The 
Judge said: "We got up before day; yoked our cattle and pulled 
for Bannack, which we made some time before the next morning, 
over 50 miles; a remarkable day's journey for an ox team. While 
passing through the Big Hole prairie we saw Indians signal fire 
or smoke, in various places, and hardly knew what to do. We 
continued on, however, and arrived within two miles of Bannack 
when, finding good feed we turned our oxen out, and having hid- 
den our stuff in the brush started to go into Bannack. All at 
once we ran into a band of about a dozen Indians, who began to 
form a circle around us. Thev had their bows and arrows. I made 



220 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

a friendly talk and as they came near pushed them away, asking 
them if they were Bannacks, or of what tribe. They at last al- 
lowed us to go." They had stolen 200 head of horses out of a cor- 
ral and were anxious to get away with them or might have done 
Lott and his partners some harm. 

The Judge tells the following incident : 

In the spring of 1863 a young man had killed his partner, who 
was much older than he. The young fellow was tried for murder, 
and sentenced to death. Judge heard the young fellow crying 
and went down to comfort him. He asked him what he could do. 
The young fellow answered that he was a Catholic, and needed a 
priest. The Judge didn't know of any one who filled that posi- 
tion and thinking any Irishman might do, went and got Jerry 
Sullivan, a jeweler. Jerry was a sympathetic fellow and he went 
to render what comfort he could to the poor fellow who was soon 
to meet his Maker. He said: "Young man, you have committed 
a most fearful crime. You killed your partner, an old man for 
whom all had respect. You have been tried by your peers and 
found guilty, and sentenced to be hung. Don't cry; be brave. 
Get down on your knees and ask God to forgive your sins, and 
I'll be d d if I don't believe the old fellow will do it." 

After Lott's party left Pioneer they went to Bannack, where 
Judge got a claim on Jimmie 's Bar, for which he paid $2,800, get- 
ting the money from the Woods Brothers, who were to go in part- 
nership with him. They took out over $13,000. 

The Judge tells that Walter W. De Lacey and another party 
found a quartz claim on the north fork of Salmon ; went to Ore- 
gon and sold it to a party for a good price "unsight and unseen." 

Judge left Bannack in July, 1863, with about $4,000. He had 
a splendid horse, the fastest in the country. He thought himself 
safe when he got near the spring in Spring Gulch, but the horse 
appeared uneasy; he turned his head and saw some men coming 
down a side gulch toward him as fast as their horses could come. 
The Judge did not wait for company, but putting spurs to his 
horse raced ahead of them to Rattlesnake ranch as he recognized 
Buck Stinson and Steve Marshland. 

In Bannack the first meeting for law and order was held in 
January. 1863, so Judge says. A few had banded together for 
mutual protection. Hiram Conley, Lott 's partner, had been elected 
captain. It seems that Asel Stanley's wife had a claim which had 
been jumped by some of the toughs. Stanley came to Conley for 
help, but he said they had not banded to make a general fight 
against bad citizens. 

The Lotts went to Nevada City, just below Virginia and started 
a store. At the time De Vault* was killed by Geo. Ives, Old Man 
Burchy, Elk Morse, Wm. Clark and 25 of them left their store to 

* George I^ovell says the word is De VauU not Tbalt as given by 
Dimsdale and Langford. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 221 

arrest the person that had done the deed. They did not know 
who it was when they started, but they brought back Ives and 
others. 

When the murderers were brought to Nevada, Judge Lott 
stopped the party as they were about to go on to Virginia. There 
was a dry goods box in front of the store. The Judge got upon 
this and addressed the crowd, which consisted of about 1,000 men, 
and told them that there must be some motive if they intended to 
take them to Virginia. He made a motion that the men be tried 
at Nevada. He told them they could use the room in back of their 
store for the jail. Motion was carried and the prisoners were put 
in their for safe keeping. Probably 100 men stood guard. Jim 
Williams as captain. It was in this room that John Lott wrote 
the oath when it was signed by 24 men. (I think that there is 
some mistake as to the time in the judge's mind, as this oath is 
dated December 23rd, 1863, and Ives was hanged December 21st, 
so the men must have not signed the oath until about the time 
the Vigilance Committee was formed). John Lott was secretary 
and treasurer of that Committee. 

Judge Lott said that he never threatened Slade bodily harm 
That Slade. when drunk, would ride into other places, and that 
generally all doors were closed whenever he came to town in that 
condition. 

A man came to Lott one day and told him that Slade was in 
town drunk, and that he had better close his store. The Judge 
said: "I am running this place and probably Slade will not come 
in." He even opened both doors but Slade was too wise to come. 
It is quite probable that Slade knew M. H. Lott, and knew that 
he would not stand any joking of the kind he liked to play. 
Slade had freighted for the Lotts and was well acquainted and 
had much respect for them, though they never carried guns. 

In March, 1864, Judge Lott, Meeks, and others took up two 
miles square at Twin Bridges, where Meeks built the first cabin. 
They believed they would always have all the range they would 
need. 

The Lott brothers built three bridges, one on the Big Hole, one 
on the Beaverhead, where the town of Twin Bridges is, and one 
at the Point of Rocks. 

They gave the land to the State for the Orphans' Home. 

The Judge is living and is well at the age of 87, this year of 
our Lord. 1915. He has found that the range is eaten out and 
that all the land is taken. He is no longer "Monarch of all he 
surveys." 



222 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

CHAPTER X. 

Mining Laws. 

At a miners' meeting of the miners of Bannaek District, held 
on the 19th day of October A. D. 1862, for the purpose of form- 
ing and passing laws for the government of the District, the fol- 
lowing laws and regulations were reported by the Committee, 
and adopted and ratified by the people. 

Claims. 

Sec. 1. Claims on Grasshopper Creek, shall be fifty feet on 
the creek, and extending across the stream from base to base, of 
the mountains, including all old beds of the creek or stream. 

Sec. 2. Gulch claims shall be 100 feet in length, on the gulch, 
and extending on over one foot on each side. 

Sec. 3. Lode claims shall only be had on well defined Quartz 
Lodes, and shall be 100 feet on the lode, and 25 feet on each side, 
including all spurs and branches. 

Sec. 4. Each miner may hold, by pre-emption, one claim on 
the creek, one Gulch claim, one lode claim, and one patch or hill 
claim, and working one shall be considered as working all. 

Sec. 5. All claims shall be staked with the name of the owner 
with the length and breadth of the same, and the date of stak- 
ing, and when in company with others, shall have also the names 
of the company with whom he is working. 

Sec. 6. Claims shall be worked or represented at least each 
five days, excluding Sunday, but working claims held in company 
shall be considered as representing all claims of the individual 
members of the company, if property is staked and worked. 

Sec. 7. All claims shall be recorded by the individual holders 
of the same, with their own names, provided not heretofore re- 
corded by individual members, within the next six days, from and 
after the passage of this section, and all taken hereafter, within 
six days after staking, or shall be forfeited, and no claim shall 
be recorded or held by a company name. 

Sec. 8. When no claims exist on the Creek, any person or per- 
sons wishing to turn the stream, or flume it to work the bed of 
the same, may claim one hundred and fifty feet, each, of said un- 
claimed ground, and hold the same, provided work be commenced 
within ten days, from staking, and prosecuted faithfully to com- 
pletion, but said work shall be continuous, but not one day in ten. 

Sec. 9. All persons residing and working their home, within 
the limits of this District, which shall extend from the line of the 
lower district, to the head of the Grasshopper Creek, and its 
branches, and three miles on each side of said creek, and be known 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 233 

as Bannack District, shall hold their claims without working the 
same, from the 15th day of November, next, to the first day of 
May, following, and all laws for forfeiting claims held as above 
shall be suspended for and during that time. 

Sec. 10. Purchased claims shall be held in the same way, as 
pre-emption claims, but no individual shall be allowed to hold 
more than one claim by purchase, besides his pre-emption, except 
in Lode Claims, and any person having heretofore purchased more 
than that number, shall be allowed ten days from this date to sell 
and dispose of the same. 

Sec. 11. Any person making a new discovery of diggings of 
any kind, or lode claims, shall be entitled to hold one extra claim, 
as a discovery claim, -without working the same. 

Sec. 12. Building lots may be taken 50 feet in front, and 150 
feet deep, and by recording the same, each individual may hold 
one lot and no more, as real estate, and may sell, trade or barter, 
the same, or build upon it at his option. 

Sec. 13. The fees of the recorder shall be fifty cents, for each 
pre-emption recorded, and for all deeds, bills of sale, or mortgages 
recorded, one dollar for each one hundred words to be recorded, 
and no deed, bill of sale, or mortgage, shall be held good against 
third party, unless recorded. 

Sec. 14. Any person owning a dry claim, may pre-empt any 
unpre-empted ground on the creek, for a water claim, for the 
purpose of washing his dirt, whether by cradle or sluice, and may 
hold same as a v\^ater claim, by recording and improving the same, 
within the ordinary time for other claims. 

Sec. 15. When any person has gone for provisions, intending 
to return, two months from this date, shall be allowed to return, 
before forfeiture of their claims. 

Sec. 16. In all trials before the miners, which may be pre- 
sided over by the President of the District, the losing party shall 
pay the President the sum of Five Dollars for his services. 

Sec. 17. The President may, at any time he may think proper, 
appoint a Sheriff to act in any case pending, or being commenced. 

At a meeting of the miners of Bannack District, held on the 
26th day of April, 1863, passed the following Laws: 

Sec. 1. The President of the District shall have power to hold 
a trial, whenever it may be necessary to settle disputes, either 
about claims or any other disputed business matters, and may 
summon a jury to try such dispute. The decision of such .jury 
to be final, and may appoint a Sheriff to carry out the decision 
of such trial, who shall have power to take any property to pay 
the judgment of the President. 

Sec. 2. Each miner shall have the right to hold one claim, 
and no moi^e, on each Quartz Lode, and they shall be held for 



224 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

one 3'ear, as real estate, to give time for machinery to arrive here. 

Sec. 3. All trials shall be, as near as possible, in accordance 
with the common law of the land. 

At a meeting of the miners of Bannack District, held May 23rd, 
1863, the following Laws were reported by the Committee and 
adopted by the people. 

Art. 1. The officers of the District shall be President, Miners' 
Judge, Sheriff and Coroner. 

Art. 2. It shall be the duty of the President to preside at 
all business meetings of the District, and to act as Judge, with 
power to call jury, in cases regarding mining claims, the parties 
litigant mutually agreeing thereunto. 

Art. 3. It shall be the duty of the Judge to preside over all 
trials of cases in the District, except in mining cases, where 
parties litigant agree to refer to the President, and when called 
upon, to issue such process to bring parties into Court, as is com- 
mon and right in such cases, also to keep a docket and make an 
entry therein of all suits brought, Avith the judgment or verdict 
rendered, also to have a jury of not less than four nor more than 
eight impaneled, when requested so to do, by either plaintiff or 
defendant, and receive for his services the sum of $5.00 for pre- 
siding at each and every suit, together with 25 cents for all oaths 
administered, and the issuing of each and every writ in the case. 

Art. 4. It shall be the duty of the Sheriff to serve all writs 
and executions, and carry out the awards of the Court, and do 
all other acts appertaining to his office, and shall receive for his 
services, for attendance in Court, during trial, $2.50 ; serving war- 
rants, $1.00; serving summons, 50 cents, and 25 cents each for 
summoning witnesses and jurors, and 25 cents mileage. 

Art. 5. It shall be the duty of the Coroner, in all cases of 
violent or accidental death, to summon a jury of six persons 
over which he shall preside, in examining into the causes and cir- 
cumstances attending the death of the person over whom the in- 
quest is held, and when called on, the Sheriff shall act as the offi- 
cer of the inquest to summon jurors, and witnesses, and shall 
receive for the service the usual fee — while the coroner shall re- 
ceive for his services on each and every inquest, the sum of $8.00. 

Art. 6. In each and every suit, witnesses shall receive Two 
Dollars, and jurors Three Dollars, except in eases where the trial 
shall last for more than one day, when additional fees will be al- 
lowed. 

Art. 7. In all criminal cases, the punishment to be inflicted 
shall explicitly set forth in writing the verdict of the jury. 

Art. 8. All civil suits shall be commenced by complaint set- 
ting forth in plain, simple language, the cause of action and rem- 
edy sought. 



THE VIGILAXTES OP MONTANA 225 

Art. 9. All attachments may issue when the complainant 
shall make oath before the Judge, that he has reasons to believe 
that the defendant intends to leave the district, or turn over his 
property with intent to defraud, and may be served on any prop- 
erty in defendant's hands, or to garnishee debts in hands of 
others, and shall hold good till five days after final judgment. 

Art. 10. In all suits and cases, not herein provided for, the 
Common Law shall be adopted. 

The idea of an eight hour law came to the people in Montana, 
early in its history. At a miners' meeting, White District, April 
28th, 1864, "Non-residents of District shall represent each and 
every claim, every seventh day — said day's work shall be eight 
hours' labor." 



CHAPTER XI. 
Notes From Old Court Records. 

Second Judicial District, Beaverhead County. L. P. Williston, 
Judge ; Wm. C. Goodrich, Sheriff ; S. F. Dunlap, Clerk. 

Resident Attorneys practicing at Bannack : Phelps C. ^Mead, 
John M. Galloway, G. W. Stapleton, B. S. Peabody, admitted 
September term, 1867. 

First Grand Jury: N. E. Wood, B. S. Worth, Thomas Watson, 
Con Bray, S. W. Bachelder, A. J. Nay, W. B. Witten, Herman 
Clark, H. F. Wood, John S. Milligan, J. A. Brown, E. W. Weston. 

Probably first Notary Public was W. C. Rheem, appointed by 
Gov. Edgerton, May 17th, 1864. 

The first man to declare his wish to become a citizen of the 
U. S. was John Griffiths, a native of Wales, 1st of September, 
1866. 

Even in the Courts, they were apt to use an old account book 
for keeping records, as an old account book of Leesburg, Idaho, 
was brought to Bannack, and used as an account book to be used 
later in which to record probate matters. This book shows that 
the price of sugar was 60c per pound. ^ 

1 keg of nails, coin $35.00. 

1 keg 10 gals, sherry, $100.00, greenbacks. 

1 lb. of apples, 50 cents. 

1 box sardines, $1.00. 

We also find that one of the first men to contest the election of 
another, was George Bachelder. against Thos. H. Gordon, for the 
office of Sheriff. Following are the returns: 

Election held September 2nd, 1867. 



226 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

For Bachelder. For Gordon. 

In Bannack 205 170 

Horse Prairie 25 30 

Montana (Argenta) 29 27 

Beaverhead 19 27 

French Gulch 10 39 



288 293 

Whole matter hinged on French Gulch, which Bachelder held 
was not in Beaverhead County. Case dismissed 23rd of Septem- 
ber, 1867. 

(Twine was scarce in those days, as I found these papers tied 
with a buckskin string). 

Sue's Letter. 

In looking over Court proceedings of early days, we find the 
love letter of "Sue" to her lover, Wm. Farnsworth, who was 
killed at Horse Prairie in 1877, just in front of John C. Brenner's 
house, then owned by Winters and Montague. Montague was 
killed the day before. The lady was a beautiful letter writer. 
Her impassioned appeal to her lover was in the following words : 

"Oh Will, my dearest one, how I long to see you this spring as 
never before. I am impatient for your dear comforting letters 
I don't believe we made a mistake three years ago. (I did not, if 
you did), for every day I am more certain that I am yours and you 
are mine, for life, and it seems to me for eternity. There isn't a 
day or an hour but I find myself thinking of you. Every thought 
and every joy I want to share with you. I don't value luxuries 
as I used to, and think them indispensable to happiness. I think 
I could be so patient, and so saving, and think it the greatest 
pleasure in the world. If our wishes were all gratified, how soon 
we would become used to it, and they would cease to be luxuries. 
Lucky for you I'm kept within bounds, lest I might set up my 
authority to get out of that, or come unbidden to your humble 
home. 

"Don't get too mercenary for my sake. What's good enough for 
you is good enoug-h for me." 

What a trust she had in this man, and no doubt he was worthy 
of her love and affection. He could not take the treasure that 
was his for the asking. Think of the deep love of the woman 
who would willingly surrender a magnificent body and soul to his 
keeping, to make his life so much more worth living. He must 
struggle for gold till death robbed them each from the other, and 
left a pale woman to moan, and ask "Why?" 

I do not know where "Sue" is, but if she should read this, I 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 227 

hope that she will pardon the liberty I have taken in giving this 
little story to the public. 

God made woman for man's chief comfort, and for his good. 
She (God bless her), is willing to go with her lover, out into the 
by-ways, wherever his lot mil take him, and help him in his 
struggles. When he gets an idea that he must have enough wealth 
to make each day a day of careless freedom from want and re- 
sponsibility, he is simply wasting the days of most supreme happi- 
ness — the days of youth — for a foolish idea. 



CHAPTER Xn. 
Incidents in the Life of Augustus F. Graeter. 

Mr. Graeter has resided longer in Beaverhead County than any 
other person. 

It is not easy to get a connected story from a person after he 
has become eighty years of age. In my note book, I find the fol- 
lowing : 

Augustus Graeter told me a few little things the morning of the 
28th of May, 1914. "I remember seeing W. A. Clark, with a pack 
on his back, when he was starting for Horse Prairie. He had on 
a soldier's overcoat and one tail of it had been burned off, by 
getting too near a camp fire." 

"When I got to Bannack I had just two $1.00 gold pieces, and 
it did not take long to spend them. Mail came via Walla Walla, 
and cost $1.00 for a letter, and that is where my money went. 

Question: "How did you get your money to start your first 
store?" 

"Well, I guess I must have made it in the mines, as the ground 
was mighty rich, and the bedrock not deep. We would pack the 
dirt down on our backs to the creek and wash it out We did not 
take any dirt that we could not see gold in. At last we whipped 
sawed some lumber, and made some sluice boxes which we put up 
in the creek, placed our dirt in them and stood in the creek and 
dipped up the water, and washed the stuff in that way." 

He laid the first foundation on the claim on which Denver was 
built. 

Quite a number of us were sitting in Paul's Furniture Store in 
Dillon one day, Robt. Wing, W. B. Carter, Mart Barrett and the 
writer, when Gus became reminiscent. "I remember," he said; 
"that two of us cut wood in Wisconsin one winter, and sold it for 
37 1-2 cents per cord." 

Bob Wing said: "What did you eat?" Oh, we never suffered 
for that matter; never did go hungry in my life," was the reply. 



228 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

"Yes, I did get out of grub once. We went to Fort Lemhi, on 
our way to Florence, cached our stuff and intended to go to Bit- 
ter Root for the winter; got a Blackfoot guide, who took us 
through the Big Hole, and over into Deer Lodge Valley, on Warm 
Springs Creek, near enough to see the mound at the springs. He 
took us up the creek, into the timber, right in the wrong direc- 
tion. I guess he knew the way, but was probably afraid of the 
Flatheads. We turned about and went to Lemhi, but before we 
got there we were out of provisions and we were compelled to 
fill up on sarvice berries. We went south, bought some more 
grub, and did think of going to Fort Colville, in Washington. We 
started for that place, and one night we camped in a small grove 
up the Grasshopper, and when we woke up in the morning we 
found ourselves surrounded by Flathead Indians, who had stolen 
our horses and had driven them over to the Butte, near Painter 
Creek. When they found out that we were white men, they said : 
'Good morning,' and told us they thought we were Bannack In- 
dians, or they would not have taken the horses. Some of the boys 
went with them to their camp and they gave us some nice meat. 

"Well, when we got to Birch Creek, some fellows came along 
and told us that gold had been found on Grasshopper. We went 
back, and I have been in Montana ever since. 

