Harry Young.

Hard knocks : a life story of the vanishing West online

. (page 16 of 17)
Online LibraryHarry YoungHard knocks : a life story of the vanishing West → online text (page 16 of 17)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

discovered that it led to a large, open space of con-
siderable area and was surrounded on all sides by a
wall. I remarked to myself, what a great protection
from Indians this would be if one were hard pressed,
the entrance being so narrow, one could secrete him-
self on the inside and kill any number of them, as
they could only enter one at a time. I was armed with
a six-shooter and also a large knife. The thought had
hardly passed through my brain, when in looking at
the entrance I saw an Indian approaching. Knowing
he was hostile, I shot him. Another came; I also
shot him. They kept coming one by one until I had
discharged the six shots that my gun contained. In
those days we used the powder and ball six-shooters,
with caps on the nipples. Not having any extra am-
munition with me, I was unable to reload. More In-
dians kept coming. I then drew my knife from my
belt and backed up against the wall at the farther
end, while in the meantime the open space became
crowded with Indians."

Here, Bill stopped telling the story. One of the
many listeners, however, asked him what he did then.
Bill hesitated a moment, then replied:

"What could I do? There were many of them,
well armed, and I had only my knife."

"Well, then," questioned his interrogator, "what
did they do?"

Bill gave a long sigh, saying: "By God, they
killed me, boys!"


For a few moments they did not seem to see the
joke, but soon began laughing. One of them asked
the crowd up to the bar to drink, Bill whispering to

"Kid, that's one time I had to die."

I replied, "Why didn't you unfold your wings and

He said the next time he told that story he would
escape in that manner.

At another time Bill told the following story: He
was riding along one day in the mountains in Colorado
and was about to cross an open space, when he heard
a loud noise behind him. Looking back, he saw a
great snake about fifty feet long, with a head re-
sembling a man's having the nose, mouth and chin
of a man, also a pair of legs, which looked very much
like a man's arms; its breast and stomach both re-
sembled those of a man also. It was a vicious looking
reptile. His horse scenting it, became frightened and
ran away with him. The faster the horse ran, the
closer this reptile approached, convincing Bill that it
would soon catch up with him. Turning in his saddle,
he shot the reptile dead. Quieting his horse, he dis-
mounted and with his gun in hand ready for immediate
use, he walked back to examine the reptile, and found
that it really had a stomach like a human being. He
could not carry it with him to camp, so cut the head
off; then opening the stomach, found in there eight
hundred and seventy-five dollars worth of gold dust.
This was a gold eating snake. Now he was in a
quandry, not daring to take the head back with him
as he might be compelled to give up the gold, so he
decided to cover it up with earth at a nearby bluff.
Going to the nearest town, he displayed this gold dust,
not telling where he had procured it, but the people
then began prospecting for gold in Colorado and dis-


covered it in paying quantities. And this gold eating
snake should have the credit for the discovery. "This
is the first time I have ever told the secret," added Bill.

I thought the listeners would explode with
laughter, which pleased Bill very much.

Early one morning two days before Bill's assass-
ination, he walked into the Sixty-six saloon. We were
alone at the time and I noticed he looked very dejected.
I remarked, "Bill, you are not looking very well this

"No," he replied. "I have a feeling that something
is going to happen to me."

I remarked, "Bill, you are drinking too much."

"No," he answered, "that has nothing to do with
it. I have had this feeling for two weeks, but know
I will never be killed by any one in front of me and if it
does come, it will be from the back. Now, I want you
to do something for me. Step out here and walk
backward until I tell you to stop." I did so until he
told me to halt. This being a very peculiar request on
his part, I asked him the reason for it. He told me
that his eye sight was failing him, and he wanted to
satisfy himself as to the distance that he could dis-
tinguish a man. He then said: "Two steps before you
stopped, I could plainly recognize you, after which I
could see nothing but a* blur. Don't mention this
circumstance to any one as I do not care to have it

To give the reader some idea of the rapidity and
accuracy with which Bill could shoot first bear in
mind that six shooters in his time were not cartridge
guns nor were they double action. One had to load them
with powder and ball and place caps on the nipples
attached to the cylinders, and had to cock the hammer
each time he shot.


