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Hard knocks : a life story of the vanishing West online

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of the door, and saw a man lying on the ground and
another man standing over him with a six-shooter in
his hand. They were in front of a saloon about fifty
yards away from where I stood; the saloon being
situated on the bank of the creek. With others I ran
down there and sneaking up behind the man who was
standing, caught him around the arms pinning them
to his side, and asked some one in the crowd to
disarm him, which they did. I then hurried him into
a vacant log cabin close by, closing the door and
barring it and admitting only two others with me.
We then found that the man who did the shooting was
intoxicated and was very much excited. I told him
to compose himself as I wanted to ask him some
questions. He sat down on the floor and cried like
a child, but finally controlling himself, when I asked
him why he had killed the other man. He replied,
"My God, is he dead? He is my partner and the
best friend I ever had in the world." Further question-
ing him for his name and where he was from, he told
me he was Tom Milligan and that he was from Eureka,
Nevada. I then left him in charge of the other two
men and, going out of doors, inquired of two or three
persons who saw the shooting, how it occurred.

I learned from these men that Milligan and his
partner staggered out of the saloon door, his partner
telling Milligan to take a shot at an oaken bucket
that we used in drawing water from a well, situated in
the center of the town. Milligan did so. He then
said, "Shoot again, Tom." As Tom did so, his partner
staggered in front of him and the ball penetrated his
head above the right eye, killing him instantly.


A very large crowd in the meantime had gathered
around the cabin where I had him confined, and not
knowing the particulars of the shooting, made threats
that they wanted to hang him. I talked to them, tell-
ing them about our form of government there and
that we would give him a trial the following day, and
that they must not harm him. Some agreed to this,
while others threatened what they would do. By this
time it was getting dark and I entered the cabin and
talked with Milligan. He told me he knew that he
would be hanged that night. I replied, "If they hang
you tonight, they will have to kill me first; and to
show you I mean what I say, I will send one of these
men up to my saloon and have him bring down here
two guns, one a shotgun loaded with buckshot and the
other a Winchester. You can take one and I the other
and when it gets a little darker, I am going to take
you down the creek to where I have a long cabin, and
there you will be safer than you are here."

This surprised him very much and gave him great
confidence in me. I then sent one of the men to my
place. He procured the guns and brought them to me.
I offered Milligan his choice and he took the Win-

Four or five of my friends wanted to assist me in
protecting the prisoner, but I told them no, and that
they could better protect him by mingling among the
crowd, advising the crowd to wait until the morrow
before they attempted any violence, and that I would
assure them that they would change their minds when
they heard the evidence. This they did. I then took
Milligan down to the cabin mentioned, remaining there
until nine o'clock the next morning.

When I brought the prisoner up to the building
used for the courtroom, it was crowded. And there
I discovered Milligan was a prominent Mason in good


standing. Personally, I am not a Mason, but 1 could
readily see in the actions of men whom I knew were,
that Milligan would get a fair and square trial. About
this time Burrows appeared on the scene and strutted
around like a peacock, being very officious. I had
sent the two men the night previous to find Burrows,
but he could not be found. This convinced me that he
was a coward, and I paid no attention to him. We
gave Milligan his trial and the jury acquitted him,
except that they fined him twenty-five dollars for
shooting his gun off within the city limits.

The trial over, we buried Milligan's partner that
afternoon. Milligan attended the funeral, I walking
by his side, and never in my life have I seen a man
so deeply affected. There were many in the town who
still wished to hang him, and thinking they might in-
jure him, I advised him to leave Custer that night. He
told me he had no horse. I loaned him mine and he
left about ten o'clock. I told him if he arrived at
Fort Laramie safely to send the horse back to me by
someone he could trust. Fortunately, when he ar-
rived at Laramie, he met his brother Ed, who was
also from Eureka, and of course told him about the
manner in which I had treated him and about his
trouble, turning the horse over to Ed, who arrived in
Custer in due time, and we naturally became great

I never knew what became of Tom after he
reached Laramie, but poor Ed two years later, I heard,
shot himself accidentally and died from the wounds
in Sidney, Nebraska.