"Say, you talk about cutting hay with a scythe. The softest 
snap I ever had was cutting hay in Wisconsin, and selling it for 
roughness to the farmers who needed it for their stock. I do not 
remember how much we did get for it. I really do not believe 
that I have ever been any happier than the winter I cut wood 
in Wisconsin." 

Gus Graeter was always an industrious man, and did much to- 
ward the upbuilding of Southern Montana. He mined, built 
ditches, was a merchant, county officer, a successful stockman, 
built an electric lighting plant for Dillon, and is a banker — al- 
ways an early riser. He tells of being ten miles on his road to the 
timber, when the sun comes up. 

Chris Snyder says that when Gus was on the ranch, he would 
get up before daylight, go into the hen house and cuss the roost- 
ers because they did not crow early enough to wake the hired men. 
A Horse Prairie ranchman said: "I remember that a neighbor 
saw a fellow going along the road with his blankets on his back. 
On inquiry as to where he was going, he said: "To work for 

Gus Graeter. " "H 1, throw your blankets away, or trade them 

for a lantern; they never sleep on that place." 

Mr. Graeter is now over 82 years of age, and busy. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 229 

CHAPTER Xm. 

W. B. Carter Story. 

We got to Bannack just about the time that the people were 
going, or when some had gone to Alder. We arrived in Alder, 
July 4th, 1863, and got a job working on night shift. I was broke. 
No, I had six large copper cents. I sold thera to a jeweler for 
seventy-five cents each. (I presume that this was the first trans- 
action in copper in Montana). 

I worked there that season and then went to Salt Lake City, 
bought an ox outfit, loaded up with provisions, and brought them 
back to Virginia City, where I sold the outfit to a good advantage. 
In January a party of 25 men and one woman left Virginia for 
Salt Lake with a mule outfit. The train with our blankets in one 
of the wagons went on ahead of us. As soon as my partner and 
I got settled up we started for camp. One of us had a gun, the 
other a revolver, and we travelled about 150 feet apart so no one 
could surprise us. The next morning Club-foot Mathews found 
his mules missing, but we pulled out and came to the place right 
where my ranch house now stands, about five miles north of 
Dillon, and camped for the night. Mathews found his mules and 
started to overtake us, when, just on the other side of the Point 
of Rocks, he saw some fellows coming towards him on horse back. 
Not liking the looks of things he threw his gold sacks into the 
snow, marking the place well, then he pulled into the station, 
where he stayed all night, being afraid to go on. He hired a man 
to keep on the left side of the river and overtake us, and get one 
of us to send a team back and help him get his dust. The party 
he sent got to our camp about midnight. The next morning one 
of the boys went back to help him, while the balance moved to 
a place since owned by Jim Selway, where we waited until they 
could overtake us. 

Shortly after they had joined us, we saw three men coming to 
our camp on horseback. One of those men was Buck Stinson, and 
the other was Red — or Ned Ray — do not know for sure ; the third 
man was one well-known to all of us (House), and only came to 
our camp, as Stinson a deputy of Plummer's, did not care to come, 
as his mission was to arrest "Club-foot" for debt. "Club-foot" 
said that it was a just debt, and that he would like to get green- 
backs enough from us to give to Buck, so he would know he was 
all right. We soon got the money and gave it to him. Alex Toponce 
wanted us to take Buck and hang him at once, but of course, we 
could not agree to that. "Club-foot" started out with the two 
deputies, on foot, as he was afraid they might kill him and take 
his mule. They pulled off over the hill, toward Rattlesnake 
crossing, and only a short time after leaving us they saw the men 



230 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

coming from toward Virginia City. Stinson and his friend pulled 
out and left "Club-foot" alone. He continued on into Bannack 
and found Buck, who turned the money over to him. He settled 
his accounts and overtook us down on the Snake River. Buck 
was hung on the 10th, just a few days after he was at our camp. 

We certainly had a fearful trip, and how we ever made it I 
do not know. When we got to, or near, the Robber's Roost, in the 
Port Neuf Canyon, we were compelled to leave our wagons on ac- 
count of the deep snow. It was actually so deep that the mules 
could not find feed, and they had eaten all the top of the wagon- 
beds off. We had to go through the Malad Valley. The snow was 
so badly crusted the mules could not break a trail ; it was up to 
the men. Alex Toponce and I, being the most able, took the lead, 
bracing one another. We did some mighty hard work. It was 
surely rough on those poor mules. They could only get what we 
could furnish them, and that was willows or any shrub that we 
could cut and take to them. We managed to save all of them. 

We were certainly up against it ourselves, for food. We had 
only put in a supply to last us, if we were fortunate in getting 
down in a reasonable time, but three days before we got to the 
settlement we were completely out of all except a little parched 
coffee, which we ate. 

When we got to Bear River the mules made a break for the 
willows, down a steep hill, and we could not stop them. My part- 
ner and myself made up our minds not to go down that steep hill, 
but would try and get to a settlement. I had been over the road 
two or three times that season when the snow was off, so we made 
a start. All the gulches were so full of snow that we could only 
pass them by going around. Near the banks of the river the snow 
was not deep, so we kept as near that as possible. At last I made 
up my mind to cross the river and strike out for a high mountain, 
the outlines of which were visible in the moonlight. We crossed 
the river, but actually did not know where. As I was wading 
along, all at once I struck my shins against some hard substance. 
I got down, felt of the place, and found that some one had gone 
along there with a sled, when the snow was soft, and the track 
had frozen solid. We certainly felt much relieved. I said: "We 
are all right now, and will make it." Sometime before morning 
we came to a cabin. I went up and knocked, and when the owner 
asked who was there, I, with my mouth close to the crack, replied 
that we were starving, and had traveled for two days without sit- 
ting down. He informed us he would soon dress, and he did, and 
let us in. 

In one corner was a curtained bed, which indicated the man 
was married. The curtains began to move, and we knew that 
the lady was getting up. In the meantime, the man had a fire 



• THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 231 

going and we had dropped down completely exhausted. Say, I 
never ate such a good meal in my life! Potatoes! As large as 
your two fists. Fresh pork ! And fine light biscuit ! Nothing 
ever seen to equal them! We explained the condition of the 
party, and asked the man to take them some provisions. We had 
to sleep in an out-house (a corn crib), and when we awoke, about 
ten the next day, we asked the lady where the man was, and she 
told us that he had gone with relief for our party. I have gone 
through many things, but that wdnter trip was the most fearful of 
all. 

Mr. Carter is, at this writing, July, 1915, living in Dillon. He 
is one of the successful ranchers, and never goes hungry. 

Toponce had an experience in those early days, even worse than 
the one above, as he lost his complete outfit in trying to haul 
freight from Fort Union to Helena. 



CHAPTER XIV. 
Incidents in the Life of John F, Bishop. 

Hugh 'Neil's train was at Ft. Bridger when John F. Bishop 
and John Swing overtook it. (Swing was drowned in 1864, in 
the Snake River. Reported to have had $4,000 gold and a large 
revolver on him, so he never came to the surface.) 

The train consisted of about 130 men, women and children. 
We arrived at Blackfoot, and found the stream too high to ford. 
We took a wagon cover, put it around a wagon box, and ferried 
our stuff across. When we got to the Snake we could ford, as 
it had not commenced to raise. Al. E. Graeter, John Cowan, one 
of the men to discover Last Chance, and Robert Hereford were 
along. Hereford had been in Montana before, so he knew the 
trail. We crossed the Medicine Lodge Divide, and though it was 
April there was no snow. We arrived in Bannack, April 20th, 
1863. 

Swing had 125 pairs of boots which he had bought in Denver 
and sold in Bannack for $13.00 per pair. 

Mr. Bishop mined some in Bannack, and later was in Beven's 
Gulch. He tells the following rather peculiar story of one of the 
first miners' trials in Beven's Gulch. It seems that a man had 
come from Oregon with a large band of horses, and he accused a 
young man that was with him. of having robbed him. The Sheriff 
was McCarty, for whom McCarty Mountain was named. In ar- 
resting the young man, he did not treat him too kindly. The 
3'oung fellow was afraid of the justice that he might receive at 
Virginia, and hearing that a man named Dan Dixon was up the 



232 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

Gulch, he went up to see him and to get him to intercede for him. 
Bishop and Dixon had listened to the young man's story and 
came to the conclusion to go down to Bagdad, the town of the 
gulch, and see fair play. When they got down there, they found 
that quite a number of the miners were full, so they got on the 
jury. They listened to the testimony, and rendered a verdict, that 
the defendant should knock the stuffing out of the Plaintiff, and 
that they, the jury, would stand by and see that no one interfered 
while the sentence was being carried out, which they proceeded 
to do. This happened some time in August, 1863. 

Mr. Bishop soon bought an outfit, and began to freight from 
Utah. He also went to Cow Island, on the Missouri, below Ben- 
ton for a load. While he was loading at that place, the Indians 
came in considerable numbers, and were very insulting, but the 
whites were compelled to allow them to do as they pleased. It 
was on this trip that the following happened : 

A man and his wife had shipped a horse and buggy on the boat, 
and thought they would not experience much trouble from the 
Indians, between that point and Port Benton. They started out 
gaily enough, and were gone but a little while, when the boys saw 
something coming back as fast as possible, which, on inspection, 
proved to be our friend. He was shouting Indians ! Indians ! 
as loud as he could. The train immediately corralled, and waited 
for the attack. They waited for some time and one of the fellows 
said he would go and investigate. He ascended a hill on the road 
and found that there was a prairie dog town, and that the little 
fellows, sitting on their mounds, looked in that peculiar at- 
mosphere, almost as large as men on horses. It was the effect of 
a mirage. 

Later on, Mr. Bishop settled on the Beaverhead and began the 
raising of stock. He was probably the first Justice of the Peace 
in Beaverhead Valley, and helped throw the diamond hitch that 
bound more than one couple together for life. "Uncle John" 
has many a little story of the early days of Montana. I am in- 
debted to him, as well as others, for the incidents recorded in this 
story. He is hale and hearty, at an advanced age, and bids fair 
to enjoy many more years in our Treasure State. 



CHAPTER XV. 

John C. Innes, an 1862 Man. 

I came to Bannack, September 8th, 1862. with Woodmansee 
Brothers' train — ten teams. These were loaded with flour, sup- 
plies, vegetables, etc. There were no houses in Bannack. Neil 



THE ^VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 233 

Howie was one of our party. We crossed at Meek's Ferry, on 
the Snake. 

I do not remember who it was that built the first cabin in Ban- 
nack, as none were built until it began to get cold. Then every- 
one commenced to build. It would certainly be hard to say who 
was the first. The man who panned out the first gold on White 
Bar, Charlie Reville (as near as I can spell it). He got one dollar, 
using the lid of a camp kettle for a gold pan. William Still was 
also of this party. His name was not Still, but only a nickname 

We met Bill Hickman on the Snake River Valley, going back 
with horses, which he claimed to have recovered from some one 
who had stolen them. I was with Charlie Brown when he arrested 
Williams, the driver of the stage that was held up at Port Neuf, 
near Denver, 1865, late in the fall, November or December. 

The first lumber was cut in Lumber Gulch — a gulch that comes 
into the Grasshopper, between Bannack and Marysville. This was 
cut by a man named Cris. I got my claim, on Jimmie's Bar — Jim 
was named Griffeths, or Adobe Jim. He came to the country 
with Jim Harby, Smith Ball and Billy Simpson. Phil, the Canni- 
bal, he was General Harney's scout, was there also. He got his 
name, as he told me, in the following way: He killed a man in 
Philadelphia, and left for the west, where he became a squaw 
man. He and an Indian were sent to a post on the Yellowstone. 
They run out of provisions. Phil got to the fort, and made his 
report. After he was through, they asked him what had become 
of his companion. "Part of him is hanging on my saddle," he 
said. He had lived 11 days on rosebuds. He was killed by the 
fall of a cabin in Virginia City. He seemed a harmless old fel- 
low, and would never refuse a drink. 

At Green River, in August, 1862. a party of soldiers were cross- 
ing, swimming their horses behind the ferry boat. I recall that 
Jim Bridger came up to me, as tickled as a small boy, because his 
pony was making such nice progress in his attempts to swim over. 
Jim was a little dried up man. 

Plummer had no sister in Bannack. He may have been ar- 
rested at his sister-in-law's. His wife was east when he was hung 
and never came back. 

I was the guard over John Wagner the time he was at Sayer's 
corral, as Howie had sent for me. I also took him to get his meals. 

In the middle of the night, two men came to the corral and 
wanted to come in, and I got up and let them in. They had come 
from Alder. They soon explained what they wanted. They took 
Howie, and went out and organized the Bannack Vigilantes. They 
left me in charge of John. I did not get to see John hung, as I 
was too busy at something else. 



234 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

When we were going west in 1861, at a post made at Rocky 
Point, Wyoming, we found a party of hostile Indians, at the sta- 
tion. The driver said that he had never seen any there before. 
The party was large enough to take us, had they wished. I had 
the only rifle in the crowd. There was some talk as to what we 
should do — stay or get the mules and run. We had not been able 
to get the Indians to speak to us, so we concluded to go on ; but 
some of the boys got out and walked on one side, as they did not 
wish to be caught in the coach. I got up with the driver, who 
said. "There is no use in trying to run, unless we are compelled 
to." Then I will hit this old mule with this buffalo robe, and 
we will sure do something. We were not molested. When I came 
to Montana. I was told that I had saved the coach. 

In the summer of 1864, a party kept a ranch on Grasshopper. A 
French Canadian with a squaw. A white man, by the name of 
Roup, and a young cowboy, they made up their minds to go over 
to the Bitter Root, and steal horses. They accomplished the end, 
and were returning to the Grasshopper, and were back near the 
Point of Rocks, but up near the timber, when the Indians from 
Bitter Root came in pursuit. The horses were running as fast 
as possible. There was one Indian who was a splendid shot with 
bow and arrow. Roup had stayed behind to use his revolver on 
the Indians, when he was shot off his horse by an arrow. He 
crawled back into the timber. The Indians came to town, and re- 
ported what they had done, and a young man by the name of 
Richardson, and myself, went to find Roup. We found him as 
described, with the addition of a wound in the eye, which looked 
as though he had been shot with an arrow, and that it had been 
pulled out of the wound, also bringing the eye with it. Roup had 
been almost stripped — had on a pair of pants with the pockets 
turned inside out. We reported that we had found him, and a 
couple of his friends went up and buried him where he fell. 

Johnnie Grant was probably the biggest stockman of Montana 
in those days. I remember that we depended on that bunch of 
cattle for our food supply, if need be. Granville Stuart kept a 
butcher shop in those early days in Banna ck. 

Sanders' Quotation — From King Lear. 

"Give us a King, let his name be Harry." 

The cause of that remark was as follows : When Plummer, Ray 
and Stinson were hanged, Ray made the most trouble, and Little 
Harry King was behind him with a gun. He poked Ray in the 
back, and said: "You know what is behind you, and if you don't 
go ahead, you'll get it." 

After the hanging of these men, they had a big public meeting 
and nearly all of the miners up and down the gulch joined. It 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 235 

was at the meeting that Sanders quoted the above. Harry King 
was a very active member of the Vigilantes. Mr. Innes joined 
them at this meeting, and was placed at the head of a company 
to try and round up some of the highwaymen. His command 
went to Horse Prairie, but did not succeed in grabbing anyone. 



CHAPTER XVI. 
Story of James Elirkpatrick. 

The winter of 1863-4 was a memorable one for the embryo State 
of Montana. The vanguard of would-be prospectors from Gold 
Creek, in what is since Deer Lodge County, pushing on to Grass- 
hopper Valley, had found already established and swarming with 
pioneer mining life, the "City" of Bannack. All mining camps 
in those crude days were dubbed either "Gulches" or "Cities." 
(Bannock was the original spelling of the name after the tribe 
which at that time, hovered about, and, to avoid confusion, it was 
called "East Bannock," in contradiction from "West Bannock" 
in Idaho, since changed to Lewiston.) 

Bannack City, whose prolific placers had already begun to 
show signs of depletion, had still much of the alluring "dust" 
within its sands, still eagerly sought by rugged men in primitive 
ways. 

An army of gold seekers had surged past the town, over the 
mountains to the east, swarmed down the Beaverhead and up 
the Ruby River to Alder Gulch and Virginia City. Here met and 
merged another stream of humanity, from the overland route far- 
ther north. 

Bannack had been and was still rich — Virginia was richer. 
Money was very plentiful, gold abundant, and some of the lucky 
miners were already departing for far away homes, with quanti- 
ties of the precious "dust." 

The crack of the "Bull-whacker's" whip, almost hourly, her- 
alded the arrival of incoming w^agon trains of gold seekers, or 
the departure of freighters seeking supplies from Salt Lake. Pack 
trains came from Oregon, streamers from the lower reaches of the 
Missouri, and the Mississippi; daily stages arrived with month- 
old mail from Omaha, and carried daily passengers between the 
two "cities." Their treasure boxes were seldom lacking or empty. 
The passengers were usually well supplied with "dust," much 
was being sent out of the country by wagon train, and "dust" 
was both a commodity and a currency. No condition could have 
been more favorable to lawlessness. The country knew no law 
except that of the Miners' meeting — vague, unsatisfactory, fickle. 



236 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

suited only for transient purposes. Revolvers, in the hands of 
outlaws, fast gathering from other haunts, had to be reckoned 
with all too often. The bad element soon became organized, mur- 
der and robbery was frequent, no man's life or money was se- 
cure. Everyone felt that something must be done, that the con- 
ditions necessitated prompt and secret action. 

But how to begin? Who could be trusted? Brave, honest and 
noble men were plentiful, but few knew their neighbors. Almost 
everyone knew numbers of the roughs, but to speak of them aloud 
meant certain death, even a whisper within the walls of Ban- 
nack's huts might reach an outlaw's ear. 

The situation became daily more intense ; shocking crimes 
hourly increased in frequency. Among the law abiding were men 
who knew no fear ; cautious discreet souls ; men of iron will. 

A union league was silently, suddenly formed among the men 
of Grasshopper Creek, ostensibly sympathizers with the Union 
cause in our Civil war, then raging in the far-off "States." This 
suspicious circumstance at once attracted the attention of resi- 
dent road agents, some of whom made haste to join the league. 
Something imminent seemed in the air, something was about to 
happen. Rumors, of vague origin, and no sponsors, circulated. To 
try to leave town, even by night, was unsafe, by day it usually 
meant robbery, perhaps murder. The robbers had become very 
strong : word flew that Bannack was about to be sacked. Ned 
Ray, Buck Stinson and Henry Plummer were among the most 
prominent men on Bannack 's single street. The former, tall, 
sandy, lean, with mustache and goatee, well groomed, buckskin 
dressed, soft felt hat ; he might be taken for a freighter or a pros- 
pector on a rest, in tovni. 

I have learned that he did not ride the road, but was a spy and 
informer. I heard him remark one day, shortly before his death, 
as he sat at a card table in Percy and Hacker's saloon, with about 
$1,000 in $20.00 gold pieces, stacked before him, "I have today 
been around and paid all my debts, and have this much left." 
Little did I then suspect where he had obtained that coin. Gamb- 
ling seemed his only occupation; he lived in a small cabin, with 
his "woman," just off the street under the low "bar" upon which 
Bannack was built. 