In 1868 he was riding from Hays City to Fort
Hays, in company with General Custer. In passing a
telegraph pole Bill remarked to Custer, "General, would
you believe that I could ride past one of these poles
on the run and shoot six shots into it with my six
shooter and that you could cover the space where I
hit it with the palm of your hand?"

"No," Custer replied, "no man could accomplish
such a feat." Bill put spurs to his horse, and when
opposite a pole, shot six shots into it, and sure enough
on examination, Custer found he had hit it six times,
and that he could cover the spot with his hand. When
they arrived at the Fort, Custer had a tin sign made,
verifying the fact, and had the sign nailed to the pole.
If the reader should at any time visit Hays, Kansas,
he will find the pole still there, the citizens of Hays
having had it cemented in the ground. They keep it
in preservation as an old time relic of this wonderful

On the night of August 1st, 1876, he was playing
cards with a miner named Jack McCall, who was a
worthless character and decidedly repulsive, being
cross-eyed to such an extent that it was hard to tell
which way he was looking. On the morning of the
2nd, I came on watch, relieving the night man, and
found them still playing cards. The night man told
me they had been playing since midnight and that Mc-
Call was about broke, at the same time showing me
McCall's sack of gold dust that lay behind the bar.
Presently Bill asked me how much dust was in the
sack. I weighed it and told him one hundred and
seven dollars worth.

Bill then remarked to McCall: "You have over-
played yourself by ten dollars."

McCall replied, "All right, I will make it good next
Saturday night,"


This ended the game, McCall saying "I have not
got money enough to buy my breakfast." Bill handed
him seventy-five cents in shinplasters, telling him to
go and eat; also telling him that if he got hungry
again later in the day, he would help him out. They
then had a parting drink together, and McCall left the

About one-thirty in the afternoon, Carl Mann,
Charley Rich and Captain Massey engaged in a poker
game. Bill, in company with Charley Utter sauntered
in and was invited by Mann to make the game four-
handed. Bill joined them, but before doing so re-
quested Rich, who was sitting with his back to the
wall, to give him his seat. Knowing Bill's habits,
Rich rose to comply, when Captain Massey, from
whom Bill had won some money a few nights before,
spoke up and said that he preferred to have Bill sit
opposite him, remarking: "No one is going to shoot
you in the back."

Bill replied, "All right, you old grouch. I will sit
here," at the same time pulling out the stool with
his foot, from under the table, sitting down on it.
Mann sat on Bill's left, Rich on his right and Massey
opposite, Bill facing the front entrance to the saloon,
with his back exposed to the rear entrance. They had
been playing not to exceed twenty minutes, when
Massey beat a king full for Bill with four sevens,
breaking Bill on the hand. They were playing table
stakes. Bill then asked me to bring him fifty dollars
worth of checks, which I did. Charley Utter, who
had been sitting by Bill's side a little back of him,
remarked: "Bill, I will go and get something to eat."
I placed the checks on the table in front of Bill, stand-
ing as I did so between him and Carl Mann. Bill
looked up at me and remarked : "The old duffer (mean-
ing Massey) broke me on the hand." These were
last words he ever uttered.

Page 221 H A R D K X O C K S


There was a loud report, followed by the words,
'Take that." McCall had shot him in the back of the
head with a forty-five Colts six-shooter, the ball
coining out under the right cheek bone, and piercing
the wrist of Captain Massey, who had his hand around
his checks that he had just won from Bill.

Massey was the first to run out to the street,
shouting that Wild Bill had shot him. He did not
know differently until some time afterward. No one
being armed at the time, we all rushed out to the
street, McCall following. The latter tried to make his
escape on a "horse, which was tied to a hitching rack
in front of the door. The cinch of the saddle having
been loosened, when he attempted to mount the horse,
the saddle turned with him. He then ran out into the
middle of the street. By this time a large crowd had
gathered, which surrounded him. With six-shooter
in ' his hand, McCall pointed first at one and then
another, but not shooting. Those in the crowd who
were armed were afraid to shoot at him for fear of
shooting each other. A man named Tom Mulquinn
grasped him from behind, pinned his arms while the
others disarmed him. They then took him back into
the saloon where the body lay and asked him a few
questions, which he refused to answer. They finally
took him to a log cabin in the rear of the saloon. All
was excitement. Some wanted to hang him, others
to shoot him, but wiser heads prevailed and an in-
vestigation was agreed upon. He was kept under
guard for three days and then given a miner's trial
in the opera house. Selecting twelve men as a jury,
a man to prosecute and another to defend him, for
by this time, on account of Bill's past reputation, the
citizens split into two factions, one of which sympa-
thized with McCall and the other faction with Bill.