After this experience, I concluded I did not want
any more of the "marshal business," and resigned the
following day. This killing was the first white man
killed by one of his own race in the Black Hills.




REQUIRING more buildings in the town, quite
a number of men engaged in the occupation
of cutting and hauling logs suitable for that
purpose, the trees growing on a ridge about
two miles distant. While engaged in this
business the Sioux Indians killed two of the party,
and the men refused to continue work until the citi-
zens called a meeting to discuss some means of protec-
tion for them. This the citizens did, the meeting
taking place in my saloon.

The evening of the meeting there arrived in the
town a man with long hair, broad-brimmed hat and
wearing a buckskin jacket. Hearing of the meeting,
he came down into the saloon and introduced himself
to me as Jack Crawford and said he was a corres-
pondent for the Omaha Bee, and would like to report
this meeting. I introduced him to the mayor and two
others, who granted him the privilege sought. At
the meeting we concluded to appoint five men to act
as guards for the log cutters, and named them the
Ouster City Scouts. Later in the evening Crawford
took me aside, saying, "Young, the principal part of
my business out here is to make a reputation, study
the habits of the country, and, if possible, to learn
something of the Sioux Indians." He also told me
that he was a poet, and in an off-hand way, quoted
some poetry of the Bret Harte style, which I consid-
ered very good. He then asked me if I could have
him appointed chief of our scouts. Having made a
good impression upon me, I told him I would talk with





the mayor, and I asked him to call on me next morn-
ing. The mayor and others took kindly to the propo-
sition and the following day we appointed him the
chief. We then notified the log cutters of what had
taken place and they immediately resumed work under
the guard appointed.

This was the means of bringing Crawford his first
notoriety as a scout. He was a temperate man, neither
drinking nor using tobacco; something very unusual
in those days. He became very popular there and
entertained us very often with his poems.

Crawford being out one day on a scouting trip alone,
found lying in the grass, very sick, what he supposed
to be a full-blooded Sioux Indian. Jack gave him some
water, and seeing his chance to learn something of the
Indian characteristics, secretly brought this sick man
to his cabin after dark, and took care of him, not
letting any of the citizens know, as he feared they
might kill him. The Indian finally became so sick
that he concluded he was going to die, and turning
to Jack said in good English, "Go down and bring
Young up here. I knew him at Fort Fetterman and
know that he would like to talk with me."

I went to his cabin and was much surprised to find
that the supposed Indian was Jules Seminole, a half-
breed Sioux, but a renegade, and I knew that he was
worse than any full-blood. He asked Crawford to
step out of the room, as he wished to tell me some-

The reader will recall the shooting of my partner,
old Mack, the wood-chopper, near Fetterman. Sem-
inole told me that Jie was a brother-in-law of a man
named Sneed Stagner, who was a squaw-man and
took sub-contracts for cordwood for Fort Fetterman.
Stagner owed old Mack three hundred dollars for
chopping wood, and to cancel his debt, he gave Sem-
inole one hundred dollars to kill old Mack. He also


said it was he and another Indian I saw running over
the point of the ridge and that I was lucky the other
three Indians who were with him did not get my
scalp. I was dumbfounded with his story. I thought
the matter over and decided to wait and see if Sem-
inole recovered. If so, I would then place him under
arrest and take him to Cheyenne, where he would re-
ceive proper punishment.

My decision showed poor judgment, however, for
two weeks later Seminole suddenly disappeared, tak-
ing with him Crawford's horse. I regretted then that
I had not given him his just deserts. I learned later
that he was hanged in South Dakota for murdering
a sheep herder, and I hope the report is true. Years
after this Crawford had shows out on the road, him-
self being leading man. Of course, his plays were of
the Indian character, and I understand that he has
made a great deal of money.