Buck Stinson was below medium height, well built, not bad 
looking, medium complexion, a gambler, and Plummer 's lieuten- 
ant — a sort of Deputy Sheriff. He was sometimes out on horse- 
back, and on one occasion I saw him gallop demonstratively into 
town on a powerful horse with his roll of blankets flopping behind 
the saddle — a usual thing at that time among horsemen — and rein 
up at the express office to learn if the Virginia City stage had 
that dav been robbed as usual. It had. I forget whether he had 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 237 

helped or not. The following day, sitting in Percy and Hacker's 
saloon, where, as a boy of sixteen, I spotted ten-pins for hire, I 
heard two shots in quick succession, outside on the sidewalk. Boy 
like, I ran out to see. Stinson's beautiful Mastiff dog, a favorite 
about the street, and a pet of his "wife," lay gasping in death. 
He had paid the penalty at the hands of a bad-tempered master 
for not coming back, at call, from following another man. Stin- 
son put up his revolver, stepped inside, and sat dejectedly down. 

Not having seen all of this, I innocently asked, "Who shot 
Carlo?" A meaning look from Percy caused me to be silent. Di- 
rectly Buck said, "K I ever get drunk again, I hope some son- 
of-a-gun will kill rae." Thus will remorse sometimes reach the 
hardest heart. He had wantonly destroyed a faithful dog, and 
attracted to himself most undesirable attention. He also, with his 
"wife" occupied a small log hut, under the hill near Ned Ray's 
domicile, the same in which the "Greaser," Joe Pizanthia, was 
killed, shortly after the road agent trio had met their fate. 

Henry Plummer, genteel, self-possessed, and of medium height 
and complexion, was in and out of town, going sometimes to Vir- 
ginia, and was often on the streets of Bannack; he was Sheriff, 
through peculiar circumstances, of both towns, elected ostensibly 
by popular vote at Miners' meetings. 

Out of the Union League, secretly, in some mysterious manner, 
evolved the Bannack branch of the Vigilance Committee. Most 
of these courageous men are long since dead, but their acts of 
summary justice, inspired by that necessity which knows no law, 
are upheld by all fair-minded men. 

Monday morning, January 11th, broke clear, bright and cold, 
on the little hamlet of Marysville, one mile down the creek from 
Bannack. The cold was intense. Not a breath stirred the crisp 
air. Before sunrise, word came to Marysville, and flew down 
the Grasshopper, for miles to all the miners, that the main trio 
of road agents had been hung on the previous night. Hundreds 
of determined looking men, heavily armed, thronged for hours, 
the one road to Bannack a living stream. It was an exciting 
sight. Dressed in my heaviest wraps and mitts, stopping in at 
several miners' cabins to warm, I ran all the way to town. The 
street was filled with armed men ; all was orderly and quiet, many 
were drinking in the numerous saloons, that lined the only street. 

An air of satisfaction and relief prevailed. In the lower part 
of a two-story log house, not yet completed, lay on the floor, 
frozen solid, the bodies of the three terrors of the town. Side 
by side. Math each a deep groove in the neck showing the marks 
of rope strand spirals ; clad in their Sunday clothes, newly shaved, 
they laid, with the awful ropes lying near, a gruesome ending, to 
lives of crime. 



238 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

Suddenly the gang had learned that their days were numbered, 
that a Vigilance Committee was expected over the mountains, 
from Virginia, to hang them. Murderers were sent out along the 
road to way-lay the Committee, but they slipped in to town at 
night, by an unfrequented road. Each robber had his horse sad- 
dled and equipped on Yankee Flat, just across the Creek ready 
for instant flight ; none dared to start ; each awaited the turn of 
events. The Virginia men joined those of Bannack; three squads 
went silently in the night to as many doors; three pairs of eyes 
looked down the double barrels of so many shotguns. Quickly 
three well dressed men dangled from a gallows in Hangman's 
Gulch, three hundred yards from Main Street, a gallows erected 
by Plummer for another murderer. 

Time and necessity precluded any elaborate preparations for 
the execution, and Ned Ray, being next one of the posts of the 
gallows, wound his legs about it, and thereby prolonged his mis- 
ery. The other two passed away less painfully. During the trip 
to the gallows, a crowd gathered, but no attempt at rescue or 
interference developed. A brother of Plummer 's wife, a highly 
respected young man, who clerked in the store of a Mr. Thomp- 
son, tried to intercede for his relative, but to no avail. He was 
told in no uncertain terms to return to town. 

Of those who took part in that gruesome drama, many were 
at that time well known about Bannack, respected and respectable 
business men. 

Also, some whose names appear in the works of Professor Dims- 
dale and N. P. Langford, are remembered by the writer, reputable 
citizens of the time and place. 

JAMES KIRKPATRICK. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

Incidents of Beaverhead County. 

John F. Bishop and Dick Reynolds brought in the first stock 
sheep — landed in Bannack, November 7th, 1869. They were driven 
from The Dalles, Oregon — 800 miles. Col. Charles Broadwater 
bought their wool for 19 cents. No good shearers in the country 
those days. 

Mrst County School Superintendent: J. D. Douglas was ap- 
pointed School Superintendent, September 30th, 1867. 

Assessor: John B. Miller appointed March 15th, 1865; allowed 
$12.00 per day for services. 

Sheriff: E. Smith Ball was first Sheriff, and C. M. Kingsbury 
second, after the organization. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 239 

County Attorney : E. T. Phelps, first Prosecuting Attorney, as 
per acct. paid by county commissioners, March 16th, 1866. 

In the winter of 1862 and 1863, Neil Howie and Jack Carroll 
found quartz in Argenta, but they did not go back. 

A Promissory Note. 

On January 19th, 1864, Cyrus Skinner and Company gave the 
following note to George Chrisman & Co., to-wit : 

On or before the first day of April, A. D. 1864 we jointly and 
severally promise to pay to George Chrisman, or order. Three 
Hundred Thirty-seven and 63/100 Dollars, in good, clean gulch 
gold, at current rates, without discount or defalcation, with inter- 
est at the rate of 10 per cent per month, for value received. 

SKINNER & LUTZI. 

This carried as security the building just west of the Goodrich 
House. (See illustration.) 

One of the first trials for ownership was recorded as follows : 
Galled meeting Saturday, October 20th, 1862, wherein Joseph 
Clark was plaintiff and Porter was the defendant. Trial for right 
of ownership to claim No. 6, above discovery, occupied by Areighi 
and Harby. Division being called for, plaintiff received 40; de- 
fendant 25. Case decided for plaintiff. 

John Grits, the man who came west with the father of the 
author, claimed Lot No. 3, West Side of First Cross street in Ban- 
nack, November 25th, 1862. John was killed in Virginia City the 
next year by a cave in his mine. 

Miners' Meetings. 
Report of Committee on arbitration. Independent District, 
March 19, 1863. 

We, the Committee, agree to decide that the disputed ground 
between C. M. Davis and Wood, McCable & Company, be equally 
divided, and that the lines be measured and run from Discovery 
on the front and back ends of claims, down to the claims to make 
them parallel with discovery. 

J. B. SPENCER. 
D. K. BUTLER. 
JOPIN FERGUSON. 
Recorded March 20th, 1863. 

M. H. LOTT, Recorder. 
At a meeting held on Jimmie's Bar, Independent District, 
March 12th, 1863, we find the following: 

Sec. 21. "Resolved that no lawyer, counsellor or attorney, 
shall be allowed to practice, plead or act in the capacity of an 
attorney before the court in investigating a dispute in this dis- 
trict." 



240 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

Toll Bridge. 

Know all men by these presents, that we, Lewis D. Irvin, Fred 
Burr and James Minesinger have claimed, staked and pre-empted, 
for the purpose of building a bridge across the Big Hole River, at 
the present crossing of said river, to Deer Lodge Valley, from 
Grasshopper Creek. The said bridge will be completed in good 
time for travel. Taken October 13th, 1862. (Afterward Brown's 
bridge.) 

On January 28th, 1863, Henry Eagan, Barney Hughes, George 
Orr, R. McLeod, Lewis Simmons and William Sweeney, sold their 
claims to Butz and Peabody, for each claim — $250.00. Most of 
these men were of the Fairweather party. I do not know why 
McLeod did not go with them. The sale was made to give them 
funds for out-fitting for the Yellowstone trip. 

Settling a Partnership Quarrel. 

Whereas, Gilbert Durand and Joseph Verser Suprenant, both of 
Bannack City, have been formerly partners, and a difference has 
arisen about the settlement of affairs, and the disposal of part- 
nership property — they and each of them hereby agree that the 
entire matter shall be referred to three referees. E. R. Purple, 
chosen by Gilbert Durand; P. C. Wood chosen by J. V. Supren- 
ant, and a third to be chosen by the other two. All the business 
matters of said firm to be submitted to said referees, for final 
settlement, and also the disposal of Company property, to be 
decided fully by them. And we bind ourselves, each for himself, 
to abide by and carry out the decision of said referees, fully, in 
all matters, both as regards partnership and present business, so 
as to make and conclude a full and entire settlement of all matters 
between them in any and every way. Signed this 2nd day of 
April, 1863. 

JOSEPH VESSER SUPRENANT, 
GILBERT DURAND. His (X) Mark. 
Witness : H. P. A. SMITH. 

Under the agreement, we have chosen C. M. Davis as third ref- 
eree in matter within mentioned. 

E. R. PURPLE. 

P. C. WOOD. 
Recorded April 4, 1863. 

Findings Were as Follows. 

The undersigned arbitrators, in the matter of difference be- 
tween Gilbert Durand and J. V. Suprenant, find and award as 
follows, to-wit: 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 241 

That the said co-partnership property, now on hand, amounts 
to $1,371.33. That the net receipts of the co-partnership, since 
its existence, is $744.45. The value of outstanding credits, $50.00. 
That J. V. Suprenant's indebtedness to Gilbert Durand is 
$1,141.55, and we hereby award to Gilbert Durand, the entire 
property of the co-partnership, of whatever name and descrip- 
tion, together with the whole outstanding credits of the co-part- 
nership, and we find that J. V. Suprenant is indebted to Gilbert 
Durand in the sum of Thirty-three 66/100 Dollars, for which 
amount we judgment against said J. V. Suprenant and in favor 
of said Gilbert Durand. 

E. R. PURPLE. 
P. C. WOOD. 
C. M. DAVIS. 

April 4, 1863. 

Martin Barrett relates the following, to-wit : That fellow 
Durand was called a tough citizen, but he treated me mighty well. 
I bought a wagon from him, for which I was to pay $125.00. I 
gave him my sack, and he weighed out, what I supposed was 
$125.00. "When I got home, I weighed my dust, and found it 
$150.00 short. I returned to Banna ck, and called Durand 's at- 
tention to it, and he gave me back $150.00. 

Mrs. Martin Barrett and Mrs. Philip H. Poindexter planted 
the first dandelions in Montana, the spring of 1868. 

Mrs. Barrett tells that her first wash day on the ranch was 
a surprise to her. The boys, Joe and Mart, had not taken very 
kindlj'- to the wash tub, so had accumulated a great heap of soiled 
material, which they had thrown under the bunk. Her surprise 
was the finding of $1200.00 that had been placed there for safe 
keeping. 

First White Child Born. 

The first white child born in Bannack was bom in December, 
1862, to the wife of B. B. Burehett. His father, being a southern 
sympathizer, named him Jefferson Davis; but as the fortunes of 
war were against Jeff he changed the boy's name two and one- 
half years later to Thomas Jefferson. 

This was from Edwin R. Purple to Col. Sanders. He had sent, 
in 1875, a list of the people in Bannack prior to January 1, 1862. 

Women in Bannack. 

Arnold. Mrs. W. S. ; Ball, Mrs. Smith ; Biddle. Mrs. Dr. ; Bureh- 
ett, Mi*s. B. B. ; Burehett. Miss Mary; Bennett, widow and young 
daughter ; Buckner, Mrs. Hank ; Burehett, Miss Sallie ; Brown, 
widow ; Caldwell. Mrs. Thos. ; Castner, Mrs. J. M. ; Carrol, Mrs. ; 
Caven, Mrs. J. B. ; Dalton, Mrs.; Dalton, Miss; Donnelly, Miss 



242 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

Mary; Dalton, Miss Matilda; Davenport, Mrs L. W. ; Durgan 
Widow Catharine; Hewins, Widow; Harby, Mrs. James; Kuster 
Mrs. G. ; Le Graw, Mrs. Frank (the Countess) ; Meredith, Mrs. 
Peabody, Mrs. Susan ; Roy, Mrs. Frank ; Short, Mrs. ; Tilley, Mrs. 
Tyler, Mrs. H, T. ; Waddams, Mrs. Wilson; Waddams, Miss Sarah 
Zoller, Mrs. Henry; ZoUer, Miss Emma. 

At the Big Hole Bridge. 

Burr, Fred ; Coulan, James ; Ervin, Louis D. ; Minesinger, 
Jas. M. 

The Big Hole, or Brown's Bridge, was built in the winter of 
1862-3. 

Scholars of First School in Bannack — 1863. 

Emma Zoller, Emma Cutler, Susan Burchett, Mary Teeters, 
Charles Van Camp, J. Edward Watson, Wright Prescott Edger- 
ton, Matilda French, Wm. Jones, Henry French, Delia Cutler, 
George Burchett, Geo. Teeters, Jennie Bennett, Euphemia Van 
Camp, James U. Sanders, Mollie Dye, Margaret French, Pauline 
Edgerton, George French. 

On October 19th, 1862, J. H. Morley, Mandeville Pitcher, Jule 
Morley got into their cabin. This is the first one we can find in 
the history of Bannack. 

W. H. Bell was the first person to die in Bannack, November 
2nd, 1862. Typhoid fever. Buried by the Masons. (See Lang- 
ford.) 

November 21st placer mines were discovered at Argenta. No 
good. 

Morley speaks of cutting hay on the Grasshopper for his oxen, 
on December 9, 1862. 

On December 20th Mandeville and Morley run a level for the 
Painter Creek ditch and found plenty fall. This was afterwards 
built by Smith & Graeter. 

On Sunday, December 21st, a miners' meeting, called to pass 
the odious code of civil laws gotten up for benefit of a few petty- 
foggers, but they were rejected by a two-thirds majority to ad- 
journ until spring. 

On December 22 about 20 men met in Morley 's cabin to organ- 
ize a town association to operate at Three Forks. Morley was 
elected chairman. Started for Three Forks, December 28th, 1862. 

January 6th surveyed a townsite one mile below mouth of Gal- 
latin River. 

January 14th, 1863, Plummer shot Jack Cleveland. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 243 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

The Grey Horse. 

I came to Montana in 1863, and, with Joseph Shineberger, lo- 
cated land at the crossing of Horse Prairie. 

Sometime in the early part of January, 1864, I happened to be 
in Bannaek and on the street noticed a dark, swarthy featured 
man, about 40 years old, riding a buckskin horse. I was riding 
an excellent grey gelding, famed for his speed and endurance. 
The party rode up and desired to make a trade. I could not con- 
sider anything of the kind, as good saddle horses were the only 
means for joy rides those days, and as mine was a good one I 
could see no reason for a swap. To give you an idea how good he 
was, I will say that I rode him from Virginia to Bannaek, 75 miles, 
in six hours. 

I was taking horses in and out of Bannaek, as we were running 
a horse herd, almost every day. Coming in the next day I met 
Tom Pitt, who told me that he had bought a buckskin horse and 
that the fellow had taken his saddle on his back and started to- 
ward Horse Prairie, probably for Grey John. I found that it was 
an easy matter to track the fellow, as there was four inches of 
snow. I was mighty glad, when I got home, to find that Dave 
Melten, who stayed with me that winter, had put the horse in the 
stable. There was no door, only a log chain stretched across to 
keep stock in, as lumber was $100 per thousand. The next morn- 
ing it was cold ! Forty below zero ! when we started toward the 
willows to find the horse thief. We found his camp, saddle and 
blankets, but no man. We sent a hired man on top of a hill close 
by to watch. Shortly after the party came to the foot of the hill 
and wanted the man to come down and talk to him. Nothing do- 
ing. So the fellow came to camp, where we were waiting, and 
said he had lost his horse, said he could have killed us if he had 
wanted to, but only wanted a horse so he could get out of the 
country. 

I told him I had tracked him from Bannaek and would give 
him one hour to leave the creek. If I had known who he was I 
do not believe I would have been so brave. 

I had a sore-back mule, not much good, which I traded for 
everything he had, saddle, bridle, blankets, etc., and a forty-five 
Colter revolver. He did not want to part with the gun, at that 
time, but I was boss. He owed me $25 on the trade and said he 
would be back in a few days and pay me. Not long after this 
Neil Howie came to my ranch with this fellow and stayed all 
night. (To be exact it was on January 8th.) Neil told me the 
man was Dutch John, and that he had overtaken him on the 
Snake River and would take him to Bannaek. John told me to 



iU 



244 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

come to Bannack and he would pay me. For some reason I did 
not go in until the 12th and found out that I was too late to get 
my money. In a partly built frame house I found John still hang- 
ing to a joist with his feet about two feet from the floor, and in 
the same room was Buck Stinson and Henry Plummer. John 
had been shot in one shoulder some time before that and the curi- 
ous would take hold of him and swing him around to see the bul- 
let hole. 

I kept the grey horse for some time and rode him with much 
pleasure, but in some way he got the mountain fever and became 
thin. I tried to sell him to the boys on the ranch for $10. No 
one wanted him. One spring he got fat and I made up my mind 
to get rid of him. Wes Travis was a noted horseman, in those 
days, and had a large stable in Helena. I led John over there, 
behind a wagon and put up with Wes. He had heard of the horse 
and told me that he would give as much as any one else. He told 
me, however, to go and see a certain party and find out what he 
would give. I found the man and he said $150. I went back to 
Wes and told him and he said: "No use. Mart. I wouldn't give 
you anything for him. He's had the mountain fever and will 
never be any good." It seems that D. B. Mason, of our county, 
happened to be in Travis' stable when I rode the horse out and 
he put Wes wise. Well, I couldn't sell him and so I started back 
for Horse Prairie. Stayed all night at Boulder, and when I went 
to the stable next morning found the old fellow dead. That was 
the end of Grey John, one of the most beautiful pieces of horse 
flesh I ever saw, and one that has become famous in Montana 
history. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

First Meeting of County Commissioners in Montana, 

Records of Board of County Commissioners of Beaverhead 
Coimty, Idaho Territory. 

April 4th. The Commissioners appointed J. M. Galloway, 
Justice of Peace in and for the County of Beaverhead by authority 
vested in said Commissioners to fill vacancy. 

AMOS W. HALL, Clerk. 

First meeting of County Commissioners for Beaverhead County 
held at Bannack City, Monday, April 4th, 1864. 

Said Committee composed of the following named: George 
Chrisman, A. J. Smith and Elijah Moore. 

Geo. Crisman was elected chairman of said committee of Board 
of Conntv Commissioners. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 245 

Matters of renting building for the purpose of Justice and 
Probate Court and various County offices ; and a building was 
rented of Andy Lutzi at a rent of $125.00 per month, payable in 
the orders of the County of Beaverhead. 

The following list of fees was adopted by the Board. 

Sheriff's Fees: 

For serving any writ or notice not including of Subpoenas, 

for the first person served $2.00 

For each additional person 1.00 

For each copy of such writ or notice when required for each 

one hundred words 3.00 

Each commitment to prison 2.00 

Attending before a Judge or Court when required not at a 
regular term of Court in his county for each day beside.... 6.00 

Mileage one way per mile 75 

Copy of any paper required by law for each 100 words 30 

Serving and returning Subpoena for each person 50 

Calling a Jury in each case 50 

Summoning a grand or petit jury for each panel, including 

mileage to be paid out of the County treasury 10.00 

Selling land or other property on execution or order of sale, 

percentage on one hundred dollars or less 5% 

Over $1,000, or less than $3,000 3% 

Over $3,000, and less than $10,000 2% 

Over $10,000 and less than $15,000 1% 

Executing a deed for land with costs of stamps and ac- 
knowledgment - 2.00 

For making inventory of property attached or levied upon, 

per day 10.00 

For each returned not served 25 

For making arrest 2.00 

Recorder's Fees. 