After the witnesses had been examined, McCall
took the stand in his own defense and told in a


straightforward manner that Bill had killed his
brother, Sam Strawhan, in Riley's saloon at Hayes
City, Kansas, in 1868, while he was a soldier at Fort
Hayes; that he had promised his widowed mother on
her death bed he would follow Bill as long as he lived
till he got a chance to kill him, and knowing Bill's
reputation for quickness with a gun, knew that his
only chance was to slip up behind him. He admitted
that he had killed Bill, was glad of it, and would do
the same thing over again if he had to. The jury
believed the statement and acquitted him.

McCall left Deadwood that same night, going to
Laramie City on the Union Pacific railroad, and there
boasted of the killing of Wild Bill. A friend of Bill's
telegraphed to Jeff Carr at Cheyenne, then United
States Marshal of Wyoming, who arrested McCall. He
was taken to Yankton, South Dakota, tried before
the United States Court, convicted and hanged.

On the scaffold McCall denied the previous state-
ment that Strawhan was his brother and admitted
that he had told the story to fool the Deadwood
miners. He said that he was a deserter from the 7th
cavalry, but that he was in Hayes City at the time Bill
killed Strawhan, and that he did not know why he
killed Bill, as he had never done him any harm. His
hanging was spectacular. A scaffold was erect ed^ on
the open prairie and thousands of people from miles
around witnessed the execution.

Wild Bill's body was buried with his head resting
near a large pine stump, on which was blazed the
following inscription: "Here lies the body of Wild
Bill, murdered by Jack McCall, August the 2nd, 1876."
Underneath this the words: "Custer was lonesome
without you."

The funeral was a very large one, and very im-
pressive; all the stores, saloons and dance-halls being



closed out of respect to the greatest character of his

Eight years later the citizens of Deadwood moved
all the bodies of the dead to a new cemetery. On
exhuming Bill's body, his entire left side was found to
be petrified. Bill's body and that of Parson Smith
were buried side by side, and monuments erected over
them as a mark of honor and respect. And to this
day, I am told, on the second day of August, the bells
are tolled in Deadwood. Two monuments were made
for Bill. The first one was completely destroyed by
being chipped by tourists and curio hunters. The
present monument is protected by a steel wire en-

Wild Bill didn't in his career as a marshal impose
on men because he was such. I will sight an instance.
While at Hayes City, one Hughie Teets kept a butcher
shop in that town, and had some hot words with Bill,
finally saying, "Bill, if you will put your guns away I
will fight you a fist fight."

"All right," replied Bill, handing his guns to a
friend. They went at it hammer and tongs. First Bill
would have the best of it, and again Hughie. Finally
Hughie backed Bill up against the sidewalk, which was
about four feet higher than the street. Bending Bill
back against the walk, he was pounding him unmerci-
fully, when outsiders interfered. Hughie would not
quit unless Bill would cry enough. This Bill refused
to do. Finally the crowd, fearing that Hughie would
break Bill's back, pulled him off Bill, who arose quietly
putting his hands against his back, saying, "Hughie,

you came d near breaking my back, but I still

think I am the better man, and when I fully recover
from this scrap, I will fight you again, but it will be on
the prairie where there are no sidewalks."


Hughie replied, "All right, Bill, I will be ready any-
time you feel like it." Some weeks after Bill called
on Hughie, and said, "I have thought this matter over
and have concluded to call it off, as I believe you are as
good a man as I." This ended the matter. Hughie
now resides in Portland, Oregon, hale and hearty at
76 years of age.