One day there arrived in Custer three four-horse
teams, the wagons containing a large saloon outfit
and fourteen dance-hall girls. They had come from
Cheyenne and were brought in there by a man named
Al Swarringer. Accompanying them were eight men
who were gamblers. Their arrival created quite a
commotion as we now knew we were going to have
some amusement. Swarringer immediately con-
structed a large log building, flooring it, and in the
rear erected fourteen stalls, or rooms, where the girls
slept. At the back of the building was a shed in
which they cooked and ate. This new enterprise took
the town by storm and Swarringer made a great deal
of money there. Among these girls was one named
Georgia Dow, whom I had known in Hayes City, Kan-
sas. Georgia was the queen of the dance-hall girls
in Custer, she having been a long time in the busi-
ness. She remained in that country until the fall of
1876, following her occupation, when she went to


Sydney, Nebraska, partially reforming, and I have
been told she died at the age of 60. This is very re-
markable, as that class of girls dissipated awfully and
were frightfully abused by their lovers, who took
from them all they could earn and frequently pun-
ished them severely when they did not earn enough.
Georgia was a very kind-hearted girl and when any-
one was sick or injured, she was the first to offer her

One afternoon there walked into niy saloon my
friend Botsford, of whom I have previously spoken.
He quietly informed me that he had discovered rich
diggings on a stream he had named Deadwood, which
was seventy-five miles northwest from Custer. The
name Deadwood was derived from the large amount
of dead timber found along the stream. He exhibited
two well-filled pokes or sacks of gold, and remarked
that he had staked out a claim for me and that he had
come in for supplies, intending to return in a few days.
Botsford asked me not to mention this fact until he
had gone, as it would cause a stampede, but to go
there as soon as I could settle my affairs in Custer;
adding, that if a stampede occurred, he would be un-
able to hold the claim for me unless I were present.
In three days he left. On the fifth day the news in
some way had leaked out about the discovery, but
through what source I am unable to say. I do know,
however, that I had not mentioned it to anyone and
such a stampede was never witnessed again in that
country. The town was practically deserted in twenty-
four hours.

My partner also got the fever, and without telling
me, went to the corral and borrowed my horse, saddle
and bridle. This left me a building and saloon fix-
tures on hand, but no customers. In about ten days
I concluded to migrate to the new diggings, and, nail-
ing up the doors and windows of the saloon, departed.


Arriving at Deadwood in due time, I found my claim
was jumped. On going to Botsford and telling him
of the fact, he said, "Don't worry. I have another
one staked out for you on Whitewood." Whitewood
was a branch of Deadwood. I worked this claim with
four other men, but could not find the pay streak, and
when my ready cash was gone, I abandoned it. Others
took possession of it, but never found anything of
value and it was known as a blank.

It being very difficult and expensive to get a loca-
tion in the town of Deadwood, which was building up
very rapidly, no one paid much attention to the loca-
tion of his house. The gulch was very deep and nar-
row, and on the north side was a very high ridge con-
sisting of great rocks, which made it impossible to
build against the side hill. I finally concluded I would
go to work. A man named Bill Nuttle had partly
completed a large, hewed log building, and -having ex-
pended afl his money in doing so, was compelled to dis-
pose of the building as it stood. Carl Mann and Jerry
Lewis purchased it and completed it. Mann was a
saloon man and Lewis a gambler, one from Montana
and the other from Nebraska.

These men named this saloon "Sixty-six." They
employed me to attend to the bar. After opening
they sent a wagon, drawn by a four-horse team, to
Ouster City to bring in my liquors that I had left
there, intending to pay me for them. On arriving
there they found the saloon broken open and every-
thing of value gone. The "Sixty-six" saloon was one
of the largest in that country at this time. We had
in operation two faro games, a chuckaluck game and
a twenty-one game. Poker and other short card
games were also played. The town was booming,
great numbers of people coming in each day from the
north and the south. The diggings were shallow and
rich, and a great deal of gold dust was taken out in a


short time. One of the most successful miners was
a man named Jack McAller, commonly called Black
Jack on account of his dark complexion and hair. This
fellow was looked upon as king of the town, but of
course, there were many lesser lights who were all
great money spenders, as pioneers of this sort usually
are. Swarringer had moved his dance-hall girls from
Custer, using a building opposite the saloon as a dance