For recording pre-emption mining claims 1.00 

For recording deed per folio 30 

After the first folio and for the first folio 2.00 

A meeting of the County Commissioners of Beaverhead Count}' 
was held April 20th, 1864, George Chrisman, in the Chair. The 
matter of a bridge across Grasshopper Creek, near the residence 
of Judge Edgerton, in the town of Bannack, was considered, and 
action taken toward issuing sealed proposals for bids for the con- 
struction of the same. Specifications for the bridge as follows: 
Four stringers that will square nine inches, with a framed and 
braced vent under the middle. The west end to be cribbed up, 



246 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

two feet above the present bank. The east end to rest upon a 
sill, properly and firmly embedded in the bank. The bridge to 
be covered with poles, hewed square four inches thick, with pole 
on each end of the top of bridge that will square six inches. Each 
pole used in covering the bridge to be firmly pinned at each end. 
Also, the poles on each end of the bridge to be firmly secured. 
Said bridge to be 12 feet wide in the clear. The timber to be 
used in construction of the vent under the middle of the bridge 
to be of a size that will square ten inches. The road to be prop- 
erly leveled at the last end, and properly graded and filled up at 
the west end of the bridge, by the party contracting to build the 
same. 

It is ordered by the County Commissioners of Beaverhead 
county, by the power vested in them, by act of the Legislature 
of this Territory, that the road running from the upper extremity 
of the Town of Bannack, to the lower or eastern portion known 
as Marysville, be declared a county road, and protected as such 
for the public benefit. 

A resolution was passed by this board to purchase the jail built 
by the city council of Bannack City, for the sum of $500 in scrip, 
of the County of Beaverhead, for the use of said county, and the 
scrip ordered to be issued for same. 

May 19th, at this date, the building rented of Andy Lutzi, was 
given up by the Commissioners of Beaverhead County, on the 
ground that the rent was too high. 

April 26, Articles of Agreement entered into between C. 0. 
Trask and the County Commissioners of Beaverhead County, as 
follows : Said Trask agrees to grade a road commencing at the 
hill near Estes Feed Stable, running up and near the creek to 
the top of the bank above the upper bridge ; said road to be seven 
feet wide, solid ground, and the upper bank grade to be 40%. 
Also to leave road from the first bank on the south, and west side 
of upper bridge, with side logs, and to make a good road in the 
bank from the upper bridge to the dug road, the whole to be 
done in good order subject to inspection by the Board of County 
Commissioners for which we, the Commissioners, agree to give 
him twelve hundred dollars in county scrip ; work to be completed 
on or before the 20th day of May, 1864. 

May 15th. The above road was examined by the Board of 
County Commissioners, and county scrip ordered issued to C. 0. 
Trask, for building solid road. Amount of scrip issued May 1st, 
1864, ($1200.00) Twelve Hundred Dollars. 

AMOS W. HALL, Clerk. 
May 31st, 1864. 

A special meeting of tlie Board of County Commissioners ac- 




GOVERNOR EDGERTON 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 247 

cording to notice, was held at this date. George Chrisman in 
the chair. 

The usual bond was presented to the Board of County Commis- 
sioners, from J. M. Galloway, acting Justice of the Peace, and ap- 
proved. 

Action was taken by the Board with reference to the amount 
of bonds received of Henry Zoller, Treasurer of Beaverhead 
County, and said amount was fixed at the sum of Four Thousand 
Dollars. 

These were the first meetings of County Commissioners in Mon- 
tana. They simply are recorded to give the curious facts, from 
a historic standpoint. If they are of interest to one person, I will 
feel satisfied. 

One fact in history is worth much more than pages of stuff that 
is a matter of hearsay. 

Governor Edgerton. 

First Governor of Montana. 

Born in Cazenovia, N. Y., August, 1818. 

He was a frail child and for some time his life was despaired 
of and his grave clothes were made ready. His father died when 
he was six years old, leaving his mother with six children to care 
for. 

In those days there were few occupations open to women. She 
worked night and day over her loom and with her needle to keep 
her flock together. At last she came to the end of human endur- 
ance and her boys, one by one, were forced to leave home. At 
length it was Sidney's turn, and the eight-ye^r-old boy set forth 
to match his strength against the world. He started out manfully 
enough, but his heart failed him before he had gone far and he 
turned to look back to his home. There in the doorway stood his 
mother watching him, with a brave smile on her lips. With an 
answering smile the little fellow faced about and went on his way 
reassured. 

There followed years of hardship. He attended district school, 
where he worked for board and tuition. Later, at the academy 
at Lima, N. Y., where his cousin. Prof. Seager, was instructor. 

Books were not plenty. He read the Bible, Pilgrim's Progress 
and Pope's Iliad. 

In 1844 he went to Akron, Ohio, where he entered the law of- 
fice of Rufus P. Spalding, as a law student, although all the money 
he had was three dollars. 

That winter he taught the academy at Tallmadge, Ohio, fol- 
lowing spring he went to Cincinnati, where he studied at the law 
school for a year. He began the practice of law at Akron, in 1846. 
He married Mary Wright in 1849. 



248 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

He was elected Prosecuting Attorney on the Free Soil ticket in 
1852, and in 1856 was one of the members of the convention which 
formed the Republican party. The same year he was nominated 
for Probate Judge but declined the nomination. He was elected 
as representative to Congress in 1858. 

He tried to get to Harper's Ferry to see John Brown at the 
request of Brown's brother and son, in order to arrange some busi- 
ness matters, but was stopped by the soldiers. 

In 1863 was appointed Chief Justice of Idaho, and was expected 
to go to Lewiston, the capital. 

Left Akron on June 1st, 1863, accompanied by his family, his 
nephew, Ex-Senator Wilbur F. Sanders, and family, and two or 
three gentlemen who wished to seek their fortunes in the West. 

Outfitted at Omaha. Unyoked their oxen on September 17, 
1863, on Yankee Flat, Bannack. 

An Incident. 

Shortly after arriving in Bannack the Judge strolled down 
Main street to see the town. Coming to a building where Miners' 
court was in progress he went in. 

The Judge, seeing Edgerton was a stranger, invited him to sit 
by him. The trial of the case proceeded, but not for long, when 
it was interrupted by the suggestion of someone present that it 
was time liquid refreshments should be served. The Judge and 
everyone present approving of the suggestion, an old darkey was 
dispatched to a neighboring saloon for whiskey. On his return 
the court took a recess and a drink, several of them in fact. 

At a meeting of the citizens of Virginia and Bannack, some 
months later. Judge Edgerton was selected to go to Washington 
to secure a division of the Territory. He took a lot of gold with 
him as an exhibit. 

Was appointed Governor of the new territory in 1864. 

Went East in 1865 in the interests of Montana. Left Bannack 
in September and made the trip back to the States with a mule 
team. 

Took up his residence again at Akron where he died on the 
19th day of July, 1900. 

Judge W. Y. Pemberton says that Sidney Edgerton was a very 
bitter partisan, and scored his opponent while on the stump, but 
that he was an exceedingly honorable gentleman and one who 
would fight for the right, as he saw it, and was generous enough 
to give due credit to those who did not believe as he did. 




GEO. DETWILER 

Speaker of First House 




ROBERT LAWRENCE 
President First Council. Montana 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 249 

First Idaho Legislature. 

First Idaho Legislature convened December 7th, 1863. 

Council from what is now Montana — A. J. Edwards, Wm. 
Rheem, Horace Joseph Tuffs and L. C. Miller. Rode horseback; 
came back via San Francisco. 

Election October 31st, 1863 ; $4.00 per diem during attendance 
at sessions thereof. Greenbacks were 50 cents on the $1.00. Meals 
$1.00 to $1.25 in gold. Many brought their blankets and slept 
where they could. 

First Legislature. 

The first Legislative Assembly of Montana convened at noon, 
Monday, December 12th, 1864. 

Council called to order by Judge L. P. Williston. 

House called to order by the Governor, who informed the mem- 
bers that it was necessary that they take the oath of allegiance 
to the United States. This iron-clad oath went down with the 
council, with but little delay or grumbling. In the House, how- 
ever, the case was different. Mayhew, McCormack and Bell, each 
had his say. An estray from the council, slightly spirituously 
obstructed, got into the wrong pew ; had suggestions to make, 
was called to order by McCormack ; retorted by accusing McCor- 
mack of being ambitious of the Speaker's chair and finally sub- 
sided. 

The Governor was not only imperturable, he hinted to the 
gentlemen in a mild way the anarchy that would follow if the 
Assembly should fail to take the necessary preliminary step to 
organization. This did not move them. Then there was the most 
distant insinuation that the law allowed no one to be paid who 
did not swear allegiance to the government that paid them. This 
touched the Madison County delegation in a tender place, and 
with such wry faces as a patient makes who takes distasteful purg- 
atives, and such contortions as one would make after over-eating 
turkey-buzzards, they swallowed the "iron-clad" without mental 
reservation or evasion. 

This done, temporary organization followed without difficulty. 
Judge Anson S. Potter, being elected temporaiy president of the 
Council, and Mr. Geo. DetwHer temporary speaker of the House. 



Rogers of the House dictated an oath which he said he could 
take and not turn his stomach, even if it did trouble his digestion. 
This "iron-clad oath" was not only in the way of Rogers, but 
Pemberton did not think it would agree with his stomach, and, 
like the sensible man he usually is. refused to compromise his 
friends by accepting one of the chief clerkships. Rogers resigned, 



250 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

President of the Council was R. Lawrence. Speaker, George Det- 
wiler. 

Governor White. 

It is said that he was the direct descendant of P. White, the 
first child born in Massachusetts after the landing of the Pilgrims. 

He was born in New Bedford, Bristol County, Massachusetts, 
December 3d, 1838. 

-Attended Pearce Academy at Middleburg. 

As a boy he was independent. 

I have been told that he made up his mind to leave home at 
the age of sixteen without the consent of his parents. That he 
could see, some place in the future, the rosy side of a cloud, then, 
of his mind, dark; that he could make, without assistance from 
his father, a success, must have been the idea that led him to 
take advantage of the first ship that could lead him into new pas- 
tures and into strange lands. 

So the old ship Kathay took on board the boy who was ambi- 
tious for adventures. He went to Sidney, Australia, for his first 
experience, and the second trip took him to San Francisco in 1856. 

Too much excitement in that place for a boy like White, so he 
quit salt water and went to fruit farming. He studied law while 
earing for the fruit. 

He left California in 1866, and went to Malad, Idaho, where he 
was admitted to the bar in 1868. 

Was elected on the Anti-Mormon ticket clerk and recorder of 
Oneida county. One of his first ventures was the manufacture of 
salt secured from Salt Springs located in the mountains 100 miles 
north. The salt found sale in the mines in Montana at a good 
price for years, or until the railroad was constructed. The Gov- 
ernor followed the railroad to Montana, and was one of the incor- 
porators of Dillon townsite. 

He became the first mayor. In the early days of Dillon, Sebree, 
Ferris and White were factors. They started the bank since 
known as the First National. The charge of the institution was 
placed with White, and he has no doubt conducted it in a peculiar 
manner. He studied men and conditions and loaned men money 
according to his own idea as to their ability to pay. No mortgage 
was taken, and no man was on your note. The old gentleman 
was very inquisitive as to your intentions and found out from 
every source possible the manner in which you conducted your 
business. If you played a little poker, drank a little too much 
whiskey at times, he knew it, but if you were playing fair with 
him he said nothing about it to you, though he might say some- 
thing about it to your neighbor, from whom, probably, he had 
become acquainted with those very shortcomings. 




GOVERNOR B. F. WHITE 




BILL FAIRWEATHEK 

Discoverer of Alde-r Gulch 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 251 

I do not consider that the Governor was a public spirited man. 
He was too careful for that. He acted as a safety valve to keep 
darned fools from blowing up the boiler. 

He could accumulate money which he loaned to men who would 
build up. Few men of Beaverhead county who have amounted to 
anything can say that they were not helped in some way by B 
F. White. He was level-headed, careful, not too courageous when 
it came to loaning money. Many, many men owe this man much 
for the help he has extended them. Bisr Hole Basin was assisted 
materially by him. 

Sentiment is foreign to his nature. To mix sentiment with busi- 
ness is the folly of the fool, because money is needed to conduct 
the affairs of men, not to close the wounds of broken hearts, dry 
the tears of widows, or feed the hungry orphan. Not too good 
nor too bad — just a man. 

The time came when B. F. White was appointed to fill the posi- 
tion of Territorial Governor by President Harrison. This was 
just before statehood. As he was the last Governor of the terri- 
tory, he may be considered the first Governor of the state, because 
he was such half a day before Governor Toole took his seat. This 
may be technical, but I guess it is the truth. 

Married, February 14, 1879. to Elizabeth Davis, who was born 
in England, to whom four children were born: Carrie, Emrys, 
Ralph and Greta. 



CHAPTER I.— ALDER GULCH. 

Bill Fairweather. 

Wm. Fairweather was a peculiar person. He was bom in New 
Brunswick and started west at an early age. 

Not enough is known of the early life of this truly remarkable 
man. He was not acquainted with fear. The rattlesnake was, to 
him, harmless, as in the story of Henry Edgar we find the follow- 
ing: "It was jointly through Bill Fairweather and Lewis Sim- 
mons that we were saved (from the Indians). I don't know how 
it was, but a rattlesnake would not bite Bill. When he saw one 
he would grab it up and carry it for days. They never seemed 
to resent anything he would do to them, and he never killed one. 
As we were going toward this Indian village he picked up a rat- 
tlesnake and just at the outskirts he picked up another. When 
the Indians saw him come in with a rattlesnake on each arm they 
were awed. He put the snakes in his shirt bosom and Simmons 
told the Indians that he was the great Medicine Man of the whites. 

They took us into their medicine lodge, where there was a big 



252 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

bush in the center. They marched us around that bush several 
times and finally Bill said that if they marched him around again 
he would pull up the sacred medicine bush. They marched us 
around again and Bill pulled up the bush and walloped the Medi- 
cine Man on the head with it. We then formed three to three, 
back to back. We had refused all along to give up our guns and 
revolvers. The old chief drove the Indians back with a whip. 
They had a council which lasted from noon until midnight. In 
the morning we got our sentence. If we attempted to go on they 
would kill us. If we would give up our horses and go back we 
would not be harmed." 

As I have mentioned in my ''Story of Ajax" the Indians did 
not take Fairweather's Jiorses. There can be but one way to 
account for this. Bill must be crazy ! And a crazy man would be 
under the care of the "Great Spirit." Who, but a crazy maa 
would carry a live rattlesnake or pull up the sacred bush and 
strike the Medicine man? Yes, Bill was crazy (?), but he made 
it work. 

That Alder was discovered at all was due to the act of this 
leader, because a leader he was, of a pronounced nature. 

As per Marshall 's interview we notice the following : 

Thursday evening, April 28, 1875. 

At Douglas' Store saw W. Fairweather and obtained from him 
full account of the discovery of gold in Alder Gulch. A party, 
Fairweather, T. Cover, H. Edgar, B. Hughes, Sweeney, Rodgers, 
an old mountaineer (who fraternized with and remained among 
the Indians in the Yellowstone) started from Deer Lodge, intend- 
ing to prospect some tributary of the Yellowstone. They crossed 
the main range by the Deer Lodge Pass, crossed the Big Hole and 
Beaverhead Rivers, traveled up the Pahsimmeri, struck across the 
Tabacco Root range at the head of Granite Creek, a tributary of 
Alder, passing within four or five miles of the richest and most 
extensive placer mines ever worked in Montana. Went down the 
Madison, turned east and crossing the Gallatin and the range 
lying between it and the Yellowstone, went down the latter 
stream two days' journey when they encountered a large party 
of Indians who stopped them and for two days detained them 
while making medicine over them to decide their fate, the old 
warriors being of the opinion that they should be turned back, 
and forbidden to attempt again to pass through that region in 
quest of the precious metals, while the younger warriors were 
for instantly killing them with all the horrors of fiendship tor- 
tures before, and scalping after death, which always distinguished 
the actions of the real savage Indians of history, though unknown 
to the Indian of poetry and romance, the noble savage of Long- 
fellow and Cooper. The medicine proved favorable to the views 



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DEED OF FAIinVEATHEK ET AL. TO DISPOVERY ("EAOIS IN 

ALDEK GriA-lI. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 253 

of the older men and the party were turned back and, fearful 
of pursuit by the younger warriors, traveled with little rest until 
they came out of the mountains onto the Madison Valley, opposite 
the mouth of Wigwam Gulch, and recrossing the river and deem- 
ing themselves safe from pursuit rested a day on Wigwam and 
prospecting a little discovered a little gold, but not enough to pay. 
They then traveled up Wigwam some distance and crossing by 
the Lakes, discovered the gravel range on the head of Butcher 
and camping there for the night prospected a little but only found 
a few colors. The next morning they started to return to Ban- 
nack and coming into Alder Gulch near the Toll Gate opposite 
Fairweather Bar, Fairweather told the others, when on the hill, 
that, "If there wasn't gold there he wouldn't prospect another 
place till they got back to Bannack." When they reached the 
flat, just above the Toll Gate, Fairweather alighted and began to 
unsaddle. As they had only come five miles the others asked 
what he meant by stopping there. He replied that he was going 
to prospect and finally they called a halt and turned out their 
animals. As they made it a practice never to let them get out of 
their sight, when they had fed down the stream as far as Rogers' 
Bar, Fairweather started down to drive them back. As he returned 
up the creek he was all the time looking to see if he could find 
any place where the rimrock was visible and getting near the 
camp saw it sticking out for some two hundred feet on the bar 
opposite and since known as the Fairweather Bar, and taking a 
pick, pan and shovel he and Edgar started over to prospect the 
Bar, while the others got dinner ready. F. shoveled up a pan of 
the loose gravel which had crumbled down from the bank and 
Edgar took it down to the creek to wash it, and while he was 
gone F. picked the bare rimrock which is there a loose trap and 
taking up a piece saw it all sprinkled over with gold, and about 
the same time Edgar, who had washed the panful down enough 
to see the gold, shouted that he had got a big prospect, he thought 
$5 or $6. They washed three pans and returning to camp weighed 
it and found it to be forty-five cents. They had all claimed to 
be dead broke before this, but no sooner was it certain that they 
had discovered paying diggings than all the party, except Edgar 
and Fairweather, began to pull out purses which had before been 
carefully hidden, and declare that they had enough to buy grub 
when they should reach Bannack. They stayed five days and P. 
panned out $160. 

Interview between F. and Prof. Wm. J. Marshall : 

When he found gold he did not value it. He used to ride up 
the main street of Virginia City and scatter gold dust right and 
left in the street to see the children and Chinamen scramble for 



254 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

it. What he didn't throw away he drank up and did not have 
money enough left to bury himself. 

From 1868 to 1872 he prospected on the Peace River and in 
Alaska. Never contented — always a wanderer. He died at the 
age of 39, in 1875, and was buried in Virginia on the hill overlook- 
ing the stream that gave millions to the world. 

Edgar said: "Bill was a fearless man, and an honest man, 
true to his friends and to his word. He never had but one fault, 
he would drink too much whiskey. ' ' 

Bill died at Pete Daly's place, the Robbers' Roost. There is 
an iron fence around his grave with a gold plate bearing the fol- 
lowing inscription, to-wit : 

Wm. H. Fairweather, Captain of party who discovered Alder 
Gulch, May, 1863. 

Born at Woodstock Parish, Carlton County, New Brunswick, 
June 14th, 1836. 

Died, 1875, at Daly's Ranch, Madison County, Montana, August 
25th. 



CHAPTER II. 
Alder Gulch. 