BOUT the middle of August there arrived in
Deadwood a courier with dispatches from
General Miles' command. This fellow had
ridden some four hundred miles and was very
sick with mountain fever. Being unable to
continue his journey to Fort Laramie, and it
being necessary to get those dispatches to their des-
tination, he tried to secure someone to carry them
through. Hearing of this, I received permission from
Mr. Mann to make the trip to Fort Laramie, where I
had some business I wanted to attend to.

The courier gave me the dispatches and an order
on the commanding officer for one hundred dollars;
this amount was to be deducted from the money he
was to receive. In making these rides one is com-
pelled to ride nights, laying up in the day time,
owing to the Indians being bad. I left Deadwood at
nine o'clock P. M., and rode until just before day
break. After watering my horse, I staked him out
by driving a large picket pin in the ground, attaching
to it a forty foot lariat tied to the horse's neck. This
gave him space enough to graze. I then took my
saddle, bridle and saddle blanket, going off some five
hundred yards from the horse, where I lay down to
sleep or, to try to sleep. With the thought of
danger in mind, I did not expect to sleep soundly.
The reason for my getting some distance away from
the horse I will explain:

If an Indian or Indians discovered a horse, they
would straightway look for the owner and by being
hidden in this manner, one would be less liable to dis-


covery and had a better chance of defending himself,
as a Sioux Indian did not care to take an even chance,
and would be more likely to take the horse than to
hunt for its rider. Before approaching the horse in
the evening about dusk, the rider arose carefully,
looking at the horse and if he were lying down or
grazing, the rider could be pretty certain that there
were no Indians in very close proximity to him. On
the other hand, if he were looking in any particular
direction, and scented danger, he would throw his
ears forward and if convinced that the object he was
looking at was an Indian, he would run at top speed
around the picket pin, trying to escape. It would be
then that the rider must look out for himself. If
any of these things did not happen, he would walk
over to the horse, saddle him, water him, and resume
his journey.

It is wonderful when one is out with these animals,
how attached they become. There were times when I
would walk up to my horse, that he would nicker in a
low tone and rub his nose against me in a very know-
ing manner. Meaning, I presume, "I am glad to see
you." The third night out on this trip, the night being
very dark, I was riding through Red Canyon at a rapid
pace. This was a very dangerous part of the road, as
the canyon was deep and one each side very rocky
hills; along the water's edge large willows grew, the
road crossing a stream at four different points.

Suddenly my horse shied, snorted and stopped, and
came very near unseating me. I tried to urge him
on but he would not move. Dismounting, and holding
him by the bridle rein, I walked a step or two and
found lying in their blankets, on the ground, a man
and woman, killed and scalped. The Indians must
have crawled upon them while they were asleep,
as I saw no signs of a struggle. Hurriedly mounting
my horse, I went on until I reached the end of the


canyon, where there was a company of soldiers sta-
tioned to escort teams through this canyon and pro-
tect them. I told them of what I had seen and
remained there during the day. About ten o'clock in
the morning they brought the bodies there and found
in addition to what I saw, another body that of a
negro woman. She too had been killed and scalped.
I arrived in Fort Laramie in due time, delivering my
dispatches and collecting my money. I remained there
three days, returning to Deadwood with some
freighters who were hauling freight. We had a very
pleasant trip.

Combined with a rough occurrences in Deadwood,
we also had many innocent amusements, some of
which were very comical. I have spoken of a char-
acter named Cheating Sheely, so named on account
of his being a great cheat at cards. It was utterly
impossible for him to play cards for money or fun
without cheating. He was our porter in the saloon,
and received his pay every night five dollars. He
would then leave the saloon looking for some easy
victim with whom to play cards. Cheeting Sheely
invariably lost, as he was so busy cheating that he
neglected to watch the actions of his opponents, who
could also cheat, in many cases. However, one night
he found an easy game in which he won three hundred
dollars in gold dust. He now thought he had all the
money in Deadwood. In order to win this he was
compelled to play all night. When showing up at the
saloon in the morning, he was so sleepy that he could
scarcely keep his eyes open. The news of his winning
was well known around the saloon. About three
o'clock in the afternoon, he lay down on a bench at
the rear of the room, taking off his coat and vest,
which contained his money, and folding them up,
placed them under his head for a pillow. Carl Mann,
who was a great practical joker, seeing him sleeping


there, concluded to give him a scare, and if possible
get possession of his gold. Gathering all the stools
that we had in the house (we did not have chairs in
those days), he piled them up over Sheely in such
a manner that if he moved they would fall. Mann
then took his six-shooter and fired it through the open
back door.