The circulating medium of the town was gold dust.
If a greenback showed up, it was immediately put out
of circulation, as it was much easier to remit for sup-
plies than gold dust. Every saloon and business house
had gold scales for weighing the dust, and I became
very expert at this business and had the reputation
at that time of being the quickest gold dust weigher
in Deadwood. In handling gold dust, and before
weighing it, we emptied it from the poke or sack into
a tin receptacle, the shape of a fire shovel minus the
handle, called a blower. We then ran through it a
steel magnet to learn if it were pure, as clean gold
was worth more per ounce than gold carrying iron or
other substances. If one wanted to take from it, say
fifty cents' worth, he pinched it between his thumb
and index finger, and with practice it was astonishing
how close to the amount desired could be pinched.
This was why I was called a fast weigher. It seemed
to come naturally to me and often miners would wager
money on my ability to pinch the amount designated.
Later on I purchased a square piece of Brussels car-
pet upon which I set the gold scales. This carpet
extended out from the scales about six inches on each
side, and in going from the receptacle to the scales,
by moving one's finger and thumb a little, one would
drop into this carpet quite a few particles of gold dust,
and it was very common to me, when going off watch,
to shake out eight or ten dollars' worth. This was


termed "side money," and was universally practiced in
that town.

Our strongest competitors there were John Mann
and John Manning. They owned the "Montana Sa-
loon," same deriving its name from their native state.
Another strong competitor was Jim Pencil, who was
also from Montana. There were a few other smaller
competitors. There were also some great characters
in this town, who mostly had nicknames. First,
"Johnny the Oyster," "Club Foot Frank," "Cheating
Sheely," "Laughing Sam," "Pink Bedford," "Cliff
Sane," "Frank Connelly," "Bloody Dick," and many
others too numerous to mention.

In the late spring of 1876, I had occasion to make
a trip by stage from Deadwood to Custer City. My
companions consisted of a dance-hall girl, a Jew and
four other men, one of whom everybody called "Te-
legraphy," he having constructed the telegraph line
from Fort Laramie to Deadwood. The stage left
Deadwood at ten o'clock P. M. About midnight we
were dozing while the stage was slowly ascending a
hill, the night not being very dark.

Presently the stage came to a sudden stop, awaken-
ing the occupants, when a loud voice commanded:
"Hands up!" a shotgun pointing in one door and two
six-shooters in the other. This same voice, accom-
panied by a great deal of profanity, ordered us to get
out with our hands up and stand in line. This we
did in a remarkably short space of time. It is sur-
prising how quickly one can move and how long one
can keep his hands up. The dance-hall girl became
hysterical and screeched. They paid no attention to
her. My position was in the middle of the line with
a road agent standing at each end and one standing
at the horses' heads, with his gun pointed at the
driver. The fourth one, with his six-shooter in his
left hand, performed the gentlemanly act of collecting


our toll. This man, having no disguise, I readily rec-
ognized him as an old teamster friend. We had driven
a team together for about two years. His name was
Jim Wall. My first thought was, "will he rob me?"
I had on my person five hundred dollars in greenbacks,
and at that particular time the loss of it would have
caused me considerable embarrassment. The Jew
begged piteously, asserting that he was dead broke,
and if they would not kill him, when he arrived in
Cheyenne he would send them five hundred dollars to
any place they might designate.

Wall laughed at the Jew and leisurely started feel-
ing around his waist, and found a money belt (which
the Jew afterward claimed contained fifteen hundred
dollars). The Jew then collapsed, falling on the
ground as dead. Wall then went through his pockets,
relieving them of what small change they contained.
The next in line was Telegraphy. Wall, knowing him
and also knowing that Telegraphy was a hard whisky
drinker, remarked: "Telegraphy, you are not making
this trip without a bottle of whisky."

Telegraphy, in a clear voice, replied: "There is a
bottle under the cushion of the rear seat."

Wall ordered one of his men to get it, while he
himself went through Telegraphy's clothes as he had
done with the Jew's. Wall's confederate, handing him
the bottle, the former placed it at Telegraph's mouth
and said : "Sample it, I fear it may be doped."