As will be remembered, the stampeders, who were following 
the discoverers of Alder, went into a meeting on the Beaverhead 
River, in order to satisfy the boys that their claims, which had 
been located May 28th, would be guaranteed to them. That meet- 
ing must be considered the first one of the miners of Alder Gulch. 
It was the particular thing that was to help establish law and 
order in the gulch, to those who were willing to be governed by 
common sense, and was the only thing that could be done in order 
to get the information they so much wished — the destination of 
Hughes party. (This meeting was recorded in a book, once used 
at Clear Creek, Colorado.) So we find that the second meeting 
came on the 7th day of June, 1863, as follows, to-wit: "At a 
Miners' meeting held at the foregoing gold mines on Sunday, 
June 7th, 1863, Mr. Conley (one of the men that discovered gold 
in Big Hole), was elected President, and Dr. W. L. Steele, Secre- 
tary, and the following resolutions were passed: 

1st. The center of the stream to be the line. 

2nd. All former laws conflicting with the above resolution, 
be hereby declared null and void. 

3rd. All claims must be represented today, except discovery 
claims. 

4th. After today claims, represented today, hold good until 
1st of July. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 255 

5th. A committee of five to be appointed to draft laws for 
our protection. 

6th. That the President appoint the Committee. 

The President appointed : 

SAMUEL LIVINGSTON. 
WM. L. STEELE. 
JUDGE BISSELL. 
COL. WOOD. 
DR. SICK. 

W. L. STEELE, Secretary. 

''Vernon, June 12th, 1863. 

The adjourned meeting from the 7th of June, met pursuant to 
adjournment. The committee of laws reported, and their report 
was accepted. The laws and resolutions reported were adopted 
by sections. 

G. W. Emerick and Judge Bissell were elected Judges of Elec- 
tion, and Dr. Cox and J(ack) D. Alport were elected Tellers. 
Laws reported by the committee with amendments, as adopted 
by the meeting. 

Your committee would beg leave to respectfully report the fol- 
lowing laws for the consideration of the meeting. 

1st. The name of the District shall be Fairweather. 

2nd. The bounds of the District shall be all that portion of 
country tributary to this creek, to its junction with a creek, com- 
ing in from the east, some two or three miles below Rodgers' Bar. 

3rd. The officers of this District shall be a President, 
Recorder, Judge and Sheriff. 

4th. The President shall preside at all meetings of the miners 
of this District, and shall call a meeting of the citizens of this 
District, on the written application of any five claim holders, 
giving notice by posting written notices one day before said meet- 
ing, in at least three conspicuous places. The President shall also 
preside as Judge at all trials on appeal, from decision given before 
the Judge, and shall act as Judge, in absence of Judge. 

5th. The Recorder shall keep a correct record of the proceed- 
ings of all meetings, and shall record all claims and deeds pre- 
sented to him for that purpose. 

6th. The Judges shall have power to try all cases brought 
before him, and shall be governed by the laws of the District, and 
the common laws of the land. 

7th. The Sheriff shall have the same powers as the same office 
has in the States. 

8th. "We hereby re-affairm the proceedings of the two previous 
meetings, and the doings of those two meetings shall be part and 
parcel of these laws. 

9th. Every person may hold, by pre-emption and purchase, 



256 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

two creek, bar hill and lode claims, and no more, but no person 
tan pre-empt more than one of each kind, except they be pur- 
chased by an administrator — then any person can hold more than 
that number. 

10th. A person working any claim in the District, it shall be 
considered as representing his whole interest in District, if said 
claims are recorded. 

11th. Bona fide partners working a claim, represents the inter- 
ests of the entire company. 

12th. Discoveries of lode claims shall be entitled to one claim 
as discoverer. 

13th. Lode claims shall be 100 feet along the lode, and 25 feet 
each side. 

14th. Sufficient water shall at all times be left in the creek 
for the purpose of mining said creek. 

15tli. Any person shall have the right to carry water across 
the claim of other persons, for mining purposes. 

16th. No person or company shall be entitled to more than 
one sluice head of 10 inches of water, unless it does not conflict 
with the interests of any other person. 

17th. On and after the first day of July, 1863, every person 
or company, shall represent his or their interests by three full 
days' work, in each week, except Lode claims, which may be held 
as real estate for one year. 

18th. In all cases of trial before the President, or Judge, either 
party may call a jury to be summoned by the Sheriff. The party 
calling for .jury, to deposit fees for same. 

19th. Priority of right shall always govern the decisions of the 
Court. 

20th. For presiding at any trial, the Judge or President shall 
receive $5.00, and the ordering fees for all papers. 

21st. Recorders' fees shall be 50c for pre-emption, and one 
dollar for all transfers, bills of sale, etc. 

22nd. Sheriff's fees, same as Bannack City fee bill. 
23rd. No slaughter house to be allowed within 80 rods of the 
creek. 

Art. 3rd. is amended thus: That all officers shall hold their 
office for six months, or until their successors are elected and in- 
stalled." 

Whether there were any more laws or not, I do not know, as 
some curio hunter has cut out the next page. 

Dr. Steele was elected President. Henry Eagan, Recorder, and 

James Fergus, Deputy, and all records are in the hands of Fergus. 

The gulch was to become filled with people, from every mining 

section, and probably, no place has ever had such a teeming, 

thriving crowd, as gathered there in two years. Towns were laid 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 257 

out, up and down the gulch, for ten miles — Junction, Adobe 
Town, Nevada, Central, Verona, Summit, and there may have 
been more — at least one. The first one to be recorded, but of 
vv'hich I can find no old-timer who can remember, was laid out as 
following description : 

"Fairweather District: Idaho Territory, June 15, 1863. 

This is to certify that we, J. C. Lyon, B. S. Peabody, John 
Bigler, J. M. Galbraith, C. P. Hall, R. H. Hamilton, P. C. Wood 
and Samuel McLean, claim 160 acres of land for Townsite, to be 
called and known by the name of Placerville. Said quarter sec- 
tion is located on the bar, or bars back of the mining claims, 
owned by Steele and Company, and J. M. Wood's claim. The 
center of which quarter section commences at a ravine or gulch, 
that crosses the road between Woods and Steele's claims; run- 
ning from there one-half mile up the creek, east, or near it, and 
one-half mile down the creek, or west, and from said stake, one- 
quarter of a mile southwest, and three-quarters of a mile north, 
making a square of one hundred and sixty acres. 

To have and to hold for a townsite, and be known by the name 
of Placerville, to have and to hold the same, June 15th, 1863." 

Recorded June 17th, 1863. 

And the Verona To^msite Company claims 320 acres of land, 
for town purposes, bounded and described as follows : 

Beginning at a stake at the mouth of Spring Creek, at its con- 
fluence with Alder Creek, and running thence up the center of 
Alder Creek, one-quarter of a mile; thence at right angles to a 
straight line, up the creek, in a northeasterly direction one-half 
mile; thence at right angles in a northwesterly direction, one 
mile ; thence at right angles in a southwesterly direction one-half 
mile to the creek ; thence up the creek to the place of beginning. 

F. R. MADISON. 
R.. H. SAPP. 
T. W. COVER, et al. 

Recorded June 17th." 

They gave no date in this notice of the time of pre-emption, but 
it was prior to Placerville, which was recorded first. 

Mines. 

On March 5th, 1864, Henry Edgar sold for $7,000.00 his interest 
in mines and ditches, to Cover, Hughes and Fairweather, and on 
the same day, he sold to Cover his interest in butcher shop, corrals 
and eleven head of cattle, for $1,000.00. 

T. W. Cover, H. Edgar, Wm. Fairweather and Barney Hughes, 
claim 400 feet on Fairweather Bar, and 400 feet on Louis Bar, 
as discovery, and pre-emption claims. These claims are held by 



258 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

US, by right of original discovery. They were further guaranteed 
to us at a public meeting held on the way from Bannack, and our 
right to them finally sanctioned by law. 

Taken May 28th, 1863. 

Recorded June 17th. 

William Sweeney, one of the original six, claimed the discovery 
claim on Sweeney Bar, and No. 3 below on Covey's Bar, May 28th, 
1863, and Henry Rodgers claimed two claims on Rodgers' Bar, on 
May 28th, 1863. 

While many different places bore local names from their dis- 
coverers, probably no bar became more famous than "Bummer 
Dan's." This bar was very rich and has the appearance of having 
been more extensively worked than any other. How much money 
was taken from this bar, I do not know. My information certainly 
gives one a chance to use his imagination. One of the old timers 
said $800,000. The other $5,000,000. Dan McFadden, for whom 
the bar was named, was well known as Bummer Dan. He no 
doubt sponged so many meals that the name was well applied. He 
figures, as the reader will remember, in at least one hold up, near 
Spring Gulch, where the stage was robbed. History does not give 
much account of this character, who could have become much 
more than a bummer, had he saved his money. 

The first quartz claim was the Dumphy, by Liga Dumphy, 
February 1st, 1864. Our old friend, William Sturgis, we find, 
has become busy, and claimed for water privileges, one-quarter of 
a mile below and three-quarters of a mile above the fork of 
Granite Creek (a stream that run into Alder about two and one- 
half miles below Verona), when he made improvements June 12th, 
1863. 



CHAPTER in. 

Ranching. 

And then C. Griswold and W. A. Clark came and claimed 320 
acres of land for ranching purposes, and described as follows : 

"Commencing at crossing of Granite Creek, thence up said 
creek one-half mile from said crossing, and down one-quarter mile, 
and running up Alder Creek at right angles, with Granite Creek, 
far enough to include 320 acres, June 10th, 1863." 

The Stinkingwater District. 

Began at the Big Hole, and ran up the Stinkingwater as far as 
the Canyon on Alder. 

March 19th, 1864, Branstetter and Robert Dempsey took 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 259 

ranches. They were located on Stinkingwater (Ruby) near the 
mouth of Mill Creek. Prom that time on, many more places were 
taken. Of course, these men, as well as others, have squatted on 
land in that vicinity ; as Mr. Chas. Beehrer says that Mr, Redf ern 
had located in 1863, on Bevins Gulch, and had raised potatoes 
that year, and sold in Alder Gulch, for $1.00 per pound. Redfem 
later planted fruit trees, and was one of the first to raise fruit in 
Southern Montana. 

As early as 1857, Andri Trudeau, a Frenchman, had come to 
the valley as a trapper. Trudeau is living on a ranch about ten 
miles above Alder, at this time. (The rifle that he used is the 
old-fashioned muzzle loader, and it cost him $175.00. It is now 
in the show window of J. E. Chambers, in Virginia City. There 
has not been any other gun that has been kept in the County of 
Madison for so many years. Chambers also has two six shooters 
that were said to have been the property of Jack Gallagher and 
Club-Foot George Lane. One of these is cut off short, and 
belonged to Jack). But even before Andri, there had been other 
trappers, as James Gammel told, that he had camped where Vir- 
ginia City is, on the 12th of January, 1852, or eleven years before 
William Fairweather and party found the first gold. Gammel 
was evidently not a prospector, or he might have found the 
treasure. 

We also know that Jack Slade had taken up a piece of land; 
in fact, two, one on the Madison, which he called "Ravenwood," 
and one in a gulch, seven miles from Virginia, where he was living 
at the time he was hung, on which he built a stone building, which 
is now in existence. My idea is, that Slade must have only used 
his place for raising or caring for stock. 

We are told that Ray Woodworth was the first man to farm in 
the Madison Valley. John F. Bishop said that he met Ray in 
Salt Lake, May 1st, 1864, and that Ray got up to the ranch early 
enough to raise vegetables, for which he received $4,000.00 that 
fall in Virginia City. Woodworth also raised the first grain in the 
county, or in Southern Montana, as near as I can find out. 



CHAPTER IV. 



The first meeting of County Commissioners of Madison County 
was April 22nd, 1864. Present, James Fergus and Frederick Root. 
Samuel Stanley, absent. 

The first business was the appointment of Clerk. R. M. Haga- 
man was appointed, and sworn in. 

There being a vacancy in the Sheriff's office, Robert C. Knox 
was appointed to fill that position. 



260 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

The board proceeded to divide the county into precincts. It 
was ordered that all that portion of Alder Creek, and tributaries, 
above the upper line of Highland District, shall be known as 
Precinct No. 1. And they proceeded to form several more, as they 
were needed, in those days, for the convenience of the thousands 
of men who wished to vote. (Speaking of voting in those early 
days, Mr. Senate, of Sheridan, told me of the following occurrence. 
A Colonel Nelson, whom Mr. Senate thought was the late 
Colonel Nelson, of Kansas City, had made himself so objectionable 
to some of the southerners, that they said he should not vote. The 
Colonel was open to conviction and placed himself in line to cast 
his vote. He found that there was a double line, that extended 
for some distance from the voting place into the street. In order 
to vote, the Colonel must go through this line. As soon as he 
got nicely started, they began to kick him, and continued their 
sport until he was kicked through the line, and past the ballot 
box, without taking time to vote.) 

The first Justice of the Peace appointed was Clitus Barber. 

First Constable was Neil Howie, who became first Deputy 
Sheriff, and later on Sheriff. T. C. Jones was the first Probate 
Judge. 

Clitus Barber did not qualify. The people of precinct No. 1 
petitioned the Commissioners for the appointment of Justice of 
the Peace, and constable. W. A. Shroyer was appointed Justice 
of the Peace, and Dave McCranor, constable. The first bill pre- 
sented for payment was board for Culberson and M. Gary, con- 
fined in County Jail, for $34.24. Allowed. 

First Court House. 

The Commissioners signed articles of agreement with W. F. 
Sanders for the rent of said Sanders' house, on Idaho street, for 
one year, to be used as a Court House, and to be paid quarterly, 
in advance, at the rate of $1200.00 per year. Said agreement filed 
with Clerk, and said payments to be made in orders on the County 
Treasurer. 

June 7th, 1864. 

We find a letter from W. C. Rheem, of June 7th, 1864, District 
Attorney of Third Judicial District, that Dr. Smith had been 
appointed County Clerk, and qualified, but that his continued 
absence had caused a vacancy, which had been filed as above 
stated, by the appointment of Hagaman. This letter had been 
written to the Commissioners, as advice, because it appears that 
Smith had come back, and desired to oust Hagaman. 

On June 19th, 1864, N. J. Bean, the first assessor of Madison 
County, resigned on account of ill health. He had been appointed 
by the Governor, and from that, we must assume that all of the 




H 

O 
O 

H 



<i^ ^-*^ 



i. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 261 

Territorial officers were appointed in that way. J. J. Hull was 
appointed to fill Bean's place. 

Sealed proposals for building county jail* were opened June 
21st, 1864. Following are the bids and bidders : 

M. D. Leadbater $4,475.00 

R. C. Knox $4,767.00 

R. M. McKinney & J. W. Wilson $8,500.00 

E. M. Dumphy $4,674.00 

Griffeth & Thompson $5,300.00 

Mr. Leadbater failing to appear and give surety, for building 
of the jail, the contract was awarded to E. M. Dumphy, for the 
sum of $4,674.00, to be paid out of the first moneys that came 
into the County Treasury, not otherwise appropriated. 

N. J. Davis was Treasurer of Madison County, in those days. 

On August 13th, the jail was accepted as far as completed. 
They, on that date, agreed to allow Dumphy $5,000.00 in all, 
the extra money for a few extra things, and did pay him $3,500.00, 
and had paid him before $1,000.00. 

J. L. Corbett was appointed first County Surveyor, and in 1865, 
Jesse Armitage was the County Assessor. 

We find that May 7th, 1866, B. Cantrell became a County 
charge, and was allowed $20.00 per week for his support. 

The first matter for probate was the petition of Maria V. Slade, 
on April 14th, 1864, for the probating of the will of J. A. Slade. 
Mrs. Slade did not appear, having left the Territory, taking the 
will with her and probably .$7,000.00 or $8,000.00 in valuables. 

The second matter was the estate of John White, the discoverer 
of Grasshopper, April 29th, 1864. 

Henrj^ Coppock, being duly sworn, deposes and said: I know 
John White, by sight. I went with Mr. Temple to White Tail 
Deer Creek, to bring his body to Virginia City, for burial. We 
found the body, he had died from effect of wounds. We brought 
his body from where we found it, to my camping place, and kept 
it there about four days. I saw his body searched for papers, and 
other things. No will was found on his person, and no property 
of any value, or money. 

John Temple, sworn and says: I was well acquainted with 
John White in his lifetime. I saw him at Virginia City, about the 
first of February, last. After I heard of his death, I went with 
Coppock to bring in his body for burial — found the body and 
recognized it. While at Virginia City, he boarded, and was out 
prospecting, at the time of his death. I don't think he left a 
will. If he had, I should have known it. I understand he was 
a married man, but don't know them (presumably the family). 

John M. Fletcher sworn and says : I was well acquainted with 

* Jas. H. Morley's diary says Julv 16, 1864, a coUector came up the Gulch 
to "stick" us for $4.00 for money for a $5,000 jail. 



262 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

John White for the last four years. He had a wife and child 
living in Illinois. The child is about five years old. He had, at 
the time of his death, two horses. He had a one-third interest in a 
mining claim, in Bannack. I should say his interest was worth 
$100.00. I heard him say he also had a quartz lode in Bannack. 
He had no relatives in this country, or part of the country. The 
horses are worth $75.00 each. He owned lode claims in Colorado, 
in Park county. Don't know what they are worth. Know of no 
other property. 

This wrung the curtain down on the last act of John White, 
the man to put the Montana miners before the people, in such 
a light that they became known to so many, that other hardy 
fellows cast their lots with the early prospectors, and helped to 
form the Treasure State. We can't predict what White might 
have become, had he not been murdered on White Tail. 

It is evident that Mrs. Slade came back to Montana, as we find 
the following : 

This is to certify that the undersigned. Chief Justice of the 
Territory of Montana, did, on the evening of the 22nd of March, 
1865, at Virginia City, in said Territory, unite in marriage, James 
H. Kiskaddan and Maria V. Slade, with their mutual consent, in 
presence of Annie Stanley and Oliver Sweet. 

H. S. HOSMER. 

This man James Kiskaddan was somewhat of a dreamer, as 
the following matter shows E. P. Lewis, James Kiskaddan and 
Wm. Chumasero, on the 24th day of December, 1864, incorporated 
the Missouri River Portage Co. Object was to build a wagon 
road and eventually, a railroad, "commencing at a stake now 
standing near the mouth of Highwood Creek, below the Great 
Missouri Falls, and running around said falls, to another stake, 
just above said falls. The distance from stake to stake being 
about 12 miles. To charge such tolls upon said road as may be 
agreed upon, by above named corporation, etc., etc. Capital stock 
shall be $500,000.00, 5,000 shares, of the value of $100.00 each. 
Time of existence of said company shall be fifty years. Principal 
place of business, shall be Virginia City, Madison County, Mon- 
tana." 

These men felt that there was a possibility of navigating the 
upper water of the Missouri, anyway, as far as Three Forks, as a 
city had been laid out by such men as Gov. Hauser the year before, 
on the Gallatin. They did not take into consideration, that the 
capital would be taken from Virginia, and that Last Chance Gulch 
would be found before another year should pass. They could not 
know that the navigation of the Missouri was only an idea that 
had entered the minds of Lewis and Clark, for lack of knowledge 




CHARLES BEEHRER 

The Last of the Active Vigilantes 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 263 

of condition that would arise at a future tiine — when they them- 
selves had been asleep for years. 

Lewis, Kiskaddan and Chumasero, played their parts, and lived 
in "Day dreams" of a greater state of Montana, which they would 
help establish. Chumasero did live to see the falsity of his expecta- 
tions, and did help to build up Montana, not in poor old Virginia, 
but in the new camp, on Last Chance Gulch. Kiskaddan* returned 
soon after his marriage, to Salt Lake, and probably used some 
of his ability there. I can find no trace of Lewis. 