Sheely being an awful coward and having a great
fear of a six-shooter, when the report aroused him,
suddenly jumped up, knocking over the stools, rushing
out of the back door, calling out that he had been shot.
Carl Mann then hurriedly took his poke of dust from
his coat, substituting one of the same size, containing
brass filings and other material. In a short time
Sheely returned and picking up his coat, extracted the
poke, saying it was a wonder some one had not stolen
it. He then went off to bed without examining the
contents. He returned in about an hour, his face as
white as marble, exhibited the poke, and showed us its
contents. We all laughed. Carl Mann told him to go
after the fellow he had played cards with, as he was
sure it was he who had buncoed him. For two days
he hunted for this man. Carl Mann, being afraid
Sheely would go crazy, returned his money.

Another character, Pink Bedford, was a very fine
poker player, and if sober, was capable of winning
large sums of money. But poor Pink would go on
periodical sprees, lasting until he would finally become
sick. Carl Mann was much interested in this man and
tried in many ways to keep him straight, but always
failing. Finally he concluded that he would have a
joke on him.

Procuring a ladder about twenty-five feet long,
Carl Mann and two others lashed Pink on it, with his
feet resting on a round of the ladder, his arms being
lashed to the side, allowing him space enough to bend
his head over. They then took the ladder out in the


street, setting it up against the building. When Pink
sobered up a little, he could not understand where he
was and began to yell. Mann ran out and threw a
bucket of water in his face. This revived him very
much. Mann then addressed him thus: "You must
promise me that you will not drink whiskey again for
six months and you must swear that you will not."
Pink took some horrible oaths, one of them being that
he hoped God would paralyze him if he took another
drink of whiskey for six months.

They then carried him to the rear of the dance-
hall, standing the ladder against the door which
opened in. The dance-hall girls lived in this end of
the building. The manager, or bouncer as he was
termed, stepping outside, hollered to the girls to come
out there quick. When they opened the door, the
ladder and Pink, naturally fell in on them. This
frightened them very much. Pink begged for dear
life to be released, but before doing so, they carried
him through the dance-hall, finally bringing him over
to the saloon and releasing him.

Pink then behaved himself for about two weeks.
One day, however, on going into the Montana saloon,
one of his friends saw him setting a glass down on
the bar, having just taken a drink. This friend then
said to him : "Take a drink with me."

Looking at his friend a moment, he said : "Do not
tempt me. Don't you know I have sworn oif drinking

His friend then said: "Take a cigar or something

Pink, turning to the barkeeper, asked him to give
him a drink of gin. Carl Mann, hearing of this,
immediately went after him, reminding him of the
oaths he had taken. After looking at Mann a few


moments, he said: "It was gin I drank, and I have no
recollection of taking an oath only that I would not
take a drink of whiskey for six months, which I
intend to keep." This amused Mann very much. Poor
Pink could not keep away from the booze, which was
his undoing.

In front of the window, outside of the Sixty-six
saloon, Mann had a bench erected, which would accom-
modate two people only. In one end of this he bored
a small hole through it, placing therein a needle point-
ing up, attaching to the head of the needle a small
weight, and then running the string through the
window to the inside of the building. Then he would
get someone in conversation, sitting him down on the
end where the needle was. Mann would have some
confederate pull the string, which would pierce the
one sitting there, the weight pulling the needle down.
The hole in the bench was so small that it was not
perceptible, the victim getting pierced, would jump up
and with his hand feel on the bench and then to the
part of his anatomy pierced, and many times would
finally conclude that it was a sliver or something else,
and would again sit down, when he would be pierced
a second time. This caused a great deal of laughter,
forcing the victim to buy the drinks for those present.
The boys around the saloon worked this very strong,
particularly one named Johnie the Oyster, so Carl

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16

Online LibraryHarry YoungHard knocks : a life story of the vanishing West → online text (page 16 of 17)