Telegraphy, realizing that it would be his last
drink for some hours, grabbed the bottle with the in-
tention of taking a large drink. Snatching the bottle
from his hand, Wall said: "Hands up, we will take
a chance at this." I assure the reader by this time it
was becoming very amusing to me, but still I could
not forget the thought was I to lose my money!
Wall looked at me for a moment and playfully tapping


me under the chin with his six-shooter, remarked in
a low tone, "I see, old pal, you are also caught in the
net!" But he did not molest me. Passing on to the
last two men, he quickly relieved them of their cash
and valuables. He did not rob the girl. They then
took the Wells-Fargo strong box, which seemed to be
very heavy, and ordered us back into the stage, tell-
ing the driver to drive on and not look back for thirty
minutes, bidding us "good night."

We then started. It was some time before the Jew
could talk and the first thing he did was to feel in his
boot legs, where was concealed five hundred dollars,
which Wall had overlooked.

In a short time my troubles began. The four men
openly charged me with standing in with the road
agents, which was a natural supposition, as Wall had
not robbed me. The Jew was the most pronounced in
his remarks and I was forced to stop his talk. I then
explained to the other men my previous acquaintance
with Wall. Telegraphy believed me, and soon con-
vinced the others. My destination being only to Cus-
ter City, on my getting out of the stage the Jew again
became furious, saying that I was going back to meet
the road agents and get my share of the spoils. I
believe today, if he is alive, he is still of the same

Many times I have heard men discussing what they
would do in case of being held up, but I can assure
you, dear reader, that they would do exactly as we
did by obeying the commands of the road agents.

Jim Wall was captured by the Pinkertons' agents
two years after I left that country and was sentenced
to Leavenworth Military Prison, having been tried on
the charge of robbing the United States mail. His
sentence was twenty-two years, and I understand he
died three years after his incarceration.




THERE were a great many saddle horses in
that country and feed being very high, it
made it very expensive to keep them in town.
Four young men conceived the idea of so-
liciting the owners of these saddle horses and
agreeing for a certain sum of money per month, to
herd them on the open plains near Crook City. They
secured about two hundred of them and formed what
was called the Montana herd. One Sunday a man
came into Deadwood and in a very excited state told
us that a large band of Sioux had run off the Mon-
tana herd, killing the four herders, the Indians having
slipped up on them at daybreak.

This occurrence left very few horses in Deadwood.
Those there were used principally for teaming pur-
poses. However, we hurriedly formed a party, con-
sisting of Carl Mann, Tom Dozier, Seith Bullock, Ed
Milligan, Pat Kelly, John Varnes, Charley Storms, and
a man named Brown, who had high aspirations to be
appointed our first sheriff. These men, together with
about twenty others, including myself, started on the
Indian chase, who had gone to the north. Our horses
were not very good saddle horses, as we had taken
them out of the teams and livery stable. This placed
us at a disadvantage. We followed the Indians for
two days, not catching up with them. Our horses
became jaded and we decided to return. Tom Dozier
and I were riding side by side, considerably ahead of
the balance, when I saw what appeared to be a large
wolf, in the bottom of a dry creek. I called Tom's


attention to it, remarking that if it were not for the
noise made by our guns, it would be a fine shot. The
words were hardly out of my mouth when the sup-
posed wolf (but in reality an Indian, who had been on
all fours digging with his hands in the creek bottom
for water) rose up and started for some tall, dense
plum bushes bordering the creek. We instantly gave
chase and surrounded the spot where we knew he was
concealed under a tree, the roots of which projected
over the bank. We fired a great many shots but it
was impossible to tell with what effect, as it was nec-
essary to crawl through the plum bushes to get a view
of our quarry.

After some consultation, ambitious Brown sug-
gested that three of us go in, he taking the lead,
Dozier and I following in single file. We had not pro-
ceeded far when the Indian shot, killing Brown. Dozier
and I returned the fire, retreating at the same time to
the clear. All was quiet then and we could not tell
whether or not our shots had taken effect. One of
our party then volunteered to make a circuit, and
come around the back of the tree by crawling on his
hands and knees. He had not been gone long when

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Online LibraryHarry YoungHard knocks : a life story of the vanishing West → online text (page 14 of 17)