CHAPTER V. 
Charles Beehrer. 



"I was born in Stuttgart, Germany, on the 4th day of December, 
1836, and came to America, where I landed in New York City in 
the spring of 1855. I went at once to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where 
I remained but a short time, as I got the gold fever, and went to 
Colorado, where I worked in the mines for two seasons, in Galena 
Gulch, in the southern part of the Territory. In the fall of 1862, 
I made arrangements with some of the young men to go to Idaho. 
There was no Montana in those days ; so I bought a pair of mules, 
but the Indians got so bad that they burned the stage stations and 
made it such a serious matter that I told my partner, whose nam© 
was Myers, that I was willing to go if he would leave his wife 
in a safe place. She would not listen to such an arrangement, so 
I sold my mules and made up my mind to stay a little longer in 
Colorado. We had intended to go to Idaho and make beer, as I 
had learned two trades, brewing and coopering. 

That summer I met two Texas men, and they wanted me to 
go down to Arizona with them. They claimed that the Indians 
had stolen 300,000 sheep and large herds of cattle, which we could 
get, if we could only secure men enough who were willing to take 
a chance. If we could only get this stuff into Colorado, we would 
sell and divide the money. Of course, you know this would look 
pretty good to any young person who was willing to take a 
chance, because taking this stuff away from Indians could not 
be considered wrong. I did not really tell them that I would go, 
but that I might see them in Denver. All I had was a good revol- 
ver and rifle. I had neither horse nor money. They told me I did 
not need money. 



* There are people in Montana who will tell you that Maud Adams, the 
Sreat actress, is the daug'hter of James Kiskaddan. If she is. she is not the 
daughter of Mrs. Slade. My information as to Mrs. Slade's ultimate end leads 
me to believe that she must have become divorced from Kiskaddan and ended 
her life in Chicago, in quest of pleasure of a forbidden nature. 



264 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

One of these Texas men had a brother who lived down on the 
Piatt River, twenty miles below Denver. So when I got there, 
this man, who was an honest fellow, said to his brother, "You 
had better not take this boy in your gang," and he turned to me 
and said, "You had better not go. You don't know what kind 
of men they are." He told me that they were highway robbers. 
I replied that I did not believe it, and that I would go and see the 
camp. So I went over to the eamp about seven or eight miles, and 
I walked down and counted the horses. There were 48 men in 
camp besides myself and two were out some place, and there were 
only 46 saddle horses. So I said, "Boys, I can't go with you." 
And they wanted to know why, and I said, "There are only 46 
horses and there are fifty of us altogether." They replied that 
that was all right ; that they could pick up horses enough at the 
first ranch they came to, and that I should go. I told them no. 
Then they threatened to kill me, and told me I had to go. I 
repeated that I would not go, and that if I had done anything for 
which they thought I should be killed, to go ahead, as I would not 
go with them. I went to these men from Texas and had a 
long talk. They told me if I would make a solemn promise not 
to tell, they would let me go. I remember that there were men 
in that bunch that I saw afterwards, in Montana. Dr. Glick was 
one of them, and also John Wagner and Jack Gallagher. I came 
back by the ranch of the man who had told me not to go, and he 
was surprised to see me. He asked me what was the matter, and 
I told him they did not have horses enough, so I decided not to 
go. He remarked that I was a most fortunate young fellow to 
escape alive from that bunch. 

I saw Dr. Glick, John Wagner, Jack Gallagher, John Heffner 
and Wilfert, among others, again in Montana. It was on account 
of finding such men as Wagner and Gallagher in the outfit that 
caused me to take but little stock in them, and was one reason 
why I did not go. 

Shortly after I left there, they captured a government train 
that was loaded with supplies for Fort Collins. An assistant 
wagon boss brought the news to Denver, and Capt. Weis went 
out with a Company of cavalry, and brought them to Denver and 
put the whole gang in jail, but they had some friends who let 
them out, and they scattered — many of them coming to Montana. 

Fifty years ago they did not make much beer in the summer 
time, so a friend of mine, who had a butcher shop, gave me a job. 

Although I never did like the saloon business, I made up my 
mind to buy a place close to where I could get a high-class lot of 
trade, such as the officers, etc. The first night I opened my 
place, I noticed that quite a lot of hobos, such as you find in all 
mining camps, came in.. I called them all up, probably ten or 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 265 

fifteen of them, and said: Boys, I want to make a few remarks 
to you ; come up and take another drink with me, and promise 
never to come in my saloon again ; if you do, you will put me to 
the trouble of leading you out." And I did have to lead a few 
out. I had a nice place, as far as saloons go. I stayed there until 
spring, then I sold out and came to Montana, and never went into 
the saloon business again. 

I landed at Yankee Flat, near Bannack, the 17th day of May, 
1863, and soon after Alder Gulch was discovered, I went to that 
place and opened a brewery. I was the first man to brew beer, 
with hops, in Montana. Of course, there was a man by the name 
of Manheim that had made some beer out of wheat, with Utah 
sorghum and the tops of spruce pine. And Tom Smith had used 
oats, sorghum and sage bursh ; but I used hops. I had thirty-five 
pounds with me when I came, and bought sixteen pounds of wild, 
hops from a fellow from Bitter Root, and gave him $8.00 per 
pound for it. 

I was called "Charlie the Brewer." I had beer ready for the 4th 
of July, and as I had agreed to deliver some to a party in Virginia 
City, I looked for my mules and could not see them, and as I 
needed money pretty bad, I put 22 gallons on my back, and 
carried it all the way to Virginia City — -two miles — never setting 
it down ; 196 pounds, and I got my money, $88.00, in gold for it. 

I probably became identified with the Vigilantes, on account 
of Capt. James Williams, who overtook me at the foot of the big 
Bear River Hill, about forty miles east of Soda Springs. He came 
from Fort Bridger. He had been in the regular army, where he 
was a sergeant. He became captain of the Vigilantes. 

Mr. Beehrer says that he remembers well the trial of George 
Ives, but thinks that Historians are wrong as to the date — Decem- 
ber 21st — as he said it was December 24th, as he wrote a letter to 
his father on that date. 

He said that he never saw a person who was as fearless as Col. 
Sanders was at that trial. That he stood there and defied the 
toughs to do their worst, and in language that was not soothing, 
either in choice of words or manner of expression. After Sanders 
had made his remarkable speech, "that they hang George Ives 
by the neck until he was dead," Judge Byam, who was a neigh- 
bor, got upon a butcher wagon, and made a speech, and proposed 
all those in favor of Ives being hung say, "Aye," and those who 
were opposed say "No." 

"You see, it seemed to me so foolish, I told the boys to run the 
wagon down the street." The Judge was an old man, and could 
not get out until they stopped; he came back and said, "Charley, 
why did you have the boys run the wagon down the street ? ' ' and 
I said, "Why didn't you make a sensible speech?" Then I told 



266 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

him to say, "All those in favor of turning Ives loose, walk across 
the street, and those in favor of hanging, stay here. ' ' And he said, 
"What is that for?" and I told him it was done so we could tell 
what the results were. We could tell then who the good men 
were, and who were the bad ones. The result was that there 
were about twenty to one in favor of the good men. 

Before Ives was hung, we were all talking about it, as we are 
doing now. Col. Sanders was present, so was Maj. Baggs. I said, 
"It is getting late, and it is time now to do our duty." So we 
led Ives up to this place of execution, and Robert Hereford was 
the man to place the rope around Ives' neck. 

There had been about twenty-five men from different places in 
the gulch, that had formed a committee in the Lott Brothers' 
store, and had taken an oath to do their duty. This was before 
the arrest of Ives for killing Tbalt, and it was their men that 
made the arrest.* So it was no trouble for Col. Sanders to get 
enough men together to form a Vigilante committee, after Ives 
was hung. They called a meeting, and called for volunteers. 
Williams kept a horse ranch about ten miles from Nevada. We 
started that evening for his place, and between eleven and twelve 
o'clock, there came a most awful snow storm, so we were com- 
pelled to camp out. The next day we got things together, and 
started on the trip to Deer Lodge, twenty-eight of us, besides Long 
John, who was taken along to identify the highwaymen — he had 
turned state's evidence. The majority of the men that were along 
went by their given names, and no one could tell who they were. 
There was Joe Dido, Elk Morse, from Summit, Charles Brown 
(Dutch Charley), Louis Hooker and Luther Seboldt, who was 
a highly educated German gentleman. I did know a good many 
of them by their given names. Nobody knew me, except by my 
given name. 

Our first camp was made at the crossing of the Big Hole, about 
where the Pennington Bridge is now, about eight miles from Twin 
Bridges, and then, on account of the snow being so deep on the 
McCarty Mountain, we went up the river and made our second 
camp about one mile below where Melrose is now, and next morn- 
ing we were informed by Long John that the road agents had a 
camp up near where Glendale afterwards was built. They had 
a horse camp there. So we all separated and went in different 
directions to find the road agents' camp. I went toward Glen- 
dale, and from a big hill I saw a man going across the bench from 
McCarty Springs, over to Camp Creek. (He had learned in Vir- 
ginia that we had started out.) I left the mountain and came 
down to camp as quick as I could, and found Capt. Williams, and 



* Beehrer and Judge Lott are both mistaken- in this. That oath was 
was signed on December 23rd when they got ready to go to Deer Lodge. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 207 

I said, "Jim, I am afraid we are too late." I then asked him if 
he saw a fellow about a mile above, going on a good lope. I told 
him I thought the fellow was a messenger, going to warn the 
fellows. 

Question: How long did it take you to make that trip? 

Answer: It was awful cold weather, and as I told you this 
morning, all we had to eat was fat bacon and flap-jacks. When 
we got down to Warm Springs, in the Deer Lodge Valley, we 
made camp, and an Indian came up with two jack rabbits and 
a deer. Williams turned to me and said : "Charley, we are awful 
meat hungry, and you are the only one who has any money. ' ' Of 
course, I could not speak Indian, but I could make signs, and I 
told him to open his hand, and I gave him some gold. Of course, 
the Indian wanted more, but I knew how to trade with Indians, 
and told him to take that for his game, or put the gold back in 
my hand. He smiled at me, and made signs a few moments, and 
finally told me to take them. As we had not had any fresh meat 
for five or six days, we took the skin right off, and went to cook- 
ing. Some of the boys were so hungry that they did not cook 
their meat enough. Charlie Brown, Hooker, Seboldt and myself 
fried ours perfectly done. All the others were taken sick. 

When we arrived at Deer Lodge, the boys were feeling too bad 
to camp out. Two Greasers kept a hotel. I told Jim that I did not 
know whether I had money enough to take us to the hotel, but 
that I would go and see. The greasers spoke fairly good English, 
and I went and told them that we had 29 men and 32 horses and 
mules, and I thought very likely we would stay two days, and 
asked them how much they would charge to keep us. That is, to 
sleep in the house. Of course, we had our own beds. We wanted 
them to keep our horses and mules, and feed them on hay, but 
that we would attend to them ourselves. They told us they would 
take $130.00 for two days. I thought, that the men being greasers, 
they would take better care of us if they were paid in advance, 
and I did pay in advance on that account. Then I went over to 
Dance and Stuarts, and asked what they would take for nine 
buffalo robes, as they were mighty good to sleep on. Dance told 
me he would take $2.25 apiece for them. I bought them, and 
asked if he had anything better. "Oh, yes, if you can stand the 
price." He then told me he had six bales. He opened all of them 
and I selected three more and paid him $27.00 for them, or $9.00 
each. 

Deer Lodge at that time probably did not have more than 100 
people. It was a trading post, and practically everyone was a 
Canadian. It was John Grant's ranch then. John Grant after- 
wards sold to Con Kohrs. I was well acquainted with "Johnnie" 
Grant. 



268 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

We found when we got to Deer Lodge that most of the high- 
waymen had gone. We got Tex — I never knew his name — a man 
by the name of Irwin, and Frank Parish. 

As we had paid for our accommodations for two days, we were 
compelled to stay. I remember a peculiar incident of that time. 
We had gone into a saloon to play a game of euchre, to pass away 
the time. While we were sitting there, a big fine looking man 
came in and stood by the bar. I did not pay any more attention 
to him, and while playing my hand, he disappeared. I heard the 
sound as if some one was doing something with a revolver. I 
handed my hand to another of the boys, and looking over the bar, 
I saw that man down on his knees. He had a revolver in his 
hand, which he was loading, and two more were on the floor 
beside him. He met my gaze with a very savage one, but neither 
of us said a word. I told the Captain about him, and said that 
I believed that man was a bad one, and ought to be hung. 

In 1870, I was in San Francisco, and got on a street car, and 
the only person there was this man of Deer Lodge, splendidly 
dressed. We exchanged looks, and again made no remarks. I told 
"Sport" Sullivan, a man whom I had known in St. Louis, about 
it, and he said that man was a captain of all the burglars in New 
York, Chicago and Frisco, and I would be just as apt to meet him 
one place as another. In 1877, when I was coming back from 
Europe, I met that same man in New York, and he knew me. 

Bill Palmer, Louis Hooker and myself started back to Virginia 
City with Tex, Irwin and Frank Parish. Soon after we arrived 
there, Williams came back and ordered those men turned loose — 
all of these men were set free, and Tex had sense enough to leave 
the Country. As to Parish, Charlie Brown and I captured him 
a little way below Virginia City, and he was hung with Boone 
Helm, Club-Foot George, and the others, which was about five 
days after we got back. Williams did not fetch anyone in ; he 
hung them wherever he found them. 

There were two men who were the most active in helping to 
rid this country of the tough element. X Beidler has had his 
praise, but Charley Brown (Dutch Charley), never received at the 
hands of the writer, or historians, his dues. 

Charley Brown, that was not his real name, was a highly edu- 
cated German gentleman — in fact was a nobleman. He was at 
one time a page at the Bavarian Court, and was one of the four 
boys that rode the horses when the Queen took a ride. She had 
eight Shetland ponies, and four boys rode them, and cared for 
them. None, but those of noble birth, could become a courtier. 

He was about six feet one inch, and weighed 220 pounds, and 
was a nice looking man when young. He was the man who put 
the rope around Slade's neck. He was also the man who led the 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 269 

ball with Mrs. Slade, about three weeks after, at Adelphia Hall, 
at Nevada. This was after Mrs. Slade had said that she would 
cut the heart out of the man who had placed the rope around 
her husband's neck. (Some Richard III. in this Act.) 

The day that Slade was hung I happened to be in Virginia, and 
Captain Williams was talking with Slade, and took him into 
Pfouts & Russell's store, and tried to get him to be decent. After 
they had made up their minds to hang him, Captain Williams 
asked me when I was going down — meaning, of course, to Nevada. 
I told him I would go in a few minutes. He told me to go, and 
he would stay there, and for me to bring all the boys I could. Of 
course, I knew everybody. I had to go down to Junction anyway, 
on account of business. I asked Capt. Williams when he wanted 
me to come up. I told him I was sure the boys would not leave 
their work until noon. He said, "You bring them up as soon as 
you can, after dinner." Of course, everyone had a rifle or shot- 
gun. If Slade had only acted a little decent, we would have 
turned him loose, but when the Sheriff came up, and went to 
him with a summons, he took it and tore it up, and said he would 
kill every Vigilante in the Gulch. When we had the gallows up, 
I looked for Mrs. Slade to come, as some one had gone for her. 
We were down in the gulch, and on the hills around us were what 
we called the minute men — men who sympathized with the high- 
wajTiien. If Mrs. Slade should come, she could have had those 
men against us, and many would be killed. All at once, I saw her 
coming down a steep hill just as fast as her horse could run. I 
stood by the gallows and said to the Captain, "Captain, do you 
see her coming?" Then I pointed to Mrs. Slade, and told them 
not to waste any more time. Charley Brown got up then and 
put the rope around his neck. I never saw a man beg so in all 
my life. He told us to cut his arms off above the elbows, his legs 
above the knees, and made all kinds of promises that could be 
imagined. He could not help but see me there, and because we 
had always been good friends, he said: "Charlie, can't you do 
something for me?" I said: "Slade, I am sorry to say I cannot." 
Mrs. Slade was coming from their ranch home, which was a stone 
building about four miles from Virginia City, on the road to 
Madison Valley. 

I recall one little incident that happened the same day the 
five men were hanged. I was in Nick Kessler's saloon, in Virginia 
City, and a lot of these men, in fact, nearly all of them, were 
standing at the bar, cursing the Vigilantes, and Kessler told me 
he wanted to speak to me, and called me to one side. Before he 
could say anything, something was said by some of those fellows 
that made me mad, and I turned and told them that we had 
hanged five that day, and when it became necessary to hang any 



270 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

more, if they did not have any timber, I would furnish the timber 
and rope also. One of them replied: "Yes, Charlie, we know 
you, and you would be glad to hang the last one of us. ' ' Kessler 
told me that he would not have said what I did for all the gold 
in the mountains, because his life would not be worth anything 
after that. That they would get him sure. 

I will tell you why I had an advantage over most of the old 
timers. My business brought me in contact with all of those men, 
so I was associated more with them than the others, and can re- 
member them better. Then, of course, when we formed the com- 
mittee, the miners could not leave their work. They could do a 
little, but they had no money, and they felt it was necessary for 
them to work. I was of a different disposition, and was willing 
to take a chance. I want you to understand me right. I never 
was a bully, but I wished to see justice done, and they could not 
scare me. Nobody could scare Charley Brown, either. He had a 
little cabin just below the brewery, and he came up and asked me 
if I was going to the ball. I told him that I would probably go 
down and look on a little while. Charley never did care for good 
clothes; so when he told me that he was going to lead the ball 
with Mrs. Slade, I said: "How dare you? You are not dressed 
fit to go to a ball." He said: "I will be the best dressed man 
in that ball room." I asked him how he made that out, and he 
said: "I Avill go down and make Lewis go to bed, and I will take 
his clothes." Lewis was a man about Charley's size, who had just 
bought the store of the Lott Brothers. He was probably the best 
dressed man in Nevada. Charley went down and persuaded him 
to go to bed, and in that way Charley became the best dressed 
man at the ball, and actually led the grand march with Mrs. Slade. 

Charley was one of the healthiest men, and one of the toughest 
men I ever saw. Nothing could tire him. He was in the habit 
of taking a bath everj'- night before he went to bed, in cold water. 
I had tried to get him to come up and live with me, because I was 
afraid that some of the band would kill him. These minute men, 
as we called them, came down one night, and I noticed they 
stopped — and I looked out, it was moonlight — and saw them in 
front of Charley's cabin. He was taking a bath when the minute 
men knocked at the door. He said: "Come in." And four or 
five rushed in, and found him standing ready for his bath, with 
a gun in each hand. And he said: "Gentlemen, what can I do 
for you ? ' ' That outfit was down to get him, but Charley Brown 
never allowed anyone to take him by surprise. 

Charley Brown died in Alaska, where he was sent by the 
United States government, as an expert veterinarian, to examine 
into the cause of disease among the reindeer. He has a son, and 
one or two daughters living in Miles City. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 27] 

Soon After the Port Neuf Canyon Robbery. 

Charlie Brown came into my room in my brewery, which was 
afterward the Kessler, and told me he wanted "Dime," a fine 
thoroughbred mare. I believe she was as nice a mare as ever 
came to Montana. He took the mare and rode to Blackfoot. I 
did not see him for a little while, until I had returned to Nevada, 
when he came in and said: "Hello, Charlie." I said: "Where is 
Dime?" "Oh, she is all right," he said. I had four guns hang- 
ing on the wall, and he picked out the best one, and said: "I 
want this gun, and your best revolver. ' ' I asked him if some other 
would not do as well, and he said, "No, this is what I want. Is it 
loaded?" I said: "Yes." "Well, give me $50.00 also." "Is 
that all you want?" I asked, indignantly. His reply was yes. T 
asked him what he was going to do, and he said that he was going 
to Denver after Williams, the man that drove the coach in the 
Port Neuf robbery. This man Williams had driven my team from 
Denver to Virginia, and had come to me and told me that he was 
going on the road. Brown did not return to Montana for several 
months. When he came back, he reported that he had caught 
Williams and hung him to a cottonwood, about five miles from 
Denver. 

Charlie Brown was a most peculiar man. He would not work 
at anything hard. He was a splendid horseman, and drove the 
band wagon for Dan Rice's Circus when he was east. There were 
48 horses hitched to this wagon, and Charlie was in his glory on 
the box. 



CHAPTER VI. 

Incidents in Beehrer's Life — Flour Riot. 

"The leader was a Bavarian baker, with a red shirt and carry- 
ing a red flag. I had 1,000 sacks of barley. This barley was put 
up in flour sacks. I had 260 of Utah flour that I held at $25.00 
per sack, but I had sold 250 to Denny and Rockfellow, at $27.50, 
and 20 sacks of St. Louis flour at $28.00 per sack, and had prob- 
ably 8 or 9 sacks, a day or two before the riot broke out, but had 
told my friends to come and get some — so the day of the riot I 
only had one sack. They came and examined my barley sacks, 
and at last went away satisfied. A few days after the riot, I 
was successful in obtaining four loaves of bread of the bakers 
in Nevada for $16.00. The reason for this was, that I had gone 
to Prank Tenny and Louis Koch, the bakers, and told them that 
there was to be a flour riot, and that they had better take their 
extra supply and put it in a dry well, out behind their place, and 



272 THE VIGiLANTES OF MONTANA 

cover it over with cord wood, as they had a large supply of that 
on hand. They took my advice, and hid their flour. Bakers were 
allowed ten sacks. I told them that I would sell their surplus 
to the boarding houses down the gulch, but not for more than 
$70.00 per sack, and as flour was selling for from $100 to $150 per 
hundred, I did not consider I was robbing anyone. I used to buy 
all the whisky barrels, so people did not mistrust me when I took 
a barrel any place, so I would put a sack of flour in a barrel and 
make my delivery in that way. In that way I disposed of between 
50 and 60 sacks for them. My work kept me pretty busy, and 
every night, except Saturday, I would go to bed between 9 :00 
and 9 :30. On Saturday bills were paid, and I felt that as 14 
saloon men and four hurdy houses were patrons of mine, I must 
spend some of my money with them. I would go the rounds of the 
saloons, and probably treat the boys, and of a night would buy 
probably 50 dance tickets, at $1.00 each. Then I would give them 
to the boys. I never danced once in any of those houses. I was 
in Little Doc's place one night, and had treated the boys and was 
ready to leave, when a blacksmith called "Dump" (I never knew 
any other name for him) said: "Charlie, set them up again." "I 
would, but I am afraid I would get a little too much." "Will you 
set them up, if I will?" he asked. "I guess you seem to think 
you are the only man with money. I will show you that I have 
some, too." And he took a big gold sack and scattered gold all 
over the floor. You must remember, we had dirt floors in most 
of the saloons. I had three friends who were poor, and as Little 
Doc was a pretty generous fellow, I said : "Doe, can't you let my 
friends come down and make the clean-up, and you give them 
half they get?" He said, "Sure," and those fellows took a hoe 
and a gold pan and cleaned up between $900 and $1,000.00. When 
I saw "Dump" do that, I said: "Dump, you will either die in 
the gutter, or on a manure pile." And he did die on a manure 
pile, back of Bill Owsley's livery stable in Butte, not many years 
after. 



Women in those houses did not drink anything but light drinks, 
as it was no part of their business to become intoxicated. 



There was a fellow in camp — a neighbor of mine, who was very 
poor. He had a wife and two children. I had given him wood, 
also something to eat. Had later let him take a team with which 
to haul wood. He came to my place one evening and said that 
he was in trouble, and wanted me to help him ; said that the dance 
house was trying to take his wife away. I went up to the hall 
with him and he said: "Jane, I don't want you to leave me." 
She replied that he could not make a living for her, and the chil- 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 273 

dren, and that she could, by dancing, support herself and them. 
Seeing that she no longer cared for her husband a fellow who was 
called a lawyer, got up and made a speech, and divorced them, 
right out on the street. A Mormon girl came up, and put her 
arm around his neck, and said, "Don't cry; I am ready to marry 
you right now. ' ' 

An Incident With Skinner. 

"Cyrus Skinner was running a saloon in Virginia City, and 
requested credit from me, as he said he was a poor man, who had 
a wife to support. There came a time when he owed me about 
$400.00, so one day I went into his place of business, and he said : 
"Charlie, you are just in time. I have got plenty of money today." 
We weighed out the dust into my sack, when four or five gamblers 
that were playing cards behind me began to shoot at one another. 
Cyrus got all the gold in my sack, and you bet I did not take time 
to tie it. I put it in my pocket and left the house. Wishing to 
pay some bills a few days after, I went into John Creighton's 
store, and turned out the dust. (This Creigliton was the man 
who built the first telegraph line into Montana from Salt Lake.) 
John said: "Charlie, where did you get this bogus dust?" I told 
him that that was good, clean dust ; that I had been paid by Cyrus 
Skinner. He soon put some acid on it, and showed me my mistake. 
We soon learned that a Canadian — I will not tell his name — had 
been circulating this stuff. He was banished, but came back, and 
was a good citizen afterwards. ' ' 

Two Men Hang a Man. 

This is a remarkable story. It needs no embellishment from the 
pen of any man to make it of peculiar interest. 

"If I remember, it was sometime in March, 1864, that Charlie 
Brown came to me and said that he wanted me to make one of 
a party of eight, that was to go to Deer Lodge, Hell Gate, etc., 
for highwaymen. I do not remember all the names, but Charlie 
Brown, Louis Hooker, J. X. Beidler, and a young man about 
twenty, named Ike, was along. This young fellow, though a boy, 
was one of the bravest men I ever saw. When we arrived at the 
mouth of Rock Creek, near Hell Gate, Charley Brown said: "It 
will not do for us all to go together ; Charlie the Brewer, and I, 
will go up Rock Creek to the cabin, we have been told may be 
the rendezvous of the robbers. If we find too many of them, we 
will come back and overtake 3^ou." We left the party, as they 
were to go straight down the river. (I never suffered so much in 
my life with the cold. He showed me his hands ; all the fingers, 
over fifty years afterwards, showed signs of the fearful cold of 
that night, as they had no gloves.) 



274 THE VIGiLANTES OF MONTANA 

It was about five miles up Rock Creek to the cabin. We had 
to pass through deep snow, but it was soft and we did not make 
any noise. We soon saw that there was a light in the cabin. 
Charley said to me, ''We will advance ; if you see me fall on my 
knees, you do the same." I said: "I will have to thaw out my 
hands before I can do anything." So I began to rub them with 
snow, and soon had the frost out. We soon got to the cabin, and 
looking in the window, we saw that there was probably but one 
man in it. Charley told me to open the door, and that he would 
rush in and cover the fellow. He always carried two elk skin 
strings, with which to tie a man if need be. We found that there 
was only one man, and he was in bed asleep. Charley soon had 
him covered and tied. The fellow said, "I have been expecting 
you fellows for some time, and have not been able to sleep, and I 
just did go to sleep when you came," I asked Charley in German 
what we should do, and he said, we will hang him. I was sent out 
doors to see if one of the roof logs was sticking out far enough 
for our purpose. I found one that was, and we led the fellow out 
and hung him. As the cabin was nice and comfortable, we barri- 
caded the door and piled into bed and slept for several hours, 
with the fellow hanging on one end of the house. 

We left, and started to overtake the rest of the party, but found 
that they had done their work and were coming back. ' ' 

(Mr. Beehrer did not know the name of the man. I can find no 
account of it in history, but I do know Mr. B. well enough to 
believe his story. — The Author.) 

How the Young Man Grot Free. 

Mr. Beehrer said: "We did not always hang men." 
"It was generally supposed that the Vigilantes would hang any 
wrong doer. Captain Williams called me to come down to Adel- 
phia Hall one afternoon, as there was a matter to be taken into 
consideration. It seems that a young boy, not yet twenty-one, 
had had a brother killed on the plains, by a party whom he had 
followed to Virginia City, with the expectation that he would be 
brought to judgment. Ballanger (the same man who afterwards 
took up the Warm Springs in Deer Lodge Valley), was keeping 
a hotel. The beds in those days were bunks, built in tiers, one 
above another, three high. This young man was placed in one, 
and directly above him there was a miner sleeping, who had his 
buckskin sack so placed that the young fellow saw it, cut the 
string, and extracted the gold dust— something over $200.00. This 
money seemed to change his disposition. Forgetting the quest of 
his brother's murderers — he poured his money over the gambling 
table. In doing this, he exposed a nugget that was part of the 
dust. This nugget had been seen by two or three people, so they 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 275 

could identify it. This led to the young fellow's arrest. When 
I arrived at the hall, they explained the matter to me, and asked 
my opinion, as to whether he should be hung or banished. My 
reply was: "Never banish a person. If he is not good enough 
to live with us, we had better hang him, never turn him loose 
on anyone else." I also told him that I did not believe that we 
should hang him ; that we should take into consideration his youth, 
and try and do something for him, to find him a job and have him 
report to someone each night and morning, until he had secured 
enough money to pay the man whom he had robbed, then turn 
him loose. I said, "Let him report to Judge Lott." The judge 
objected to this. Someone wanted to know who would give him 
a job. I told him that I would see to that. So I took the boy 
into a room by himself, and explained the matter to him — that 
he was to get a job, report twice each day to me, and all extra 
money would be given to Judge Lott until he had paid his debt — 
then he would be turned free. So I took him down and put him 
to work with John Wagner. 

I want to say that he paid his debt, and the last day he made 
his report to me, he cried with gratitude. John Wagner and 
Everson had a claim on German Flat. This John Wagner was a 
very fine man. It was to him that I wrote the letter that 
"Dutch" John got, in robbing the mail, and that caused me 
to be called onto the carpet by Col. Sanders, for an interview 
with the Vigilante Committee, to explain why John had the letter, 
if I knew." 



CHAPTER VII. 

George Lovell. 



George Lovell, who claimed to have been the Captain of the 
Miners' Guard at the trial of George Ives, says that Wm. Clark 
(not the Senator) was God's avenger in beginning to bring 
the road agents to trial, as De Vault was his friend and he was 
bound to see that justice was done. 

Lovell says that Hon. Chas. Bagg opened the first day, but was 
not much of a lawyer. He took the testimony of Long John for 
the people the first thing. He further says: 

"On the following morning there appeared on the scene a 
young man by the name of Wilbur F. Sanders, who volunteered 
his services for the prosecution." 

The counsel for the defendant soon found that they had a man 
to deal with who understood law. 

The evening that Sanders arrived in Virginia from Bannack 
the friends of the murderers immediately sought him out and 



276 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

tried to engage him for the defense, offering him any amount he 
might suggest. He declined and said he would act for the people. 
They threatened him bodily harm, and he replied : 

''You have not got money enough to buy me, nor guns enough 
to intimidate me." 

Lovell says: "We also found, to the great surprise of many 
honorable men, that Henry Plummer, who was the Sheriff of 
Beaverhead County, was also Chief and Captain of this band of 
robbers. 

The news struck consternation to the souls of all. We then saw 
that we had indeed a work to do. Plummer was well liked. He 
was a man of fine personal appearance, and possessing education 
and address sufficient to give him a welcome in the best society. 
He had been selected by a large majority to that high and respons- 
ible office. 

He was at the time the chief executive officer of what is now 
the Territory of Montana. 

Thus you see it was no idle play for us to determine on his 
arrest and execution, but there were men found equal to the occa- 
sion. Among them was found one to stand prominently by the 
course of justice, survive or fall. That man was W. P. Sanders, 
slim and slight in form, but inspired by a courage and determina- 
tion to do his duty, that the severe storm of one of Montana's 
most terrible days did not daunt ; he mounted his horse and rode 
seventy miles to again assist in bringing the great and popular 
chief to justice. 

Foiirth of July, 1864. 

The people of Virginia had decided to celebrate and had raised 
enough money with which to buy a flag pole. On the morning 
of the Fourth the pole was ready and the ropes were run through 
the pulley blocks and ready to be manned. The framer of the 
pole was there and ready to give the word of command. If I am 
not mistaken it was Col. Knox, late Probate Judge of Silver Bow 
County. The grounds were filled with men with threatening 
looks and dark and scowling appearance. They had assembled 
there to prevent the pole from going up. The Union men who 
had assembled seemed to dread the muttered threats of those 
rebels. It seemed doubtful whether we would succeed or not. 
There was seen a slight form to spring upon a box and tell the boys 
to grab the ropes and raise the pole, that the glorious old flag 
might again proudly wave over us. He said to the men: ''There 
is nothing to fear from these scowling wretches ; as for me, I 
have ceased to fear men who have run fifteen hundred miles to 
get out of danger!" 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 277 

He had spoken but a few moments in this strong, energetic 
manner when crowds rushed to the ropes and everyone seemed 
willing to take a hand. They were fired by the enthusiasm which 
was so largely possessed by the speaker. They seemed like men 
electrified into new life. Those threatening men slowly filed 
away. There was no further interference with the raising of the 
flag. That speaker was Wilbur F. Sanders. Without his efforts 
the flag would not have been raised that day. He on that occa- 
sion, as on many others, carried his life in his hand, and braved 
the element of derision and dissension as he had against the strong 
organized band of robbers. He was on the side of justice, liberty 
and truth. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Incidents. 



First newspaper was the Post, published on the 27th day of 
August, 1864, by John Buchanan at Virginia City. After the pub- 
lication of the second number Daniel W. Tilton and Benjamin R. 
Dittes bought it and continued its publication until the winter 
of 1867-68, when Mr. Dittes purchased IMr. Tilton 's interest and 
moved it to Helena. 

The Vigilantes of Montana was published as a serial in the Mon- 
tana Post, the first chapter appearing August 26th, 1865. Con- 
clusion March 14th, 1866. 

Telegraph line between Virginia City and Salt Lake completed 
November 2, 1866, by Edward Creighton, and John A., his brother. 
First telegram sent by Gov. Green Clay Smith to President 
Johnson. 

The number of letters advertised at the Virginia City postoffice 
on August 23, 1865, was 676. 

Capital removed from Bannack to Virginia City, February 1, 
1865. 

First municipal election in Virginia City, February 6, 1865. 

First stampede that took place in Montana was July 20th, from 
Gold Creek to Boulder. 

Last Chance. 

Last Chance was discovered by Jno. Cowan and party, July 21, 
1864. 

Montana City. 

Montana City or Prickly Pear was discovered Wednesday, 
August 18, by Hurlbut. 

Dunsdale began to teach school, one of the first in the Terri- 
tory, August 22, 1864. 



278 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

First publication Montana Post, Friday, August 21, 1864. 

Woodmansee's Train, September 8th, from Salt Lake to Ban- 
nack, the first one to Bannack. 

Fisk's first expedition, reached Gold Creek September 26, 1862, 
His first and second reached Benton on September 6th, 1862, and 
September 6th, 1863. 

First election took place October 31, 1863, Madison, Beaver- 
head, Jefferson and Gallatin Counties. All in Idaho. 

First church in Territory dedicated at Virginia City on Satur- 
day, November 6, 1864. 

Masonic Hall, October 8, 1867. Helena people claim that 
Masonic Hall was completed November 11, 1866. 

First theater in Territory opened Friday, December 10, 1864. 

Elk Morse shot by Wm. Herron December 4, 1867, on the Gal- 
latin. 

First term of U. S. District Court in Territory December 5, 1864. 

First Territorial Legislature convened in Bannack, December 
12, 1864. 

In 1869 there were but 38 postoffices in Montana. Most of them 
only received mail tri-weekly. 

The number of placer mines in 1869 was 120 and the total 
length was 452^ miles. 

From Montana Post. (First Issue August 27th, 1864.) 

We find the following Official Directory : 
Governor — Hon. Sidney Edgerton, Bannack. 
Secretary — H. P. Forsey. 
Chief Justice — H. L. Hosmer. 
Associate Justice — Ami Giddings. 
Associate Justice — L. B. Williston. 
Attorney General — E. B. Nealy, Virginia City. 
Marshal— C. J. Buck. 
Surveyor General— M. Boyd. 

County Officers Madison County. 

County Commissioners — Jas. Fergus, Samuel W. Stanley, Fred 
R. Root. 

Probate Judge — Thos. C. Jones. 
Sheriff— Robt. C. Knox. 
Treasurer — N. J. Davis. 
Recorder — R. M. Hagaman. 

City Council Virginia City. 

E. K. Woodbury, Sam Schwab, James Gibson, N. Ford Marshall, 
Jerry Nolan. 

First Mayor of Virginia City, Paris S. Pfouts. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 279 

Montana Financial Relations. 

Keceipts from U. S. Internal Revenue Office for four 

years ending November 1st, 1868 $409,963.34 

Receipts for postal service, 1867 306.12 

$410,269.46 
Expenses of Territory for four years at $35,000 $142,000.00 

Balance in favor of Territory $268,275.46 

Bonded debt $ 58,850.00 

Warrants, Regular and Outstanding 32,712.32 



Total Territorial indebtedness $ 91,562.32 

A Trip to the States. 

By J. Allen Hosmer, only a young boy. This was written, type- 
set and printed by him. 

It is a little book, 82 pages of reading matter, and twelve pages 
of distances on the Missouri River. The book is 4x5 inches and 
is the second book printed in Montana ; copyright 1866 : printed 
1867. Young Hosmer was. in 1896, an attorney in San Francisco, 
a son of Judge H. L. Hosmer, Chief Justice of Montana when 
this book was printed. The book was presented to the Historical 
Society by James H. Mills. He was also the man who prosecuted 
Durant for the murder of Blanch Lamont in San Francisco. 

Actually the First Meeting of Alder Gulch on the Road From 

Bannack. 

The Agreement Between the Citizens and the Discoverers of 
Alder. 

Whereas, certain parties, respectively, named Henry Edgar, 
Wm. Fairweather, Harry Rodger, T. W. Cover, Wm. Sweeney and 
Barney Hughes have for several months been engaged in pros- 
pecting for their own benefit and for the benefit of the public 
in general, and. 

Whereas, said parties after the completion of much time and 
money have discovered what they consider fair gold diggings and 
on the strength of this discovery have respectively taken for 
themselves two claims each, one by pre-emption and one by dis- 
covery; therefore, be it resolved, 

1st. That we do cheerfully recognize the right of the parties 
above named to hold for themselves two claims as before set forth. 

2nd. That in addition to the recognition of the right in the 
first resolution expressed we bind ourselves to support the parties 



280 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

above named in holding their claims purchased by their arduous 
exertions as prospectors and public benefactors. 

H. P. A. SMITH. 

WM. L. FOSTER. 

J. M. WOOD. 

JOHN CALLANAN. 

Vigilante Oath. 

We, the undersigned, uniting ourselves in a party for the pur- 
pose of arresting thieves and murderers and recovering stolen 
property, do pledge ourselves upon our sacred honor, each to all 
others, and solemnly swear that we will reveal no secrets, violate 
no laws of right and not desert each other or our standards of 
justice, so help me God, as witness our hand and seals this 23rd 
day of December A. D. 1863. 

James Williams, Joseph Hinkley, J. S. Daddow, C. P. Keves, 
Charles Brown (Dutch Charlie), E(lk) Morse, J. H. Balch, W. 
C. Maxwell, Nelson Kellock, S. J. Ross, Chas. Beehrer, Thomas 
Baume, Wm. H. Brown, Sr., Jno. Brown, Jr., Enoch Hodson, Hans 
J. Hoist, Hoofen,* Alex Gillon, Jr., Wm. Clark, John Triff, A. D. 
Smith, W. Palmer, L. Seebold, M. S. Warder. 

(John Lott was supposed to have been the man who drew up 
the oath. He never signed it.) 

These must have been the men who went to Deer Lodge. 

Org-anization of First Court. 

In December, 1864, nineteen men met in the dining room of 
the Planters House in Virginia City and organized a court there. 
Nineteen men admitted to the bar. Judge Pemberton is the last 
survivor of this Court. H. P. A. Smith was the first lawyer to 
come to Montana. He died with consumption. Senator Sanders 
wrote of him that he was generous to a fault, and never turned 
a person away empty-handed. He was none too particular as to 
how he received his money. 

First Court organized was by Judge Hosmer, Monday, Decem- 
ber 5, 1864. 

The Court ordered that the attorneys who are to practice in 
this Court shall take the oath of allegiance, required by law and 
prepared by the clerk, and the following attorneys did so, viz: 

W. F. Sanders. G. G. Bissell, R. B. Parrott, R. H. Roberson, J. 
G. Spratt, Chas. S. Bagg, L. W. Barton, A. E. Mayhew, E. B. 
Nealley, W. M. Stafford, Thos. Thoroughman, John C. Turb, Wm. 
Chumasero, H. Burns, J. A. Johnston, W. Y. Pemberton, J. Cook, 
Edward Sheffield. Alex Davis, Wm. L. McMath, W. J. McCor- 
mick. G. W. Stapleton, Sam Word. 

* Can't make out this name as it is so poorly written. 




JUDGE HOSMER 

First Chief Justice of Montana 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 281 

Signed by Hez. L. Hosmer, Judge First Judicial District of 
Montana. 

These attorneys were all admitted on motion of Col. Sanders. 

ROAD AGENTS. 

List by Prof. Garver of State Normal School. 

George Ives, died December 21, 1863, Nevada City, Madison 
County. 

Erastus (Red) Yager, died January 4, 1864, Stinkingwater 
Valley, Madison County. 

G. W. Brown, died January 4, 1864, Stinkingwater Valley, 
Madison County. 

Henry Plummer, died January 10, 1864, Bannack, Beaverhead 
County. 

Ned Ray, died January 10, 1864, Bannack, Beaverhead County. 

Buck Stinson, died January 10, 1864, Bannack, Beaverhead 
County. 

John "Wagner (or Wagoner) (Dutch John), died January 11, 
1864, Bannack, Beaverhead County. 

Joe Pizanthia, died January 11, 1864, Bannack, Beaverhead 
County. 

Geo. Lane (Club-Foot George), died January 14, 1864, Virginia 
City, Madison County. 

Frank Parish, died January 14, 1864, Virginia City, Madison 
County. 

Haze Lyons, died January 14, 1864, Virginia City, Madison 
County. 

Jack Gallagher, died January 14, 1864, Virginia City, Madison 
County. 

Boone Helm, died January 14, 1864, Virginia City, Madison 
County. 

Steve Marshland, died January 16, 1864, Clarke's Big Hole 
Ranch, Beaverhead County. 

William Bunton, January 19, 1864, Deer Lodge Valley, Powell 
County. 

Cyrus Skinner, died January 25, 1864, Hell Gate, Missoula 
County. 

Alexander Carter, died January 25, 1864, Hell Gate, Missoula 
County. 

John Cooper, died January 25, 1864, Hell Gate, Missoula 
County. 

Robert Zachary, died January 25, 1864, Hell Gate, Missoula 
County. 

George Shears, died January 24, 1864, Frenchtown, Missoula 
County. 



282 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

Wm. Graves (Whiskey Bill), died January 26, 1864, Fort 
Owens, Ravalli County, 

William Hunter, died February 3, 1864, Gallatin Valley, Gal- 
latin County. 

J. A. Slade, died 1864, Virginia City, Madison County. 

James Brady, died early summer, 1864, Nevada, Madison 
County. 

Jem Kelly, died July, 1864, Portneuf, Idaho. 

John Dolan, died September 17, 1864, Nevada, Madison County. 

*R. C. Rawley (Reighly), died at Bannack, Madison County. 

John Keene (Bob Black), died 1865, Helena, Lewis and Clark 
County. 

Jake Silvie (Jacob Seachriest), died 1865, Diamond City, 
Broadwater County. 

John Morgan, died 1865, near Virginia City, Madison County. 

John Jackson (John Jones), died 1865, near Virginia City, 
Madison County. 

James Daniel, died 1865, Helena, Lewis and Clark County. 

A BuU Fight. 

From James H. Morley's diary we get the following. 

September 25th, 1864, "A Bull Fight" in corrall back of Vir- 
ginia Hotel, with a large crowd in attendance. No fight in the 
bulls, being old stags who have hauled goods over the plains, but 
the betters-up got their $2.00 a head from a large crowd of fools. 

This continues to be a great country. 



CHAPTER IX. 

Jeff Durley to J. X. Beidler. 

Office of the 
CIRCUIT CLERK AND RECORDER 

Putnam County 

Hennepin, 111., December 15th, 1889. 
Jno. X. Biedler, Esq., Helena, Montana. 

Dear Old Freind: — I had not known positively where to find 
you until lately I read an interview with you by a correspondent 
of the Chicago Tribune, and located you at Helena. Dear X it 
brings up old and pleasant recollections to know that you are Still 
in the land of the living do you reccollect the first time we ever 



* Hanged on the Plummer scaffold on Hangman's Gulch at Bannack. A 
photograph was taken of his body on the scaffold — the only one of the kind 
taken. 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 283 

met at or near Twin lakes, when you had your Burros packed for 
Washington Guleh, a Small party of us Struck there on our way 
to that Grulch, and you must rember Jones his wife and children, 
that when we left the Gulch we Camped at Some Haystaks two 
miles out and we had forgotten Something and two of the Boys 
went back to the Gulch for it and Jones give them the last two 
dollars to buy a bottle of Whiskey and that you and I and Jones 
and his wife Slept in a pole Cabin without anything to stop the 
cracks, and that we had arranged for the boys to fill the bottle 
with water and place it near his head and that waked me up just 
before daylight to See Jones take his drink and we Kept a Sharp 
lookout under the buffalos we were under when Jones raised up 
and looked Cautiously around and then reached for his bottle 
uncorked it and turned up to take a square drink of whiskey and 
how he Spluttered as though he was poisoned. 

And you must have a vivid recollection of the trials and tribu- 
lations we had digging through Snowbanks and hunting grass 
under the Snow for the animals, and I know you have not for- 
gotten, the time we went into Camp and Cleared away 4 feet of 
Snow to build our fire and thaw out a place for us to sleep and 
that we had to put up poles to keep the jacks out of the fire, and 
that the old Georgian that was with us had mixed his last batch 
of flour to bake by the nice coals we would have in the morning, 
and that during the night the jacks discovered the old mans 
dough broke the poles down we had erected and grabbed the 
dough and when we waked up and old jinney had her teeth fast- 
ened in the dough and that old man was handing on to the other 
end yelling at the top of his voice "Here's to you" it was a 
ground Hog Case, I would give ten dollars for a true picture of 
that Scene, you have not forgotten how we divided the last bread 
we had with the animals the morning we Started across the Range 
and how we had to unpack and dig the animals out of the Snow 
when they stepped of the trail, and how we went into Camp at 8 
o'clock that evening, without anything to eat for ourselves or 
animals, and that a relief party Struck us that night at midnight 
with flour bacon and hay for the animals and how we staid up 
the balance of the night and fried dough and bacon and filled 
up and that two days afterward we arrived at the promised Land 
being Twin Lakes Colorado where we lived on Mountain Sheep 
and Speckled Trout. It still holds good your old saying that we 
have lived and loved together, I am still living at Hennepin and 
the raging Illinois River that runs almost a mile an hour, I am 
not rich but have plenty to eat and wear for Self and family. 
Since we last met I have had many ups and downs raised two 
Companys and Served one and a half years in the army and if I 
say it myself I never had a man in my Companies but what would 



284 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

go miles to do me a favor. Oh, how I would like to see you and 
have a good old-fashioned talk with you if you should conclude 
to come East don't fail to Come and see me. Is Dr. Glick Still at 
Helena. The Dr. was kind to me when I got hurt near Bannock 
on Grasshopper Creek. Remember me to him. If you know of a 
good mine that is out of an owner let me know and I will run out 
and look at it. I have been Clerk of the Circuit Court for the past 
13 years and have 3 years of the last term I was elected for to 
serve yet. Now X do not fail to write me when you receive this 
Hoping you are a good Republican and that you will send 2 good 
Republican Senators from the State of Montana I remain as ever 
your friend and may God bless you 

JEFF DURLEY. 



CHAPTER X. 

The Men of Bannack and Virginia. 

The first prospectors did not expect to found a state. They 
had no thought of casting their lots in a place so far removed 
from all that would make life endurable. Their idea was that 
only a little effort was required to rob nature of her treasures. 
If they could find the rich deposits of Virgin gold they would 
soon have plenty, and could return and take up their burdens 
where they had laid them down. 

A man would be a fool to contemplate an existence in a place 
so far removed from all that could make life pleasant. But 
there was an attraction that held them like a lode stone, and they 
began to like the Siren, that had wound her arms about them, 
until each embrace was considered the kindly pressure of truest 
affection. The ozone that filled their lungs carried with it an 
intoxicant. The rippling streams sang them to sleep, as sweetly 
and pleasantly as though they had been rocked at a mother's 
knee, and were lulled to repose by the sweetest music that man 
has ever known. And their visions were filled with the kaleido- 
scopic views of endless mountain peaks, that held out an invita- 
tion couched in no uncertain language, for them to explore their 
fastnesses, and find the Treasure that nature had locked so 
closely, in crevice bound in granite. 

The rich soil that would yield so abundantly, without much 
coaxing ; the native grasses that were to furnish pasture — winter 
and summer — ^for untold thousands of stock; rivers that would 
produce the ransom of kings, and cause the wheels of many fac- 
tories to turn, were themselves so alluring that they became more 
attractive to thousands than the homes of their childhood days. 
So, many stayed. They found that the early idea of a home in 



THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 285 

the states could not wean them from their new love. And the 
men and women that walked the streets of Bannack and Virginia, 
have built a commonwealth of which we are mighty proud. 

The gambler and highwaymen had their day, and were kings 
b}' the right of their perfidious daring. These very men caused 
imperishable names to go down in the story of our state till its 
grandest peaks shall have disintegrated and formed farms for 
millions not yet born. They walked the streets of Bannack, and 
the echo of their falling footsteps can yet be heard by those who 
will listen attentively to the story of their deeds. Governors trod 
these streets ; men who were to tred the halls in our national 
capital, and others who were to have monuments dedicated to 
their memories by their later admirers, were at home in the little 
log cabins, that sat beside the Grasshopper, or on the grass- 
covered hills of Virginia. And women, too, were there. They 
had dared for love, the traverse of the dreary plains, and had, for 
love, fearlessly encountered the mountain storm. Those women! 
Do you know what those women were ? They were heroines ! 
They were good women — they were the mothers of men who have 
since helped to make this no small part of a country we all should 
love. 

Let us see who some of the men and women were. Sidney 
Edgerton, our first Governor. Samuel Hauser, also a Governor; 
Wilbur F. Sanders, the first U. S. Senator; W. A. Clark, the great- 
est of mining men, and also a Senator ; Samuel McLean, who was 
to first represent us as a delegate in Congress ; Green Clay Smith, 
another Governor, and General Frances Meagher, to whom a 
loving people erected the first statute in the grounds of our cap- 
ital, and, in fact, the first in Montana. 

Judge Byam, Lott Brothers, Judge Pemberton, J. X. Beidler, 
A. K. McClure, Wash. Stapleton, W. W. De Lacey, Billy Clagget, 
Con Kohrs, A. M. Esler, 0. D. Farlin, W. L. Farlin, William Koe, 
Martin Barrett, Joe Shineberger, Smith Ball, Capt. Jim Williams, 
Charlie Brown, Charlie Beehrer, N. P. Langford, Prof. Dimsdale, 
the Stuart Brothers, Jim Bozeman, the discoverers of Alder and 
Last Chance ; Dr. Leavitt, Dr. Click, Dr. Steele, Dr. Sick, Judge 
Hosmer, Cavanaugh, A. F. Graeter, John F. Bishop, Jas. Fersler, 
John C. Innes (who still has a place in Bannack), James Fergus, 
Jesse Armitage ; we can't go on, because it would be a list too 
long to record. With many of those men we find their wives and 
children. Such names as Mrs. W. F. Sanders, Miss Lucia L. 
Darling (who taught the first school in Bannack), Mrs. Annette 
Stanley, Mrs. A. J. Smith. Mrs. G. D. French, Mrs. Wadams, Mrs. 
Armitage, Mrs. Fergus; only a few of those brave women who 
bore so much toward making our abodes so pleasant. Not many 
of them now walk the streets of these almost deserted cities. 



286 THE VIGILANTES OF MONTANA 

Bannack, the cradle of our state, is a quaint little place, that lives 
only in the history she has made. The daring gamblers — the 
highwaymen — no longer roam the streets, and turn the nights into 
day. No more is there a busy crowd, ready to stampede to new 
gold fields, because those newer fields kept them from coming 
back. What other town in all the world could claim such citizens ? 

Virginia ! How great was Virginia ! She sat a queen beside a 
golden stream, whose gathered, glittering sands, have helped to 
string the tuneful wire that bridges oceans, and changed long 
days to moments. Her gathered wealth built many a palace, and 
caused the lines of polished steel to wend their way across a con- 
tinent. Great spires point heavenward, and floating palaces 
sweep swiftly on the deep— because of you, Virginia ! 

And when the book-worm sits in shady bowers, his pleasure 
came through you. But you, too, live in your past. The thousands 
that roamed your streets are gone. The crumbling shacks that 
once were happy homes, will not reveal the names of those who 
once dwelt there. No more the music stirs the busy feet in Hurdy 
Hall. No more the gun-shot wounds the daring chief. No more 
shall voices, of the makers of your destiny, reverberate among 
your templed hills. For many sleep the sleep you, too, must take 
— the sleep of death. But down the stream of Alder from Summit, 
to its mouth, piles and piles of earth-denuded stones will bear 
witness to your greatness, and will be your monument for ages 
yet to come. 



INDEX 



Chapter I. 

Vigilances Committee 9 

Chapter II. 

The Sunny Side of Mountain Life 17 

Chapter III. 

Settlement of Montana 19 

Chapter IV. 

The Road Agents 21 

Names, Place and Date of Execution 22 

Chapter V. 

The Dark Days of Montana 23 

Chapter VI. 
The Trial 30 

Chapter VII. 

Plummer Versus Crawford .'. 32 

Chapter VIII. 

A Calendar of Crimes 37 

Chapter IX. 

Perils of the Road 42 

Chapter X. 
The Repulse 45 

Chapter XI. 

The Robbery of Peabody & Caldwell's Coach 49 

Chapter XII. 

The Settlement of Virginia City and the Murder of Dillingham 54 

Chapter XIII. 

The Robbery of the Salt Lake Mail Coach by George Ives, Bill Graves, 

Alias Whiskey Bill, and Bob Zachary 63 

Chapter XIV. 

The Opening of the Ball — George Ives 69 

Chapter XV. 

The Formation of the Vigilance Committee 89 

Chapter XVI. 

The Deer Lodge Scout 94 

Chapter XVII. 

Dutch John 1^ 

Chapter XVIII. 

Execution of Plummer, Ray and Stinson 109 



288 INDEX 

Page. 
Chaptee XIX. 

The Execution of "The Greaser" (Joe Pizanthia) and Dutch John 

(Wagner) 112 

Chapter XX. 

The Capture and Execution of Boone Helm, Jack Gallagher, Frank Parish, 

Haze Lyons and Club-Foot George (Lane) 117 

Chaptee XXI. 

The Deer Lodge and Hell Gate Scout 126 

Chaptee XXII. 

Capture and Execution of Bill Hunter 137 

Chaptee XXIII. 

Capt. J. A. Slade 113 

Chaptee XXIV. 

Execution of Brady 151 

Chaptee XXV. 

The Snake River Scout 156 

Chaptee XXVI. 

Execution of John Dolan 160 

Chaptee XXVII. 

Execution of R. C. Rawley 163 

Chaptee XXVIII. 

The Trial of John Keene 166 

Chaptee XXIX. 

Capture of Jake Silvie 1T6 

Chaptee XXX. 

Henry Plummer - 185 

Chapter XXXI. 

Boone Helm 188 

George Ives 189 

Bill Bunton 190 

Aleck Carter 190 

Cyrus Skinner 190 

Bill Hunter 190 

Stephen Marshland 191 

James Daniels 191 

Chaptee XXXIII. 

Conclusion 193 

Introductory 195 

Chapter I. 

Early History 197 

Montana 198 

Chaptee II. 

The First Charter 200 

Chaptee III. 

Lumber 203 

First Timber Reserved 203 

Chapter IV. 
The Lost City 205 



INDEX 289 

Page. 
Chapteb V. 

First Probate Judge 207 

Chapter VI. 

Jeff. Davis Gulch 208 

Buffalo Currency 209 

Chapteb VII 211 

Chapter VIII. 

Ranching 212 

Horse Prairie 212 

Bird in Hand Ranch 213 

On Beaverhead 213 

Land on Stiukingwater 215 

Chapter IX. 

Judge M. H. Lott 216 

Chapter X. 

Mining Laws in Bannack District 222 

Chapter XL 

Notes From Old Court Records 225 

Sue's Letter 226 

Chapter XII. 

Incidents in the Life of August F. Graeter 227 

Chapter XIII. 

W. B. Carters Story 229 

Chapter XIV. 

Incidents in Life of John F. Bishop 231 

Chapter XV. 

John C. Innes, an 1862 Man 232 

Sanders' Quotation — From King Lear 234 

Chapter XVI. 

Story of James Kirkpatrick 235 

Chapter XVII. 

Incidents of Beaverhead County 238 

A Promissory Note 239 

Miners' Meeting 239 

Toll Bridge 240 

Settling a Partnership Quarrel 240 

First White Child Born 241 

Women in Bannack 1862-3 241 

At the Big Hole Bridge 242 

Scholars of First School in Bannack, 1863 242 

Chapter XVIII. ^ 

The Grey Horse 243 

Chapter XIX. 

First Meeting of County Commissioners in Montana —44 

Gov. Edgerton ^|' 

First Idaho Legislature -"|^ 

First Montana Legislature ^49 

Gov. White 2o0 

Chapter I. 

Alder Gulch — Bill Fairweather ^51 



290 INDEX 

Page. 
Chapteb II. 
Alder Gulch 254 

Chapter III. 

Ranching 258 

Chapteb IV 259 

First Court House 260 

Chapteb V. 

Charles Beehrer 263 

Chapteb VI. 

Incidents in Beehrer's Life — Flour Riot 271 

An Incident With Skinner 273 

Two Men Hang a Man 273 

How the Young Man Got Free 274 

Chapteb VII. 

George Lovell 275 

Fourth of July, 1864 276 

Ohaptee VIII. 

Incidents 277 

A Trip to the States 279 

Vigilante Oath 280 

Organization of First Court 280 

Road Agents List by Prof. Garver of State Normal School 281 

A Bull Fight 282 

Chapteb IX. 

Jeff Durley to J. X. Beidler 282 

Chapteb X. 

The Men of Bannack and Virginia 284 

Page. 



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